Friday, July 11, 2008

Beans, Beer, and Kools 

A Po Po platter.

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Comments get promoted! 

I encourage you to read joejoejoe's comments and quotes in the previous post. There's four of them, and you can click joejoejoe's name to get to the source links. Here's a real "doozy" joe found that I want to preserve and highlight:

June 10, 2008 Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said: "For those states that feel it is appropriate, they should be allowed to explore for oil and gas off their shores. It works in Louisiana. You could almost look at Katrina as a positive example. Although Katrina was a horrific disaster, there was not one barrel of oil spilled as a result of that category five hurricane coming up the gulf and going through New Orleans. It wiped out the city, but all the oil rigs were functioning – and there were a lot of them in the Gulf of Mexico – and they survived the storm without a leak, without a spill of any kind."

There's an Olympian amount of mendacity contained in that quote. Joejoejoe finds the Joint Report to Congress from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard, May 8, 2006, which states:

"As a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita there were six major, five medium, and over 5000 minor oil and hazmat responses. Additional minor spills continue to be identified and addressed. It is estimated that over 9 million gallons of oil was released, and this total does not include oil released from minor spills. A detailed summary of these spills is provided on pages 5-6."

Joe says: "CC'd on this letter is none other than Sen. Judd Gregg."

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jim Brown column critique hijacked by oil/katrina rant 

(Warning: this post grew long, and not very edited.)

Jim Brown's latest column is about the political resurrection of Bobby Jindal, and the Daily Kingfish-- for some reason-- proudly promotes it. I don't know why. Brown's earlier column about oil drilling (which was widely syndicated by Louisiana blogs) helped spread the deeply misleading corporate/right-wing talking point about how oil drilling is nearly free of risk. Louisiana has decided to accept these risks, at enormous cost to its coast, but conservatives have decided to push the misleading talking point that there were no "major" oil spills after Katrina. They've decided to greatly diminish the risks and sacrifices Louisiana has taken in order for it to collect and distribute energy to the rest of the country. This does the "Gret Stet" no service at all, especially when we are trying to protect and restore our coast and oil infrastructure.

For example, this brilliant Baton Rouge Advocate article (H/T Clay), titled "Louisiana often leads oil spill list" reminds us of the daily risks and damage we suffer:

Aging infrastructure and the volume of oil either produced or moved through Louisiana is part of the reason the state saw an average 1,500 reported oil spills a year between 1991 through 2004.

That’s about four reported oil spills a day, most of which go unnoticed by the public.

Between 1991 and 2004, reported oil spills in Louisiana involved between 91,000 gallons and 701,000 gallons a year. In percentages, Louisiana accounted for between 5.8 percent and 53.6 percent of the reported oil spill volume in the United States, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office.

Those are the spills reported in state waters and don’t account for reported spills in federal waters. In Louisiana, federal waters begin three miles from the coast.
During hurricanes Katrina and Rita, numerous large and small oil spills occurred along the coast. A preliminary count from the two storms is 464, but [Karolien Debusschere of the Oil Spill Coordinator's office] cautioned that those report numbers remain under review and could change.

“Again, we had lots of reporting,” she said. “Every time a sheen was seen it was reported.”

Guidry said the spills ranged from tiny to 90,000 barrels.

“It was worse (than expected.) We didn’t expect that kind of surge,” [Roland] Guidry said of Hurricane Katrina. The storm surge moved tanks with tens of thousands of barrels of oil and floated them away, he said.

Anyway, back to Jim Brown's column about Jindal's political resurrection. Brown writes:

According to the national CNS poll, Obama currently leads McCain 48% to 46%. But the poll shows McCain would have the upper hand with Jindal as his running mate. By adding the Louisiana governor to his ticket, McCain beats Obama 44% to 39%. Even if Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is added as the running mate to the Obama ticket, a McCain Jindal team still wins by a two-point margin.

First off, in my opinion, political analysis-by-polls is for amateurs. Political dynamics are more important. Secondly, there was no "national CNS poll", as Brown claims. CNS is a right wing news organization, and they were reporting on seven Survey USA polls of various swing states. In the Ohio poll, Obama currently leads McCain by two points. Also, Brown should be clearer and state that the Survey USA poll shows McCain/Jindal beating Obama/Kaine by 44-39% in Ohio. Last, and most importantly, Brown gets it wrong about McCain/Jindal beating an Obama/Strickland ticket. The CNS article plainly states:

Even if Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is Obama’s running mate, the Democratic ticket still comes two points short of beating McCain/Bloomberg, ties with McCain/Jindal and only beats McCain/Fiorina by one point.

... Urrgh. I gotta interrupt this silly fact-check of Jim Brown's "column" and go back to the oil thing. It's in the back of my mind and not going away, and I suppose Brown's research and analytical skills speak for themselves. Why he gets such broad, uncritical syndication is beyond me. (Update: For more, read E Pluribus Unum's sustained critique of Brown's piece.)

Anyway, I gotta spout off some more about the oil/Louisiana/Katrina thing.

Musical inspiration: "I kissed an oil shill and I liked it, the taste of her methane-chapped lips..."

Drive By Blogger is looking for someone with "with lots of experience in giving blow jobs" and who doesn't "mind the taste of gasoline in their mouth". This seems very suspicious to me, but still, I'd like to offer D-BB some time-saving guidance.

Since so many GOP politicians have suddenly become so intimately familiar with misleading oil industry talking points now that $4 gas is here, perhaps D-BB should target these folks (and their girlfriends and boyfriends) as qualified candidates for the... job.

Isn't it amazing how conservatives have appropriated the tragedy of Katrina over the years? Initially, when President Bush was reading Michael Gerson's speeches to the nation, and saying that we have a "duty to confront" poverty (rooted in racial discrimination) with "bold action", conservatives became very uncomfortable. They were shocked when the President said that the Gulf Coast recovery would

measure our unity as a people.... As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality. Let us deliver new hope to communities that were suffering before the storm. As we rebuild homes and businesses, we will renew our promise as a land of equality and decency. And one day, Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but in character and justice.

This sort of talk did not go over well in some quarters of the GOP. It sounded too much like LBJ. Conservatives either criticized Bush's words or ignored them, and decided the proper response to Katrina would be to finally get serious about... wait for it... reining in the most spendthrift Congress in human history. All of a sudden, after Katrina, "wasteful government spending and earmarks" became top priorities for conservatives (who had been effectively silent on the issue for the previous five years). It was very cute. They thought they could pay for the recovery by forcing their Congressional representatives to cut pork.

Government levees burst, thousands died, a city drowned... and conservatives united together to battle the evils of pork barrel spending (during a trillion dollar war of choice, no less). Or, more accurately, I should say that they united around the comforting rubric of fiscal discipline, which always seems most handy when Republican politicians are in electoral peril (or out of office). When the GOP is in power they don't really reduce spending or cut government, they mostly (in Thomas Frank's words) "redirect the proceeds of the welfare state into the pockets of their own kind – the favored lobby firms, the well-connected contractors".

I suppose the President, Congress and others could've insisted upon a national commitment to improved levee and flood control infrastructure after Katrina. They could've united around the restoration of America's Energy Coast... but those sorts of far-flung fantasies were regarded as crazy talk after Katrina. Too expensive.

So now, a couple years later, Katrina has been resurrected by conservatives as a way for them to unite around... wait for it... misleading arguments about oil drilling expansion. Again, those "duties" that President Bush once spoke about-- e.g., confronting poverty and inequality with bold action-- have long been forgotten. Now, all we hear is "Katrina and Rita showed that drilling is safe-- let's do more of it!" And by trivializing the environmental damage Louisiana's coast suffered after the storms, these oil advocates actually make it more difficult for Louisiana to argue for federal funds for coastal restoration. If the rest of the country thinks that new technology has made drilling safe or risk free, won't they be more skeptical when we inform them that oil and gas infrastructure accelerated coastal loss in Louisiana by ONE THOUSAND YEARS? And if we don't address coastal restoration in the next ten years, costs will truly become prohibitive, and Southern Louisiana will quite literally wash away. But, on the bright side, I guess ten years from now the oil from the proposed new coastal drilling will be getting to market, so maybe while former South Louisianans are eating chinese crawfish in a Baton Rouge Applebee's, we can cheer about how gas is 2 cents cheaper than it would've been had we not drilled. We'll say: "Hurray for those far-sighted conservatives back in the summer of aught eight! Too bad there's no coastal wetlands and No Orleans. The weak category 3 levee protection we installed after the Katrina/Rita disaster just wasn't enough protection. Whodathunkit?"

Sorry. Couldn't help it. A latent rant took over.

Do me a favor, if you're still awake. Take a look at this YRHT post from May 15th, and compare it to portions of this Think Progress post from June 19th. Am I ahead of the curve, or what?

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Kennedy: office shopper, flip flopper, party hopper 

Adrastos goes into all the reasons why John N. Kennedy is a Malaka. Go over and enjoy the read.

It's true. Kennedy is an office shopper, a flip flopper, and a party hopper.

Four years ago, he was (sorta of) a liberal Democrat. I saw him speak at the 2004 rally for John Kerry in New Orleans. It was out by the river, and the skies were gray, and Kerry (and Nagin) were late to the event, but John Kennedy gave a helluva speech that day. It was an energized and emotional appeal for economic justice, and it was incredibly on point. I was shocked and amazed. I remember thinking "Where the hell has this guy been hiding?"

But sadly, I've never seen Kennedy approach that level of political oratory again. I'm quite serious when I say that his speech was far better than Mitch or Mary Landrieu's or Nagin's or Bill Jefferson's or John Kerry's. (I remember noticing how "put off" Dollar Bill Jefferson looked when he was informed that he should try to extend his remarks to the crowd a bit, because Kerry and Nagin were running late. I felt like yelling, "If you don't want to talk, then give the microphone back to that Kennedy fellow who has the Ross Perot* accent!")

So it took me a while to learn how deeply misleading that first impression of Kennedy actually was. When his skeletal and ineffectual 2004 campaign for Senate got thumped by the likes of Chris John (who went on to get thumped by Vittycent) I knew I had to reassess Kennedy's political mettle. The Kennedy I saw that day by the river was an aberration. Interestingly, that's probably how he would characterize it as well, now that he's back on the campaign trail. Kennedy's now saying that he was "miserable" during that whole endorsement event, when he delivered one of the best speeches of his life. He was "miserable the whole time" that he endorsed Senator Kerry over the worst President in modern history.

Alright, whatever. Mary Landrieu will take Kennedy to school this fall (she won't win by a lot, but she'll win). He'll have to disavow many of the things he said only a few years ago.

Here's my favorite part of the story Adrastos linked to:

In a speech to about three dozen supporters in Baton Rouge as part of a four-day, 11-stop statewide tour, Kennedy reeled off a string of policy positions popular with GOP audiences. They include support for the war in Iraq, a hard-line stance on illegal immigration and a vow to support conservative nominees for the federal courts.

Holy Turnout! If Kennedy can sustain those sorts of crowds at each stop, he might see nearly 400 people by the end of his statewide "Nonsense on a bus" tour.

* at the time, that's what I thought it sounded like

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Items that stink 

ITEM! CBS News exclusive, "Did Trailer Makers Know About Toxic Fumes?":

By early 2006, the Gulf Stream Coach plant was cranking out more than 100 trailers a day - about three times normal production. That’s a pace, former employees say, that quickly forced the company to turn to low-quality materials.

“I was the one that laid down those floorboards that are so famous right now for the amount of formaldehyde that was in them,” said Yager. “Oh yeah you could smell something wrong with the boards.

A certified EMT, Tommy Yager says he came to the aid of sick co-workers almost daily.

“We had guys that would have such bad flu symptoms they'd drop right on the floor,” Yager said. “Oh yeah, just keel over.”

Current and former Gulf Stream employees told CBS News the company knew it had a problem with formaldehyde.

"We were instructed to open the doors and windows so that the odor wouldn't be as strong when the FEMA inspectors got there," Esparza said.

More about the cheap Chinese wood they used here.

ITEM! (H/T Gentilly Girl) AP News, "GOP: Don't blame manufacturers for toxic trailers":

Companies that make recreational vehicles should not be blamed for high levels of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, according to a report by House Republicans.

The analysis instead points the finger at the federal government for not having standards for safe levels of formaldehyde before Hurricane Katrina victims lived in the trailers.

"Blaming trailer manufacturers for doing what was expected of them would be misplaced and ineffective," according to the report by the Republican staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Nonsense on a bus" tour 

A while back, I publicized John N. Kennedy's intention to run for Senate and I observed that "Kennedy is an underwhelming campaigner".

In the comments Ricky P. replied

Litotes : "John Kennedy is an underwhelming campaigner"


simile : "like" or "as"

And that had me giggling throughout the rest of the day, because, well...

It's just so bloody true.

I mean, how many attendees are in that photo for Kennedy's campaign kickoff tour? Two dozen? Then subtract the Kennedy people and the media.... etc. That's hilarious.

And one of the remaining souls is probably my main man, Brian Welsh

"Today marks the official first day one of my campaign for the U.S. Senate," Kennedy says. It's the first day of state Treasurer John Kennedy's campaign bus tour, which he calls "Stand Up Louisiana."
"We're always in for a good fight." Democratic Party spokesman Brian Welsh is following the "Stand Up Louisiana" tour. He calls it "nonsense on a bus" tour. "Four years ago, he voted for John Kerry. He called Bush's tax cuts nonsense on a stick. He was the liberal Democrat against Chris John and David Vitter," Welsh says.

Welsh is going to have a field day with this assignment. Look at how he gets more quotes in the article than does Kennedy. And not just snarky little jabs, either, but solid, narrative-building daggers (Kennedy is a flip-flopper...etc). That's the mark of a skilled operative. I'm pretty biased towards Brian. He and I worked on the Draft Wes Clark campaign together, as well as a State Senate campaign for a candidate who was running against Derrick Shepherd (among others). Still, I gotta say that the Louisiana Democratic Party would do well to hire political professionals like Brian Welsh. That would be an instantaneous and huge improvement for the LDP.

And speaking of Wes Clark, I couldn't agree more with Somerby's political analysis in this Howler post.

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Where was Michael Chertoff on 8/30/05? 

FAIR question.

My guess is... Snake Mountain.

H/T joejoejoe


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Monday, July 07, 2008

Sabludowsky confirms that Jindal traded pay raises for vouchers 

Steven Sabludowsky of Bayou Buzz confirms what Clancy DuBos reported, and what Ryan at the Daily Kingfish suspected back in June: Jindal traded pay raises for school vouchers. Sabludowsky writes:

Recently, I had a long talk with a legislator, who I will label as “Legislator X”. Legislator X told me (off the record) that the deal for the pay raise was the “vouchers” legislation. In other words, Jindal wanted success with his school voucher legislation and so he let the legislature do what they wanted to do regarding the pay raise. Were there other deals? We do not know. But, this one legislator identified the vouchers and I believe this legislator would be in a very good position to have a good idea what was occurring behind the scenes. Bobby Jindal, if he really wanted transparency in government should tell the public what occurred... The public deserves an answer.

Since political pressure forced Jindal to renege on his end of the pay raise/voucher deal, the pertinent question at this point is: What new "deals" (if any) did Jindal make with the Leges he shafted?

At least Sabludowsky and Clancy are in the ballpark on this one. Political analyst John Maginnis is a little slow on the uptake (NYT link has been added):

Jindal was being vilified on talk radio and the Internet by once-fervent supporters, who had just as fervently turned against him over his stubborn refusal to veto the pay raise bill. His own words from his flawless gubernatorial campaign -- a pledge to prohibit the Legislature from taking the raise the way it did -- had returned to haunt and mock him. The national VP short-list buzz was muffled by a New York Times story in which he was cast as weak and unwilling to stand up to Louisiana politicians, whose level he had sunk to. To bottom it all out, a recall petition was filed against him last week.

Politicians who get into this kind of pickle usually did something wrong and at least got something out of it, whether sex or money. Jindal didn't do a thing and got nothing out of it but grief.

Bullshit. Don't cast Jindal as some innocent bystander. Jindal was in on it from the beginning, and made promises to key legislators that he wouldn't veto pay raise legislation if they would vote for his voucher program.

Beyond the vouchers, it's quite likely that Jindal traded many other things, too. Look closely at this quote from this article from the News Star:

Northeastern Louisiana lawmakers, both those who voted for and against the legislative pay raise, said Gov. Bobby Jindal's veto on Monday was a breach of trust between the executive and legislative branches.
"He made a lot of promises to a lot of legislators, and anytime you tell someone something and don't stick to it right or wrong it's going to create a problem with trust," said Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, who voted against the raise.


"Let me be very clear: we opposed this pay raise from the very beginning."

-- Gov. Jindal

Meanwhile, Gov. Jindal currently has less than 48 hours to veto the substantial pay raises for his own cabinet. As WVUE's Allison Braxton reported yesterday on Fox 8 news:

In the governor's proposed budget he's seeking raises for at least three of his cabinet secretaries, with a nearly $75-thousand dollar increase for his economic development chief secretary Stephen Moret. That would bring his salary to 320 thousand dollars a year. Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine is expected to receive a 60-thousand dollar pay raise... to 180 thousand. Jindal's homeland security chief will get a 27-thousand dollar pay bump... to 165-thousand dollars a year.
State lawmakers say the governor has 48-hours to line item veto pay raises for his cabinet and they fear the raises will go into affect with very little opposition from the public.

So, here's where the rubber meets the road for all the "No Pay Raise" zealots. Here's the real test. If pay raises are such an outrage, will y'all pressure Governor Jindal to line item veto the enormous salary increases given to his Cabinet? Will you righteously ask why Jindal's cabinet deserves massive raises, right now, on top of their six figure salaries? Will you pressure Jindal about this issue with the same intensity that you pressured him about the pay raise bill? Or will you let it pass without rallies at the Capitol, and 24/7 internet frothing, and radio show ranting?

Where is your principled outrage now?

So this is your test, pay raise zealots. I predict you'll fail.

Update: Jeffrey posted similar thoughts around the same time. His is more delicious to read, I must admit, and chock full o' links.

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George Bush's net jobs total will be half of Jimmy Carter's 

NYT's Paul Krugman:

Over all, Mr. Bush will be lucky to leave office with a net gain of five million jobs, far short of the number needed to keep up with population growth. For comparison, Bill Clinton presided over an economy that added 22 million jobs.

For political purposes, there are better comparisons to make. If you are going to cite the 22 million net jobs created during Clinton's presidency you should also note that this is about the same number of jobs created under Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr... COMBINED.

That's right. In terms of job creation, 8 years of Clinton nearly equalled 8 years of Reagan plus 4 years of Bush plus 8 years of more Bush. I predicted that "Dubya's economy will create fewer net jobs in eight years than Carter did in four". That's the comparison to use. If Bush ends up with 5 million net jobs over eight years, that will be half the number of jobs created during Jimmy Carter's four year term. People need to know these things.

Net Job creation and Stock Market performance are far superior during Democratic Presidencies. That's just a fact, jack.

Again, it's your money.

Net Jobs Created (* = 2 term president):

Clinton*: 22.75 million

Reagan*: 16.1 million

Carter: 10.33 million

Bush "43"*: 5 million (projected total)

Bush "41": 2.6 million

Since 1901 the Dow Jones industrial average has gained

6.4%/year during Republican presidencies


9.1%/year during Democratic presidencies

Update: Atrios has related, but snarkier, thoughts.

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"You can sort of see signs of [a housing] bottom coming" 

Cryptogon alerts us to Dana Milbank's report on Assistant Treasury Secretary Phillip Swagel's recent press briefing. As Milbank observes, Swagel looked like "a very nervous man" at the podium, discussing current weaknesses in the U.S. economy:

One of the bon mots Assistant Treasury Secretary Phillip Swagel tossed out was this:

So, we're not through the housing correction but you know, you can sort of see signs of the bottom coming.

Well, you know, we have sort of been hearing this "bottomless bottom talk" from the Treasury Department for the past two one and a half years.

The Treasury Dept. during the Bush years has been an utter joke-- on the dollar, on housing, on the recessions, on the markets... on everything. They have no credibility, no respect, no positive impact. The only way to make this Dept. less credible would be to install former Senator Phil Gramm as Treasury Secretary. And that's what would likely happen if John McCain is elected President.

It's your money.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Media Maven Jesse Helms inspired the liberal internet 

Besides being a "brilliant exemplar of the American conservative movement", WSJ columnist John Fund informs us of another way in which "Jesse Helms made a difference".

[Jesse Helms'] mastery of new media techniques and technology convinced many liberals they had to invest in the Internet and build up the passions of their base.

Like Johnny Carson used to say, "I did not know that".


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