Thursday, March 26, 2009

Women's History Month blog carnival: A Vision for Healing

The latest submission in the Women's History Month blog carnival can be found at Women's Space. This year, we asked women to tell us how the 2009 presidential campaign changed them. Today's writer, Aletha, is still waiting for change she can believe in:
 
Barack Obama has a vision for a changed politics, honoring a preacher John McCain might have chosen with the opening prayer for his inauguration. This is his way of reaching out to all Americans, reaching out to wary Republicans while leaving many of his supporters behind. This is standard old Democratic big tent politics, no great change in policy here. No hesitation to flout international law by bombing Pakistan, not just the requisite dose of bellicose rhetoric for the campaign. Smarting Republicans will not be easily charmed, nor those who supported Obama reluctantly, not their first choice. Sometimes the tent is too big, when efforts to straddle the elusive center matter more than its principles.
 
Change is coming, but who will benefit? In the name of economic hardship everyone will be asked to sacrifice, but that is not facing the real issues. The model of economics underlying modern capitalism is rabidly self-destructive. This latest bubble bursting was not so hard to predict. Obama has better plans, such as open government, lifting the abortion gag rule, more emphasis on diplomacy and alliances, more careful treatment of prisoners of war, first steps toward nuclear disarmament and a more sustainable way of life, a White House Council on Women and Girls, a White House organic garden, various other reforms, not trifles but nothing radical or unexpected. It remains to be seen what actions will spring from those plans. Among his bad plans are:
 

First the impending Dictionary of American Regional English, now this...be still my geeky heart

Are you hip to the Diversity Rocks! 2009 Challenge? It aims to "ensure racial and ethnic diversity in the authors that we read." Organizer Ali explains:
 
What if we only read authors who were just like us? How boring would that be?

But when I take a good hard look at the books I've read in 2008, most of them happen to be written by white middle class people. Thirty-six out of forty-two, in fact, according to my LibraryThing library.

Not that I turn away from books written by non-white authors--but let's face it, there aren't as many (hence the term "minorities"), and they don't jump off the shelves into my arms. In some bookstores they're hidden in their own special section. If I'm going to stretch myself--and I mean, beyond Toni Morrison and Amy Tan--I'll have to make a special effort.

So, I'm setting a challenge for myself for 2009, and I invite you to join me.

...all I'm asking you to do is commit to reading one book. Or, simply add links on my Challenge website to books you review that fit the criteria, to help me and others find them. Or tweak your reading lists, to incorporate one author of color in your other reading challenges.

Want to know more? Click on over and subscribe to Diverse Books! Even if you don't sign up for the challenge, I'll be posting diverse reading lists for every genre I can think of--there will be links to book recommendations and reviews--I'm even learning how to use Mr. Linky!
 
 
Ali is particularly looking for recommendations of black, Asian, Arab, Native American, Hispanic authors that don't get the pub that, say, Toni Morrison or Isabel Allende do. Lists include childrens and adult books.
 
The March reading list at Diversity Rocks! looks good. I'm off to see if The Book of Night Women by Marlon James is available for the Kindle. BTW, I stumbled upon James' blog. It's great and so is this post: "The Bigots on my Bookshelf"
 
 
 
 
 

What's in the 2010 United States budget? Part I - Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

President Barack Obama's proposed 2010 budget has sparked much discussion among right and left and caused a ton of grandstanding (I'm talking to you Evan Bayh and Mike Pence--sadly from my state) recently. How do you feel about the proposed budget? Do you even know what's in it? I don't, but I intend to find out--one section at a time. Today, let's look at the budget for the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
 
Total budget: $47.5 billion (18 percent increase over proposed 2009 budget; flat to actual 2008 budget)
 
Highlights (per fact sheet on White House Web site)
 
HELPING PEOPLE AFFORD SAFE, DECENT HOUSING
 
Provides funding for an Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the first time. The Budget requests $1 billion to restore financing of the development, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing for very low income residents though the Housing Trust Fund.
 
Increases funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program. To address the program's costly inefficiencies, the Administration will introduce legislative reforms to help fully utilize available funding, alleviate the administrative burdens on the Public Housing Authorities, and establish a funding mechanism that is transparent and predictable in order to serve more needy families. This program helps more than two million extremely low- to low-income families with rental assistance to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice.
 
Increases funding for rental assistance. The Project-Based Rental Assistance program will preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable rental units through increased funding for contracts with owners of multifamily properties. This critical investment will assist low- and very low-income households in obtaining decent, safe and sanitary housing in private accommodations.
 
Combats mortgage fraud and precautionary practices. The Budget provides funds to combat mortgage fraud and predatory practices, and includes increased funding for fair housing enforcement. These resources will allow HUD to increase enforcement of mortgage and home purchase settlement requirements. Enhanced enforcement will create an environment in which home-buyers will be served with mortgage terms that are more easily understood and reliably honored by lenders. [Underline is mine. I think this is very important.]
 
BUILIDNG ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
 
Fully funds the Community Development Block Grant program. The Budget provides $4.5 billion to ensure that communities continue to invest in and expand economic opportunities for low-income families. Also, modernizes the program through statutory reforms. Through a more effective formula, appropriate incentives and accountability measures, and a new Sustainable Communities Initiative, the Administration will revamp the CDBG program to better target funds to distressed communities and promote sustainable and economically viable communities.
 
Creates a new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. The Budget includes funds for HUD to support a range of transformative interventions in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. This new initiative would challenge public, private and nonprofit partners to identify neighborhood interventions that would have the largest return on Federal investments.
 
Creates a new Energy Innovation Fund. The Budget supports creation of an energy-efficient housing market -- including "retrofitting" of older, inefficient housing -- and catalyzes private-sector lending in the residential sector.

 
On another note, for those who listened to last weekend's podcast and are committed to getting smart about the economy, Pamela has posted an extended list of resources on her blog.

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