Friday, November 25, 2005

Just ask me I won't say no, how could I? 

...because if it's not love, then it's the...

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Voice of the Wetlands 

This weekend come on down to Houma, Louisiana, to support the annual Voice of the Wetlands festival!

Why America should care:

It's more than a Louisiana culture. It's America's culture. As the wetlands supports those cultures, it serves a crucial role in the American economy. Seafood. Natural gas. Oil, petrochemicals. Plastics. Protection of population centers and major industrial hubs from hurricanes.

The wetlands of Louisiana fade daily due to erosion - at the rate the size of one football field an hour. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Mississippi with levees, it cut the river's ability to hold back the power of the Gulf. The Gulf has been winning for nearly 100 years - and its spoils are lost land that equals the state of Delaware (and then some) in size so far.

Louisiana and all of America will be affected if the demise of Louisiana's wetlands should continue. Voice of the Wetlands (VOW) is the voice of those people who seek human intervention to fix a natural balance disrupted by human intervention.


The music, food, coastlines, wildlife, fish, game, and everything else that makes Louisiana a unique and original state is in desperate need of America's attention and support. This land where Louisianans built their livelihood, raised their families and provided a crucial piece of America 's economic puzzle is poised to disappear entirely.

If you can't make the trip, please support the effort. Buy a CD or poster, write Congress... raise awareness, blog about it... etc..
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Nothing like a catastrophe to bring the nation apart 

This week's TIME quotes a GOP aide:
We want to see them helping themselves before they ask us for help.

The approximately 1100 who died (70% were elderly) haven't asked for much since the storm, so I assume the aide's comments are directed to the Louisianans who survived the flooding. And I'm delighted to see the "We/Them" dynamic in full effect among our public servants at the Capitol. That should be helpful while we count the dead, and they "study" the need for stronger levees.

World Class New Orleans responds:

Come here and look around--middle-age women pulling out sheetrock, septagenarian men with industrial-strength filter masks on. Yesterday I had six children in my house (my own plus two others) so that a friend could gut his first floor. What he needed more than anything was a place of respite for his kids while he took care of business. It is insulting to assume that we are doing anything but helping ourselves.

Yeah, I'd like to give that aide a personal tour of my neighborhood as well.

And what exactly have those D.C. aides been doing when not auditing our self-reliance here in South Louisiana? Oh yeah, according to the WSJ, over a dozen of them are under investigation in the rapidly-expanding Abramoff scandal.

Michael Scanlon, a former GOP aide at the center of the scandal, once

fired off an e-mail message to a colleague objecting to "this whole thing about not kicking someone when they're down."

"You kick him until he passes out... Then beat him over the head with a baseball bat, then roll him up in an old rug and throw him off a cliff into the pound surf below!!!!!"

Touching. Scanlon and Abramoff were the guys who ripped off Louisiana Indian tribes while calling them "monkeys", "idiots" and "troglydites" behind their backs.

It's interesting, because when I read that NYT article I merely gaped at the political savagery. Others, with perhaps slightly different critical attunements, picked up on subtexts I had missed.

For the record, let me just say that one of the kindest, most generous people I know is a former GOP aide from Capitol Hill. He got his fill of the game, and left it for other pursuits.
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Nice one! 

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

These go well with leftovers 

"Turkey with a dash of bitters" by Loyola prof John Biguenet (via Evacuee, Murph and Mr. Clio).

State legislators who can't even name the 10 commandments want to "protect" them by inserting them everywhere possible.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Melancon wants a march on Washington 

Road trip, anyone?

Congressman Melancon is also getting an online petition together. (H/T DP).

Also, State Legislators are bashing Bush in Baton Rouge, The Advocate reports:

Democratic state Sen. Butch Gautreaux stepped on the STATE Senate floor Tuesday to deliver a rare partisan political speech blasting President Bush and the Republican Congress. Some Republican senators walked out as Gautreaux blasted their president repeatedly.
"I worry for Louisiana and I worry for this country," said Gautreaux, a Morgan City businessman.

Gautreaux said he fears Louisiana's post-hurricane needs are getting lost on the national level because of the controversy swirling around Bush.
"We have been working hard down here in Louisiana ever since the first hurricane hit. We worked hard in so many ways … to keep the recovery going," Gautreaux said. "I came to praise this body and our Legislature to hold up as an example of cooperation."

But Gautreaux said he's worried about the failure so far of the federal government to help and its propensity to blame Gov. Kathleen Blanco and others in Louisiana for hurricane-related problems.

"The future of this state depends on funding from Congress and President Bush like it or not. It's true," Gautreaux said.

"I am worried that Louisiana's needs will be lost in the debate over the botched war in Iraq. I am worried that our needs will be lost as the Bush administration makes sure that the very richest Americans get a tax cut," Gautreaux said.

Also, I wanted to tell you that, courtesy of the missing persons network established after Katrina, I located my friend David C. Bellinger. He's in Atlanta and doing allright. He helped inspire this essay I wrote for a paper in Florida about my evacuation experience.

He certainly would have loved this story in the DP.
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I give thanks for posts like these 

I swoon over World Class New Orleans:

President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced yesterday that the nation will be guaranteed Category Three terrorism protection by next summer. At a press conference held at Ground Zero in New York City, the President said, "I am proud to announce that the federal government will be able to provide 'Yellow' or 'Elevated' protection against terrorism in our country. Americans can sleep soundly at night knowing that Homeland Security is hard at work and will make this happen."

There's more, much more, at WCNO. Go.
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Gaming 2.0 

The November Issue of Business 2.0 predicts that ten mega-cities will emerge throughout the U.S. in coming decades. Unlike St. Louis or Denver or other cities, the magazine picks New Orleans to be part of a dynamic "megapolitan" region in the GulfSouth. The downside is that we'll connect to Houston. The article, which is not without caveats, was written after Katrina. Here are its recommendations:

TAKE OIL UPSTREAM: Most major oil companies are based in Houston, but their presence in New Orleans -- port operations and branch offices -- offers a base for igniting a surefire growth industry. Earmark a chunk of the federal funds, some suggest, to create a research hub for new energy technologies. "New Orleans has a lot of energy talent," says Robert Lang, an urban planning professor at Virginia Tech. "You can't build that from scratch."

VIVA LAS VEGAS: Remodeling the city after family-friendly Las Vegas -- with casinos, luxury malls and hotels, and five-star restaurants -- could spark a renaissance for New Orleans’s convention trade, lure more tourists, and get them to spend more. "You can build a big metro economy purely out of high-level services," Lang says. "You get people there with gambling, then rope them into consuming other things."

About the gambling thing: like I've said before, gambling is a part of New Orleans, and I don't see anything sacred about the middle floors of high rise hotels in the CBD. Mayor Nagin's proposal to expand gambling had some potentially appealing features. Clearly, no one here wants New Orleans to copy Vegas, but I would ask: "Why not cater to 'ultra rich' tourists, and build classy, European-style luxury gaming areas? ...Some say that gambling is a tax on the stupid. Well, there's a lot of ultra-rich "whales" who are stupid enough to pay that tax-- and enjoy doing it repeatedly!! Are they not worth seducing? Is the city that introduced poker to the U.S. not interested in capitalizing on the 60 million Americans who play Hold'em on a regular basis?"

While I would not make the gambling proposal a centerpiece of the rebuilding effort, I didn't Nagin's plan deserved immediate dismissal. We will always have a high-level service economy (shopping, antiques, art, spa, dining, entertainment) that supports our city. The question is how to maximize its potential.

In other words: If New Orleans is the best place to spend $100 (last 'graph), why shouldn't it be the best place to spend $1000, or $10k... etc.?
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"So you see, you can't be dead... because I love you." 

An old voodoo woman told me Neo-Orleans will resurrect, and save the soul of America.

It is "the One", I tell ya.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

League of Extraordinary Pelicans 

Blake is setting up an exciting information network where Louisiana bloggers, working together, will raise the awareness that will bring about needed change for our state. Blake needs our help in this worthy endeavour. He says

If all the bloggers in this state, a group of various citizens with different backgrounds and political leanings, can work together to educate their readership and get the important information to the people we might be able to spur on ACTION. We might be able to get the needed ATTENTION.

Below is a very partial and rushed list of bloggers who might/should be interested in this effort. Please add those whom I've overlooked in the comments below. Initial comments on levee board restructuring have already been made at the Humid Beings forum Blake set up.

I'm in. Are you?

Not Right
World Class
2 Millionth
humid haney
humid beings
suspect device
People Get Ready
Library Chronicles
A Frolic of My Own
New Orleans Metblog
Mostly Cajun
Life Goes Off
The Dead Pelican
Conservative cajun
Huck Upchuck
Humid City
platonic cave pseudo
PawPaw's House
have a snake
Chris C. Mooney
NO Bulletin
Eye of the Storm
Louisiana Law Blog :
A Peck of Gold
Ask Questions Get Answers!!
Charles W. Stricklin
CrabAppleLane Blog
Illuminated Obscurity
Jessie's Blog
Julia's Musings
LA - not the good one
Maw-Maw and Dem's Blog
Moldy City
Moot Thoughts & Musings
Mostly Cajun
N.O. Pundit
Note from the Book
Pajama Pundits
Ramblings of a Southern Goddess


Operation Eden

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Louisiana officials have also complained about opposition from the Bush administration to proposals to dedicate a stream of money for restoring coastal wetlands and constructing levees capable of withstanding Category 5 hurricanes.

Though that work will take years to complete, a federal commitment to provide money - more than $20 billion - is needed soon to encourage insurance companies, businesses and homeowners to invest in the region, state officials say.

But the Bush administration has objected to a bipartisan proposal that would give the state up to 40 percent of the more than $5 billion in annual federal revenues generated by Louisiana's offshore oil and gas industries. The state now receives only a small portion of those royalties.

"The political will is there in Congress to do this," said Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana and a strong advocate of the oil revenue plan. "We have to get leadership from the White House. Their tight-fisted policies are cutting off their nose to spite their face."

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Dems commit to Cat 5 levees; Bush commits to a study 

In an earlier post I mocked Senator Vitter (R-La) for reading into Reconstruction Czar Donald Powell's "indications" that Bush is serious about Category 5 levees. Apparently, Governor Blanco felt similarly "hopeful" after a conversation with Bush's crony.

Unfortunately, our officials must learn that hope is not a plan when dealing with these people.

In an interview last week... [Donald Powell] contradicted an assertion by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco that he had committed the Bush administration to local leaders' $20 billion priority, strengthening the New Orleans levee system to withstand a Category 5 hurricane instead of the current Category 3.

"He was pretty clear about it," Blanco said.

But Powell, 64, a tall, low-key Texan who wears a cattleman's belt with a lone star under his suit, demurred. "The commitment is to build the levees back to a three... and then to study the five."

Wow, Big Slick "demurred". Color me monkey-shocked.

Now, what would a real pro-business leader say if he were serious about rebuilding the area? Perhaps something like this:

[The] Senate's Democratic leader said Monday the party is committed to "rebuilding New Orleans and all of south Louisiana with stronger levee systems to protect against Category 5 hurricanes."

Bam! There it is: a bold public commitment to Cat 5 levees from Harry Reid.

Can anyone tell me why Bush is suffering from an uncharacteristic "boldness deficit" when it comes to protecting New Orleans? Since when does George "let's go to Mars" Bush need a study in order to set his goals? Thousands of businesses and jobs could be saved if Bush would make a commitment like Reid just did. But he won't. Bush wants to fund a time-consuming study. A study. What will Cat 5 levees even matter after 60,000 businesses leave the area because they (rightly) sense Bush isn't earnestly committed to protecting New Orleans? What will be the value of Cat 5 levees if they're surrounding a ghost town?

But Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., suggested that President Bush and congressional Republicans, who have the majority in both the Senate and House, aren't matching Bush's early commitment to "do what it takes" to help rebuild the area.

Is that contention-- that the GOP isn't committed to doing "what it takes"-- even disputable?
Louisiana officials, both Democrat and Republican, have been looking for more than a study. They want a commitment from the administration to build Category 5 protection levees. Such a commitment, Mayor Nagin and others have said, would give residents and businesses the confidence to return.

Precisely! Confidence is everything right now, but we're getting sold short.

Put another way: our team's down. There's under two minutes to go, and head coach Bush is calling conservative running plays... why?!
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Monday, November 21, 2005

Nothing learned... just right. 

Via 2 Millionth Web Log I found this Wapo story:

In five years in the presidency, Bush has proved a decidedly unadventurous traveler, an impression undispelled by the weeklong journey through Asia that wraps up Monday. As he barnstormed through Japan, South Korea and China, with a final stop in Mongolia still to come, Bush visited no museums, tried no restaurants, bought no souvenirs and made no effort to meet ordinary local people.
The Bush spirit trickles down to many of his top advisers, who hardly go out of their way to sample the local offerings either. A number of the most senior White House officials on the trip, perhaps seeking the comforts of their Texas homes, chose to skip the kimchi in South Korea to go to dinner at Outback Steakhouse -- twice.

I'm glad the protection of a cultural capital like New Orleans is in good hands.
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Stupid bowl-dwellers 

Before I prepare my seafood dinner, I think I'll put on some jazz, sip my sugared coffee, turn up the thermostat, and lecture New Orleanians about how unwise it is to live where they do. I should have told them in person when I vacationed there last year, but I was too busy having the time of my life.

Blake responds to such sentiments in admirable fashion, restraining the venom and unloading the facts.
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and dillyberto sees the silver golden lining in yesterday's effort.

The oyster must agree with Buddy Roemer: "I love the Saints, but I love Saints fans even more."
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Front Page Editorial in Da Paper! 

Prominent, charged words, to be sure-- and not a moment too soon. I've yet to see the print version, but World Class New Orleans has the beat.

Rather than comment on the reasons for Washington's inadequate reaction to our plight, I'll just quote this snippet from an article in yesterday's paper:

But [David Vitter, R-La.] said there's hope for more help in the near term. He predicted that Congress would come back after its Thanksgiving recess and approve a redistribution of some of the $62 billion for "priority needs" plus additional funding. He said that Donald Powell, the newly named coordinator for federal hurricane response, gave him every indication during a meeting Friday that the White House is seriously considering his request to make a commitment to repair levees and build replacements that would protect against Category 5 hurricanes.

There's "hope" for Cat 5 levees, you see, because Bush's crony gave our junior Senator every indication that Bush is "seriously considering" them. Meanwhile thousands of businesses choose to relocate because they rightly judge this administration by its actions, not its words.
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Unforgivable, in every way... 

Bob Graham states:

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.

Knowing what I know about Bob Graham, I have no doubt that he has accurately described an event which did in fact occur. It's a good bet that he made notes of this specific conversation in his daily journal. So, I will submit: insofar as Franks is correct, we have witnessed one of the most monumental strategic errors in the history of the Republic. Not a "blunder", an error. An intentional error. An unforgivable one. We'll be paying for it for decades to come.

It bears repeating that, when it comes to the war on terror, Bob Graham is no dove. He is "well to Bush's right" on that score.

Update: If you've yet to read this very important article from the LAT, please do so. Curveball, one of the primary sources for Bush and Powell's nonfactual claims in the run-up to war, is not just a liar, but is mentally unstable... Mein Gott.
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Robert wrote a fine op-ed for the Times Picayune about the need for a top flight culinary school here in N.O..

Update: I forgot that Dr. Brite had a recent T-P op-ed as well.
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