Saturday, May 03, 2008

I like this conservative 

NYT:

Boris Johnson, the floppy-haired media celebrity and Conservative member of Parliament who transformed himself from a shambling, amusing-aphorism-uttering figure of fun into a plausible political force, was elected mayor of London on Friday.

I think this was the key to Boris Johnson's success:

The Conservative politician Boris Johnson bounded through Borough Market the other day like some kind of hyper-articulate Labrador, trawling for votes in the May 1 mayoral election.

He sampled an oyster. “Oysters for everyone!” he boomed expansively. “I promise to oysterize all of south London!” Searching for money to buy a magazine, Mr. Johnson excavated from his pocket some coins and a grubby piece of cheese. Asked what he could offer as mayor, he reeled off, “Optimism, energy, dynamism and creative ideas!”

It was a mix of blustery charm and satirical self-deprecation typical of a man who once declared that “beneath the carefully constructed veneer of a blithering buffoon, there lurks a blithering buffoon.”


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Hat tip to Three Pipe Problem.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Serving up a facial 

1. T-P columnist James Gill, on Jim Bernazzani:

Bernazzani, having lost his job as FBI chief in New Orleans for presenting himself on TV as a candidate for mayor, told former staffers Tuesday that he is still mulling his future.


Well, that candidate for mayor idea might have to be shelved.

The City Charter requires mayoral candidates to have lived here for five years "immediately preceding the election." The primary is to be held in February of 2010. Bernazzani got here in April, 2005.


Gill puts all the blame on Bernazzani, however I'm interested in who the people were who told him he could become mayor in the first place. My initial reaction was to suspect GOP fundraisers Boysie Bollinger or Joe Canizaro. Clancy Dubos, on the other hand, said that (while he didn't know for sure who put the mayoral aspirations in Bernazzani's head) there were a "gaggle of Uptown swells blowing smoke up his butt".

If Clancy is correct that a silk-stocking contingent from St. Charles Ave did in fact stroke Bernazzani, my initial reaction is: Why don't they like the thought of Arnie Fielkow for mayor? Do they not "feel good" about his ability to control crime?
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Update: The main point I want to make is that there are some people who bear responsibility for pushing Bernazzani to consider a run for mayor. These people probably think that Bernazzani is indeed "larger than life", like the T-P described him-- a superhero from Boston. But not only did their political sweet talk lead to their hero's transferral, but these chatty political kingmakers didn't even check to see if he was eligible to run in the first place!

I mean, a lot of folks in this town liked what they saw of Bernazzani. Certainly he is mostly responsible for this fiasco, but I think Bernazzani fans deserve to know precisely which (conservative) elites tried to get him to run, and thus share responsibility for the termination of Bernazzani's FBI career in New Orleans.


2. Forgotston serves Jindal:

According to the latest figures from the Division of Administration, Governor Jindal’s “hiring freeze” has been anything but a freeze. Nor has it been a savings for the state.

Since Jindal implemented the “freeze,” overall personnel costs have INCREASED.


3. And Lee Zurick, for the second week in a row, breaks reports on a huge story, and this time serves up a facial on Mayor Ray "he understands business" Nagin:

New Orleans could be paying almost $20 per resident every year for 311 service.

WWL also had [Professor and 311 expert] Robert Shick compare the New Orleans contract with Solano County, California, since the same company, ACS, has contracts with both areas.

Shick says the California contract totals $3.9 million for 3 years. The New Orleans contract is for as much as $17.7 million for that same time period. Bottom line, it is the same company, with similar service and software at a $14 million difference.

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Radioactive 

From yesterday's T-P:

A controversial plan to transport low-level radioactive waste from Italy through the ports of New Orleans and Charleston, S.C., for disposal in Utah is in jeopardy now that Utah's governor [Rep. Jon Huntsman] has joined the opposition.

Good.

But the project's sponsor, Utah-based EnergySolutions, says it is proceeding with its application for a federal license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Ew.

In a letter to the NRC, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the proposal "seems like a risky proposition to me."

And Vitter understands a thing or two about "risky propositions", yuk yuk.

Let's gather a bit more detail about this arrangement. Here are some excerpts from a November article in the Charleston paper:

Italy would send 20,000 tons of radioactive waste through the ports of Charleston and New Orleans beginning next spring for burial in a dump in Utah under a proposal by EnergySolutions, the company that runs a radioactive waste landfill in Barnwell County.

Some in Congress are questioning the plan, saying it's the first time a company has sought approval to import such a large amount of radioactive waste.

EnergySolutions counters that other companies have imported radioactive materials before, and that the company can do it safely.

This makes me wonder about how much radioactive material is already coming through the Port of New Orleans. We know there's lots of environmentally harmful chemicals and oil products coming through the port, but how much radioactive material is there? We don't hear so much about that. If 20k tons is a large amount, what is considered a "small" amount? What-- if anything-- constitutes a "safe" amount of transported radioactive material on a river? (Especially when the river's high and wild, you think there aren't frequent "close calls"?) Here's more:

David McIntyre, a public affairs specialist with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the agency had yet to respond to the letter. He said the agency has received applications from companies wanting to import radioactive waste before, though he wasn't sure of the number and what volumes were involved...

In a statement, EnergySolutions said Tuesday that it's a world leader in the safe handling and disposal of radioactive materials, and that many companies import waste through U.S. ports. They cited licenses granted to companies that import uranium cylinders from England and radioactive items from France and the Czech Republic.


That's interesting. What is the number and volume of radioactive items and waste that comes through the Port of New Orleans? I'm not trying to be alarmist, but I'd like to get a sense of proportion here.

[The] proposal comes at a time of dwindling disposal options in the United States. Starting next summer, the Barnwell landfill, one of three in the nation that accept low-level radioactive waste, will accept material from only three states: South Carolina, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"Given what happened to Barnwell, I'm not so sure the (NRC) is going to open the doors to low-level waste from overseas," said Mitch Singer, media relations manager for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an organization that represents the nuclear industry.


"Dwindling disposal options"? I'm sure that looming reality has been prudently factored into the true costs of radioactive waste disposal. No doubt. They wouldn't underestimate that sort of thing to boost short term profits.

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So, if the Utah Jazz win (tonight) and then beat the Lakers in the conference semifinals, they will face the New Orleans Hornets (if they can beat the Spurs).

Thus, the Utah Jazz-- the "most comically misnamed team in professional sports"-- might have a playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets (who are also comically misnamed). It would be better if New Orleans could trade nicknames with Utah, and become the "Jazz" again. Or, if Utah didn't like the "Hornets" moniker they could pick an entirely new name*.

If, as I predict, Utah and New Orleans meet in the conference finals, the Hornets will have home court advantage. That means games 1,2,5 and 7 will be played at New Orleans Arena, and games 3, 4 and 6 will be played at EnergySolutions Arena.

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* Perhaps something like "the dirty isotopes", or "the green jello salad infusion".

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title reference

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

D.C. Madam found dead, apparent suicide 

AP:

D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey has been found dead in a home in Florida, police say.

Police in Tarpon Springs, Fla. were called to the home of Palfrey's mother, Blanche, to investigate an apparent suicide at 10:52 a.m. at the Sun Valley Mobile Home Park.

Police confirmed the dead woman as 52-year-old Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

Palfrey's body was found in a small storage shed near her mother's mobile home, police say.

There was a handwritten suicide note, but police did not disclose its contents.

Palfrey was convicted on April 15 of racketeering and money laundering charges for running a prostitution ring.

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Today's the National Day of Prayer! 

The National Day of Prayer Task Force does all it can to promote the day. They're a conservative nonprofit out of Colorado, created by the National Prayer Committee.

The Task Force says that it represents "a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible."

The mission of the Task Force is to "communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family."

Here's Gov. Bobby Jindal's proclamation that today is Louisiana's Day of Prayer.


I pray that America never has to witness another scene of choreographed hubris like the one that occurred 5 years ago.



Birthday cake and McCain, a winning combination.

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Petrodollar diplomacy 

AP:

Iran, OPEC's second-largest producer, has stopped conducting oil transactions in U.S. dollars, a top Oil Ministry official said Wednesday, a concerted attempt to reduce reliance on Washington at a time of tension over Tehran's nuclear program and suspected involvement in Iraq.

Iran has dramatically reduced dependence on the dollar over the past year in the face of increasing U.S. pressure on its financial system and the fall in the value of the American currency.
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Iran has a tense relationship with the U.S., which has accused Tehran of using its nuclear program as a cover for weapons development and providing support to Shiite militants in Iraq that are killing American troops. Iran has denied the allegations.

The U.S. is sending a second U.S. aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, a deployment that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday could serve as a "reminder" to Iran. But he said it's not an escalation of force.

These developments would appear ominous under most circumstances, but our involvement in the unpopular Iraq morass combined with an election year, a recession, high gas prices, and a dreadfully unpopular Commander-in-Chief makes any pre-emptive attack on Iran politically impossible, in my opinion.

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Hat tip to the Flaming Liberal

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Fragility and Goodness 

I prefer team sports because of transcendent moments like this one.



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"A new poll says Bush-- not Wright or Bill Clinton-- is voter's main concern" 

How can that be? I was under the impression that Obama's former pastor and Bill Clinton's penis were the cause of all our problems.

WSJ:

Only 27% of voters have positive views of the Republican Party, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the lowest level for either party in the survey's nearly two-decade history.
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President Bush reached new lows in his eighth and final year, with 27% approving of his overall job performance, and 21% his handling of the weakened economy. An unprecedented 73% of voters believe the country is on the wrong track; only 15% say it is going in the right direction.

The numbers show an electorate more disenchanted than in the fall of 1992, the previous low in the Journal poll -- sentiments that led to the ouster of President Bush's father.


I'm sure the voters will come around by November, after the summer rebate checks are spent and this non-recession is comfortably behind us. Then, Americans will come to understand that their dissatisfaction actually stems directly from Pastor Wright and the Big Dog's pecker.

How could it be otherwise?

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Cazayoux positioned to win LA-06 special election 

You don't need polls to know that Democrat Don Cazayoux is ahead and will claim victory Saturday over Republican Woody Jenkins. Just look at the Goopers' desperation.

This is a conservative district that went for Bush 60-40% in 2004, and has been in Republican hands for a long time. It will be national news when Cazayoux prevails over a well-known diminutive reactionary like Jenkins.

Suck it, Woody.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reporting from Beaujolais Street 

A fairly readable Newsweek article about the resurgence of New Orleans' culture caught my attention. Here's an interesting excerpt:

This subtropical port, which looks to the Mediterranean, Africa and the Caribbean for inspiration, has always marched to the beat of a multitude of different and very funky drummers. Which city has more beguiling street names—Abundance, Beaujolais, Cupid, Desire? Other places have the Rotary and the Elks. New Orleans has Social and Pleasure clubs and the Mardi Gras Indians— African-Americans masquerading as Native Americans in a tradition dating from when Indians and slaves were natural allies. A Mardi Gras Indian designs and sews a new costume every year; one chief put the cost, in time and materials, at $100,000 each. There are secret rituals, songs and chants; even parade routes are classified. Masking is crucial— disguise, misdirection, all in the service of nutty, impractical, unclassifiable mystery— and it's one key to understanding the city and its culture. New Orleans elevates the chores of daily life to a high level of culture. Porch railings are wrought into sculpture. In the kitchen, the humblest food becomes piquant. Even the funeral procession is an art form.

In the wake of Katrina, New Orleans is doing what it does best: making something extraordinary out of next to nothing. There's no Marshall Plan here—just small miracles in individual neighborhoods.

Beaujolais Street? Is that where the Underwater Dance Club is? Pardon my ignorance, but I never heard of someone living on Beaujolais Street in New Orleans. Does such a street exist? I'm open to being wrong, and being promptly corrected by the online "hive mind" of New Orleans. Can't wait for a comment like this "Erstah, dahlin', my mama wuz bawn and raised on Boojhalay. She been livin' dere for a hundret years now. After da stawm, she made the street signs with her own hands, and put'em on da cornah! You need to get out of Uptown and cross da neutral ground once in a while."

Whatever the case, I still think Humanity Street would be a better example than "Beaujolais".


Here's a picture of the Hot 8 Brass Band transforming Ashley Morris' funeral procession into art (click to enlarge).



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Thx to Mark Folse and Howie Luvzus.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This is where beating Dallas in 5 happens 

AFP: "Hornets humble Dallas..."

Chris Paul scored 24 points and the New Orleans Hornets advanced to the second round of the [NBA] playoffs Tuesday with a 99-94 victory over Dallas.

Paul achieved his first career playoff "triple double" by contributing 15 assists and 11 rebounds and the Hornets advanced in the playoffs for the first time since the club moved from Charlotte and to the Western Conference.

"It feels great to know we are out of the first round," Paul said. "We showed a lot of poise at the end. We let them back in the game but we pulled it out. We're always going to fight.

It was kind of weird, because while Paul was saying those words during the televised post-game interview on TNT, T-P columnist Chris Rose (and child), could be seen in the background, on the court, slaloming through dancing Honeybees during the festivities, before being politely directed to the sideline by security.

For the citizens of New Orleans, the success of the Hornets has captivated a city still dealing with rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Everything we've done this year is all about this city and rebuilding this city," Paul said.

Video highlights of the game here.

Now that the Mavs have been dismissed, I suppose Josh Howard will have more time to smoke cheeba, and teammate Jerry Stackhouse can talk smack to the Byron Scott Fathead on his wall.

Forward Doug David West shouldn't be forgotten. He made tough shots all night, while often getting fouled in the process. His willful determination is extraordinary.

John DeShazier of the T-P writes:

Looking ahead to the conference semifinals, the likely hurdle is San Antonio, which has won four NBA titles in the past nine seasons. The first of those titles was triggered by [Avery] Johnson, a New Orleans native and St. Augustine High School graduate who sank the game-winning jumper in the clinching game of the Spurs' first championship run.

If this was Avery Johnson's last game as head coach of the Mavericks, YRHT wishes him the best in his next endeavour.
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Also, we would be remiss not to tell you that Tyson Chandler blogs when he's not throwing down alley-oops and collecting crucial offensive boards. He's a big fan of The Wire.

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Holy choriated cherubim! 

Republican congressional candidate Tony Zirkle is the political gift that keeps on giving. TPM directed us to this story from NW Indiana (click thru to see the pics):

A congressional candidate is defending his speech to a group celebrating the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth, saying he appeared simply because he was asked.


I bet the invitation was really cute.

Tony Zirkle, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Indiana's 2nd District, stood in front of a painting of Hitler, next to people wearing swastika armbands and with a swastika flag in the background for the speech to the American National Socialist Workers Party in Chicago on Sunday.

"I'll speak before any group that invites me," Zirkle said Monday. "I've spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta."


He even spoke to black folks, and lived to tell the tale! Someone give this guy a Medal of Freedom.

Zirkle said he did not know much about the neo-Nazi group...


I'm skeptical.

... and that his intention was to talk on his concern about "the targeting of young white women and for pornography and prostitution."


"White women", eh? He sounds very strong on "white family values". Does Zirkle support our "white troops" serving overseas, too?

The event was not the first time Zirkle has raised controversy on race issues. In March, Zirkle raised the idea of segregating races in separate states.


Oh, for f*ck's sake! In the real fourth reich, this tool would be the first to go. (nsfw)

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Express decision on polar bears ordered 

Wapo has the story. Background here.

Talk show host Glenn Beck (who can be heard on New Orleans' own "Rush Radio") recently said that "polar bears eat people!" But while I trust that's true, I wonder why he can't personally verify such claims.

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Kiss off, bitch 

After running the text of this Humid Haney post through the YRHT b.s. detector several times, I'd say the chances of it being substantially true are overwhelming.

The post alleges that New Orleans City Councilmember Stacy Head (and friends) made a fuss over some seating arrangements at Jazzfest, and ended up calling a visiting Kentuckian a "Yankee bitch" in front of her husband fiancé and [his] two daughters.

I thought Head had more respect for the [apparent] "Baby Mamas" of the world. Doesn't she know that such rude conduct is not an appropriate lifestyle choice? Why didn't Head just smile and blow her interlocutor a kiss? Or leave and go bowling?

And I sure hope Head wasn't the slightest bit tipsy during this unwholesome episode. That would be bad, given her "zero tolerance policy" regarding public drunkenness.



Uncanny.




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Here's Lovely's favorite quote from 30 Rock:

Tracy Jordan: I'm gonna make you a mix tape. You like Phil Collins?

Jack: I've got two ears and a heart, don't I?

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"Jindal likens McCain to Sadie Hawkins" 

Darn it! The Reduct Box pulled a great post title from the Collective Unconscious of Internet Snark before I had a chance to do so. Good job, guys! (I suppose it happens to all of us now and then.)

Suspect Device live-blogged Gov. Jindal's Tonight Show appearance. We saw that has video. Schroeder, commentary.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

You've got to be Kidding 

Apparently Jason Kidd won't be suspended by the NBA for his flagrant foul on Jannero Pargo in Game 4 last night (in which the Hornets prevailed).

Here's a perfectly accurate description of what occurred by John Reid of the T-P:

...Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd grabbed Pargo by the back of the neck and slung him to the court... If Pargo had not caught himself with his hands as he fell, it appeared he would have landed face first.


See for yourself here and here.

Jason Kidd's right hand might've been near the ball, but his left hand was abusing Pargo with a ferocity that Kidd's ex wife can perhaps appreciate.

Pargo narrowly avoided a life-changing faceplant. You can describe Kidd's flagrant foul as many things-- dirty, disgraceful and dangerous, for example. Here's exactly what it wasn't:

"Jason wasn't trying to hurt anybody. He just got caught in a bad position. I thought he was going for the ball, and he just came down near his shoulder," Mavericks Coach Avery Johnson said.


I understand that Coach Johnson needs to defend his players, but that's utter horseshit.

No matter. Kidd has been mediocre this series, and Chris Paul and the Hornets will be merciless tomorrow night, as they close out the Mavericks in five. (Then San Antonio in six, then Utah in six and on to the finals-- I'm not kidd joshing!)

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Then there's this:

With just more than three minutes remaining and the Mavericks trailing 92-73, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and a fan seated in a courtside seat exchanged words. The fan was relentlessly harassing Chris Paul and trying to goad a verbal confrontation from the Hornets' point guard. But Cuban intervened and had the fan escorted out of the American Airlines Center by security.


I can't believe I'm about to say this about last night, but... bricks to Avery Johnson, and bouquets to Mark Cuban.

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Don't flood you, don't flood me, flood that city behind the tree 

Recently, the Wall Street Journal added a "Culture" and "Sports" section to the paper. Perhaps they should stick to what they do best: business, markets, current events. Take, for example, this "weather" report from today's edition:

Heavy storms that dumped record rainfalls of as much as 5 inches in 24 hours in some parts of Eastern Iowa late last week are bringing some of the worst flooding in several years to the Upper Mississippi River and its tributaries.
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The flooding wasn't high enough to breach levies or cause major problems, but many locks were closed, shutting down barge traffic on some stretches of the river.
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Davenport, Iowa, one of the larger towns on the Mississippi without a levy, had minor flooding in its city parks last week. Friday, city officials learned that the flood would crest at three feet higher than expected in a few more days.
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About a dozen volunteers and as many prisoners braved the chilly conditions to fill sandbags. Those were placed at the entrance to the riverside baseball park and other businesses. Workers built a 4-foot-high temporary earthen levy down the median strip of River Drive, the main street parallel to the river. A rail line and a skateboard park near the river were shut down.

Taxes on the brain, gentlemen?

Well even if the new sections of the WSJ aren't quite "up to snuff", you can always pass the papers along to the Army Corps of Engineers, and perhaps they'll stuff them where the sun don't shine.

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Yesterday I savored this paragraph while re-reading If I Forget thee, Jerusalem by William Faulkner. The book is an intertwined double story about floods, New Orleans and the nature of humanity.... it probably contains several of the best sentences you'll ever read in your lifetime.

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Bow down before the one you serve, you're going to get the leader you deserve 

The Head Pelican informs us that Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots and R.E.M will headline the 2008 Voodoo and Mainstream Alternative Music Heritage Festival in New Orleans.

Previously, John McCain has expressed his fondness for Nine Inch Nails, so perhaps he'll take a break from the campaign trail and come down to see the show.

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H/T to Suspect Device for the link.
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