Monday, January 07, 2008

Dem candidates' favorite tv shows 

Amanda alerts us to the following information about the Democratic candidates, and the TV shows they prefer:

Hillary Clinton likes Grey's Anatomy

John Edwards likes Boston Legal and Law and Order

Barack Obama likes The Wire.

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Just a reminder: judgment counts.
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A remarkable group of bloggers have gotten together to blog about the new season of The Wire at "Got that New Package!"

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LNW endorses Edwards 

Levees Not War endorses John Edwards for President, despite the candidate's mixed record when it comes to issues like... levees and war. (Edwards militated for the Iraq War, and his plan for New Orleans does not commit to Category 5 flood protection.)

Levees Not War says the main reason given for the Edwards endorsement is that "Democrats need a tough, combative lead candidate to whip the Republicans". Where is the evidence that Edwards is (politically) tough? He's basically campaigned in Iowa for 8 years and lost it twice. Former Gen. Wes Clark has as many primary wins as Edwards (1). In 2004 Edwards lost the Georgia primary to a Massachusetts liberal.

In the 2004 Veep debate, Edwards had golden chances to kick Dick Cheney in his large, mendacious ballsack... yet he largely refused to do so. Politically speaking, where is the evidence that Edwards is "tough" enough to "whip the Republicans"?

Edwards senior political adviser is Joe Trippi, who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Dick Gephardt, and Howard Dean. Notice any pattern, there? Yesterday the Edwards campaign sent me three different emails in an 18 hour stretch, asking for contributions. Yet today, Trippi apparently thinks that "there's a good chance" that the Clinton campaign is "on the ropes" financially. (If Clinton's "on the ropes", then what metaphor would describe Edwards' cash on hand status?)

Yesterday, when George Stephanopoulos asked Edwards to sketch a plausible path to the nomination, he completely dodged the question, although he did say he would run all the way up to the convention. You see, the 2008 presidential campaign is the "fight of his life". It's about principle this time, and he's not backing down no way, no how, no Obama.

I guess we'll see what choices are made if/when the "fight of [Edwards'] life" necessitates him dipping into his cayman island hedge fund earnings to sustain a losing campaign.
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Update: Levees Not War endorsement gets picked up at HuffPo.

And commenter "Petey" in this Yglesias post makes as good an argument as I've seen that Obama is very evitable, and that Edwards and Clinton are still very much alive. (H/T to Boyd)

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Get well soon 

YRHT wishes Chad Rogers well, as he recovers from ear surgery. In this Roger's Rant, Chad warns everyone to "TURN DOWN YOUR RADIO AND GET RID OF THAT IPOD! Hearing loss sucks! Don't risk it!!!!"

Also, YRHT wishes BSJ David the best of luck with his ongoing dental issues.

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Chad's warning reminded me about a Rolling Stone article I read over X-mas. The article is only related in a vague way-- it's about popular music "loss", not hearing loss. But I learned how "improved" recording technology is being used to make popular music sound louder yet more lifeless.

Celcus points to another example of the recording industry's noxious and self-defeating behavior.

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"Don't we all deserve levees that work?" 

As many of you know, a canal levee ruptured in Nevada and flooded hundreds of homes. Thirty five hundred people were stranded. Loki discusses a possible cause of the rupture, and reminds us about an important point Harry Shearer made in this Levees.org ad:


Joejoejoe-- frequent commenter and friend of YRHT-- wrote me about this, saying:

This event highlights the need for a comprehensive US infrastructure policy that is less about pork and more about maintenance. Maybe this will get NV Sen. Harry Reid off his ass on NOLA and Gulf Coast issues.

Yes. And beyond that, Nevada holds a Democratic candidate debate on January 15th, four days before the caucuses. Perhaps the candidates will receive a question about flood control infrastructure.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rep Baker may leave House to work for Hedge Fund trade group 

T-P:

In what could be another blow to Louisiana's already diminished clout on Capitol Hill, 11-term veteran Rep. Richard Baker confirmed Friday he is considering stepping down to take a job in the private sector.
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In an interview, Baker said he will enter into talks with the Managed Funds Association, the Washington trade group representing the $1.8 trillion hedge fund industry. He said he could decide within "a week or ten days" whether he will take a job as president and chief administrative officer.
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"I think they are looking for someone who can bring credibility to the organization. They have not done the best job explaining how they do what they do and that they have a beneficial effect on people's everyday lives."

So, when Louisiana needed effective and experienced representation in D.C. after the storm, McCrery retired, Jindal resigned to be Guv, and Baker (might) resign in order to represent hedge funds.

I hope Baker can take the job so that he can better explain how hedge funds "do what they do and that they have a beneficial effect on people's everyday lives". I will love to hear that one.

Many hedge funds are headquartered overseas for tax purposes. Many others are basically goons who do the dirty work for big, "respectable" banks. Too often they manipulate in order to "arbitrage". They take insanely leveraged risks on opaque, exotic "securities". And that's in the good times. When it gets bad... and, say, you're a hedge fund investor... you get letters not much different than this one.

You know those index funds that are part of your retirement portfolio? Well, if you have an S&P index fund in your 401k, it gets adjusted occasionally as stocks climb and fall in and out of the 500. Hedge funds know this, and they short the stocks that are dropping out, and buy their replacements. People like you, who religiously send your hard earned money into your huge lumbering index fund, get maximum disvalue on the exchange because of hedge funds. That's just one of the many "everyday" benefits people experience from hedge funds. (I realize speculators make markets more efficient, and that there are places for vultures in the ecosystem... but still.)

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Depression era netroots history 

The progressive netroots were very troubled by Franklin Roosevelt's campaign for President in 1932. They were disgusted by FDR's pandering to the center/right on the campaign trail. They complained that FDR was too vague and that his "New Deal" slogan was inert. Roosevelt enraged them by undercutting some of his public works promises with campaign talk of "immediate and drastic reductions of all public expenditures". They wondered: had the man gone mad!?

A young pundit named David Broder smiled upon FDR's vague appeal to the moderate middle, and progressive bloggers went berserk. Liberal Democrats who defended FDR were mocked as being very naïve and hopelessly hopeful.

The netroots were very irritated at such heresy. Aren't campaigns merely contests between candidates who represent particular "policy agendas", they asked. Isn't that why people vote for candidates? The netroots thought that if only their candidates took a more stalwart stance on a particular set of policies, those messy campaign and election details would favorably sort themselves out. Somehow.

The netroots disapproved of FDR's vague policy agenda during the presidential campaign of 1932. They were very suspicious of his candidacy throughout. In protest, many in the netroots pealed away from the Democratic Party and into the purer air of the Socialist party. Others were very reluctant latecomers to the crowded Roosevelt bandwagon.

FDR decisively won the general election, carrying all but six states. Democrats swept into Congress, and an effective national realignment formed. Many in the netroots were still very suspicious of FDR, and only many years later were happily surprised at what had been achieved. But never did they put their progressive "cred" at risk, and what else really matters?

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Hillary: "blacker" 

But the great problem for Obama is that today's black identity is grounded in challenging. This is the circumstance that makes him a bound man. If he tries to win the black vote by taking on a posture of challenging, he risks losing the vote of whites who like him precisely because he does not challenge. And if his natural bargaining wins white votes, he risks losing black votes to Hillary Clinton. Why? Because Hillary Clinton always identifies with black challengers like Al Sharpton. This makes her "blacker" than Barack Obama. -- Shelby Steele Time Magazine


Whatever you say*, Shelby.


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* The "say" link to the G-Bitch Spot post on the Iowa results was down when I checked it. The post reads:


"While the crowd chanted, 'HILL-A-RY!,' I chanted 'Bitch, you lost! Bitch, you lost! Bitch, you lost!' Ha-ha-ha-ha!!!
"

Update: G-bitch's site was hacked and Loki has offered refuge. Good man!
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Flashback: Hillary identifies with that great "challenger" Colin Powell.

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Iowa entrance poll numbers 

According to the CNN Iowa "entrance" poll,

Obama beat Clinton among women 35% to 30%.

Obama beat Edwards among voters in union households 30%-24%.

Obama beat Clinton and Edwards in (almost) every income level, and beat them both among "health care" voters, "Iraq" voters, and "economy" voters.


Matt Stoller has more:

Obama's coalition was also extremely liberal and Democratic, with 41% of self-identified very liberal Democrats going his way. Edwards actually walloped Obama among conservatives, beating him 42-21 among that group.

I'm going to have more on turnout, but exit poll comparisons between 2004 and 2008 show that this was a Democratic primary with increased turnout from Democrats. Lots of Obama staffers and media types want this to be a show of independents and Republicans coming over to Barack, but the reality is actually better. In the 17-29 age bracket, Obama took 57% of the voters; in the 30-44 age bracket, he took 42% of the vote. He took 41% of new caucus goers, while Edwards led with prior caucus goers. This was a liberal, Democratic, young group that went for Obama. In other words, Obama is in fact capitalizing on or creating new Democrats. And demographically, this generation is as large as the baby boomers, and if they vote as Democrats, which it looks like they will, that's huge.

In terms of share of the vote, the 17-29 year old demographic made 11% of the Republican vote versus 22% of the Democratic vote. Young people are coming out, they are Democrats, and they like Barack Obama.

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“If we run a conventional campaign and look like a conventional candidacy, we lose,” -- David Axelrod (Obama's chief political strategist)


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"Maybe he does know what he's doing." -- Atrios


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OT 

Here's an excerpt from Thursday's T-P story entitled "Oliver Thomas enters prison today" that I want to highlight and preserve:

The U.S. attorney's office asked the judge to hand Thomas, 50, a longer jail term to punish him for his alleged refusal to "rat" out other corrupt officials. Thomas denied that charge, telling Vance that he had done his best to be "open and honest" with federal prosecutors, adding that he couldn't "make up stuff."

On Wednesday, Thomas declined to elaborate on the matter but indicated he was at peace with the decision to maintain his silence.

"I'm free," he said, speaking in a hushed, calm tone. "I feel better mentally and spiritually than I ever have. My job is to make it through this as a better person, a better husband, a better neighbor and a better friend."


[Cryptic YRHT comment redacted]

An affable, gregarious personality who appealed to voters across racial lines, Thomas, who is African-American, enjoyed an outpouring of support from some quarters after he admitted accepting the illegal payments. But he was derided by many others, who denounced him in Web blogs and letters to the editor as the latest corrupt figure to be brought down by federal investigators.


Those pesky "Web blogs" are always so quick to deride and denounce.

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"If there's a fire on the block..." 

Michael highlights a delicious Krugman post. Paul Krugman is in Nola attending an economics conference. I'm sure the latest job numbers enlivened the conversation.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama's "heart and soul" bill 

There's a revealing op-ed in the Wapo by Charles Peters about Obama's legislative accomplishments in Illinois. I recommend reading it in full. Kevin Drum raises skeptical concerns, but Archpundit answers them convincingly in the update.

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However, as an opponent of Capital Punishment, who marched at the Tejas State Capitol back in the day, I have to alert you to a monstrous claim Peters makes. He says:

There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama's bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument.

Absolutely outrageous! Who are these so-called "abolitionists", I would demand to know? In the early 90's, I was President of the second largest Amnesty International group in Tejas, and I never, ever encountered such a hideous mindset among death penalty activists. Ever! And I doubt that it existed in any measure in Chicago politics, either. Sure there might be an isolated wackaloon, somewhere, who is motivated by such logic. But is it possible that several of these twisted souls joined forces to oppose Obama's bill because it would protect innocent lives, like Peters claims? I'm profoundly skeptical.

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Barack the vote 

"There's a word for politicians that count on bringing new voters to the poll: 'loser'." -- James Carville

Not always, Jimmy.

At Open Left, Chris Bowers writes:

Tonight, Obama won because he did something many campaigns have claimed they would do in the past, but never until now had never actually accomplished: he turned out young voters and new voters in record-smashing numbers. This has long been the holy grail of progressive politics, and until now no one had been able to pull it off. Well, Obama pulled it off. That is a remarkable and historic accomplishment. That is why he won.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Who will the caucusing caucasians select for us? 

This is my audacious "hope" for tonight's Iowa Caucus results. It's basically what I think will happen, plus or minus a couple points for favoritism. Remember: if this guess is correct or way off, it is not a great reflection of my analytical abilities when it comes to politics.

Obama 33
Edwards 31
Clinton 29

On the face of it, it should concern Obama supporters like myself that

1) The most persuasive argument in support of Barack Obama was written by Andy Sullivan.

2) Obama's catch-phrase is "hope".

3) Obama is betting the farm on youthful first timers and independents in a rural caucus state.

But it doesn't worry me. If he should "lose" in Iowa, I won't second-guess his strategy. Obama was playing to win, and I respect that in a candidate. Many of the things the liberal blogosphere has got so huffy-puffy over are actually quite minor little things when looked at in context. Do you think Obama creating separation between himself and other candidates on Social Security had anything to do with Iowa's geriatric caucusing base? Do you think his Broderist, bipartisan rhetoric had anything to do with winning strategy?

A smile creeps over my face when I read comments like these:

It just gets me to wondering: Did Obama pick this whole bipartisan bull s**t line because he knew it would play in Iowa and guarantee him the nomination? Or, was he just lucky and a natural fit for the weird worldview of the Hawkeye state?


What do you think? Obama's just getting "lucky"? He raises a hundred million dollars and campaigns for a year, and he's not going to position himself to win Iowa?

Over in the comments at Adrastos, I tried to put things in context:

Jeffrey writes: "I also think the Obama-enthusiasts are too overconfident. I think they are placing too much Audacious Hope in the idea that we have turned some sort of magical corner regarding racism in this country."

And remember, that this isn't "anonymous voting". These white Iowans are caucusing; they are standing in front of their neighbors (while the country is at war) and affirming their support for "Barrack Hussein Obama", a black man who they never heard of 5 years ago. In some cases these white supporters will be actively trying to persuade their neighbors-- often moderate or slightly conservative older folks-- away from a white male or female candidate who they've known longer, and towards Barrack Obama.

Think for a second what it takes for a candidate and a campaign to successfully do that, in political terms.

In the comments at this Yellow Blog post, David asked why I liked Obama. I replied:

He opposed a trillion dollar war of choice that has resulted in hundreds of thousands dead, and is probably the biggest strategic mistake since Vietnam.

He arguably has the best plan for New Orleans/Gulf Coast recovery.

He has the best chance to win a serious electoral majority, and get a "mandate", and provide nationwide coattails with enthused independents and new voters.

And He's playing to win when he doesn't have to. (For example: He's not rolling over in a debate like John Edwards did with Cheney in 2004, knowing that he can afford to play it safe because there will be opportunities down the road.)

I believe that "serious electoral majority" stuff, btw.

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I'd love to know what Edwards' post-Iowa gameplan is if he has momentum coming out of Iowa. Improve on his 4th place finish in New Hampshire in 2004, win South Carolina and get thumped on Super Primary Tuesday?
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More soon.
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So true 

Tomorrow's Blogosphere ... Today!

I want to have Athenae's baby.

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USACE misses deadline for Cat 5 plan 

CityBusiness:

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, said it is "inexcusable" that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to meet a [Dec. 31] deadline for a plan for Category 5 hurricane protection for Louisiana.
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“It is extremely disappointing that the Corps is again ignoring the intent of Congress by delaying their report,” Landrieu said. “While it is essential that the Corps get the report right, it is inexcusable for them to continue to delay when they have had more than two years to complete it.

“Coastal erosion and hurricane protection are two of the most pressing issues faced by south Louisiana, and bureaucratic foot-dragging leaves in lingering jeopardy both our coast and the safety of the millions of Louisianians living there.”

Corps spokesman Steve Wright said the Corps was “not quite done with it (the plan).”

Oh, you're "not quite done"? Really? You couldn't get enough time on the supercomputer? Is that it?

Well pardon us all over the place. Do you need another 2 months? 2 years?

You can blame this on bureaucracy or USACE finickiness, but it must be noted that this pattern of delays fits very well with the Bush administration's initial aim to delay any discussion or commitment to Category 5 protection for South LA until they were on their way out of office.

For perspective, recall that we're FOUR YEARS into our commitment to send astronauts to Mars by 2015.

As for our commitment to build Category 5 protections for our energy coast after the worst catastrophe in the nation's history... well that "commitment" doesn't exist, now, does it? We were told to patiently wait to see "what the science dictates". And now we're told that the "science" is "not quite" ready, despite the Congressional mandate.

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Basketball 

Last month, WCBF went on record saying Tulane men's basketball would beat LSU. They did, for the first time in a quarter century. Go Wave!

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elle, phd makes an excellent observation about Kobe Bryant's complaints about wearing short shorts.

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The Times Picayune gave Hornets star Chris Paul some "jazz" for being the NBA player of the week. Actually, they should've celebrated Chris Paul's selection as NBA Player of the Month.

Paul averaged 24.5 points, 10.4 assists and a league-high 3.00 steals in guiding the Hornets to a Southwest Division-best 9-5 mark in December.

The exciting Hornets are currently streaking, and deserve your support. Indeed, at his crib, Cliff writes:

I am watching this Hornets game on NBA-TV and I would like to apologize to Chris Paul and the rest of the team. See, I have been mad at Byron Scott for two years about some comments he made when the team was in Oklahoma City and I haven’t been to a game since. That has been a mistake. I spend all this time following the Saints who sometimes play with absolutely no passion whatsoever and possibly the MVP of the league is representing every night with my city’s name on his chest. Not only is he a great player, he also has high character and a young brother like this could be an example for some of these young soldiers walking the streets. This kid is a role model plus he’s got mad game. He reminds me of a young Isiah except he hasn’t punched anybody yet. I hereby endorse going to as many Hornets games as possible.

Add buying Hornets tickets to the list of things to do in 2008.

Apologies to Cliff for copying the entire post, but I totally agree.

(Isiah Thomas, of course, led the Indiana Hoosiers to the 1981 NCAA basketball championship. The Hoosiers had a difficult path to the championship game against UNC that year. However, they managed to crush LSU 67-49 in the semifinals despite a rude Tiger fan who insulted Coach Bob Knight and was promptly deposited in a trash can.... heh. And last night, Indiana beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, led by freshman phenom Eric Gordon.)

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WCBF has more professional basketball fun here.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"A people preeverted" 

A new Rudy Giuliani campaign ad includes the sentence "A people perverted", referring to Pakistanis or Muslims in general.

Would it be opportune to note here that Sen. David Vitter is still the Southern Regional Chairman of Giuliani's cratering Presidential campaign?

Rudy thinks Muslims are "perverted", but Vitty's serial whoring is perfectly jake? Is that it?

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Update: After a second viewing of the ad and some reflection, I think TPM is pressing the scale a bit on this one. In context, the ad seems to indicate that the "people perverted" designation applies to extremist "enemies" versus, say, pro-democracy Muslims or Pakistanis. The ad is more ambiguous than I'd like, but it doesn't cross the line like TPM seems to suggest.

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And these bumper stickers are popping up on various autos around town (Thx to Ashley and JD for the image).




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In the MSNBC video clip below, Dan Abrams interviews Larry Flynt and Wendy Cortez about Vitty-cent. Abrams plays the infamous radio exchange between the Flaming Liberal and Vitter, where Vitter denied the Cortez rumors in a public forum (despite a Freudian slip). In the video, Cortez mentions Vincent Bruno, who recently raised some new questions about Vitter's past on nationally syndicated radio.

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Har har har 

So, after coupling Hillary with Stalin, Mao, Fidel and Che, 99.5fm's hilarious "Hillary's Heroes" series continues with her and... King George III.

I suppose it's good good to see that ole Hill has broadened her pantheon beyond communists. (At first glance, I thought they had put her with David Hume, and I was like "Actually, that's pretty cool!") But, silly me, I forgot about the playful humor inherent in 99.5fm's "editorial cartoon" series. See, it's funny to put Hillary next to autocrats because Clinton is perceived as being a liberal, and liberalism is tantamount to tyranny. So, naturally you need only to group the two together for the audience to get the "joke".

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Gold $850, Oil $100 

Nothing to see here. Everything's fine.

Go shopping or something.

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Uggh 

Alan takes a look at the government "process" that can lead to wrongful demolitions.

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Update: David at Moldy City asks some vital questions.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

When is March #2? 

AP article via the DP:

The bloodiest city in the country in 2006, reeling from crime in its struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina, got even worse in 2007.

New Orleans registered 209 homicides last year, a nearly 30 percent increase from the 161 recorded in 2006.
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The killings are drug-related or retaliatory for the most part, police have said. The upswing comes despite continued patrols by the National Guard and state police and the addition of two new classes of police recruits in the past year.

But beefed-up policing efforts can only do so much, said Rafael Goyeneche, executive director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of Greater New Orleans.

"The police and the criminal justice system is expected to clean up the mess, but they didn't create the mess," Goyeneche said. "They aren't responsible for the social problems of the city, the failure of the school system, the degeneration of the family unit. And until the city does something to rectify those problems, crime and murder will continue to be a problem."

Well, yes, there are persistent systemic issues... but there is also a place between "bloodiest city" and "murder is not a problem", where the police can have an effect.

After Mayor Morial brought in a new police chief from the outside to restructure the dept, murders and assaults fell 60%. The bad schools and "social problems" still existed, but crime sharply decreased and New Orleanians felt safer. Murders were still "a problem", but they weren't the overriding problem. It proved that competent leadership and effective police strategies can produce significant reductions in crime even when schools aren't improving and "family units" aren't regenerating.

With the help of Couhig Conservatives and other enablers, New Orleans re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin-- one of the very few people in the city who didn't view rising crime as a serious problem. Nagin was also one of the few people in the city that thought Police Chief Warren Riley was the best person for the job, and shouldn't be replaced. Nagin's opponent, Mitch Landrieu, was concerned that rising crime was a threat to residents, businesses and the city's recovery. Landrieu promised to do a nationwide search for the best police chief to restructure the dept.. Unfortunately, he was not elected.

Last January, thousands participated in the "watershed" crime march... they felt shamed, diminished, angry at the post-flood crime conditions. They felt ignored by city leaders-- and said so. The mayor and his chief nodded in sympathy, and said they would focus and work harder, and coordinate better, during the important "tipping point" months ahead.

And after all the nods and the promises, another 200+ New Orleanians were killed in 2007. You can read the names if you like.

In May, Silence is Violence wrote a strongly worded notice to urge Nagin to "speak more forcefully" on the issue of violence in his State of the City address. Predictably, that had no effect.

In fact, the only thing that has had an "effect" on rising violent crime during Nagin's term is the Federal Flood-- not stupid promises, stupid cameras, stupid "zero tolerance" policies, stupid misleading population figures, nor stupid excuses about "blips", "upticks", "national trends" or "social problems"... etc. The plenitude of bullet-ridden corpses on our bloody streets does not help the recovery. It does not help business. It's not a useful national reminder about the city's recovery "needs". It's a disgrace. It's shameful. It diminishes us. Its persistence makes us angry and galvanized.

Just like last year.

When is March #2? Must we wait for another "headline murder" to occur?

Most importantly, how can March #2 be structured so that there will be no March #3?

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Title idea from Dambala.

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Quotes of the weak 

"The bigger the government gets, the less competent it is to run our lives."

-- Presidential candidate Fred "heir of Reagan" Thompson explaining why government competently "running our lives" is one of the founding principles of the conservative movement to which he's faithful.



"Anything this outrageous and childish and nonsensical would have a significant fallout on whoever did it and on whose behalf it was done."

-- Warren Tompkins, a political consultant who ran George Bush's 2000 campaign in South Carolina and who now is Mitt Romney's top consultant in the state, talking about dirty tricks in S.C.. Romney opponents sent X-mas cards quoting Mormon passages asserting that "God the Father had a plurality of wives" and that the Virgin Mary "was exceedingly fair and white". (Thanks to the Drive By Blogger who directed me to this Katrinacrats post, which alerted me to the story.)

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Videos worth hearing 

1. Amazing Irwin Mayfield performs-- Grandmere Mimi writes: "[Mayfield's Elysian] trumpet produced the sweetest sound I have heard come out of a horn - ever. And I have heard many trumpets. Mayfield played the most magnificent "Amazing Grace" that I have been privileged to hear. Two such superlatives, one after the other, may be hard to believe, but they are true. I was crying during his performance. What heart! What an instrument!"

2. The Book has video of the throwdown in remembrance of his cousin-- "We Dance in The Spot she was killed, The New Orleans Way to Shake The Devil Off!"

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