Friday, June 16, 2006

Vitty 50 greatest soccer goals 




Don't miss van der Faart's work at #24. It's one of my favorites, and not just because his last name is v.d. faart, either. Join me tomorrow.

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H/T wallstreetjackass
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Dare We Call it Progress? 

1. Times Picayune:

Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, already facing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, suffered a major rebuke by his Democratic colleagues, who voted 99-58 on Thursday to ask the House to remove him from the Ways and Means Committee.

If the full House concurs, it would mark the first time in the 217-year history of Congress that the House has removed a rank-and-file member from a committee.


Update: House boots "Cold Cash" Jefferson off Ways and Means Committee.

Update #2: Oh lordy. Strangeways here we come. Blageur links to a suggestive Harper's article on Jefferson that includes an African island nation called Sao Tome, Houston oil companies (natch), and religious wacknuts who own "adult entertainment" companies.

2.
WAPO - The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to force President George W. Bush to submit a budget for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars instead of financing them in emergency bills that are pushed through Congress with minimal scrutiny.

As Congress prepared to pass an emergency bill with $65.8 billion the Pentagon urgently wanted for the wars, the Senate voted 98-0 to end the practice and make the administration lay out the wars' expected costs in its annual budget submitted to Congress in February.
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Including the latest emergency bill, the wars' cost will reach $420 billion, said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who sponsored the amendment.

"We're adding hundreds of billions to conveniently named emergency expenditures" that do not have to be accounted for in the budget, he said.


Wow, I hadn't noticed this budgetary tactic before, but I'm not an eagle-eyed Senator like McCain who has continually voted for these "emergency expenditures" over the past three years. Nothing gets by him, by gum.


3. Times-Picayune Editorial:

In the end, the vote was lopsided. Following the 98-2 vote in the House Tuesday, the Louisiana Senate voted 35-2 Wednesday for legislation to merge New Orleans' seven assessor offices into one.

Voters in New Orleans and statewide will decide this fall whether to approve a constitutional amendment to make the change. And no matter what, the current crop of assessors, who were elected in this spring's city elections, will get to serve out their four-year terms.

Even with all that, the Legislature's vote for Senate Bill 141 by Sen. Ann Duplessis signals a monumental change in direction. Just weeks ago, the balance of political will and energy seemed to be with the status quo.

Legislation to merge the seven assessor offices into one got nowhere in the special session in February, and few New Orleans area lawmakers gave the effort much of a chance before the regular session began.

But Sen. Duplessis and Rep. Austin Badon kept pushing the bill that so many politicians thought was a sure loser, and they deserve great credit. They had support from thousands of post-Katrina New Orleanians who are fed up with politics as usual. Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans successfully backed levee board reform in the special session, and then went to work on the assessor issue.

The person who turned lawmakers around on this issue, though, was Gov. Kathleen Blanco. When the governor put the considerable power of her office behind the consolidation legislation, it started to move. She spent the weekend before the House Ways and Means Committee's vote lobbying committee members, and they voted 11-2 for the bill. This is the same committee that killed assessor consolidation in the February special session.

Gov. Blanco had logic on her side. New Orleans has never needed seven different tax assessors. It didn't need seven assessors when more than half a million people lived here, and it surely does not need them now.
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Potential savings in salaries isn't the only reason to change the assessor system anyway. The current system is irrational: The seven municipal districts vary greatly in size, and assessment practices vary from one district to another. A new homeowner pays far more in taxes than a neighbor who has been in the same house for 20 years. Millage rates in the city have risen higher and higher to make up for the underassessment of property.

All of that makes the city's tax system unfair and unreliable -- and makes New Orleans' recovery that much harder. Fortunately, citizens will now have the chance to vote for reform.


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More later
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Update: It's not a coincidence that every time Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans gets behind an initiative (like levee and assessor consolidation) the Governor throws her weight behind reform legislation and it passes. And it's not a coincidence that the only IQ Assessor candidate to win, won (outright!) in the Uptown district where Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans is strongest. Again: Citizens helped unseat a family who has held the District 6 Assessor office for over 80 years, and elected a reform candidate who promised to no longer underassess their Uptown properties. They voted overwhelmingly to (effectively) raise property taxes on themselves because they understood it was the right and fair thing to do. That impresses me. They didn't poo-poo the IQ ticket and lecture everyone why their plan wouldn't work. They basically said, "We want to send a signal to the rest of the state and the nation. We will replace our District 6 dynasty with a reform candidate, because it will show others that we are serious about changing horrible, self-reinforcing political systems. And then we will pressure the governor and legislature to change the state Constitution, so that Orleans parish can have one assessor rather than seven cronies who play favorites."

I salute them for that.

These Uptown matrons have political juice, people! Do not ignore or underestimate them. In my view, Citizens were primarily responsible for forcing Governor Blanco to call a special session to consolidate the levee boards, and they pushed her to help pass legislation that would hold elections to consolidate Orleans parish's 7 assessors into one.

What will they focus on next? Should more progressives join (and/or ally) with such a demonstrably effective organization?

I think so.
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

What is this, Dune? 

I know that there's been a drought along the Gulfsouth since Katrina, but do we really need to do this in order to sustain our gardens?


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Update: Oh. I didn't read the whole post before getting all snarkastic. If you can, help b. rox find Lucy the cat. I'm sure Muad'Dib would approve.

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Update #2: Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

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Update #3: Here's a quote from a recent T-P article on the N.O. Fire Dept:

If New Orleans firefighters had half a moment to ponder their problems, they'd probably spontaneously combust: flooded and ruined equipment, 50 percent of their stations out of commission, a nearly 10 percent drop in personnel, drought-like conditions, anemic water pressure and a long, hot hurricane season staring them in the face.

Distracting these firefighters from their litany of woes is, ironically, fire. A seemingly unending rash of calls has kept the department scrambling day and night, stretching already taxed resources but somehow boosting the squad's sense of purpose, District Capt. Norman Woodridge said.

Jeffrey has been covering the fire story so closely that he's considering changing his blog's name from Library Chronicles to Fahrenheit 452 (or something like that). More here.
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The World Cup is your oyster 

You're invited to a TV Party at my place to watch the United States play Italy. Saturday 1pm: Bring refreshments and good cheer.

Note: If our boys come out flat and listless like they did against the Czechs, I reserve the right to change the channel to FUSE's Dance Your Pants Off (which I believe is Medium Jim's favorite show.) One way or another, we'll have some fun.

We're located on the river side of Prytania, midway between Napoleon and Gen. Pershing. It's the house with the purple door. Email me at oystersliq at gmail.com if you need more specificity.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Blind leading the Knucklehead 

Whoopsy poopers! ... Ah'm so sorry.


Some say it was a typical Duhbya blunder, but I'm not so sure. YRHT speculates that Bush had been told the reporter was a macular degenerate, but thought the term meant something else.




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* Old Mothers
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Naturally Ray Nagin 

Via Suspect Device, we find this Chicago Trib article on Mayor Ray Ray:


New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin visited Chicago on Tuesday as part of a national tour in which he's calling on "partners" to help re-build his hurricane-ravaged city, a project he estimated could take 7 to 10 years.

"There will be an economic boom like we haven't seen in this country," said Nagin, who was recently re-elected. "This will be the biggest work site in the world."

During a speech at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's national conference in Rosemont, Nagin criticized the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina and his state's handling of recent municipal elections.

"It exposed the soft underbelly of the United States," Nagin said of Katrina. "It exposed poverty, it exposed racism and it exposed a government that was overwhelmed and was not capable--and is still not capable--of dealing with a disaster of that magnitude."

The hurricane, Nagin said, was an "unimaginable event," one he implied may have been designated by God.

Before Katrina, Nagin said, New Orleans was a city of "haves and have nots," with one of the highest rates of poverty, one of the worst public school systems in the nation and a high percentage of young males involved in crime.

"Then, you know, God looked down on that and said, 'You know, I need to change that'," Nagin said. "And then Katrina happened. And in the midst of all that devastation, God is now allowing us to have an opportunity to reset the table, and that was what the election was all about."

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Nagin's inauguration ceremony this month drew Jackson and other national figures. He said his victory signaled support that he would ensure a city of economic equity.

More than $10 billion in insurance resettlement funds, an equal amount in federal dollars earmarked for homeownership and rental units, and several more billion in investment dollars will flow into the region, Nagin said.

Trying to make light of his controversial call earlier this year for a "chocolate city," Nagin said he's encouraging "all folks" to help rebuild New Orleans.

"My white-chocolate friends, come on down," Nagin said. "My medium-chocolate friends, come on down. And my dark-chocolate friends, definitely come on down."

It might take several posts to unpack all of the Naginspeak in this article.

The thing that strikes me first and foremost is not the idiotic "God sent Katrina to 'cleanse' New Orleans" line. Although I utterly loathe that way of thinking (if you can even call it thinking) Ray Ray has already been there and done that. One wonders why God (or Wotan) waited until the Nagin administration to send Katrina. Was that the absolute nadir apex of poverty and crime in New Orleans? Or did the Almighty begin working on this disaster decades ago, influencing the Army Corps of Engineers' faulty levee designs (which caused many of the failures that led to most of the city's catastrophic flooding)? Still, these are the words that the city's Salesman-in-Chief is using to attract investors to New Orleans. What's the new slogan for the city, "God doesn't hate us so much now"?

What strikes me most is how Nagin's "economic equity" comments will be interpreted by all the Couhig Naginites who decided the election for him. ("Couhig Naginites" are the Rob Couhig-type conservatives who voted for Nagin over Mitch Landrieu because they hate the Landrieu name and believe Nagin "understands business"). If Mitch Landrieu had been elected and went before Rainbow/PUSH and made comments about economic equity, conservatives would be howling like mad.

As far as Nagin saying Katrina was "unimaginable"... that's worse than Bush's "no one anticipated the breach of the levees" comment.

The mayor was right about two major points, however.

1. In the important months and years ahead, there WILL be an economic boom in New Orleans (while the rest of the country flirts with recession.)

2. Katrina did expose America's "soft underbelly". America watched masses of desperate poor people, waiting for days while no one helped them. This searing episode became a political Rorschach test: the Left saw racism, and gross incompetence in the Bush administration's response . The Right saw a lack of "personal responsibility" on display, as well as the corruption and incompetence of Louisiana politicians.

Luckily, a national discussion about poverty, race and govt policy was narrowly avoided.

That would have been uncomfortable.
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News so good it makes me want to wear my pirate costume 

Suspect Device compiles all the news articles that caught my eye today, and throws in a link to some tits as a reward to the attentive.


(Warning to easily-disappointed preverts like Ratboy: I'm not saying SD's tits link is as good as Phoebs leaving the pool NSFW. But it's better than YRHT's previous tease along those lines.)
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Repopulating the city 

Good friend and champion oyster-griller Dillyberto is now a dad! Go over to Our New Orleans Saints and congratulate him and especially Mrs Berto. I have not yet seen Lil Berto, but I hear he's a big boy.

Excellent.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"All I know is...there were rumors he was into field hockey players" 

After doing our darndest to affirm Senator Vitter's credentials as an eager breeder, it's disappointing to see unfounded allegations emerge while he is fighting to protect Louisianans from hurricanes the deadly catamite agenda.

Never fear: if you want to float some published reports (pdf) about a closeted, self-loathing, hypocritical, anti-gay marriage Gooper, you needn't look outside the state.







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Monday, June 12, 2006

Head Fake 

Bullmoose:


After years of conservative claims that the Clinton Administration sold out to the North Koreans with the deal that gave them a nuclear reactor, the Bushies have largely replicated that bargain for the Iranians. Peace in our time!

Let us put this in perspective. If a Kerry Administration had offered this deal, there would be the equivalent of conservative rioting in the streets. An impeachment resolution would be offered. The theme of the day on talk radio would be the betrayal of America.

Too true.

Read this Gadflyer post, which links the Administration's recent policy flip-flop to Iran's endorsement of President Bush in 2004. (Yes, they endorsed him, just as Al-Qaeda did.) And why shouldn't they do so, after the U.S. helpfully overthrew their most-hated enemy? Iran understands the U.S. will talk tough in public, and then covertly trade arms for hostages, and allow Halliburton to make profitable deals. (Hell, Dick Cheney bent over backwards to give nuclear technology to Iran in the 70's. Nowadays he plays dumb and asks cryptically why a country with so much oil would want nuclear energy.)

But conservatives can't get distracted by the threat of Iran when Mexicans and Gays (and perhaps some Gay Mexicans!) are undermining the very foundations of our nation. We must find a way to send the Mexicans back to Mexico, and the gays back to Homoslavia, and then let's build a big wall to prevent their return, because... they both talk funny, and parade with strange flags, and ....spread diseases!!
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