Friday, September 28, 2007

Gubernatorial "debate" 

Lame. Adrastos and Jeffrey accurately describe why.

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The other day, on MTV(!), Presidential Candidate John Edwards did a superior job discussing New Orleans issues than did all of the Gubernatorial candidates combined last night.

Money quote: "From my perspective we don't need a surge in Baghdad, we need a surge in New Orleans".

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Indulge me." 

As geeks like me prepare for the December release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut (part 1), Michael at 2 Millionth Web Log connects the controversial Blackwater security firm to a character in the sci-fi masterpiece, and leaves readers wondering "Has Blackwater been infiltrated by 'skin jobs'?".

Previous YRHT posts on the movie here, additional reference here and probably several other places I've forgotten about.

Luckily, my experience with Blackwater here in New Orleans was limited to this incident.

White Zombie's biggest hit was based on Blade Runner. I recall being at the Dungeon one night morning, and I was standing next to an Australian animator (who suddenly and inexplicably thought I'd become his friend indeed). He wanted me to ask the bartender where he/we could get some blow. I courteously declined. White Zombie's "More Human than Human" was pumping and blaring, and the Aussie decided to take matters into his own hands and ask the bartender himself. She couldn't understand what he was saying, until finally he yelled and pantomimed some tooting and she furiously shook her head. I was afraid she was gonna 86 the both of us (Lovely and me and friends got 86ed from the Dungeon on our Wedding night, but that's another story)-- so I asked her if she knew what movie the White Zombie song was based on. She didn't, but I made fun of myself and the situation was defused.

I stayed and drank some more, and my new Aussie friend eventually left in search of coke.
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Update: Barry Ritholtz has much more about the Blade Runner re-re-release Final Cut (part 1).
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Queen Bee persuades "Jena 6 " DA to change his mind [updated] 

Yesterday, the NYT published an op-ed written by Reed Walters, the DA of LaSalle Parish. It was a defense of his handling of the "Jena 6" cases. Regarding Mychal Bell's battery of Justin Barker, he wrote:

There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon-- the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bell’s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record.

For the record, we'll note that the "dangerous weapon" Reed referred to was a tennis shoe.

Reed sought to appeal Bell's overturned conviction to the Louisiana Supreme Court, because he "considered adult status appropriate". However, Governor Blanco called Reed the other night and asked him to reconsider his decision to try Bell as an adult.

Amazingly, Reed apparently did reconsider, and he will explain his dramatic "about face" at a news conference this afternoon.

Blanco, however, beat Reed to the punch (so to speak) and announced yesterday that Reed won't challenge the lower court's ruling. She was flanked by Pastor Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III.

According to sources in the Shreveport area, Rep. Bobby Jindal recently indicated that Louisiana's justice system should be left alone to do its work, and made critical comments about "outside agitators"-- presumably referring to out-of-state protesters like Al Sharpton.

At tonight's Gubernatorial forum, I think it would be interesting to hear the candidates' views on the Jena 6 matter, and whether they agree with Blanco's decision to involve herself in the high-profile case. What would they have done, if anything?
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Update: In his press conference, Reed says that "this decision was made tentatively last Friday" and that Blanco hadn't pressured or influenced Reed to change his mind. Note how he used the word "considered" (past tense) in the above excerpt of his NYT op-ed.
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Update #2: Scout at First Draft transcribes a bizarre statement made by Reed during the presser. He said:

I firmly believe and am confident of the fact, that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday a disaster would have happened. You can quote me on that.

Precisely why was Reed so confident that-- absent divine intervention-- thousands of mostly African-American protesters were incapable of peaceful protest? Why does he believe "disaster" would have occurred, had the Nazarene not directly intervened?

How does D.A. Reed know that "Lord Jesus Christ" wasn't among the marchers, themselves?

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I haven't laughed this hard since the hogs ate my brother 

The latest issue of The New Orleans Levee is saturated with hilarity. You absolutely have to pick up a free print copy (the stories aren't online yet).

Cover Story: "Nagin Resigns" (in order to move the city forward)

Page 3: "Vitter's wife cuts his penis" (but he replaced "lil Vitty" with circus peanuts)

Page 5: "Bush declares war-- on us"
, which begins:

Washington-- In an announcement that shocked some but, sadly, failed to surprise many, President George W. Bush declared war today on "that part of the world," formerly known as Louisiana, the 18th state in the Union.

"The American people are shocked and saddened by the recent discovery of nucular weapons in that part of the world," the president said... referring to the recent discovery of six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads at Barksdale Air Force Base located in ... "that part of the world."

And it just gets better from there. Congratulations to Rodney Montz and company on a classic collection of laugh-out-loud satire.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

For the inflation-adjusted price of WWI... 

... America funds another 12 months in Iraq (or so).

As I said nearly three years ago, "this stupid misadventure in Iraq is projected to cost more than the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War I-- COMBINED!!"

And we're well ahead of schedule.

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Also, it was reported that Saddam Hussein might've been willing to cut a deal with Bush in 2003 and "go into exile as long as he could take with him $1 billion and information on weapons of mass destruction". If that offer was truly on the table that would've been a "small price to pay".

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Patience 

E & P reports:


[El Pais] today published what it said was the transcript of a private talk between President George W. Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on February 22, 2003, concerning the coming U.S. invasion of Iraq. It took place at the ranch in Crawford, Texas.
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Bush purportedly said he planned to invade Iraq in March "if there was a United Nations Security Council resolution or not....We have to get rid of Saddam. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March."

He said the U.S. takeover would happen without widespread destruction. He observed that he was willing to play bad cop to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's good cop.

Aznar pleaded for patience and replied that it was vital to get a U.N. resolution, noting that public opinion in Spain was strongly against the war.


As the Iraq war surges into its fifth year, Bush repeatedly asks Americans to "be patient", even though he did not listen to such calls from level-headed allies back when it mattered the most.

2005
Jan.: Bush Urges Patience on Iraq as Election Nears
Jun.: Bush urges patience, long view on Iraq war
Aug.: Bush calls for patience on Iraq mission
Nov.: Bush Urges Patience With Iraq Training

2006
Mar.: Bush calls on Americans to show patience with Iraq
Jun.: After Iraq Visit, Bush Urges Patience
Aug.: Bush Urges Patience on Iraq, Speed in Lebanon
Oct.: Conceding Missteps, Bush Urges Patience on Iraq
Nov.: Bush Urges Patience on Winning Iraq War

2007
Mar: Bush Pleads for Patience in Iraq War
May: Bush Urges Patience on Iraq
Jun.: Bush urges patience on Iraq
Jul.: War In Year 5; Bush Requests Patience
Aug.: Bush pleads for more patience for Iraq war efforts

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Weak Appeal 

In a wonderful post, Bayou St. John David reveals how pathetically inert Jindal's Second Chance Louisiana ad campaign is. There's nothing of substance there.

The second plank of "Bobby's Plan" for Louisiana concerns Illegal Immigration and border control. What the hell does securing the border in Tejas have to do with being Governor of Louisiana? Is he planning to install checkpoints on Louisiana's borders?

Coastal Restoration and Flood Control? Nah, those things don't make the cut. They are not some of Bobby's top issues.

In the "News" section of the web site, Bobby links to a supportive letter by John "fan belt" Cooksey, printed in the Ouachita Citizen. The letter celebrates the displacement of New Orleanians from their home state after the largest disaster in U.S. history. I repeat: the letter celebrates the displacement of New Orleanians from their home state after the largest disaster in U.S. history.

Fortunately, not all of the state's electorate is from Orleans Parish. Fortunately, many of the people who once composed a great deal of the electorate in Orleans no longer lives in Louisiana. Thus, they are not taking part in the patronage system which has existed in New Orleans for at least 150 years and is the source of so much corruption.

Rep. Jindal's District includes Orleans Parish, yet he links to a letter that contends that we should feel "fortunate" that many of Jindal's constituents "no longer [live] in Louisiana". These are divisive remarks that should be condemned, not promoted.

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Obviously, this post could be more politically persuasive if, say, candidate Walter Boasso had a detailed "Issues" section at his web site.
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Update: More at da Chronicles of Jeffrey.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mayoral platform: the warted anus is heinous 

From the Winnipeg Sun (via HFN):

Members of Edmonton's gay community are lashing out at controversial mayoral candidate Bill Whatcott over his anti-homosexual election platform.

But Whatcott -- a former gay prostitute turned Christian extremist -- made no apologies and insisted large numbers of Edmontonians share his views.

The 39-year-old trucker said he opposes homosexuality, abortion, birth control, gun control, animal shelters, the EPS hate crimes unit and various Canadian human rights commissions, which have fined him $18,000 for offences in Saskatchewan.

"Homosexuality is killing young men with diseases like anal warts, anal gonorrhoea and anal cancer -- you're not going to get that living the lifestyle of a Ukrainian," he told Sun Media yesterday.

We are all fallen. No one's perfect. Not Bill Whatcott, not Bob Allen, not even David Vitter. But unlike some relativist liberals with no moral compass, these men understand that when they sin with prostitutes, they must repent and ask forgiveness. Afterwards, they can cleanse themselves in the inconvenient morality of traditional "family values", and conquer their self-loathing by not making the same filthy "mistakes" again and again and again.... As Conservative Christian Soldiers, these men are charged with defending our holy institution of marriage (which is defined as a union between one stupid breeder with a penis, and another with a vajayjay). And the only thing more important than marriage is protecting our young mens' asses from lethal warts. That's how civilizations crumble, people! Read your history.

One day, God willing, all those who have chosen the immoralist gay lifestyle will be deported out of America and back to Homoslavia. If Iran can do it, so can we.

Then we can deport all the brown illegal aliens, and throw MoveOn.org out of the country.

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Episcopalians are in the news 

T-P:

As the leadership of the Episcopal Church meets in New Orleans to confront dissension over the role of gays in religious life, the church's first openly gay bishop gave a sermon at a liberal church on Canal Street focused on the inclusiveness of divine love.

"Inclusiveness of divine love"? That seems like a very suspicious concept to me, especially coming from a homosexual pastor. It could lead to trouble.

Luckily, we don't have time or space in this post to get bogged down in all that kumbaya stuff, so let's review some more news stories about the Episcopalian denomination:

The Internal Revenue Service has told a prominent Pasadena church that it has ended its lengthy investigation into a 2004 antiwar sermon, church leaders said Sunday.
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[the sermon in question] strongly criticized the war in Iraq and said that Jesus would have told Bush that his preemptive war strategy in Iraq "has led to disaster."


Funny that the pastor imagines the Nazarene using a consequentialist argument to oppose Bush's "preemptive war strategy". (Would he have approved of the war if it hadn't led to "disaster"?) I don't see anything Jesus said that would hearten any warmaker-- whether they were ultimately successful or not. Apparently, though, the IRS had other concerns about the sermon, because it mentioned Bush and Kerry just prior to election day.

Here's one more news story that describes the history of this little ole Church from Pasadena:

Members of All Saints Church have a long history of social activism. [The Church's pastor] sermonized against the Vietnam War. During World War II, the church's rector spoke out against the internment of Japanese Americans. Last year, a church clergywoman went to Washington, D.C., to express opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriages.


Against Vietnam? Against internments and constitutional bans on gay marriage? I hope these communist peacenik Episcopalians are being monitored by the Pentagon, just like those troublesome Quakers.

Years ago, Bobby Jindal tried to warn us about so-called Episcopalian "morals":

I was not tempted by the expedient path of ignoring difficult teachings, and there was no reason to swallow Rome’s demanding morality if her authority were less than divinely inspired. After all, if I wanted the aesthetics without the inconvenient morality I could become Episcopalian.

On the Gubernatorial campaign trail, Bobby Jindal has spoken at length about his "faith". Now that the denomination he criticized is in the news, perhaps Bobby could elaborate on his view about the Episcopalian Church's eschewal of "inconvenient morality".

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If the Louisiana Democratic Party had not totally botched the job with ham-handed distortions, they could have made an issue out of Jindal's controversial religious views. They could have cited Jindal's previous writings as a response to Jindal's current political emphasis on his "Christian faith". For example, the Dems could have asked why Jindal had attacked other Christian denominations in print. Dems could have asked: As a supporter of the trillion dollar war in Iraq and an opponent of gay marriage and civil unions, does Jindal believe that the Episcopalian Church's faith-based disagreement with his views are rooted in "convenience"?

Another way the Dems might've used Jindal's religious essays would be as a response to Jindal's false claim that he was not an active participant in an exorcism he wrote about. As the Gambit Weekly recently reported:

[In the notorious 1994 article in the New Oxford Review ("Beating a Demon")] Jindal reports on an exorcism he experienced firsthand.
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While he wrote vividly that he believed "a demon" would attack him if he began praying, Jindal says today that he wasn't an active participant in the exorcism. "I just reported what I saw," he says.

That's not true. By his own account, Jindal was an active participant in the events he wrote about. In "Beating the Demon" Jindal made it clear he didn't merely "observe", but also participated in "the events" he described. In fact, he equipped his best friend to fight her recurring demons :

With holy water and blessed crucifixes, I have even given [Susan] physical protection from the demons that have only once reappeared, and then for a mere moment. We have resolved the tension in our relationship and I am developing the ability to selflessly care for others.

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Lookit all the trouble the media and outside agitators have stirred up 

Chicago Tribune:

No sooner did tens of thousands of African-American demonstrators depart the racially tense town of Jena, La., last week after protesting perceived injustices than white supremacists flooded in behind them.
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David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, last week announced his support for Jena's white residents, who voted overwhelmingly for him when he ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor in 1991.
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Controversy over the Jena 6 case has been percolating for months but it exploded into national view last Thursday when a crowd of at least 20,000 peaceful demonstrators from around the country marched through the central Louisiana town.
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[Jena Mayor Murphy] McMillin has insisted that his town is being unfairly portrayed as racist-- an assertion the mayor repeated in an interview with Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Learned, Miss., who asked McMillin to "set aside some place for those opposing the colored folks."


Color me unimpressed.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

My handicapping boomstick is "groovy" 

Update: Or not. Saints got blown out for the third game in a row. I'm glad I spent so much effort in the post below trying to divine some sort of "hidden message" from Roxy's line at LVSC. Yikes.

And ESPN just reported that Saints sources say Deuce has a torn ACL lee nigament. If that's the end of his career, I'll just say that it was a true pleasure to watch McAllister at work. I can't remember a running back who used his hands and arms to greater effect during carries. And Deuce always fell forward for that extra yard and a half. Sad sad times, for Saints Nation.

After that horrible game, the over-the-top plot and cliched dialogue in the second K-Ville episode seemed rather entertaining. (And I'm actually looking forward to next week's episode.)
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I'm still irritated that I was too chicken to make a really firm prediction for the Saints/Atlanta game last year.

Nonetheless, it's fun to remember that, at the time, Atlanta was favored by 4 and most of the betting was on the Falcons because they had this revolutionary, unstoppable "option offense" that no one could possibly defend.

Heh.

Despite my namby-pamby "on the one hand, on the other" analysis last year, I did blurt out something of value:


[S]ome sports bettors believe that, on certain high profile games, oddsmakers sometimes set a trap. The oddsmakers might have a definite opinion about a contest that goes against conventional wisdom, and they set a "trap" line that actually encourages lopsided "action" bets to one side. Of course this is gambling, and flies in the face of the goal of a sportsbook: safe profits based on good odds that deliver reliably "balanced" betting. So, many might disagree that they do this, but I'm in the camp that thinks they do.

Ashley will attest that I was shocked to learn how high the line was for tonight's game. (At the time it was N.O. -5, and has since been lowered to -4. I had assumed it would be -2.5 or -3.). Now, take a look at the line movements this week, especially LVSC.

For context, please note that the Hilton came out with NO-5 and dropped it to NO-4 within the hour. Then, minutes later, LVSC introduces a NO-6 line and leaves it there for an entire day before dropping it to -5. Both lines go all the way to -4 and then, near gametime, they creep up to -4.5.

When I see LVSC come out with a line like Saints minus SIX on a Monday Night game, my initial thought is... "it's a trick, get an axe". After two ugly blowout losses (3 if you count Chicago last year), the conventional wisdom about the Saints is... these guys suck again. The stupid money came in early and hard on the Titans, pushing the line down significantly... and then, perhaps, the "smart" money has started to come in late pushing the line up a smidgeon. Still, I don't think the "books" are balanced on this game. I believe there's much more money on the Titans to cover, and I also believe that that's the way the oddsmakers want it.

There's a ton of technical and trend reasons to bet on Titans, but I never regard those things as decisive factors unless I can trace them to "non-flukie" reasons that relate to football fundamentals (better play in certain locations, coaches do better against certain teams or in certain situations). Betting on a talented, motivated team at home with its back against the wall is not a bad play. Going against the CW on a big Monday Night Game is not a bad play either, in general. That said, I don't like laying lots of chalk on the far-flung "hope" that a sucky-looking team will suddenly figure things out and "start to click". Along with the rest of the city, I'm expecting it to happen, but I wouldn't call it a lock.

So, once again I will only go so far as to say that there is very good reason to like the Saints (by a touchdown or more) in this game. I think, for the second year in a row, the oddsmakers set a "trap line" on the Saints home opener. They wanted the money on the Titans for this one, and that means that you should like the Saints here. (I wouldn't declare this a lead pipe cinch on the basis of Roxy's LVSC linesetters initial line, but on this game, in this situation, I'd heavily respect LVSC's seemingly high opening number and all that it implies.

Again, I absolutely love that LVSC made the Saints minus 6 after the Hilton opened at 5 and had already fallen to 4. I love the look of that. I love how all the lines have gone down to around 4, and then inched back up in the last 48 hours.

Expect the Saints to play well and win tonight.

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Police remove Democrat from Jindal rally 

Cenlamar has the story.

Perhaps team Jindal has become paranoid of potential "outside agitators"... like those who escort ladies to a gubernatorial speech or those who peacefully march against injustice.

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Note: Please read the update at Cenlamar, that provides more detail to the story.

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Crackpot calls the kettle black 

TPM:

a senior White House official said the freshman senator from Illinois was "capable" of the intellectual rigor needed to win the presidency but instead relies too heavily on his easy charm.

Ahem. Should we remind everyone of President Bush's "intellectual rigor"? This is the man who first won the presidency making elegant statements such as "Rarely is the question asked, 'Is our children learning'?" (1/11/00), and who won re-election stating: "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB--GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country" (9/6/04). That's a rigorous mind in action.

After Bush set the intellectual bar so low no one will ever be able to limbo under it, a "senior" White House official pronounces Obama "capable" of the needed "rigor" needed to be President.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Solid" 

Link!

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This should help stop the state's "brain drain" 

From the T-P's front page:


Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.
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The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.
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The money in the earmark will pay for a report suggesting "improvements" in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish School Board's 2006 policy that opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science classes.

"I believe it is an important program," Vitter said.

Are we trying to counter "brain drain" by attracting open-minded luminaries like Sherri Sheperds to da 'gret stet'? Is that it? Should we have "origins sciences" courses taught at LSU?

"Important program"?! This is why all candidates need to be asked their views on evolution and creationism in a way that discourages hedging. (Ex: "Do you believe in the biblical interpretation that the world is around six thousand years old?") Gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal likes to discuss his faith on the campaign trail, so he should have no trouble directly answering queries about evolution and the earth's age, and whether he shares David Vitter's belief that this is an important program in flood-ravaged Louisiana.


Until recently, [Tony Perkins' Louisiana Family Forum web site] contained a "battle plan to combat evolution," which called the theory a "dangerous" concept that "has no place in the classroom." The document was removed after a reporter's inquiry.


That these ignorant mouthbreathers will be installing themselves at the highest levels of Louisiana government soon is the concept I find "dangerous".

Here's a laugh:

The [Lousiana Family Forum] has been an advocate for the senator, who was elected as a strong supporter of conservative social issues. When Vitter's use of a Washington, D.C., call-girl service drew comparisons last month to the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in what an undercover officer said was a solicitation for sex in an airport men's room, Family Forum Executive Director Gene Mills came to Vitter's defense.

In a video clip the group posted on the Internet site YouTube, Mills said the two senators' situations are far different. "Craig is denying the allegations," he said. "Vitter has repented of the allegations. He sought forgiveness, reconciliation and counseling."

That's ridiculous. No, actually, Vitter has denied allegations involving New Orleans prostitutes. More importantly, Vitter denied ALL the prostitute rumors and allegations in a meeting with Christian Conservative pastors during his Senate campaign in 2004. Vitter denied the allegations and assured the Christian ministers in attendance that he had "no skeletons in [his] closet."

Gene Mills, Executive Director of the Louisiana Family Forum, was in attendance at this meeting where Vitter lied to his face about his past. Now Mills is defending Vitter, saying Louisianans should forgive him because, unlike Sen. Larry Craig, Vitter has been so goshdarn upfront about the allegations.

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Update: More at Pro-Science, the Austringer, the Panda's Thumb, and Carpetbagger Report.

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