Saturday, July 15, 2006

Corporate Ghouls decided 9/11 was a good time for stock option rewards 

Barry Ritholtz is hella-pissed at these gutless fools. And rightfully so. We should boycott these companies until the greedhead CEO's are fired.
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Friday, July 14, 2006

Lovely finally gets "keys to the castle" 

After repeated inquiries from various "concerned parties", I'm prompted to inform the YRHT readership that oyster lost his fitness/election bet to wife Lovely, and finally purchased an (engraved!) IPod which she has started filling. Future wagers will occur, and I will continue doubling the stakes until I win. (I learned this advanced Martingale strategy from the Bush administration's foreign policy team.) So this is only a temporary setback, I promise you. In the next 6 months things are gonna change. I can feel it.

So here is the first legitimate* Random Friday Ten post at YRHT. I'm sure y'all will find it terribly interesting.

1. Long Division-- Fugazi
2. Promiscuous-- Nelly Furtado & Timbaland
3. She Makes Me Feel Good-- Lyle Lovett
4. Sick of Myself-- Matthew Sweet
5. Stereo-- Pavement
6. The Candy Man-- Sammy Davis Jr.
7. Come on! Feel the Illinoise!-- Sufjan Stevens
8. American Music-- Violent Femmes
9. Big Pimpin'-- Jay Z
10. Silly Girl-- Descendents

The stuff that actually rocks on that list-- Fugazi, Femmes and Descendents-- were my contributions.

In other music news, Rancid will be playing the House of Blues Sunday.

Then on Tuesday, some musician named Costello will also be playing there. I'm not familiar with Costello's work, but this blogger has heard of him and thinks he's pretty nifty.

* An "illegitimate" Random ten was posted last year on a seemingly problem-free Friday. I had just crushed my friends in two "tournament style" poker games the night before, and thought I was one lucky sonofagun. Then the Big Event phoned and gave me a very unwelcome weather update.
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The 2006 Rising Tide New Orleans convention 

Here's the Rising Tide 2006 website.

Check in regularly, and link it, like it, love it, lick it, live it...

So, spread the word, birds. I want every cab driver from New Orleans to Detroit to know about this event (New Orleans Aug 25-27).

Friday planning meeting info here. I'm bringing the cuculoupes to the potluck dinner afterwards.
Big thanks to Ashley, who got up and running in record time so that he can shamelessly plug it in major media outlets throughout the lower 48. (I hear that he enjoys fine cigars as gifts.)
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Thanks Again, Houston! 

For being a hideous, sprawling, strip mall vomitorium.

Apparently, Essence Music Festival in Houston was something of a bomb, because the hotels were so far removed from the Festival. One of the organizers for Essence was pretty blunt about it:

"It was a difficult city to navigate and that can't be ignored," said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc. "The end result was a general lack of systems to manage the sprawl. Houston underestimated the enormity and significance of this event."

Festival organizers said they heard numerous complaints from attendees related to the distance between hotels, shopping, downtown entertainment and Reliant Park, where the Essence Festival was held.


While transportation was a major issue for attendees, Ebanks said many also complained that after the late night concerts ended there was nothing for them to do.

During his act at Essence, comedian Steve Harvey made searing jokes about the circumstances, saying: "I know ya'll mad 'cause Houston ain't got a damn thing to do! They outta give ya'll some money back because the Hotels were too far from the venue! Some of Ya'll came as far as Galveston to see the show!"

That quote amuses me, because I can't help but remember a little episode from several years ago. I was at Harrah's one morning when Harvey and his entourage came in and took over a craps table. He was dressed in a purple zoot suit, and you just knew that he'd been partying all night. I smiled, because it was 7am, and yet things were still just getting started for Harvey's crew. They wanted to roll some dice!

And what exactly was your humble bivalve doing at Harrah's at 7am?

Playing baccarat.
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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Programming note 

There will be a brief Rising Tide planning meeting at the Bridge Lounge Friday at 6pm. Then at 7pm, many will go to the Geek Potluck Dinner on Esplanade Ave.
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Looks like LA will get royalty sharing 

This is very encouraging news. LA's entire congressional delegation (especially Mary, Vitty and Bobby) deserve a lot of credit for their work on this. Further negotiations must take place before the final bill can be signed into law, but it really does seem like we are going to get a fair slice of royalty revenues from offshore drilling which we can use to rebuild our coast. (Hopefully that "slice" can be significantly increased during final negotiations.) The Times Picayune reports:

Senate leaders Wednesday reached agreement on what they said was the last major issue on an offshore oil and gas drilling bill that promises Louisiana a guaranteed share of the royalty payments for new production off its shores.

The measure still must be reconciled with a House version that is more generous to Louisiana.


Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., a member of the Senate Energy Committee, said the proposal would give Louisiana about $200 million a year over the next 10 years, and about $650 million annually after 2017.

"This is a very proud and hopeful day for the Gulf Coast, America's only energy coast," Landrieu said at a news conference with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and other Senate leaders. "It's been a day that many of us have looked forward to for a very long time."

Landrieu and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the deal promises not only to provide Louisiana with the first long-term revenue sharing to finance coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects, but also moves the country closer to more energy independence and more stable energy costs.

"This deal will bring us royalty sharing for the first time ever," Vitter said. "We will finally get our fair share in Louisiana from the oil and gas activity that we produce in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of the country."

Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, who helped write the House-passed bill that offers broader drilling provisions and significantly more revenue sharing for Louisiana and other producing states, said he's optimistic that a compromise can be worked out.


The White House has called the House revenue sharing provisions too costly. The Senate version provides oil and gas producing Gulf states 37.5 percent of royalty revenue from new drilling beginning in 2017, plus 12.5 percent for a national conservation fund.

Landrieu said White House officials haven't signed on to the lower Senate figure, but expressed a willingness to negotiate the final numbers. Jindal said he's optimistic that when all is said and done President Bush wouldn't veto a bill that promises more energy independence. But he agreed some contentious negotiations are likely.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thoughts on the Rising Tide Convention 

Here are some suggestions about a New Orleans "blogger" Convention that were made during Friday's meeting. This is a very fluid and evolving process, and I'm just trying to be a good facilitator at this point. So please make additions or subtractions in the comments section. Also, it was suggested that interested planners and volunteers who want to help make this convention a reality meet for dinner tonight. Now's the time where responsibilities will be assigned, so definitely tell me if you are interested in meeting at, say, 6:30 tonight at Cooter Brown's. Y'all can pick a restaurant-- I'll tiebreak; if no one has a preference, the default choice is Jamila's on Maple. If you can't make the meeting but want to help, send me an email.

Ok, here's some of the suggestions that have been made so far. I've added my personal comments in parantheses.

Name: Rising Tide Conference (I like this name because, with the right logo, it could signify momentum and growth-- perhaps even defiance. It also capitalizes on John Barry's excellent book which is titled "Rising Tide". The downside of the name is that it evokes things like flood imagery and rising sea levels, not failed levees.)

Proposed Date: August 25-27, 2006 (This looks good. It's at the end of summer, but before the 1 year anniversary of Katrina. There are no other big conventions scheduled, and hotels and restaurants are running some fantastic specials.)

Featured Speakers: Let us know if you have connections to someone who you think would be good. (We're going to try to get Harry Shearer, and I think we should get some scientific expertise if possible, and some grassroots/community voices. Also, we should invite all the bigwig pols from the area --Landrieu, Vitter, Jindal, Nagin, Melancon, Baker... etc-- who knows, one might actually show up.

We want this conference to be inclusive and "content-driven".)

Mission statement/"Elevator Pitch"/Main Agenda: This is obviously crucial, and must be formalized this week. Suggestions are very much encouraged, because the "content" is the most important aspect of the Conference. The participants at Friday's meeting all felt that we should find ways to share and archive information and stories that the rest of the country (still) doesn't know. This conference would be a forum to emphasize the important issues that never seem adequately covered by the national media.

For example: Do folks around the country know that most of the flooding in New Orleans was caused by one of the biggest engineering failures in world history? Do they know that 70% of the drowned victims were over 60? Do they know why rebuilding has progressed on some fronts, but totally stalled in others? Do they know about the need for Cat 5 levees and coastal restoration, and the importance of our oil infrastructure, our port and our seafood... etc. Do they know about Oil Royalty sharing.... on and on. This is an opportunity to magnify the issues important to this area (and the Gulfsouth, too; I hadn't mentioned Rita, or Mississippi). It's an opportunity to promote facts and dispel myths PRIOR to the media coverage surrounding the storm's 1 year anniversary.

Addressing these sorts of issues is key. So we need to compose a strong mission statement which enable everyone to "work off the same page". Like I said, contributions in this regard are especially welcome.)

Venue: Perhaps the Contemporary Arts Center. This could allow for simultaneous activities (forums, multimedia presentations, speeches/debates, workshops, socializing) in adjoining rooms of various sizes. Alternate choice is the standard hotel set up. Another alternate choice suggested to me earlier was Le Petite Theatre).

Workday: (Friday Aug 25 might be a good time to have a "workday". People who wish to tour stricken neighborhoods could do so. Those who want to "gut" a house or do some volunteering could do so. This will be one of the ways that Rising Tide will distinguish itself from other conferences.)

Sponsorship: (I'm not so sure this was necessary, but everyone else thought it was.)

Media Attention: (We'll endeavour to attract it. Let us know if you have connections.)

Technical Details: (This will certainly be a "no frills" conference. There's not enough time to put together a really slick show, although we do intend to get creative and have fun. We want to provide information that will make an impact on people, and exchange ideas, and hear as many different Katrina stories as possible. We want attendees to "leave with" something more than a goody bag full of trinkets.

Therefore, there won't be a lot of fluff. Many volunteers will be needed, and attendees might have to do more legwork than at a "normal" conference.


Blake Haney has generously offered his (ever improving) Humid Beings forum to host webcasts and cross post blog entries.

Unfortunately, Dambala will not be able to do the webcasting that weekend, so others who would like to do so, please let me know.

Liz has offered to host an afterparty in da Quarter. I can do the same at my Uptown oyster reef.
If we all come together and pitch in, this could be a memorable event-- one that sets the stage for future Rising Tide conferences. So make comments and spread the word.
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Louisiana Gubmint watchdog C.B. Forgotston has a great short post on the ACoE's "progress" with our new and improved levees. Although I usually bring up Forgotston when I want to quibble with one of his arguments, I'll just wholeheartedly endorse this particular post in full, and shut up for now.
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Update!! Queen Bee vetoes fecal matter impersonating a state poem 

Wow! Governor Blanco vetoed the Bill designating "I Love My Louisiana" as the new State Poem. Here's the PDF explaining her decision. The Times Picayune had erroneously reported that the proposed state poem had already become official.

This is wonderful news. The Queen Bee is never more "charming" than when she vetoes bad legislation. I'd like to think that the intense pressure from my scathing poem pictorial had something to do with it, but that seems unlikely.
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Stitch and Bitch 

This is some brutal, brutal shite described here. (Not for the young.)

That's perhaps the scariest thing I've read since this essay, but-- however gruesome-- I think Josh Marshall was right to spotlight and analyze a neocon who finally admitted, essentially, that "Our guns and our money and our ideas are no match for [the Iraqis'] history and their hate."

Now, even I wasn't quite THAT pessimistic about going into Iraq; I wouldn't have said we were "no match". Perhaps it could've worked if we had more troops and had planned for an occupation and engaged in true nation-building rather than nation-looting... but those are all very minor, distracting points in retrospect. The central, most important question at the time (2002) was this: Is invading Iraq the best strategic choice for the United States? Unbelievably, the Bush administration thought it was. (Or at least that's what they wanted you to believe.)

Encouraged by Neocons who trusted fraudsters like Ahmed Chalabi, the Bushies told us Saddam had WMD's, that he was a grave threat, and that he harbored Al-Qaeda terrorists. So, in the SPRING of 2002 we started transferring special forces from Afghanistan to Iraq. SPRING 2002! Bushco was already subcontracting the hunt for bin Laden to Pakistan (a WMD Wal-Mart at the time) because the Neo-Con Vulcans wanted to "Reshape" the Middle East. They had a plan, see, and they had an excellent reading list on the history of war, and their pal Chalabi convinced them he had political "juice" in Iraq. It would be easy: we'd be greeted with flowers, oil would pay for the reconstruction, and democracy would bloom throughout the region.

If, like Sen. Bob Graham and Wesley Clark, you were skeptical about this Panglossian strategic plan-- then the Bushies said (essentially) that you wanted to keep Saddam in power, and didn't care if he gave terrorists suitcase Nukes. They convinced the American public that occupying a "boxed in" tyrant's fractured country was more worthwhile than finishing the job in Afghanistan-- and thereby eliminating Osama before he ordered more attacks (which he did), and before he started "franchising" his operation throughout the world.

I'll never get over that decision. Many policy analysts consider it to be the greatest strategic blunder since Vietnam. And depending on how things play out, that might be an understatement.

Some don't want to believe that, though. They're soothed by statements like "we're better off with Saddam Hussein out of power". What they don't understand is that those sorts of statements are without content. When you hear "the world is better off without Saddam" what you're really being told is this: "we think your stupidity has no bounds".

I mean, all things being equal, the world is "better off" if I hold in a fart, too. But so what? That doesn't mean anything unless you understand what the costs and benefits are. What are the risks? What are the trade-offs? This stupid game can be played both ways, you know. Is America "better off" with thousands of young people killed and maimed? Are American taxpayers better off without a Trillion dollars? Are we better off with Pakistan "searching" for bin Laden and Zawahiri in Waziristan? Are we better off having created more terrorists than we killed? Are we better off after Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and whatever else... inevitably comes to light?

And now, after the NeoCons' high hopes have been lowered into the dirt, we see fantasists like Fukuyama and Kaplan admitting they made a misjudgment. Whoopsy-poopers! But, as Marshall so richly points out, they subtly claim they've learned some valuable lessons from the experience. (Never mind that these "lessons" were already known by the people they previously dismissed, and that the price of this helpful neocon tutorial included scores of thousands of casualties.)

Josh summarizes it well: "Put simply, do we not detect a pattern in which the foreign policy neoconservatives strike out boldly on some foreign policy adventure, flop right down on their faces and then present the cause of their undoing as a novel insight wrestled from the maw of history when in fact, to everyone else except for them, this 'insight' was completely obvious and predictable from the start?"

But remember: it's the media and the war critics who will "lose the war" for us. It's always their fault...

Yes, I realize I will go to hell for this post title. But I'm a slave to a good title.

Hat tip to the 6th doctor.
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"It's like Mardis Gras in a can." 

Genius inventor Quintron presents his patented Drumbuddy in this video, which includes a puppet show by Miss Pussycat, and an appearance by the late great Ernie K Doe.

More info on Quintron and Miss Pussycat here.

Previous YRHT entries mentioning Quintron here.

Many thanks to Alan's Blogometer for the link.
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What is the Decision Matrix? 

I can't explain the hostility of the Bush White House to Louisiana's desire for Category 5 flood protection. Almost immediately after the storm, it seems a very high level decision was made declaring Category 5 flood protection to be too expensive. Despite businesses and residents crying out for massive levee improvements, the Bush administration seems unwilling to significantly invest in Cat 5 flood protection for Louisiana (which includes wetlands restoration, levees and floodgates).

We've previously detailed the history of how Louisiana pols go up to D.C., present their case for Cat 5 protection, remain hopeful and optimistic, and then get ultimately let down by the powers-that-be. The best the Bush White House would do for us is fund a two year study. Bushco justified this by making an uncharacteristic appeal to science, saying we must abide by whatever "science dictates". I interpreted this maneuver as a fairly transparent attempt to kick the Cat 5 can down the road for another President to handle.

So, the White House released the preliminary report on the Army Corps of Engineers Cat 5 "study", and it only confirmed my long-held suspicions. No one who cares about flood protection in Louisiana was positively impressed. Today's Times-Picayune reports:

The Bush administration issued guidelines Monday for deciding how to protect Louisiana from the most dangerous hurricanes-- plans that state officials said ignore specific fixes that could begin quickly

The much-awaited report, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, marked the first step in two years of planning how to rebuild New Orleans' levees, bolster Louisiana's coastline and develop other programs to control flooding from Category 5 storms.

But five specific recommendations Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, described as urgently needed to protect the state had been stripped out of the Corps' proposal since a draft was circulated last month.

Instead, Corps officials said they would put off embracing any particular plans to avoid uncoordinated or incomplete safeguards during the process. The rebuilding could take over a decade.
No cost estimate for a comprehensive plan was released, and a Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said fiscal concerns were one reason the Corps was directed to develop a careful review process.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called it "nothing more than another slap in the face of Louisiana" and said the Army "decided to gut the report and remove all substance."

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she would demand congressional hearings to investigate omission of the five recommendations. "Levee and flood control is a life-or-death situation for the people of coastal Louisiana," she said. "So it is very disappointing that this report fails to do what Congress mandated."
The federal aid law called for "information based on the Corps' expertise in a timely manner and unfiltered by the policy goals of the administration."

Remember, this is the same administration that committed to building the "best levee system known in the world". And, in my view, they intentionally sabotaged the study. The editorial board at the Times Picayune interpreted the Administration's interference only slightly more charitably:

The report is not a call to action. Instead, it's a call for a "decision matrix" that will determine how projects will be chosen in the future. The Bush administration removed recommendations for specific projects that officials from Louisiana and the corps had included in an initial draft.

The report, which was substantially rewritten by administration officials, makes clear that even the final report, due in December 2007, won't contain such specifics.

"The purpose of the final report is not to recommend a plan to increase hurricane protection or risk reduction," the draft says. Instead, the purpose is to "inform decision-making" about what risk reduction measures should be considered in formal feasibility studies.

Spending two years figuring out how to figure out what to do isn't exactly a fast track. It's certainly not what Louisiana officials thought they were getting. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who wrote the language requiring the report, said Congress wasn't looking for "another policy paper from the administration."

State officials are understandably dismayed with this nebulous approach. It bears little resemblance to a draft that they and corps officials worked on for six months, and the changes were made without their input.

The state and corps had agreed to recommend authorization for design work on a barrier plan that would use levees and gates to block storm surge from entering Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. But that was removed.

"The corps and the state at the highest levels had been in agreement on the direction of this report, and now it's all been pushed back," said Sidney Coffee, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's coastal adviser.

The editorial goes on to make an appeal to Bush, calling him a "staunch ally" of Louisiana, and saying that his administration should take a "longer view" of Category 5 protections, "if a restored Gulf Coast is to be [his] legacy."

Those are hopeful words, but any sentient being can look at the evidence and conclude that Category 5 flood protection does not fit into this Administration's intended "legacy".

Instead, the folks who outspent Lyndon Johnson suddenly have "fiscal concerns", and brazenly remove specific proposals from a report, and replace them with a "decision matrix". Actually, I think Bushco is taking the "longer view". They want to see how much "longer" they can put us off. I wonder: who might be the Architect of this "run out the clock" maneuver?

Tejas will get its "flood" wall before you do.
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Just Offal 

In an article that should have been placed in the obituary section, Da Paper reports:

Louisiana's "official state poem" is now James Ellis Richardson's "I Love My Louisiana," thanks to House Bill 177 by Rep. M.J. "Mert" Smiley, R-St. Amant. It became law last week without the governor's signature.

Big thanks to former car salesman "Mert" Smiley and to Governor Blanco for honoring one of the culturally richest places on earth with a poem so awful I must reprint it here.

With some helpful pictures.

I Love My Louisiana by James E. Richardson

I love my Louisiana

[Mert Smiley, GOP Philistine]

with all her charms and queenly ways,

[Gov. Kathleen "Queen Bee" Blanco]

yet she blushes when in bloom.

God's sunshine surely kissed her

for He blessed her cup so full.

[Our blessings overflow]

I love my Louisiana
She's so colorful in her history

[Over 60% of white voters in LA chose Duke
over a conservative Democrat incumbent U.S. Senator.]

so majestic in her pride
with beauty unsurpassed
like any other of its kind.
She seems to be like a soulful mate

that stands here by my side.

This brings me special confidence
to know that she is mine.
I love my Louisiana
with all her charms and queenly ways,

[In the event of a hurricane please pray.]

yet she blushes when in bloom.
God's sunshine surely kissed her
for He blessed her cup so full.

You can even feel her radiance
on her rainy gloomy days

[FYI, ma'am:
smiles are free]

for you know that on the morrow
the sun will clear the haze.

[Rolling up their sleeves to help "that part of the world".]

I love my Louisiana.
I propose this toast toward her
with my meager pen in hand.
I somehow feel so primitive


to her majesty so grand.

Update: We saw that provides an audio link of "I Love My Louisiana" in the comments section. The only thing worse than reading the poem interspersed with horrible pictures is hearing it read to you... with passion!
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

O no! 

Ray Nagin May 20, 2006: "This election is over, and it's time for this community to start the healing process."

Dambala writes:
I just caught word from one of my friends who works as a lobbyist in the Louisiana State Legislature of another gloriously stupid move made by Sugar Ray Nagin. He recently sent bags of Oreos to a handful of African-American politicians who supported Mitch Landrieu in the Mayoral election... including Karen Carter and Ann Duplessis among others.
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Blogroll please... 

Your humble bivalve is happy to announce the expansion of YRHT's illustrious blogroll. Check 'em all out when you get the time. The "Pelicans" list in particular has grown to gigantor proportions.

In fact, soon there will be more "Pelicans" on my blogroll than actual nesting pairs of pelicans in the "gret stet". Well, luckily, not quite; but there is a metric ton of good bloggers in Louisiana, and never a shortage of interesting political and cultural material. So that bodes well for the future.

Some day we should all get together and have a conference... (more on that later).

In the meantime I'd like to say a few words about Your Right Hand Thief. Does YRHT kick ass, or what? Seriously, it must be one of the best Louisiana Blogs in the History of the Universe. No doubt. And just think: you were there for it in real time. You got to read these posts when they were first published... when the cleverness was still sparkling and fresh. Just reflect on how cool that is for you.

You were there when YRHT still MEANT something, dammit! You were there during the salad days-- way before I sold out, or "bought in", or waterskied with Fonzi. In future years, curious netizens will study the YRHT archives, and perhaps ask you "What was it like to be on YRHT's blogroll?" Think about what you'll tell them.

So, as this unsinkable web vessel approaches 100,000 hits, let me just say: thank you. Thank you for your comments, thank you for your eyeballs, thank you for your links, your tips, and your emails. I treasure y'all like an accessible bathroom during Mardis Gras.

And I could never have reached the 100k benchmark without you. (Well, I suppose I could have, but it would've taken much, much longer.)