Friday, March 02, 2007

Heh, we feel his pain 

Paul is a conservative New Orleanian who posts* at Wizbang!, and once again he tries in vain to make the Wizbang Wingnuttians understand what happened in the Federal Flood. (If only N.O.'s floodwalls could be as stubborn and dense as the commenters in this thread...)

Here are Paul's Katrina archives, and they're by far the best analysis you'll read from the conservative blogosphere on the Katrina aftermath.


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* I thought Paul quit blogging back in July because of a feud with Ace of Spades.... but you know how those things go.
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Milwaukee's Best Mardis Gras 

Oh, how uncool:

Councilman Arnie Fielkow urged the Nagin administration Wednesday to continue working to find a corporate sponsor for Carnival-- with a new strategy, a new firm and as soon as possible.
Let me just say that I'm totally against the corporate infiltration of Carnival. I know times are tough and the budget is tight, but corporate sponsorship is not the way to go. I'm certain there are other, better ways to whore ourselves. But some things should remain inviolable. Like Carnival... and the "Big Chief".
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Naming johns 

An alleged "D.C. Madam" may sell her business' voluminous phone records in order to raise money for her legal defense fund. This would greatly assist reporters in identifying which high-profile clients frequented her East Coast "bunny ranch".

Should New Orleans' "Canal Street Madam" follow suit? I think so.
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Oh my 

Looka! finds a newspaper quote you're not gonna believe. Read it.


Tavernkeeper: "Quick, put the Barq's on ice! The high school dances are letting out, and those teens need a place to party. No 2am 'last calls', either. This is our customer base we're talking about here!"
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Loki plans to rebuke Bush 

The President is visiting a local school today, and loki has organized a protest.

Frameshop has more.
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Instead of a rebuke, I prefer Schroeder's constructive approach.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

N.O. resident accepted into Council of Foreign Relations 

The prestigious think tank includes Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Alan Greenspan and now.... wait for it... Angelina Jolie.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hold on 

When I picked up the Wall Street Journal yesterday morning, I scanned a few housing/lending headlines ("No Worries: Banks Keeping Less Money in Reserve", "Subprime Game's Reckoning Day") and was again dumbfounded by the stock market's uncanny buoyancy since last summer. I hadn't written much about the economy recently because I've been flummoxed by the suprisingly strong data as well as the market's inexorable upwards climb.

So, I decided that I needed to write some sort of mea culpa, acknowledging that the economy was strong and that my recent amateur economic analysis* was flawed, and that, happily, the American economy was not suffering from the housing slowdown and credit bubble like I had predicted. If my stupid assumptions about economics and markets had to yield to "reality", then so be it. I can admit that. Unfortunately, it was a busy morning and I didn't get time to write that post.

Then, later I saw that the Dow had dipped nearly 550 points during intraday trading, and... you know what?... in some perverse way I was irritated that I hadn't written the mea culpa that morning. Truly, in some sort of weird, reverse-prediction way, I wish I had written what was on my mind-- it would be a perfect snapshot into how uncanny the markets can be. Yesterday was almost the day I "capitulated", and gave up my bearishness and acknowledged the upward trend in equities, and transferred my money market cash into stock index funds. (I'm glad I didn't do that-- an immediate 4% loss isn't the end of the world, but it would've been hard on my psyche.)

Is the housing slowdown/credit bubble finally taking affect? I dunno, but yesterday has made me very skittish (again), and I don't have a good vibe about this year. Here's what Barry Ritholtz says about today's market drop, and as usual, I couldn't agree more:

If you want to believe that some bureaucrat in China changing the margin requirements for local speculators as the cause of the US selloff, then go ahead.

Me? I prefer to believe what is right before my eyes: Decaying economic fundamentals, a complacent market that is overbought and way overdue for a correction. Add to that the single biggest positive contributor to the economy over the past 4 years – Housing – showing no signs of being anywhere near a bottom.


One other thing I would add is that you'll get no valuable insight from our esteemed Federal Bankers if and when we slide into a recession (the manufacturing sector is already in one). I'll post some 2001 quotes from the Federal Reserve's Board a little bit later on (after the stock bubble burst and things were slowing down, and everyone was wondering if a recession was beginning.)
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From William Bonner's book, Financial Reckoning Day (p114):

In the United States, as in Japan before it, the coming of the slump was both unexpected.... and largely unnoticed. Even as the nation's economy entered a recession in March 2001, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, leading economists denied it. "The overall signal remains one of moderation in the pace of economic activity," said the chief economist for the Conference Board, on February 22, 2001, "with no recession looming on the horizon." The recession officially began just 7 days later. But then, it was the Fed's turn not to notice.

"Fed's Parry says U.S. isn't in recession," reported Bloomberg News in April 5, 2001, referring to statements made by Robert Parry, President, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. "U.S. not in recession, Fed must be vigilant," added Michael Moskow, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on April 4.

"Fed's McTeer says the U.S. economy not in recession," agreed the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on the same day. Nothing is confirmed until it has been thrice denied.

To be sure, it's not always easy to know when you are at the beginning of a recession. After all, precise economic indicators are often lagging, and, it is difficult to distinguish between a recession and a brief "soft patch".

However, for the nation's top bankers to confidently and wrongly declare that the nation isn't in a recession, and dismiss the possibility that it might be in one, is disappointing. I expect more careful analysis, and you should to. Next time, when you hear quotes like the ones above... be wary.

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* basically warmed over Ritholtz
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At the magazine rack 

My daughter Pearlgirl and I were in line at the drugstore (fathom that!) and looked at the magazine display.

1.) Pearlgirl excitedly points to the Details with Dr. McDreamy on the cover and excitedly yells to everyone "It's Daddy!" Several young attractive women giggled and I'm pretty sure I blushed. I didn't actually correct Pearlgirl (now almost 3), but did say that we needed to make an appointment with the eye doctor. And soon.

2.) The new US Weekly has Bald Britney Spears on the cover with the headline: "Help Me!" It says: "Insiders and ex-staffers reveal Brit's loneliness, self-hatred & drug use as her parents desperately pray. 'No one can get through to her'." This blogger has speculated that Britney might be suffering from post-partum depression.

3.) Ebony Magazine's cover posits the burning question: "Dating outside the race: is it ok today?"

I didn't read the article, but here's my amateur opinion: Yes... as long as one gets a permission slip from the appropriate genetic gatekeeper or racial overlord. Still, I hope this "forbidden love" amongst the "races" won't ever make its way to New Orleans. Such "mixing" would bring too many complications. We'd have to coin new words, and audit people's blood for that all-important "one drop".

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Update: more lovely "race" stuff here.
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Note: post has been slightly modified since initial publishing.
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Monday, February 26, 2007

Greg Meffert lied about the boat 

We're mostly all adults here, right? So we can use the term "lie" without getting uncomfortable, yes?-- especially when it accurately describes a public official's behavior.

Here it is, then:
Five months after news broke that the city’s former technology chief was holding parties on a 53-foot yacht that belonged to a city contractor, Greg Meffert acknowledged in a recent interview that he never owned the boat-- despite his repeated claims that he did-- and that the yacht has always belonged to a group of his former employees who had a lucrative city contract he oversaw.


So, Greg Meffert now admits he never owned a boat he previously insisted he owned. Before, he claimed to have purchased the boat via profits from a house sale. Then he said he was in the "process" of buying it, but now we learn that there never was any agreement to terms. There was only "talk" about it... yet that didn't stop Meffert from charging Mayor Nagin twelve hundred dollars to host a one night party on a boat Meffert didn't even own. That's not the worst transgression in human history, but, one wonders why he needed to do that-- and then lie about it.

Regular nola blog readers know that the American Zombie broke this story weeks before it was reported in the T-P last fall. (Side note: AZ had a bit of a scare two nights ago-- go wish him well.)

This recent development in the Meffert case reminds me of the whining and bellyaching Bayou Buzz's Steve Sabludowsky displayed when "Yachtgate" originally surfaced. Sabludowsky basically charged the Times Picayune of assassinating the character of Meffert, who had given "his life" to the city (as Mayor Nagin's Chief Technology Officer). Sabludowsky said that this was simply a matter of Meffert being too busy to handle his personal business in a timely fashion. Meffert wasn't lying about owning the boat, you see, he was merely behind on the paperwork.

Well, actually, no. It wasn't merely a matter of "paperwork". Meffert had never come to terms on the boat sale, and when this whole thing broke out into the open, he started making up stories, and insisting they were true. Some call that lying.

Now, however, Meffert-apologist Steve Sabludowsky is on to other topics. He's currently wailing about how Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith are like a mirror that reflects America's own cultural degeneracy.

Hey, Steve, here's a thought along those lines: how 'bout improving our "culture" by not being an apologist for liars in public office? That would be welcome. How about not misleading your readers and students* by claiming the Times Picayune was trying to destroy a person who-- in fact-- did lie about his ownership of a boat, who (at best) misled the mayor, and who accepted improper remuneration for a boat he never owned?


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* In the past Sabludowsky has described himself as a "teacher".
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