Saturday, December 01, 2007

That time of year again 

The Mighty Favrog exults in "victory" as the name of the Holiday Tree in front of LSU is changed back to "Christmas Tree". Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!

Perhaps the Godhead looked kindly upon this move, and intervened so that the proud institution of LSU would not be afflicted with Steve Spurrier's doubtful "evil genius".

That reminds me: Lovely and I will soon make our traditional holiday journey to view the pageantry that is Christmas in Kenner. If you're familiar with a particular Kenner neighborhood (just off W. Esplanade), then you know how incomparably... erm... stunning their outdoor holiday decorations can be over there. It's like a Persian bazaar of electric yuletide. There appears to be only one steadfast rule: saturation. After a while driving through there, you will feel like Charlie Brown lost in a forest of shiny aluminum trees. For example, this is the part of town that proudly displays electric manger scenes that include an occasional X-mas Spongebob or Micky Mouse. And there is no intended irony or humor here, either, folks-- and that's why we love it so.

The pageantry of this Kenner neighborhood, with its hilariously tacky and nonsensical glowing scenes, is truly an annual delight. This year, however, I can't heartily recommend that passengers enjoy a large cajun egg nog daiquiri with an extra shot of SoCo during the driving tour.

I was very pleased to learn that our comrades at BS Alert are also making holiday preparations. In fact, they are celebrating the season with their glowing Flying Spaghetti Monster decoration, which will be visibly displayed on a property bordering one of the busiest thoroughfares in the N.O. metro area. Be sure to look for it. In this post, BS Alert shows you how to make your own glowing Flying Spaghetti Monster, if you are so inclined.

And hark! Observe this cheery music video featuring their creation:



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Last night, Lovely, Pearlgirl, Veevee (her sis) and I enjoyed the holiday festivities on downtown on Fulton St. "Miracle on Fulton Street" they call it. There were "snow" machines, live music, Santa, reindeer (allegedly), and lots of cocktails and rodeo lawyer beer available. Fun stuff, if you're so inclined.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

"Accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design" 

From Humid Haney, we learn of this story in the Austin Statesman:

The state's director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.

Read that sentence again.

Chris Comer, who has been the Texas Education Agency's director of science curriculum for more than nine years, offered her resignation this month.
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Comer was put on 30 days paid administrative leave shortly after she forwarded an e-mail in late October announcing a presentation being given by Barbara Forrest, author of "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse," a book that says creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools. Forrest was also a key witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case concerning the introduction of intelligent design in a Pennsylvania school district. Comer sent the e-mail to several individuals and a few online communities, saying, "FYI."
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The call to fire Comer came from Lizzette Reynolds, who previously worked in the U.S. Department of Education. She also served as deputy legislative director for Gov. George W. Bush.

Barbara Forrest is a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, and totally cool in my book. She clearly shows, time and again, how bogus this "teach the controversy" movement is. There is no scientific controversy, as Lindsay B. explains:

Ultimately, ID-ers are arguing that the structure of science should change to include both natural and supernatural explanations. That's the controversy. Their worldview is incompatible with science as it is currently practiced, and they are appealing to scientists to rethink the basic assumptions of their disciplines. This is not a controversy that should be argued in high school biology classrooms. Students signed on to learn science as it is practiced by the scientific community of our day.

Once you accept the ID argument, our knowledge of chemistry, physics, and biology become irrelevant to the origins of life. If you think that God must have suspended the laws of nature in order to create life, then scientists are wasting their time trying to work their way back using general principles. ID short circuits science.

Progressives are absolutely correct on this issue, and should always pin down conservatives on creationism in the classroom. Prof Forrest and Lindsay B. are also correct on the politics behind the issue, and how this really is a trojan horse. I only recently began understanding how big a deal this is for the conservative powers that be, who believe public education is... where it all went wrong. They believe public schools created and sustain the secular liberal government indoctrination of our precious children.

We have a governor-elect who attended Brown and Oxford, majored in biology, and he believes we should inflict this anti-science "controversy" on our little Gen-X offspring. His policy "implementer" is a home-schooled CNP member. Our junior Senator supports this farce, too.

So this is the leadership with which Louisiana will boldly enter the 21st century. This is how we will combat "brain drain", and how scientific research in our state's "Bio-Medical corridors" will flourish.

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Free advice to Dems: Please pin down Senatorial candidate Kennedy on this one. Hard.
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Related: this story tickles my ape-like funny bone to no end.

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Quotes of the weak 

1. "The President is not a gambler."

--- White House spokesperson Dana Perino, who evidently doesn't understand that the President's inability to assess risk or opportunity cost does not excuse him from being a reckless multi-trillion dollar gambler (of other people's money).


2. "We don't need to come back here and dance around your cash registers. We're talking about economic boycott."

-- Spiver Gordon of the SCLC, in reference to New Orleans' trash contracts. WCBF responds: "How could you not laugh? Sales of Depends and V8 down 0.01%!"


3. "[W]e have the right to ask for those services if we can pay for them or not. And we're asking for the services."

-- N.O. Sanitation Director Veronica White, on paying garbage contractor SDT in full. (Picture of SDT's "Trashanova" here.) Mominem responds: "If they can do that to SDT, why can't they do it to Richards and Metro?"

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Muniz: douchemook 

Jeffrey finds a most excellent smackdown of Kenner Mayor Ed Muniz in da paper's "letters to the editor" section.

Apparently, back in 1991, Muniz "harangued" actor Woody Harrelson and veteran Ron Kovic for their public stance against the Gulf War to liberate the Kuwaiti monarchy. Harrelson had been invited to be marshal of Endymion, but the invitation was rescinded due to Harrelson's politics. Muniz is the current krewe captain of the parade.

As the Flaming Liberal informs us, 1991 was also the year that conservative talk radio host Keith Rush was a "featured" guest speaker for NAZI racist David Duke, during the “Duke Fest” fundraiser at the old City Park Driving Range in New Orleans on Independence Day.

Keith Rush was in David Duke’s inner circle of political supporters, and repeatedly had him on his radio show time and again, allowing him to spew his divisive racial code in attempt to "awaken" white Louisianans. Then, this summer, former radio station owner Ed Muniz nominated Rush to the governing arm of the State Republican party, and Rush was elected without opposition or objection.

While on the Kenner City Council, Muniz was friendly with fellow councilman Nick Baroni, who recently plead guilty to defrauding the U.S. Navy during the summer and fall of 2001.

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For the record 

When I wrote the previous two posts on the SCLC and John N. Kennedy's Senatorial bid, I had not seen either of the following items.

Today, T-P columnist Jarvis DeBerry puts it better than I did:

[W]hen an organization created to fight for the poor, the downtrodden or the oppressed finds itself fighting for the rich, powerful and well-connected, one wonders if that organization hasn't lost its way.

When it comes to civil rights, few organizations have as much moral authority as the SCLC. But whether two garbage companies are contractually obligated to pick up certain kinds of debris or whether a recent ordinance exempts them from doing so is not a civil rights matter.

The attempts by the SCLC to link these two entrepreneurs' financial concerns with black America's historical struggle for freedom dishonors all those who put the concerns of their people above their individual desires.

H/T Yellow Jeffrey.

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But it was comforting to know that in my other post on John N. Kennedy, I was on the same page as Mary Landrieu's adviser.

The Landrieu campaign responded to Kennedy's challenge with a shot at the timing of his announcement.

"John Kennedy, the first candidate in the Republican primary field, ran ads just four weeks ago saying 'the job's not done' and asking for Louisianians' support to 'continue to be your state treasurer,' " said Norma Jane Sabiston, a Landrieu adviser.

Yesterday I wrote:
Five weeks after being re-elected State Treasurer, and after airing commercials saying he was running again because "the job's not finished", John N. Kennedy is already switching to a new job: replacing Mary Landrieu in the U.S. Senate.

Sabiston is correct about the quote in the ads, btw. Kennedy did say "the job's not done" instead of "the job's not finished", as I wrote. (I was working from memory). This is why it was such a huge tactical mistake for the Dems not to have run someone against Kennedy, just to force him to answer difficult questions about his intentions, and take a stand on specific issues.

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SCLC 

This We Could Be Famous post on garbage contracts and racial red herrings is well worth your while.

What stuck in my mind, though, was E's aside about the SCLC being a "sham", and its spectacular devolution into an impotent caricature of its former self. E's quip about their threatened boycott on New Orleans was hilarious.

It's amazing that an organization that grew out of the success of a disciplined 42,000 person bus boycott in Montgomery (AL), now only has about 3000 dues-paying members nationwide. During their 2004 convention, the SCLC-- the direct heirs of MLK's philosophy of nonviolent protest, mind you-- had to call the cops on themselves because arguments became violent and a riot nearly broke out. Civil Rights hero Fred Shuttlesworth was SCLC president at that time and resigned shortly afterwards, saying:

For years, deceit, mistrust and a lack of spiritual discipline and truth have eaten away at the core of this once-hallowed organization.

Ouch. Shuttlesworth was a founding member of SCLC, and is one of my favorite civil rights leaders in American History.

This year, the SCLC turned 50 but, as E noted, it feels even older than that. Maybe they can turn things around and become effective again, but I wouldn't bet on it. As Pastor Shuttlesworth said: "Only God can give life to the dead".

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

John Kennedy will run for Senate 

Five weeks after being re-elected State Treasurer, and after airing commercials saying he was running again because "the job's not finished", John N. Kennedy is already switching to a new job: replacing Mary Landrieu in the U.S. Senate.

As longtime YRHT readers know, I'm something of a fan of John Kennedy. He's a philosophy major and a Kierkegaardian, so I'll give him a pass on his opportunistic party-switching.

Kennedy is great at going on WWL radio in his folksy fashion, and throwing out nice-sounding, common-sensical ideas that usually eventuate into nothing. I'll be interested to see how he's going to position himself against Landrieu. Kennedy is an underwhelming campaigner, and I wonder how happy and effective he'd as a Gooper in the Senate. Sen. Mary Landrieu will have her work cut out for her, but I'm not sure she's in as much trouble as some think. This could come down to the wire, where Presidential election "coattails" and third party opponents might make the difference.
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WST supports Kennedy.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Political Noticals 

1. Abu Gonzales got paid $40k to speak at the University of Florida recently and was interrupted by protesters who value quaint little notions like Habeus Corpus... and all that. But no one got tased this time.

Here's an amusing excerpt from the St Peterburg Times, which is prolly the best paper in Florida (although I adore the Daytona Beach News Journal's unabashedly liberal editorial page):

[Former U.S. Attorney General Albert Gonzales's] speech drew about 1,000 people, many of them students, to the 1,700-seat performing arts center. This month, Bill Nye the Science Guy's visit drew so many people that the overflow crowd watched him on projectors outside.

Student Zach Moller, 20, vice president of the College Democrats, said, "$40,000 is an awful lot to pay for a speaker. U.S. Sen. John Kerry came to speak for free. This is a little ridiculous. UF should not be condoning this."

2. T-P:

Public housing advocates and Hurricane Katrina survivors had a special delivery for Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on Tuesday: a turkey with his face on it and more than 130,000 signed petitions urging him to drop his objections to a housing recovery act they say would let them return home.

Facing South provides a link-filled digest of the political intrigue surrounding this controversy. Vitter tries to frame his newfound opposition to (Sen. Landrieu's) bill in terms of him being against rebuilding the projects "exactly as they were", which obscures the real issue. The real issue at this point is whether or not sufficient low-income replacement housing will be built once the projects are razed. Landrieu's bill guarantees a full replacement, while Vitter and the Bush administration oppose it.

3. Inspector General Robert Cerasoli wins over New Orleans Nation with a truth said in jest.

And I'm glad that the City Council has unanimously decided to fund Cerasoli's new watchdog office without raising property taxes, as OUR Mayor, "who understands business", proposed. (Nagin also proposed that the Inspector General use City Attorneys for his legal counsel, which reeked of conflict of interest.)

From today's T-P:

"An inspector general is all about fair, equitable contracting. An inspector general is all about seeing that the most disadvantaged people in this city get the services that they deserve and get them quickly and efficiently," [Inspector General Cerasoli] said. "Governments have to provide for people where there is no one other than government to provide for them."

Establishing an inspector general's office from scratch will require tedious efforts, he said. It may take as long as two years before he can provide the council with an organizational chart "to give you a clear picture of how and why this city operates . . . and how money is being used," Cerasoli said, adding that it is critical for his office to lay out the rules of local government.

"A clear picture of how and why this city operates... and how money is being used." Even if it takes Cerasoli a full two years to deliver such a "clear picture", he will win me over if he can succeed at this one task.

As for winning Gloomypants Jeffrey over, I dunno. Cerasoli has his work cut out for him there.
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Update: Much more at PGR, who declares Cerasoli to be "the real thing".

4. Let's recall that convicted felon Oliver Thomas wouldn't even meet with the Feds for interviews, as he had promised, after initially cutting a sweet deal them. He reneged on the deal, saying he'd "rather be dead than be a rat". Hmm. James Gill makes a good point when he observes:

Why [Oliver Thomas] turned up his nose at the chance to earn some leniency, and thus drew the maximum stipulated in sentencing guidelines, can only be guessed at.

Most people in his shoes would need a powerful incentive not to sing....

A twisted sense of principle seems an inadequate explanation for Thomas' decision to dummy up.

I agree. Either Thomas is hiding (probably lots) of information he promised to disclose, or someone made him a deal he couldn't refuse-- one that was either awful sweet or awful threatening. (Gill notes that since OT was paid in installments, the Feds could've "loaded up" an indictment on him, but instead Thomas agreed to cooperate and got to plead guilty to a only single count.)
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Footnote: During an October debate, City Council candidate Kaare Johnson casually cited his everyday heroic acts as one of the many different ways in which he serves the city on a daily basis. While discussing why he would make a great Councilmember, Johnson said that he had recently pulled a woman out of a wrecked vehicle, while "everyone else was standing around watching". Man of action, that Kaare Johnson.

Not to be outdone, though, was OT. As he awaited sentencing on bribe charges, Oliver Thomas seemingly implied that he had stigmata from a similar heroic episode:

Thomas said he believes he is an instrument of God, who uses him "as a tool to help others." Just a day earlier, he said, he helped extricate a woman who was trapped in her car, leaving scars on his hands.

"I don't even know what that means," he said of the incident.

Ministry "Stigmata":

just like a car crash
just like a knife
my favourite weapon
is the look in your eyes


5. Referring to deteriorating relations among "races" after Jena 6, as well as the unfortunate comments made by Rep. Dartez and the Mayor of Eunice, the Gambit reported:

All of this is culminating as civil rights leaders are looking to Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, a Republican, to do something " anything " about race relations. Jindal's team says he is trying to balance his various transition councils, but nothing specific has been offered. Meanwhile, a survey released last week by the Pew Research Center concluded that only one in five African Americans believe race relations are better now than they were five years ago.

During his Gubernatorial campaign, Jindal convincingly demonstrated that he is absolutely unequipped to handle the topic of "race". At best, he's oblivious and tone-deaf. Jindal should hand over "all that" stuff to Lt Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who can effortlessly discuss racially charged issues with precision and sincerity.

But what exactly does it mean, in this context, when the Gambit says "Jindal's team says he is trying to balance his various transition councils"... are they referring to "racial" balance? I thought Jindal's his conservative team was all for a color-blind meritocracy. But now they are "trying to balance" the councils. Are there quotas in place, for these councils?


6. Political analyst John Maginnis was blown away by Louisiana's share of the recent appropriations approved by Congress:


The $12 billion that Congress approved last week marks perhaps the most significant funding for Louisiana since it was purchased for $15 million in 1803.

The state's D.C. jackpot includes:

-- an additional $3 billion for the Road Home program that will compensate nearly all eligible housing grant applicants;

-- $7 billion in coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects -- the most received by any state -- from the override of the president's veto of the $23 billion Water Resources Development Act;

-- for lagniappe, $2 billion in military projects from a defense spending bill.
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With that, Louisiana finally will get its fair share of hurricane relief, proportionate to the damage inflicted on Gulf Coast states from the 2005 storms. The congressional action should also answer the critics, some in-state, who labeled as "whining" and "ungrateful" the persistence of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the state's congressional delegation in pushing the federal government to fulfill the promises President Bush made in Jackson Square.


Sen. Mary Landrieu deserves a lot of credit, too. Her backroom negotiations enabled Louisiana to secure that extra $3 billion to fill the hole in Blanco's Road Home program, without coordinated opposition by Bush or Republican Senators. Even Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-dumbasdirt) gave Landrieu credit:

"I don't want anybody to be misled. The extra money that was put in the Department of Defense bill was because of Sen. Landrieu," said Alexander, alluding to the secret negotiations in which Landrieu persuaded leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve the money. "We were all there to applaud and help when we could."

That reminds me, Rodney didn't even endorse Royal Alexander (no relation) in his campaign for Attorney General. Maybe he's getting smarter.

7. Apocalypse Hoboken... still one of the great punk band names. While the city of Hoboken has some stupid cops, Latin Teacher points out that idiots exist everywhere, and that Hoboken is actually a pretty great turnaround story.

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Falco rocks me 

I agree with Annti.

That such grand, wonderful, beautiful secrets exist is a supremely inspiring thought. Doesn't that story awaken something inside you? Doesn't it activate some long-dormant aesthetic impulse? Don't you ache that you can't be there in person right now, walking in those private temples of art, immersed in this man's youthful dream writ large? And beyond that ache, aren't you also soothed by art's reminder that persistent untruths in this all-too-human world can be transfigured... and redeemed?

Yeah, me too!


Working "underground", as a team, I wonder: what beautiful, detailed visions-- infused by the past-- can we realize in a new New Orleans?


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The bumper sticker I saw today read something like: "Put it back mo better den wot it wuz".

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Word 



Thanks to PGR.

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However, I found this YouTube submission by KtF confusing, disturbing and not at all appropriate for a Presidential debate. [NSFW]

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Sour Grapes Bowl 

Could we form a Sour Grapes Bowl for the SEC teams with the most complaining fan base? We might need a supercomputer to sort out the rankings on that one, but still, I think it would enhance the college football bowl season.

LSU is apparently still in the title hunt after suffering its second loss in their final game of the regular season. (It was only their 7th game at Death Valley in 2007. They will get eight [?] next year.)

Here's an excerpt from today's T-P story:

The chance LSU may still play in the Bowl Championship Series title game in New Orleans on Jan. 7 is not completely erased.
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Additional [SEC title game] motivation for the Tigers may come from what they believe is a slighting by the national polls. LSU is ranked behind Georgia (No. 4), which failed to qualify for the SEC title game, and Virginia Tech (No. 6), which LSU manhandled 48-7.

"Yeah, it kind of bothers you, especially when you see Virginia Tech up there and you had a good game and beat them," senior tailback Jacob Hester said. "But if we win the SEC championship, I feel like we'll be right back up there at the top."
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"If you look at this team, we haven't lost a game in regulation," [Coach Les Miles] said.

Late season losses "hurt" more, because a team drops in the polls without much of a chance to make up ground and perhaps jump (inferior but higher ranked) teams who lost earlier in the season. That's pretty much how the polls work. You lose, and you drop. It's better to lose earlier in the season than at the end. The 1996 UF Gators lost their last regular season game, but snuck into the championship picture by winning the SEC title game, and then the Sugar Bowl over FSU. But they only had one loss, and had some unlikely help from the Suckeyes.

LSU believes that if they win out, they deserve to become the first 2 loss team to be crowned National Champions, because their two losses were in overtime. They played a tough schedule, see, and fought through injuries (without any national sympathy), and their two losses were very close contests.

And if everything doesn't break LSU's way this year, and if perhaps they end up with a strong top-5 finish when they actually believe they're the best team in the country despite a couple of close losses... well, as a longtime FSU fan I have no sympathy for people who can't handle unfavorable, close-but-not-quite outcomes without a little dignity.

If everything doesn't break LSU's way this year (and they don't become the first two loss team in college football history to become National Champs) I guess we'll get another year's worth of bitching about how the media is biased against the SEC, and doesn't give LSU proper credit, and the polls are biased, and the refs are biased, and the SEC championship is the only thing that really matters because the conference is too tough... etc. etc. This perpetual victimhood and excuse-making is all-too-rampant in the SEC (which is emphasizing "character" this year). They should save the complaints for the Sour Grapes Bowl, which might have a cathartic effect, and the rest of us wouldn't have to endure it... day in, day out.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Ray ray's event horizon 

Not even the brightest snarkasm can escape the pull of Nagin's infinite densitude.

T-P:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin recently pronounced himself "disgusted" with apathy among city residents, saying it was "unacceptable" that only about a quarter of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot in the Oct. 20 primary.

Turns out the mayor himself has skipped a few elections, according to state records. Nagin didn't cast a vote in the October primary, or in two previous citywide elections....
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In a television appearance earlier this month, Nagin said he was disheartened that so many people appear to have lost interest in civic life.

"It was kind of offensive to me, because here I am bustin' my butt every day and all I'm asking citizens to do is to plug into the democratic process," Nagin said, exhorting his fellow New Orleanians to do better on Nov. 17.
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While noting that the apathy appeared to cut across all social, racial and economic lines, Nagin reminded African-Americans in particular of the struggles their forebears endured for the franchise.

"People were bit by dogs and, you know, fire hoses and all that," he said. "So everybody, please go out and vote."

Nagin : ridicule :: quasar : matter

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"Strangely abrupt" resignation 

It may prove useful to recall that Trent Lott compares gays to alcoholics and kleptomaniacs.

"It is [a sin]....You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol...or sex addiction...or kleptomaniacs." - Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott, Associated Press, June 15, 1998.


Yes, deal with it.
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Update: the escort in question denies the story.
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Update #2: Hustler's Larry Flynt confirms that he's investigating Lott, and indicates that he's "involved" in Lott's abrupt resignation! (Big thanks to Gentilly Girl for the notice.)

I don't do this too often, but sometimes you just gotta say Bwaah ha ha ha!

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Thanks, Houston! 

KPRC:

Houston police started testing unmanned aircraft and the event was shrouded in secrecy, but it was captured on tape by Local 2 Investigates.
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"I wasn't ready to publicize this," Executive Assistant Police Chief Martha Montalvo said. She and other department leaders hastily organized a news conference when they realized Local 2 Investigates had captured the entire event on camera.
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Montalvo told reporters the unmanned aircraft would be used for "mobility" or traffic issues, evacuations during storms, homeland security, search and rescue, and also "tactical." She admitted that could include covert police actions and she said she was not ruling out someday using the drones for writing traffic tickets.


I bet Mayor Nagin is thinking "Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday drone machines. I'd be a dangerous man with a remote control. Shock and awe, baby. Shock and awe."

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Title of post does not refer to Coach Nutt.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hammer Time? 

Link!

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