Saturday, November 19, 2005

Replacing every musical instrument lost to Katrina. 

"It's clearly achievable," the Edge said. "Something should be done and not just because New Orleans deserves it, but because the world needs New Orleans."

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"Your tax structure stinks, and you need to change it." 

The Urban Land Institute released its plan for rebuilding New Orleans yesterday. The T-P has a story on it. According to the ULI, my low-lying neighborhood is one of those which "needs additional study, but could have the potential for mass buyouts and future green space..."

It would be a shame, but I'm committed to doing what's best for the city (and state) and if it would be better if my area was a park then so be it.

Here's another clip that caught my eye:

The group called for the creation of the Crescent City Rebuilding Corporation, a nonprofit development corporation that would be in charge of all funds funneled into the city for the rebuilding effort.

The corporation, to be created by the state legislature, would have the power to do land banking, buy homes and property, purchase and restructure mortgages, finance redevelopment projects, issue bonds, assist with neighborhood planning, and foster the creation of community development corporations.


Panelists also said their concept differs from the Louisiana Recovery Authority currently proposed by U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge. That agency would be totally controlled by the federal government. The Crescent City Rebuilding Corporation board, on the other hand, would have appointees named by the president, governor, mayor and City Council. Both entities may be able to work in concert if the concepts are tweaked, panelists said.

Ok, let's see if we can "tweak", consolidate and get moving. What else?

[Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy] said the tax structure, which was cobbled together over 200 years, must be changed to deal with the absence of tax revenue in post-Katrina reality: especially when it comes to the city's practice of under-assessing property.

"Your tax structure stinks, and you need to change it," said Pittsburgh Mayor Murphy. "We are making recommendations for tough love here."

I would have to agree. But who is willing to confront seven entrenched, powerful, selfish, assessor-fiefdoms? Who has the political will and talent necessary to topple these "Old Regulars"?

Speak up if you'd support grass-roots reform candidates who will make the necessary changes to save New Orleans.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Rethinking New Orleans Salon 

The Salon meets Fridays at 6pm: at the Bridge Lounge (in the side red room). Everyone's welcome to come and discuss the rebuilding effort.

Highlights of each gathering will be posted at Humid Beings.
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Friday non-random Deathbed songs 

Nevsky discusses what music he'd like to listen to when dying. Interesting to ponder, no?

(As for me, I'd like to hear an original composition by my great-great-great-great-gr8... granddaughter. Heh. Inspired by her childhood in New Orleans. Yeah, that would sound good.)

Anyway: as you know I'm a Ramones fan, and I had heard that U2's Bono was a great source of comfort to Joey Ramone before he succumbed to cancer. I heard that Bono called Joey in the hospital and said he was a big fan, and that meant a lot to Joey. In his post, Nevsky adds another detail about Bono and Joey which I didn't know:

...Howard Stern said that when Joey Ramone passed away, he was listening to "In A Little While" by U2. Nice song, it certainly gains significance by its role in the passing of one of America's greats...

What song would you like to hear while you drift away?
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

"I want you to put the air in there and not spare the horses." 

USA Today:

In a memo from the meeting marked Eyes Only, Top Secret Sensitive, Nixon told his military men to continue doing what was necessary in Cambodia, but to say for public consumption that the United States was merely providing support to South Vietnamese forces when necessary to protect U.S. troops.

"That is what we will say publicly," he asserted. "But now, let's talk about what we will actually do."

He instructed: "I want you to put the air in there and not spare the horses. Do not withdraw for domestic reasons but only for military reasons."

"We have taken all the heat on this one." He went on: "Just do it. Don't come back and ask permission each time."

So what they "actually" did was bomb the hell out of Cambodian peasants, millions of whom fled to the cities and created the chaotic, miserable conditions that enabled Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to flourish. Two million people died in the hell that resulted, but some still wish to claim that the Nixon-haters were responsible for the disaster. If they hadn't stopped Tricky Dick's noble lying, and let him be the peace-maker he always claimed to be, everything could have been different.

It's pretty (for some) to think that, yes?
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A government agency has run out of funds to cover flood insurance claims and, in an unprecedented move, has stopped payments to policyholders.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the national flood insurance program, has advised the 96 insurance companies that sell flood policies to stop payments to policyholders until Congress says the agency can borrow more money.

FEMA has 40 billion in the bank, but it has to borrow money to pay policyholders (like me).

In other news, Yatpundit is talking about New Orleans schools (as well as property taxes, my latest idee fixe). Go.
Root causes of the riots in France.
Finally: "I've Been a Shaky Alibi".
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Being a Saints Fan is hard work 

But bicycler/oyster-griller Dillyberto finds his happiness in a warm jumpsuit. (I just hope it is free of squirrels.)

Join him!
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When I hear the word "science" I reach for my blogger 

It's evident after reading this that Bush-crony and reconstruction czar Donald Powell is getting his talking points from Karl Rove. It's characteristic of Rove to use the generic term "science" as a delaying tactic. Through Bush, Rove has told Louisianans that we must wait for "solid science" before we can restore the wetlands; and now we must wait to see what "science dictates" as far as category five levees go. We must wait... for science.

Marvel at the following insights Powell delivers... in an hour long interview with the AP.

"I think New Orleans and Louisiana need to be safe," Powell said in interview lasting nearly an hour with The Associated Press.

Thanks, hoss.

However, "I'm not sure what the science dictates," Powell said when asked if the levees would be rebuilt to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, as Gulf Coast officials have requested. "Clearly, I think they're going to rebuilt up to a Level 3 but ... they were not a Level 3 when the storm came. And then study and understand what the science is to get to a Level 5."

"But the levees clearly are important," he said.

Almost immediately after the storm, displaced business-owners from New Orleans began demanding a federal commitment to Category 5 levee protection. Now, remember that category five is an infinite range (155mph winds and up). Thus, there can be no guaranteed category five levee protection. However, category five has become the buzzword, and literally thousands of businesses will make their decision to return or relocate based on a federal commitment to category five protection.

This isn't a difficult problem to solve. Simply commit to building full strength Category Four levees so that they can withstand 155 or 156mph winds. That's technically Category Five protection, and you can say that "the levees will withstand some weak Category Five storms. But, obviously, we can't engineer flood protection for an infinite category. We make no guarantees, but you have engineering that is designed to withstand the strongest Cat 4 and some weak Cat Fives. " Believe it or not, that would be a huge boon to area businesses.

But that won't happen.

See, when Dub wants to go to Mars, science is at his service. However, when he doesn't want to pay to protect the "gret stet", science becomes a profound obstacle.

One wishes to know: what does Bush regard as "definitive science", anyway? This is a man who believes the "jury is out" on evolution and global warming. Does he expect 100% scientific unanimity as far as how to proceed with the levees? I can assure you that will never occur. When, precisely, will Bush and his cronies be "sure" that science is "dictating" something.

And what the hell's the point of a Texan in the White House if all we get is some weak-ass "Well, let's see what science dictates..." posture!! Wasn't Bush the guy who promised "bold action" after Katrina? Well, where is it? I thought Texans were supposed to do the dictating-- not the guys in lab coats. The scientists figure out how to accomplish the big goals that Texans set for them. Right?

For example, here's an anecdote about Henry Ford that might be illustrative. (Ford wasn't a Texan, but he had a "Texan mindset" in some ways.)

When Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 engine, he chose to build it with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the same. The plan was made on paper, but the engineers agreed to a man that it was impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine block in one piece.

"Produce it anyway," said Ford.

"Impossible!" they all cried.

"Just go ahead and do it," ordered Ford.

The engineers went ahead. At the end of a year Ford checked with the engineers and again was told they had found no way to carry out his orders. "Go right ahead," said Ford, "I want it and I'll have it. They went ahead and then as if by a stroke of magic the secret was discovered.

Ford thought big and won...

Why does Bush think so small when it comes to Louisiana? Why won't he say "I want Cat 5 levees, and I'll have them"? That one statement would create a huge resurgence in business activity in a place that desperately needs it. (And like I said above, the end result need only be a weak Cat 5. The winds from a strong Cat 5 hurricane will pretty much obliterate New Orleans anyway, whether or not the levees hold.)

Bush thinks grandly about the Middle East's future 30 years hence, but for South Louisiana he and his cronies have only a few empty words, and an uncharacteristic reliance on "Science".

Why do you think that is the case?

Update: Crooked Timber alerts us to a poll of scientists: The truly striking figure is Bush’s approval ranking among leading scientists and engineers, drawn from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. In Aug 2001, it was 30 per cent – not strong but not negligible either. In Oct 2005, it’s fallen to 6 per cent, with 87 per cent disapproving.

* You're on your own for the title reference this time.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Three Million!! 

The update on this hilarious General post really ices the cake. Go read the whole thing, laugh, and pay special attention to the quotes on the update. Go ahead.


Is that not the strangest trifecta of "Favorite Quotes" you've ever seen? I mean, that's bizarre-- even for a hideously stupid College Repug. Can this guy possibly be serious? It appears so.

Now, it will give you a sense of how desperate things are in South Louisiana when I tell you that I was bored by the Fuhrer quote, but was utterly captivated by Bush's statement about the wetlands from his second debate with Kerry. Here it is, again:

I've got a plan to increase the wetlands by 3 million.

Well, hell's bells, people! Bush has a plan to increase the wetlands! I'd totally forgotten about it, and can't understand why he didn't mention it during his many trips to the Katrina-ravaged Gulfsouth. But he said he had one, so he must have one!

Again, it cannot be overemphasized: Bush has a plan to increase the wetlands! By how much, you ask? Three effin' million!! Yeah, you heard me. Three Million. That's Million with an "m", folks. Three million-- does it get any clearer than that? I think not.

Mr. President: please bring your 3 million wetlands-increasing plan down to Louisiana. Please. We need your ecological wisdom now more than ever. We've lost 2000 square miles of coastal marsh during Poppy's lifetime, and we are desperate for excellent solutions. I trust your plan will be just the thing to save our valuable coast.... You do want to be the president who saves Louisiana, right?

Iraq's Marsh Arabs are enjoying restored marshlands.

Floridians have seen billions of federal dollars flow in to restore the Everglades.

And Louisiana gets bupkis.

From the same answer in that same debate, we get:

"I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land." ---GWB

You'd "guess" wrong, Mistah Dubya.

Somerby is on the money when he says: "For years, we have made a simple suggestion; we have suggested that Dems and liberals tell the public that the pseudo-con empire [routinely plays the public for complete, total fools]. But Dems and libs have tended to gambol and play while pseudo-cons work-- work on their completely inane but highly effective stories."
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This just in 

Why is telling the whole truth, under oath, anathema to Oil guys?

Speaking of which, why is Big Time so often at the KBRoot of the problem?

The body count in New Orleans rises, but in a most ignoble manner.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Re: reforming & consolidating N.O.'s 7 wasteful assessorship fiefdoms: 

State Rep Peppi Bruneau (R-N.O.) sez:

"That's not a political battle that I believe anyone could win. I just don't see much sentiment among voters to change it. They like being able to reach out and touch their assessors."

I must say, Peppi, your pessimism about what is winnable does not impress me.
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The part of the puzzle that's missing 

From yesterday's Baton Rouge Advocate:

Mike Tidwell has a message to those living in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. "Put down the hammers, put down the brooms and leave the city right now," Tidwell said.

At a panel discussion Sunday at the Manship Theater in downtown Baton Rouge, the "Bayou Farewell" author and two other environmental journalists had strong words for the federal government's appropriation of $250 million, which they said is not nearly enough to survive another catastrophic hurricane.

Tidwell said the Bush administration should have appropriated a $4 billion or $5 billion "down payment" for coastal erosion repairs estimated to cost $14 billion over 30 years.

"It is time to call for the abandonment of New Orleans," Tidwell said.

"To tell people to go back to New Orleans and to fix the windows and sweep up the debris without a national plan and program to restore the physical integrity of this coast is an act of mass homicide."

The panel, assembled in the spring, was supposed to address the value of Louisiana's coast.

Instead, the discussion Sunday focused on how to resuscitate a coastline vastly eroded by two hurricanes weeks apart.

With Louisiana's coastline shrinking at a staggering pace -- 50 acres a day and 25 square miles a year -- Tidwell said New Orleans is not safe without a comprehensive approach to coastal restoration.
Tidwell said one of the things that has frustrated him about south Louisiana is that a truly mobilized and passionate grassroots movement has not developed.

"No truly charismatic grassroots leader has emerged and, when you look at really successful campaigns for social change anywhere in this country throughout our history, it has always involved serious grassroots organizing.

"It is a huge missing part of this puzzle," Tidwell said.

How is it possible that Louisiana lacks a charismatic, grassroots leader at this juncture?

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World Class New Orleans 

Check it.
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You'll find it here 

PGR remembers oyster-lover Joseph Casamento.

* Side note: I was hawking Acuras for the extended Benson family around the time the national Acura TL ad campaign began, showing Yuppies driving a TL on wet, dark New Orleans streets. Casamento's neon sign was briefly shown in the spot, and the title of this post was the slogan of the ad. At the time, I was proud to be the top salesman at the highest volume dealership between Atlanta and Houston (high praise until you think about it); And I especially enjoyed Acura's decision to feature New Orleans so prominently in the spot.

Now, though.... not so much.

You see, the only time I met Saints owner Tom Benson was when I held the door open for him one day and cheerily announced "Good Morning!" He stormed into the dealership, without acknowledging me in the slightest, despite all the money I was pouring into his family's pocket.

It killed Joe Casamento to leave the city. Tom Benson acts like it would kill him to stay.
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Monday, November 14, 2005

You go to war with the liberal atheist army you have... 

Tbogg's post on Pat ("this war is so f***in illegal") Tillman reminds me of two things. The first is this set of backhanded comments made by Bush against agnostics and atheists (including those in our armed forces). The comments never recieved the attention they deserved, imo. (Naturally they are couched in his patented "Some have asserted [insert noxious meme here]")

I mean, can you imagine Bush expressing that view to Pat Tillman? --in effect, auditing Tillman's patriotism, and explaining why he's unfit to be president?! Has it really come to this, people?

The second thing Tbogg's post reminds me is how much I dislike Ted Rall. "America's BS detector"... he ain't. It's funny that Rall apologizes for his errors about as frequently as the people he rages against....

Matt over at Basket o' Pups says it better than I can here (quick-scan down to the July 5 post-- it's worth it).

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Burning yearning feeling inside me 

Normally I can barely stomach Paul's stuff on Wizbang! He lives only a few miles away but our viewpoints are radically apart on most political issues. However, Paul's post-Katrina related work has been, in the main, pretty sharp. For example, Paul wrote the following on 11/11/05:

I've been giving this prediction to a few friends quietly for weeks but I have not posted it because you never want to give people ideas, but the gig is beginning to be up.

The next chapter of the Katrina story will be when thousands of buildings mysteriously burn down. The houses will be owned by rich people and by poor people, in all parts of town... but they'll have a few things in common.

All will have been damaged by flood and all will have had home owners but no flood insurance.

Desperation is overtaking New Orleans. Rapidly.

And right or wrong, desperate people do desperate things. Many homeowners are literally homeless and pennyless. It is not uncommon for people to owe $100,000 mortgage on a building worth nothing. Meanwhile, everything they've worked for their whole life is gone and they have no job.

Just seven hours later, the Times-Picayune put up this story:

An "obviously suspicious" fire heavily damaged a Faubourg Marigny house Friday and spread to two other homes, a spokesman for the New Orleans Fire Department said.
[NOFD officer Roman] Nelson said the two-alarm fire was suspicious because of the fire there six days earlier and the fact that the building did not have any utilities. He said investigators are trying to determine the cause. Additional information on the fire last week was not available Friday night.

Rep. Richard Baker's bill establishing a Louisiana Recovery Incorporation might be an important way to promote rebuilding and diminish widespread arson and insurance fraud.

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