Friday, January 05, 2007

When G-Bitch shivers, I shake 

Like many, G-Bitch woke up to read Da Paper's screaming front page headline: "Killings bring the city to its bloodied knees."

The article made G-Bitch shiver, and when something makes G-Bitch shiver, it must be chilling. And it is. The article begins:

In the sixth New Orleans murder in less than 24 hours, a woman was killed and her husband shot in their home Thursday about 5:30 a.m., said police, who found the bleeding man kneeling at the door of the couple's Faubourg Marigny home, clutching their 2-year-old son.

Remember, this occurred during a blockbuster tourist week in New Orleans that included New Year's Eve and the Sugar Bowl. Here are the only other quotes you really need from the article:

The Marigny shootings-- for which police offered no motive -- capped a wave of bloodshed severe even by New Orleans standards, and came three days after Police Superintendent Warren Riley called a year-end news conference to put a positive spin on the 2006 murder total of 161, which he called the lowest in 30 years. On a per-capita basis, however, even the most optimistic projection of the post-Katrina city's drastically shrunken population makes that figure an increase from previous years.
...
Asked about the spike in murders, [NOPD Deputy Chief Steven] Nicholas sought to portray New Orleans violence as part of a national trend. "Murder rates are up all over," he said.


"Murder rates are up all over." My gracious, that is one sad, sackless comment.

To review: OUR MAYOR thinks the city is becoming "safer", and is committed to his demonstrably ineffective Police Chief Warren Riley who believes the current murder rate is acceptable because New Orleans might have 275,000 citizens rather than 225,000.

Chief Riley believes his crime strategy is "second to none".

And Our Mayor believes arresting prostitutes is a top crime priority.

Here are some quotes from my Political Crimeline compiled last summer:

1. Chief Riley said in April 2006: "Anytime someone is murdered, it's alarming. But I don't think it's a here-we-go-again situation. I don't think we've reached that stage."

2. In May of 2006 he said the city is still "much safer" than it was before Hurricane Katrina. He also promised: "What I can assure you is that, when a crime trend surfaces we'll address it quickly and very firmly."

3. May 17, the Times Pic reported: "[Mayor Ray] Nagin believes that the city is on the right track in combating its historically high crime rate. [Mayoral Candidate Mitch] Landrieu expressed frustration that violence has been creeping back as the city repopulates."
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One of the central reasons Mayor Nagin is not the right man for the job is because he doesn't understand that Chief Warren Riley is not the right man for the job.

Adrastos despairs that the causes of crime in New Orleans are too multifarious, intertwined and profound. He's right. They are. I'm a little more hopeful than Adrastos about potential near-term solutions, but not much. Not today.

Granted, I understand it's not all the mayor's fault or the police chief's fault or the NOPD's fault. However, one thing I do know is this, and it's a lead pipe cinch: until our leaders recognize the depth of the crime problem in this city, and honestly face it rather than cover it up with sham statistics and bullshit national comparisons, there is absolutely no chance for sustained improvement.

Last spring, Nagin and Riley began downplaying and covering up the rising crime problem in New Orleans so they could keep their jobs. They have been in "damage control" and "spin cycle" mode ever since. The people of New Orleans deserve "reality-based" leaders at the local level, just as Americans deserve "reality-based" leaders at the national level.

If the violent crime in this town scares G-Bitch, who among us could possibly remain unafraid? And how can a city already suffering from the risks of repeat catastrophe survive if it must also shoulder the burden of ineffective leaders who can't control crime?

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Update: Bart memorializes a friend who was one of this week's victims.
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Update #2: Loki also has a must read post that I will excerpt:

I have family roots that go back to the beginning of this city. I am as steeped in its culture as it is possible to get, from the elitist uptown scene to the raucous sounds of Vaughn's and other 9th Ward hangouts. I march with a Krewe every Mardi Gras Day, and am a founder of said Krewe. I learned to make a roux when I was 8 years old. I am also, after 16 months of fighting for my city, nearing the end of my rope with New Orleans.

Why is it that after 40 years of living with everything from our infamous murder rate to the aftermath of the Federal Flood I am so completely disheartened?
...
Scared, angry, and sad. That about covers it. I love my home. I love it the way only a native French Creole can. I also miss it terribly....

I simply do not know if can continue here. We shall see.

Loki's family has lived in New Orleans for three centuries, and now, after surviving catastrophe, it is the rising crime in this half-populated city that is about to drive him (and others) out.

Aiggh, that's a crushing thought.
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Jefferson Violates U.S. House Ethics Rules, Just Days After Re-Election 

The Flaming Liberal notified me about this report from Chris Tidmore at 99.5fm:

Jefferson Violates U.S. House Ethics Rules, Just Days After Re-Election

By Christopher Tidmore

Last week, House Democrats were shocked to receive a letter from Congressman Bill Jefferson on his official Congressional stationery asking colleagues to donate money to help him retire his campaign debt. The letter, dated Dec. 29, 2006, began, "As you know, I recently won a grueling race for re-election. In order to get our message out and otherwise compete, we incurred over $200,000 in debt." "Therefore, Jefferson continued, "I would deeply appreciate it if you would assist me in retiring my debt by contributing $1,000 (or whatever amount you can afford) to my campaign." Unfortunately, the letter violated House ethics rules. Congressmen cannot use the franking privledge, free postage granted to every member of Congress for constituency services, to raise campaign dollars.

According to the Capital Hill newspaper Roll Call, "Some Democratic aides were downright aghast at Jefferson's audacity at using franked envelopes, official letterhead and the House internal mail service in a blatant violation of House rules. 'We were going to send him a check in a freezer bag,' joked one chief of staff to a Democratic Member of Congress who received Jefferson's solicitation." Another, only slightly snarkier, Democratic House chief of staff said, "He's got $90,000 in his freezer, why can't he buy some stationery and stamps?" Jefferson, who has not been indicted in the bribery scandal, sent out the letter by mistake, according to his office. His staff apparently meant to use campaign stationery, but instead used "Congress of the United States" letterhead, which, still lists Jefferson as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. The Congressman was demoted to the Small Business Committee by now Speaker Nancy Pelosi four days after his re-election.

Jefferson's spokeswoman, Melanie Russell, said, "It was just a tremendous, tremendous staff error...We are contacting the appropriate committees to apologize and rectify the situation."


What an embarrassment-- and just think, this little snafu will pale in comparison to the bad press Jefferson will get when he is indicted this spring and eventually goes to trial, and damning testimony is aired, and he "honorably" refuses to heed calls for his resignation. If Dollar Bill thought his last campaign was "grueling", well, he'll have a whole new appreciation for the word after the next 18 months or so. And the media stormcloud which chronicles Jefferson's legal travails should help his district's recovery.... [Borat pause] .............. Not!

Well, like Cleo Fields says, "Public service does not mean perfect service."
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Leprosy of the soul 

Nationally televised conservative pundit on the chance that a 25-foot hurricane storm surge swamps New York City: "Actually, that would clean the streets out. It might not be bad."

Conservative talk radio pundit Hal Turner on illegal immigration bill: "ANY MEMBER OF CONGRESS WHO INTRODUCES, CO-SPONSORS OR VOTES IN FAVOR OF ANY SUCH AMNESTY WILL BE DECLARED A DOMESTIC ENEMY AND WILL BE CONSIDERED A LEGITIMATE TARGET FOR ASSASSINATION"

Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are reportedly friends with Hal Turner. In fact, Hannity endorsed Turner in 2000 when he ran for Congress as a Republican.

(Previously, Hal Turner has said: "I advocate using extreme violence against illegal aliens. Clean your guns. Have plenty of ammunition. Find out where the largest gathering of illegal aliens will be near you. Go to the area well in advance, scope out several places to position yourself and then do what has to be done.")
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The parade we love to hate 

I must make sure I'm a Jayhawk sees Jeffrey's delicious assessment of the Endymion parade experience. It's a classic. Here's the soaring finale:

Personally, since I live Uptown, I'd prefer to see Endymion back in Mid-City if, for no other reason, than to avoid the uniquely rude and territorial crowd of young white suburban types it tends to draw. The ladder is the bane of my Carnival existence and Endymion fans bring them out in force. But that's not all they bring. Endymion crowds usually begin to gather along the parade route one or two days before the actual parade. The squatters use ladders, spray paint and rope to claim and defend a plot of real estate on the neutral ground for themselves and their young white larvae. Woe to the parade goer who wishes to travel from one side of the street to the other by crossing the sovereign territory of the Endymion soccer mom. He will be treated to all manner of dirty looks and crude lectures about respecting her roped off piece of public property. This ridiculous sociopathic inability to comprehend the nature of a public event does not belong in Mardi Gras. Unfortunately it has established itself as standard behavior among the yuppies who throng for Endymion. And damn Warren Riley for trying to force that shit uptown.
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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pit Bulls Bite! 

Handsome Harriet Miers has resigned as an advisor to Bush. Once, Bush described her as a "a pit bull in size 6 shoes." Later, he nominated her for the Supreme Court which was seen as a bizarre choice across the political spectrum.

What could possibly explain her nomination? Did Bush owe her? For what? "Handling" his military records before he ran for office?

In 2005, I alluded to some answers in this post, and passed along some tasty information from one of my conservative blogger friends (a lawyer from Dallas, btw). It will be interesting to track Miers career from here on out. How loyal will she be after not getting her promised spot on the Supreme Bench?

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Speaking of small pit bulls and shoes (or the lack thereof).... link!
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The wonderful results of strategic voting 

OUR MAYOR sez:


Our people also deserve to feel safe on the streets and in their homes
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the city is getting its house in order, so that our citizens can come home to a safer, smarter, stronger city."

The Times Picayune reports:


Days after the police chief said he believed his department was bringing murders under control in New Orleans, the city logged at least five killings in 14 hours.

Nagin seems committed to retaining his Police Chief, who resists acknowledging stark reality so well I suspect the Bush Administration will soon begin recruiting him for higher office.

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Back in May, "Law and Order" Couhig Conservatives decided that re-electing Nagin was the best strategy for New Orleans, rather than electing a dreaded Landrieu who promised to hold a nationwide search for a new police chief. No, you see, Mitch had funny hair, and wore makeup and was related to his father. So Couhig Conservatives decided to retain leaders who think that the current crime rate is not only acceptable, but improving.

I viewed last summer's mayoral election as instructive and analyzed it repeatedly. Yet, many told me to "get over it" and "move on". Then, six months later, many conservatives banded with other voters to "strategically" re-elect Bill "Cold Cash" Jefferson, who will soon be indicted and may not resign from Congress until he is formally convicted!!

It's amazing how, in recent elections, the allegedly pro-business Couhig Conservatives have bent over backwards looking for rationales to support "leaders" who are widely regarded as either 1) corrupt or 2) ineffective against rising crime.

And what's worse for business than Corruption and Crime? Tell me, please. What was it about Mitch Landrieu and Karen Carter that was worse for business than the re-election of Ineffective Nagin and Corrupt Jefferson? Again, I need to know.

How many Conservatives still believe that re-electing Nagin was the right choice? How's that electoral "strategery" working for ya now?

More here.
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Another El Nino forecast 

In terms of hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast in 2007, another El Nino would be damn good news for New Orleans and South Louisiana. The El Nino weather phenomenon doesn't guarantee our safety, naturally, but it is credited for keeping the 2006 hurricane season quite tame, and will hopefully do so again this year.

Of course, we may have to suffer the hottest year on record, which will accelerate polar ice cap melting and rising sea levels... but one problem at a time shall we?
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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Home Despot 

CBS Marketwatch reports:


Home Depot Inc. stunned investors Wednesday when it said that embattled Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Nardelli resigned, effective immediately...
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The departure - described as "mutually agreed" to-- came with a hefty severance package of $210 million for Nardelli.
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Nardelli... fueled shareholder dissonance when he, alone, presided over Home Depot's annual meeting last May. In a terse meeting held in Wilmington, Del., Nardelli refused to review the company's performance and placed strict time limits on shareholders' questions, which he also would not answer.
...
Under the terms of his separation agreement, Nardelli is on line to get a pay and stock package worth about $210 million that the company said includes amounts that already were earned or vested.

The package, which includes a cash severance payment of $20 million, steps up deferred stock awards valued at about $77 million and ....the payment of previously earned and vested deferred shares with a value of about $44 million...

And why were some of these deferred stock awards and options so lucrative for Nardelli? In part, because Home Depot was one of the biggest players in the great 9/11 corporate stock swindle. Nardelli got ONE MILLION stock options that were conveniently backdated to the week following 9/11, after the market opened and sank like a stone.

Home Depot's Board of Directors explained its decision to capitalize on the post 9/11 markets by saying it approved a "special equity award" on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 (2001) to "retain key executives."

Retain key executives? What kind of people threaten to leave their jobs after a nation is attacked? Ghouls, I suppose. And ghouls need blood (money).

When the story broke, Barry Ritholtz got pissed:


What makes this so pathetic is that corporate executives could have stepped up AND BOUGHT STOCKS IN THE OPEN MARKET if they believed they were so cheap. It would have been reassuring to a nation to see the leaders of industry voting with their own dollars. It might have made the subsequent economic slow down and period of tense aftermath less painful.

Instead, these weasels decided to loot the treasury at the first opportunity. America was smouldering, the WTC lay in ruins, and this group of classless pigs decided it was time to pocket some cash.
...
These assclown executives are unAmerican. They are not Patriots, they are not model citizens -- they are merely a pathetic group of opportunistic whores...

In 1929, when the stock market crashed, JP Morgan (and others) stepped in. They bought stock with their own dollars, they saved Wall Street. Oh, and they were rewarded for it -- both monetarily, and in the history books.
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What a pathetic group of weasels. Brain cancer is too good for these shitheads. They -- and their lapdog Boards of Directors -- should all be fired.

As you probably guessed, Nardelli and Home Depot are big donors to the GOP-- the party of corporatism, patriotism, and trickle-down syndrome.

This is for sure: Home Depot has seen my last dollar.
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Didja know that the Nazarene had a Chinese brother? 

That's what they say.

In the mid-19th century, after Southern China suffered natural disasters and economic turmoil, a charismatic Chinaman declared himself to be Jesus' brother. His name was Hong, and he was a civil servant wannabe who suddenly began describing his battles with evil spirits (similar to Jindal). People started believing in Hong's self-proclaimed divinity and... a Revolutionary Movement had soon begun! Believers formed an "Army of Love" and marched over grassy hillsides while Imperial guns and rockets mowed them down by the thousands.

The Taiping Rebellion ended with 20 million or so dead.

Just an interesting historical footnote to keep in mind while you behold Matthew's latest post.
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Ford sucked, just not as hard as Duhbya 

1. Today's USA TODAY print headline: Ford 'the Best of America'

"The Best"?! Gimme a freakin' break.

2. Hitchens on Pres. Ford:

To have been soft on Republican crime, soft on Baathism, soft on the shah, soft on Indonesian fascism, and soft on Communism, all in one brief and transient presidency, argues for the sort of sportsmanlike Midwestern geniality that we do not ever need to see again. [subtle reference to reverential midwesterners Will and Broder.]
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The Ford epoch did not banish a nightmare. It ended a dream-- the ideal of equal justice under the law that would extend to a crooked and venal president. And in Iraq and Indonesia and Indochina, it either protracted existing nightmares or gave birth to new ones.


3. Empire Notes on Ford:

After Saddam signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union and nationalized Iraq's oil in 1972, the United States turned against him, even though it had likely been involved in the ascension of the Ba'ath Party just four years earlier. Ford inherited a policy of supporting the Kurds in the north, with the aid of the Shah of Iran, in order to de-stabilize the Iraqi government.

But when the 1975 Algiers accord was signed, briefly ending the enmity between Iraq and Iran, the Shah abandoned his support of the Kurds, and Ford lost no time in hanging them out to twist in the wind of Saddam's deadly counterinsurgency. Henry Kissinger justified this to Congress by explaining that "covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

Similarly, little mention was made of Ford's giving the "green light" to Indonesia's Suharto to invade the tiny nation of East Timor, which had just shaken off the yoke of Portuguese colonialism. As Ford and then Carter supported the Indonesian military's genocidal killing of over 200,000 people, one-third of the country's population, with military aid and diplomatic interference, the issue got almost no coverage in the American media.

It is probably true that Ford was a decent man, to those who entered into his moral calculus-- this would include Washington insiders and the U.S. political elite, on both sides of the aisle, but did not include Iraqi Kurds and East Timorese, and at best marginally included the American underclass, or African-Americans.

4. LBJ on Ford: "Gerry Ford is so dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time." But if Ford was so dumb (and he was), why did LBJ appoint him to the Warren Commission?

Oh.

5. More on Ford: Thirty years ago, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz pushed Ford to give nuclear technology to Iran, including the plutonium needed for the development of nuclear weaponry. (Cheneyburton, RedRumsfeld and CryWolfowitz certainly like to encourage dim Presidents to make awful decisions, don't they?)
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wrong on so many levels 

Over the years, military scholar George W. Bush has lectured us about Vietnam's "lessons".

In 2000, he said: "A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."

Then, three years into our "overwhelming victory" in Iraq, he said:
The fundamental question on the Iraq theater, though, is did we put enough troops in there in the first place. That's the debate in Washington. I'm sure you've heard about it. Let me just tell you what happened. I called Tommy Franks in with Don Rumsfeld and said, Tommy, if we're going in, you design the plan and you got what you need. I said -- I remember the era when politicians were trying to run wars, people trying to fine-tune this or fine-tune that. One the lessons of Vietnam, it seemed like to me -- still does -- is that people tried to make decisions on behalf of the military, which I think is a terrible precedent to make if you're the Commander-in-Chief. By the way, you can't run a war, you can't make decisions based upon polls and focus groups, either.

Ok, so, to review: the lessons of Vietnam include the need for clear goals, overwhelming victories, and not having the politicians running the wars. Simplistic, sure, but I think that Bush's voters assumed he actually believed this sort of stuff, and took it to heart.

Now go read the quotes and news excerpts compiled by Scout Prime. I'll reprint the "money graf" from today's NYT article for the record (my emphs):


Over the past 12 months, as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey's strategy. And now... Mr. Bush seems all but certain not only to reverse the strategy that General Casey championed, but also to accelerate the general's departure from Iraq, according to senior military officials.
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This year, decisions on a new strategy were clearly slowed by political calculations. Many of Mr. Bush's advisers say their timetable for completing an Iraq review had been based in part on a judgment that for Mr. Bush to have voiced doubts about his strategy before the midterm elections in November would have been politically catastrophic.

Politically catastrophic? Did I read that correctly? They postponed their "Iraq review" due to political concerns? So, while Bush delayed changing course (because he didn't like how reality clashed with his war fantasy) and pointedly ignored the "lessons of Vietnam" due to political concerns, how many fathers and brothers and sons and daughters and mothers were killed?

Even some proponents of the "troop surge" solution to Iraq realize that military men and women were sacrificed for political expediency. For a truly hideous treat, read the transcript and watch the video of this fascinating exchange between Fox's Shep Smith and Neo-con Bill Kristol from October (just assume for a moment that a troop surge would in fact improve conditions in Iraq rather than worsen them).

Here's a choice transcriptual nugget for the archives, but please do read/watch it all if you missed it.

KRISTOL: ... I agree we could hit a crisis in two, three, four months unless we surge troops after the election. I think it's hard to ask Bush to do something in the middle of this election season. We've seen how poisonous this political debate has gotten and I think... I just hope... I think he's right to hang tough and I hope he does the right thing after election day.

SMITH: That's a disgusting and repulsive reality Bill you have to admit that. That we can't do anything about something that is not working and where people are dying until after our elections are over...

KRISTOL: Well, we could do something... we should do something...but I'm just telling you that....

SMITH: The political reality is we can't. [scornfully]

KRISTOL: it's been a poisonous political debate ...both sides.

SMITH: If I were the mother of a father of a young man who dies between now and that election in this war I would be raising holy hell. Wouldn't you?

KRISTOL: Well, no....

SMITH: Wouldn't you, Bill? If you believed that this isn't working...

KRISTOL: No. They do... they're doing... They think they're doing the best the military strategy

[Notice how Kristol pivots here, and begins to assert the lie that the Bush administration is immune to political calculations and simply believes their military strategy is "the best". Shep admirably nails him on it.]

SMITH: Do you think they think that, Bill, really?

KRISTOL: I think they, I think so.

SMITH: Because you don't think so, you just said so.


What a snivelling little liar Kristol is.

In sum: Bush will once again "double down" in Iraq, adopting Kristol's "surge" strategy which runs against General Casey's announced plans, but only after having waited months and months because of so-called "political realities" (i.e., the midterm elections which the GOP lost anyway.)

The truth is this: months ago, Bush believed he needed to send more troops to Iraq, but he lied about it and delayed making the call because he thought an announcement would hinder the GOP's chances of retaining Congress. Bush and Kristol's "troop surge" panacea is most likely totally wrong, but how Bush went about it shows that he privileges electoral necessity over military necessity. And that should be unacceptable to both "Cut & Runners" as well as genuine "Troop Surgers" (like Shep Smith).

Despite Bush's delays and lying about military strategy and Vietnam's "lessons", Bush's party STILL lost both houses of Congress. (And, might I add, none of the new GOP members of Congress have served in the military.)

Anyone want to bet that next year we will all be so relieved and thankful that Bush ignored General Abizaid's advice and sent 30-50k more troops to "stabilize" Iraq? AND ON THE OFF CHANCE WE ARE "relieved and thankful", won't we also be righteously pissed off that Bush delayed his decision-making for up to 12 months because he didn't want to "change course" prior to the midterm elections?

Seriously. What do we tell the families of soldiers and marines who died while Bush was yielding to "political reality" instead of "military reality"?



Buck up, Pumpkin. Your President didn't send more troops to protect your father in Iraq because he worried that Democrats would win Congress in the midterm elections.

And that would be bad for his legacy.


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Rick Howell explains the three main lessons of Vietnam in this post. And one of them isn't "We can't lose unless we quit."

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Unedited snippet between two drinking companions "d'uddah" nite:

A: "Hey Charlie, where y'at?"

B: "Aw, you know. These days, I'm everywhere: Uptown, downtown, Bucktown... it don't madda."

A: "How's Diane n'em?"
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Speaking of sprints, I just saw Loki run over (sans gas mask) to the Napoleon/Prytania intersection to aid shaken motorists after a loud vehicular collision. I thought about assisting Loki and them, but a cop was quickly on the case and I didn't see any geysering blood or flames, and I was late for something and it was chilly...

...

Maybe there was a moment of racial harmony after the crash, while everything turned in slow motion, and one of New Orleans' Finest saved someone from flames and creeping gasoline. Y'know, just like in the movies.

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Speaking of New Orleans finest, I can't believe NOPD Superintendant Warren Riley is touting 161 murders in 2006 in a half populated city as a sign of progress. We had the same number of murders in 1999, with over double the current population-- and no National Guard patrolling the outskirts of town.
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Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day 

As Saddam went to the gallows, witnesses yelled "Moqtada (al Sadr)!"

As the 3,000th American service person dies in Iraq, Bush plans to send more troops to "stabilize the country".

Those are good signs. I couldn't be more hopeful about World Peace in 2007. Let's just pray that, as we break our army making Iraq more hospitable for Shiite theocracy, we take care not to ruin their newly restored marshlands.

Chad Rogers declares this the "Year of the Pelican"... how could I disagree?
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