Saturday, December 09, 2006

Runoff 

Based on anecdotal evidence, it appears that turnout will be microscopic for the Carter/Jefferson runoff today.

Karen Carter's Uptown ground game continues to impress (I got another visit from a Carter supporter).

However: this is NOT the way to positively motivate New Orleanians to vote for you on election day. Awful.

I still think Carter has done (barely) enough to win, and I have a somewhat confident feeling about the results. (Much different than how I felt before the Nagin-Landrieu runoff.)

I'll predict a 52-48 Carter victory. That said, I'm utterly mystified at how pundits like Clancy Dubos and James Gill can rate Carter as a huge favorite. That's being way too generous, I'd say.

This will be close.
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Amongst the Foleyage 

House Ethics report on Page scandal

Conclusions of Report (p82)

The former Alexander page's decision to send the Foley e-mails to his acquaintance on Rep. Alexander's staff in August 2005 triggered a complicated series of events that led eventually to Rep. Foley's resignation over a year later. The Investigative Subcommittee finds that few of the individuals who ultimately came to participate in those events handled their roles in the manner that should be expected given the important and sensitive nature of the issues involved.

Rep Alexander's Office. The Investigative Subcommittee first reviewed the facts surrounding the initial contact with Rep. Alexander's office by its former page, which occurred in late August contemporaneously with the e-mailed request from Rep. Foley for a picture.
...

The Investigative Subcommittee was particularly interested in understanding the wishes of the parents of the former Alexander page regarding how the matter was to be handled, because a number of witnesses testified that they had decided against taking certain actions because of the family's desire for privacy, as conveyed by Rep. ALexander's office.

The Investigative Subcommittee finds that the family did wish that the matter be handled in a way that maintained their and their son's privacy, but we also conclude that the family's desire for privacy could have been accomodated while still investigating the matter more aggressively. The family did not provide any instructions or directions not to share the e-mails with appropriate House Members or staff.
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their testimony is clear that they did not impose any conditions on how Rep. Alexander's office should proceed.

The refusal of Rep. Alexander's office to provide copies of the e-mails to the Clerk is not supported by the stated concerns for the family's privacy. Although at least one member of Rep. Alexander's staff had been aware of the e-mails for over two months, Rep. Alexander and his chief of staff learned of the e-mails only because at least one newspaper reporter had them and called both the family of the page and Rep. Alexander's office. The staff's refusal to give those emails to an officer of the House based on concerns for the family's privacy defies logic given that the reporter already had copies of them, and that Rep. Alexander's office gave a copy of one of the former page's e-mails to the reporter.



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I'll have much more on this report as I feel the analysis I shared with Boyd Blundell was "spot on" regarding Alexander's role in this scandal. However this post on Richard Baker does contain some wrongful criticism. Apparently, the House Speaker was in fact among those who asked Mark Foley to resign. My apologies to Baker for the error, which was based on inaccurate media reports.

In the meantime here's the recent YRHT archives on Rodney.

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Why & How 

1. Why we should elect Karen Carter over Dollar Bill Jefferson.

2. How we should answer common questions about our plight from people who don't understand.


Number 2 becomes even more difficult if we fail to do number 1.
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Fortress America must rise to protect the manger from danger 

First Mexico City approves legal recognition of same sex unions, and now Canada upholds same-sex marriage. America is surrounded! Even the Vice President's lesbian daughter is... pregnant!? How is that even possible? Then, to top it off, a Democratic presidential aspirant says we should abandon our expensive partial border fence that would keep the rest of these illegal, degenerate urine-quaffing immigrants at bay.

Thank goodness there are Christian patriots willing to fight this evil, though! Some brave spirits have created a helpful religious-cleansing video game that prepares the next generation for the ultimate ideological showdown-- against the secular liberal homoslavian infiltraitors in this country:
A video game that depicts a crusade of violence by Christians could be heading for the bestseller charts this Christmas, even though it has been condemned by Muslims and secularists.

The [video] game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is set in post-apocalyptic New York and features God's army battling the Antichrist.

Based on Left Behind, the bestselling Christian fantasy book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, it puts players in command of brainwashed legions fighting for Christianity.

Players are ordered to convert or kill to advance to the next level and remodel America as a Christian-controlled state, and establish its world vision of Christ's dominion.

Hallelujah!

This is the perfect stocking stuffer, just in time for Christmas! Nothing celebrates the baby Jesus more than depictions of unbelievers suffering red hot eternal death. [Note to New Orleanians: do not mistakenly confuse this video game with the new documentary titled "Left Behind", which investigates godless N.O. public schools and has interviews with people like Noam Chomsky, whose anti-American analysis is reliably off the mark.]

Remember: It is always the enemy within that prevents us from victory over the enemies outside our borders. (Like the 71% of Defeatocrat-appeasenik-jihadist-comforter "Americans" who want us to withdraw from our holy military project in Iraq.)

The godless gay liberal journalist-sympathizers will never let us defeat the terrorist swarms. Ever. They must either be converted to Jesus' infinite love, or brutally liquidated by brave Christian-soldiers. During this annual War on Christmas, true believers must protect the American homeland, from within and without, by any means necessary. We want a pure, happy (but not gay) celebration that recognizes the holy reason for the season. Take heart: our victory is prophesied and therefore inevitable.

Adeste Fidelis, laeti triumphante!



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Hat tip to Virtual Pus' gay cat.
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

 
1. Let's shop til he drops!

2. There's 100,000 contractors in Iraq. For perspective, consider that there's only about 140k troops in Iraq. Almost no new reconstruction funds have been requested for 2007, yet we have 100k contractors there. Hmm.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, "Ground Zero" of "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen"....

3. The above "reconstruction" quote is from President Bush, who said today: "Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die."
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Oil Royalties 

Will we get them?

Again: will we get them?
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The Sizzler 

Lots of Bradgelina sightings around town by YRHT bivalves. Angelina Jolie has been seen at Drago's, Saks, and on Magazine St. in recent days. One of my bivalve spies conversed with Angelina, and was charmed by her, declaring that Jolie is "so down to earth".

Also, I've been told that Pitt and Jolie have purchased a home in New Orleans. Unconfirmed reports say it's on Orleans Ave..

Not developing...

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Figures 

Just as Greg enjoys breathing for the first time in a while, the Bush administration decides it may be time for more airborne lead pollution.

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"What goes in the sky, goes in the blood, goes in the brain." -- dead horse
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All my vexes source from Texas 

Digby shows yet another hideous parallel between Bush and Lyndon Johnson, our beloved Texas war presidents.

Tragically, Duhbya has many of LBJ's giant flaws and very few of his giant strengths. Between Bush's "big government conservatism" and his strategic blunders in foreign policy, his "legacy" will extend far beyond his term in office (just like LBJ's).
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Christmas 'n Hollis 

Dammit.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Surge in mortgage delinquencies 

Calculated Risk has a clue, flagging this WSJ article (sub req):

Americans who have stretched themselves financially to buy a home or refinance a mortgage have been falling behind on their loan payments at an unexpectedly rapid pace.

The surge in mortgage delinquencies in the past few months is squeezing lenders and unsettling investors world-wide in the $10 trillion U.S. mortgage market. The pain is most apparent in subprime mortgages, though there are signs it is spreading to other parts of the mortgage market.
...
Subprime mortgage originations climbed to $625 billion in 2005 from $120 billion in 2001, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. ...

Until the past year or so, delinquency rates were low by historical standards, thanks to low interest rates and rising home prices, which made it easy for borrowers to refinance or sell their homes if they ran into trouble. But as the housing market peaked and loan volume leveled off, some lenders responded by relaxing their lending standards. Now, the downside of that strategy is becoming more apparent.

Based on current performance, 2006 is on track to be one of the worst ever for subprime loans, according to UBS AG. "We are a bit surprised by how fast this has unraveled," says Thomas Zimmerman, head of asset-backed securities research at UBS. Roughly 80,000 subprime borrowers who took out mortgages packaged into securities this year are behind on their payments, the bank says.
...
Soaring delinquencies are making some lenders more cautious, which is likely to put further pressure on the weak housing market. ...

Delinquency rates have been rising steadily since the middle of 2005. But the trend has accelerated sharply in the past two to three months, according to an analysis by UBS. The figures don't include loans that lenders were forced to repurchase because the borrower went into default in the first few months; such repurchases also have increased sharply this year.
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How much higher delinquencies further climb will depend in part on the depth of the current housing slump.
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If delinquencies continue to grow, the pain could also be felt by investors who have flooded into the market for subprime securities.


This deflating asset/credit bubble will have untidy consequences.
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No nonsense Quarterbacks 

Saint Droopy, our new football coach, is doing a fabulous, no-nonsense job rebuilding the Saints. Now it appears as if Mayor Nagin has selected a new Recovery Chief who is cut from similar cloth.

Savor these snippets from the T-P article on new New Orleans Recovery Czar Edward J. Blakely:

Moments after Mayor Ray Nagin introduced him Monday as the city's new recovery czar, Edward J. Blakely faced perhaps the most fundamental question of the slow-to-start rebuilding effort: How soon would he like to have a strategy in place?

"Tomorrow," said Blakely, an urban affairs professor who led recovery efforts in California after two natural disasters. Pressed for a more realistic timetable, Ed Blakely, didn't miss a beat, deadpanning, "The day after tomorrow."
...
"The advantage I have is having been through this," said Blakely, who helped coordinate planning after the 1989 Bay Area earthquake and the 1991 Oakland wildfire...

"And if I can stand back and look forward and we can all work together, my job will be to assure that all the pieces of government work in sync to get this job done."
...
In his first public appearance as a government official, Blakely, 69, was brutally blunt with some of his answers, vague with others and a bit testy towards the end of the news conference when asked to describe how he expected the city to look a year from now.

"Come back," he said. "I'm not explaining any more today, because that, I think, is not a question that anyone can answer. What are you going to be doing next year?..."
...
Asked what he thought he could do to improve the state's reconstruction program that has been slow to hand out billions in federal grants to cover homeowners' uninsured losses, Blakely said, "Well, the most important thing about the Road Home program is it's supposed to be a road home."

After the laughter died down,
he said those grants "can only be part of a wider strategy" that includes steps residents take individually and collectively "to ensure they can reach their destination."
...
As for an estimate on how long he thinks it will take to complete the task, he said "I'll finish when all of you think I'm finished."

Obviously, Blakely will be judged on his performance and not on his verbal pugilism at press conferences. But this sounds like a good start to me. Granted, rebuilding a devastated city is much different than rebuilding a football franchise, and yet, I believe inspiring examples can be taken from Coach Payton's early success. (Like Payton, Blakely was also a quarterback in college. In fact, long ago, he led UC-Riverside to an undefeated season.)

Previously, I wrote:
[Let's] use the Saints as a recovery model, not just a source of weekly inspiration. Run your business like Coach Sean Payton runs his team. Make decisions like Quarterback Drew "Cool" Brees does when he's in the pocket. Persevere like Deuce. Be a professional like Hollywood Horn. Dance (occasionally) like Bush. And overachieve like everyone else on that team.

I'm hopeful that our "droopy-looking" football coach and recovery czar will help take this city where it deserves to go. I know these former QB's are "outsiders", but that doesn't mean we can't learn from Payton and Blakely. Refusing to tolerate the intolerable (poverty, bad schools, racism, crime, corruption...) would be a great first step.

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Update: Jeffrey interrupts his worrying about the 2007 Saints team to note that David is much less sanguine about Blakely's appointment than I am.
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Monday, December 04, 2006

A "Strategic Pause" 

While insurers are pulling out of the area due to "the state of the rebuilding of [the] levee system", the Army Corps of Engineers has dramatically slowed its efforts to fix the levees. They're calling it a "strategic pause", while ACoE carefully shifts from simply repairing flood protection to improving it. Adding to the complications is, of course, a lack of money. From the NYT (via Chad at the DP):


Congress has ordered the Army Corps to upgrade the city's hurricane protection system to standards first authorized in 1965-- goals that were not reached because of a series of compromises and mistakes, the corps has admitted.

After those standards are reached, the corps must upgrade the system further, to resist a storm that has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any given year.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that the billions of dollars in appropriations will not cover the New Orleans area projects Congress has ordered the corps to take on. The situation, in the short run, could require the corps to go back to lawmakers for the authority to move some appropriated money around. Eventually, corps officials say, more money from Congress may be necessary.

To save money, the corps will skip interim steps on some projects and go straight for the higher, 100-year level of protection. But that will leave the city at risk until 2010 at least, say those who oppose the move. The corps has also scaled back plans to armor the levees against being scoured away when water flows over the top. An editorial in The New Orleans Times-Picayune described that cost-saving consideration as "a horrifying argument from an agency whose lack of foresight and competence caused a deadly and costly catastrophe."

Between now and 2010, how many more insurers will decide that the Corps' thrifty repair strategy (of skipping "interim steps") is a risky bet? How many more will follow Travelers Ins. out of the area? What's the point of slowly building higher levees if a lack of insurance kills the city before it can be adequately protected? Is floodwall armor for New Orleans the sort of thing we should "skimp" on?

Also, Matt has an update about the delayed Orleans Parish pump station repairs, and why the ACoE's claim that they "need to pace [them]selves" simply doesn't wash.

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Update: Scout has the latest developments.

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"A symbol of our resolve" 

MyDD's Matt Stoller lists all of Tim Tagaris' Carter/Jefferson reports, and comments on the plight of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He concludes:

I can't help but feel like I can have no part in this American tragedy, that the tragedy is so huge and the abandonment of who we are so massive that it is no longer an American trait to look difficult situations in the face and take them on directly. I read these posts and spend time thinking about Karen Carter and William Jefferson, and I'm less interested in the race than I am simply ashamed.

The next President will have, more than almost anything, a duty to rebuild our confidence in ourselves to be America again. That confidence is very much shattered. New Orleans could be a symbol of national restoration, a symbol of our ability to deal with anything nature and global warming can throw at us, a symbol of our resolve to deal with poverty. But it is none of these things. It is a symbol of how desperately the need is for Americans everywhere to take back America from our ineffective and corrupted elites, and from our own apathy and shame.
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Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for Alan Richman to enter the kingdom of New Orleans cuisine 

The Richman affair won't die! Noah from Antigravity prints his lively email conversation (pdf pg 5 "Freefloating Ramblings") with tasteless food critic Alan Richman. Richman defends what he said in his anti-New Orleans GQ article, and is "very proud" of what he wrote, and said he hoped that an overdue debate "on New Orleans" would be sparked. Yeah, right. He also dismisses the blogosphere's response to his article as reminding him of "drunks screaming in a bar that their football team was hosed by a referee". Well, that might be true in the case of Angry Ashley (:D), but what about the always-measured, adult commentary at Appetites (more here)?

Responding to Noah, Richman uses an idiotic straw man argument to defend his incendiary comments about Creoles, and Noah finally decided to create a petition in response. Consider signing it. Here's an explanatory excerpt from the petition page:

This petition is a request for the immediate ouster of Alan Richman from his position as food writer at GQ. The formal inquiry, as voiced by its sole author, Noah Bonaparte Pais, is based around the abject bigotry in Mr. Richman's latest article, "Yes, We're Open" [November '06], in which the writer had the following (and much more) to say about New Orleans' native Creole people: "Supposedly, Creoles can be found in and around New Orleans. I have never met one and suspect they are a faerie folk, like Leprechauns, rather than an indigenous race. The myth is that once, long ago, Creoles existed... The 'crab and Creole' salad wasn't as interesting as its name-- I was expecting a composition that included chopped up Creoles, allowing me finally to glimpse one of them."

...
Furthermore, Mr. Richman, in one of several letters sent to me amidst a recent maelstrom of withering criticism, attempted to acquit himself with the following argument:

"Was I racist? A ridiculous claim that I refute outright... Were Creoles attacked in the streets by non-Creoles egged on by me? Have Creoles been banned from public schools? Is there a national campaign underway to relocate Creoles to military bases, segregate them behind barbed wire? Did anybody even stick his tongue out at a Creole? Please."

Ironically, this radical defense only goes further toward the realization of Mr. Richman's inherently racist views. Unlike those who flaunt their prejudice (e.g., skinheads or white supremacists), casual bigots do not believe their viewpoints to be slanted at all-- they maintain positions which fall within the boundaries of their own self-created mainstream. Hence, when confronted with this accusation, Mr. Richman conjured a holocaustic, Nazi-like dream state with which to contrast his own comments, thereby expressing his own extremist opinion that nothing short of a human rights crisis could possibly constitute harmful racism. That is, in and of itself, the embodiment of casual bigotry, and should be taken as tantamount to a subconscious confession of such.


I very much like Noah's analysis in that final paragraph.
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A Goldwater Conservative is pissed 

For the record, I don't agree with large chunks of this author's philosophy (or analysis), but he correctly identifies the fact that contemporary conservatives are worse than Democrats when they become empowered to "deal with" government spending and expansion.

In a long essay, he rails on "big government conservatism" (compassionate conservatism plus neoconnery) as essentially a philosophical capitulation to the ever-expanding socialist welfare state, and instead praises the moral good inherent in "selfish" capitalism as an alternative to the liberal project since FDR. The whole thing is worth reading if you haven't talked to a Libertarian recently, and want to understand the emptiness of current conservatism and why a purer, Goldwater conservatism is such a difficult political sell nowadays.

Here's some political ammo from the essay that libs should have ready-to-hand demonstrating why Dems have actually handled growing government spending more responsibly than pseudo-conservative Republicans have:

Here are some hard facts. Government spending has increased faster under George Bush and his Republican Congress than it did under Bill Clinton, and more people work for the federal government today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. During Bush’s first term, total government spending skyrocketed from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion, an increase of 33 percent (almost $23,000 per household, the highest level since World War II). The federal budget grew by $616.4 billion during Bush’s first term in office. If post 9/11 defense spending is taken off the table, domestic spending has ballooned by 23 percent since Bush took office. When Bill Clinton left office in 2000, federal spending equaled 18.5 percent of the gross domestic product, but by the end of the first Bush administration, government outlays had increased to 20.3 percent of the GDP. The annualized growth rate of non-defense and non-homeland-security outlays has more than doubled from 2.1 percent under Clinton to 4.8 percent under Bush.

Increased spending inevitably means increased taxes. Thus, despite President Bush’s much vaunted tax cuts, Americans actually pay more in taxes today than they did during Bill Clinton’s last year in office. The 2006 annual report from Americans for Tax Reform, titled "Cost of Government Day," sums up rather nicely the intrusive role played by Republican government in the lives of ordinary Americans. The report says that Americans had to work 86.5 days just to pay their federal taxes, as compared to 78.5 days in 2000 under Bill Clinton. In other words, the average American has worked 10.2 percent more for the federal government under George Bush than under Bill Clinton. When state and local taxes (controlled in the majority of places by Republicans) are added to federal taxes, Americans worked for the government eight hours a day, five days a week, from January 1 until July 12, meaning they worked full-time for the government for more than half the year.

...

As the United States advances toward socialism by a series of gradual, halting steps, it is not the liberals or the socialists but rather the conservatives who bear the greatest guilt for dragging America down the road to statism. When they are out of power, conservatives often claim to stand for private property, limited government, and capitalism (thereby serving as a brake against the ambitions of the Left), but when they are in power they have a proven record of hastening our descent into socialism (which is fueled by the mutual desires of the Left). Conservatives may posture as supporters of individual rights, limited government, and capitalism; but, in reality, they are morally opposed to these values, and their history is one of actively betraying them.

According to the author, pseudo-conservative Republicans are, "in reality", the worst kind of hypocrites. But how does one sell true small government conservatism in the political marketplace?
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Important Insurance blogging at First Draft. 

1. "Next week, I expect, insurers will announce that they're pulling out of Chicago. Risk of fire, you understand...."

2. "Our Fate is your Fate"
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Between Brit's knees 

Richard wonders why Britney didn't "even try to hide her cho-cha from the photog". I'm perplexed as well.

My wife, Lovely, thinks it was a publicity stunt. I'm not so sure. After so cleverly handling K-Fed's sex tape threats, this seems like a huge blunder.

Then again, I'm opening a discussion on the "issue", so who knows, maybe it worked.

But what can she possibly do next? Date Flavor Flav? Declare that her "trust" in the President has finally been shaken? What?
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