Friday, June 09, 2006

Have a good weekend 

Yesterday was a big news day, but I was at a real estate conference at the New Orleans Hilton, and hadn't time to comment. Sadly, there are no other websites on the internet that have "instantaneous" commentary on news developments, so I know I disappointed a lot of you. Where else could you possibly turn?

1. I must say, it put a little spring in my step to learn Zarqawi ate some red hot steaming death. What a complete asshole that guy was! And I liked how Zarqawi was meeting with his "spiritual advisor" when the 500 lb. bombs exploded.

This beheading shitstirrer was about as "spiritual" as an unflushed toilet.

2. The House/Senate conference committee hammered out a compromise on the Iraq/hurricane bill which preserved $4.2 billion in CBDG housing money for Louisiana and $3.7 billion for levee upgrades. This is great news, because it was touch-and-go there for a while regarding the housing money. Mississippi and Tejas wanted to split it, and Senator Landrieu (and others) helped Louisiana maintain the $4.2 billion it needed for housing.

I must also give some credit to President Bush. Previously, my operating assumption was that Bush was committed to doing as little as he possibly could for Louisiana. But I must say, his advocacy for the full $4.2 billion is more than the bare minimum he could have done (politically) for Louisiana. I was very suspicious that his administration was (again) working behind the scenes with the House to trim and cut our housing funding under the rubric of "fiscal discipline". Luckily, that didn't happen, and I'll have to adjust my simplistic operating assumption about Bush's attitude toward post-K Louisiana.

3. The Real Estate conference was immensly optimistic about the future of New Orleans. And not all of it was blind optimism, either. I'll discuss it in more detail soon.

4. Congratulations to Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson. I've been a longtime fan of his, and am pleased that his team won Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Johnson, a graduate of Southern University, is the reason why I am rooting for a Dallas sports franchise for the first time ever in my life. (Oh, I also have a story about Mavs asst. coach Del Harris, too. I'll share that later on also.)
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

If no issue is "more important" than the definition of marriage... 

... why is it absent from Senator Vitter's "Issues" web page?

Update: Quote of the day, courtesy of Loki: "You know David Vitter was in my class at De La Salle back in the 80's. We did not share many classes (I was in Advanced Placement,) but I knew him."

Letter of the day can be found at Spasticrobot. Go read it. (Hat tip to Blake.)
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Vitty-cent: "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one" 

Louisiana Senator David Vitter says of gay marriage:

I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one.

For Vitty-cent, nothing can top a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Nothing!! Not hurricane protection. Not economic stimulus. Not even the war on terror. Nothing is more important to Vitter than defining marriage in a Constitutional Amendment, because our beloved junior senator wrote the freakin' book on marriage.

This is the most idiotic thing he has said since 8/30/05 when he declared: "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening."

I will protect your marriage from meddlesome homos.
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Remember: the federal budget is too tight to pay for Category 5 (or 4, or even full strength 3) levees. It is too tight to pay for flood protection for South Louisiana beyond the N.O. metro area. It is too tight to grant Louisiana it's fair share of oil/gas royalties. It's too tight for comprehensive coastal restoration. It's too tight to bail out New Orleans' only Fortune 500 company as was done for utility companies in NYC after 9/11. It's too damn tight for innovative housing reconstruction plans like the Baker Bill, that's for sure. It's too tight for needed port security measures. It's too tight to fund search crews to recover the dead.

And yet, the Senate is considering repealing the estate tax.

Sooner than later this same Congress will have to raise the National Debt ceiling to over $10 trillion, but they think it's an urgent priority to borrow money from China so that billionaire families can receive inheritance tax "relief". (What's on deck, more tax subsidies for Big Oil?)

Michael at 2 Millionth has some explanatory photos and analysis from Krugman.
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A good day to visit the Museum 

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I haven't been this frightened since 1/01/00 

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Vitty-cent: stalwart defender of marriage 

Despite already having a stupid, useless, discriminatory anti-gay State Constitutional Amendment on marriage, Senator David Vitter takes time out to talk up a proposed National Constitutional Amendment to "protect" marriage:

I'm proud to join [Matt Daniels] and the entire Alliance for Marriage in support of the Marriage Protection Amendment... Your group recognizes... that marriage is the most important social institution in human history and is the most significant factor in terms of minimizing all sorts of social ills.
For a legislator representing a state hit by catastrophes, Vitter sure is spending a lot of time slamming illegal immigrants and gays who "threaten" marriage. For someone fresh out of marriage counseling, Vitter sure has balls to co-sponsor a federal "Marriage Protection Amendment" to the Constitution.

YRHT asks: Senator Vitter, do you know what will protect marriage far more than this stupid, destined-to-fail amendment? Do ya? Well-built levees! Divorce skyrocketed after the faulty levees broke and thousands of lives were upturned; but you won't hear Vitter talk about Category 5 levees as much as he'll talk about preventing gays from marrying.

But if Vitty-cent thinks preventing immigration and gay marriage are the most important discussions for Louisianans to be having right now, then YRHT is ready to indulge him.

First, we should review John Avarosis' action plan which encourages constituents to learn more about what Senators are doing to protect their own marriages. I agree that this would be useful to know. Who are the real defenders of marriage and who are the pretenders? Avarosis lays out the rationale for his plan at Americablog:

In a nutshell, the religious right and far-right Republicans have said repeatedly that the "gay marriage" battle is really about outlawing:

marriages that cannot procreate

We here at AMERICAblog couldn't agree more. That's why we are asking our readers to contact members of Congress who support the anti-gay constitutional amendment, and to ask them if they're defending marriage in their own lives.

MESSAGE: Specifically, we'd like you to ask them to vow that in the past, now, and in the future they will abstain from sodomy (including same-sex and/or male-female analingus, cunnilingus, and fellatio), masturbation, adultery, prostitution, out-of-wedlock sex, and marriages that cannot procreate. We will also ask them about divorce, as there is no greater threat to marriage today than divorce (in addition, the Bible makes clear that divorce is a no-no).

Asking Senator Vitter these suggested questions is not for the faint of heart, especially if you do so in person. Vitter has been known to become "angry, agitated and excited" when asked about his position on gay issues, as he did at a Metairie town hall meeting in 1993. There, he became enraged and assaulted a woman in the audience. Then he proceeded to lose a civil suit about the altercation, and had to pay a fine. So, while I think Avarosis' bold information-gathering strategy is excellent, I would recommend that most people use it over the telephone. Only the most fearless should attempt it in person with Senator Vitter.

But YRHT has another thought. Perhaps we should engage rightwing supporters of this Amendment, and explain to them that the best "defense" of marriage is a good offense. How so? Well, instead of defending marriage from gay activist judges, perhaps they should simply rely on their wives to enforse marriage's sanctity by encouraging them to castrate husbands who violate their vows. For example, Senator Vitter's wife told the press she would cut off her husband's joystick procreative organ in the event of any hanky-panky outside the sacred marital bed. Some may view this as a draconian punishment, but I think it would be even more effective than another redundant amendment. Philandering men might ignore the law, but a schlong-chopping wife is another story. Although some say we live in a "Christian nation", I don't think we can endorse a new testament-style "love your enemies/turn the other ass cheek" approach. No indeed! Marriage is far too important for such liberal softness. It's time for old school punishments straight outta Leviticus: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a tat for a tit!

Indeed, Salon reported on Wendy Vitter's vigilance in these matters. Here's a quote from her preceded by a little background which I trust you'll find helpful:

As Vitter geared up in 2002 to run for governor, his bitter race against [David Treen] came back to haunt him. A Treen supporter, local Republican Party official Vincent Bruno, blurted out on a radio show that he believed Vitter had once had an extramarital affair.

The Louisiana Weekly newspaper followed up. Bruno told the paper that the young woman had contacted the Treen campaign in 1999 because she was upset that Vitter was portraying himself as a family-values conservative and trotting out his wife and children for campaign photo ops. Bruno, who declined to comment for this story, and John Treen interviewed the woman, who said she had worked under the name "Leah."

But after nearly a year of regular paid assignations with Vitter, the lawmaker asked her to divulge her real name, according to Treen, citing the account he said she gave him. Her name was Wendy Cortez, Treen said. She said Vitter's response was electric. "He said, 'Oh, my God! I can't see you anymore," John Treen told me, citing the woman's account to him and noting that Vitter's wife is also named Wendy. And Wendy Vitter does not appear to be the indulgent type.

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he'd had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston's wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."

You go girl!

Scout Prime has more.
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Doing it for the chirren 

Uh-oh! The Washington Post has a graphic of William Jefferson's "web" of shell corporations populated by members of his family. It's not so visually impressive, but it does convey information well. The Wapo entitled it, "Jefferson Family Inc."

Here's more background on Jefferson from the accompanying Wapo article:

The son of impoverished Louisiana sharecroppers and a graduate of Harvard Law School, Jefferson has never been content to live off the salary of a public servant, nor did he want to leave his family in the financial straits he pulled himself out of, observers say.

He broke with his mentor, Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, New Orleans's first black mayor, in the late 1970s over a steep bill Jefferson delivered for legal work that Morial had assumed was free. He was sued in 1990 by the federal government for failing to pay the mortgage on his dilapidated rental properties, and eventually settled. He took heat for a business he ran renting appliances to poor people who could not afford their own, according to local news accounts.

"That's why we call him 'Dollar Bill,' " said Allan Katz, an independent New Orleans political consultant, who chronicled Jefferson's early political career for the Times-Picayune.

But Jefferson's recent ventures show a level of sophistication that puts his landlord days in the distant past.

In the 1990s, Jefferson made a name for himself on Capitol Hill as an ardent promoter of Africa as a huge new market for trade and investment. In 2000, that caught the attention of Jackson, whose company, iGate Inc., sold technology to deliver high-speed Internet access over ordinary copper wires. Jefferson saw the technology as a way for poor West African countries to skip the huge investments needed to install fiber optic cables or wireless relay stations, court records show.

At first, Jefferson promoted iGate's technology without asking for anything in return. But in early 2001, according to court documents, he informed Jackson that his services would no longer be free. On Jan. 19 of that year, the Jefferson family started the ANJ Group, with Jefferson's wife, Andrea Green Jefferson, as manager, and his five daughters listed as company members.

Again, I must go to the eternal wellspring of Toto's "Africa" for illumination:

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from [money]
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the [gains] down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had


I know that I must do what's right [for me]
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that
I've become

And a company called "iGate" is involved? Sometimes scandals just write themselves.
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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Colbert advocates "walling off" the coasts! 

It seems that the basic idea behind my "Immigration Proposal" is gaining some traction amongst influential talking heads. At a recent commencement speech, Stephen Colbert said:

So we must build walls. A wall across the entire southern border. That's the answer. Obviously that may not be enough, maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And another across our northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we'll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we're at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we'll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. Time for illegal immigrants to go-- right after they finish building those walls. Yes, yes, I agree with me.

I agree with him too.

Louisiana already has a protective Dome, but it can further secure itself from illegals by building a state of the art Immigrant Flood Control System. That's right. We need high, armored levees to protect the vulnerable Energy Coast from swimming Mexicans! This is a national emergency-- therefore, no federal expense should be spared, and no less than Maximum protection will do.*

Again, I will suggest these Immigrant Floodwalls include remote-controlled gun turrets firing cayenne pepper-filled paintballs. We must repel the disease-spreading foreigners from entering our homeland and contaminating our precious bodily fluids.

This is important. South Louisiana understands that no wave is deadlier than a wave of immigrants.

* As a strictly tangential benefit, these coastal walls would also protect us against storm surge from major hurricanes.
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Reform and Renew 

Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans are advocating assessor reform, and need your help to make it happen. Their site explains:

Austin Badon's Bill (#642) to consolidate the Orleans Parish Assessors Offices is scheduled to be heard on Monday, June 5th in the House Ways and Means Committee in Committee Room 6 at 9:30 a.m. Attendees need to arrive by 9 a.m. to get a seat.


Send personalized emails to the full House asking for their support of HB 642 and to insist that Reps. Heaton and Arnold recuse themselves from the upcoming vote in the Ways and Mean Committee for their obvious conflict on interest.
Call Members of the House Ways and Means Committee asking for their vote in support of HB 642.

See here for more info about this proposed reform, and if you have time to write a quick email or make a quick call in support of Rep. Badon's (D-N.O.) legislation, please do so.
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