Friday, December 15, 2006

Queen Bee has no sting 

Lord knows I criticize Chad Rogers when I disagree with him, so I want to emphasize how much I concur with his latest rant about Governor Blanco's (non-existent) re-election chances. He reviews four or five of her failures and embarrassments over the past year, and concludes:

The impending doom for Blanco's political future is impossible not to notice... If she chooses to run for governor again, she will be running with the understanding that she will fail.

He's precisely right. So is Adrastos, who discusses Governor Meemaw's weakness and has some quality links that you should check out.

Blanco is a one-termer. The Dems should draft John Kennedy to run.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A strategic Dollar Bill voter explains her rationale 

Lovely alerted me to this Letter to the Times Picayune Editor (printed in full):

Lest Mr. Jefferson see this "victory" as vindication and support, I'd like to set him straight. I voted for Mr. Jefferson precisely because I believe he is guilty of ethical and legal lapses, with the hope that he will be removed in disgrace on a national stage before he has the chance to do any more damage.

My alternative was to vote for a "junior Hillary" who may be able to stay in Congress indefinitely and who would no doubt promote a liberal agenda even more aggressively than Mr. Jefferson has. As a realistic conservative, I know that it will be difficult to elect a truly conservative congressman in our area, but I think our chances are much better against Jefferson or an empty seat than against Carter.

Analysis of the demographics of the vote will bear this out. The more conservative Jefferson Parish residents voted overwhelmingly for Jefferson. They didn't vote that way out of support for Jefferson but out of a determination to keep Carter out of office. Sorry Mr. Jefferson, but many of those same voters will now be working to have you removed from office as soon as possible.

What a shame that our political options have come to this.

Diane P.

Bridge City

According to this voter's "analysis", Jefferson Parish voted against Carter, and for Dollar Bill... because Carter is a "liberal". And after re-electing Jefferson, these "realistic conservatives" will be "working" to have him removed because it might help them in a future election*.

Thanks Diane! Great Work!

*For those who feared that if Carter had won, she would have a lifetime seat, remember that her base of support would have been white Uptowners and West Bankers-- not exactly an impregnable electoral fortress. They would quickly desert her for any other viable candidate (black or white) that I can think of. It's hard to imagine her not having stiff competition... unless she did a great job, of course.
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LA-02 commentary 

Da Po Blog is right. We cannot make conclusions about individual voters based on raw LA-02 election statistics. In a previous post, before complete returns were available, I criticized West Bank voters for overwhelmingly voting to re-elect William Jefferson in the the metro New Orleans area's first Post-Breach Congressional election. At the time I thought a majority of East Bank New Orleans had voted for Carter and I thought the West Bank and Jefferson Parish vote had gone overwhelmingly for Jefferson. Apparently, I was wrong. Dollar Bill prevailed narrowly on the East Bank as well. Da po blog contends:

We can not and never will know the motives of Jefferson Parish voters. But, I think it is logically wrong to conclude that it means the people of Jefferson Parish don't want to be on "team New Orleans." Karen Carter may have been the best candidate for New Orleans. But, I think it is obvious that she wasn't the best for JP.

I disagree. I think Anyone But Jefferson was the right choice for New Orleans, for Jefferson Parish, for Louisiana and for the Gulf Coast as well. In this case the non-"Dollar Bill" candidate was Karen Carter. She was the right choice for everyone, and here's why: Southern Louisiana is fighting for its life, and it needs federal help to attract federal tax dollars to repair levees and wetlands on both banks. To the rest of the country, Appearance is Reality. They perceive Jefferson as corrupt. Both parties in Washington D.C. perceive him as corrupt, and expect that he will be indicted next year. The Dems have stripped him of his Ways and Means committee seat, and he is the GOP's favorite example of corruption. He was rated as the least effectual member of Congress. Jefferson is stubbornly committed to staying in office even after getting indicted-- an eventuality he expects to happen. We may see a sitting Congressman on trial; a Congressman from a region that is trying desperately to repair its corrupt reputation while it repairs its flood protection and economy. These are Meta-issues that should trump any particular "local" issues.

I can't believe this is not self-evident to everyone, but re-electing William Jefferson was not the "obvious" best choice for the East Bank or the West Bank or for Orleans Parish or for Jefferson Parish. Given the circumstances, Dollar Bill was the WORST possible choice for this region's future.

Yet none of these "Meta-issues" about Jefferson's reputation and future ineffectiveness seemed to matter to most West Bank voters, who were largely outside of Jefferson's "machine". I believe a decisive portion of West Bankers decided to vote for Dollar Bill because it was in Derrick Shepherd's long-term interest, or because of Karen Carter's comments in Spike Lee's film (that were widely promoted by Sheriff Harry Lee's anti-Carter mail campaign).

According to most analysts, Carter's position on the post-Katrina blockade of the CCC bridge was a potent issue in this race. Again, I believe the Meta-issues in this race decisively trump this sort of thing. But even this local "issue" is utterly without merit. William Jefferson himself marched on the CCC in solidarity with those who were prevented from crossing to safety after the storm. Sadly, Carter listened to analysts (like myself) and pollsters who said she was ahead and didn't need to "lose" (white) votes by cultivating some backbone and sundering Jefferson's awful coalition. Jarvis DeBerry absolutely nails it when he writes what Carter should have said (but didn't):

"Hello. My name is Karen Carter, candidate for Congress, 2nd District. I have been criticized by some Jefferson Parish officials because I had the audacity to say on camera -- without spin or doublespeak -- what should be obvious to everyone: that it is the responsibility of law enforcement officials to assist those fleeing danger, or at the very least, not impede the progress of people who are moving away from a situation that threatens their lives.

"I'm talking, of course, about the illegal and immoral blockading of the Crescent City Connection on Sept. 1, 2005, three days after the Army Corps of Engineers' levees broke and flooded our beloved city. What I said in Spike Lee's documentary, I'll repeat here for you. I thought I lived in America until the day armed officers stood on that bridge and turned my people, your people, away. It was wrong.

"No matter how Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson wants to justify it, no matter what Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee says about my uppityness, the truth remains that their position -- the indiscriminate turning away of tired, hungry, thirsty, frightened men, women and children -- is morally indefensible. It's not American, and it's not Christian.

"It neither bothers me nor surprises me that I'm being attacked by the people who supported the blockade. But I have to express disappointment at William Jefferson's continuing silence on this matter. Voters, you know where I stand on this issue. Mr. Jefferson, what's your position?"
All she has to do, I told friends a couple days after the primary, is ask Jefferson what his position is. How's the guy who defended his decision to invite the firebrand Dyan French Cole (aka Mama D) to talk to Congress about the grand Katrina conspiracies cooked up by white folks going to take the side of the Gretna Police Department? Black folks ain't having that. So Carter will grill Jefferson, he'll be forced to admit that her position is right, and the Crescent City Connection issue will be reduced to political insignificance. White voters will know that both candidates feel the same way.
And surely, I thought, given all the times I've heard Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan described as a "convicted racist," white voters are not going to throw their support behind the congressman whose office masterminded the firings of those 43 white people in the district attorney's office.

Would such a hypothetical commercial have won it for Carter? Possibly. We'll never know. In the meantime, while Dollar Bill waits to fight his indictment in a protracted, public legal battle, I know of businessmen and lawyers who consider his election "the last straw" and have decided to leave New Orleans for good. These guys are moderates and conservatives, and they saw larger issues at play than Carter's position on, say, abortion.

"Should one vote?"

That was the question radio host Rob Couhig asked former GOP Congressional candidate Joe Lavigne in this radio interview (due to time constraints, I'm working from memory, but David posted an audio link that still may be good). Joe answered that "yes", despite the bad choices, we should vote. I agree. But apparently the question about whether one should vote was a real dilemma for former mayoral candidate turned radio host Rob Couhig (among others). After that query, Couhig then asked Lavigne about the theory "some people" have that we should re-elect Bill Jefferson so that Jefferson will get indicted and we'll have another election with perhaps some better choices. Lavigne admirably poo-pooed this idea as well, asserting that you have to "vote for today", instead of voting strategically on the hope for some far-flung hypothetical eventuality. (Couhig had more to say in the interview about his endorsement of Nagin, but I'll address that another time.)

For now, the question "Should one vote?" is enough. More precisely, "Should one have voted in the runoff election between William Jefferson and Karen Carter?" My view is that yes, you should have voted. Apparently, though, there was less voter turnout among (white) voters than there was in recent Post-K elections. The stakes couldn't be higher, but many weren't motivated enough to vote "For" Carter. Nor were they motivated enough to vote "Against" Dollar Bill Jefferson. In my opinion that is nearly an abdication of civic reponsibility, considering the stakes.

In a comment at Mark's Wet Bank Guide, the Traveling Mermaid encapsulates the view of some of these LA-02 voters, saying:

The way I see it, I had no real,relevent choice in this election. So I elected NOT to vote. Voting for anyone I don't believe in is hypocritical and I refuse to play the "lesser of 2 evils" game. That is way too frivolous an attitude, IMHO.

So what do you say about someone like me?

Here's what I would say. Not voting is still a "vote" of sorts-- the weakest one available. It's an abdication of civic duty to others who do decide to vote. Now, if you truly think that there is absolutely no difference between two candidates, I suppose then it doesn't matter much. To you.

But the stakes are higher in Post-Breach New Orleans. I don't have to tell you that. These are some of the most important elections we will ever participate in. The survival of the city is at stake, and our region is attempting to attract crucial funds to rebuild levees and wetlands. So, EVEN IF there was no qualitative difference between Carter and Jefferson's local "machines", surely politically-aware voters must understand how the rest of the nation would perceive William Jefferson's re-election. They're disgusted and flummoxed by it. Rightfully so, I would say. Liberals dislike the choice. Moderates dislike the choice. Conservatives dislike the choice. Re-electing Jefferson makes it that much harder for Louisiana's Congressional delegation to lobby for crucial, life-and-death tax dollars. It was a collosal mistake, one that gives comfort to those who want to de-fund our region, and to those who think we are too stupid and corrupt to govern ourselves. Compared to these "Meta-ssues" the stupid bridge question is a red herring. The best way to ensure that there are no future bridge standoffs is to vote in a way that best helps Louisiana repair the levees that created the conditions for the bridge blockade in the first place!

Traveling Mermaid urges us to vote for Saints QB Drew Brees in an online poll that will help deliver funds to an area Children's Hospital. I applaud and admire her advocacy. However, if I were to be snarkastic I might say the following:

This poll represents a dilemma to a voter like myself. I voted for Brees, but the poll wouldn't accept my vote unless I also selected a running back as well. There are no Saints available to choose from. I do not have an opinion on any of them, and view them as "lesser evils" (and potential playoff/SuperBowl opponents for the Saints).

Children's Hospital needs the money, and Drew Brees deserves recognition, but I don't want to play the "lesser evils" game and vote for non-Saints running backs whom I dislike. Should I bite the bullet and vote for one of these running backs (none of whom I care for), or should I opt out, and wait for a poll that includes both Brees and Deuce or Bush?[/snarkasm]

Just as I (ended up voting) for a non-Saints RB in order for my vote for Brees to count (and for our hospital to receive needed funds) I would hope some voters would hold their noses and vote Dollar Bill Jefferson out so that our LA Congressional delegation can more effectively attract needed flood protection funds. It's never hypocritical to vote in a democracy, whose choices are rarely ideal. It is more hypocritical to not vote, and then bitch about the results of other people's votes. (OT: Instant runoff voting reform? Hell yes, I would vote for that.)

Is that an illuminating parallel, or am I way off?

The point of voting against Jefferson was to show the country that we are open to change and that we do not endorse corruption. That was enough motivation in itself, in my opinion. To a large extent, appearance is reality to the rest of the country. If nothing else, this was not a vote for Carter, it was a vote FOR the appearance of change. And the appearance of change is necessary to help our Congressional delegation to persuade the rest of the country that their tax dollars are necessary for vital flood protection in S. LA. Sure, Carter wasn't a great, inspirational candidate-- but, to the rest of the country, this was a choice between Corruption and Anyone Else. Like it or not, the appearance to the rest of the country-- even to those who are our friends and allies-- was that we endorse corruption, and that there's no guarantee that monies sent to LA will be used wisely.

Did William Jefferson's re-election play into Senator Coburn's decision to not release nearly a Billion dollars in flood control moneys the other day? Perhaps. Who else will use Jefferson as an easy excuse to vote against the New Orleans metro area?

Again: these are some of the most important life-or-death elections we will ever participate in. And every vote counts. What good is it to wait for someone who might be a Great Candidate if S. Louisiana is lost because the rest of the country perceived us as hopelessly stupid and corrupt? National perceptions dictate that ANYONE BUT JEFFERSON (Shepherd, Carter, Lavigne) was the right choice in this election. What good is it to elect someone who would protect the West Bank from dehydrated looters if he is too ineffectual to protect the West Bank from the Gulf of Mexico?

Jefferson has said he would not step down EVEN IF he gets indicted. What could be worse for S. Louisiana's reputation than to endure a protracted trial of a sitting congressman on bribery charges? How many hundreds of millions in potential federal aide did this election cost us?

Going forward (heh), the political lesson of recent elections is that money and media endorsements can't overcome bland, spineless, vague campaigns. Candidates who fail to directly confront "greater evil" candidates who run insinuating, "dualistic", two-faced campaigns (whether explicitly or via surrogates) will lose in the faction-plagued New Orleans metro area. Period.

Again, I agree with Da Po blog and Traveling Mermaid that I showed some bias against the Best Bank in a previous post. I apologize. When I saw the early results, I saw an easy political "script", but it was later proven inaccurate (since the E. Bank favored Dollar Bill as well). Clearly, the East Bank has plenty of problems of its own, and there's no reason to minimize them by deflecting blame. Both "Banks" are in this together, for better or worse, I acknowledge that.

However, while I agree with Da Po Boy that we cannot ascribe motives to individual voters, we can judge individual voters who speak for themselves. In the Dollar Bill re-election thread at Free Republic, big_easy 70118 writes:

Karen Carter was a horrendous candidate. She supported gay marriage, late term abortions, Hillary's healthcare plan and economically was to the left of Stalin.

As it stands now, Carter is winning in Orleans Parish by a vote of 52-48. However she is getting trounced in Jefferson Parish (which is actually 50-50 white-black) 73-27.

I live in uptown New Orleans. I voted for Bill Jefferson today for several reasons. Pelosi would have welcomed Carter with open arms. It would have been one more vote for the far left socilaist agenda.

Jefferson being indicted in office will be a great boon to the GOP. And I am not the only conservative who thinks so.

Furthermore, I love denying the white liberals in this city any power whatsoever.

Congratulations to this intrepid New Orleans Freeper on his strategic "victory". Press on!

I realize this post has been compiiled in haste and is repetitive and could use future editing. Until then, readers must self-edit.
H/T The Flaming Liberal
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Congress less Porcine 

Via TPM we learn:

"Democrats tidying up a cluster of unfinished spending bills dumped on them by departing Republican leaders in Congress will start by removing billions of dollars in lawmakers' pet projects next month.

"The move, orchestrated by the incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, could prove politically savvy even as it proves unpopular with other members of Congress, who as a group will lose thousands of so-called earmarks.

"'There will be no congressional earmarks,' Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said Monday in a statement announcing their plans, which were quickly endorsed by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev." (AP, WSJ)

Damn, if they got Senator Byrd on board, then the Dems must be serious. Fiscal conservative Goopers are amazed.

Here are the Pork and Earmark trends during the "Republican Revolution".
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Last night was thick and foggy 

Few things "fill up the senses" more than a night walk on foggy New Orleans streets.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"He's fun to watch for every fan except if you're a fan of the Houston Texans." 

Alright, I was inspired by the Office Depot on St. Charles to post these sports clips. Why? Well, because our local OD store is being forced(?) to unload tons of excess Houston Texan football calendars (...etc.) which apparently didn't meet market expectations in lovely Houston. Hardly any Saints merch to be found, but there's tons of Texan (and Rocket) paraphenalia.

Hey, Office Depot, why in the HELL do you think Texan sports shite that won't sell in Houston will be purchased by New Orleanians? We got our own sports team(s), thank you very much. And we love 'em, win or lose.

This year, we are winning. For the Texan fans who didn't see #2 pick Reggie Bush's TD run, here ya go. After the play, Al Michaels says: "Every Texan fan must be saying 'What in the HELL did we do [at] the draft?'"

And who could forget this exciting, game-winning return? [Warning: LOUD]

But oyster, what about #3 pick Vince Young? What's he been up to, lately?

Glad ya asked:


The only Youtube highlight of #1 pick Mario Williams I could find was this one, where Williams tackles a decoy receiver after a fake handoff. The guy who posted the video clip says "If only [the receiver] had the ball."

Hmm. Yes. "If only...". Keep that phrase handy, Texans.
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The failure of Bush's "Privatization through Outsourcing" 

Singularity enhances excerpts from Paul Krugman's latest column with some helpful "bonus links" which I will borrow, and reprint for your edification. (Big thanks to Kelley.):

...[O]utsourcing of the government's responsibilities-- not to panels of supposed wise men, but to private companies with the right connections — has been one of the hallmarks of [t]his administration. And privatization through outsourcing is one reason the administration has failed on so many fronts.

For example, an article in Saturday's New York Times describes how the Coast Guard has run a $17 billion modernization program: "Instead of managing the project itself, the Coast Guard hired Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, two of the nation's largest military contractors, to plan, supervise and deliver the new vessels and helicopters."

The result? Expensive ships that aren't seaworthy. The Coast Guard ignored "repeated warnings from its own engineers that the boats and ships were poorly designed and perhaps unsafe," while "the contractors failed to fulfill their obligation to make sure the government got the best price, frequently steering work to their subsidiaries or business partners instead of competitors."

In Afghanistan, the job of training a new police force was outsourced to DynCorp International, a private contractor, under very loose supervision: when conducting a recent review, auditors couldn't even find a copy of DynCorp's contract to see what it called for. And $1.1 billion later, Afghanistan still doesn't have an effective police training program.

In July 2004, Government Executive magazine published an article titled "Outsourcing Iraq," documenting how the U.S. occupation authorities had transferred responsibility for reconstruction to private contractors, with hardly any oversight. "The only plan," it said, "appears to have been to let the private sector manage nation-building, mostly on their own." We all know how that turned out.

On the home front, the Bush administration outsourced many responsibilities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For example, the job of evacuating people from disaster areas was given to a trucking logistics firm, Landstar Express America. When Hurricane Katrina struck, Landstar didn't even know where to get buses. According to Carey Limousine, which was eventually hired, Landstar "found us on the Web site."

It's now clear that there's a fundamental error in the antigovernment ideology embraced by today's conservative movement. Conservatives look at the virtues of market competition and leap to the conclusion that private ownership, in itself, is some kind of magic elixir. But there's no reason to assume that a private company hired to perform a public service will do better than people employed directly by the government.

In fact, the private company will almost surely do a worse job if its political connections insulate it from accountability-- which has, of course, consistently been the case under Mr. Bush. The inspectors' report on Afghanistan's police conspicuously avoided assessing DynCorp's performance; even as government auditors found fault with Landstar, the company received a plaque from the Department of Transportation honoring its hurricane relief efforts.

Underlying this lack of accountability are the real motives for turning government functions over to private companies, which have little to do with efficiency. To say the obvious: when you see a story about failed outsourcing, you can be sure that the company in question is a major contributor to the Republican Party, is run by people with strong G.O.P. connections, or both.

Without any accountability, "Faith based" privatization is very, very expensive. So are lost wars (... and cities). This contributes to the downward spiral in Iraq which Jim Henley ably summarizes:

A rhetorical change I'm noticing since the ISG report came out is that we have to stay in Iraq "to prevent a wider regional war," aka "the new thirty years' war" and so on. That suggests that our mission is no longer preventing "full-blown civil war," which used to be what we had to prevent, or "increased sectarian strife," which is what we had to prevent before that, or "increasing insurgent violence" which is what we had to prevent before that. The pattern has always been:

1. Declare that we must stay in Iraq to prevent some Bad Thing from happening.

2. Bad Thing happens anyway.

3. Declare that we must stay in Iraq to prevent some Worse Thing from happening.

4. Worse Thing happens anyway.

5. Reiterate sequence.

Minor Ripper alerts us to Bush's startling (though temporary) new position on Iraq.

Some Big Time Lagniappe from Minor Ripper:

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News from my birthplace 

From Atrios, we learn:

Hoosier Edward Bruce Tinsley, creator of the conservative comic strip Mallard Fillmore, was arrested in Columbus Dec. 4 and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence -- his second alcohol-related arrest in less that four months, according to the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department.

Tinsley, 48, who lives in Columbus, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14 -- almost twice the level at which an Indiana driver is considered intoxicated. He posted $755 bond. On Aug. 26, Tinsley was arrested for public intoxication, according to the sheriff's department.

The town of Columbus Indiana is an architectural gem amidst fields of corn and soybeans. It's known (to some) as the "Athens of the Midwest" and has much to recommend it. Take a visit next time you're in bountiful southern Indiana.

Tinsley's comic art is not considered a cultural highlight of Columbus. In fact, I didn't even know Tinsley lived in Columbus. (If you're unfamiliar with his political comic, "Mallard Fillmore", consider yourself lucky. If you are familiar with Mallard, and enjoy it, consider seeking professional help.)

Surely, Tinsley could've sought a designated driver to take him home. Columbus has some capable ones.

Although I do cheer for the tempermental Tony Stewart, I'm not so fond of his sponsor, Home Depot. I prefer Lowe's, for several reasons. Here's the latest:

Early this year, several designs for emergency housing units began making headlines and heralded appearances at conventions everywhere. And now the two most prominent designs -- the Katrina Cottage and the NOLA Bungalow -- are about to become available to consumers.

The Katrina Cottage was pioneered by famed architect Andres Duany and developed by designer Marianne Cusato of
Cusato Cottages.

"A Katrina Cottage is a dignified alternative to the FEMA trailer. It is a small permanent house, which is safe, affordable and can be assembled quickly," reads its online brochure.

With its charming aesthetic, front porch and reverence for local vernacular, the Katrina Cottage I made a splash at its debut at the 2006 International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., and later took up permanent residence in front of the Lowe's Home Improvement store on Elysian Fields Avenue.

Lowe's agreed to partner with Cusato Cottages, making kits complete with building materials and blueprints available at its stores.

"Every material you will need to build this house will be in this package," Cusato said. However, because the cottage is a permanent structure, it must have a foundation; local ordinances may dictate that some must be raised on piers. Lowe's recommends use of a professional builder.

Sometimes when I drive to Lowe's, I play David Bowie's Low, because he might be the greatest musical artist since 1970.
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Mobilize the lesbians to protect our "sitting ducks" 

The Times Picayune reports:

In what was likely his last legislative action as Senate majority leader, Bill Frist kept the Senate in session for three extra hours in the final throes of a lame-duck session as Louisiana lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to persuade a reluctant GOP senator to drop his opposition to legislation authorizing a massive hurricane protection project.

The Senate finally adjourned Saturday at 5 a.m. without authorizing the $841.1 million for the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Project, a series of levees, locks and other systems through Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. The project is designed to protect about 120,000 people and 1,700 square miles of land against storm surges such as those caused by Hurricane Katrina.
[Sen. Mary] Landrieu called Coburn at 4:30 a.m. at his Washington apartment, according to her staff, and aides to Vitter said he did the same. But Coburn would not yield.
Landrieu expressed disappointment.

"Six years after Congress gave Morganza to the Gulf its first green light, it's simply not fair to delay it further simply because the (Army Corps of Engineers) bureaucracy couldn't deliver a report on time and because Congress couldn't pass a new bill," Landrieu said. "There is no other item in (the water bill) that has been kicked down the road so many times."

Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, who with Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, helped pass the House bill, said he's already met with the new Democratic majority leadership and is optimistic that a new water bill that accounts for hurricane damage from both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be considered early in the session that begins in January.

"The people of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes have been sitting ducks in the face of hurricanes, unprotected from disastrous storm surges and flooding," Melancon said.

Terrebone and Lafourche Parish are part of the fastest disappearing land mass in the world, and Senator Coburn claims he wants to wait until previously-made promises to South La. are fulfilled before nearly a billion in flood protection funding is released. Clearly, that's just a bullshite stall tactic; an easy way for Coburn to burnish his "conservative" voting credentials at the expense of the vulnerable, eroding Energy Coast. His state currently enjoys the benefits of our displaced professional basketball team, a team that entertains sellout crowds in O.K. city because of faulty hurricane protection that Coburn doesn't want to help S. Louisiana improve.

Landrieu should have threatened to send Louisiana's lesbians to Oklahoma. That's the sort of thing that Senator Coburn would lose sleep over.

Perhaps the new Democratic Congress can get this done in their 101st hour.
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Monday, December 11, 2006

Should the U.S. accept Iraqi refugees? 

I would say: absolutely. Everyone, especially pro-war politicians, should have to wrestle with this important moral question:

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.

The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon.

Over the years, I've tracked the Iraqi Christian mass exodus , but conservatives seem loathe to acknowledge or address it. This is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. They live near the Garden of Eden and still speak Aramaic, yet, after spending a lifetime under Saddam Hussein they believe current conditions in Iraq are unendurable. Shouldn't this allegedly "Christian" nation take these newly "liberated" refugees in?

(Digby has more.)
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Can the Saints repair this city's damaged national rep? 

I like Joseph Conrad. Two of Conrad's favorite English words were "inscrutable" and "glamour"*.

New Orleans politics is truly inscrutable from the outside.

And the Saints' nationally-televised Demolition of the Dallas Cowboys was truly glamorous. (As in: "having an alluring and fascinating attraction".) Holy hell, that was beautiful! Just as the Saints took over the game in the second quarter, the Saints fans took over Texas Stadium!

I'll let others analyze the nuts and bolts of the football contest, but suffice it to say that you may never see a visiting team run it down Bill Parcells' throat in a ten minute 4th quarter drive that concludes with four QB knee-downs, while visiting fans completely drown out the few remaining home team fans that had yet to cut-and-run. Last night was something special. It was a national statement that indisputable excellence does exist in New Orleans (beyond our culture), and that great things are in store for our sports franchise.

We must also remember that this glorious football season would not have been possible had Governor Blanco not made an uncharacteristically decisive commitment to refurbish the Superdome in record time. As our new coach and new quarterback guides our over-achieving team to the playoffs, we'll likely enjoy a home playoff game (or two...). Like the euphoric Monday Night game against the Falcons, these games will have consequential economic and psychic impacts (locally), as well as positive impacts upon the city's damaged national reputation. A disciplined, expertly-led, catastrophe-stricken team that plays with heart and overachieves against richer, haughtier cities on a national stage... well that's an irresistably attractive and alluring spectacle, no?

The Saints allow this city to funnel its intense emotions, and to unify amidst all the other divisions, and to forget certain things and celebrate others. The Saints give us forward-looking hope, and perhaps they show a national audience that (in some small but important way) all is not lost in the Crescent City, and despite our horrible political choices, there is a unique spirit and passion here that is worth preserving.

In a large portion of the national consciousness, the Saints are leading the comeback of New Orleans.

Update: Mark's Wet Bank Guide has some fine commentary on this.
* By the way, I've previously stated why I think Conrad's Lord Jim can be an extremely revealing political read as we endure the final years of Dauphin Duhbya's tragic reign. Seriously. A thoughtful reader will get more out of that novel than almost any other recent political book about Bush and his neocon pipe dreams.

As usual, minor edits have been made to this post.
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Sunday, December 10, 2006


My previous post neglected to properly credit Jeffrey with correctly confounding the pundits again (as well as less perspicacious Nolabloggers like myself) and predicting Bill Jefferson's victory. Jeffrey considered it "nearly a lock" that Dollar Bill would win, which puts him up 835,000 credits this year at Punditbook. (Unfortunately it appears he will fritter away his wealth on some rather unlikely predictions, but that's fine-- he has credits to spare).

Regarding New Orleans politics, Jeffrey is an analyst's analyst. I'm terribly impressed with how he immediately discerns the contours of the political future in a place as weird as New Orleans. So, I raise my drink to Jeffrey for his impressive political skills. He was right again.


I want Run Oliver Run! yard signs printed in advance so they can be put out, en masse, the day after Jefferson gets indicted. Like Dambala says: "OT in OT", baby! (And why Oliver? Because he may be the only candidate who can beat Derrick Shepherd.)
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Thanks Best Bank! 

I was right. Karen Carter eked out a small majority of voters... in Orleans Parish (East Bank?). (Update: Crap, she might've lost Orleans, too, according to here. If someone knows the complete Parish totals, please write them in the comments.) Unfortunately, Jefferson Parish was also involved. And they thought it was important to elect the crook, because otherwise dehydrated disaster victims might storm across the bridge to loot food and water and wine coolers from Greatna's precious bedroom communities.

These key paragraphs from the Times Picayune story tell you all you really need to know about the disappointing election results:

[Rep. Bill] Jefferson, 59, scored a decisive win largely by routing Carter in Jefferson Parish. That may have attested less to his appeal than to the power of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, whose bitter attacks on the challenger appeared to have been a factor in sharply suppressing turnout that Carter needed, especially among white voters.

Jefferson Parish voters also appeared to have taken a cue from state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, a Marrero Democrat who ran third in the primary with overwhelming support in his home parish. Shepherd had indicated that he will run again if Jefferson is indicted and forced to resign, as many expect.

Previously, I said that "the decisive factor in this election is the Jeff Parish vote", and held out hope that Shepherd's machine and Harry Lee's endorsement couldn't overcome Dollar Bill's corrupt reputation. That was way off.

So da "Best Bank" elects a legislator who supposedly understands "their side of the river" to a Congress where he will be an ineffectual outsider. In doing so, they reinforce the national impression that New Orleans is too stupid to self-govern, and utterly hopeless.

Not long after Jefferson's inevitable indictment (which can't come soon enough imo), I'll be attempting to draft Councilman Oliver Thomas to run against State Senator Derrick Shepherd's Marrero Machine. For now, I'll lose myself in sweet sugarplum visions of 300lb men chasing a funny-shaped pigskin.
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