Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Friends 

Have you cleaned up that oil spill yet, New Orleans? I'd like to come back and do my drilling photo-op soon, before my birthday.

Update (8/18/08): "Rush Radio" 99.5fm reports that "The John McCain campaign has notified members of the media that the candidate will be visiting Kenner tonight. The presumptive GOP nominee is making a stop at the airport for an event scheduled for 7:45 this evening."

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Whoopsy poopers! 

Apparently Mayor Nagin's latest "list that counts"... didn't count everything.

The city's initial review [of NOAH's contractors' work] found evidence that at least part of the work billed was not performed at 90 addresses where some combination of gutting, boarding and grass-cutting was supposed to have been provided -- suggesting that as much as 10 percent of the program's work was fraudulent. The city has sent letters to 19 contractors asking them to prove that work was done or pay the city back.

But a check of several properties by The Times-Picayune indicates the problems go deeper. It reveals instances in which residents said city officials did not seek to determine who did remediation work, but merely whether the work was done.
Visits to a sample of 16 of the 780 properties that were not flagged by the city attempted to determine whether the contractor who billed for the work actually performed it.

In five of the 16 cases, neighbors or homeowners were confident that no work had been done by a NOAH contractor. In only three of 16 cases were reporters able to confirm that at least some of the work invoiced had been completed. The remaining eight cases were murkier: Neighbors or homeowners couldn't be located, or those interviewed were not confident about who might have done the work.

The 10% fraud rate indicated by Nagin's "list that counts" is going to look wildly low after the FBI and Inspector General get through with it. For example, if you told me that Punditbook set the "over/under" on the NOAH fraud rate at 33%, I'd bet the max on the "over" so quickly even Usain Bolt would be impressed.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rising Tide 3 

Click here to register!

Click the "cranes on the skyline" to register.

The event includes a J'anita's lunch... and Kevin Allman, who will be talking about the media. Read his latest blog post, it's a good one.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trouble the Water 

Update #2: I originally found the links below through AnimaMundi, but forgot to credit Marco with an acknowledgement. (I clicked the Hullabaloo post he linked to, but got interrupted and read it many hours later and forgot how I'd initially found it.) Apologies to Marco for the mistake, and thanks to him for commenting, because it reminded me where I'd seen it first.

dday wrote a post at Hullabaloo titled "Let's talk about Katrina". I agree with the main point of the post, which is to inject a frank discussion of "Katrina" issues (read: poverty) into the Presidential campaign debate.

Most interestingly, though, is the award-winning documentary which dday references: "Trouble the Water". Looks pretty good.

Update: We Could Be Famous has more.


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Must... resist... urge... to... jump... out... window 

On August 22nd, the "Excellence in Recovery Host Committee" will host a Tribute to the Recovery of New Orleans, and Mayor C. Ray Nagin will get an Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage and Leadership!

Update: WCBF gets a list of the "Excellence in Recovery Host Committee". Councilmember Jackie Clarkson is the co-chair.

Update #2: Juicy background details emerge at American Zombie.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NYT profiles Gadbois the Gadfly 

The New York Times has a great profile of Karen Gadbois' activism.

That's so freakin cool.

And the photo accompanying the story made me think of the chorus to this ole song.


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Cajun Crack courses through my veins. I review my first hit over at First Draft.


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First Draft 

For the foreseeable future, I'll be blogging over at First Draft on Tuesdays. Thanks to Athenae for the invitation to be a weekly contributor to her outstanding group blog.


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Monday, August 11, 2008

"He was a man for others" 

Brian Bordelon, a World Class individual, succumbed to cancer last night. Lovely and I met him through Dilly and Mr. Clio, and were struck by his wonderful, lively, and engaging presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Brian's family, and to the many lives he touched. (And that's not just an empty commonplace, either. Brian "touched" a lot of lives as a person-- and literally saved a lot of lives when he was a paramedic for eight years in New Orleans.)

Here's Brian's last post.

Mr. Clio, Latin Teacher and Dillyberto wrote tributes.



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McCain-Kennedy: we ♥ Wikipedia! 

In June, the T-P reported this quote by Republican Senatorial candidate John N. Kennedy:

Kennedy, who was a Democrat and John Kerry supporter four years ago, sought to link his star to McCain. He argued that Louisiana voters should view the fall lineup as McCain-Kennedy on one side and Obama-Landrieu on the other.

"At the end of this campaign, no one will confuse those two groups," Kennedy said...

Yes, recent political events have made the distinction clearer.

For example, the "McCain-Kennedy" Republican campaign "group" apparently considers Wikipedia to be a top information source on issues like the conflict in Georgia and Oil Shale. The "Obama-Landrieu"camp... not so much. So that is indeed a significant difference in intellectual approach.

Still, despite the differences in where the two camps draw their information, it's a reach for Kennedy to claim that "no one" will confuse his group with Mary Landrieu's.

See, McCain himself has been utterly confused on many occasions, and Kennedy's (few) ardent supporters seem easily befuddled, as well. I suppose when your "group" is composed of two men who flirt with changing parties after electoral defeat, and who suddenly look to the disciples of Rove for political advancement... well, "confusion" is inevitable.

To help the McCain-Kennedy "confused group" and their supporters, I'll offer up this Wikipedia link to plagiarism. Unfortunately, there is no current Wikipedia entry for "the stupid party".

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I love it when you call me Big Pharma 

USA Today:

Drug companies are quietly pushing through price hikes of 100%-- or even more than 1,000%-- for a very small but growing number of prescription drugs, helping to drive up costs for insurers, patients and government programs.

The number of brand-name drugs with increases of 100% or more could double this year from four years ago... Many of the drugs are older products that treat fairly rare, but often serious or even life-threatening, conditions.

Among the examples: Questcor Pharmaceuticals last August raised the wholesale price on Acthar, which treats spasms in babies, from about $1,650 a vial to more than $23,000. Ovation raised the cost of Cosmegen, which treats [Wilms' tumor], from $16.79 to $593.75 in January 2006.

Ovation raised the price of Cosmegen 3,436%. Cosmegen is a treatment for a kidney tumor that strikes three year old kids (among others). Pearlgirl's best friend was afflicted by stage IV Wilms tumor this year. Surgery, chemo, pain, fatigue... It ain't no picnic. Thank goodness she's doing better now.

I really loathe the pharmaceutical cartel industry, and how they push their products, and how they write trillion dollar legislation for themselves and get it passed under cover of night. Thanks again, Billy Tauzin!

Tauzin, the former Deputy Majority Whip in the House of Representatives who helped twist arms to pass the stinking Medicare Prescription Drug giveaway, is now the President of PHRMA. This spring he gave a "State of the Industry" speech, where he praised the Big Pharma because they are less despised by the public than they were in previous years. What accounts for this "success", in Tauzin's view?

Bottom line, I think we got as far as we’ve gotten so far because we finally have the courage to show the American public our hearts. The profound message inside the [Partnership for Prescription Assistance] that we recognize we don’t make products like ice cream and things that people can live without. We make products that people cannot live without.

And when you make that kind of product, you have to have a social conscience. You have to have the obligation to make sure that that kind of a product reaches every citizen who needs it, whether they can afford it or not.

Can you give me a pill, Billy? You're making me nauseous. He gets paid millions to stroke Big Pharma like that. And here's another quote from his speech we might do well to preserve:

Last year, as we gathered in our strategic session and witnessed the change of leadership in Washington, [PHRMA chairman] Dick Clark rose at the board meeting and said, “You know, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” And Kevin, in his leadership, Dick, alongside him, provided us with an incredible capacity to face the challenges we faced last year, and to do some pretty extraordinary things together.

Yeah, we know. We know about Crisis Capitalism down here.

Recently, Big Pharma got [or paid?] Joey Pantoliano to tour South Louisiana, and talk about being diagnosed and treated for clinical depression. (Joey Pantoliano is best known in the oyster household as the villain in the movie "Bound", starring Gina Gershon.) From the news reports, it didn't sound as if his presentation was thoroughly objectionable. But he did perform this cute little shuffle, though, where he took the stigma of depression, and placed it on the medication:

Pantoliano said when people think of mental illness, they often think "ugly, scary, like a horror movie." He said he wants mental illness "to be as benign as erectile dysfunction, and I want it to be as benign as asthma."

Pantoliano takes three pills each morning: a baby Aspirin, a cholesterol pill _ and an antidepressant. "Why is it that the last pill is discriminated against and the first two aren't?" he asked.

Awww. They're discriminating against my medication! Poor liddle pilly willies.

Maybe, just maybe... Joey's pills should be discriminated against, because they don't f*cking work! (for most folks*). But I bet he didn't mention that.

And, of course, the greedheads in suits are standing behind the actor, offering bottled "hope".

The benefits of medication are partly what led the 56-year-old Pantoliano to stop in Houma recently, accompanied by Ken Johnson, senior vice president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA.

The duo visited New Orleans and Houma last month in conjunction with PhRMA's release of a report on more than 300 new medicines in development for various mental illnesses.

Johnson said he and Pantoliano made the tour to show people "there's hope on the horizon" with new medications in the works, and some Louisiana residents can gain help now in paying for medication through Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

Pantoliano and company hope to raise national awareness about the rising rates of mental illness in south Louisiana since hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in 2005.

The rate of mental disorders usually skyrockets immediately following such a natural disaster, but tends to drop within a year, according to a news release from PhRMA.

But in Louisiana, the rates have continued to increase years after the disasters.

"It's very unusual, to the point where Louisiana literally has a mental-health crisis today," Johnson said.

Yeah, we know. We know. It would be terrible if Big Pharma wasted such a "crisis".

H/T Suspect Device

* I don't want to insult anyone's medicine cabinet, but I'd bet the farm that less than 10% of those 300 meds significantly and safely outperform a placebo, and/or an exercise regimen, and/or therapy. And the few medications that do stand out are probably associated with a "slight risk" of lovely things like bowel collapse or swallowing your tongue while you sleep... etc.

title reference

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The fight of his political life 

John Edwards’ Center for Promise and Opportunity Foundation (supposedly a model anti-poverty initiative) "appears to be largely defunct". This is more disheartening than the cheating.

No other candidate associated with New Orleans more closely than Edwards. He began and ended his campaign here, and called eliminating poverty the fight of his life. A lot of my progressive blogger friends supported him for the Democratic primary, and some even voted for him despite the fact he'd already suspended his campaign. Yet, Edwards received fewer votes than Joe Biden in Orleans parish. That vote total still amazes and puzzles me. I realize Biden has connections to the area, and was listed first on the ballot... etc.. But still, I can't understand it.

Update: slight edit has been made for clarity and accuracy


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"No problem" 


Confidential FBI files released this week to The Washington Post detail the inner workings of a secret back channel that Gerald R. Ford opened in 1963 between J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and the Warren Commission's independent investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
A December 1963 memo recounts that Ford, then a Republican congressman from Michigan, told FBI Assistant Director Cartha D. "Deke" DeLoach that two members of the seven-person commission remained unconvinced that Kennedy had been shot from the sixth-floor window of the Texas Book Depository. In addition, three commission members "failed to understand" the trajectory of the slugs, Ford said.

Ford told DeLoach that commission discussions would continue and reassured him that those minority points of view on the commission "of course would represent no problem," one internal FBI memo shows. The memo does not name the members involved and does not elaborate on what Ford meant by "no problem."

Surely, Congressman Hale Boggs was one of the members Ford was referring to. He was a vicious critic of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, to whom Ford was supplying information.

According to Bernard Fensterwald's Coincidence or Conspiracy, Boggs once told an aide that "[FBI Director J. Edgar] Hoover lied his eyes out to the [Warren] Commission – on Oswald, on Ruby, on their friends, the bullets, the gun, you name it."

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Is that all [Phelps' god] can do? Have a nutter murder a carny on a bus?" 

The post title is part of Hairy Fish Nuts' reaction to this story. Go read it. I got a kick out of it:

The fundamentalist Westboro church, deemed a hate group by some U.S. organizations because of its raucous rallies to promote its stance against homosexuality, had announced a plan to picket [the funeral of a man who was stabbed to death and beheaded aboard a Greyhound bus July 30]. The church had earlier claimed that McLean's grisly slaying was God's punishment of Canada for its liberal laws and policies.

Pastor Phelps and his flock are pure asshole rictus. And as Ian noted long ago, there's an element of self-hate going on here, which is probably par for the course. So, with that in mind, this gay little Pansy Division tune goes out to Phelps and his idiots.

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