Friday, June 30, 2006

"That $200 million saved us a billion dollars today" 

Perhaps you've followed the mass evacuations and surging rivers in Northeast Pennsylvannia. Looking over the news reports, I was especially interested to learn about some of the flooding history of the region, and how it related to their levees.

In 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes dumped enough water to raise the Susquehanna river to 41 feet. A huge flood ensued, causing over a billion in damages. Then, in 1975 the river crested at 35 feet, which remained the highest river water level for over 30 years, until yesterday and today. What's fascinating is that three years ago, Wilkes-Barre decided to raise their levees from 36 feet up to 41 feet. That looks like a brilliant infrastructure investment right now, because that extra 5 feet averted catastrophe. Here's the money quote from an article in their local paper (where I got all my information):

The levees, raised 5 feet in 2003 at a cost of $200 million, were improved to prevent a second Agnes flood, which nearly reached 41 feet in 1972 and caused $1 billion in damage. The highest crest since then was 35 feet in 1975.

"That $200 million saved us a billion dollars today," said Commissioner Todd Vonderheid.

However, Lisa informs us that some nearby towns were opposed to levee improvements because they seemed too expensive. So they decided to "opt out".

Nine people have died so far in PA from the flooding. It's reasonable to assume that many more would have perished had the levees not been raised.

New Orleans' Pontchartrain levees, by the way, are less than half the height of Wilkes-Barre's.

Today the Army Corps of Engineers submitted a preliminary report to the White House regarding Category 5 levees for South Louisiana. Senator Mary Landrieu is rightfully concerned that the White House is filtering the report's "scientific analysis... through a political screen". In a press release she cites state officials who claim that the White House is rewriting the ACoE report before it is released to the public, and that the White House is inserting policy statements into what should be a purely technical report about Cat 5 levee construction.

In a letter this evening by Louisiana officials who worked with the Corps to develop the original draft, the state reported that "the rewriting of the report by the Administration, inserting policy statements, has been done in a way that seems unprecedented in our history of working with the Corps." The officials also reported that the "policy review resulted in the rewriting of the entire executive summary and much of the report, without consultation with the Corps/State Project Delivery Team."

If we had an Executive branch that gave a rat's ass about science, Landrieu's concerns would seem alarmist and paranoid. But sadly, this is the Bush administration, where science is utterly despised. The only time Bush appeals to science is when he wants to delay something to death. Here's my interpretation of their approach.

Strategic Defense Initiative? Easy peasy!

Global warming? Evolution? The jury is still out on those strange notions.

Sending astronauts to Mars? Warp Ten speed!

Building higher mounds of dirt to protect New Orleans? Yikes, that will require years of study before a decision can be made.

It's amazing how the issue of Category 5 flood protection has been deprioritized since Katrina.

Senator Vitter doesn't even use the term "Category 5" anymore. Mayor Nagin doesn't either. After being strung along for months after the storm, they finally got the message that the White House thinks Category 5 flood protection for S. Louisiana is too costly. So they've focused on much smaller goals, and their public commitment to Cat 5 levees has waned. At least Mary Landrieu is willing to stand her ground on this issue. She understands the need to play hardball with this White House rather than simply taking them at their word, and "hoping" for the best.

Update: The Times Picayune has much more on what looks to be like a front page feature story. Here's the opening graphs:

The Army Corps of Engineers, which was directed by Congress to prepare a report on how to protect Louisiana from a Category 5 hurricane, is poised to issue a vaguely-worded document that will not list the specific projects that would be needed to secure the state's fragile coastline.

The report was to be issued Friday, but the corps postponed action until July 10 after several heated exchanges with representatives of Gov. Kathleen Blanco who say the Bush administration has inappropriately removed a list of specific projects that corps engineers had included in the document's initial draft.

To underscore my earlier points, I've reprinted some lengthy YRHT excerpts which track Bush's opposition to Cat 5 flood protection since Katrina (not to mention prior to the storm):

Without a federal commitment to Category Five levees and world-class flood protection, displaced businesses will not return to Southern Louisiana and insurance costs will quickly become prohibitive. Cutting taxes and red-tape will be meaningless without these essential infrastructure investments.

Yet, according to John Maginnis, Washington Republicans say the budget is too tight when it comes to the future of the "gret stet".

Securing top-level levee protection poses frustrations.... Last week, a delegation of the Louisiana Recovery Authority presented the state's priorities to senior White House officials.
But the Louisiana team hit a wall--a large earthen wall--on its top priority of rebuilding the southeast Louisiana hurricane protection levee system to withstand a Category 5 storm. The Bush team would not commit beyond the Category 3 level.
A top tier levee system from New Orleans to Morgan City would take years and $20 billion to build, far more than the Bush administration and conservatives in Congress are prepared to go. But to tell homeowners and business investors pondering their future in New Orleans that the levees will protect them from almost all storms might not inspire the confidence it takes to bring the area all the way back.

Reilly says the recovery authority will "keep pounding" on the Category 5 issue, but that might start to feel like one's head against the wall of Washington's intransigence.

These so-called conservatives didn't fret when a $500 billion dollar Medicare bill ballooned (immediately) to $750 plus billion. But now they want to deny Louisiana $20 billion for levees.

These so-called conservatives hardly peeped as expenses in Iraq grew into the hundreds of billions with no end in sight. By February U.S. taxpayers will have spent another $20 billion towards nation-building in Iraq. But allocating that same amount for a devastated Louisiana is suddenly too expensive.

American lives were sacrificed so that Iraqi Shia can enjoy their restored wetlands; but, when a thousand Americans die in the aftermath of Katrina, that's not enough incentive for Washington Republicans to adequately protect South Louisiana.

The president and the so-called conservatives in Congress have broken faith with our state. Previously, these reckless spendthrifts made Lyndon Johnson look like Calvin Coolidge. Twenty billion was nothing to them; a rounding error. But now it's everything to us, and they won't pay it. Our survival depends on Cat 5 levees, but Bushco suddenly can't commit to essential protections for South Louisiana.

Almost immediately after the storm, displaced business-owners from New Orleans began demanding a federal commitment to Category 5 levee protection.... category five has become the buzzword, and literally thousands of businesses will make their decision to return or relocate based on a federal commitment to category five protection.

But [Cat 5 levees] won't happen.

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


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


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.

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.


[Senator David] Vitter is "hopeful" that the Bush administration will "articulate a clear, firm commitment" on Category 5 levee protection "in the coming weeks".

Like I've said before, nothing has worked more effectively than "hope" when it comes to the Bush administration's governance. They're terrified of "hope" and respond immediately when collective hopes are multiplied. I'm sure Rove loses a lot of sleep at night over people's hopes: all the supporters who hoped Bush was right about Iraq; the Houston Chronicle's "hope" that Bush would govern from the center in his second term; fiscal conservatives "hoping" Bush will one day make a principled veto on a spending bill; Representative Jindal's "hopes" that the new Reconstruction Czar has Louisiana's best interests at heart, as well as the many Louisiana Republicans still "hopeful" the President will do right by our state, and commit to Cat 5 levees and wetlands replenishment.

Yeah, hope is a helluva plan with this crew. Guess we should just "hope harder" when we don't get the results we want. Hopefully, that'll work. Right?


At a news briefing at the White House, officials dodged the question of whether the levees would be built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, using broader language instead to promise that the city's citizens would be safe and the levees would be "stronger and better."

"The federal government is committed to building the best levee system known in the world," Donald Powell, the top U.S. official for reconstruction, told reporters.


[Times Picayune:] on what most city leaders consider the paramount issue for rebuilding -- the construction of a levee system that could withstand a hit from a Category 5 storm -- Bush remained coy. In fact, neither he nor Powell, who flew down on Air Force One with Bush and attended the meeting, have ever voiced support for Category 5 storm protection, which carries an uncertain price tag and could take years to complete. Asked directly about it on several occasions, both men carefully sidestepped the matter, and Bush did so again Thursday.

Coyness. That's what you want from a President or Reconstruction Czar when they talk about the most important issue facing your stricken city. Yeah, by all means, please mince words and make no firm commitments. That's helpful.

Why can't Bush just have the testicular fortitude to say what he really thinks: "No, we think Category 5 levees are too expensive. The country is fighting a trillion dollar war right now, and my promise to cut the deficit in half by 2009 is looking more and more like a pipe dream. So twenty billion is too much to spend to protect South Louisiana with Cat 5 levees. Unlike Senate Minority leader Harry Reid, we think Category 3 is good enough for New Orleans."

Well I can't resist mentioning this one Pre Katrina post excerpt:

[City Business]:

In Fiscal Year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.


There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.

Is there a South Louisianan who would still trade their Bush tax cuts for poorer flood and coastal protections? Anyone? Ok, there's still a few. Well, then: would you mind if I looked at your insurance premiums? Have they risen much? May I ask you some follow-up questions about this when a storm enters the Gulf this summer?
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The Target on Saint Claude 

Claude Allen, the former Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy-- who had the same federal salary as Karl Rove ($161k)-- is looking to make a plea bargain for his shoplifting sprees at a Target store. (For months, Claude had been stealing thousands of dollars worth of crap at a Target store in Maryland and was eventually caught on videotape).

Did we mention that Bush had recommended him to be a federal judge? And, after that didn't work, he selected Claude Allen to lead the White House Katrina Task force in the days after the storm?

This is the same Claude Allen who wants you to believe that when he links Democrats to "queers" he's not referring to gays, but to odd or peculiar people. I guess it's "peculiar" when Democrats don't want someone with Claude Allen's "skill set" to be a federal judge.

And even more laughably, Claude's apologists floated the idea that it might all be a case of mistaken identity. They hinted that Claude's "evil twin" brother might have been the shoplifter. In any event, after the allegations first surfaced, Claude promised that there were "two sides" to the shoplifiting story (sort of like Rep. William Jefferson, who has promised us an "honorable explanation" for all his alleged doings).

But now, sadly, it appears that Claude Allen will admit guilt in order to escape prison time.

For perspective, let's review a recent news story about three Kenner residents who stole some wine coolers and liquor from a Metairie Supermarket during the Katrina aftermath. Two days ago, they were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Fifteen years, for taking some liquor and (spoiled?) wine coolers after one of the most destructive natural* disasters in American history.

I mean, if I saw my city flooded and knew its fate was in the hands of incompetent Bush cronies like Michael "clotheshorse" Brown and Claude "5 finger discount" Allen... I daresay I might take drastic measures to find a stiff drink as well.

* and man-made
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

"An excellent shot" 

The oil revenue-sharing bill has been pruned down, but it still represents enough potential money for Louisiana to largely self-finance its own flood protection. That would be huge. From here on out, it seems the Senators from Florida and the Bush administration (natch) are the biggest obstacles to the legislation. Louisiana has been on a quest to capture more Gulf oil royalties ever since Judge Perez made an historic blunder in 1949.

Below are selections from the Times Picayune's coverage:

Louisiana's long campaign to snag a share of offshore drilling revenue moved ahead on two important fronts Thursday, with the House passing a bill projected to generate $9 billion for the state over the next decade and key senators striking a first-ever bargain to give Louisiana a percentage of new production in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The money is still a long way off, as the full Senate would need to approve the revenue-sharing deal. A vote is likely in July. Then, the House and Senate would have to reconcile vastly different approaches. Already, senators from Florida have threatened to filibuster the House bill if it ever comes to the Senate, and the White House has voiced strong opposition.


"The administration strongly opposes the bill's revenue-sharing provisions because of their adverse long-term consequences for the federal deficit," the White House said.

Louisiana's cut of the House proposal was scaled back in the past 48 hours to trim the overall costs and soften opposition among fiscal conservatives. Originally, all coastal states with drilling off their shores would have gotten 75 percent of the federal royalties on oil and gas produced within 12 miles of shore.

The new formula directs 25 percent to coastal states in the first five years, gradually increasing to 50 percent 10 years after enactment. The scaled-back formula effectively reduced Louisiana’s projected share over the next decade by more than $1 billion.


Of the expected royalties paid to the federal Treasury, 37.5 percent would be paid into a coastal impact assistance fund and divvied up among the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, with Louisiana getting about a third. [Senator Mary] Landrieu's office estimated the state would collect $200 million in the first 10 years.

After 2017, the scope of the deal would broaden, cutting coastal states in for a share of royalties on all new wells in the entire Gulf of Mexico. Landrieu's office estimated the state's annual share at that point could be $650 million.

"We've seen models from people in the industry saying it could be twice that if not more," said Adam Sharp, Landrieu's spokesman.

The money would be in addition to the $135 million per year over the next four years for the state that came out of the energy bill last year.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said in a statement that based on the House vote and the Senate deal, royalty sharing has an "excellent shot."
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Everytime I look around, she's in my face 

Ian and myself are not simple men like KFed, and yet... if Britney is naked and preggers you bet we're going to say something-- even if it's nothing. I guess she's making us crazy.

How Bazaar.

Update: Richard's essay on Britney titled "Pin-Up Girl for the End Times" is sparkling reading. (There's some NSFW background imagery in case you work amongst the uptight.)

And If you forgot.
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"I think you should have done much, much faster." 

Relief workers who spent the last 18 months helping Asian Tsunami victims are shocked at how poorly the Katrina recovery is going. The Wet Bank Guide has the story and the link.

You read correctly: People who've seen the effects of a tsunami that was a hundred times deadlier than the Katrina aftermath are flabbergasted by the feeble recovery in parts of New Orleans. These are folks who've just come from impoverished Asian countries which endured one of the worst natural catastrophes in human history. And these humanitarians have this to say about New Orleans: "The fact that the relief and the support for people who live here is so minimal even though there is so much money in this country, it's really shocking."
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dollar Bill and est 

Blake directs us to a great post titled "Cold Cash". It's a detailed, behind-the-scenes account of Rep. William Jefferson during his political ascendancy in the 80's. Read it here.

Apparently, both Jefferson's crew AND former mayor Sidney Barthelemy all bought into the est "self awareness" cult program founded by scamster Warner Erhard.

From time to time I've met participants in the (new and improved versions) of these expensive weekend "programs". (They use various names now.) All I can say is "Yikes". I'd rather pay for the impersonal Ludovico Technique than go on a "retreat" with a group of starry-eyed participants who desperately want to break down my "inauthenticity" and replace it with pseudo-philosophical crapola that tries to pass off extreme vagueness as infinite depth. Then-- they say-- I'll truly be more like my inner self, which, coincidentally, is very much like all the other participants' inner selves.

See, skeptics like y'all won't be able to properly understand the est ideas until you go on the retreat for yourselves. But once there you'll finally "get it"-- and afterwards, you'll have a whole new approach to life, and a whole new set of friends who also "get it"! Thrilling, huh? Sadly, your old friends and family may be resistant to your new, authentic self. But perhaps they can also go on an expensive retreat, and learn the secrets to the universe like you did. There's several levels of retreats, of course, and you'll want to attend them all-- perhaps repeatedly. If you really "get it", that is.

Droogs, trust me when I tell you that a little bit of philosophy in the hands of a cocksure salesman is a dangerous combination. And yet, that perfectly describes so many politicians nowadays.
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It's hard out here for a Junior Senator 

Thanks to Scout Prime for the tip. Here's a quote from the CNN story via John Cole (my typo):

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is hoping to stamp out the sex trade by taxing pimps and prostitutes, then jailing them when they don't pay.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning on the pimp tax. The bill also calls for more jail time for sex workers.


"Recent headlines have focused on sex trafficking in connection with the World Cup in Germany," Grassley said. "This vile crime is under our noses in the United States Senate, and it's a no-brainer to have the IRS go after sex traffickers. Prosecuting these tax code violations can get these guys off the street and yank from their grasp the girls and women they exploit."

Can we get a reaction from Vitty Cent on the "Pimp Tax" proposal? Louisiana families are counting on him to protect them. Defending America against illegals and marriage against gays does no good if our women are exploited by pimps... and the johns who support them.
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Public perception and the bottom line 

Gambit Weekly:

We welcome the extra security, and we don't quarrel with the mayor's decision to seek the Guard's assistance. However, the decision to craft the call for military force in relative secrecy created some problems that could have been avoided. Calling out the Guard to respond to urban violence is a drastic measure. Understandably, public reaction to the speedy deployment has ranged from profound relief to increased anxiety, especially among hospitality industry leaders. Instead of building support in advance among local business, civic, religious and political leaders, the mayor announced the immediate mobilization as a fait accompli. Although welcomed by many, the news suggested to some -- particularly the nation's media -- that our fragmented city had lost all control. "This does not bolster our confidence that the city will be able to govern itself," The New York Times opined last week.

Times Picayune's Stephanie Grace:

To many New Orleanians beaten down by the twin ravages of widespread looting and [bloodletting]... last week's announcement by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin and the City Council came as welcome news, a source of reassurance inside our beleaguered little bubble.

Yet to the outside world, it played like panic, evidence that New Orleans is spinning out of control, rather than an attempt to keep it from doing so.

Admittedly the timing was terrible, what with the first major post-Katrina convention about to start. It's a situation that demanded effective spin, which wasn't exactly forthcoming. The mayor and governor didn't seem to anticipate the potential damage to the city's fragile image, so they didn't hammer the message that violent crime is concentrated in certain hot spots away from the downtown district, and that having the Guard patrol unpopulated areas allows more cops to focus their efforts in those areas.

Instead, they left the tourism community scrambling to reassure visitors on their own. And they failed to make the case to outsiders tracking New Orleans' faltering recovery that the Guard's temporary return is, hopefully, just one more step on the road back to normal, or something like it.


Our "business-minded" mayor waited until after the election to reveal that he (and his Police Chief) had requested help in March for a problem that they continually downplayed and said was under control, but which our Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper claimed was "obviously" growing. Now, just before a CRUCIAL summertime convention, the Mayor and Governor shine international media attention on the following New Orleans stories: murder, "hurricane crime", the Guard's return, the "triangle of death", another crisis, Nagin's lack of control... etc.

Hear that? That's the sound of thousands of evacuees deciding not to return. It's the sound of tourists deciding to visit Las Vegas instead of the Crescent City. It's the sound of students transferring credits, and businesses relocating. It's the sound of trade groups deciding that New Orleans is too "risky" a place for a convention. It's the sound of taxpayers across the country deciding that New Orleans is a lost cause and will never change.

Moldy City has more.

Of course, when stuff like this happens outside the "triangle of death" during a convention week, I don't know what anyone can do about perceptions. T-P:

The rivalry between the Army and the Marine Corps runs deep. But Tuesday morning, outside a hotel in the Central Business District, the usually friendly banter turned violent when a Marine veteran beat an Army vet with a baton then blasted him in the face with a .40-caliber handgun during an argument over who had served in the toughest branch, police said.

Erik R. Beelman, 30, of New Orleans was shot in the jaw after an argument with hotel security guard Christopher Marlowe, 25, of Lufkin, Texas, escalated into blows, then gunfire, New Orleans police said.
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I'm not sick but I'm not well 

Thanks to WIIIAI for following up on a story which I hadn't seen elsewhere. Recently, President Bush kept a promise he made in January to a double amputee Iraq War veteran, and went jogging with him around the White House. WIIIAI has the photos, and they're not the sort of thing that Karl "with you to the last bullet" Rove would like widely publicized.

WIIIAI's diligence led me to the original transcript from Bush's military hospital visit in January. Oh, what an embarrassment! No doubt these hospital visits aren't an easy thing to do and can have awkward moments, but cringe along with me as you read the following "joke" about a bobo on Bush's forehead:

Happy New Year to you all. Thanks. I can't think of a better way to start 2006 then here at this fantastic hospital...
As you can possibly see, I have an injury myself -- not here at the hospital, but in combat with a Cedar. I eventually won. The Cedar gave me a little scratch. As a matter of fact, the Colonel asked if I needed first aid when she first saw me. I was able to avoid any major surgical operations here, but thanks for your compassion, Colonel.

Hyuk yuk yuk. The Commander in Chief scratched his face on a bike ride, but prevailed in his "combat" with a tree, and didn't require major surgery. What a card.

Why is it that Bush's jokes are so seriously unfunny, while his serious claims often qualify as absurdist comedy?

(To be fair, sometimes Bush is able to strike our funny bone. Like in 2003, when he devastated a national audience during his State of the Union with a joke about extrajudicial killings. Great stuff, there. Pure comedic gold!)

* Harvey Danger
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Igneous Rightly 

The other night I dozed off and suffered through a terrible dream.

I was in Hawaii, watching a perverse marital ceremony.

There were two men dressed in American flags, and they were exchanging vows on the top of an active volcano. Somehow, I "knew" that one of the grooms was an illegal immigrant. I also "knew" that the other groom had arranged his affairs so that the 'death tax' would absolutely ravage his large estate. Don't ask me how. But despite all this knowledge, I was utterly paralyzed in horror. I could neither voice an objection, nor could I turn away from the degenerate scene. It was torture.

So, after committing themselves to each other (and their hideous lifestyle) the flag-bedraped couple kissed. Passionately. Worse yet, they turned and looked directly at me... and winked! I almost vomited. Then, in slow motion, the two lost souls embraced, grasped hands, and proceeded to jump into the molten pit beneath them. Flames and smoke sputtered skyward. I uttered a quick prayer lamenting the desecrated flags, as well as the gay men's lack of theology.

I woke from my nightmare alarmed and shaken. It was early morning, and the Hustler Club was almost empty. I finished my drink, paid the check, and tipped Fortuna another oneski. Then I stumbled out on to Bourbon, and immediately realized I needed something to eat. But all the Lucky Dog carts were gone, and I had to get home before the wife and kids woke up.

I made it back in time, and tiptoed into the kitchen to fix some leftovers. Then I pulled out the laptop and wrote a supportive email to my Senator in D.C.. He's working hard to ensure my nightmares don't become reality.
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Dr. Josh drinks French Market 

I like it dark and rich, too.

Speaking of TPM's "Cafe", it's possible that your humble bivalve may soon become a contributor to the After the Levees forum. There I will more or less try to do with words what Greg Peters does graphically.

YRHT will continue apace, courageously searching for its special purpose, brandishing its progessive trident, and always avoiding the genital cuff.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Immigration and the spread of disease 

Perhaps I've been too flippant about this aspect of the illegal immigration debate. Here's a worthwhile news article that gave me pause.
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1. Giant Page A-6 top header in the Times-Picayuliar: "[Landrieu] Clan has 30-year streak of scandal-free politics".

2. World Class selects a killer quote from Frank Rich's latest NYT column. Then, Mistah Clio summarizes "the Big Truth" and "the Big Lie" regarding Bush's outsourcing approach to Reconstruction in the Gulf Coast (and Iraq).

3. Loyola Professor Bill Quiggly at After the Levees writes one of the best encapsulations of the Post-Katrina Public Housing issue in New Orleans. I highly recommend reading it (as well as his recent T-P op ed) if you care about the housing situation here, which is easily the second most important issue behind flood protection. But before you begin a rant on the benefits or non-benefits of projects, Section 8, mixed income "developments", Katrina cottages or any other proposal... do me the favor and answer Quiggly's question (my emph):

If the government told you that they were going to bulldoze where you live, and deny you the right to return to your home, would you [protest and resist?]

Can't people of all ideological stripes unite in opposition to this basic injustice and solve that first, before wading into the familiar arguments about public policy and the poor?

4. I thought the Festival of Neighborhoods was nicely done. Basically, the festival was a grass-roots, "bottom up" event with Information, Food/Drink, Art and Music-- all at the Botanical Gardens. I thought it was very well attended, especially considering how hot it was. Seeing regular folks put so much time and effort into revitalizing their stricken neighborhoods makes me feel very optimistic.

Good job, organizers and attendees. Bravo!

7. Oh horrors! How will the Detroit cabbies react? Should we rebuild the city on a non-floodplain? (More here.)
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Syncretic warrior outfits" 

Adrastos describes the scene from a Friday night gathering of local bloggers at "Chez Landry".

(Adrastos owes me several rough jokes, btw. If he was indeed struck by my height he could have at least called me a "pituitary case". That's always a good one.)
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