Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ashley, a matter requiring your trademark subtelty and finesse... 

Mr Vanderleun wants his donation to New Orleans sent back, with interest. Like others who commented on his post, I am willing to refund his donation with interest (10%) if he will give me the amount, and date. Perhaps Ashley can think of another offer for Mr V. [Update: Ashley responds in classic fashion.]

See, the USA TODAY "quadrillion article" irritated Mr. Vanderleun. He says it's time to get "cold blooded" about New Orleans:

The city and its long line of corrupt citizens and politicians have already managed to hoover $127 billion out of the federal government and that, as they say, should be enough for any cluster of crooks.

Keeping that figure in mind, my policy is that the New Orleaners among us are paid up and paid in full as of today.
...
As a city that is part and parcel of America New Orleans does exactly nothing to better the country...
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We've already poured billions over this raw festering sore of a city. The infection is still there and it gets more virulent by the day. And now we find that the denizens of this sewer want us to actually pay billions and trillions more to keep this chancrous old collection of corruption afloat? I don't think so. But con-artists don't stop conning until you stop them.

My suggestion to the Army Corps of Engineers is simple. The next time any of the poor sots of New Orleans come staggering up to the Federal Courts shaking the begging cup, blow all the levees and let the city drown its sorrows in the Mississippi.


This canine vulva heartily agrees with Mr. V's sentiments.
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Update: Most locals and regular readers understand how wildly inaccurate that 127 billion dollar statistic is. Whenever the Bush administration has been asked about the recovery of New Orleans, they have consistently cited (questionable) total expenditure figures that apply to the entire Gulf Coast recovery after hurricanes Wilma, Rita and Katrina. Ultimately, that pernicious linkage formed the basis of Mr. V's bogus argument about New Orleans' irrelevance, as well as his suggestion for USACE to destroy New Orleans if more recovery money is requested.
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Update #2: More on Mr Van der Leun here. Mr V. says he considers "unremitting intellectual honesty" to be the most important personal quality. (H/T Instaputz via blogenfreude).
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Nolablogger reaction:

Ashley Morris
Hurricane Radio
Animamundi
dangerblond
Gentilly Girl
Chicory
Thanks, Katrina

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The way of sushi-ya 

I took Lovely and the girls to Kyoto to enjoy some sushi and miso soup last night. It was great to see an esteemed nolablogger dining there, as well.

Truth be told, I had always felt a little uncomfortable in Japanese restaurants, never sure if I was "doing it right". But recently I watched a helpful video that answered a lot of the questions I'd been too embarrassed to ask. Highly recommend for sushi novices.

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Yammerin' Hank 

6/20/07 Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson:


We have had a major housing correction in this country. I do believe we are at or near the bottom.... It doesn't pose a risk to the economy overall.

Some were probably soothed by his use of the past tense there. And the phrase "doesn't pose a risk"... well, that's always a special comfort. Isn't it?

"At or near the bottom" is usually a good time to invest in something, providing that statement has some basis in reality. Sadly, as we have learned all too well in recent years, repetition cannot make an inaccurate statement true.

10/16/07 Treasury Secretary Paulson:


The ongoing housing correction is not ending as quickly as it might have appeared late last year... And it now looks like it will continue to adversely impact our economy.

Ew. Note the un-soothing nature of that present tense. Of a sudden*, risks seem to be "posed".

1/11/08 Bloomberg reports:


U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the U.S. economy slowed "rather materially" at the end of 2007, and any stimulus package should be put into effect quickly.

"We are looking at things that could be done quickly," Paulson said. "Time is of the essence."

Oh, now "time is of the essence", warns yammerin' Hank. Now we need to act quick, because the economy at large has slowed down.




Whoopsy poopers!

Actually, it's too late to do something now-- other than screw the next administration with worsening stagflation. Truth, not time, is "of the essence". For many months and years we got nothing but talking points and spin regarding the housing correction. It is now clear that the only thing that has been "at or near a bottom" over the past year has been truth-telling.


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* as the late Pat Moynihan would say

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Dept of: I disapprove of what you say, but will defend your right to say it 

The town of Jena settles with white Nationalists, and won't force them to put up an unconstitutional bond for their "No to Jena Six - No to King" Justice Day parade on MLK day.

Surely Governor Jindal will once again air his feelings about Jena and Louisiana not needing "outside agitators" coming in to stir up trouble.

Surely.

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Simple answers to simple questions 

Media Matters asks:

Does Chris Matthews have a problem with women?



Hell yes.


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

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I prefer Zap's 

Profacero Zero links to Naomi Klein's article on the latest warning from Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos. Marcos sees the "signs of war on the horizon" in Mexico.

As the Zapatistas became a global symbol for a new model of resistance, it was possible to forget that the war in Chiapas never actually ended.
...
As the Zapatistas expand their role as the de facto government in large areas of Chiapas, the federal and state governments' determination to undermine them is intensifying.


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Hammhawk reminded me of a cool band name I had thought of, inspired by Klein:

The Michelle ShockeDoctrine.

Props.

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Costs in context 

Moldy City and First Draft put the smackdown on this hideous USA TODAY article that goes out of its way to sensationalize a few extreme claims made by Katrina victims against the Army Corps of Engineers. Instead of putting the entire body of claims in context, the article focuses on the miniscule fraction of lawsuits with outlandish claim amounts. One of them is for a "quadrillion" dollars, which USA TODAY feels the need to put into context (if that is possible). Why?

And note the title of the article: "Katrina victims swamp corps with trillions in claims".

Poor Corps. Getting "swamped" with all that paper.

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I wish articles on, say, the trillion dollar war in Iraq would put costs into context on a regular basis. Those aren't fanciful numbers, either. They're real, and we're all paying them.

Can you imagine an American President putting war and defense costs into context as Eisenhower did in his 1953 "Cross of Iron" speech? An excerpt:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

...

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.


Perhaps Ike's speech should be added to this discussion.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fielgood! 

New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow has an op-ed in today's Times Picayune newspaper. He reflects on "all that has been done" over the past year, and gives reasons for optimism about the pivotal year of 2008, in which we will "turn the corner".

With one major caveat:

All that we have accomplished, however, will go for naught if our streets are not safe and parents do not feel that their children have a secure future. Accountability for those involved in the criminal justice system must be a top priority. Those in leadership should be objectively measured by whether a sizable reduction occurs in our murder rate and other violent crimes.

Arnie says "those in leadership" must be "objectively measured" on crime reduction, and if they don't produce results they should be held accountable!

Will Silence is Violence make a similar demand at their press conference tomorrow?
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By the way, I'm assuming that Fielkow is going to run for Mayor in 2010.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Addressing "progress and continuing challenges in public safety" 

Charlotte posts the news about the 1 year anniversary of the "March for Survival", which saw thousands of New Orleanians protesting crime in New Orleans in January of 2007.

Silence is Violence posted a press release with more information on this year's event:

To mark the one-year anniversary of the March for Survival, a noon memorial on the steps of City Hall will remember those who have been murdered in our city in the year since January 11, 2007. A press conference to follow will address progress and continuing challenges in public safety from the citizen's perspective.

Murders in New Orleans:

2005: 211

2006: 160

2007: 219

After the March for Survival last year, the Mayor pledged to focus on stopping crime. In May, before the Mayor's State of the City address, Silence is Violence stated that "the current situation in our neighborhoods is unacceptable", and that they were "waiting for [Nagin] to speak more forcefully on the issue of violence". Then in July, on the six month anniversary of the march, they wrote a letter to Mayor Nagin expressing their continued dissatisfaction:

The citizens of New Orleans have had enough. And we have said so time and time again. We continue to lose neighbors, children, parents and loved ones every day to the crisis in our streets. We have asked you to respond as the city's leader and role model, and you have given us silence and apparent indifference.

We are calling on you today to reinvigorate your resolve to deal with violent crime in your city.
Isn't the "current situation" still unacceptable? By any standard, hasn't the Mayor failed to focus on crime and answer the challenge of last year's march? At what point should he be held to account?

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Update: Mominem has a review of Nagin quotes on crime during 2007.
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Update #2: Maitri reflects on the anniversary of the march, and asks some tough questions.

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Belated Bowie Birthday wishes 

Yesterday David noted that there was a "glaring omission" in the nolablogosphere. We'd neglected to celebrate David Bowie's birthday. I'm on record saying he's the greatest artist since 1970, which is probably false, but I still like saying it.



Not bad for a "bizzare, self-constructed freak".

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Obama campaign analyzes Hillary's tears 

Jesse Jackson jr says the tears were "in response to her appearance", and connects that to Katrina, of all things, prior to the South Carolina vote.

Bad move.

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Update: Jeebus, I hadn't seen that NYT's MoDo unloaded on Hill with both barrels. (No surprise, except for how exceptionally vicious MoDo's column was, even by her own standards.)

This seems like an appropriate time to emphasize some recent Daily Howler observations and conclusions about the rabidly anti-Clinton/Gore media, and how they would handle Obama.

One of the most important Daily Howler posts ever didn't even get posted on Monday, as intended. It came online yesterday, and I want to spotlight this quote:

With the presumptive defeat of Candidate Clinton, a 16-year story will come to an end. This gives Democrats a new chance to take control of the narratives told about its leaders. By now, it’s abundantly clear that a Nominee Clinton would be subjected to endless nonsense throughout the campaign, as was the case with Candidate Gore all through 1999 and 2000. These attacks would be based on sixteen years of mainstream demonology—and it’s clear that many Dems and libs believe many parts of these RNC tales. (Let’s not pretend that we don’t.) Obama’s nomination lets Dems start again. And, with new, more aggressive liberal institutions in place, it will be harder—much, much harder—to assemble the welter of Demon Tales that were used to trash the Clintons and Gore. The defeat of Clinton will let Democrats and liberals at long last start over again.


If you don't read Bob Somerby on a "daily" basis, that claim might not strike you as being momentous. But no one places more importance on media narratives and scripts than Somerby. And for him to immediately recognize how "much, much harder" it will be for the media to use RNC "Demon Tales" to trash Obama is quite extraordinary. As a blogger, Somerby would seemingly be invested in the continuance of the "16 year story" he has tracked on a daily basis. Yet he was incredibly quick to envisage how much differently the media will treat Obama than Clinton, even after Obama becomes the nominee.

I'm impressed.

On Friday, Somerby came to the initial realization:

If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, how will his campaign be covered by the mindless fraternal order we still describe as the “mainstream press corps?” By now, it’s abundantly clear how a Candidate Clinton’s campaign would be covered; she would be covered much as Candidate Gore was covered in the twenty-month war which changed the world’s history. But would Obama be covered that way?

And after reading that query I expected Somerby to follow up with a very cautious or pessimistic answer. I thought Somerby would either say that he "had no earthly idea" how Obama would be covered as a general election candidate, or that he would refer back to the media's treatment of John Kerry's swiftboating. However, to my surprise, Somerby-- who is obsessed by negative media scripts, and who would never underrate the media's potential for viciousness-- makes a startling assumption. He says:

On balance, we’d assume that the answer is no— and that raises a giant historical question. Were the press corps wars of the past fifteen years an artefact of the corps’ realignment as a more Republican entity? Or were these disgraceful wars against Clinton/Gore/Clinton a weird, anomalous personal oddity? History will offer no perfect answer—especially in a world where housebroken career liberal pool boys refuse to even ask such questions. But make no mistake: It’s abundantly clear how a Nominee Clinton would be covered later this year. After [the Iowa caucuses], it’s more likely that we’ll get to assess the coverage of a Nominee Obama.

Somerby is right. The defeat of Clinton would liberate Dems and liberals from "the 16 year story". It would provide an opportunity for a fresh start. Sure, the media would give Obama "the treatment". But it wouldn't be the "Clinton/Gore" treatment.

Is that fair? Of course not! But anyone who assesses a candidate's chance for success needs to understand what "scripts" the media is inclined to use. The ones they have for Hillary are hideous and grotesque. The ones they have for Edwards are not too "pretty", either. The ones they have for Obama, conversely, are generally positive, and they can't be easily re-fitted into the old ones they had for Clinton/Gore or Kerry. Is it "fair" that Obama has this "media script" advantage over the other Dems? Of course not, but it's crucial to understand this advantage when one is assessing Obama's electability.

In keeping the Hillary's tears" story alive, Obama's campaign apparently thinks the anti-Hillary media will successfully fit the tears story into their existing "Clinton narrative"-- that Hill and Bill are inauthentic, calculating political machines. The Obama campaign is playing it extraordinarily rough with this (risky) maneuver, yet many Dems will still assume that Obama is a softy who won't hit back come November.

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This tips me off 

Last January, da Mayor alerted outraged New Orleanians about a possible "tipping point" in terms of violent crime prevention.

"This is a tragic incident, but we've had murders over the past year-and-a-half or 10 years, and I understand there are tipping points," Nagin said. This may be one such tipping point, he said, that "galvanizes our community to really step forward and help us to solve this."

Karen G. responded to the Mayor's "tipping point" comment in her speech during the 2007 Crime March. She said:

Chief Warren Riley and Mayor Ray Nagins call for residents to galvanize is an insult. We have been galvanized for 16 months.

We live in a City where the inaction of our Federal, State and local governments forced us to step over the bodies of the dead.

Each Death Diminishes us. That we continue to be ignored by the State, The City and Federally elected officials, who are duty bound to represent us, Diminishes the United States of America.
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To quote our Mayor.

"I AM PISSED"

Yesterday, our farsighted Mayor informed us that 2008 is yet another "tipping point" year. In a T-P op-ed, Mayor Nagin looked back on a "long year of recovery", and wrote:

We began 2007 with a trip to New York, where we met with investment firms and finance houses on Wall Street... Finance experts were impressed by our disciplined fiscal management; this was recognized when Moody's raised our investment rating from "junk" to "investment" grade.

Thank goodness the Wall Street financiers were appeased in January of 2007, by Nagin's "disciplined" fiscal management! (You know how stringent Moody's ratings can be.)

I was under the impression that Nagin "began 2007" trying to placate the demands of "the largest and most diverse demonstration of community solidarity in New Orleans history". But that went unmentioned in da Mayor's review of the "positive occurrences" in the city's recovery. Nagin continues:

As I have stated on many occasions, 2008 will be the tipping point for our city. Our planning is complete and we will have the resources to further implement our rebuilding.

Currently, the New Orleans Police Department headquarters is ready to open its doors, and street, roadway and sewer repairs are under way throughout the city... I ask your indulgence as you encounter the inconveniences that can accompany progress. They will lead to a better life for us all.

Actually, other than improving the drainage of spilt blood, repaired sewers and streets will not lead to a "better life" for the 200+ New Orleanians murdered during the "tipping point" year of 2008.

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wOw 

Hopefully, I'll look back on Hillary's amazing upset as a good thing.

Right now, though, hubristic Obamatons like myself are shocked at the New Hampshire primary results. We're wondering "what happened to that audacious electoral wave we were riding?" However, a disappointing second place finish is not necessarily the end of the world for the Obama campaign. In fact, there are plenty of silver linings.

First, the results remind everyone how dynamic politics can be, and how incomplete polls can be. Second, the results should be a strong signal to the Obama campaign to stop playing it safe, even when they think they are far ahead (which they might have been). Third, a competitive primary race will be good for democracy, and good for increasing Democratic and Independent turnout in swing states. (There was record turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire.) Fourth, Obama will need to earn it. I still think his campaign strategy is brilliant, on multiple fronts, and I think he is well positioned to go all the way. He had Hillary seemingly trapped, but she escaped at the last second. However, much of the country would've felt cheated had Obama effectively sewn up the nomination after a New Hampshire win. If he had to campaign in 48 other states as a fait accompli-- that's not exactly the most inspiring situation for an inspiring candidate.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Primary 

Numerical predictions which right or wrong mean nothing:

O: 48
C: 29
E: 18

Mac: 32
Mitt: 28
Huck: 13
Paul: 11
Ghoul: 10

More scattered bone readings at Southern Leftist, and We Could Be Famous.
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Here's my favorite Cure song. It's titled "Primary".



Robert Smith on bass, another bass, and drums. (Can that be right?) Great lyrics, too:

The innocence of sleeping children
Dressed in white
And slowly dreaming
Stops all time
Slow my steps and start to blur
So many years have filled my heart
I never thought I'd say those words

The further we go
And older we grow
The more we know ...
The less we show ...

The very first time I saw your face
I thought of a song
And quickly changed the tune
The very first time I touched your skin
I thought of a story
And rushed to reach the end
Too soon

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Trouble 

LSU fan el stevo reminds YRHT that it's Elvis' birthday today. Duly noted.

Here's Elvis in King Creole, which was filmed in New Orleans. He's performing "Trouble", one of my favorite songs:

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Gum 

I'm chain-chewing Teaberry® gum from my local candymonger.

Lovely says the flavor is reminiscent of "wax lips", but I think it tastes more like a baseball card stained by bubble gum. Perhaps there's a hint of weak, bland "tea" there, if you think about it hard enough, but it's highly artificial. The sticks of gum are abnormally crisp, too. Made in Mexico.

And I can't hardly get enough of them.

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This day in history 

Maitri reminds us about the conclusion of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

Noladder reminds us about the suppression of the 1811 New Orleans slave revolt:

Inspired by Haiti’s recent successes against the Napoleonic armies, the slaves who lived in southern Louisiana’s rural parishes hoped that a sudden insurrection — assisted by the black majority of New Orleans — might wrest control of the city away from its white minority.
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As word of the revolt spread throughout the sugar plantations, whites raised a militia of their own and were quickly assisted by US troops from Baton Rouge as well as the Free Black Militia of New Orleans, whose offers to help quell the insurgency were accepted. The enslaved rebels failed to reach the city arsenal, leaving them at the mercy of the much more capably armed free soldiers, who slaughtered them with canon fire at the Fortier Sugar Works, 18 miles from their’ destination. Those who were not killed in battle were quickly tried and executed by hanging or firing squad at Saint Louis Cathedral. In the customary fashion, the heads of the slaves were cut off and placed along major roads as a warning to others. Samuel Hambleton, a naval agent stationed in New Orleans, wrote to a friend and described the trophies as looking “like crows sitting on long poles.” As for [revolt organizer Charles Deslondes], his hands were cut off and was shot in both legs and the torso; before he died, he was rolled into a bundle of straw and “roasted” alive.

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Primary giggles 

AP:

Residents of two tiny towns stayed up late to give Barack Obama and John McCain early victories in the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Voters in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location cast the initial ballots just after midnight Tuesday.
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Long-shot GOP hopeful Rep. Duncan Hunter attended the vote in Dixville Notch, where results were announced before 12:06 a.m. in a small room packed with TV cameras and photographers.

"It epitomizes people-to-people politicking," Hunter said minutes before the votes were cast.

Hunter received no votes in either town.

NYT:

In recent days Mr. McCain has packed town hall after town hall and on Monday, the crowds were smaller at the early morning events, but energized.

Mitt Romney’s day got off to a less auspicious start. Greeting workers at the same military equipment company where Mr. McCain had campaigned on Friday, Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, found only a trickle of workers to shake hands with at 7 a.m. Many of them simply bypassed the candidate and the horde of journalists blocking the front entrance, causing Mr. Romney to move on to his next stop after just 10 minutes.

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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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