A brilliant but troubled soul, Bobby Fischer is seen as the rightful heir to Paul Morphy-- the original American superstar of chess. Back when New Orleans was the "Queen of the South", Paul Morphy helped his city become the "capital city of chess", too. I hope one day it can reclaim that title.
Bobby Fischer regarded Paul Morphy as the "greatest genius of them all", even though Morphy's professional career lasted only 16 months. Fischer said that Morphy was
Perhaps the most accurate player who ever lived, he would beat anybody today in a set-match. He had complete sight of the board and seldom blundered even though he moved quite rapidly. I've played over hundreds of his games and am continually surprised and entertained by his ingenuity.
The parallels between Fischer and Morphy are obvious: an extreme flash of brilliance in front the world, and then a lengthy, disturbed seclusion. But, Michael Tisserand's article on Morphy finds another parallel "life". This time it is between Morphy, and New Orleanian James Booker:
"He kind of started the tradition of chess players being weird guys," says John Parsons. The former manager of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, Parsons likes to compare Morphy and Booker's legacies: "They were born about a hundred years apart, they were both child prodigies, they both tore it up in Europe and then never left New Orleans, and they both developed paranoia."
Atrios: "[Politics] is a contest to put people in power so they can enact a particular agenda."
But the vicious "rub" to that statement is that campaign contests are not determined by competing "agendas". Generally speaking, people don't vote for a candidate based on a candidate's agenda, or even their intuitive feel for a candidate's agenda.
It would be lovely if all the participants in our democracy functioned this way, but they don't. And when I see smart policy lovers giving the following campaign advice, I have to shake my head:
The Edwards campaign seems to be going nowhere and part of the reason is that he is turning to really dumb sound bite messages rather than hammering away on the real issues. While the Obama campaign seems to be doing well for whatever reason, his camp would do well to drop these stupid sound bite messages and start focusing on specific problems and his proposed policy solutions. --Angry Bear:
Focusing on "proposed policy solutions"? Are you kidding me? Edwards is the candidate who has (appeared) to have focused the most on "policy" so far, yet he's made no progress in the polls. Wonky Hillary ran third in Iowa and was about to lose New Hampshire until she showed emotion-- now she's the frontrunner.
I mean, my gracious, did you see the absurd MSNBC Dem debate the other night? Did you notice how absurd it was? It was a debate about the campaigns and candidates. True "policy" concerns were almost an afterthought. Do you think "policy" is a winner in such a forum? Do you think the media is geared to focus on, and overhype policy differences? [Insert Jim Mora "Playoffs?!" voice:] "Are you kidding me? Policy?!Policy?!! Don't talk about Policy!"
Too often progressives think that winning campaigns are decided by a candidate's fervent advocacy of a particular set of policies. Campaign narratives, image, framing and "theme" are too often ignored. Quite simply: a good policy in a bad frame will often lose to bad policy in a good frame. And this in fact keeps happening, time and time again, yet progressives choose to blame the candidate's policies and ignore other decisive factors in a campaign. Too often Dems and progressives will invent soothing stories about how things could have been different "if only the candidate hadn't compromised on policy".
But, oyster, I like a candidate who stands up for policies I believe in.
Well, congratulations. But there's an absurd game that candidates must play before he or she can militate for your favored policies. And, unfortunately, it takes much more than "good policy" to win that game.
But, oyster, I don't like that game.
Then let's change it. Such a vast project will take years, though. In the meantime, why not try to play it better, rather than wait and complain about it every four years?
NYT's David Bobo, of all people, gets it more than half right in today's column titled "How voters think". (And getting it "more than half right" is a lot better than getting it "almost completely wrong", as many progressives have done.)
People in my line of work try to answer certain questions. Why did Hillary surge after misting up in New Hampshire? Why have primary victories produced no momentum for the victors? Why did John McCain win among Republicans who oppose the Iraq war in both New Hampshire and Michigan, but lose among voters who support it?
The truth is that many of the theories we come up with are bogus. They are based on the assumption that voters make cold, rational decisions about who to vote for and can tell us why they decided as they did. This is false.
In reality, we voters — all of us — make emotional, intuitive decisions about who we prefer, and then come up with post-hoc rationalizations to explain the choices that were already made beneath conscious awareness. “People often act without knowing why they do what they do,” Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, noted in an e-mail message to me this week. “The fashion of political writing this year is to suggest that people choose their candidate by their stand on the issues, but this strikes me as highly implausible.”
It had been a while since I visited Louisiana Conservative, so I stopped by recently and reviewed some of Avman's archived commentary. Below you will find the fruits of my labor. Here are some excerpted insights from Avman that I wanted to pass along, followed by a shot of YRHT snarkasm.
Avman:"We lost the election in 2006, not because we governed like conservatives, but because our Republican leaders spent so much money, even Liberals were embarrassed, perhaps they were just jealous because even they couldn’t spend that much. We tried to out lib the liberals, but were doomed to fail from the outset. We are not liberals, we don’t understand liberal thought, we can not do a better job of liberalism than liberals do. Attempting to do so is like a genius attempting to communicate with a chicken, our brains are too large to understand such puny thoughts."
That's just clucking hilarious.
Avman:"... there’s something about that compassionate conservatism that I just don’t like."
I'm guessing it's the "compassion" part.
Avman:"Then there’s Bobby Jindal, there with his hand out ready to glad hand potential voters, but his hand seemed to be a hand that is lifting up people who have just fallen down rather than just another politicians ready to kiss babies and whatever else one could offer up to kiss."
Yeah, I noticed that too. *eye roll*
Avman:"I wonder if Kathleen Blanco wears a thong."
--- And to those who might point to this post as a counterexample, let me note that there is a difference between owning an establishment and performing in one. I don't go to Flynt's Hustler Club expecting to see Larry on stage, wheeling around suggestively to the rhythm's of "Ayo".
Five local politicians, including Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and Kenner Mayor Ed Muniz, have written a federal judge letters praising Nick Baroni, the government consultant and former politician who awaits sentencing for defrauding the Navy of $120,000. ... Baroni and his son, Keith Baroni, pleaded guilty Oct. 30 to 13 counts of mail fraud. They billed the Navy for more than 2,200 hours of work that was never done on a 2001 contract held by their consulting company, Urban Planning & Innovations Inc.
The letters of character reference for Baroni reflect the many contacts he made during 19 years on the Kenner City Council, from which he resigned in 1995, and subsequently in the consulting business.
Others who wrote in support of him include Kenner council members Michele Branigan and Ben Zahn; Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner; Terry McCarthy, a Broussard aide and former Kenner councilman; James Cannella, a former state judge and Kenner city attorney; New Orleans Aviation Board Chairman Dan Packer, who is the former head of Entergy New Orleans, and Aviation Board member David Campbell; real estate developer Henry Shane; Bill Bumgarner, a sports writer for The Times-Picayune; and the Most Rev. Thomas Rodi, the Roman Catholic bishop of Biloxi, Miss.
Heh. The Baronis might be telling the Feds about some of their "many contacts" over the years in order to avoid prison time.
Nick Baroni's son was a top contributor to David Vitter's Senate campaign.
Aaron Broussard and Nick Baroni made a pilgrimage to Medogorge together, back in the day.
Broussard wrote his letter on official stationery because he "wanted the judge to know something about me."
Muniz, too, wrote on official stationery, saying he has known Baroni since 1977. They served together on the Kenner council for seven years and ran as a team for two at-large seats in 1984.
Imagine if a former Democratic City Councilmember from New Orleans defrauded the Navy during a time war, and Mayor Nagin wrote a testimonial for such a person using official city letterhead. Picture that reaction.
--- * Actually, Jeff Crouere talked about the Baroni affair on 990am this morning (when he wasn't doing his daily report on Sen. Obama's pastor and church).
I don't use terms like "reactionary" very loosely, but Louis Elwood "Woody" Jenkins must surely qualify. In a speech to the CNP, Woody Jenkins described "what was really wrong with America". Answer: the effects of the industrial revolution and public schooling! He said:
I believe this with all my heart: The only way we will save America, the only way we will turn around America, is once again to make the home the center of living, of work and of education. Only then will our values and our wisdom be transmitted to the next generation.
This is precisely the sort of mindset Louisiana needs to fight "brain drain", and find success in the 21st century global economy.
(Yes the title is somewhat intentionally obnoxious. After a re-reading I found the tone of this post to be pedantic, but I was too busy to change it. Sorry.)
Relating to a conversation between me and Jeffrey in the post below, I dug up this video of the crucial Reagan Carter debate in 1980. Carter is attacking Reagan on "policy" grounds, and Reagan responds with the "right" words at the right time. It might be useful to understand why these words are so devastating, and why Reagan is accumulating millions of "votes" during these moments, which will lead to an historic electoral stomping.
You just watched millions of votes move. Isn't that worth some study, for those who might be politically inclined? Will the "49% progressives" take heed?
Yes, Reagan made a questionable speech in Philadelphia, MS. But that wasn't what enabled him to seize a political opportunity that led to the Presidency. The "States rights" speech in Mississippi won't help someone understand why Reagan carried New York and New England on election day in 1980.
Think about the reasons why Reagan was broadly appealing in 1980. It wasn't because of his "policies", and it wasn't because he was the "anger" candidate, as Jeffrey seems to believe.
I would submit that Progressives and Dems interested in winning an election can learn from the political example in this video. The context in this video is not Medicare or Philadelphia Mississippi or "welfare queens". Millions of votes are moving here... it's worth a bit of clear- headed study. A candidate who has learned these political lessons might be especially dangerous.
Obama:I like Reagan's sense of timing in making big, transformative changes.
49% Progressives:You mentioned Reagan without saying something negative!?! Whaddabout Philadelphia Mississippi? You can't mention Reagan without the Philadelphia reference! We've seen it on the internets for years, that must've been why Reagan won... blahblahblah.
Thankfully, Yglesias has the sense that God gave a billy goat, and can read and understand words.
Barack Obama tosses off a vague comparison between himself and Ronald Regan and Matt Stoller gets really pissed. I don't really get it. Obama is pretty unambiguously claiming that much as Reagan was a friendly, popular face of a much more conservative governing agenda than the country had seen before, he thinks he can be the friendly, popular face of a much more liberal governing agenda than the country has seen before.
Why do so many progressives set their sights on building 49% coalitions, and then try to stop a liberal candidate who is aiming much higher? Seriously. Do they have no comprehension of strategy? Isn't there something to be learned from non-incumbent Presidential candidates who win 44 states?
The state suspended Allstate Insurance’s certificate to do business in Florida. The move comes after the company was uncooperative at a hearing into the companies business practices. ... The action to suspend Allstate’s ability to write new business came after the company failed to produce thousands of documents subpoenaed by the state. A frustrated Insurance Commissioner Tuesday cut short a hearing looking at whether the company conspired to keep rates high, by colluding with ratings or trade groups like the Florida Insurance Council.
As a voodoo priestess, [Sallie Ann] Glassman "calls up and mediates the power of the Spirit," according to her Web site. She performed her annual rites to ward off hurricanes a month before Katrina struck.
Well, no one's perfect. If Gill were fair, he'd mention all the hurricanes she did prevent.
Glassman may be no more befuddled than adherents of other religions...
Wait a second, hold up. Can't let a bald claim like that pass without a factcheck... hmm... Ok, never mind, she's definitely not more befuddled.
Glassman, in cahoots with her boyfriend, property developer Pres Kabacoff, is playing an energetic role in a plan to restore St. Claude Avenue to its pre-storm glory and then some.
That's one way of describing it. Jeffrey offers a different description here.
The plan is for Kabacoff to buy the old Universal Furniture Store so that it can be turned into a "healing center," featuring yoga, various forms of alternative medicine, organic foods, a grocery co-operative and a hydroponic rooftop garden. Gallery space and classrooms are also envisaged. Solar panels and wind turbines will provide the power. ... The healing center will sit right across the street from the St. Roch Market, which is also due for renovation. When it is all over, the theory goes, the entire neighborhood will spring back to life.
I hope so. ===
Speaking of alternative meds and organic stuff... Every day since Christmas, I've been eating fortified yeast normally given to horses.
See, a relative I trust became convinced that fortified horse yeast is a boon to one's health. He had purchased a 50lb bag of the stuff from the feed store, even though he only takes a quarter teaspoon per day. He told me he had been taking it for months and felt great and couldn't remember the last time he was sick. Since he had just a little extra yeast to spare, he gave me a small bag-full as a gift for X-mas. Now, each morning I add some coarse brown powdered yeast to my cereal or smoothie, and pretend not to notice any change in taste. (It's sorta yucky.)
I've been eating this yeast supplement intended for horses on a daily basis, and... you know what? I've been feeling pretty well, actually. A good test came a couple weeks ago, when everyone else in the house caught a cold at the same time, but I somehow escaped.
After that, I started thinking "Wow. This stuff is cheaper than sawdust, and it's like a miracle supplement. Maybe I should start recommending it, too".
But then, the other night I got a call from the trusted relative. He said he couldn't talk for long, but wanted to ask me a question about sports. I was hardly paying attention to his query, though, because his voice was absolutely awful. He sounded totally congested, and alarmingly sick. After I answered his sports question, I wanted to ask "Heh, what gives? Why do you sound like death? Did you stop taking your horse yeast?". But he had to go, and I couldn't get an explanation.
So, after that disturbing conversation, I'm now much more skeptical about the whole equine yeast supplement "miracle". Perhaps I should've done a little independent research before putting it in my daily diet. What is this stuff, anyway? Is it suitable for human consumption? Are there side-effects or long-term drawbacks? Am I taking too much?
Maybe my current good health is just a placebo effect. Maybe it's all mental. I don't know.
But, I must say, I'm still eating the horse yeast. And I'm still feeling pretty good.
--- Note: this is not a recommendation to do anything. Consult your doctor before doing anything, etc...
Actually, my mind knotted up as I was trying to evaluate those ridiculous statements, and now I'm having trouble focusing on anything. I think I need to spend some time in my trusty "safe place", which is always a source of mental refreshment.
"Obama is holding his own against both of [the Clintons]– doing more than his share of the 'spade' work. Maybe even gaining ground at the moment. Using not only the spade ladies and gentleman— that when he finishes with the 'spade' in the garden of corruption planted by the Clinton’s, he turns to the 'hoe.' And so the spade work and his expertise using a hoe."
While Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson downplayed the severity and extent of the national housing recession throughout 2007, a little-known hedge fund manager named John Paulson (no relation) made big bets against the housing market. He mercilessly shorted the subprime market, and it paid off spectacularly. John Paulson's hedge funds soared up $15 billion in 2007, and quickly became some of the largest in the hedge fund universe. John Paulson personally reaped about $4 billion in 2007-- the "largest one-year payday in Wall Street history" according to one of 3 stories about him in today's Wall Street Journal.
This hedge-fund manager did his homework. (He and his team had been working on ways to short the housing bubble since 2005.) John Paulson looked past the happy narratives coming from the Bush Administration and the Wall Street bubbleheads, and discovered innovative ways to play the game in order to maximize profits. Timing and confidence in his analysis were the keys to his success.
Many "knew" how weak the housing market was during 2007. They "knew" there was an incredibly soft underbelly waiting to be exploited, but, despite the potential for windfall profits, relatively few had the guts and smarts to seize the opportunity inherent in the housing bubble, and ride it to historic success.
And don't think John Paulson didn't have to fly under the radar of the "big boys" in order to achieve huge, undiluted financial gains. He had to be secretive about his innovative strategies so that the entrenched investment banks didn't scuttle or sabotage his plans. Smaller funds aren't just "allowed" to openly score billion dollar gains without the big boys wanting in on the action. You can object to the hedge fund "game", but you can't argue with how Mr. Paulson played it. Perhaps the game is "unfair" and needs changing. That, however, will take many years of concerted effort to accomplish. In the meantime, those who know how to play the game will profit.
This is not just a lesson about financial investments.
Perhaps now is an opportune time to "fly under the radar", so to speak, and find gutsy, innovative ways to take advantage of deflated political entities. While hype and hope about Gov. Jindal is at an apex, now might be the perfect time to make long-term strategic moves to reinvigorate the inept Louisiana Democratic party, so it can compete better in the political "markets". ===
I’ve interviewed and traveled with Obama numerous times since early 2004, just after he won his improbable Senate-primary victory in Illinois, and I’ve experienced the same mix of conflicted reactions as voters like Kara Asmussen: genuine excitement about discovering a politician you actually admire, followed by skepticism and a realization that Obama, who earned his political education in Chicago’s tribal wards, is more of an old-fashioned pol than you think. Michael Kinsley once said of Bob Novak, “Underneath the asshole is a nice guy, but underneath the nice guy is another asshole.” One way to describe Obama is that underneath the inspirational leader who wants to change politics—- and upon whom desperate Democrats, Independents, and not a few Republicans are projecting their hopes-— is an ambitious, prickly, and occasionally ruthless politician. But underneath that guy is another one, an Obama who’s keenly aware that presidential politics is about timing, and that at this extremely low moment in American political life, there is a need for someone—and he firmly believes that someone is him—to lift up the nation in a way no politician has in nearly half a century.
Obama recognized the soft underbelly of Clintonism this cycle, and is playing the game to win. He's not running for Vice President, as he could have done. In four years, he may move from the Illinois State Senate to President-elect. ---
A future post will discuss why it is too early to successfully combat the absurd media coverage of the presidential race soap opera... this year. However, an unsustainable media "bubble" in trivia-fueled narratives and infantile political coverage is definitely occurring (again). Earnest preparations for successfully "popping" this bubble before the next campaign cycle, should begin immediately. Waiting four years, and then "rediscovering the media absurdity all over again", or blaming the candidates for playing the game, or naively wondering why "policy" doesn't seem to win... is a good way to miss the coming opportunity.
Nick Baroni is the conservative "God fearing" Kenner Republican who defrauded the U.S. Navy out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the months before and after 9/11. However, his outrageous corruption received exceptionally muted media notice. I wonder why?
In October, the former Kenner City Council member and his son plead guilty to 13 counts of defrauding the Navy. A top donor to David Vitter's 2004 Senate campaign, Nick Baroni held multiple fundraisers for his legal defense over the past year, claiming his total innocence up until his trial date in federal court. A source told me Baroni paid upwards of $500k on legal fees, yet he and his son plead guilty to 13 counts of defrauding the Navy, and agreed to repay $118,472. Each count of mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of five years. Some deal, huh? At the time, I was puzzled as to why the Baronis would agree to such harsh terms. Something smelled fishy.
Today, Your Right Hand Thief has learned that the sentencing of Nick Baroni and son was postponed from January 16th to February 9th. One might assume that the Baronis are singing to the Feds, and sharing interesting information about some big names in Jefferson Parish. ===
Update: Times Picayune gets around to reporting the news here. Zero comments as of this update.
Yet, a recent WSJ article states: "59% of the [59 economists the WSJ surveyed] said the stock market performs better under Republican presidents, compared with 28% who said it favored Democrats."
This persistent myth of stocks doing better under GOP Presidents must be challenged at every opportunity, because it's not even close to being true. No matter how you slice and dice the numbers since 1901, Democrats come out on top. And yet economists like to think that their discipline is data-driven.
Today's front page T-P article on LA's 1st Congressional race begins:
David Vitter, in his 1999 campaign to win Louisiana's 1st Congressional District, did so by turning inward.
Facing eight opponents, he did not canvass every nook of the sprawling constituency. Instead, he concentrated on his base, the Metairie voters he had represented as a state lawmaker, said Jim St. Raymond, a political consultant who helped orchestrate Vitter's victory.
"The emphasis in his race was increasing turnout in his own district that he represents best," St. Raymond said.
It worked. Vitter not only won the 1999 special election, he was re-elected in 2000 and 2002 before moving on to the U.S. Senate in 2004, when Bobby Jindal succeeded him in the House.
The idea that Vitter won the 1999 special election by increasing the turnout of his base is a very charitable view of recent history.
Here's another view: David Vitter managed to beat David Duke and get into the runoff with Dave "clean" Treen in the special election to replace the disgraced Bob Livingston. (What's ole Bob doing these days, anyway?) After meeting with Treen and pledging not to pull any dirty tricks, Vitter found himself down in the polls with only a week to go. Vitter had made a secret pact with David Duke to sabotage Treen. Duke had agreed to publicly give Treen his (toxic) "endorsement", while secretly telling Duke "backers" to ignore his false praise of Treen and vote for Vitter. This nasty little maneuver was coordinated with a devious, two-pronged mail campaign. On the same day that the black community received mailers from Vitter saying racist David Duke was supporting Treen, the white community received mailers decrying Treen's support for affirmative action. These dirty tactics helped to depress voter turnout in the runoff (the primaries had about 145k voters turn out, while the runoff only had 122k) and Vitter narrowly won the election 51/49% over Treen.
Vitty-cent wasn't elected by "turning inward", or concentrating on his "base". He broke his promise and went "dirty". He cleverly used David Duke to "smear" Treen, and depress turnout for his opponent.
All the while, of course, Vitty was seeing prostitutes, and continued to do so after being sworn in as a U.S. Representative.
"So many forces were against us. So many powers that be," Vitter said in his 1999 victory speech. "They had the politicians. We had the people. They've had the past, but we are the future."
In 1999, none of Vitter's future House colleagues showed up at his victory party, and few of his fellow state legislators did. "Vitter has such problems with people -- not just fringe politicians, but legitimate, honest politicians in the legislature who just can't stand him," Republican lawyer Rob Couhig, one of the candidates Vitter defeated for Livingston's congressional seat, told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call at the time.
Bobby Jindal, the immigrants' son whose exemplary public service made him the wunderkind of Louisiana politics, will make history when he takes office Monday as the state's 51st governor. ... Louisiana is a state with deep-seated problems, and leading it out of the nation's basement is a monumental task. But Gov.-elect Jindal sees opportunity in our challenging condition, and that's encouraging. "We're not gonna simply try to rebuild, we want no part of such a small goal," he promises. "We're getting ready to take off."
And here's a representative excerpt from today's T-P profile of Louisiana's new First Lady. It's titled "Suddenly Supriya":
The quality of composure seems to reside at the core of Supriya Jindal. She is a refined woman, poised and dignified, polished and positive, serene and smart. She is an attentive listener and a spirited conversation partner -- chatty, amusing, game, eager to follow a lead. But she is also reserved and a little reticent, with a touch of caution about her. Calm under pressure would seem just about right.
Jeremy Alford wonders about Bobby Jindal's inaccessibility in the latest Gambit Weekly (not online yet):
To a fault, Jindal, a Republican, is highly insulated and tightly managed. ... In fact, a general lack of access to Jindal has become a major point of contention that could grow into a running feud if the new governor doesn't come out of hiding, or lockdown, or whatever he's calling this approach to "open government". ... As for possible reasons why Jindal is so rarely available, there's always the obvious: he is a busy man facing big challenges in a very short time frame. ... Far sexier than that explanation are the rumors that Jindal could slide in as a vice-presidential candidate on this year's GOP ballot-- or become the frontrunner for the White House in 2012.
As long as we don't get ridiculously ahead of ourselves.