Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rap Cat is unimpressed 

Turdblossom "throws his weight" around, with catastrophic results.


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Friday, March 30, 2007

Couhig Conservatives support Gun Confiscators 

Huge thanks to the hardworking analysts at We Saw That for the link to this video on the "Untold Story" of Nagin's Post-Katrina Gun Confiscation. For those who care about this issue, the video lasts 8 minutes and is well worth it.

I wish I knew about this video a year ago. Last May I wrote:

How does Mitch Landrieu effectively blunt Ray Nagin's attempts to attract conservative white voters who supported Rob Couhig?

There are several ways, but I think the best one is for Mitch to pledge to overhaul the police department and stop the rise in crime since Katrina. Then, couple that pledge with a separate effort* to remind every "law and order" conservative in New Orleans that the Nagin administration illegally seized firearms from law-abiding citizens while looters were running wild in the Katrina aftermath.

In my view, that was a winning political play, but it was not used, and Nagin was elected, and we've all had to live with the dispiriting results.

Can you imagine the political shitstorm that would occur if Mitch Landrieu ever confiscated people's guns like Nagin's police chief did? Can you imagine the shitstorm that would occur if Mitch were elected and the murder rate spun out of control, and then he blew off a crime forum to go to a fundraiser? Conservative talk radio in Louisiana could subsist on those two issues alone for at least a year. Easy. And you could bet the farm that they would never, ever, EVER let Mitch Landrieu live it down.

YET, Nagin did these things and he largely gets a pass from his conservative enablers... Unbelievably, it appears that Couhig Conservatives ARE STILL "making the case" that reelecting Nagin was the right choice for New Orleans because Nagin is... a talented "improvisor".

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Fred Thompson: please run 

Truly, I would get the sickest pleasure out of seeing former Sen. Fred Thompson declare his intention to run for President.

Why's that? Because he's a Southern "favorite son" who oozes gravitas on TV and whose candidacy would actually excite some conservatives in Louisiana.

And, more importantly, because it would put our illustrious LA Goopers in a pickle. Tee hee.

Reps. Alexander and McCrery have already endorsed a Massachusetts Mormon named Mitt Romney, and Sen Vitter and Rep Boustany have endorsed former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani-- who is soft on gays but hard on guns. (Speaking of Rudy, here's the obligatory news quote du jour: "Rudolph W. Giuliani told a grand jury that his former chief investigator remembered having briefed him on some aspects of Bernard B. Kerik’s relationship with a company suspected of ties to organized crime before Mr. Kerik’s appointment as New York City police commissioner, according to court records." I wonder when Sen. Vitter will get asked about Bernard Kerik's appointment, and how that reflects upon Rudy's judgment.)

Fred Thompson has a window of opportunity here, and I hope he takes advantage of it. Imagine if the Thompson campaign rolled into Louisiana with a ton of media buzz and excitement on the same weekend that Vitty-cent was holding a "Team Rudy" rally. Heh. I told you this would be fun!

Rep. Bobby Jindal is very smart to hold off on endorsing anyone. If Fred Thompson runs, I think many of Jindal's congressional cohorts will regret their premature selections.

That reminds me, Thompson was on the short list for Bush's VP back in 2000. But, after a diligent and thorough search, Dick Cheney decided that he himself was the best candidate.

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Nagin skips crime forum for a fundraiser 

David alerts us to the fact that Mayor Ray Nagin "opted to attend a fund-raiser" instead of a crime forum. That's at least the second fund-raiser he's had this month. Why? Remember: Nagin is the term-limited mayor of a catastrophe zone-- yet he's more focused on a future run for higher office than he is with curtailing the crime that hinders our recovery.

That is puzzling... puzzling, indeed. Maybe the worst is true: he really doesn't care.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Why is the door open?" 

Stormy Weathers from the Weathers Report describes this Peyton Manning SNL skit as a "classic", and it truly is. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out-- but also please visit the Weathers Report for a good reminder about all the New Orleanians who have hosted and performed on the long-running show.


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Voodoo economics wango tango 

1.) Vitty-cent says Rudy Giuliani has "Churchill-like qualities". We'll just file that away for now.

2.) I can't let this pass, though. Rudy Giuliani describes himself as a supply sider. The other day he said: "I regard myself as a supply-sider for sure. I mean, watched Ronald Reagan do it and learned it, saw it work. Taxes get reduced, more revenue comes in."

This hollow idea that Reagan's tax reductions increased revenue is often repeated by supply side conservatives. But they must think you're an idiot because they never account for important factors like the following:

* Inflation. If you crow about revenue numbers without accounting for inflation, you are a... deceptive penis. Most supply siders are deceptive penises, and assume you won't notice.

* Population growth. Americans and dirty illegal immigrants have kids. The population grows. Thus, more people pay taxes... which increases revenues.

* After cutting taxes in 1981, Pres. Reagan raised them in 1982 (twice), 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Reagan said he was "closing loopholes", but that's just another way of saying "tax increase". Tax increases affect revenue totals.

* Without Fed Chairman Paul Volcker's monetary rectitude, there would've been no economic boom in the 1980's. Nothing mattered until 1970's Stagflation was extinguished with high interest rates. That's why a brutal recession immediately followed Reagan's vaunted 1981 Recovery Act, and it's also why the U.S. economy enjoyed robust growth after 1983.

All in all, the real per capita revenue growth rates were much higher in the 70's (+25%) than during the Reagan years (+18%). During the Clinton boom years, per capita revenue growth totalled (40%).

But it has become conservative boilerplate to say that "Reagan cut taxes and revenues rose" as if that statement signifies cause and effect; as if those are the only two facts worth knowing.

(Speaking of Reagan, I must note that ex-Supply Sider and former Reagan Budget Director, David Stockman, has been charged with "overseeing a sweeping fraud at a troubled auto parts supplier that he led before the company collapsed into bankruptcy." Tsk, tsk.)

Now conservatives are proclaiming the same thing about Bush's supply side policies. "Look at the rise in revenues!", they chirp, while not noting that real per capita revenues were the same in 2006 as they were in 2001. Revenues rose, but only after falling dramatically. (Income Inequality, though, has taken off.)

And sadly, America's Mayor is describing himself as a supply sider who learned the craft by "[watching] Ronald Reagan do it". What's the proper response to such a lame claim? How 'bout this:

Rudy, please stop this "supply side voodoo economics tango and wango dance". It's unbecoming. Borrow some talcum from Malcolm if you need to, and get in the game!

Update: Here's the latest conservative tax foolishness.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

They will follow us home 

One of the leading GOP candidates for President tells us that we must continue refereeing sectarian conflict in Iraq because if we leave "they" will "follow us" home.

McCain, appearing on NBC’s "Today" show today from Orlando, said the war "was badly mismanaged. But there are signs of progress everywhere. ... I am confident that given the opportunity, we can have success. The consequences of failure are catastrophic because if we come home, bin Laden and Zarqawi, they are going to follow us."

Zarqawi is dead and bin Laden is in Waziristan-- yet Senator Str8 Tawlk argues that we must continue this godforesaken misadventure in Iraq, because, otherwise, terrorists like OBL and Zarqawi will emerge from their caves and graves, and will "follow us" from Iraq to the United States. Got that?

I'm just biding my time until the Democrats force the U.S. to retreat from Iraq. Then I will "follow" the U.S. military to America, and start killing and blowing things up. However, as long as the U.S. remains bogged down in the civil war I started in Iraq, I'm utterly paralyzed as a terrorist. I yearn to get my jihad on in places like Omaha Nebraska... but not on Senator McCain's watch!

Good day to you. Sadly, I am hopelessly trapped in my Waziristan cave until the U.S. leaves Iraq. Once they retreat, however, I plan to catch the first flight to America and congratulate all the liberals who made my journey possible. Then we'll jihad together against that crafty Senator McCain.

Here's a wild-ass thought: if we're so concerned that OBL will follow us home if we leave Iraq-- if that's the main war rationale now-- why don't we simplify things a bit and commit ourselves to tracking Bin Laden down... and killing him?

As my comrade Matt Gunn said 3 years ago:

The fact that Bush has proved incapable of putting bin Laden in hell by now may be forgivable. His lack of focus and effort on that goal is not.

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A well regulated funnybone, being necessary to the security of a free state... 

Kevin Drum alerts us to this umm... informative... hilarious NRA publication entitled "Freedom in Peril". It's perhaps the funniest comic I've ever seen. Go, go, go!

Pages 13-15 illustrate how seriously NRA members view Mayor Nagin and Chief Riley's gun seizure in the chaotic Katrina aftermath. (That's why I brought this issue up during the election. It was important that every conservative understand that Nagin is quick to seize guns, but unable to control crime.)

Yet, unbelievably, Couhig Conservatives are still "making the case" that Nagin was the best choice for mayor because he is an "improvisor". They don't tell you that his first post-storm "improvisation" was to take people's guns away.

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Chris at Prytaniawaterline finds Tom Bethell's awful article on New Orleans in The American magazine ("A magazine of ideas"). What disturbs me is that Chris links to the article without any critical comment whatsoever and gives the impression that he perhaps approves of Bethell's piece. Yikes! In his defense, Chris did work all day without benefit of A/C, so I'll charitably assume that he was suffering from heat exhaustion.

Last week, I zestily sliced up Bethell's article in this post.

Even if you don't want to read the long article, go click the link and review the photos by Gary Miles which accompany the piece. Several are quite good, but the ultra-serious Nagin portrait is unintentionally hilarious. Here's a photo of Rob "Free Market" Couhig standing... [what's the appropriate adverb here?] in front of the State-owned Super Dome.

Again, this was a full page photo in the print edition of The American-- only $6.95 at your local newsstand.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sense of proportion 

A good way to begin to understand the scale of devastation in New Orleans (and beyond) is to see it, smell it, feel it... in person. Drive around the flooded areas of town for a few hours, then stop, get out of the car and walk around a bit. It'll hit ya.

The Women of the Storm knew early on that the most compelling "argument" they could make for federal assistance was to bring congressional legislators to New Orleans for a firsthand visit of the disaster areas. And everyone who takes a "disaster tour" says pretty much the same thing: "Until you see it in person... ", "I'd seen pictures, but I had no idea...", "I saw [blank] after the [blank] , but this was even worse"... etc.

However, for those who are unable to come and see the disaster in person, I think there are other ways to gain understanding of the scale of damage from the Storm and the faulty levees. For example, I like comparisons to current events.

1.) Recently, there were news reports marking the 18 year "anniversary" of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the largest oil spill in U.S. history (11 million gallons). Heck, didja know that 85 tons of remaining oil still pollutes the coast of Prince William Sound? That's bad. But, didja also know that the post-Katrina oil spills in Louisiana totalled 8 million gallons in volume? That's pretty bad, too. Eighteen years from now, how many tons of oil will still be fouling up Sportsman's Paradise?

2.) Recently there were news reports about tainted pet food which killed over 100 pets nationwide, while many more suffered kidney failure and are still in treatment. That's bad. But, didja know that over 100,000 pets died in the Katrina aftermath?* That's pretty bad, too.

Medium Jim is still disgusted that I didn't take Asrielle --a neighborhood cat I fed-- with us during evacuations. Well, the cat was nowhere to be found that Sunday morning. And, anyway, I prefer to think Asrielle survived the flooding... it's a pretty thought, however improbable.


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Not minding Blakely so much 

Again, I must say that I'm not minding what I hear from Recovery Czar Ed Blakely. He's direct and is willing to assume responsibility. To be sure, he's not the Messiah, but Nagin could've found someone much, much worse. Here's a hopeful snippet from today's T-P opinion column by Stephanie Grace:

Finally, in arguably the most direct language he's used since the storm, [Mayor Nagin] who once punted recovery decisions to his beloved free market has acknowledged that government has a vital role to play in guiding the recovery.
Nagin's statement suggests that [Recovery czar Ed] Blakely has injected a welcome sobriety to the mayor's thinking and administration's policies.

I desperately *hope* that last sentence is true.


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ACoE report 

The Army Corps of Engineers released a revised, 5000 page report on the causes and effects of the flooding during Katrina. The report contains little that is startling or new to those who've followed the story, but it's good that the ACoE documents its responsibility for the Federal Flood.

[Update: Paul at Wizbang has more on this ACoE admission. Thanks Mr Melpomene for the link.]

Selections from today's front page T-P Story on the report:

The failure to build New Orleans-area hurricane levees and levee walls as part of an integrated, well-fortified system doomed the region during Katrina and remains the key finding of a revised report released Monday by an investigation team sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Katrina's storm surge found a wide variety of weaknesses resulting from the system being built as a series of individual projects: problems such as low levee sections, weak links between levee projects, and failed designs. Those individual failures resulted in water invading the entire protection system, the report concluded.

The report again concludes that "particularly inadequate" designs of levee walls along the 17th Street and London Avenue drainage canals resulted in their failure, despite storm-surge water not overtopping them.
An earlier version of the report was released in a June 2006 news conference in New Orleans in which Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the corps, said his agency would not try to dodge ultimate responsibility for what he said was the first project failure in corps history.
In most cases, the report concludes, water in the 17th Street and London Avenue canals pushed the sheet piling and concrete walls on top of them out of alignment, creating a crack between the walls and the earthen levees in which they were built. The cracks allowed water to leak beneath the wall and the structures to fail.

The report said part of the design problem stemmed from decisions by the corps and local governments to abandon an earlier corps "barrier" plan that would have built surge-blocking gates at the end of the drainage canals. Instead, the corps approved a "parallel protection" plan that raised the heights of levee walls along the canals. That approach, the report said, "systematically increased the inherent risk in the system without recognition or acknowledgment."

The report concludes that with the exception of failed levee walls on the 17th Street, London Avenue and Industrial canals, breached levees and walls were overtopped.
In volumes outlining the effects of the storm, the report concludes that the majority of flooding and half of the area's economic losses resulted from breaches in the levee system.

It estimated direct financial losses associated with the flooding at $20 billion, with 77 percent in residential areas, and an additional $7 billion in losses to public property. The report counted 727 fatalities in the five parishes in and around New Orleans that it attributes directly to the flooding, with more than 70 percent of those victims more than 70 years old.

But the effects went well beyond economic losses or lives, the report said.

"The breakdown in New Orleans' social structure, loss of cultural heritage, and dramatically altered physical, economic, political, social, and psychological character of the area are unprecedented in the United States," the report said. "In themselves, these create a formidable barrier to recovery. Where water depths were small, recovery has been almost complete. In areas where water depths were greater, little recovery or reinvestment has taken place."


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Monday, March 26, 2007

Team Rudy adds another Pelican! 

Rep. Charles Boustany has joined Senator Vitter in endorsing Rudy Giuliani for President. I promise you: this... will... be... fun! By the way, who's Jindal endorsing?

Here's a link to Chris Cooper and Robert Block's recent WSJ article titled "Giuliani's Private-Sector Burden: Business Ties May Haunt Former Mayor's Presidential Campaign".

The meat of the story is in this extended quote:

A potential political vulnerability [for Presidential candidate Giuliani] may be the consulting agreement that ties Giuliani Partners to a pair of nuclear reactors known as Indian Point. The reactors, located 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan and owned by a subsidiary of Entergy Corp. of New Orleans, have long evoked safety concerns, which surged after the 9/11 attacks, when the reactors were seen as potential terrorism targets.

In 2002, then-New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, hired James Lee Witt, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under former President Clinton, to study site security at Indian Point. In 2003, Mr. Witt released an assessment that the security plan was "not adequate" to "protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point."

Entergy hired Giuliani Partners to conduct a security assessment. "He had that single experience from 9/11-- that drove him to the top," says Entergy spokesman Jim Steets. "All you've got to do is look at the polls: If he says the plant is safe, people are going to believe him."

Shortly after signing a contract in 2003, Mr. Giuliani's company oversaw a mock terrorist drill at the site and pronounced it safe -- an assertion Mr. Giuliani repeated to reporters in November, when Entergy applied for a 20-year extension of its permit to operate. "Our view is that Indian Point is as safe as a facility can be, and a pretty good model, if not an excellent model for not only other nuclear power plants but other industries," Mr. Giuliani said.

But Indian Point has had troubles. In 2005, it emerged that deadly nuclear material had leached into the groundwater under the plant. The reactors have been unexpectedly shut down at least five times since the beginning of 2006. In December, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said some plant workers feared retribution for raising safety issues. And in February, an inspection found a cracked fuel rod, a situation that could conceivably lead to a loss of nuclear material. The NRC says the plant is safe. Mr. Giuliani's firm remains a consultant at Indian Point. Both companies say the Giuliani security assessment was objective.

But the seeds for political attacks may have been planted recently by Mrs. Clinton, who owns a home near the reactors. In February, she submitted a bill to Congress calling for an "independent assessment" of safety at Indian Point. A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said she doesn't consider Mr. Giuliani's assessment to be an independent one.

In addition to Giuliani giving his blessing to the nuclear plant's safety, FEMA superheroes Joe Allbaugh and Michael "Clotheshorse" Brown also certified the Indian Point's evacuation plan in 2003. While almost everyone else assessed the evacuation plan as "patently unworkable", Allbaugh and Brown decided it was "adequate to protect public health and safety" in the event of an emergency. This prompted Sue Kelly, a Republican congresswoman from Westchester, to accuse the agency of "bureaucratic rubber stamping in its most grotesque and dangerous form." (NYT 10/9/05 "The FEMA Seal of Approval").

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Aliens, Demons, Governors 

Former Governor Fife Symington (R-Arizona) says he believes he saw a large, "other-worldly" UFO hovering over Phoenix ten years ago. At the time, he kept quiet about it because he didn't want to create a panic.

That's interesting, because Louisiana's leading candidate for Governor, Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-Kenner), has previously written about his belief in otherworldly entities such as angels, spirits, demons and "related phenomena". In his essay titled "Physical Dimension of Spiritual Warfare", Jindal details how his best friend Susan* was afflicted by a demon. It was a terrifying scene: the demon forced Susan to say awful things, and then it physically pressed upon Bobby's chest in a most uncomfortable way. Ouchers! Luckily, Bobby and his Christian friends prayed over Susan and eventually cast the demon out. Not only did they remove the Satanic demon, but their prayers also cured Susan's cancer as well! Hallelujah!

(You see, Susan claimed she had done some "intense flirting with guys", and was therefore punished by a demon until she could be "purified" by the prayers of Jindal's friends. The lesson appears to be that the Supreme Godhead will not tolerate "intense flirting", and will remove his protections from those who mock him with such behavior.)

One wonders if Jindal and his prayerful friends could cure Elizabeth Edwards' cancer, too.

Speaking of the "C" word, go offer Lisa your condolences on the loss of her beautiful dog, Bayley.

* The essay makes it pretty obvious (to everyone but the author) that Susan suffers from a fairly profound mental disorder, probably stemming from some hideous early-childhood trauma.


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