Hmm. Well, as someone who is quite "familiar" with Rogers' "past writings" let me assert for the record that I didn't necessarily expect Rogers to "thrash" Nagin for his clowning.
See, I'm "familiar" with Rogers' Rant from 5/21/06, where Rogers said he would've voted to re-elect Nagin, and where he said he was charmed by Nagin's clowning with an electronic gadget, which prompted him to have "second thoughts about the man".
So, did those of us who are truly familiar with Rogers' work really expect him to "thrash" Nagin? Not necessarily.
Today's punk jobs number (-68k) should convince most of the deniers that we are indeed in a recession. However, the partisan hacks, the President, the Treasury Secretary and the Fed Chairman will not publicly admit that we are in a recession until the recession has nearly ended.
Over 100k private sector jobs were lost last month, there were downward revisions to the Jan and Dec numbers, the dollar shot down to an all-time low against the euro, the housing/credit crisis is worsening, the Dow is sliding, oil is over $100, gold is near $1000, inflation is frothy... this could be bad-- wider and deeper than anyone expects-- partially due to the laggardly response from the deniers-in-chief.
Johnny Mac is quite weak on this issue, since he has a team of economic advisers who think cutting pork and continuing (unsustainable) tax cuts is the best fiscal response to a recessionary swoon. That's not gonna fly.
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." --Hunter S. Thompson
"[Thompson's] analytical method of comparing political campaigns to drug trips is perhaps the most profoundly accurate insight in political science." -- YRHT
=== One of the funniest HST images that lingers in my mind is the military report of him taking a jeep without a muffler and driving in a random direction (off-road) to get away from Eglin Air Force Base MP's. (I think HST was at Eglin during the late 50's, about the same time John "Ace" McCain was in nearby Pensacola, learning how to crash aircraft.)
I'm glad my mother died before she saw... a Democratic candidate leverage misogyny as part of his appeal. ... Leveraging hatred of women to get elected, now that it’s out of the box on the Democratic side, is not going to be put back in the box easily. That may end up being the most significant “transformation” in the 2008 campaign.
Here's a political clue for Lambert and Lambert's blissfully unaware late mother: there ain't a thing under the sun that Democratic candidates haven't leveraged to get elected. That doesn't excuse any of it, but please, let's not act like there is some "box" full of shopworn political weaponry that Dems refuse to touch.
I'm not sure what Lambert is referring to with the wild "leverage" rhetoric, but if it surpasses this bit of "leverage", I'd love to see it.
[F]or the first time ever, banks/lender own more of the houses in America than the folks who live there do.
That factoid doesn't inspire confidence.
3. Carlyle Group is forced to de-leverage. Well, it's a start, I suppose. (Perhaps The Company will now have to cut back on some their extravagances, like the ultra-premium toilet tissue they seem to favor*.)
* I forget where I heard that joke first. It isn't an original. ===
4. Update: Daniel Gross writes about stagflation at Slate:
There's a final reason why even a mild case of stagflation can prove fatal: leverage. Stagflation implies a rise in fixed costs and inputs (food, energy, the price of money itself) coupled with slowing growth in sales and revenues. This dynamic of a rising bottom line and a stagnant top line shrinks profit margins. If you have a lot of debt, and if much of that debt is floating-rate or short-term debt, a horrible combination results. If your entire business model consists of borrowing huge sums of floating-rate or short-term debt and using it to buy other assets or debt instruments that tend to decline in value when inflation rises and growth stalls, then it's a killer. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the financial-services sector and the American homeowner have been doing for the last several years.
Readers have requested more posts about my wife Lovely, which is understandable. So here are two snapshots of her latest adventures:
At the Doctor's--
Lovely: "I'm worried I got scabies from one of my students. My stomach itches."
Nurse: "Here is a photograph of a penis infected with scabies."
Counseling a student at an area school--
Lovely: "If you do well on the test, you can attend Test Fest. There will be games and fun and even a dunking booth for the teachers. I'll make you a deal. If you pass the test and get to attend Test Fest, I'll sit in the dunking booth for you."
Student: "Can you swim?"
Student: "Are you sure?"
Lovely: "Yes, I can swim. I'm a good swimmer."
Student turns his head away, visibly disappointed.
If only someone would write a novel about the social worker heroes in New Orleans.
In an automated telephone call to Republican voters in the 1st Congressional District, Ben Morris' campaign this week accused Steve Scalise of voting to suspend a state-mandated DNA database for people who have committed sexual or violent crimes.
Scalise was one of 99 Louisiana House members who voted in 1999 to postpone establishing the database, which had been ordered two years earlier. The text of the measure, House Concurrent Resolution 40, said more money and time were needed to equip and operate the state crime laboratory. None voted against the measure.
"Every member of the Legislature voted yes. The system wasn't ready. The Louisiana State Police were not prepared to run the facility," said Lucas Bolar, a Scalise spokesman. "Here's a good analogy: Do you open a Wendy's if you don't have a grill?"
In a new series entitled Murder, Inc., New Orleans City Business alerts readers to the fact that murder is expensive. Citing recent studies by Peter Scharf, City Business says that "shootings can cost Louisiana taxpayers at least $1 million if the victim dies and more than $2 million if the victim is left with a debilitating injury".
Nearly all gunshot victims in the New Orleans region go to the state-funded and taxpayer-supported University Hospital, which has the only level-one trauma center in the city.
There is a reason for that.... Trauma centers are not moneymakers.
Private hospitals would rather not provide care for major trauma patients because many are gunshot victims whose wounds are severe and costly. Gunshot victims are hospitalized for long periods and almost always uninsured.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals gave University Hospital $110 million to cover uncompensated care costs in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007.
The article has a list of "Murderous costs" which include the following stats:
Lost productivity, wages: up to $1 million Medical care: $100,000 to $1 million Incarceration in state prison: $592,614 to $888,921 (40-60 years) Child welfare for victim's family: $180,000 (for 1 child, 15 years in system)
These are rough estimates, of course. And they don't measure the financial toll homicides place on neighborhood businesses, property values, security expenses, the tourism industry... etc. If you were somehow able to quantify all of those costs I wouldn't be surprised if the "murder tax" in New Orleans averages between $5 to $10 million a pop.
Thank goodness we had businessmen like Rob Couhig to urge us to re-elect Ray Nagin in 2006, the only candidate who was committed to retaining our demonstrably ineffective police chief, Warren Riley. Couhig preferred Nagin to Mitch Landrieu because Nagin "understands business".
=== Update: In the comments, Jeffrey helpfully informs us that the Citybusiness article has been substantially revised (without notifying readers of any change). Mayfield has not resigned and blames a "statewide lack of commitment" rather than the mayor.
New Orleans musician Irvin Mayfield will resign from his post as cultural ambassador for the city of New Orleans at the end of this year, the jazz trumpeter said Tuesday.
Mayfield, who was appointed to the unpaid position in 2003, cited a “lack of commitment” from the city to promote and protect New Orleans' cultural identity as the reason for his departure.
The city could not be reached for immediate comment.
“I’ve done my best,” said Mayfield, the artistic director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. “We took it to the White House and all over the world. But I don’t see the same energy for cultural projects (coming from city government), and maybe it's time for new leadership.”
Mayfield was disappointed when in December a much-touted plan for a $750-million downtown jazz district anchored by a National Jazz Center fell apart. The project collapsed when the owner of the Hyatt Regency hotel sold the hotel after failing to securing commitments he wanted from Mayor C. Ray Nagin's administration.
Mr. Mayfield: you're a wonderful ambassador for New Orleans and for Jazz. While you are correct that "it's time for new leadership", this observation has nothing to do with the good work you've accomplished over the years. It applies first and foremost to the Mayor who wouldn't commit to realizing your cherished goals.
FOX NEWS has learned that in New Orleans on Friday John McCain makes a major speech to the influential and little known Council for National Policy. The CNP is an umbrella organization of influential social and religious conservative groups.
The CNP members are not made public, meetings are not open to non-members, and they seldom even make public where and when their meetings occur.
McCain’s speech and subsequent Q&A will be videoed and publicized.
The group is filled with organizations and individuals who have been among McCain’s toughest conservative critics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should have reacted sooner to concerns about hazardous fumes in government-issued trailers housing thousands of Gulf Coast hurricane victims, a CDC official told a congressional panel Tuesday. ... "This is a little too late," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., told Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey Johnson Jr. during Tuesday's hearing.
A "little too late"? Yeah, just a little bit. Here, let's do it right and imitate Zelda Rubinstein's voice from the end of Sixteen Candles:
Sam: Oh hi. My sister forgot her veil.... She’s a little out of it.
Organist: Just a little bit.
Sam: Yeah, um, well excuse me. I wanna make sure I see my sister leave. Good bye. (she walks off)
Organist: Bye. Oh, I need a drink.
Here's the question the AP article doesn't address-- what caused FEMA to act a "little too late"?
E-mails uncovered last summer during a congressional investigation into the trailers showed that FEMA lawyers told the agency to drag its feet on air quality testing. FEMA’s Office of General Council also advised the agency not to test the trailers because doing so “would imply FEMA’s ownership of the issue”.
A recent Gambit Weekly article is chock full of interesting details about FEMA's footdragging in regards to the toxic trailers. Below are extended excerpts, but please read the entire piece by Amanda Spake:
[FEMA Administrator David] Paulison continues to say publicly that "We did not have a lot of information two years ago, or 18 months ago" about formaldehyde. But pleading ignorance is disingenuous when internal emails made public by Congress and former employees show that FEMA did know of the formaldehyde problem from its own local staff but did not want to test the trailers because it could open the agency up to liability. Instead, FEMA staff members were sent out to do "sniff tests" for formaldehyde odor and were discouraged from considering real testing. Complaints from trailer residents were ignored or ridiculed, says Jesse John Fineran, who at one time was FEMA's manager for all temporary housing units in Hancock County, Mississippi.
"In the Biloxi FEMA Mobile Home Operations office, the chief joked about the formaldehyde issue and proudly displayed a homemade "formaldehyde detector' on his desk. This consisted of a large, cardboard box with "FEMA FORMALDEHYDE TESTER' printed on the sides," Fineran recalls. "It had a light bulb, rubber hose and plastic funnel attached. Biloxi leadership claimed that formaldehyde was a nonissue and that if a housing applicant did not like the housing that FEMA had provided, FEMA would pick up the trailer and leave them homeless." He continued to tell his superiors about the problems he was hearing about formaldehyde from trailer residents. "They certainly knew about it in late 2005 or early 2006," he says.
In the spring of 2006, the Sierra Club began testing trailers because of health complaints from its members... The first Sierra Club tests showed all trailers tested were significantly higher than the ATSDR minimal risk level, and more than 80 percent were above the .1 ppm level at which the EPA had said health effects could be expected.
Becky Gilette [co-chair of the Mississippi chapter of the Sierra Club ] tried to discuss the results with FEMA. "We couldn't find anyone in FEMA to accept our results," she says. "We were trying to write to them to let them know about this, but nobody would even acknowledge our correspondence."
After a resident in St. Tammany Parish was found dead in his trailer at the end of June 2006, and an infant died in a trailer in Texas that August, FEMA made plans to test unoccupied trailers in the fall of 2006. Those tests showed levels of formaldehyde were high enough to cause serious respiratory health effects, but FEMA did not make this information public. Instead, the agency distributed pamphlets about ventilation techniques to residents, but provided little information about the health hazards of exposure.
Under pressure from Congress, the agency late last summer finally agreed to test a sample of 500 occupied trailers... Most tests were conducted in January, the coldest and least humid month, when formaldehyde levels were expected to be at their lowest.
"For every 18-degree rise in temperature, you have a doubling of formaldehyde concentration in the air — this is one of the chemical properties of matter," industrial hygienist Mary DeVany says. Her firm, DeVany Industrial Consultants, has tested hundreds of FEMA trailers for the Sierra Club and for attorneys in the formaldehyde lawsuit. "So if you take the average that CDC reported for winter of .077 ppm on, say, a 50-degree day, then at 86 degrees, the formaldehyde level would be an estimated .308." That's about 39 times higher than the level of formaldehyde found in the air of the average new home and 39 times the minimal risk level for chronic exposure set by the ATSDR. "When you hear people say, "The formaldehyde seems so much worse when it gets hotter and more humid,'" DeVany adds. "My God, it is much worse." ... All of this information about formaldehyde should have come to light much sooner. Dr. Christopher DeRosa, an ATSDR scientist, wanted FEMA and the CDC to go public on the long-term health risks long ago. FEMA asked DeRosa, then director of the Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, to determine a "safe" level for formaldehyde in the trailers. He refused. "Since it is a carcinogen, it is a matter of science policy that there is no "safe' level of exposure," DeRosa wrote in an email to his boss, ATSDR Director Howard Frumkin.
So when FEMA wanted ATSDR to analyze the test results of the unoccupied trailers in 2006 and write a "health consultation" on the testing, it avoided DeRosa and instead sought assistance from ATSDR's Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. Officials in that office quietly tapped members of DeRosa's staff to prepare a report on the unoccupied trailers that evaluated only their short-term health effects. DeRosa discovered the report had been written without his knowledge or input nearly a month after it had been completed and sent to FEMA on Feb. 1, 2007. Shocked, DeRosa wrote Frumkin that his staff "indicated to me that they had been directed to not share the information further, and not to address the longer-term health effects."
Once he saw the final document, DeRosa fired off complaints to Frumkin about it being "incomplete and misleading." DeRosa proposed writing to FEMA that — any level of exposure to formaldehyde may pose a cancer risk, regardless of duration." He called the agencies' failure to communicate this information to residents living in the trailers "misleading and a threat to public health."
In March, 2007, Frumkin told DeRosa he agreed that "We need to amend our health consultation (report) with information on cancer risk." But it was not until October 2007, seven months later and after hearings by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into formaldehyde dangers in the FEMA trailers, that the health consultation was revised to include the risk of nose, throat and other cancers associated with formaldehyde.
DeRosa's victory was short-lived. Just days after the revised document was posted on the CDC Web site, DeRosa was given an "unfavorable" job evaluation, his first in 23 years of federal service at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the CDC. "I was told my job performance was unsatisfactory because I was not a team player," he says. "There in the packet was also a memo removing me as director of the Division of Toxicology."
DeRosa now has the title of Acting Special Assistant for Toxicology in Frumkin's office. Though he can always find work to do, he has no specific duties. His office has been moved twice, and he says he's spending a lot of his time packing and unpacking boxes. "My desk is on wheels now," he jokes. But DeRosa would be the last person to make light of the possible impact formaldehyde could have on those who have lived in the FEMA trailers for as long as two and a half years.
"The fact is that formaldehyde is just a marker for other gases that are also being released from the particle board, glues and adhesives that we haven't even considered yet — chemicals like trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, methyl chloride, toluene," DeRosa says. Most of these are suspected or known carcinogens, or cause reproductive and developmental damage to children and infants. "You've got 150,000 families, and the latency period (for cancer and developmental effects) may be years or decades. The question now becomes: What happens to these people through time? What's happening to the children? We don't know."
Later this afternoon, I'm going to join my jocular mates at the local "Road House", tosing songs about Viagris. It's a regular jam session, really-- a musical encomium to our "little helpers".
And like all truly authentic road houses, our secret venue has a sign on it that says "Road House".
It's fun. And we owe it all to those helpful commercials during the evening news, and those multi-page advertisements in Newsweek. Otherwise, how could we possibly know which drugs our doctors should give us?
Prescription-drug ads prompt nearly one-third of Americans to ask their doctors about an advertised medicine, and 82% of those who ask say their physicians recommended a prescription. The findings in a national survey by USA TODAY, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health come as drug advertising hit a record $4.8 billion in 2006, up from $2.6 billion in 2002.
I forget the name of it, Doc. It's the one with the two clawfoot bathtubs on the hilltop... yeah, I want that one.
A weekend ambush left a mother and her two sons dead and the father wounded, a grisly shooting and stabbing attack authorities say was carried out by the family's teenage daughter and the boyfriend her parents disliked. ... The lone survivor was Terry Caffey, the father. He was shot five times — including twice in the back — before he dragged himself through the woods in search of help. ... The Rev. Todd McGahee of Miracle Faith Baptist Church, where the Caffeys worshipped and were the house musicians, wept and struggled to stay composed during his Sunday sermon.
"When I first heard, I was like, I don't even think I would have crawled out of the house," McGahee told his congregation. "But God has a purpose for Terry's life. God has a reason. God gave him the strength to get out."
Thanks for the insight, Reverend. But riddle me this: what was the divine "reason" behind the execution of the mother and sons?
The graphic narrative of the ambush — which includes the 16-year-old daughter allegedly having sex with her boyfriend after he helped kill her family — brought fresh anguish to this remote East Texas town still reeling from the Saturday massacre.
Everything happens for a higher "reason". Except the hideously evil stuff.
Nagin associate charged with failure to file tax returns
A more current, alternate version of the latest T-P article might read:
Lawyer Roy Rodney, a friend and business partner of Mayor Ray Nagin, whose business dealings have been under federal scrutiny for years, was charged Monday with a single misdemeanor charge of failing to file income tax returns.
Moldy City documents why Roy Rodney's connections to OUR current MAYOR are as strong as his connections to former Mayor Morial. But you'd never know that reading about Rodney in the Times Picayune. (Update: BSJD has more.)
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said today its only ``direct'' currency investment last year was in the real against the dollar. Direct currency positions generated $2.3 billion of pretax profits over the past five years, the company said.
John McCain is proud that Kevin Hassett is one of his economic advisers.
You may recall that late in 1999, just months before the Dow peaked near 12000, Kevin Hassett teamed up with James K. Glassman to write Dow 36,000-- a work so dangerously stupid, so nauseatingly blind, so willfully obtuse, that it became a landmark in bad financial advice.
Here's a shorter version of Dow 36,000: Come on in, Noobs, the water's fine! Contrary to recent warnings, stocks are wildly, maniacally undervalued, because... it's different this time! And we have some bad math to prove it. Apparent market risks are really mirages, kids, and if you don't put your savings into stocks right now, you could miss the big, big, big money. Other investors are actually being rationally exuberant right now, and we think you should take the plunge, too. Please understand that we're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy, but, really, you'll find it's not so "crazy" after all. Put you're money in the market now. You won't be sorry. Trust us.
Eight years after Hassett and Glassman told casual investors to plough their savings into stocks, the Dow was dipping down near 12,000, almost exactly where it had crested in January of '00. During these embarrassing years, Hassett and Glassman could've 'fessed up and admitted they were horribly wrong, and that their work led a lot of people to lose a lot of money in the stock market. However, instead of doing that, they decided to just lie about what their book actually said.
So, to review: McCain has Coburn advising him on the social issues, and Hassett advising him on economics. In my mind, these are two of the worst possible choices. You would have to work very, very hard to find advisers who would do more damage to the country. Seriously, I'd rather have apes throwing darts at random policy menus rather than trust the judgment of these two clowns.
=== Full disclosure: Since 2004, YRHT has beenpredicting that "the painful deflating of America's credit bubble" would last throughout the rest of the decade. YRHT expected that this deflation would keep the Dow within a 7000-12000 range, paralleling the 700-1200 range it kept from 1968 to 1982. (This is not an original insight.) Except for last year, the Dow has been roughly "bottled" in this range since 1997. If the 68/82 parallel holds, we may have to wait another year or two before the Dow breaks out of the 7000/12000 "bottle" for good.
As always, I am not advising anyone to do anything with any financial instrument.
It's not often that a reporter stumps John McCain. But it happened Friday, and it was a telling moment for the Republican presidential contender.
The bus had been rolling for a half-hour and McCain was holding court on everything from Iraq to college basketball... And then someone asked about public funding for contraception in Africa to prevent the spread of AIDS.
"I'm sure I've taken a position on it in the past," he stammered as he looked to his communications director. "I'm sure I'm opposed to government funding."
Sensing a vulnerable moment, reporters kept the questions coming. What about sex education in the schools? Should it mention contraceptives? Or only abstinence, like President Bush wants?
"I think I support the president's present policy," he said, tentatively.
More questions: Do condoms stop sexually transmitted disease?
A long pause.
A stern look.
"I've never gotten into these issues or thought much about them," he said, almost crying uncle. "Obviously, we all want to stop the spread of AIDS. Everybody wants to do that. What's the most viable way of doing that?"
Well? The reporters asked?
In a last ditch attempt to rescue himself, McCain told an aide to go get a briefing paper prepared by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a doctor, who he said has been advising him on "these issues." But the aide couldn't find the briefing paper. "We've lost it," McCain mumbled.
"Whether I support government funding for them or not, I don't know," McCain said about contraceptives. He then said he'd look into it for the reporters, who finally let him off the hook and moved onto other subjects again.
I mean, this is the guy who condemned NBC for airing "Schindler's List". Why? Because Coburn worried about the film's nudity and "irresponsible sexual behavior." In his mind, I guess, nothing quite stimulates the gonads like a crowd of skeletons taking a shower in Auschwitz.
Except for the dreaded gay ass sex agenda, that is:
The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power ... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda.
And this guy is writing "briefing papers" on "these issues" for Sen. McCain? Yikes.
More on McCain's esteemed coterie of advisors shortly.
--- Of course, even a wingnut squirrel gets the time right once a year... or something like that.
Pomp and ceremony greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his arrival in Iraq on Sunday, the fanfare a stark contrast to the rushed and secretive visits of his bitter rival U.S. President George W. Bush.
Ahmadinejad held hands with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani as they walked down a red carpet to the tune of their countries' national anthems, his visit the first by an Iranian president since the two neighbours fought a ruinous war in the 1980s.
His warm reception, in which he was hugged and kissed by Iraqi officials and presented with flowers by children, was Iraq's first full state welcome for any leader since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.
--- Update: Apparently I was on the same wavelength as dsb. --- *