Friday, December 07, 2007

Cuz that's what blogs are for... 

Well, here's a post referencing the "Working Girls for Vitter" bumper stickers.

And here's a post about being tired of technology.

Now, if you thought YRHT would avoid linking those posts to 50 Cent's debased "Ayo" London stripper video... you'd be sorely mistaken. We're slaves to this sort of comedy. Plus, that's the purpose of blogging: to look clever.

Observe 50 cent's poetic chorus, (sung by JT): "Ayo, I'm tired of using technology, why don't you sit down on top of me?"

From the Wendy "Cortez"/Ellis interview in the January 2008 Hustler:

H: Did [David Vitter] ever come to see you dance?

WC: Yes. When I worked at the West Bank Caberet. We opened at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and once or twice a week he would come in around 4:15. There usually wasn't anybody else there until six or seven in the evening. It surprised me at first. I said, "What are you doing?"

He said, "I just came in to relax for a minute."

Then we'd go to the lap dance area. Even after the last time I saw him [as an escort], he still came to the club. He would just sit there and look at me, like, "Why? Why did you have to say our name?"

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Green jello salad with nuts 

Yesterday Mitt Romney delivered a speech that warned of seculars "establishing a new religion in America".

Heh. Thanks, Mitt. I'll be on the lookout for those alarming homegrown religions.

Jesus' General argues that voters should inform themselves about a candidate's faith, including some main tenets of the particular Mormon sect to which Mitt-- a "high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood"-- is devoted.

(H/T Annti)
Update: Huck Upchuck has more thoughts and analysis about faith on the 2008 Presidential campaign trail.
Update #2: Our friends over at 99.5fm are apparently celebrating the holiday season with a giant "Golden Compass" wallpaper advertisement at their site. I wonder what Jim Brown or other 99.5fm radio hosts will have to say about this film.


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From the Dept. of "That's it?!" 

1. As the Wapo notes, the top component of the energy bill just passed by the House is a "new average fuel standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020". It's a whole "40 percent increase over today's fleet-wide average of 25 miles a gallon", which sounds ok until you consider that it's about a 40% increase from 1987 levels as well, since average fleet fuel economy hasn't improved in twenty years!

2. T-P

The Road Home program will need a record number of closings in December to meet a contractual requirement of 90,000 completed files by year's end.
If the 90,000 benchmark isn't met, ICF faces a $150,000 penalty on its $756 million Road Home contract.

Great Caesar's Ghost!! A $150k charge on a three quarter billion dollar contract? ICF must be worried sick over this performance penalty.


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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Quotes of the weak 

"I know that reducing taxes produces more revenues. Democrats don't know that. They don't believe it."

-- Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, in a new television ad launched last week. Inexplicably, both the NYT and Wapo ignored this false claim about taxes in their "ad watch factchecks". Rudy is excreting the sort of supply-side economic voodoo that cupchicks won't even swallow, yet the NYT and Wapo leave it alone. Perhaps they were using "dynamic scoring" to grade Rudy's ad.

“I’m not perfect. If I’ve missed any votes, it’s because I’ve been campaigning. For the most part, I vote on a regular basis.”

--Mayor Ray Nagin, WWL-TV, December 1, 2007. "If"?! Are we expected to believe that Nagin was campaigning all day (6am-8pm) for Tiffany Chase or Suzette Bagneris back on Cinco de Mayo/Jazzfest? If so, that would be some impressive busting of the Mayoral ass to get folks "plugged in" to the democratic process. (Update: Jeffrey points us to Nagin's even weaker follow-up explanation.)

"This might be a stupid question... I thought Europe was a country.... Buddhist, Budapest? I never even heard of that. Is it in France? Like, I know they speak French there. Is France a country?"

-- Cogitations of one Kellie Pickler, American Idol finalist, while trying to guess which country Budapest is in.


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99.5fm continues to "mao-mao" Hillary 

99.5fm's "editorial cartoons" about "Hillary's heroes" continues. First it was her and Stalin, and today it's Hillary and Mao Zedong, probably the greatest mass murderer in world history (40 + million dead).

The reason the cartoon series is so amusing is because conservative news outlets regard Hillary as a liberal. And conservatives understand that liberals love things like communism and gulags and fluoridated water. So if you find a picture of an infamous communist dictator and do a quick photoshop that includes Hill, then ... presto!-- You got Teh Funny Editorial Cartoon Series.

Har dee har har.

Can't wait for the Pol Pot installment.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


1. News-Star:

A Rayville man was sentenced to more than four years in prison after he helped his wife pose as a CIA agent and they swindled more than half a million dollars from friends and family.
The couple reportedly convinced numerous people that Stacey Finley was a CIA agent and with her contacts she could schedule a medical scan of the victims’ bodies by satellite imaging that would detect any hidden medical problems.

After the medical problems were detected, the [couple] convinced their victims that secret agents would administer medicine to them as they slept in exchange for payment.

...via the Mighty Favrog, who is covering the tragic killings at the mall in Omaha.

2. USA Today:

In Hammond, La., [Rebecca] Woodworth is still piecing together how a check scam led her sister Chris to take her life last year. Woodworth, 50, says that after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, Chris came to live with her for six months. That's when Woodworth found out her sister was doing business with a man she called "Mr. Howard," from the Netherlands.

The man, Woodworth later learned, had told Chris she'd won a foreign sweepstakes and sent her a check purportedly for part of the winnings. Woodworth believes that Chris wired hundreds of thousands of dollars — her entire savings — to the scamsters to pay for what they told her were taxes and fees. Last year, with nothing left in her bank account, Chris committed suicide.

She mailed her family a 35-page letter. In it, Chris said, "she was ashamed, she felt guilty. … She didn't want to live if she couldn't support herself"...


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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I don't get it 

Do me a favor and take a gander at a recent 99.5fm "editorial cartoon" (and perhaps scan down to see the other cartoons so you get the satirical "flavor"). Can you explain it to me? I simply don't get it.

"Hillary's Hero" is Stalin?

Why? Because she's perceived as liberal and/or authoritarian... is that why she's being compared to one of history's bloodiest dictators? In all seriousness, what's the intended "funny" here, to the average consumer? What's the punchline or the insight that I'm missing?

The cartoon says it's the "first in a series". Perhaps the intent will be clearer to me after I see a few more of "Hillary's heroes".

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"The next day..." 

Here's an excerpt from yesterday's T-P story on Rep. Clyburn:

Since Democrats seized the House majority in January, [Rep. James] Clyburn, the No. 3 member of the House leadership, has shepherded more than a dozen hurricane-recovery bills to passage, made it a personal mission to waive the local match required for getting federal rebuilding dollars and, most recently, helped secure $3 billion to cover a shortfall in Louisiana's Road Home housing program.
Clyburn was particularly intent on waiving the 10 percent share that local communities were expected to pay under the Stafford Act as their share of disaster recovery. President Bush had reduced the share from 25 percent to 10 percent and fronted Gulf Coast states the money to pay. But he stubbornly refused to go further.

At meeting after meeting at the White House between the president and congressional leaders, Clyburn just as stubbornly continued to press the issue.
Clyburn saw Bush's refusal to waive the Stafford Act partly in racial terms. He said the requirement had been lifted after the Sept. 11 attacks and after Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Iniki, which hit Hawaii. Why was this president digging in his heels on this disaster, the costliest in U.S. history?
"I truly believe that if the demographics of the affected areas were different, the response of the federal government would have been different," said Clyburn, who was elected in 1992 as the first black congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction.
But not everyone on the Gulf Coast was convinced that the Democratic takeover [of Congress] would mean change.
[Rep. Charlie] Melancon, a loyal Democrat, openly questioned his party's commitment to hurricane recovery in February. A day later he was summoned before what Clyburn described as a "very disturbed" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Melancon insisted that the leadership had promised to take up Katrina-recovery legislation in the first 100 hours of the new Congress and had reneged. He pointed to a newspaper story from August 2006, which quoted Clyburn saying as much.

Hey, I remember repeatedly pointing out that same "newspaper story", too, because the media went silent about Clyburn's promise after that one lonely mention. So, what happened after Melancon reminded Clyburn about his reported promise?

The next day, Clyburn filed legislation to waive the 10 percent Stafford Act match and called a meeting of key committee chairs to expedite hurricane-recovery legislation.

YRHT salutes Rep. James Clyburn.

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Orleans Assessors can't abide inconsistency 

Assessors are apalled that someone is doing their job almost as badly as they did it for decades on end. They are exercised because "inconsistencies remain" in some of the assessments. That's right, the corrupt assessor cronies are irritated that reformers couldn't unshit the bed they made in under a year's time. So sorry for the inconvenience, you douchemooks!

The unmitigated gall of these people.

You got to understand that, for six or eight decades the assessors hadn't done their job. Their records weren't worth a plugged nickel. They didn't actually assess anything-- they merely updated their records when houses were sold, using the sales price as the value (no matter how long ago it was sold). So when the Louisiana Tax Commission and local reformers demanded that the assessors shape up and do reality-based assessments, these assessors had no choice but to use a clumsy $/sf method to do mass appraisals of properties in their district. Their records were of no use, and they hadn't the time or the desire (or perhaps the skill) to drive to each parcel and take a firsthand look. So, because New Orleans isn't full of cookie-cutter neighborhoods, many of the calculated values from the mass appraisals were off. The City Council stepped in to handle the appeals process (which was too much for Orleans' 7 assessors), and subcontracted the work to a law firm. Apparently the law firm was a pushover when it came to some homeowners' complaints. And now the useless assessors have the gall to lead the crusade against "inconsistency".

Pardon me while I gag.

The T-P reports that the assessors want to "appeal the appeals", and correct some of the overly generous reductions handed out by the City Council's law firm.

To some assessors, the privatized process was riddled with the same capriciousness for which assessors have long been criticized.

You know, if these crony assessors had shown just a fraction of this vigilance and rectitude in previous years and decades... we wouldn't be having these difficulties now!! But what should you expect from elected officials who only make $90k per year (plus a generous expense account)? Performance?! Unfortunately, Mominem is caught in the middle of this nauseating back-and-forth.

At any rate, the wheel of change grinds forward, and despite the exceptions, assessments are much more accurate and millages will be drastically cut. Homeowners who have enjoyed property tax subsidies from their neighbors will now have to pay their fair share, and the city can get a fresh start, and stop playing these divisive, ultra-provincial, backassward games.

Perhaps millage rates can be cut even further if some of these "appeals of the appeals" are judged to be legitimate. And hopefully this will spur even more people to return to the city, who will build or buy new homes which will spread the city's tax burdens even more lightly. New Orleans will certainly need as big a tax base as possible to handle what's coming down the pike, when Federal dollars dry up and deferred expenses kick in.

I heard some really encouraging news in a recent conversation I had with the President of one of the largest and oldest insurance agencies in New Orleans. He thinks we're past the nadir as far as property (wind) insurance goes. In coming months, a few newer, smaller companies will be entering the market to capitalize on the outrageously high premiums here in S. LA. I guess two quiet hurricane seasons in a row is all it takes to lure some of these companies back south of I-10. So, I can't guarantee anything for anyone else, but my premiums on wind coverage will be coming down when I get a new policy next month on my business property. (Don't expect deductibles to decrease, though.)

Update: Huck Upchuck has a different view about the assessor situation. In my opinion, his view lacks a sense of history and proportion. Incredibly, Huck's blood is "boiling" because of the lack of accountability created by "reformers" and the "IQ ticket", as well as the flawed appeals process. I would counter by saying that he's letting the perfect be an enemy of the good, and that there has been more positive changes in the seven assessors offices in the past 2 years (due to the recent efforts of reformers including the IQ ticket), than in the previous 80 years.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Too soon, too soon! 

At 5:30pm I was making groceries at the new Rouse's on Tchoup. When I brought the cart around turn four I noticed something amazing: No lines!

Delighted, I pulled into the nearest checkout aisle and loaded everything on to the conveyor. I could barely keep up with the young checkout lady who was sliding items down to the bag man at a brisk pace. "This is more like it", I thought. The old Sav-a-lot store had always seemed understaffed (even before the storm), which led to long, frustrating lines during the late afternoon.

Just then, the checkout gal slid my Pinot Noir down to get bagged, and the guy fumbled it, and it dropped to the floor... Crack!

It was no problem. They quickly apologized, cleaned up the mess and got me a replacement. But instead of commenting about how much I enjoyed the improved service, I lost cortical control and my cleverness reflex took over.

"That wine hand off reminded me of the reverse yesterday. You know... Reggie to Devery?"

Unamused stares.

"Where they fumbled on that stupid play and..."

Still totally unamused.

"Aw, nevermind."

I felt like an idiot.

On the off-chance that this wasn't noted ad nauseum on sports radio discussions, I wanted to point out a couple of things that led to the "Superdome Special". Tampa Bay was kicking off after they scored a field goal the Saints scored a safety. Reggie Bush was positioned deep for the return. However, Reggie sensed that they might not kick it deep, so he signals Lance Moore to switch with him, so that now Lance is the deep man and Reggie is 20 yards or so ahead of him. The Bucs try a very short but very high kickoff. Reggie runs up to receive the ball, but instead of calling for a fair catch, he is smothered by the Bucs coverage team. The ball bounces on the field-- alive as Frampton-- and fortunately Lance Moore recovers it.

Reggie is shaken up. He's limping towards the huddle, but the coaches take him out and put Aaron Stecker in. Reggie is on the sidelines grimacing, and holding his side. But he returns to the huddle and (perhaps) tells Brees and the Boys about Payton's very "special" reverse idea. An entire stadium gasps in horror when Bush makes a pathetic toss that is fumbled and bumbled. The Bucs recover, and drive down 37 yards and score the winning touchdown.

Apparently Coach Payton thought Tampa was overpursuing Bush, and could be tricked with a reverse. (They weren't.) Even though Bush was a bit gimpy and had made an error on his previous play, Payton felt comfortable with the rock in his hands at crunch time.

Deuce, we miss ya.

Cliff is still "down with Reggie". He writes:

I know you put a lot of pressure on yourself Reggie and I don’t want to add to that. But I need you to do great. I need you to shine Reggie. I’m not going to put you down like some people... You just have to stop looking like you forgot how to play football.
Watch some film of Brian Westbrook from the Eagles to learn how a smaller back should run between the tackles. Come back next year, have one of those highlight reel seasons and stick it to the haters.

Double Amen on that Westbrook advice. In fact, I'd just tell Bush to imitate Westbrook in every way possible.

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Great tactics, Hill! 

Obama moved to Indonesia when he was six, and quickly learned how to read and write in the local Indonesian dialect. In kindergarten, he wrote an essay titled "I Want To Become President."

The Hillary Clinton campaign decided to use this impressive little factoid to make Obama appear ambitious, calculating and insincere. It was a really stupid play, at a horrendously perilous time for her campaign. Predictably, the internets seized on it. I guess no one working for "Hillary the Inevitable" thought twice about attacking Obama with data points from his grade school and kindergarten years. None of Hillary's strategists could possibly have anticipated that backfiring. That's how they earn their $10-15k per month.


I really like how things are going in Iowa, right now. The polls show movement, but they actually understate Obama's strength. There's hidden "crossover caucus points" in Obama's numbers (or perhaps for Edwards if he somehow surges into first or second). The Obama and Edwards camps will team up in mutually-beneficial ways during the caucuses, and this will "add" points to their finish, which is all about beating Hillary and beating expectations.

Update: Hill's camp tries to spin the attack as a "joke". Yeah, right.

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Wish I could've seen Big Time's face when he read the summary of the new National Intelligence Estimate. Perhaps that's what gave him his recent heart palpatations.

A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.
Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III,” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.
The N.I.E. concludes that if Iran were to end the freeze of its weapons program, it would still be at least two years before Tehran would have enough highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb. But it says it is still “very unlikely” Iran could produce enough of the material by then.

Instead, today’s report concludes it is more likely Iran could have a bomb by the early part to the middle of the next decade.

As we learned from Iraq, you can't trust what the NIE says. Better invade just to be on the safe side. Right, Dick? 'Course, if Dick and RedRummy had their way in the 70's, Iran would already have nuclear capabilities, but that's another story.

Perhaps Dambala can finally relax a little. Previous YRHT commentary here.

Update: Kevin Drum (1,2,3) and Matthew Yglesias have more about this long-delayed report.
Update #2: This NYT article says the Intelligence agencies had a "vivid exchange" with Cheney while they defended their report to him.

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Simple answers to simple questions 

The DP links to an AP article which asks:

Which is worse? Gun-toting killers or sticky-fingered public officials?

Gun-toting killers are worse.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

The article did have an interesting morsel, though: "U.S. Attorney Jim Letten — one of the leaders of a crusade against New Orleans corruption — recently said someone he would identify only as 'loosely involved in a governmental entity' suggested he shift his attention from corruption to fighting violence. Letten's basic response: No way."

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"Brown is the new pink" 

(Photo credit: The T-P's Matt Hinton)

Brad Pitt introduces The Pink Project.

[Today]... Pitt is slated to lead news reporters on a tour around the area's conglomeration of pink art pieces, then to issue a public call to corporations, foundations and church organizations around the world to "adopt" the blocks, for $150,000 each, to support his project.
Eventually, Pitt said, planners will turn the all-natural pink fabric covering into novelty items, such as bags, that will be sold to raise more money.

"Why pink? For me it screams the loudest," Pitt said. "It says that this place, where so many people thrived, is still sitting there like a barren wasteland, and we can change that."

In addition to being a tool for fundraising, the giant pink pieces will, Pitt said, become the ornamentation for a nightly driving tour in the style of City Park's annual "Celebration in the Oaks" festival, albeit with a more somber focus. Expected to open to the public Tuesday evening and extend for five weeks, the tour will feature the large pieces interspersed with 1,000 smaller bulbs representing the residents who died in Katrina. All the lights will be solar-powered, he said.

In addition, the whole installation will be laid out in the precise pattern of the constellations as they glowed on the night of Aug. 29, 2005, he said.

It's incredibly difficult not to like what Brad and Angelina are doing here: pouring millions of dollars of their personal wealth into New Orleans, lending their names, their time, their connections... showing confidence and hope... unpretentiously and wholeheartedly... ya gotta give it up to them. Brad Pitt has totally won me over. Hell, I can't even begrudge him his decision not to do any more nude scenes in films.

Consider how easy it would be to be snarky or cynical about some of the details in this project-- constellations, puh-leez!-- had Pitt, (or his staff), despite good intentions, made a hollow remark or an egregious oversight that made locals cringe. Such blunders would seem almost inevitable given his high hopes and ambitions. I mean, making the lower 9th into a pink art project for touring? Seriously? Yet, Pitt has been nearly "tone perfect" throughout the process. He's doing stuff, without annoying New Orleanians. That's no small feat! I have no criticism or cynicism about his Pink Project. None at all. I can only say, truly: "Great job, Mr. Pitt. I'm proud that you call New Orleans home".

But, "Is brown the new pink?"

In a word: Yes.

Dean Broder goes to the "pretend place" and says the GOP should nominate McCain and Huckabee for Pres and Veep, because those two candidates have shown more "simple humanity" than the others on the trumped up illegal immigration issue.

Nah gah da.

Immigration "heroes" such as David Vitter-- whose commitment to Cat 5 border walls in Tejas seems stronger than his commitment to Cat 5 flood protection in LA-- should be asked about deportation. Would he be in favor of a mass deportation after the borders are "sealed"? Would he be in favor of grassroots initiatives which aim to expose illegal immigrants and embarrass Federal and local law enforcement officials who are not arresting these potential terrorists? Perhaps such activism could begin in New Orleans, where Latino workers (who are helping to rebuild the city) can be found in higher concentrations. The basic idea here is to see how far immigration demagogues will go, and see if they'll blink at "deportation" hypotheticals. Deportation is widely deemed as "going too far" by people with "simple humanity", yet is barely far enough for the small but loud Tancredo/Buchanan wing of the GOP. And I wonder what Senatorial candidate John Kennedy will have to say about immigration? (I personally could care less, but it's a big big deal amongst conservatives.)

Lovely and Pearlgirl were driving around the CBD recently, when the following conversational exchange occurred:

P: "There's Daddy!"

L: "Where?"

P: "Over there!"

L: "You mean that guy? That's not Daddy. That's..."

P: "Yes it is. He looks exactly like Daddy, except he has brown skin."

I really like my daughter's Kantian filter.

Seriously, when Lovely told me about that exchange, I was intensely proud as a parent.

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Reversion to the mean 

Jeffrey is snarkastic about it.

Ashley, philosophical.

Cliff wants to cuss, but retains some perspective.

Mr. Clio edits his "raw despair".

Prytaniawaterline was actually comforted by "the play". It felt like "a true sign of normalcy" in New Orleans.
More: Varg collects some quotes. (H/T Leigh).

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