Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saints Win! 

From the post-game press conference after the Saints playoff win over the Eagles.

Reporter: Can you describe... what this win... means... to the (city)?

Coach Payton: The fans have been loyal, loud and passionate... It's gratifying to be able to get them fired up about their team... and then everything that's gone on here within this last year and a half-- Katrina... and how much recovery we have to go... this [win] is a bright spot... We said at the beginning of the year we're hoping to be out in front in a leadership role. We're not afraid of that...

There's still a lot of work to be done in this city... we just hope we can give people a little kick in their step... [give 'em] something to look forward to next weekend.

Our football team is literally "leading" the city's recovery, and our coach acknowledges and accepts that "role". I don't know whether I should be thrilled or dumbfounded or both. It's certainly true that the city draws more inspiration from our football team than all of our political "leaders" combined.

One wonders: could Coach Sean Payton (and staff) turn around the city like they've turned around the Saints football team?
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Lovely and I are celebrating 

... our six year wedding anniversary.

And hopefully a Saints playoff win.

Go Saints!

I said Go Saints!

I'll get it right eventually. Go Saints!

One last time: GO SAINTS!!

That's better.

Here's what I wrote after the second game of the season in the comments at Library Chronicles, after Gloomypants Jeffrey predicted they would lose to the Falcons in their "three game season" finale:

Don't be so sure "they won't win" on Monday [against Atlanta]. Perhaps it's just your protective Saints fatalism, which is perfectly understandable, but I think both national AND local sports media is underestimating how good this New Orleans team is going to be. You may be behind the curve on this one, Jeffbo. Face it, the Saints are GOOD.
I got a good feeling about this team. This time it's different. I think the Saints are gonna win, and go to the playoffs.

For more Saints evangelism, see the prophetic Dillyberto.
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Friday, January 12, 2007

Chairman Lieberman: no need for a Katrina probe 

From TPM Cafe:
Senator Joe Lieberman has just taken the very surprising step of revealing to Newsweek that he will not use his chairmanship on the Homeland Security committee to aggressively probe the government's catastrophic failings in the wake of Hurricane Katrina-- in direct contradiction of statements he made during last year's campaign. In other words, Lieberman's basically letting the White House off the hook for its largest domestic policy disaster to date.

What does Sen. Landrieu have to say about this noxious decision, after going up to CT to campaign for Lieberman's re-election?
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Vote for Brees 

And send $25k to Children's Hospital.

Vote here.
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"The largest and most diverse demonstration of community solidarity in New Orleans history" 

When I saw the pictures and articles about the march in Da Paper this morning, I was very proud of my city. Here are some posts to read about the historic Anti-Crime march:

Schroeder: "The citizens' march against crime was the largest and most diverse demonstration of community solidarity in New Orleans history."

Maitri quoting Editor B's speech:

Fear keeps you in your house, but anger drives you out into the streets. But there's another feeling that doesn't get talked about as much and that's shame. I think we all feel a sense of shame-- or we should-- because this murderous violent society is our society.

Fueling our anger is the perception that our leaders do not share our fear and our sense of shame. And so today I want to say shame on you, Mayor Nagin, Superintendent Riley, District Attorney Jordan. You've really let us down. You have failed us. The criminal justice system and the government is broken. And I want to communicate to you the level of outrage that my friends and neighbors are feeling, because we don't think you get it.

... You need to admit that what you're doing isn't working, and plan a return to true community policing. I've got an article here from six years ago that praises New Orleans as a model for how to reduce violent crime. Between 1994 and 1999 the murder rate here went down 65%. The credit goes to something called community policing, decentralizing personnel into neighborhoods, with increased responsibilities and accountability for district commanders.

Karen posts her speech:

Chief Warren Riley and Mayor Ray Nagins call for residents to galvanize is an insult. We have been galvanized for 16 months.

We live in a City where the inaction of our Federal, State and local governments forced us to step over the bodies of the dead.

Each Death Diminishes us,that we continue to be ignored by the State, The City and Federally elected officials, who are duty bound to represent us, Diminishes the United States of America.

To quote our Mayor.


"Let's fix the biggest Goddam crisis in the History of America."

More: Scout has video from CNN.

Here's a pic from the Times Picayune:

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

It looks like the march was a success. I wasn't able to attend because I had yuppie business to attend to. When I first saw some of the tv news clips I was disheartened to see Mayor Nagin standing next to the speaker's podium, but then I was informed that he didn't get to speak, and THEN I saw Karen get up and rip him a new one and I knew that, if nothing else, there would not be any official "co-option" of this march. Her activism is heroic.

Jeffrey was correct about the "Silence is Violence" motto being lame, but he was wrong and wrongly inflammatory in a recent post. (I mean, this march made him think of racist chearleaders and "pogroms"... really, Jeffrey?) From what I saw on TV, the marchers and activists weren't chanting for brutal police state tactics and Orwellian surveillance-- the message didn't seem to be: Do whatever it takes, may the heavens fall.

Jeffrey is a malcontent. He is uncomfortable if a lot of people agree with him, or vice versa. Especially "yuppies". And that's fine. But he "put his thumb on the scale" in recent posts at an emotional time when people are scared and angry and have few effective outlets.

Rather than make a judgment about that, I'll just post a video which had imagery that "came to mind" when I read Jeffrey's polemic. Enjoy...

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I met Medium Jim at college 16 years ago. One Spring Break, he properly introduced me to the city of New Orleans. Years later, after I quit grad school, I had the privilege of relocating here, learning some life lessons, meeting Lovely and settling down. Throughout it all, Jim has been an exemplary and steadfast friend who sometimes reads this blog even though we have different political orientations.

Today, I'm happy to report that Medium Jim's wife, Special K, has given birth to a baby boy named Medium Jim III (or "Trey" for short). The oyster family offers its heartiest congratulations.

Speaking of our alma mater, I'm very proud to say that our school recently made international news relating to the break-up of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.
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Our leaders' ineffectiveness is criminal 

It does appear that Jeffrey was right to be concerned about Da Mayor and Chief trying to co-opt the March on Crime today. Instead of a March on City Hall (that tamely urges for collaboration rather than resignations) Nagin and Riley would like this to be a March with City Hall.

Wtf is Chief Riley gonna say? "It's about time 'the community' showed up"?
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"The community should have in fact probably spoke up sooner." 

All the city's leaders gathered in central city to show their unity and urgency regarding the violent crime problem in New Orleans. WDSU Channel 6 reports:

Mayor Ray Nagin pledged Tuesday to throw "everything we have" at the violent crime that's plagued New Orleans in the new year.

Nine killings in the first eight days of 2007 are threatening the city's biggest business: tourism and conventions.

Nagin, Police Superintendent Warren Riley, District Attorney Eddie Jordan and other civic leaders gathered near the scene of the city's first homicide to discuss the slayings and tell the public what they'd be doing to stymie the problem.

After ignoring the crime problem in his recent 2007 editorial, and after having campaigned on a "Don't worry; Stay the Course" approach to crime... today the Mayor talked about the "Incredible battle" the city was waging against thugs, and how he was "Drawing a line in the sand".

Then, almost unbelievably, he said: "It's time for change." Apparently "change" means expanded patrols (good), encouraging neighborhood watch groups (good), and installing more "crime cameras" and late night road "checkpoints" (not good).

Helpfully, the WDSU report puts these "changes" in perspective:

Thirteen years ago, with nearly double the population, New Orleans suffered more than 400 homicides. Drastic changes came-- a new chief, different strategies, and community policing. The homicide rate was nearly cut in half within a matter of months.

And speaking of police chiefs, Chief Warren Riley spoke at the gathering, and described the changes to be made to his "second to none" crime strategy. Then he did an interview amongst local reporters and the following exchange occurred:

Reporter: What [took] so long (for this big crime announcement to occur)?

Riley: Well-- What took so long? The community finally woke up. We had a tragedy or two. The community should have in fact probably spoke up sooner. But...

Reporter: The community?

Riley: The community in the sense-- the community has spoken. Enough is enough. They said it.

I'm sorry, but that shit is bananas.

Remember, Riley is the man who joined the Mayor in constantly downplaying and underestimating violent crime throughout 2006. Last Spring, the murder rate was rising precipitously during the mayoral campaign, but Riley dismissed the growing crime concerns of New Orleanians, blaming "some politicians" for fueling public discontent over the perception of rising crime.

Mayor Nagin would only acknowledge "slight upticks" in the crime rate during the campaign. He and Riley minimized the severity of the issue until after Nagin's re-election. Then, less than a month later, the shocking murders of 5 teenagers drew international media attention to the resurgent violent crime in New Orleans. Almost immediately, the National Guard was called into the city. But even after that high profile tragedy, and even after a "crime summit", Our Leaders touted the final 2006 homicide statistics (of a half-populated city) as a sign of progress, and said they had utmost faith in their "second to none" crime strategy.

So, for Riley to now stand in Central City-- a neighborhood which was labeled "the Triangle of Death" six months ago-- and blame "the community" for being asleep at the wheel until "finally" a "tragedy or two" woke us up... well, that's officially disgusting. Chief, if we were "asleep" to crime, you were Mr. Sandman. Hell, just last week an NOPD spokesman implied that the recent surge of murders was due to national trends. Now Riley essentially blames us for not being more outraged at his department's ineffectiveness. Apparently the NOPD can't self-motivate; it needs "the community" to raise hell before changes can be made.

"The community should have in fact probably spoke up sooner." That's a quote for the archives...

Yeah, Chief, I guess we owe you an apology. We should have "spoken up" last spring while you were criticizing "politicians" (like Mitch Landrieu) for talking about rising crime. We should've spoken up when you were touting your "second to none" crime strategy. We should've spoken up while you massaged crime statistics to make your department seem more effective.

Indeed, it is our fault for not speaking up to you and Da Mayor, and saying: "Enough!... Enough of the bullshit."

Ashley and Adrastos have more.
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

$70 million per mile for partial border fence 

While you read this, remember that the recent GOP Congress deemed Category 4 or 5 levees for Louisiana as too expensive.

The cost of building and maintaining a double set of steel fences along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border could be five to 25 times greater than congressional leaders forecast last year, or as much as $49 billion over the expected 25-year life span of the fence, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

A little-noticed study the research service released in December notes that even the $49 billion does not include the expense of acquiring private land along hundreds of miles of border or the cost of labor if the job is done by private contractors -- both of which could drive the price billions of dollars higher.

The Congressional Research Service also questioned the effectiveness of a fence in preventing people from crossing the border illegally, especially if it does not span the entire 1,952-mile border. Secure fencing of some kind already exists along 106 miles of border, mostly in short stretches around cities.

The findings did not deter Congressional backers of the border fence, including Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, the fence's principal proponent.

The Conservative Cajun has already endorsed Rep. Duncan Hunter for President. (Warning: before clicking this link, turn down computer volume unless you like Southern Rock.)

Here's more about Hunter from Congresspedia:

On November 28, 2005 Rep. Duke Cunningham resigned from Congress after pleaded guilty to bribery charges. The alleged coconspirators who bribed Cunningham included two San Diego-based defense conttractors, Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade. [Rep. Duncan] Hunter came into the spotlight as it was revealed that he also had ties to Brent Wilkes, the owner of ADCS, Inc. and Perfect Wave Technologies.

Since 1994 Hunter has received $40,700 from Wilkes and his companies. In 1997 Hunter and Cunningham worked to extend a multi-million dollar earmark for Wilkes' ADCS to perform document conversion tasks for the Pentagon despite protests from the Defense Department, which claimed that ADCS' services were not needed and a waste of resources. [2] Senator John McCain denounced the House Armed Services Committee for wasting resources in the Defense appropriations bill.

One of the earmarks, worth $9.7 million, was for ADCS to convert maps of Panama into electronic documents. Hunter and Cunningham both warned, at the time, that China was planning on invading Panama and that America should have electronic documentation of the buildings in the country. They used this premise to justify their inclusion of the $9.7 million earmark that the Pentagon did not want in the appropriations bill.

In 2003, Wilkes threw a gala in honor of Hunter called 'Salute to Our Heroes'.

Did I read that right? Hunter has connections to incarcerated felon Duke Cunningham, and used the threat of China invading Panama as justification for expensive defense pork to San Diego area contractors?
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Monday, January 08, 2007

Drive your chevy to the levee but be careful because neither are built to last 

Attaturk has some questions after being repeatedly bludgeoned by Mellencamp's song during football telecasts.

I have some related queries:

There's a "local" Chevy commercial running that brags about how Chevy is the official truck of the Saints and is so darn authentic and New Orleansy. It features footage of Saints players and the French quarter... etc. But when the commercial shows their product-- Chevy trucks-- they are shown driving around hilly Atlanta. Why?

Today's WSJ headline: "For GM, Future Hinges on Selling Cars at Full Price". Well, how the hell are they gonna manage that?

I drive a car from GM's "flagship" division which I purchased slightly used (1500 miles) for 30% off MSRP. It's barely worth it.

This may be "Our Country", but most of our quality automobiles are "imports".
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I know how to solve the crime problem in New Orleans 

... simply blame the liberal media.

You heard me. I believe the media is exaggerating the crime problem in New Orleans because they dislike Mayor Ray Nagin, and because they're still bitter over his re-election victory this summer. The local media have some sinister obsession with making the mayor look bad. After the natural disaster that no one predicted, they have pointedly avoided doing any reporting on the newly painted schools, or other signs of recovery in New Orleans. They've just focused on the alleged "murder problem" in the city, and other negative stories.

In fact, I'm not even sure the local media is doing their own reporting. Today, on a noisy street I overheard two liberals talking about some T-P reporter named "Dank Fonze". So I checked the Times Picayune's staff database and... guess what? There's absolutely no record of a Dank Fonze anywhere!

Until the paper produces a Dank Fonze (or whomever goes by that name), we should assume that there really is no violent crime problem in New Orleans. We should trust our leaders before we trust the media. And our leaders have the right crime strategy, and they have enough police officers to do the job, and we are winning the war on violent crime. But, the media wants us to lose this Recovery, so they will stab us in the back by making up stories attributed to fictional reporters. We must resist their efforts. Our resolve must remain undiminished, our essential fluids must remain pure.

That's the biggest problem I see in New Orleans right now: the media.

There is no "bad news". Just bad messengers.


More here.
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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Chuck Norris told me a joke 

He walked up to me and said, "You know why Notre Dame is similar to Marijuana?"

I said "Sir, no sir."

And he said "Because they both get smoked in bowls".
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