Saturday, August 06, 2005

Unconquered 

So the NCAA has decided that universities with "Hostile or abusive" names or symbols (such as UL-Monroe Indians or the Florida State Seminoles) will not be allowed to host postseason sports events, nor can they have their schools' names displayed on team uniforms at said events.

Since I was a graduate assistant at FSU, and have ardently cheered them on for a quarter century, I'm hopelessly biased; but I'll link to a couple items of note concerning FSU's position-- which I totally support-- and you can decide for yourself.

First and most importantly, here's an excellent primer on the inspiring history of the Seminole tribe, for those who didn't know.

This article from the Tallahassee Democrat has FSU's take, as well as a tribal leader's comments:

"We're not going to change the name - that's not an option," [FSU President T.K. Wetherell] told the Tallahassee Democrat Friday evening. "We would not do that."

Wetherell, who was angered by the decision, said he had it in his mind "to paint (the Seminole logo) three times as big on the field (at Doak Campbell Stadium)."

The NCAA Executive Committee surprised FSU when it announced the bans on Friday.

Wetherell reiterated comments he made to the Democrat on Wednesday that, in the face of a ban, he would seek legal action against the NCAA.
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The Seminole Tribe of Florida may not join FSU in any legal fight, according to Max B. Osceola Jr., a member of the Tribal Council.

"I don't think that is our fight," he said. "But I'm sure if we're asked to express our point of view we will be more than happy to do that."

Osceola said the Seminole Tribe of Florida disagrees with the NCAA's decision and determination that FSU's nickname and symbols are "hostile and abusive." Osceola was also concerned that his tribe was not approached by the NCAA regarding the matter.

"It's like history - they left the natives out," Osceola said. "They have non-natives telling natives what's good for them or how they should use their name. You have a committee made up of non-natives telling people that they can not use a native name when you have a native tribe - a tribal government, duly elected and constituted - that said they agree with Florida State."

Indeed. The Seminole Tribal Council resolution on this matter states:

[The] "Seminole Tribe of Florida has an established relationship with Florida State University, which includes its permission to use the name, 'Seminole,' as well as various Seminole symbols and images, such as Chief Osceola, for educational purposes and the Seminole Tribe of Florida wishes to go on record that it has not opposed, and, in fact, supports the continued use of the name 'Seminole.'" [The resolution also supports the use of the Seminole head logo, which is endorsed by the university.]


And here's a parting shot from Florida State's prez:

Here you have someone like Myles Brand - he didn't have a problem as president of Indiana playing Illinois ... and he grandstands on this. That's hypocritical. You're not going to put the name Seminoles on the scoreboard but you put the Hooters girls on it. That's just stupid. ... It's just frustrating that they don't deal with issues more important to the athletes (instead of) grandstanding on this.


Woe is the day that FSU changes its nickname to some tedious SEC banality like "Tigers" or "Bulldogs"-- yawn!

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Update: Jeffrey learns me some history about LSU's name, undercutting my snidery (T-P): "The original Tigers were fighting men of the Civil War, the Louisiana brigades in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia."
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Friday, August 05, 2005

Hey, Bill. Don't look out for me, or my kid-- look for your brain. 

I wouldn't want to attack Bill "loofa mit" O'Reilly's precious "broadcast", but I will respectfully suggest to him that he stop lookin out for everyone else, and start looking for his brain! These are snippets from the last couple Talking Point Memos from his TV show, the F-cktard, I believe it's called. I think the man is descending into complete madness:


1. "Whatever your belief, it should be respected. But the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science both reject intelligent design and don't want it mentioned in science classes. That, in my opinion, is fascism."

2. Title: "Is the ACLU Bin Laden's Best Ally?"



Blanco should be delighted this pompous, horny clown is spoiling for a fight.

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(h/t Richard)
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So tasty you'll wanna slap your... on second thought. 

T-P:

The New Orleans Restaurant Month Parade of Cuisine runs through August, a traditionally slow time... More than 50 of the city's restaurants will offer three-course lunches for $20.05 and three-course dinners for $30.05.
...
Although locals will benefit, the plan obviously is designed to draw tourists in a slow month, specifically international visitors and double-income couples without children in schools. The tourism office already has had international groups choose August for their visits because of the promotion, Priez said.

"All of France goes on vacation in August," she said.


[Well, clearly, not everyone leaves. Can we remind our visitors from France to make sure they turn on the A/C for maman before heading out this August? We wouldn't want a "Meursault note" during supper at Antoine's to spoil the evening.]

Some of the participating restaurants are Andrea's, Antoine's, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, La Cote Brasserie, Arnaud's, Lemon Grass, Bacco, Mr. B's, Muriel's Jackson Square, Bistro at Maison de Ville, Nirvana, New Orleans Grill at Windsor Court Hotel, Palace Cafe, Brennan's, Bourbon House, Cafe Adelaide, Pelican Club, Ralph's on the Park, Cafe Sbisa, Red Fish Grill, Restaurant August, Court of Two Sisters, all the Emeril's restaurants, and Zoe Restaurant.


Complete list of participating restaurants here.

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Michael might drive in from Baton Rouge for a weekend visit. I really can't blame him.

And to drink...
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hard News Day 

1. FBI raids Rep. Jefferson's homes and car.

2. Front page NYT story says:
"An internal NASA report last December warned of deficiencies in the way insulating foam was being applied to sections of the fuel tank to be used on the shuttle Discovery's current mission.

The report was provided to The New York Times by a person outside the space agency who is part of an informal network of people concerned about shuttle safety, and it did not recommend against launching the Discovery. But it delivered a harsh critique of the quality control and practices at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.


3. More area schools failing.

4. And Bill O'Reilly is preparing for a public spat with Blanco's office.



...That's just the local stuff. Michael has a national/international digest that is even more dispiriting.

The only thing I found on the upside is this resplendent post at the Three-Toed Sloth-- one of the clearest, best laid-out arguments I've read in a long, long time (via Crooked Timber).
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's been awhile, since I've gone and bashed on LBJ 

Actually, I'll let some others do it for me. StoutDemBlog and the Whiskey Bar noticed the same "Texas similarity" to yesterday's closer-than-expected House race in Ohio.


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Billmon bonus! These quotes from today's post are in the same vein, and too good not to reprint:

Personally, I think Dubya's fate is to be THE case study in foreign policy failure for the next two generations -- or until another president from Texas blunders into an unwinnable land war in Asia, whichever comes first.
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Well, after watching the residents of suburban Cincinnati choose a feeble-minded Stepford wife with a mouth like an asshole and ethics to match, over a man who volunteered to serve his country in a shithole like Fallujah, I've got to admit that anything's possible.
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I try to remind myself that not all Americans live in Clermont County or its vanilla wafer clones in the great suburban outback of GOP America. Maybe some of them still care about trivial things like lost wars and dead soldiers. Or maybe not. Maybe it takes something like $10-a-gallon gas -- or the mass abduction of young, pretty white women -- to get anybody's attention in this bizarre post-industrial shopping mall we now live in.
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A new definiton of chutzpah 

WASHINGTON (T-P) -- After his administration vociferously opposed sending $540 million to help repair Louisiana's eroding coast, President Bush said Tuesday that the money is a "good start" and acknowledged for the first time a federal responsibility to help shore up the state's land.

"I strongly believe there needs to be a federal-state relationship in solving this problem of the disappearing lands, of Louisiana's coast," Bush said. "It's a big project, but it's a good start."

Bush, who twice carried Louisiana in presidential elections, struck a conciliatory tone when asked about his opposition to Louisiana's coastal restoration financing Tuesday during a meeting with reporters.

On at least two occasions, the administration explicitly came out against efforts by Louisiana and other coastal states to receive a share of the annual royalties produced by oil and gas companies drilling off their shores. In July the administration took the unusual step of sending a letter to House and Senate negotiators urging them to kill the revenue-sharing plan in the final version of the national energy bill.
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In one surprise to the six states that will share the $1 billion in offshore royalty revenue -- Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Alaska and California -- Bush said Louisiana officials should use the money to attract more federal financing.

Did Bush slip up, here?

"I strongly urge the state of Louisiana to use the money that will be coming to them toward matching federal commitments for saving the lands," Bush said.

No problemo, senor Arbusto! We're happy to follow your directive.

Louisiana officials have been told by federal officials they can't use the money to draw extra federal financing.

"That would be huge," said Sidney Coffee, Gov. Blanco's adviser on coastal issues. "If we could use that as cost share, that would finance so much of our near-term plans."
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Bush said his administration signaled its support for sharing offshore oil and gas revenue with coastal states when he issued a plan in the final days of energy bill negotiations. It would have directed about $57 million to Louisiana over 10 years, far from the $14 billion the state says is needed, and pertained only to new oil and gas discoveries, not those currently under production.

"We agreed with enhanced sharing; it was just the timeliness of it," Bush said.

Oh, yeah-- "timeliness". Who knows timeliness better than Bush? This is the guy who chose to read a pet goat book during the most urgent hour of his presidency. I mean, "just the timeliness"?!? Timing is everything!! Two years ago Duhbya requested $100 million to restore the swamps in southern Iraq. At the time, Louisiana was generating national awareness of our slow-moving coastal catastrophe that (scientists estimate) will cost $14 billion to fix. The Bush administration said that we should try to fix the coast for about a tenth of the cost. And now, after fighting us tooth and nail every step of the way on this bill, Bush believes that his last-minute offer of $57 million over 10 years (in oil revenue sharing) is evidence of his administration's commitment to "the disappearing lands, of Louisiana's coast."

Adam Sharp, a spokesman for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was skeptical that Bush has long been a supporter of federal-state revenue sharing, an idea popular in Louisiana.

"He's trying to profess that he's been for it all along when it was an 11th-hour proposal that significantly shortchanged the states," Sharp said. "We've been talking about this for years. If they have been supportive of the concept, I'm not sure that was expressed to anyone" on Capitol Hill.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

How warm is your happiness? 

Reporter Adam Nossiter had a scathing editorial in the T-P the other day, juxtaposing Blanco's courting of the NRA with the daily tragedies that occur here in America's most "gun-plagued city". Nossiter just brutally lays it out: pounding, pounding, pounding in a manner that shocked even YRHT. An excerpt:

In [Gov. Blanco's] letter last week to the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, pleading for his lucrative convention in 2007: "As you know, Louisiana is world renown for its hospitality, its cuisine, and its wide range of outdoor activities."

It could also be said to be "world renown" for its violence, its killing, for the casual way many of its citizens pick up firearms and shoot neighbors, acquaintances, children and total strangers. As for "outdoor activities," one recent weekend in New Orleans was a carnival of violence, with guns popping off, 12 people shot and two critically injured.

At 56 murders per 100,000 people, Louisiana's largest city easily led the nation in homicides last year. The murder rate is seven times greater than that of New York City.
...
If the gun-lovers come, they will find a city where the objects of their affection are highly esteemed by many, considered invaluable, and in daily use.

"As a hunter and gun owner representing a state filled with avid hunters and gun enthusiasts, I can assure you that the National Rifle Association will receive a very warm welcome from the citizens of Louisiana," Blanco wrote.

The governor was too modest. Nowhere in America will the NRA find such a concentration of practicing firearms "enthusiasts" as in New Orleans.

They may not all be to the NRA's taste. But the organization does, after all, claim to be inclusive.

In any case, Blanco was again dead right when she told LaPierre: "It's for no insignificant reason that we are known as the Sportsman's Paradise." The quarry simply varies, from region to region. In New Orleans, it's safe to say, citizens of all ages enjoy guns: The city leads the nation in percentage of youngsters who carry a gun to school, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Some with long acquaintance of that popping New Orleans sound that is not firecrackers find the governor's NRA missive curious.

"I think it's an affront," said Dr. Peter Scharf, co-director of the Center for Society, Law and Justice at the University of New Orleans. "The question is, is the NRA's message antithetical to criminal justice in the most gun-plagued city in the nation?"

Accompanying the editorial, there was a photo of a grieving family taken just minutes after a recent high profile Uptown murder. (In fact, the family was blogger Banangela's neighbors from downstairs. Banangela is currently considering moving to another state since the traumatic episode.)

Admittedly, guys like Paw Paw have forgotten more than I'll ever know about firearms. I don't have much experience with guns, but I do know that they don't tickle my gonads in the least.

It's difficult to see much use for things like assault weapons in large cities, though. (And as TBogg notes, smaller towns aren't by no means immune from high-caliber idiots.) That said, I think Dems should concentrate on revitalizing economies rather than further banning guns. Surely, the massive drop in crime during the Clinton years had more to do with the plenitude of jobs created than in the gun-control legislation he signed. Banning guns is certainly not a political winner in the South, either. I'm sure that 400 more police in New Orleans would do more to reduce the homicide rate than restricting more "hardware" (as Paw Paw calls it). Also, speaking politically, gun bans don't flow well with the "pro-privacy" platform that Dems should be talking about every chance they get.

Those are the outlines of my take on the matter. What is yours?

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"A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius" 

Indeed. It must be very strange to be President Bush: a man "so far ahead of his time" that he knows that global warming and coastal restoration are not based on "solid science", and that schools should make room for creationist theories in their curriculum.

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss "intelligent design" alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said.


How 'bout the school of thought that the GOP has been hijacked by fundagelical wackjobs? Can we expose young minds to that one?

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Monday, August 01, 2005

L.L. Cool Gwen 

About ten years ago my friend Karie told me that if she ever decided to "play for the other team", Gwen Stefani would be a fine companion. My reaction at the time was a bit nonplussed. For whatever reason, I didn't see it, and was rather unimpressed with Karie's choice. (I think it was during my Gina Gershon phase-- which has yet to conclude, btw.)

Now, having reflected on the many bad decisions I've made over the years-- and there are many-- I honestly don't think I've ever been more wrong about something. Gwen Stefani has tremendous game, pure and simple. Once I fully recognized that, the profundity of my original error became clear. I should apologize to Karie posthaste.

Hopefully, it's not too late to restore my credentials as a lesbian.

Hella Good



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[Ed: Hey, pearlboy, what happened to the belly shot? You know you can't refer to Gwen Stefani without showing her famous mid-riff. It's been mandatory since '99!]

Alright. Here, you preeverts.
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Molpus is the man 

When the Times-Picayune interviews political candidates prior to making an endorsement, the editorial staff frequently asks: "What Louisiana legislator (or officeholder) do you most admire?"

Talk about a trick question. I mean, given this state's history, what's the right answer, there? Who are you going to pick? Big Daddy?! Silver Fox? one of the Longs? I suppose Treen would be one of those safe but boring choices.

Surprisingly, if I lived in Mississippi and was asked the same query, the answer would be very easy: Dick Molpus.

I've mentioned him before, but last week the Gambit ran a profile of Philadelphia MS, during the Killen trial. Molpus' courage was once again referenced; and rightfully so. Everything he does is golden. The man's ahead of his time, and I fervently hope he runs again for office. Here's the quote from the Gambit article:

"I don't mean to paint a rosy picture, but I think it is pretty remarkable that the community has come as far as it has," Mitchell says. "It didn't come from outside -- it came from within the community to retry Killen. How many places that have this kind of stigma have taken the steps Philadelphia has taken, especially without outside interference?"

Both Dearman and Mitchell credit former Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus with galvanizing the community with a speech he gave at the 40th anniversary of the slayings. "That really kind of caused a reopening," Dearman says. "The dynamic was, 'You know the world is going to be looking at us anyway. How are we going to deal with it?' That kind of began the discussion. I think it was important that he used the word 'we' -- 'if we don't come forward, then we're just as guilty.'"


And, for the record, if I lived in Tejas, the choice would be Barbara Jordan. Natch.
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Sunday, July 31, 2005

It's a Crouere summer (part II: Ace of Base extended remix) 

In an earlier post I chastized columnist Jeff Crouere for arguing that Gov. Blanco was vetoing district pork (and being "tough" on Tom Benson) out of partisan vengeance. He didn't prove the charge, nor did he recognize that the sort of "bad governance" he described applied more to Bushco than it does to the Queen Bee.

Anyhow, in doing the research for my commentary, I came across another statement from Crouere that inspired some further reading. It was a claim that seems to typify the belief many conservatives have that the era of Huey Long represented some sort of "original sin" in the history of Louisiana. This is misleading, though. While Huey Long's political genius was highly original, the conditions which enabled his stunning ascent to power were not entirely of his making. Louisiana had a political history prior to Huey, and not a good one. We shouldn't forget that things weren't all fine and dandy in the "gret stet" before the Kingfish took over. Jeff Crouere seems to forget this fact in a recent column (6/30/05) where he submits:

In Louisiana, we need elected officials who will bring honor and not shame to the state. We need behavior that is exemplary, not criminal. The public has been disappointed and disgraced by our politicians since the days of Huey Long.

Since "the days of Huey"-- but no earlier, Jeff?

Let's recall the conditions in Louisiana just prior to Huey Long, and determine to what extent the state's governance at that time might be considered "disappointing" or "disgraceful". In Huey Long Invades New Orleans, Garry Boulard provides a thumbnail sketch of how it was:

Cultural and religious prejudice prevented poor Protestants from north Louisiana from aligning with the equally destitute Catholics in southern Acadiana, thus making it inevitable that the state's conservative elite, which also had the [New Orleans machine] in their pockets, would glide through life unchallenged. That the elites did so with a vindictive, monstrous indifference to the people they ruled was a measure of their reign. "The oligarchy that ruled Louisiana all those years was one of the most powerful and heartless in the annals of the Republic," two veteran reporters, Neal R. Peirce and Jerry Hagstrom, later judged. "Virtually nothing was done to cope with overwhelming problems of illiteracy and crushing poverty that left most Louisianans with inadequate food, shelter, and clothing well past the year 1900."
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[Huey Long came] to a striking conclusion: the system stunk.

There is no doubt Long was correct in his assessment. The system did stink. The Kingfish decided to totally dismantle it, and try something new. Here is what T. Harry Williams' authoritative biography says on this point (p 414):

A few commentators have admitted that Huey was in some ways a departure from the pattern of the Southern demagogue. W. J. Cash noted that Huey did not resort to the usual demagogic appeals, such as "nigger" baiting, but addressed himself to economic issues. Cash also perceived that Huey showed rare artisty in using power, that he was the first Southern popular leader to set himself, not just to bring the opposing machine to terms, but to destroy it. Gerald W. Johnson rendered an even higher tribute. He said that Huey was the first Southern politician since the great Virginians of the eighteenth century to have an original idea, the first to extend the boundaries of political thought by challenging the accepted faith. Huey's contribution, said Johnson, was to inject some realism into Southern politics: he made Southerners think that the problems of their time were something very different from the problems of the Civil War and Reconstruction era.

That encapsulates the situation pretty well. If the conservative elite who held power hadn't been so criminally derelict over the years-- scapegoating problems rather than solving them-- a mass leader like Huey Long could never have vaulted from a small town in Winn parish to the Governor's mansion (and on to the U.S. Senate). Only widespread discontent and disappointment could enable such a spectacular rise to power in just a few short years.

I'll even belabor the point once more, this time via Robert Penn Warren's fictional depiction in All the King's Men. There's a scene where various conservatives are criticizing Governor Long Stark in front of Stark's young, hard-boiled political advisor, who is the hero of the story. The young advisor can only hold his tongue for so long as his boss is lambasted:

"George," the Judge said, "you're an old fogy. Government is committed these days to give services we never heard of when we were growing up. The world's changing."

"It's changed so much a fellow can step in and grab the whole state. Give him another few years and nothing can blast him out. He'll have half the state on a pay roll and the other half will be afraid to vote. Strong-arm, blackmail. God knows what."

He's a hard man," the Judge said. "He's played it hard and close....
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I know he's going to tax this state to death," Mr. Patton said, and shifted his big hams, and glared. "And drive business out of this state. Raising royalty on the state... oil land. On--"

"Yes, George," the Judge laughed, "and he slammed an income tax on you and me, too."

"On the oil situation, now," the Young Executive began, for the sacred name of oil had been mentioned, "as I see it, the situation--"

...

...But I broke in, after an hour of sitting quiet and drinking in Miss Dumonde's subtle scent, and said something. I don't recall what I interrupted, but it all amounted to the same thing anyway. I said, "Doesn't it all boil down to this? If the government of this state for quite a long time back had been doing anything for the folks in it, would Stark have been able to get out there with his bare hands and bust the boys? And would he be having to make up so many short cuts to get something done to make up for the time lost all these years in not getting something done? I'd just like to submit that question for the sake of argument."

There wasn't a sound for half a minute.


Indeed. What could one say?

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Now, if you made it to the end of this long post, I think you deserve a reward. Jonnybutter's post (and links!) are fun stuff. Enjoy!

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"The biggest influx of federal dollars to the state in recent memory." 

So, Louisiana received some money from the Energy and Highway bills. It's not enough to entirely meet our urgent coastal and highway needs, but it's a start. I congratulate and salute our Congressional delegation who fought for every cent, in the face of stiff opposition from the White House (among others). I doubt any other state needed federal support more than Louisiana right now, because I think protecting our coastal wetlands and completing I-49 are two of the most important allocations in each bill.

I love improvements to infrastructure. On average, I think they are some of the wisest and best choices for government spending. Yes, I understand that too often they become a porkapalooza, but, on the flip-side, I don't know how this country could function without its monumentally impressive highway system. Having spent hundreds of thousands of miles driving U.S. interstates over the years, I marvel at Eisenhower's wisdom in bringing Hitler's efficient Autobahn to the U.S.. How many times has that investment paid for itself?

And I'll specifically applaud David Vitter here, because he correctly made the procurement of federal monies for I-49 and coastal erosion two of his top priorities. (Liberal priorities, I might add.) In the case of I-49, here's what a completed interstate would mean for Louisiana (source):
  • Better hurricane evacuation route.
  • Increased commerce for South Louisiana ports.
  • International trade route from New Orleans to Canada.
  • Reduced congestion in I-10 Baton Rouge.
  • Intersects with six east-west interstates between New Orleans and Kansas City.
  • Increased safety along U. S. 90 in South Louisiana.
  • Net impact of $4 billion to Louisiana economy.
  • Nearly 100k total jobs will be created (directly, indirectly and induced).

Again, there's a lot of pork in the Road bill. (It's nearly unavoidable in big legislation.) But you can see why the completion of I-49 is such an excellent investment for Louisiana: we're talking about an estimated $4 billion economic impact and 100,000 jobs-- seriously huge numbers, folks.

Here's the summary from Da Paper:
WASHINGTON -- Congress is set to pass a $286.4 billion highway and mass transit bill that would pour hundreds of millions of dollars into Louisiana projects, including $259 million for the expansion of Interstate 49...

The transportation bill, along with an energy bill that provides $540 million to the state over four years to help restore Louisiana's dwindling coastline and wetlands, may well represent the biggest influx of federal dollars to the state in recent memory.

Regarding the money from the energy bill for coastal erosion assistance, the T-P editiorializes:

The state will get $540 million from 2007 to 2011, or about $135 million per year. While that's only a fraction of the $14 billion needed to beat back the Gulf of Mexico, this money will enable Louisiana to make real progress in the fight against erosion.
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The importance of this kind of help can't be overstated. Louisiana has a long, expensive list of needs. But it's also important for state and parish officials to spend these new resources wisely. We've convinced the country that wetland loss matters; now we need to show them what we can do about it.

Quite right. And if readers think I've been rabid about the boondoggle over in Iraq, I promise to be twice as vicious should these precious coastal monies be wasted-- politics be damned!

I worry because there's already companies licking their chops over the federal influx-- and some of the biggest are associated with Democratic party big-wigs.

I swear, if big business gets cute with our coast and infrastructure money, my fury will be unmatched.

Ya heard me, Shaw Group? I'm gonna unleash the Kraken on your ass if you "Halliburton" Louisiana's coastal restoration effort!
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