Friday, July 13, 2007

In a slip, Vitter said Wendy Cortez rumors were "absolutely true" 

We Saw That alerted us to Jeff crouere's site which has posted an audio clip from his 2002 radio interview with David Vitter. In the clip, Vitter responds to a question about "Wendy Cortez" posed by a caller named the Flaming Liberal. After a pause, Vitter apparently made a Freudian slip, and said "those rumors" about Cortez were "absolutely true".

In the interview, he called Vincent Bruno a "thug and a liar". Crouere explains what happened next:

Bruno responded later on in the day with a threat of a lawsuit and claimed that he would depose Vitter on the Cortez matter. The threat of legal action prompted a quick response and the next day Vitter sent a certified letter to my house and to Bruno’s house officially apologizing for his comments about Bruno that were made on the program.

Read the whole transcript and listen to the audio cuts here.

Update: Jeffrey at Library Chronicles spots another telling slip of the tongue.

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Rise up on Bastille Day! 

I loved the message Schroeder emailed to Mayor Nagin. Here's one part of it.

I can assure you, there *will* be another march on City Hall if you don’t [call for D.A. Jordan's to resign], but I doubt citizens will stop at speeches and waving signs the next time.

Click the link to see Nagin's "targeted" response.

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I don't give a flying falafel about Vitter's received "forgiveness" from his wife or his God 

We constantly hear "Well, if David Vitter's wife forgave him then so should we".

No we shouldn't.

Wendy Vitter's forgiveness of her husband simply doesn't matter to me. It doesn't! Repeat with me "It just doesn't matter, it just doesn't matter...".

Why doesn't it matter? For myriad reasons, of course, but let's just remind everyone that Vitter is our political representative, not our husband. We don't have kids with Vitter, we have our own kids to worry about. Forgiving him as a Senator simply because his wife forgave him as a husband is a horrible way to reason. Think about it this way: What if Vitter's wife didn't forgive him, should we therefore remove Vitter on that basis?

"No one's perfect". That's another piece of wisdom I've also constantly heard in recent days. People will call into radio shows, wait half an hour to speak, and then tell the listening audience that "no one's perfect" and "no one is without sin".

No kidding! Everyone knows that. Don't act like you're making some intellectual contribution when you say those bromides. You're not. You're obscuring the real issues.

In my opinion, the crucial questions about this embarrassing mess (which will only worsen) include: What did Vitter apologize for, exactly, and what reports are false? Did he illegally solicit prostitutes? Did someone else ever pay for his hours at the escort service? Can we expect further scandalous revelations about prostitutes, from, say, Larry Flynt? What will Vitter say if he's called to testify in the highly publicized "D.C. Madam" trial? Has Vitter made false statements about his involvement with prostitutes as recently as 2004? If Vitter publicly lied to his constituents during his Senatorial campaign, should they "forgive him" for that? [Updated: Also, to what extent did Vitter attempt to silence those who were telling the truth about this, and did he or anyone affiliated with him attempt to hinder the careers of good people like Chris Tidmore, who first reported on this story?]

Other considerations may include: can you stomach this hypocrite? do you trust his judgment? Do you think he can be an effective Senator for Louisiana at this crucial time in history? Do conservative "family values" voters believe he's still an effective "defender of marriage", or will his damaged reputation hurt the cause? Is he politically toxic? Can Louisiana afford to retain yet another politician with a nationally-damaged reputation?

Update: We Saw That has a good link with more info from Jeff Crouere.


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Prostitute describes Vitter affair 

Former New Orleans "exotic masseuse" Wendy Cortez describes her "affair" with Sen. David Vitter in another front page story in the Times Picayune. Vitter has publicly denied the affair. He said such allegations were "completely untrue" in 2004, when he was running for Senate as a pro-family, anti-corruption candidate.

I'll have some commentary on these new revelations shortly. Stay tuned.


Update: This story obviously supports Chris Tidmore's original reporting in a big way. Vitter was a regular client of Wendy Cortez for many months. She says the relationship was purely business, but her former boyfriend, Tait, thinks otherwise. According to the article, the former boyfriend says Cortez had a photo of her in a bikini standing next to Vitter. "She had her hand on his crotch" and "they were smiling".

Think how dangerous such an image might be if it fell into the hands of people or organizations who wished to blackmail Senator Vitter. Beyond being a known prostitute, Cortez had a long criminal record. For example, according to the T-P's court research, Cortez was arrested in New Orleans during October 1997 and charged with theft of more than $500. The case was dropped in 1998. According to Tidmore, Cortez met Vitter "through a friend". A mutual friend? And was Vitter regularly doing business with Cortez when her theft case was dropped?

The T-P article continues

Cortez identified a photo of the woman who adopted his name and described the location of the Mid-City brothel where he said he'd been to pick her up when she worked there. A family member also confirmed the photo. [Jeanette Maier], the madam, said the photo was not the woman she knew as Wendy Cortez.

So, Wendy Cortez was a working girl in the French Quarter as well as in the Canal Street brothel, but the Canal Street Madam says that she isn't the woman she knows as Wendy Cortez. How does that make sense? Is Maier saying that there's another Wendy Cortez that worked at Canal and pampered Vitter (so to speak)? That strains credulity. In my opinion, this is one of many claims Jeanette Maier has made in recent print and radio interviews that doesn't fit well with what I know about the matter. There's so many prostitutes and madams and venues and claims and rumors in this story, that I suppose confusion was inevitable.

Which brings us to the response from Vitter's office. Here's a quote from the T-P article interspersed with my commentary:

On Thursday, The Times-Picayune asked Vitter's office whether he had ever hired a prostitute or knew Wendy Cortez. In response, his office issued a statement that referenced his Monday apology regarding the Washington escort service and reiterated that he was not implicated in a federal investigation that led to the closing of a Canal Street brothel in 2001.

"Senator Vitter was very honest and direct in his statement on Monday.

No, Vitter's statement was not direct. It was brief and vague and answered no specific questions about his conduct in D.C.. To use that statement as a response to reports about claims made by a former New Orleans prostitute-- which Vitter has previously and publicly denied-- only raises more questions than it answers. Why doesn't Vitter deny the claims made by Wendy Cortez, and her ex-boyfriend, which confirm Chris Tidmore's original reporting? Are we left to assume that the "serious sin" he apologized for encompasses a pattern of (criminal) behavior?

"Unfortunately, that has resulted in political enemies and those looking to profit from the situation shopping all sorts of false stories.
This seems to be directed at Jeanette Meier, the Canal Street Madam, as well as Chris Tidmore, Vincent Bruno and perhaps also bloggers like myself who have reported scandalous details about this ever-growing story.

"Four different lawyers in the Canal Street matter, including the lead defense attorney and the U.S. attorney, have confirmed Senator Vitter had nothing to do with the operation in any way. But sadly the media insists on being completely irresponsible and continues to report rumors and false accusations,'' said Joel DiGrado, a Vitter spokesperson.
Well, the lawyers said Vitter's name never came up in the investigation into the Canal Street matter, but that doesn't necessarily confirm that Vitter was never a client of the Canal Street Madam's "operation".

DiGrado said that Vitter is spending important time with his family and soon will return to work in the U.S. Senate.

Last night I heard from a knowledgable source that Vitter is in the New Orleans area with his family, and that he is "contemplating his political future". Other rumors swirled around town yesterday that Vitter had been hospitalized. Some of these came from remarkably well-placed sources, but last night I was told they were false by a knowledgable source I trust. That's good news.

The bottom line in that statement from Vitter's spokesperson is that Vitter is not directly denying questions about Wendy Cortez, as he has done so in the past. He remains here, and avoids telling his side of the story while more and more revelations surface and while hearings, meetings and votes are taking place on Capitol Hill.(Update: Apparently Vitter plans to return to the Senate on Tuesday. The T-P also reported that the D.C. Madam's service called Vitter twice during House roll call votes in which he participated.)

I'm sure I'll update this later with more commentary. (Some minor edits to this post have been made for clarity.)


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Thursday, July 12, 2007

An excellent start 

District A City Councilmember Shelley Midura is calling for District Attorney Eddie Jordan to resign. I agree. Let's marshal the outrage and frustration, and get this incompetent DA outta there.

Preferably by Bastille Day.

Unlike previous male members who've served on the City Council, there are no rumors that Ms. Midura patronized any brothels.

Nagin, of course, was fundraising in K.C. recently.

Noladishu has much more. Go and take Clay's advice.


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Rumors are swirling about Vitter's whereabouts 

Yesterday's statement from Vitter's office said he was "with his wife Wendy and with his children", but it didn't specify where he and his family were. The staff member who released the statement would not confirm whether Vitter was home in Metairie or in D.C..

Today, I was told that he is indeed staying in the New Orleans area, and that this story may have taken a very serious turn.


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Jon Swift's Masterpiece 

Please read Swift's magisterial "David Vitter: Another Victim of Gay Marriage" if you have not already done so. And if you've only read it once, why not savor it again?

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Tidmore interview 

Journalist and GOP State Rep candidate Chris Tidmore clearly describes the Wendy Cortez angle to the Vitter story in an interview with Big Head DC:

RC: Do you believe that the prostitute he used in the past was a separate person from the "DC Madam" escort he used?

CT: There is little doubt we are speaking of at least two different people.

Wendy Cortez lived in New Orleans, and relocated to Atlanta after Vitter’s election to Congress. She had no links to the DC Madam. In the interviews with Wendy Cortez, she said that she met Vitter independently, through a friend, and visited him at a small apartment at the corner of Dumaine and Dauphine Streets in the French Quarter.

The Madam of the raided Canal Street Brothel has begun to say that Wendy Cortez worked independently of her, but was a special favorite of Vitter’s.

Ultimately, I believe that Wendy Cortez was a separate case was due to the way she described that the relationship between her and Vitter ending. Their tryst reportedly lasted eleven months. Wendy C. had been using the name “Leah”, but Vitter asked her what her real name was. Apparently, seeing a call girl with the same name as his wife was a bit too intense for the-then State Representative....

This information helped clear up some questions I had which related to how the Canal Street Madam's story "fit" with the Wendy Cortez story. Then, Tidmore describes the lengths to which Vitter attempted to discredit him.

RC: How far did Vitter go to discredit you when you were a reporter?

CT: Quite far. He used his influence to deny job opportunities that were presented to me, as he did to others related to the story, and publicly said repeatedly that not only were the stories lies, but they were politically motivated to destroy him.

What is interesting about the last charge was that I had no political agenda against Vitter. Ideologically, we agree on most issues, and I was quite fond of him as a reformist politician when he was in the legislature. At the time of his election to Congress, he considered me a quite sympathetic reporter.

But, my job required me to pursue the truth—to confront a pattern of hypocrisy and lies.

Thanks to We Saw That for the link. Check out WST for the latest on another (male) GOP pol who solicited the services of a prostitute. Only in this case the prostitute was also a man.

Update: Also, to see State GOP party member (and former Dukkke advisor) Vincent Bruno labeled one of the world's "worst people", go see this vid from Keith Olberman's show.
Update#2: There is still a lot, a whole lot, about the Canal Street Madam's claims that doesn't fit well into any plausible rendering of the big picture.

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"Payback is a bitch" 

Noladishu points us to this "news" about Senator Vitter, which adds detail to rumors Kos publicized in 2004.

Mark Kleiman at the Reality-Based Community writes:

It turns out that the escort or escorts Vitter hired from the Palfrey service weren't his only experience with commercial sex. Vitter carried on an affair of several months' duration with a prostitute — pardon me, that's "sex worker" — from the French Quarter....

So much is public. Now here's the news.

It isn't yet public, though apparently it's widely known in Louisiana political circles, that Vitter's commercial romance was blessed with issue. Reportedly his natural child now lives with her mother in Alexandria, VA. That they are receiving financial support from the Senator has not been shown.

Noladishu adds:

I'd heard about this one before, but there was no way I was going to be the first to write about it. One thing I've also heard is this is yet another mistress (in addition to Wendy Cortez, Canal Street, and DC; whore #4 if you're keeping score at home).

Actually, according to Larry Flynt, there's five prostitutes in New Orleans alone that are connected to Vitter.

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt said he has linked "five prostitutes in New Orleans" with Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a "family values" advocate.

Flynt said the five would share in a $1 million bounty his magazine offered for those who provide credible information about sexual infidelities of politicians in Congress who back family values.
Vitter has attacked “any similarity of gay rights” and campaigned on the “sanctity of marriage,” Flynt said. He co-authored the proposed federal constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage or civil unions nationally.

“I don’t want a man like that legislating for me, especially in the areas of morality,” Flynt said. “This is payback time. Payback is a bitch.”

Remember, a call from an investigative reporter working for Hustler prompted Vitter to apologize for his "serious sin", which presumably involved the D.C. Madam's escort service. What will Vitter do in response to these additional allegations made by Hustler? Or will he continue to quietly hide out in Metairie and wait for more embarrassing revelations to surface?

Update: The AP reports on Vitter's seclusion:

Vitter, meanwhile, stayed out of sight. For a second straight day Wednesday, the Louisiana Republican was a no-show in the Capitol, missing votes on Iraq policy and leaving colleagues unsure of his whereabouts or his possible return.
“I wouldn't be surprised if he's gone all week,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Update #2: Vitter's office issued a statement this afternoon saying "Senator Vitter is with his wife Wendy and with his children and is looking forward to returning to work soon."


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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Five calls? 


[Larry] Flynt said that Vitter's number appears on the DC Madam's phone records once, on Feb. 27, 2001, the day that President Bush unveiled his tax-cut package to Congress. The call was logged at 3:06 p.m. Pacific time, according to Palfrey's records. She ran her call-girl operation out of her home in California.

A search of the records by The Times-Picayune shows the same number appearing at least five times between Oct. 12, 1999 and Feb. 27, 2001. Generally the calls lasted only a minute or two, records show.


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Wonkette linked to the YRHT post that aired rumors about Vitter's supposed diaper fetish. Then according to the DU, James Carville might have mentioned it on CNN this afternoon.

I only have one source about this salacious "diaper detail", which is beside the point of the matter. However, for the record, this source knows multiple former patrons of the Canal Street Madam who happen to be lawyers, and they told my source about the diaper fetish. This source has provided me with extremely reliable information in the past, and that's why I chose to include it in the post. The Canal Street Madam herself defended Vitter today and said he was not into anything "unusual", which flatly contradicts what my source told me about Vitter's preferences. However, it confirms what my source told me about Vitter being a client of the Canal Street Madam-- which is a far more important point than some diaper imagery, and shows a pattern of behavior rather than one single lapse.

Also: yesterday afternoon, prior to my post, New Orleans blogger Noladishu wrote: "This story is getting legs. Oh, if they only get into the sick, sick fetish stuff he's rumored to have gotten into!"

Treat the diaper thing as a distracting rumor from a one-sourced blogger whom the Canal Street Madam flatly contradicted. It should be much more surprising to everyone that Senator Vitter has not yet felt compelled to deny her incendiary charges, nor the old reports from journalist (and current GOP State Rep Candidate) Chris Tidmore.

It's disheartening that YRHT gets more hits about this minor detail than I ever got from my other commentaries on substantial issues relating to New Orleans and Louisiana, but I suppose that's the way of blogs.

While I'm getting the hits, I'd also like to note that New Orleans Bloggers will be assembling for the Rising Tide 2 event to be held August 24-26 in New Orleans. Check the website in coming weeks for more details. I can tell you that there will be a political panel, and the issue of "corruption" will be covered.

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Rushing to Bastille Day 

Bastille Day celebrations begin this evening throughout the city. Perhaps on quatorze juillet New Orleans should celebrate by storming the D.A.'s office and removing Eddie Jordan.

Bayona is offering an "Amnesty Night", where you're allowed to bring one bottle of wine from home. But it's only for tonight. If you go there and forget your bottle, try calling Maitri. She's been known to have a tasty Malbec on hand in times of need. If Maitri is not available, perhaps you can pay an undocumented Mexican to run an errand for you on the cheap.

One of my favorite bars in Metairie used to be the cozy Red Bastille Lounge. You could go there to watch Saints games, and they'd have a free buffet of food. There were always lots of old men drinking Cutty Sark. Drafts were $1.

Update: Leigh informs us about the Breakfast with Editor B option for July 14, as well. Looks good.


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Vitter needs to talk 

As I said when this story broke nationally, Senator Vitter owes Louisiana an explanation.

Instead, it appears the Senator has gone into hiding. He apologized for a "sin" in his past, implying that his traceable call to the D.C. Madam's escort service was a a one-time transgression. His supporters are saying this is "old news", and we should forgive and forget and move on. However, many of these same supporters dismissed reports about Vitter's infidelity as "unsubstantiated rumors" when they originally surfaced on talk radio and in the Louisiana Weekly. So which is it? Is Vitter acknowledging a single thoughtless transgression, or is there a pattern of behavior here? If it's the former, shouldn't Vitter clearly respond to the Canal Street Madam's allegations if he knows they are false? And shouldn't he clear the air about the long-simmering reports about him and Wendy Cortez? In an excellent piece titled "The Rise and Fall of Louisiana's David Vitter", Jeff Crouere raises similar concerns.

Unfortunately, for Vitter and for Louisiana, he has apparently gone into hiding. Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Vitty-cent was avoiding the press and missing hearings on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, it's unclear where Vitter is spending the day. Cameras were waiting for him on Capitol Hill today, but the senator didn't show up as scheduled this morning at an Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing. Committee aides heard he had stayed home in Louisiana.

"The big game right now is, where is he?" one Democratic aide said, adding, "No one has seen him. He's the Howard Hughes of the Senate."

As allegation after allegation emerges, these absences and evasions only compound the many problems Louisiana faces in its recovery. How can Vitter speak up for his state if the press only wants to question him about his "sin"? How can Vitter do what he was elected to do if he's hiding out, and not responding to false reports? And if there are no false reports to respond to, then he should resign immediately.

Plenty of things about this story and scandal don't add up, though, so I'm surprised he is taking this approach.

For example:

Are the Canal Street Madam's claims that Vitter used her services true? The Canal Street Madam says that Vitter preferred a girl named "Wendy", which further inflames speculation surrounding Chris Tidmore's original reports about Vitter and Wendy Cortez. After Vitter's apology, Chris Tidmore seemed "vindicated" and released a statement excoriating Vitter for "conducting a series of lies over more than half a decade" about the matter. Is this the case, though? Has Tidmore been "vindicated", yet? Recall that Tidmore's stories weren't about Vitter's "sin" involving the DC Madam, nor were they about the Canal Street Madam. They were about Wendy Cortez and a Madam named Nicole from a "prominent New Orleans escort company" (which operated in the French Quarter, according to my sources).

Another smaller detail that doesn't add up concerns Senator Vitter's predilections. My source told me that multiple patrons at the Canal Street Brothel said Vitter was into diapers. Despite my trust in this source, I hope this detail is not true, because it's the sort of image that doesn't need to be in my subconscious. And Noladishu has also mentioned rumors about Vitter's "sick, sick fetish stuff".

Conversely, Jeanette Maier, the Canal Street Madam, told the Times Picayune that Vitter "was not a freak. He was not into anything unusual or kinky or weird." Surely, Vitter needn't talk about the particular garments he wore to "escort" agencies, but there is a growing body of specific (yet contradictory) testimony about his involvement with New Orleans working girls. He ought to deny these stories (again, categorically) if they are not true. Supporters are incorrect when they say this is "old news". The DC angle is actually newer news. The question becomes, "Is the 'old news' also true?"

And if it is true, it would be in Louisiana's best interest if Vitter were to resign.

Update: The DP links to Milbank's Wapo column about Vitter being "Missing":

[The] lawmaker was on the lam.

The Senate voted to confirm a federal judge in Michigan. No Vitter.

The public works subcommittee on which Vitter is the ranking Republican held a hearing. No Vitter.

Three Louisiana officials testified at another hearing about Gulf Coast rebuilding. No Vitter.

Republican senators sat down to lunch with Vice President Cheney. No Vitter.

Rumors spread that the senator, present on the Senate floor Monday evening, had fled to the Big Easy -- but his aides ignored phone calls and e-mails throughout the day inquiring about the senator's whereabouts.

Minor edits were made to this post after initial publishing.

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Silver lining for Vitty-cent? 

From the T-P:

Montgomery Blair Sibley, the attorney for the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, said the only phone call connected by records to Vitter occurred Feb. 27, 2001, the same day that Vitter and other Republicans got details of newly elected President Bush's tax-cut plans during his first speech to a joint session of Congress.

Sibley said he knew of no other calls linked to Vitter, although he added many calls to Palfrey's operations came from phone numbers in which the caller can't be identified. Many came from Washington, D.C., area hotels, he said.

Sibley said investigators working for Palfrey plan to contact Vitter and ask him to be a defense witness when she goes to trial.
The revelation about Vitter's number appearing on Palfrey's phone list might cost the senator his job as Southern regional chairman for Rudy Giuliani's campaign for president.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Canal Steet Madam says Vitter was a client 

[Update: In today's T-P Jeanette Maier, "The Canal Madam", defended Senator Vitter saying he "was not a freak. He was not into anything unusual or kinky or weird". This contradicts what my source has told me, based on other Canal Brothel patrons' observations.

Please go here for more information about the sourcing of this story.]

From WDSU (if you see local anchorman Norman Robinson reporting on this story, you may want to save the tape for later viewings):

Jeanette Maier, known as the Canal Street Madam, claimed Tuesday that Sen. David Vitter visited her Mid-City operation beginning in the mid-1990s.

According to Maier, Vitter would pay $300 an hour for services. She would not disclose how many times he came to the Canal Street home, only saying that it was more than once.

"He seems to be one of the nicest men and most honorable men I've ever met," Maier said.

She also said that although some of his visits were at the Canal Street location, others were during fishing trips and other activities with fellow politicians.

"There was more to the business than sex," she said. "There are so many demands made on these people."

First off, this is news to me. I suspected Vitty might have frequented the Canal Street Madam, but never had any confirmation from my sources until tonight. According to the story in the T-P, the Madam said Vitter liked a girl named "Wendy". (If this Wendy is the infamous Wendy Cortez, then I have been mistakenly assuming Cortez worked only in the French Quarter, apart from the Canal Street enterprise. I'm sure this will all get sorted out in the fullness of time.[Update: More about Cortez here.])

Tonight I got confirmation from a solid inside source who has no ideological ax to grind. The source said Vitter was a client at Canal Street, and provided some additional details that shed light on Maier's comment that there was "more to the business than sex". [Update: Based on her comments about Vitter not having "unusual predilections", I would interpret this comment to mean something like companionship and social interaction rather than fetishes... etc.] These details are not for the faint of heart, either.

We're talking about, among other things, Diaper Fetishism. That's right folks, according to a trusted inside source, Vitter was well known among other Canal Street Brothel patrons to like diapers as well as other bizarre "fetishes". I don't have much more info than that from my source, except that some of the other patrons at the brothel included a well known business-minded New Orleans Republican and a well known Democratic ex-governor. There are many other well known patrons who never held public office, too. You've probably heard various names floated about.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love that New Orleans has more than its share of sex fetishists and preeverts who can't come missionary. This ain't a vanilla town, kids.

But the thought of Vitter prancing around in a dipey is a bit jarring, especially since I'm changing those nasty things every day. I can't help picturing the scene and wondering about the details. I assume they were adult sized. But were they cloth or disposable? Did they get dirty? Was there a diaper genie available? What about a tube of Boudreaux's? Were they customized in Vitter Blue? How old were Vitter's children when this was going on? Did he change diapers in the morning and then wear them at night?


Update: Great Caesar's Ghost!! TPM found Vitter's 2004 Senate ads, and in one of them the freakazoid gets asked to change his son's diapers! You may want to watch this with a vomit bag.

Vitter: "Bottom line: for the sake of our children, there are a lot of things I'm gonna change."

Wendy Vitter: "Great, David. You can start by changing Jack."

Don't blame me! I told you that more salacious information about Vitter was going to come out, and you can be sure that this isn't the last of it. The Senator should resign rather than prolong this beating. Years ago, Vitter knew the risks of his past indiscretions, and what they might do to his career and family (and state), yet he (and his wife) decided to press on and run for higher office and hope none of these things would ever surface.

Interestingly, the Canal Street Madam's lawyer, Provino "Vinny" Mosca, seemed to contradict Maier. He said he had

"absolutely no recollection of David Vitter's name ever appearing on any document, book or list, or having any association" with Maier.
"David Vitter's name was never picked up on any government wiretap nor is it listed in any transcript or court document."

Did Vitter perhaps use a different name when he did his business? I guess we'll find out.

Update 2: Great coverage over at Noladishu. More here.


One very welcome political sidenote to all this is that Vitter's troubles might affect State Treasurer John Kennedy's future political plans. If Kennedy thinks Vitter is vulnerable or may resign, he might decide NOT to switch parties and run against Mary Landrieu (as many have speculated). He might decide that Vitter's seat is now the one he wants. (Of course, if Vitty resigns any time soon, I think Governor Blanco would select his replacement, and Kennedy's probably not on her short list.)

Update 3 : Thanks to memeorandum and Wonkette for the links.

Update 4: See Michael's hilarious graphic.

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Two things 

1. The reason why I call him "Vitty cent" is because it sounds like "innocent" and makes me think of 50 cent.

2. This scandal about Vitty's "Serious Sin" shouldn't be framed merely in terms of rank moral hypocrisy. I understand that side of it is too blogalicious to ignore, but there are more important aspects of the scandal that are getting lost in the shuffle. (Especially by those who casually dismiss the episode by saying "his wife forgave him, so what's the big deal?").

The paramount questions include: What precisely is the "sin" that Vitter apologized for? Did Senator Vitter commit a crime? Has Vitter engaged in a pattern of criminal activity involving prostitutes, as has been rumored for many years now? Did he lie when he denied such activities? Was Senator Vitter prompted to disclose his "sin" after being contacted by investigative reporters working for Hustler? Is he vulnerable to further disclosures and perhaps blackmail? Can we trust that he would tell us if he were?

What does this say about Vitter's judgment? Why would he (repeatedly) risk his marriage, his health and his political future for paid sex? Why would someone so concerned about cleaning up Louisiana's reputation for corruption engage in such activities? And when people started raising these questions in years past, did Senator Vitter use his "considerable power to attempt to silence those who knew the truth" as GOP State Rep candidate Chris Tidmore alleges?

Would it be in Louisiana's best interest for Senator Vitter to resign? Is he now severely compromised and ineffective as a voice for South Louisiana's recovery (among other issues)?


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RSCC member calls for Vitter to resign 

This Shreveport Times story is funny:

In the wake of U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s admission that he engaged a Washington, D.C., prostitute, a member of the Republican State Central Committee called for him to resign.

Vincent Bruno, of Kenner, said today that Vitter should resign “for his own good, the good of the party and the good of his family.” If he doesn’t resign, Vitter should “join the Democratic Party where they think that kind of behavior is OK.”

Bruno said Vitter’s actions violate the Republican Party’s “Family Values” stance but he doesn’t expect the party leadership to do anything about it. “We had David Duke and couldn’t do anything about it.”

Ha, that's rich! Vincent Bruno was David Duke's "spiritual advisor" in 1991!! Both he and Keith Rush were fervent Duke backers, and are currently members of the governing arm of the State Republican Party. And now Bruno's complaining about how the GOP couldn't "do anything about" David Duke. Here's a thought: you could've not supported the lying Nazi racist in the first place.

Interestingly, despite his sordid history with Duke, Vincent Bruno had a huge role in bringing rumors of Vitty cent's peccadilloes out into the open. As the Louisiana Weekly reported: "Allegations against Vitter for having an eleven month affair with a prostitute were first brought in 2004 by Vincent Bruno, secretary of the Republican Party of Jefferson Parish.... The revelation caused him to drop out of the governor's race, and get into marriage counseling."

Vincent Bruno had a radio show with Chris Tidmore in 2004. [Chris Tidmore stated yesterday that "Mr. Vitter has used his considerable power to attempt to silence those who knew the truth. Those who attempted to expose hypocrisy and corruption early on were met with threats and disdain."] Despite Bruno's hideous past, I believe that he's been correct all along in his allegations about Vitter (plus I got two other inside sources who confirm his story). So keep all that in mind while reading these additional quotes from Bruno in the Shreve Times:

“They think more of the party than the right thing to do,” he said. “If they’re not going to enforce family values, they ought to take it out of the vocabulary.

“We’re the party of hypocrites,” he said. “Vote for us and we’ll lie to you, we’ll engage prostitutes and we’ll cheat on our wives.”

Bruno said he puts little stock in Vitter’s apology.

“It’s baloney,” he said. “He only fessed up to it when he got caught.”

“He needs to resign,” Bruno said. “There’s more there; I know so.”

Based on his own past comments, Vitter should support Bruno's call for Vitter to step down.

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When whores violate our southern borders 

[Post has been updated. See below.]

From the Times Picayune's front page:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam."
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in the statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."

You didn't let me down, Vitty-cent. I always knew you were a freak. However, you got some more explaining to do about your "sin" (singular). Are you saying there's only one? Do you deny that you are on the Canal Street Madam's list? And are the reports about you and Wendy Cortez (which you rejected) actually true? Did you lie to us about that? YRHT published those reports because YRHT had independent, triple-sourced confirmation about those allegations. I didn't do it for titillation purposes or to spread trash. (I just pray that Wendy Cortez isn't an illegal immigrant... that would undercut Vitty's status as immigration hero in a most unwelcome way.)

Perhaps even Kos' charge that Vitter fathered a child outside of marriage deserves renewed investigation. (I had never heard that before, but everything seems possible now.)

Senator Vitter encourages Louisianans to report corruption here. A while back, I asked folks to report the D.C. Madam scandal here.

At least you got your wife to forgive you, rather than lopping off "lil Vitty".

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he'd had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston's wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."

If we learned one thing from all those intrepid conservatives who skewered Clinton for his bj, it's that when a politician lies about sexual recklessness, that pol opens himself to blackmail. And that's dangerous. Senator Vitter owes it to Louisiana to come clean about all his "sins", before he hurts the state further when an investigative reporter (like Richard Angelico) gets Wendy Cortez to talk, or when the Canal Street Madam reveals her client list.

A sampling of some previous YRHT posts on Vitty-Cent's alleged "sins" here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

And speaking of stuff that is yet to come out, there's a library of nastiness that has yet to be revealed about Giuliani, Vitty's choice for President.

Update: Think Progress has a classic Vitter quote.

Update 2: Chris Tidmore (YRHT endorsed candidate for State Rep) feels vindicated. Last night Tidmore said:

Mr. Vitter has used his considerable power to attempt to silence those who knew the truth. Those who attempted to expose hypocrisy and corruption early on were met with threats and disdain. It is time for real leadership to stop this culture of corruption, incompetence and hypocrisy from plaguing our political system. Mr. Vitter’s actions have harmed Louisiana at a time when we could not afford any further loss of influence in Washington.

Update #3: Currently, on the list of Vitter links at The Dead Pelican, the DP writes "Kos weights in..." and links to the story from 2004 to which I linked. [Shortly afterwards, the DP removed the link.]

Update #4: Maybe Vitter's admission wasn't so shrewdly "pre-emptive" after all. ABC reports that "Yesterday afternoon, a Hustler editor contacted Vitter's office to ask his connection to Palfrey's service. Soon after, Vitter's office released its statement." Nice one, Flynt!

Here's an important question: did Vitter commit a crime? Does he expect to get amnesty? Apologizing and seeking forgiveness is all well and good, but mustn't we UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW, especially when we're talking about crimes that damage the "most fundamental social institution in human history"?

Here are some thoughts from Balloon Juice with which I agree:

[B]eing illegal nearly everywhere and certainly in DC, paying for sex should ding the credibility of anybody whose job it is to write laws. I think in general that it’s silly to criminalize prostitution, but as long as legislators see fit to ban it for the rest of us they have a certain responsibility to respect the ban themselves.


Update #5: ABC26 News interviews Jeff Crouere about the story, and Crouere notes that Vitter's number might appear multiple times in the D.C. Madam's phone records, and says that the Canal Street Madam, Jeanette Maier, has said she will release her own customer records in the next few months.

Also, in a surprisingly lucid and excellent column, Bayou Buzz's Steve Sabludowsky writes:

So, what was the sin?

Louisiana voters have a right to know. So does a court who is prosecuting ["D.C. Madam"] Palfrey.

If Deborah Jeane Palfrey is being prosecuted for racketeering, then, shouldn’t Vitter implicated as an enabler? What is good for the gander, is good for the goose.

It takes two to racket.

It is also a racket that the woman gets legally swatted but not the John, or the David.

Louisiana has a right to know more about its junior Louisiana US Senator. Women and men, Republicans and Democrats should be outraged and want to know if their US Senator has broken the law, just as we were outraged when we suspected William “Bill” Jefferson of wrongdoing and still do ever since his indictment.

This issue is not between David Vitter, his maker and his family as he says. If a law has been broken, he should be prosecuted just like Palfrey. That is what we demanded from Bill Jefferson. That is what I urged once I realized that Bill Clinton lied under oath. That is what Senator Vitter deserves if he broke the law.


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Monday, July 09, 2007

I never directly stated that this video was about Chad Rogers 

I'm referring "directly" to this.

Respectful thanks to Prometheus 6


3 comments DiggIt! Chad Rogers" Title="" target="_blank">

When Jindal isn't Good 

From the Dead Pelican, we learn that Bobby Jindal is busy lamenting the "incredible spending spree" that took place in Baton Rouge during the recent legislative session.

Well, Jindal should know about such "sprees", since he was a willing participant in one of the most pork- laden, spendthrift congresses in history. The GOP "bridge to nowhere" Congress was actually proud of their spending excesses during Jindal's first year! He was also a part of the infamous Do Nothing 109th Congress-- perhaps the worst ever-- which thought it prudent to defer $500 billion in spending bills to the new Democratic Congress. The funny thing is... given their horrible "guns and butter" track record, it probably was prudent to let Pelosi's Democratic Congress handle the spending.

Where was Jindal's principled outrage during these world-historic Congressional excesses?

Do you remember Jindal's cute little 2005 SOTU purple finger gesture he made in solidarity to the Iraqi people, celebrating their transitional assembly elections (which removed pro-US interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi)? Back then, Jindal thrust his purple finger in the air, and said "we believe in [the Iraqis'] cause and we will stand beside them". Then in 2006 (only months after voting for H.R. 861, which declared that the U.S. "is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq") Jindal flip flopped and started talking about how he had been reminding Bush "for quite a while" that American troops shouldn't be used for nation-building. He expressed his support for a timetable for withdrawal, and an openness to the Iraq Study Group Report's recommendations. The ISG report advanced the goal of a total removal of American troops from Iraq by 2008. Also, the report warned of the dangers inherent in an alternative "surge" strategy:

Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation... adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As [an American General said] if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, “all the troops in the world will not provide security.” Meanwhile, America’s military capacity is stretched thin: we do not have the troops or equipment to make a substantial, sustained increase in our troop presence. Increased deployments to Iraq would also necessarily hamper our ability to provide adequate resources for our efforts in Afghanistan or respond to crises around the world.
Then in 2007, Jindal did an about-face and supported Bush's dismissal of the Study Group's recommendations, as well as Bush's escalation of American involvement in Iraq. He described Bush's "Surge" as a "sea change" in strategy. Jindal proceeded to vote against H.R. 1591 which would have set up benchmarks for the Iraq government to meet, and which would have begun the redeployment of American troops out of Iraq. The bill also included billions in aid for the stricken GulfSouth. Jindal voted against it, and President Bush vetoed it. I attempted to get an explanation from Jindal's office about his position on the matter, and was told an explanatory letter was forthcoming. It never arrived. So, after all of Jindal's policy contortions and flip flops on the Iraq issue in the past few years, Jindal has somehow successfully avoided publicly discussing the issue.

Jindal doesn't even utter the word "Iraq" if he can help it. When I think about his refusal to say the word "Iraq" or explain his continued support for Bush's hideously expensive and counterproductive misadventure, I'm reminded of the time when the perpetually naive Jindal suggested to Bush that Colin Powell should be named Gulf Coast Reconstruction Czar. Presumably, Jindal liked Colin Powell's integrity and good judgement about massive reconstruction projects. Of course, Bush ignored this suggestion and filled the position with one of his Texas cronies instead. Interestingly, Powell is now talking about Bush's handling of the reconstruction of Iraq. He's says that Iraq is in a "civil war" and that

"We have to face the reality of the situation that is on the ground and not what we would want it to be." [Powell] believes that, even if the military surge has been a partial success in areas such as Anbar province, where Sunni tribes have turned on Al-Qaeda, it has not been accompanied by the vital political and economic "surge" and reconciliation process promised by the Iraqi government.

Will the media ever ask Jindal whether he still respects Colin Powell's judgment on important matters like our ill-fated "democracy-building" effort in Iraq? Or will they let him continue sticking his purple finger into the political winds before he deciding whether he should continue supporting Bush's hopeless "Surge" effort.

Seriously, how can we possibly make sense of Jindal's remarks on the Iraq issue? Is he trying to be "pro-surge" but "anti-nationbuilding"? I guess so. From what he says, he's for completing the mission of a unified Iraq, but also thinks it's past time for the Iraqis to decide if they want to live together peacefully. He thinks Iraqis should be held accountable, but he doesn't support benchmarks or metrics to ensure accountability. He doesn't think troops should be in Iraq "forever", yet in every vote of consequence he follows George "Iraq4evah" Bush deeper into the morass.

When it is politically convenient, Jindal will vote with a spendthrift Congress and support a President's hideous nation-building project in Iraq. Then, when the political climate changes, Jindal will criticize others for their spending, and will avoid commenting about his anti-Louisiana votes that support a reckless President's failed foreign policy. Why does Jindal get to perform these policy gymnastics without any political consequences?

What set me off on this topic was a magnificently hypocritical post on Jindal's blog. In this post, Jindal has the gallstones to complain about the "fiscal insanity" in D.C. and Baton Rouge, while simultaneously championing the ultra-larded farm bill giveaway to big corporations. He brags about voting against an appropriations bill that "would have added $4.3 billion more than last year’s budgeted amount", and in the next breath, Jindal "strongly" supports re-authorizing the gargantuan 2002 Farm Bill at a cost of nearly $200 BILLION. Apparently, he thinks it's a good idea to use Louisiana tax dollars to support those hardy, self-sufficient corporate farmers in the Red States, who get paid to drain their fertilizers into the Mississippi River, which empties into one of America's most important fisheries. Get a load of how Jindal justifies his support for this red state welfare:

[W]e must continue to help our farmers and ranchers in order to ensure that the aisles at our grocery stores remain full, and maintaining the Farm Bill is a very important step in that process.

I strongly support reauthorizing and improving the 2002 Farm Bill, but we need to do it right. We only get this chance once every five years. The government has made a commitment to farmers and agriculture industries and that promise ought to be realized.

What a little pliable man this Jindal is. Where is his conservative commitment to fiscal sanity here? Jindal shamelessly raises the specter of food shortages to argue for his support of the Farm Bill. Last I checked the shelves were full and crop prices were hitting record highs and Louisiana taxpayers were still contributing to the $20 billion in yearly handouts to those hardy, self-sufficient red state food producers.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Farmers have received price supports and an annual "emergency" payout every year since 2001. In 2003, drought assistance went to farmers in hundreds of counties where investigators later discovered there was no drought. Farmers in Washington state received earthquake assistance even when their crops weren't damaged. Yet the farm lobby continues to push $7 billion in new "emergency" payouts this year for livestock, milk, fisheries and rural development aid.

The enduring myth is that all of this aid goes to needy family farms. In reality price supports have accelerated the demise of small farms because the benefits go to the most profitable growers. Citizens Against Government Waste has documented that three-quarters of the payments under the 2002 farm bill have gone to the richest 10% of farmers. More than half of the $1.9 billion sugar program lines the pockets of the wealthiest 1% of plantation owners.
Ah, there we find the answer: Big Sugar. Jindal will rail against people who think money grows on trees, and then promptly abandon his fiscal conservatism to vote for a $200 billion bill that subsidizes farmers who grow corn and sugar.

So, like the nearly $200 billion farm bill Bush signed in 2002, Bush will sign another one in 2007, and Jindal has dutifully fallen in line, and signalled his strong support for another bloated corporate welfare giveaway. It isn't like there aren't conservative alternatives available. A bipartisan proposal by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. would help

wean farmers from government payments. Kind won 200 votes for a similar plan during the debate on the 2002 bill. At the time, one supporter was Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., now the House speaker.

[Kind and Flake's] proposal would replace subsidies with savings accounts that farmers could use to cover losses when crop prices are low or yields are poor.

That sounds sensible to me versus a ludicrous farm bill, that serves as a buffet of pork to those large corporations who have the lawyers and the connections needed to exploit loopholes to the fullest. During a time of rising agflation and food prices, I don't think we should be subsidizing farmers who don't grow crops, nor should we be paying "farmers" like ExxonMobil, Chevron, International Paper and Caterpillar (all of whom receive farm checks from the government).

But the best part of the blog post is that Jindal recently crowed about his amendment to reduce the Dead Zone and help Louisiana fisheries, and then he voted against the measure like a GOP shill because of the overall cost. AND THEN he has the unmitigated gall to proclaim his "strong support" for a $200 Billion Red State Farm Welfare Bill that will help exacerbate the same Dead Zone he tried to reduce! Here's a summary of Jindal's machinations from Bayou Buzz via the ever-watchful We Saw That:

The bill, HR 2643 an appropriations measure for the interior, environment and related agencies passed yesterday on a vote of 272-155. Jindal's amendment, which doubled the $2.5 million for studies into the environmental "dead zone" currently threatening sea-life in the Gulf of Mexico, was accepted and added to the measure.

And yet, after President Bush declared his opposition to the bill and even after Bobby Jindal sent out a press release touting the addition to the amendment, the Congressman voted against it.

When asked about this, the Jindal administration said

“There is an epidemic right now of unbridled and out of control government spending, both in Baton Rogue and Washington. No family in America can act this way, no small business in Louisiana can act this way, and government should not act this way either. Bobby and the majority of the Louisiana delegation continue to take a stand and vote against this irresponsible and reckless disregard for the hard earned money of Louisiana taxpayers. Congress can and should fund our Interior and environmental needs without wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.

Where was this principled concern for waste two years ago? And where will it be when Jindal votes for the Farm Bill? Why does it arise when a bill containing his own amendment to reduce the Dead Zone is on the line?

After Iraq and his fiscal hypocrisy, perhaps Jindal's worst profile in cowardice was his CAFTA vote. Instead of voting on principle, Bobby voted against CAFTA only when the coast was clear, and he knew it would safely pass and he could have his symbolic "no" vote and still not anger the pro-CAFTA Bushies. His fealty to the GOP leadership, allowing them to "catch and release" his vote , while they twisted the arms of less pliant Republicans... is sickening.

Jindal: you can count on him to stand up for Louisiana, unless it really matters. You can count on him to be a true fiscal conservative, even at the expense of his home state, unless Rove needs his vote or unless it will irritate Big Sugar.

The main issue about Bobby Jindal isn't whether it's ok to call him "Piyush", or his appearance, or whether he insulted some Catholics during a radio interview, or whether operatives are trying to discourage discussion about the essay Jindal wrote detailing his paralysis while a demon physically attacked his best friend*. The main issue about Jindal is not about him saying that he has "always been a closed and unemotional person" who once doubted his "capacity for feeling". It's not about him saying that he was an "anti-Christian" Hindu when he was younger.

It's not about those things. There are plenty of politicians with odd names, and many of them are emotionally removed people who wrote embarrassing things when they were younger, and who have had dramatic religious experiences that affected them profoundly. Yet, these politicians are able to competently serve their diverse constituency, even if some of the positions they take run counter to their Church (i.e., supporting the Iraq War and the death penalty).

The real issue about Bobby revolves around his true principles, and how those principles are translated into policy.

In my view, the evidence shows that Jindal is a "principled conservative" only when it's easy and convenient. He votes with his GOP Congressional colleagues when they spend into oblivion, and when they decide to "do nothing" he is also happy to comply. But now that he's in the minority, suddenly "excessive spending" becomes his focus. He rails against it... unless it requires some political courage. When it comes to easy criticism of Baton Rouge, he's quite the stalwart spirit. But when it comes to casting a vote against an engorged Welfare Bill for Corporate Farms, parsimony with tax dollars is no longer a concern. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that when the chips are down, Jindal maintains an unbroken allegiance to a horribly unsuccessful, radical Administration that has done lasting harm to this nation and to this state.

* Luckily he was able to regain his courage at a later date. Jindal wrote: "With holy water and blessed crucifixes, I have even given [my best friend] physical protection from the demons that have only once reappeared, and then for a mere moment". That paragraph, btw, is dedicated to the
Dead Pelican's stated abhorrence for craftily-worded documents employing the "politics of implication".

Note: The
oft-used Kos .pdf of Jindal's essay in the New Oxford Review titled "BEATING A DEMON, Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare" is no longer available.


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Sunday, July 08, 2007

"Worn out" Nagin urges city to "take to the streets" 

More and more, it seems Mr Clio's July 4th analysis about OUR schizophrenic MAYOR's inclinations-- to either run for Guv or quit-- is on the money. Nagin spoke at a town hall meeting yesterday. Here are selections from Da Paper's coverage interspersed with YRHT snarkasm:

Nagin said the city is on the brink of making a full recovery from Hurricane Katrina, but he repeated his frequent finger-pointing at state and federal officials for holding back money from the city.

He said that after five years as mayor, he's "getting worn out" and is on the "downslope of my political career." But he promised to "keep pushing," and he called on residents to take to the streets on Aug. 29, the storm's second anniversary, and demand that Washington do more to help the recovery.

See, Ray, New Orleanians already found it necessary to take to the streets this year, but it was due to your inability to control skyrocketing crime.

Following [Rep. Maxine] Waters, Nagin pledged to keep his comments brief and then launched into a 15-minute speech.

Heh. Unscripted Nagin is always something to behold.

He told the audience that he knew many people are mad at him, but he said he has overseen a scandal-free administration and practiced fiscal discipline.

A YRHT haiku: Vaporized coffee, spews from lips to monitor, when I read those words.

"I haven't had one scandal, not one, in this administration. I've taken your money and used it to the best of my ability and stretched it to get us to the point where we are today," Nagin said, denouncing journalists and "good government officials" he claimed have tried to create divisions in city government.

You've got to be kidding me. This reminds me of comments Nagin and Riley made in April 2006, when they claimed mayoral candidates (like Mitch Landrieu) were saying "crime was on the rise" merely for political purposes. Are journalists and good gubmint officials really the problem here, or is Nagin's lashing out somewhat suspicious?

"The city is at a different place now, so the fundamentals are in place for a full recovery. So I don't have to spend as much time kind of absorbing psychological blows from folks; so I can kind of speak up now since we are starting to see, touch and feel the recovery; so I think you're going to see me at a little more assertive posture," he told reporters after the meeting.

"I'm focused on mayor," he said, referring to rumors that he is considering a run for governor or for Jefferson's congressional seat. "I'm getting worn out. I'm going to tell you that. I'm going to keep pushing, but you know I'll probably last three years."

I'm glad Ray Ray finally feels liberated to "speak up" and tell us what he really thinks, after holding his disciplined tongue in check lo' these many years. And I'm glad he'll "keep pushing", even though his heart really isn't in it anymore.

Ray, you're worn out. Please (officially) quit, and retire in the Metroplex.


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