Saturday, May 20, 2006

Quicker than a Ray of light I'm flying 

Congratulations to da Mayor on his re-election. Jeffrey foresaw this eventuality a month ago with startling accuracy. Sharp fellow.

Yesterday Nagin said: "We're going to have a coalition of African-American voters and conservative voters that will blow people's minds."

Indeed.

I'm on my way to Vegas (on business). Check my esteemed colleagues on the Pelicans sidebar for the political commentary you crave. YRHT will resume Thursday or so.






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*
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And many happy returns 



If it was such a "tough decision", why did all of the city's major publications endorse Landrieu? The best endorsement quote in my view was the following from the Gambit:

Some have criticized Landrieu for being "too political" or "yet another Landrieu." Those are shallow arguments. Our next mayor will have to put together coalitions to move New Orleans forward; being an effective politician is therefore going to be Job One. As for his family, we suggest Landrieu's detractors look up Time magazine's issue of April 25, 2005, which named Chicago's Richard Daley as one of America's five best mayors. Daley's father was the epitome of an old-line political boss, yet he is the darling of the Windy City's business community. We urge all our readers to put "politics" aside and vote for the man most capable of getting New Orleans moving again -- Mitch Landrieu.


This may not be an ideal choice, but in my mind it's a very clear choice. After trying in earnest to tease out a solid argument for Nagin over Landrieu, I've come up empty. I've especially focused on how conservatives would justify a vote for Nagin, and at bottom it seems to be little more than an inchoate, unsupported fear of the Landrieu name (for the rank and file, anyway).

There's going to be a helluva lot of national media coverage surrounding who New Orleans elects. If it's Nagin, I sure hope his victory speech is good. Not that it will persuade people like this guy.
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Vote today 

Jeffrey at Library Chronicles has written some of the best political analysis on this twisted mayoral race. The day after the primaries he oberved:


Previously I have pointed out the uncanny similarities between Ray Nagin and George Bush. I believe this comparison is still valid. Nagin and Bush dance and misspeak in order to amuse, distract and divide the electorate while the big money movers behind them make off with the spoils.

Landrieu will lose big because he will fail to call Nagin on any of this.

Jeffrey is one of the few people who hasn't underestimated Nagin's political abilities or his potential to win re-election. His comparison of Nagin to Bush is illuminating. Like Bush, the Nagin camp has used (plausibly deniable) insinuations to great effect in this campaign. In disciplined fashion, Nagin has repeatedly claimed that Mitch Landrieu represents the "politics of the past", and is from a "political family" and has mysterious "big money donors" behind him. By implication, he's more or less made Mitch the issue rather than himself. (Or more accurately, he has subtly used insinuations about Landrieu in order to stimulate subterranean anxieties in the New Orleans psyche. Consider that my "Moon Landrieu" post received more comments than my last post prior to Katrina.) Also, Nagin campaigns like Katrina was his 9/11. While he doesn't stress it relentlessly like Bush, he does remind people that he stayed in the city during the storm, did everything he could, and New Orleanians would be crazy to change leadership with another hurricane season approaching... etc. Now, don't run wild with this Nagin/Bush parallel, there are obviously many, many differences between the two. While both claimed to unite while using subtle tactics to divide, Nagin has (basically) divided the extremes against the middle whereas Bush divided left against right.

The fractious political dynamics here are difficult to describe or navigate accurately. I think Jeffrey has an excellent handle on many of them, and encourage political addicts to read the following Library Chronicles posts here and here. They're not flawless, but I think they are extremely thought-provoking, especially when you consider alternative analysis around the net. (This post is pretty bad, I might slam it later if I have the time). Nagin's campaign strategist is Jim Carvin, who has been involved in every successful mayoral campaign in New Orleans since 1970 (according to journalist Adam Nossiter). Obviously this political veteran-- who previously worked for Moon Landrieu-- is a formidable psephologist. He understands the terrain, and I wouldn't bet against him.

I hope* Mitch Landrieu wins in a squeaker, but Nagin could easily win with another "surprisingly" good performance. In every election, he has always exceeded expectations. Jeffrey will be one of the very few who are not surprised if he does it again.

I just don't know how we'll explain a Nagin re-election to the rest of the country.

It's never boring here, that's for sure.


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And y'all know how much I hate political "hope".
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Friday, May 19, 2006

 
Note: I'll post some more mayoral election analysis later tonight, for you hardcore political addicts.

In the meantime, please read Dangerblond's "Dear Ray" letter. It's excellent. I share many of her feelings for Ray Nagin, although not quite as intensely.

I supported Nagin very early on in 2002, and still think he was the right choice. I was very pleased that he succeeded in creating a new political climate around City Hall. After eight years of the Morial machine, that was a huge accomplishment.

But now, after Katrina and his MLK day speech, Ray suddenly has too much national baggage at precisely the wrong time. It's kind of like Howard Dean after his "scream" speech. And yet, Ray has a good shot at winning tomorrow. He shouldn't be underestimated.

More later tonight.
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Joe Canizaro endorses Mitch Landrieu for Mayor 

Canizaro-- the man handpicked by Nagin to chair the BNOB commission, the biggest GOP fundraiser in the state, a friend of Karl Rove-- is on a list of 43 business leaders who took out a full page ad in today's Times-Picayune (pg A-14) supporting Mitch Landrieu. They cite his competence and his "honesty, integrity, hard work, and solid knowledge of the workings of government". He is "the best choice to lead us in rebuilding our great city".

Despite his longtime friendship with Moon Landrieu, Joe Canizaro is someone who spent $250,000 to defeat Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2002. And now he has publicly endorsed her brother over Nagin, the so-called "business candidate". Remember that during Nagin's primary victory speech, he specifically mentioned Canizaro, saying the city needs more men like him. Canizaro's not playing the "devious game" like Boysie Bollinger and Big Daddy Foster, and is rightly putting his city ahead of crass party politics.

One of the staunchest Republicans in the state, and perhaps the most successful businessman in New Orleans, is supporting Mitch Landrieu.

YRHT salutes Joe Canizaro for making his endorsement public.
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AP article via First Draft via Gentilly Girl:

An environmental group says thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi and Louisiana may be living in unsafe conditions after tests it conducted showed dangerous levels of formaldehyde in some government trailers.

Well, what do expect for a measly $50,000 per trailer?
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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Politics of the Past 

I received a mailer indicating The Regular Democratic Organization has endorsed Mayor Ray Nagin. The RDO used to be known as the "Old Regulars". Back in the day, they comprised a ruthless and effective political machine that ran New Orleans' system of patronage politics. Even Huey Long at the zenith of his power wasn't able to beat the Old Regulars' political machine at the ballot box. (Only after reformer Chep Morrison upset Mayor William "how ya like dem ersters?" Maestri in 1946, did the Old Regulars' lose their political stranglehold on the city. )

The Old Regulars seem to almost acknowledge their checkered past in their political mailers. Founded in 1874, the R.D.O. claims to be the "oldest continuing civic and political organization in the United States." Then they state: "For the past four decades the R.D.O. led the fight to elect qualified, competent and honest people to city government."

(My emphasis.)
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TPM Cafe cites Adrastos-Oyster mayoral election theory 

Link!

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Adrastos has the clearest formulation of this theory.
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YRHT's Immigration Proposal 

We keep hearing how the federal budget is "too tight" for anything beyond Category 3 storm protection for Louisiana. But when it comes to a guarded, triple fenced/wall along our 2000 mile southern border... then cost is not an issue! I don't hear a peep from conservatives worried about how historically corrupt South Tejas will spend their tax dollars, but-- by gum!-- they sure used potential corruption as an argument to NOT fund Category 4 or 5 levees and floodwalls in South Louisiana.


A Proposal:

Perhaps Louisiana should make a covert effort to encourage Mexicans to illegally enter this country by sailing makeshift boats to South Louisiana. Why not? There's plenty of work here. We could secretly tell them to build some sturdy rafts, and paddle to LA via the Gulf. Create a "buzz", of sorts. That way, if enough Mexicans enter our country through South Louisiana's wetlands, maybe conservatives will become rabidly mobilized to protect our "coastal borders" as well. Do we want thousands of illegals traipsing past our country's vital energy infrastructure?-- I think not!

So, if we could only get enough suspicious brown foreigners to infiltrate Louisiana's eroding marshlands, you can bet your ass the federal budget wouldn't be "too tight" to build all kinds of "dual purpose floodwalls".

Then we could preach the virtues of tall, Cat 5 "Armored levees", with spikes and coiled razorwire. And we could install remote-controlled cajun pepper paint ball gun turrets, that could be operated via the internet. Then, even heartland wingnuts could be on the lookout for the dreaded "undocumented armada", and blast 'em with some Looziana heat!

It's a thought.
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Vitty gets snitty with "Str8 Talk" 

This Louisiana blog I don't read often quotes an AP story about Sen. Vitter jousting with Sen. McCain over immigration. In sum, Vitter said Bush's plan amounts to amnesty and McCain spent 10 minutes saying that shit is "bananas" and Vitter responded with a phrase beginning with "Methinks". That's about all you really need to know.

Two things interest me here, though. One: does Vitty-Cent plan on bringing his hardline rhetoric to New Orleans, where umpteen thousand undocumented workers are helping to rebuild the city? May I suggest that, after his anti-corruption speech in Storyville, Vitter should then make an anti-amnesty speech on Lee circle (where dozens of undocumented workers congregate daily).

Secondly: does Vitter have plans to run for president some day? When I see nonstarters like Daschle and Gingrich thinking they have a chance, well, we can't rule out Vitty can we? (Probably in 2012).

Anyway, during Tuesday's nationally televised mayoral debate, Tweety Matthews asked whether New Orleans can "rebuild itself with only legal workers?" Here is how our mayoral candidates responded:


Mayor NAGIN: We can do it. There is enough workers in this country that who would be dying to come here for the rates that are being charged.

[Co-Moderator] Norman ROBINSON: Well, they aren't beating down our borders to get here. All we are seeing are migrant workers. Those are the people who are bearing the brunt of the rebuilding burden, not workers—regular American people from across the country.

...

LANDRIEU: I'm going to tell you, the honest answer to that question is we don't know right now. We don't know. And the reason is, is because until the federal money gets down here-- and you know with the actual supply and demand, it's going to be hard. Having said that...

MATTHEWS: Hard to rely on legal workers.

LANDRIEU: It is going to be hard to find as many workers as is necessary to get the job done quickly. Obviously, the more workers you have, the more you can do.

Remember that after Katrina the Bush administration


temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers unable to prove their citizenship, essentially allowing contractors to hire undocumented workers. [Oyster: Which was a joke, because Bush had been completely derelict in enforcing those laws anyway]

That move followed President Bush's Sept. 8 decision to lift in Katrina-hit areas the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal contractors to pay at least the average regional wage. Bush says it will hasten one of the world's largest reconstruction efforts.
Given the mass displacement and the housing shortage in the city, does Vitter's hardline on the immigration issue risk slowing the recovery of New Orleans? Is his grandstanding on this issue merely political opportunism at the expense of our city, or does he really give a damn about this ultra-urgent "crisis"?

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Update: I snipped the "modest proposal" addendum from this post, and created a separate post for it. See above.
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You'd get better advice from Lemmy 

Ever since Ace of Spades predicted the Dow would "hopefully" reach an all-time high last week, it's been damn near straight down for stocks.

Especially yesterday.

But don't worry, Ace has a fallback position: it's the media's fault. The media "insistently" reported all the new market highs under Clinton, and Ace just knows they'll ignore the new highs set during the (all-important) "Bush Boom".

Whether the Dow soars for Clinton or nose-dives for Bush-- it's the media's fault. Not only do they want us to lose in Iraq, they want to take our capital gains, too!! The media's liberal bias must explain why stock markets have performed enormously better during Democratic presidents than they have for Republicans.

Although the Bush-hating media conspiracy may explain everything, I will insolently offer some alternative views about the economy, for the sake of variety. Why not?

1.) On May 3rd, Billmon wrote:

Events in general seem to be conspiring to give us all a late 70's flashback: We've got high and rising oil prices, a crisis with Iran, James Earl Bush in the White House and more than enough malaise to go around...

The missing guest at the disco party, at this point, is the Consumer Price Index...

Like a drunken Alcibiades, the disruptive truth of inflation seems to have arrived. He's loud, relentless, and impossible to ignore.

Also, as gold hovers around $700, Billmon noted the National Review's silence about its "all time favorite inflation indicator":


I keep waiting for the National Review crowd to wake up... There was a time-- like all eight years of the Clinton administration -- when the price of gold couldn't twitch by a nickel or a dime without Larry Kudlow or some other supply-side coke head rushing to warn us that stagflation was on the way back, if not already here.

(Note: When he says Larry Kudlow was a supply-side coke head, Billmon is being descriptive, not pejorative.)

2.) This Housing start/ recession chart from Calculated Risk is ... suggestive. Click to enlarge.




3.) In 2004 I wrote

The Dow was stuck in a range (roughly) between 700-1200 from 1968-1982. How long will it inhabit the current range of 7,000-12,000? Will diversifying and dollar-cost averaging and holding tight in a flat market get you where you want to go? Is a nation of amateur investors prepared for stagflation, or the pop of the credit bubble, or equities having below average returns? Think about it. Don't just hope for the best.

Later I formalized the prediction in a post dealing with the enormously large difference in returns during Democratic versus Republican presidents. It's nothing brilliant, just a rule of thumb that might be applicable for many years. I think the idea of the market being trapped in a 70's style trading range (between 7,000-12,000) is much more likely than one that shoots past 12k and never looks back. If you don't like that view, which I'm not claiming is original, you can blame the media or something else. Whatever you do, don't look at this chart.

3) The Iran euro oil bourse "opens for business". We've previously linked to a speech by Ron Paul, who is alarmed by what the Bush administration might do in response to this market.

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* Lemmy K.
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Edges against the middle 

The N.O. Tribune Endorsements for Nagin reflect a near perfect flip-side to the devious strategy outlined in the (now famous) Adrastos-oyster theory. The Tribune showcases how voices of Black Power are naively supporting the same candidate as the Republican bigwigs behind Nagin. It's really incredible. Worse, these two factions-- total ideological opposites-- are primarily concerned with FUTURE elections. That's right! They've both based their strategic endorsements for Nagin on some future election scenario playing out. The conservatives want Nagin in office so they can run against him statewide in the fall, and the Tribune wants Nagin in office because it might help elect another black mayor in 2010.

So, in the so-called "most important election in the history of New Orleans" we have extreme factions trying to convince New Orleanians that we should vote for Nagin because FUTURE elections are more important than this one. It's absurd. Neither faction even tries to argue that Nagin's the better candidate. Instead, he's preferable because he's the worse candidate, or because he's the black candidate.

This is awful. An unholier alliance using a weaker collection of arguments is impossible to imagine.

So here are my shorter versions of the Tribune's Nagin endorsements:

1) The real "pawns" are black voters who don't understand that electing Nagin will help "us" elect a black mayor in 2010.

2) The real "useful idiots" are black voters who don't understand that electing a white mayor in a majority-black city sends the "wrong" message to the international community.


If you're masochistic, feel free to read both commentaries, and see if my summaries are unfair or inaccurate. (H/T A Christmas Story.)


You know, the more I think about it, maybe bigwig Democrats should have covertly supported David Duke when he was running for Senator and Governor in the early 90's. They could have told progressives that electing Duke would ensure Democratic dominance for generations to come. Don't worry about the near-term, they'd say, look toward the next election. We know the stakes are high, but please understand: high strategery is involved here. Sure, electing a fascist will become a huge embarrassment for LA, and perhaps we'll be isolated and mocked for decades to come, but, but, ... BUT...DON'T YOU SEE? IF THE RACIST WINS, IT WILL BE GOOD FOR OUR PARTY IN FUTURE ELECTIONS!!

Perhaps these "strategic Dems" could have used Tony Snow's explanation for the 55-60% white LA voters who chose Duke (over Johnston and Edwards).

Duke is talking about things people really care about: high taxes, crummy schools, crime-ridden streets, welfare dependency, equal opportunity. A lot of politicians aren't talking about these things.
If only "strategic Dems" had adopted these ridiculous talking points as cover, while quietly explaining to the rank and file how electing a racist Republican could bring long-term benefits to the Democratic party... The strategic Dems could have said: "In short order Duke will be exposed as a horrible mistake, and there will be a ferocious backlash against his Nazism. Prior to election day, though, we should quietly support him for the ultimate good of our party. Let's focus on how crooked Edwards is, and make him the issue. In doing so, we can 'sacrifice' him to the greater good, Duke will win, and we can run against him in the next election."

Don't those sort of tactics make sense?
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I've always wanted to have a theory named after me! 

Clearly it should be named the Adrastos-Oyster theory, though. Not the other way around.

Go read the latest scoop on the shadowy intrigue and backroom machinations surrounding the New Orleans mayor's race. The linked post supports my political instincts, and is therefore very important reading.

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Update: Jeffrey at Library Chronicles explains how this theory fits into a larger political context. One guess as to who is getting the "business end" of the GOP shaft.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Two 

This week marks two years for YRHT. (And for Raymond!)

Cheers.

I didn't write anything interesting that first week in 2004, but last year I did one of my "historical" posts about Ruby Bridges which might interest some readers.

Thanks to everyone (especially my fellow Pelicans) who has enjoyed my political snarkasm over the years. I don't want to sound cryptic, but I don't think I'll make another year with it. I'll let you know when it's winding down.

PGR recently described YRHT as "rhetorically original", which is an extremely charitable and kind thing to say. Another way of describing this blog would be:

"Dry. Author regularly tries to cram too much into a single sentence. Apparently does not have a grammar or spell-check program. If lucky, manages one good sentence per post. Repetitive. Excessively proud of a city he barely understands. Unexpectedly crude. Predicted Kerry would take Ohio...."

Anyway. Let's replace the self-abasement with self-examination. Or, as I like to say, "don't player hate, innovate". Here's a quote from the Big Picture which contains three very thought-provoking questions. Enjoy!

A recent speech by [Ken] Fisher was titled "The Only Three Questions That Count."

What are these questions?

1. What do you believe that's actually false?

2. What do you know that others don't?

3. What the heck is my brain doing to blindside me now?
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Timeline 

Blake points us to this timeline of Mayor Ray Nagin's record. It's pretty hard-hitting. I encourage undecided voters to take the time to review it. I also encourage all reluctant Nagin supporters to review it as well.

For tonight's nationally televised mayoral debate on WDSU and MSNBC, I would like to see Ray Nagin asked the following questions:

1. In the event of another flood, will you illegally disarm citizens by seizing their guns while the city is being looted?

2. Do you still believe the CIA might assassinate you?

3. How would you characterize your leadership during the worst crisis this city has ever faced?

4. What do you think the national reaction will be if you are re-elected?


Submit your queries for the candidates here.
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Monday, May 15, 2006

Switch to Mitch 

Dangerblond is dangerously bold. She makes the following offer:


If you send me a credible story of corruption by any Landrieu family member or close associate with verifiable source, I will 1) Publish it here on this blog, AND 2) give you $50 cash. This is a sweet deal. I'm talking cash money. And I mean any corruption, there does not have to be a conviction, because I know what goes on with the deal-making. Any pay-offs, self-dealing, giving government contracts to relatives, extortion, using public money to live large, favors for friends that are not in Louisiana's interest, getting people out of jail, using a public scholarship for his own relatives kids, stealing toilet paper from the Capital Annex, whatever. I will give you $50 if you can prove to me that Mitch Landrieu has unpaid parking tickets.

I'm interested to see what (if anything) will be printed. I hope my conservative readers will bring the thunder. Getting paid to spread the dirt on Mary, Moon, or Mitch... what could be better! But, precisely what concrete evidence do they have? What, beyond all the vague insinuations, is behind all the Landrieuphobia? Surely it must be substantial and scary, and yet, no one ever pinpointed Moon's ultimate sin when I practically begged for it in an earlier post. No doubt Mary's collaboration with Morial's machine in the '96 elections will be cited, but since Senate investigators concluded there was no evidence Mary was involved, I dunno if that is strong enough to get the money...

Also, Dangerblond informs us that state senator Julie Quinn (R-Metairie) endorsed Mitch Landrieu at a recent luncheon.


Julie Quinn, the Republican state senator from Metairie, made a good speech about the inability of people like herself to do anything for New Orleans when New Orleans chooses to elect incompetent or disinterested leaders. She urged Republicans to "Switch to Mitch."
A few months ago, I noted how Julie wore a "Make Levees Not War" shirt. Now, she has again impressed me by making the decisive "incompetence" argument against Ray. And, once more, I couldn't help thinking about a salty Mojo lyric about a Ms. Quinn.

Despite the efforts of Julie Quinn, the president of the Tulane Republicans declared her support for the incompetent Nagin. On what basis? Because Mitch would be "horrible". How, precisely, would he be horrible? She won't say. A recent graduate, the Tulane Republican president writes:

If Nagin gets reelected next week, I think there's a lot he can do to improve New Orleans, especially with the chance to start over. But I think the rest of the country would look at us as the dumbest city in the world if we reelected Ray Nagin.
...
Nagin was a good Mayor, and while we question his capacity to continue that direction post-Katrina, I think he'll be ok. I'll be the first to say he screwed up during the aftermath of Katrina. He wasn't all there. Chocolate City? Something wasn't quite right in his head. But I'm going to say something my Uncle told me: This city has just invested in a $100 Billion dollar lesson for Mayor Ray Nagin... and we want to see it used. The man learned something, and I think he can use it.

My vote is for Ray Nagin on May 20.

The city invested in a "$100 Billion dollar lesson for Mayor Ray Nagin and we want to see it used"?!? Great Caesar's ghost, I think that's the stupidest thing I've ever read!!

Idiotic votes like these might prove to be the difference in this all-important election. Uggh! The president of the Tulane GOP, who has political ambitions of her own, asserts that Nagin "screwed up" and is not "right in his head". But she thinks a city on the brink of death should invite national ridicule by reelecting a guy because he might-- MIGHT!-- do better at crisis management after his $100 billion "lesson".

This is the logic of a Tulane graduate. Chreezus!

First off, I didn't realize Katrina was a private tutoring session for C. Ray. I thought it was a world-historic tragedy that we could all learn from, but apparently not.

I mean, I can't tell you how unfathomably illogical that is. Does her Unkie Brightstar think that we made a "$100 billion dollar" investment in Governor Blanco as well?!? Hell, maybe we should retain everyone who performed incompetently during the crisis: Bush, Blanco, Brownie... Reelect and hire them all!! See, we've "invested" so much in them, and should continue throwing good money after bad, because Louisiana has the utmost faith in the learning abilities of its embarrassing, incompetent leaders.

Yeah, that maneuver will be good for business. Perhaps the state should change it's motto to: "LA: where spectacular failures deserve a second chance", or "Union. Justice. Incompetence."

This is stupifying. Here's the basic thought "process" which may very well decide this crucial mayoral election.

1. I'm a conservative.
2. Nagin is an embarrassing incompetent.
3. Mitch Landrieu is.... vague.
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4. I will vote for the incompetent.
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Must see, must read 

Everyone's linking to an extremely informative Katrina graphic and article in the local paper. I saw it first at PGR, who has the links.


Also, Harry Shearer links to a Wapo article critical of the Army Corps of Engineers. Here's a quote:
Somehow, America has concluded that the scandal of Katrina was the government's response to the disaster, not the government's contribution to the disaster. The Corps has eluded the public's outrage -- even though a useless Corps shipping canal intensified Katrina's surge, even though poorly designed Corps floodwalls collapsed just a few feet from an unnecessary $750 million Corps navigation project , even though the Corps had promoted development in dangerously low-lying New Orleans floodplains and had helped destroy the vast marshes that once provided the city's natural flood protection.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's failures didn't inundate a city, kill 1,000 residents and inflict $100 billion in damages. Yet FEMA is justifiably disgraced, while Congress keeps giving the Corps more money and more power.


Update: Dapoblog has a helluva lot more on this.
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Fire and Ants 

As arson fire tracker Jeffrey would say, "And another".

Here, Jeffrey introduces the hideous possibility that something could be worse than floating balls of fire ants.
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So dark the con of... 

(Note: this is a long local politics post. It's also rough, because I lost a more polished version. Later, I might edit and tighten it up for clarity.)


In New Orleans' first election since Katrina, Republicans are working to reelect Mayor Ray Nagin.

Beg your pardon?

I said, many Republicans believe Ray Nagin should be reelected Mayor of New Orleans. They want him to lead New Orleans for the next four years, and some are doing everything they can to assist this effort. According to the Gambit Weekly "several sources say former Gov. Mike Foster... has been working behind the scenes to drum up Republican support -- and money -- for Nagin as part of an organized GOP move to weaken the state's Democratic infrastructure, which would help Jindal in his expected bid for governor next year. "

So: Republicans want to reelect Ray Nagin because it will hurt Democrats, and help Bobby Jindal statewide in 2007. They would reelect someone that most (conservatives) view as an incompetent embarrassment, because defeating Mitch Landrieu is more important to them than what's best for New Orleans, a city reeling from catastrophe. GOP political objectives must come first, and if that means sabotaging New Orleans-- and exacerbating the national perception that we are hopeless, stupid and not worth helping-- well, then, so much the worse for the Crescent City.

The same Bush pioneers who donated to Ray Nagin's campaign have set up PACs advertising against Nagin in the rest of the state. Adrastos correctly terms it a "devious double game". GOPers are trying to reelect Nagin because he can serve as a weak, useful idiot. What's bad for New Orleans is good for the state GOP. (It should be noted that Nagin was a Republican until switching parties right before running for mayor 4 years ago. He donated money to Bush and endorsed Jindal. Yet, apparently he obediently serves as a Democratic whipping post for Republicans around the state, just as long as they quietly fund his candidacy for mayor of New Orleans.)

I know politics makes strange bedfellows, and that's fine. And I also understand that political parties engage in strategic voting and covert campaigning for candidates in other parties, and that's fine, too. But this is beyond despicable. For Republicans to support Nagin in New Orleans and slam him in the rest of the state is filthy-- especially considering the city's dire circumstances. This is the most important mayoral election in the city's history, and the Republicans top concern is electing a candidate who would most weaken the state Democratic party's "infrastructure"!

Think about how twisted and insidious that is.

As hurricane season approaches, and the city struggles to recover from Katastrophe, Republicans would prefer that New Orleans elect an incompetent, embarrassing man who is widely regarded (by conservatives) as having failed spectacularly during a time of crisis; all because they don't want a bona fide Democrat to be elected mayor of New Orleans. What a vicious, anti-New Orleans scheme! This city is fighting for its life, and simply cannot reelect someone with Nagin's baggage. I'm not terribly fond of Ron Forman or Rob Couhig, but had either one made the runoff with Nagin (instead of Mitch) I'd be saying the exact same thing. Electing any other sane, competent candidate is preferable to reelecting Nagin, if only for this reason: in the first election after Katrina, we cannot afford to reinforce the notion that we endorse incompetent laughingstocks, who fail to protect the public welfare. The stakes are way too high.

After the huge deal conservatives made-- nationally!-- about Ray Nagin's flooded buses, and Ray Nagin letting looters run wild, and Ray Nagin illegally seizing citizen's guns, and Ray Nagin's "chocolate city" screed... after all that, you'd think conservative voters would realize what a HUGE setback it would be for New Orleans to reelect Nagin. But no. When it became clear Mitch Landrieu would make the runoff, suddenly Nagin became much more attractive to conservatives. All those aforementioned sins suddenly were forgotten. Moreover, some GOP bigwigs formulated a "devious double game" strategy. They would work behind the scenes to reelect Nagine, while simultaneously using his tarnished image to assist Republicans and hurt Democrats in the rest of the state. [A sidenote about that: wonderkid Bobby Jindal doesn't need Ray Nagin's help in order to beat Gov. Blanco in 2007. Jindal should win in a walk no matter who is mayor of N.O.. Plus, Nagin's endorsement won't deliver extra votes this time, anyway.] It's all about politics: keeping Mitch down is more important than anything else to bigwig GOPers like Boysie Bollinger and Mike Foster.

How can I infer such a scheme? Just glance at the "talking points" being used by Louisiana conservatives. They frame this election as a referendum on Mitch Landrieu (and his father and sister)! It's not about Nagin's record, or his "leadership", or his image as an incompetent and an embarrassment. No, it's about...

1) Mitch Landrieu spending $950,000 to upgrade his office last August!!

Yeah, that's what this election for mayor is about: how Mitch renovated his office space last summer, (which he now wants to leave). You can read the benign details here, but, my gracious, this is some laughably weak brew. I mean, is this the best they got? Wow.

Conversely, after Katrina this story came out in the T-P two months ago:

In seeking a contract to remove thousands of flooded and wrecked cars from New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin's administration recommended that the city go with the highest quoted price for the job, a review of the 14 proposals submitted last year shows.

It appears the chosen proposal, a $1,000-per-car bid from Colorado-based CH2M Hill, was nearly triple the cost of at least three other bids, records show. The gap between CH2M Hill and the other companies cannot be precisely ascertained, because not every proposal included a price, and some of those that did listed tasks that others did not.
...
Controversy has begun to swirl around the issue almost seven months after Katrina made thousands of water-stained, abandoned cars as much a symbol of the city's streets as potholes were before the storm. Queries first arose after revelations that a Texas car-crushing company had offered, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to pay the city $100 per junked car. The bid, made informally by K&L Auto Crushers at one of Nagin's town hall meetings, still stands, although the terms would have to be renegotiated, K&L's Dan Simpson said last week.
...
A rarely invoked city ordinance could also pave the way for the rapid and potentially lucrative removal of the vehicular blight, according to some legal experts.

At the original price and with the original estimate of 30,000 flooded cars, K&L's offer would have netted the cash-starved city $3 million. In contrast, the city is proceeding with the CH2M Hill deal, which includes towing, cataloging and storing the cars at an estimated cost of about $23 million, administrators said.

That's only one of several recent examples of bad business decisions made by Nagin, yet, conservatives think that a $950,000 renovation (pre-Katrina) is somehow decisively worse than a $26 million net blunder by Nagin (post-Katrina). (Media attention ultimately forced Ch2M Hill to rescind its "offer" to help New Orleans... and the moldy cars are still rotting en masse.)

2) Mitch is part of the "politics of the past". I've addressed this in recent posts, and believe columnist Stephanie Grace rebutted this most effectively here.


3) Another "argument" made against Mitch is that he didn't amass a huge legislative record when he was in Congress. Ok, well, I suppose you can read about his accomplishments here and here, and judge for yourself. But, shouldn't the real issue be: what exactly has Ray Nagin done? Adrastos provides a useful list of reminders here, and it ain't pretty. Four years ago, voters didn't know a damn thing that Nagin had actually accomplished. Not one concrete thing. Yet they selected him over a Police Chief who had cut crime in half because Nagin talked a good game, and seemed like a refreshing change of pace. [At the time I believed Nagin was a good choice, because he symbolized a break from Mayor Marc Morial's powerfully corrupt machine. The crucial moment of that campaign season was when Marc Morial failed to change the term limit rules and run for a third term. Btw, this effort was headed by Ron Forman.]

Again: however many bills Mitch sponsored in state congress is not the pressing issue. The pressing issue in this election is perceived competence. With the spotlight on N.O., will we reelect a mayor who is viewed by most of the nation as an incompetent and an embarrassment? Worse, will GOP conservatives-- persuaded by idiotic talking points handed down from "devious" bigwigs-- be the decisive factor in Nagin's reelection?

I mean, think about it: if Mitch Landrieu had illegally taken citizen's guns while looters rampaged throughout the city, conservatives not only would never consider voting for him, they'd want his head on a pike! But-- very curiously-- these same conservatives will forgive Nagin for doing so because... Mitch is an office renovator! And he's from a "political family"! (Like Bush.) And his desegregationist father started the decline of New Orleans! And he wore makeup when he pulled people out of floodwaters! (A lie.) And he won't be prudent with contracts... And he won't be good for business... And.... and...

Most of those claims are complete rubbish, but even if they were all entirely true, those considerations would still pale in comparison to the one overriding, decisive issue about this election: New Orleans' very survival is at stake, and it cannot afford to endorse a mayor who is perceived as an incompetent and embarrassment by taxpayers throughout the country. Electing any other competent and sane candidate would be perceived, nationally, as an improvement. Therefore, Mitch Landrieu is the only choice.

As a reminder to our conservative voters, I've compiled an incredibly miniscule sampling of opinion about Nagin's leadership during and after the biggest crisis in the history of New Orleans. I used mostly conservative media sources, to highlight the hypocrisy of conservatives who would support Nagin. While reading these quotes and links, recall that GOP bigwigs are reportedly funding and supporting Nagin's candidacy in order to weaken the state Democratic party infrastructure. That's their motive. While this stricken city is trying to unite in order to survive, some are putting naked partisanship above all else.


US News:

Which politician emerged from the mess of Katrina as the biggest bonehead involved? No, it's not Michael Brown, George W. Bush, or even the bumbling Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

The clear winner is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who made every conceivable mistake during the crisis. With plenty of warning, he delayed the evacuation order, had no drivers ready to operate the school buses that stood idle, failed to stock the Superdome with food and water, and let the looters rampage without any interference from police.
...
A near-perfect record for incompetence.


Tech Central Station:

As Lake Ponchatrain's waters began to drown his city, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had the colossal nerve to shout indignantly "Get off your asses, and let's do something" -- and then continued doing nothing himself, but add to the deluge by bursting into tears.

Having been prodded on Saturday into ordering an evacuation by President Bush and the head of the Hurricane Center and then delaying it for seventeen crucial hours until well into Sunday, Mayor Nagin is directly responsible for the AP picture of over 200 unused New Orleans buses marooned in four feet of water that might have evacuated more than 15,000 in one trip alone....

Nagin is also responsible for failing to pre-position generators, food and water, a medical presence and portable toilets for the two sites at the Superdome and Convention Center that he had proclaimed "emergency centers" for tens of thousands of the more than 30% of New Orleanians that lived below the poverty line. And then the Mayor failed to police them.
...
New Orleans's would-be reformers thought they had elected a responsible leader in former cable executive Nagin and instead they got a classic "cable guy" with a million excuses and the same lousy service.

Wall Street Journal Op-ed:

The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.
...
The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city.


Dysfunctional Indeed [Jonah Goldberg]I just finished writing a column — be up tomorrow — about the media foul-ups on Katrina. The more I think about it, the more I think in a less-polarized environment people would recognize that Ray Nagin really should resign. Aside from the already discussed organizational screw-ups, he repeatedly trafficked in the most explosive rumors about what was going on in New Orleans without knowing the truth. He glibly spoke of rape gangs and murderers inside the Superdome. He freelanced a guess of 10,000 dead. In other words, at every turn he uttered one sensational untruth after another to the press. Why isn't the press punishing him for it? I thought that during disasters politicians were supposed to err on the side keeping panic in check and maintaining order, not making the situation worse by telling people their worst fears are coming true and that safe areas are lawless and dangerous. Nagin's heart may have been in the right place, but his performance was surely worse than Brown's.
Posted at 1:25 PM

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More digs at Nagin from the Corner:

Indeed, the more I think about it, the more I think it is a scandal the press isn't demanding a resignation from Nagin


Mayor Nagin is such a joke.

New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin made an equally silly claim—"50 percent of all residents in the United States live along the Gulf Coast." another whopper

Defending las vegas trips for city workers

Now we just need Nagin to go, per Jonah's suggestion nro

Re: Nagin [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I got prematurely excited at that prospect when [Nagin] walked up to the cameras for the press conference about the police guy. Cleaning house really seems to be huge leap #1 for N.O. before more money is spent....


N.O. Details [Kathryn Jean Lopez]Apparently Nagin fired Compass. He should get into a fight with himself and fire himself soon, for the sake of New Orleans.
Posted at 1:21 PM


Fearless Predictions 2 [JPod]
People seemed to like my last batch of fearless predictions, so here are a few more. Ray Nagin will begin blogging on the Huffington Post.

nro emailer quote:
Jesse Jackson and Mayor Nagin need to get the h*ll off my TV.

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Washington Times
The vultures of the venomous left are attacking on two fronts, first that the president didn't do what the incompetent mayor of New Orleans and the pouty governor of Louisiana should have done, and didn't, in the early hours after Katrina loosed the deluge on the city that care and good judgment forgot. Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a "mandatory" evacuation a day late, but kept the city's 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground. The bright-yellow buses sit ruined now in four feet of dirty water.
Cap'n Feathersword
And the Exempt Media, by and large, have covered for Nagin's incompetence. Does anyone seriously wonder why?

Malkin
Be angry. Most of the death and mayhem was entirely preventable. That's worth a whole lot of righteous fury. But be angry at the people who failed your city. Their names are Nagin and Ebbert and Blanco, not Bush and Chertoff.

Red State It's time to speak the plain truth: Nagin and Blanco are out of their league.
---

And all of that was before the infamous "chocolate city" speech.


John Cole's reaction at Balloon Juice summed it up for many:

Ray Nagin just lost me, and likely everybody else as well.

[Chocolate City speech excerpt]

It's sad to say that for the next five or six minutes somebody has stolen away Pat Robertson's self-serving religious asshat crown. Good work, Ray.

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Also, I'd forgotten about the paranoia Nagin displayed after the crisis:

From LGF:

The Associated Press says New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has stopped shouting and swearing and crying, and is now calm and optimistic after meeting with President Bush.

Nagin also said he's worried the CIA may try to take him out.

lgf commenter

If (when) Nagin is reelected, the next time a hurricane hits N.O. and the levees break, etc., don't come asking me for another charitable donation, I don't want to hear it..you made your bed...
===


Nor can I forget what the conservatives on my blogroll have said:

Wizbang:

Mayor Nagin, who owes his term in office to support from most of the white community in New Orleans, has officially told them to go to hell.

Ray Nagin- Driving New Orleans to Oblivion

Wizbang commenter:
Any population idiotic enough to elect... Nagin is too stupid for self-government.

---
And from Pawpaw:

Ray Nagin can probably count on his family to vote for him. That might count for a hundred votes in a large, extended family. All the rest of those folks who voted for him are absolute, unrepentant idiots.

Conservative cajun:

Sometimes you almost have to feel sorry for [Nagin]. He’s like a train wreck waiting to happen when he gives a speech. However, feeling a little sorry for him in no way erases the fact that the guy couldn’t move buses to save “his people.”

Maybe I was a bit too harsh on him after the storm. Maybe he does really care about his fellow poor black citizens. I suppose that he really did want to get them out, and incompetence rather than lack of apathy is why he couldn’t send the buses to rescue at least some of the people before the hurricane arrived. But, that incompetence should still be enough to unseat the man when he runs for re-election, at least one would hope.

key monk
Ray Nagin is Louisiana's crazy uncle, political id, and exhibit 1 in any trial of the inefffectiveness of Louisiana's corrupt politicians. His estimate of 10,000 deaths from the Hurricane is likely to be 93-94% off, thankfully.

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Lastly, here is a scathing excerpt from the liberal New Yorker :


[L]ast week, as both the President and Michael Brown, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, offered bland, undignified, and ill-timed restatements of the obvious about the direness of the situation, you could practically see them thinking, I'm not getting blamed for this! But they were positively helpful next to Louisiana's governor, who cried and said that we should all pray, and New Orleans' mayor, who told citizens they should evacuate but didn't say how, predicted a second major flood, which didn't materialize, sniped at the federal authorities, and kept reminding everyone that the situation was desperate.

New Orleanians should reject Nagin this Saturday.

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