Saturday, April 14, 2007

Breaux goes 

At Ray's place I learned that Breaux decided not to run for Guvnah. Breaux stated:

I said I would be guided by the Attorney General’s opinion and therefore will not be a candidate for Governor. For me to run now means that we would face a campaign based on an eligibility to run, with the prospects of being in a courtroom only weeks before the election. That is not in the best interest of our state or what this election should be about.

Good. He didn't exactly inspire the imagination, anyway.

This seems to open the door for Democrats Chris John or Mitch Landrieu. Either of them are highly qualified to run a limp, unsuccessful, lackluster campaign for Governor.

I say: Draft John Kennedy.


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Friday, April 13, 2007

"Not that bad" 

Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisers, responded to the latest Producer Price Index with some "cheery" economic analysis:

Food and energy costs are surging, but if you don't have to eat and drive, life is not that bad.

Mr. Naroff shouldn't be so dismal. Life is never "that bad" if you're eating in New Orleans.


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Jindal supporters will not find this humorous 

The latest New Orleans Levee pretends that Gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal makes a Naginesque speaking gaffe.

"New Orleans will be an Indian-American city," Jindal said. "Such are the wishes of Brahma."

Jindal, speaking at a prayer breakfast in honor of the pot-bellied, elephant-faced Hindu god Ganesha, said that the challenges faced by the city’s Indian community are steep, but not insurmountable.

Holy smokes. I predict some Friends of Bobby will get all "huffy puffy" about this story.

It is estimated that Katrina’s destruction of the city’s healthcare infrastructure has forced tens of people of Indian descent to practice their medical specialties in other cities.

Jindal blamed the policies of lame-duck governor Kathleen Blanco-– most notably her controversial ban on chicken tikka-– for driving away Indian families. He also noted the recent decision by Tulane University to cancel the engineering department.

"Drive down State Street or St. Charles Avenue and all you see are empty homes," Jindal said. "No longer do you hear the music of Rabindra Sangeet or watch cricket being played on spacious lawns. And where are their owners? They are trapped in gated communities in places like Greenwich and Palo Alto and forced to take jobs at ambulatory surgery centers and Ivy-League research universities."

These are precisely the sort of jokes that Jindal supporters don't want in wide circulation.


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Didja know? 

Properly waging the War on Terror requires that we break our army on a civil war in Iraq.

Update: Today's Wall Street Journal reports that "Turkey's military asked the government to approve raids into northern Iraq saying the U.S. has failed to curtail Kurdish rebel raids from there." That's exactly what we need right now: another rival border nation stirring up another militant ethnic group in Iraq.

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Tugging der Kaiser 

Again, I must reiterate my support for Adrastos' view of Recovery Czar Kaiser Ed Blakely and the political reality we currently inhabit. Adrastos links to posts by Varg and Celsus with which I also heartily agree.

Update: C.B. Forgotston says "I’m glad I no longer live in the city, otherwise Dr. Blakely would consider me a 'buffoon.'" I find it interesting, but not surprising, that Forgotston has left.


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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tugging der Führer 

I should bookmark this raging Anntichrist S. Coulter post to read whenever I feel like complaining about some personal issue.

Although, to be fair, she may deserve her broken back (and neck and knees). Apparently, in a past life, she gave Adolph H. a "handy".


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At least he didn't call us "nappy-headed buffoons" 

Being a quasi-apologist for Ed Blakely is hard work these days. That's why I like to avoid it.

But regarding Blakely's recent, um, buffooneries... I totally agree with Adrastos.



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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Unhelpful Categories 

Just after I did an earlier post on King Milling's plea about the urgency of coastal restoration in South Louisiana, the T-P publishes a front page story titled "White House resists plan for 72-mile storm shield" (print version):

The White House has quietly signaled its opposition to a 72-mile levee system in south Louisiana proposed to protect about 120,000 people who have watched the Gulf of Mexico creep ever closer to their homes as the coast erodes.

Our considerate friends in the White house want more delays so that the environmental impact of the proposed levees can be further studied. And, yes, there are legitimate concerns about the project, but the Bushies couldn't give a sh*t about any of that. Trust me. For them, a study is simply a way to run out the clock. (And even if the study gets finished, they'll happily ignore it or rewrite its conclusions if they don't believe it furthers their interests.) It's like this:

Costly manned spaceflights to Mars? Sure, full steam ahead!

Piles of dirt to protect S. Louisiana? Whoah! Slow down there, Monsieur Turbo! We need to do more studies to see how this might affect your precious wetland ecosystems. You wouldn't want to lose those, now, would ya?

The article continues:

[The White House position paper] also calls for reducing federal financing for broader coastal restoration to $500 million and forcing the state to pay 50 percent of the overall costs, which Vitter labeled "a raw deal for Louisiana." The Blanco administration has estimated that restoring the coast, which is eroding through manmade and natural forces at a rate of 30 square miles per year and lost an estimated 217 square miles because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, would cost in excess of $14 billion.

Just over a year ago, a conservative Republican who attends my church took out a quarter page ad in the Times Picayune, and published an open letter to the people of New Orleans. He urged everyone to vote in favor of consolidating the levee boards. He said he was convinced "in his heart" that if New Orleanians demonstrated their willingness to reform the levee boards, then President Bush would start supporting Category 5 flood protection.

Yes, friends, he really believed that would happen. Of course, that was back when people down here thought there was a chance in hell of getting Category 5 protection. Little did they know that the Bush administration had told officials like Senator Vitter that they didn't even like the term Category 5. The Bushies found it "unhelpful". Mind you, the term wasn't "unhelpful" because the Bushies thought it was scientifically fuzzy, or anything like that. Hell no. The Bushies didn't fancy "Category 5" because the term itself framed the issue of flood control in a disadvantageous way. It conjured up thoughts of maximum protection, and they didn't want it associated with Louisiana. Either they didn't want to pay for Category 5 protections, or they didn't want Louisiana to have them. So they instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to study it to death, and leave the problem to some other President.

In the aftermath of Katrina, Rita, and their response to the Federal Flood, the Bushies didn't want to answer questions such as "Should America invest in Category 5 flood protection for Louisiana, or Category 4, or Category 3? Should we protect America's Wetlands and the Gulf Coast's oil/gas infrastructure with Category 5 levees and coastal restoration, or only build up to a weak Category 3 level and hope a Cat 4+ storm never hits?"

Yes, my Pelicans. It really was true. Two months after Katrina, South Louisianans of all political stripes were united in favor of Category 5 protection. Plenty of businessmen I knew expected it. They thought it would be the natural response to what happened. But, somehow, nowadays you never even hear about it. "Category 5" has vanished from the conversation. At best, it's viewed as a distant dream, a high hope. No one even mentions Category 4, either. It's another forgotten fantasy.

And today, yet again, we have to fight with the Bush Administration over funding for WEAK CATEGORY 3 FLOOD PROTECTION that will serve an area that handles 18% of the nation's petroleum, and 25% of the nation's natural gas. Can you believe that? This is an $887 million investment that will help protect an area that supports over $100 billion worth of oil/gas infrastructure*, and the Bushies are skeptical. Remember, since 1992, the Morganza project has been studied, pre-engineered, opened to public comment, designed, redesigned... And then, Terrebone parish and the State of Louisiana decided to start construction on the project because they deemed it too critical to wait for Federal funds. They started building prior to Congressional authorization because they felt it was too damned important! Waiting was not an option. And now, the Bush administration opposes the project and says it wants to ... do more studies.... and "properly coordinate" it with other projects... and other crapola they don't really care about. The real objective is to wait... and wait... and run out the clock (so the team that outspent Lyndon Johnson can argue that they were fiscally prudent in their final years, and kept their promise to cut the deficit in half, and control spending... etc.)

These are the same folks who feel it necessary to repeatedly remind us that they've spent Umpteen billion trillion dollars to rebuild the Gulf Coast. They tell us again and again that our New Orleans levees are "even better" than the poorly designed ones that catastrophically failed 18 months ago. Then they patiently explain the need to further study a WEAK CATEGORY 3 LEVEE PROJECT that will protect the fastest disappearing land mass on earth! Unbelievable. The Bushies only seem to act with urgency when they want to sell a war of choice, or discredit an uppity veteran who served in a previous war of choice. When it comes to rebuilding-- anything-- they're useless.
Say, where the F*CK was this Scientific Imperative when the Bush Adminsitration PROPOSED restoring Iraq's wetlands in 2004? That project didn't have to wait for a study; it got immediate consideration. Hell, if the Bush administration had "studied" Iraq half as much as they want to study Cat 5 flood protection for Louisiana-- we might not be in the quagmire that we're in!!

Everyone should be rioting in the streets! Even conservatives! How the hell can an administration boast about spending $120 billion on storm recovery, and leave Louisiana wide open to future hurricanes and federal floods?

* By the way, do you find it curious that Big Oil isn't making a bigger stink about these issues? Shouldn't they at least be complaining more loudly about this (since allocating some of their billions in profits to pay for the accelerated wetlands loss they caused is apparently out of the question.)

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I told you this would be fun 

From a Headline Link at the Dead Pelican, I learned of this article in the Independent Weekly.

Here's a little sniff of my bliss:

Giuliani’s entire issues sheet is kryptonite for diehard conservatives and contrasts greatly with the values touted by Boustany and Vitter. While serving New York, Giuliani spoke in favor of trigger locks, firearm training and a ban on some assault weapons.... While opposed to gay marriage, he supports domestic partnerships that "provide stability for committed partners in important legal and personal matters,"...

And now that he’s a presidential candidate, Giuliani’s private life is out there flapping in the wind. He has been married three times; the first was with his second cousin once removed. A 1997 Vanity Fair investigative story claimed Giuliani had a relationship with his communications director in the mayor’s office. He also grabbed headlines for issuing a press release about his separation from second wife Donna Hanover before informing her. Before his divorce from Hanover was final, Giuliani paraded with his mistress Judith Nathan in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Nathan — his current wife — has also been married three times.

Additionally, Giuliani’s fending off minor but nonetheless irritating questions about cross-dressing...

When Giuliani’s dirty laundry starts getting a fresh airing below the Mason-Dixon line, voters probably won’t like what they see-- and that negativity could rub off on Boustany and Vitter, says Florida pollster and political consultant Jim Kitchens. "I personally think they are making an early, tactical and strategic political error on both of their parts," Kitchens says.

I almost feel pity for poor Vitty. But not quite enough to keep me from attending the next Louisiana "Team Rudy" rally with a "Gun-stealing Abortionists for Giuliani" sign.

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"The risk of not beginning now is the destruction of south Louisiana" 

When bankers get passionate, you know things are serious. Read this account long excerpt from a March 31st article in Da Paper:

The frustration hit the fan at a meeting of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation on Friday when its chairman lost his temper after learning details of the complicated process the Army Corps of Engineers will use to write a master plan for increased hurricane protection and coastal restoration.

"There ain't a snowball's chance in hell that that's going to happen," said King Milling Jr., chairman of the commission and of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans, after corps project manager Edmond Russo Jr. completed a 30-minute presentation on the corps plans.

Russo had explained that within the next few weeks, the corps will release to the public a thick atlas of maps containing myriad alternative plans for levees and other hurricane protection measures along Louisiana's coastline....

Several public hearings would then be held across the state to collect public comment on the various options in the plans before the corps determines which pieces to include in a final report to be completed in December.
Milling said the corps' process rehashes steps the agency and the state used in developing the first version of the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Plan, a truncated version of which is awaiting approval by Congress as part of the Water Resources Development Act.

The White House ordered the corps to abandon a $14 billion comprehensive, statewide 30-year plan in 2004 in favor of a $1.2 billion, 10-year plan that the Bush administration said would be affordable and would test whether restoration could work. The earlier comprehensive plan had undergone a similar public hearing process as the one being proposed.
Milling said the corps already has enough public comment on proposals, most of which already have been considered in the past.

"The state has done everything in its power over the past six years to get as much input out of the population of this state (about restoration plans), and you want to do that all over again?" he said.
Milling said that process will take too much time to identify projects, which will delay their construction indefinitely. He said that's a "business as usual" attitude on the part of the corps and its superiors in the White House, including the Office of Management and Budget. Congress specifically rejected that approach, he said, in requiring the corps to develop the study outside its normal rules.

"When we started this in 2001, the first thing on the table was what to do with business as usual," Milling said. "And if it's business as usual now as far as the corps is concerned, we might as well move everybody out of south Louisiana and say the hell with it.

"We understand we don't have all the answers, and we understand that we're not going to get them," Milling said. "But the risk of not beginning now is the destruction of south Louisiana."

He said the state is willing to take the money it is piecing together and begin construction on a variety of projects aimed at kick-starting coastal restoration immediately, while it continues to study "the things we don't know."

As more about restoration is learned, both existing and future projects will be adjusted, he said.

Yeah you right!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

If you missed the Hahnville town hall meeting... 

Da Paper's Matt Scallan has it covered for you:

The need for higher levees was the primary topic at a town hall meeting Monday night in Hahnville with U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

As it should be.

"The west bank has absolutely no protection," Parish Councilman Brian Fabre said, adding that the parish's industrial base is at risk.

Damn straight!

"If that storm had come 20 miles to the west, this nation would have been in trouble," he said.

Wait-- huh? Nation?! What kind of weird-dick statement is that? .... Let's charitably assume the Councilman said "nation" when he really meant "city" or "area".

Of course, another area resident at the meeting was also concerned about our vulnerable "nation". She aired her darkest fears to our intrepid junior Senator:

Angela Adams of Luling said she is concerned that the government is stealthily moving toward a merger with Mexico and Canada, and cited the construction of a highway linking the countries as evidence.

"I know there's a lot of highway construction in that area, but I'm not aware of any attempt to surrender our national sovereignty," Vitter said.

Ah, Vittycent handles the wackaloon query like a professional. I swear, so many successful politicians seem to possess superhuman qualities. They're like thoroughbreds. Spectacular at a few things-- useless in most others. Still, I like watching them in action. (The trouble is, their decisions resonate far beyond their amoral political universe; often in hideous ways. In person, though, it's different. First: visualize one of the politicians you like least. Yuck, right? But if you met them in person when they were at the top of their game, I bet they'd charm the hell out of you. Dubya, Pelosi... you name it. They'd make you smile and nod and agree to disagree.)

If I were a pol, and Ms. Angela asked me the exact same question, I'd react with some amount of noticable sarcasm. How could I resist? I'd say: "Ma'am, which highway in Luling connects Mexico and Canada?", or something like that.

But Vitty-cent patiently acknowledges Angela's concern and answers her question in a way that sounds like she'll be the first to know if he learns of any plans to "surrender our national sovereignty". Nicely done.

For a guy who is so utterly friendless, and who always sounds like he just ate a box of chalk, Vitty-cent makes remarkably few mistakes. That's why I'm blogging so much about his endorsement of Giuliani. It's a rare mistake in political judgment. But... if we venture out to the "pretend place", and imagine Rudy actually being elected president, then Vitter will have some serious "juice" in the next administration. His name might even get thrown around before that, when Rudy is deciding on Veeps. That would be an amazing rise to stardom. Maybe Vitty's playing the longshot, and thinks its worth the risk.

And, if such an unlikely political ascent occurs, Vitty-cent will have been helped immeasurably by not having to pay a political price for saying, on 8/30/05, while water levels rose from breached levees: "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening."

Isolate the video from that sentence, and the (grainy, grey, distorted) attack ad practically writes itself.


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"Something d o o economics" 

Matthew Yglesias analyzes Rudy Giuliani's economic supply side clowning, which I discussed here. Bob Somerby applauds Yglesias' work here and here.

Yglesias understands that merely repeating the claim that "Reagan cut taxes and revenues rose" doesn't make it true*. It will never make it true. The facts are permanently otherwise. But dutiful repetition will spread a pretty supply-side myth, especially when the media prints this myth without correction, context or criticism.

We're treating "and" as we would "therefore", which is how Rudy means it. I don't want to hear any analytical objections based on formal or symbolic logic grounds. (Not that I've heard many of those of late...).



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Monday, April 09, 2007

Couple of ducks 

My apologies. Truly, it's ignoble to enjoy Vitty-cent's discomfort as much as I do, but I can't help it. When I think about Senator Vitter having to endure these sorts of public exchanges for another year or so, it makes me tingle. Observe:

About 60 people packed into Lorant's Sporting Goods today for a Second Amendment rally.

They listened while National Rifle Association officials, U.S. Sen. David Vitter and U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, both of Louisiana, spoke about recent gun legislation and politics.
John Long, a Shreveport barber and NRA member, openly questioned Vitter's support for presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor has advocated for stronger gun control laws.

Long labeled Giuliani a "gun-banning abortionist" in front of the crowd. [editor's note: LMAO]

"I'm very, very confident that he's not running for president to push that agenda that you're describing," Vitter responded.

Again, for me, that's better than a "pick me up" bouquet. Here's a photo of another NRA event from the Bastrop Daily.

They don't look out of place. Not one bit.

Of course, the joke's really on us, as Jindal and Vitty-cent get to campaign against Nagin's gun confiscations after their fellow conservatives helped re-elect Nagin for another term as state GOP whipping post. See, last May, the Couhig Conservatives (as I call them) had all kinds of reasons why New Orleanian swing-voters should reelect the incompetent Ray Nagin. They reminded us that Nagin was not a machine candidate. He "understood business", and was "independent". After all, he endorsed Jindal in the previous Governor's race. That has to count for something. (Even recently they've said that Nagin was the right choice because he's a great "improvisor".)

But now, after supporting Rep William Jefferson's reelection, and having a political menage a trois with Jesse Jackson and Rep. Maxine Waters for the past year, Mayor Nagin has already decided to not re-endorse Bobby Jindal for Governor-- even though Jindal's currently the only top tier candidate in the race! The T-P reports:

Six months before the fall governor's race, Nagin says he's still shopping for a candidate.

"I'm not really impressed at this point," Nagin said this week during an appearance on WWL-TV.

Four years ago, Nagin, a Democrat, shocked the local political establishment when he endorsed Republican Bobby Jindal in the gubernatorial runoff against Democrat Kathleen Blanco.

Though Jindal, now a congressman from Kenner, is running for governor again, Nagin said, "I probably won't do that this time."

Though he didn't elaborate on his change of heart about Jindal, it's worth noting that the mayor has cozied up lately with Democratic power brokers such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

Nagin likewise expressed no enthusiasm for the possibility that former U.S. Sen. John Breaux will emerge as the Democratic standard bearer now that Blanco has bowed out of the race.

Calling Breaux a "good guy," Nagin, who referred to him as "Congressman Breaux," added, "I'm looking for a little more."

Wow, that Nagin has high standards. He is unsatisfied with Bobby and Breaux. He says he wants "more" than they can offer. I wonder: who the hell does he have in mind that's acceptable? Cold Cash Jefferson?

Nagin, prevented by law from seeking another term, laughed when asked whether he might make a bid for the state's top job.

"Man, I'm running for what I have right now," he said.

Nagin, who has raised an estimated $500,000 since winning re-election a year ago, shed no light on what his next political move might be. But he made it clear that he wants to keep his hand in the political game.

"I'm just keeping my political options open," he said. "I think it's smart. I'm going to be relevant regardless.

Where are the howls of betrayal from the conservatives who supported Nagin's reelection? In 2003, when it was Jindal against Meemaw, Nagin endorsed Jindal. Now it's Jindal against no one (yet), and Nagin's already saying he probably won't endorse Jindal-- or "Congressman" Breaux, Jindal's potential opponent.

No, we won't hear any protests from Couhig Conservatives, because they know Jindal doesn't even want Ray Nagin's endorsement this time around. Much better to have a weak, gun-confiscating, foot-in-mouth New Orleans mayor in office. That suits Jindal and the Republicans just fine for this election. Jindal can pose in gun shops and run against NRA boogeyman Ray Nagin throughout the rest of the state, and the conservative "Nagin enablers" in New Orleans won't have a problem with that at all. They already served their use.

At his web site, Bobby Jindal finds it necessary to explain to his readers that, as much as he enjoys spending time "in the duck blinds", Bobby's duck-calling skills are inferior to those of Phil "the Duck Commander" Robertson.

Seriously, I have trouble believing the Duck Commander can call ducks better than Bobby. I think Bobby purposefully understated his superior quacking skills, so as to spare the Duck Commander some embarrassment.

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Those ominous radical fanaticals 

I received a fundraising letter from Bobby Jindal asking for my support. Rep. Jindal says he wants to restore "effective leadership" to the Guv's mansion, and will work hard to cut bureaucracy and taxes, and improve healthcare and education.

That's cool.

Then, in three separate places, the letter warns of an unnamed "radical left-wing group" from out of state that "has committed" $3 million towards Jindal's defeat.


That's three separate warnings about a "radical", "left-wing" organization, and not a word about flood protection, coastal restoration or rebuilding the state after devastating hurricanes and levee failures. Zippo, zilch.

Now, I'm not saying Jindal isn't aware of these issues and hasn't "fought" for better flood protection while in Congress. However, as a New Orleanian who lost everything in the federal flood, it's disconcerting to receive a 2 page donation request from a Gubernatorial candidate who doesn't mention a word about flood protection or rebuilding. You'd think 8/29 never happened.

It would appear that the threat of "radical" political groups does more to motivate prospective Jindal donors than talk of flood protection or S. Louisiana's coastal crisis.


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