Saturday, October 04, 2008

Own-the-shit society "hedge fund for the people" 

NYT:

It will be one of the world’s largest asset management firms with an impressive $700 billion war chest. Nothing short of the global economy depends on its success. And the Treasury Department has barely a month to get it up and running.


The good news is, they already have a website, and as we all know that's half the battle right there.



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Thx to Singularity

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Friday, October 03, 2008

No gay pride rainbow flags were harmed in the making of this video 

The Clarion-Ledger reports:

Governor Bobby Jindal is becoming a hot commodity on the national fundraising circuit.
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Jindal was in Jackson on Thursday to attend a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker.

Wicker faces Democrat Ronnie Musgrove in the November 4 election to fill the final four years of a six-year term started by Republican Trent Lott.

I'm glad Jindal is a hot commodity, and I look forward to him running for national office. That will be fun.

Also: For kicks, take a look at this "fabulous" attack ad the National Republican Senate Committee is running against Musgrove.

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Endorsements 

This is just a scorekeeping list more than anything else, to let you know where I stand.

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U.S. Congress Democratic Primary

LA-01: Jim Harlan

LA-02: Troy Carter

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INSPECTOR GENERAL CHARTER AMENDMENT: To make the Office of the Inspector General a permanent part of city government, allow the IG to hire special counsel, establish a monitor for the Police Department and provide a funding source for the operations

FOR
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Orleans Parish School Board:

6th District: Percy Marchand (who was recently subjected to an anonymous flier attack littered with false claims)

4th District: Camacia Smith-Ross, who YRHT endorsed four years ago

3rd District: Davin Boldissar
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D.A.: No recommendation
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Criminal District Court

Section K: Blecch. My recommendation is to avoid vomiting in the polling booth. Do a protest vote, write in None of the Above... do anything but vote for either Lon Burns or Judge Arthur Hunter. Some background here.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Jain says 

One of my daughters* has the middle name "Jane". Before she was born, I flirted with the idea of naming her "Jain", so that she could go through life correcting people, saying "It's spelled J-A-I-N... you know, like the religion".

My wife Lovely vetoed the idea. Probably wise.

Plus, charismatic Jains are so annoying.

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title ref
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* Either Pearlgirl or Pearlgirl Deuce. I forget which one, it's been a long morning.

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Like an ugly infant, this statement is "breathtaking" 

CBS interview with Palin:

COURIC (to Palin): Do you think there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?

PALIN: I do. Yeah, I do.

COURIC: the cornerstone of Roe v Wade

PALIN: I do. And I believe that-- individual states can handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in in an issue like that.

Huh?

Hilzoy responds:

If there is a right to privacy in the US Constitution, then protecting it is a federal issue. It has to be. You just cannot say that there is a right to privacy in the US Constitution, but that what to do about that fact should be up to the states. Not if you understand what the Constitution is, and how our system of government works.


Video here.

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"Ownership society" becomes "Own-the-shit society" 

Newsweek's Daniel Gross:

The Bush administration's desire to turn all Americans into participants in the capital markets through the privatization of Social Security never got off the ground. But in the last months of its second term, it has managed to pull off something of a coup. Soon enough, we'll all collectively own various securities issued by lots of big companies. Too bad the Ownership Society is happening only because we became a Bad Debt Society.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"See, it's split" 

Right down the fringe.




H/T Humid Haney

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Gore tells youth to rise up against dirty Little Gypsy? 

CNN:

Former vice president and environmental campaigner Al Gore has urged young people to protest against new coal-fired power plants that don't use carbon capture and storage technology.

Speaking at the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York, Gore said: "If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."

Gore, whose words were met with cheers and applause, believes that the world has fallen behind in tackling climate change in the last year. "This is a rout," he said. "We are losing badly."

As I see it, this is a clear call to action for the remaining youth in Louisiana to oppose Entergy's plans to reconfugure its "Little Gypsy" power plant (at our expense) to burn dirty petroleum coke and coal instead of cleaner natural gas.

One question, though. Why should only the "young people" have all the fun?



On another front in the battle, I want to bring your attention to this excerpt from Councilmember Shelley Midura's letter to Entergy New Orleans about some more energy rate shenanigans that will cost the state billions:
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Via Hand Delivery and Email

Roderick K. West

President and Chief Executive Officer

Entergy New Orleans, Inc.

1600 Perdido Street

New Orleans, Louisiana 70112


Dear Rod:

I write in response to your September 25, 2008 letter. Despite your assurances to the contrary during the September 25, 2008 Council Utility Committee meeting, the letter does not disclose a single action taken by Entergy New Orleans, Inc. (“ENO”) to protect its ratepayers from Entergy Arkansas, Inc.’s (“EAI”) and Entergy Mississippi, Inc.’s (“EMI”) announced plan to withdraw from the System Agreement, cease making Bandwidth remedy payments and impose a new System Agreement upon the parties. Because we have read the testimony given by EAI in its proceedings before the Arkansas Public Service Commission (“APSC”), we know that, rather than protecting Louisiana ratepayers, ENO has agreed to all of the following, which will cost these ratepayers literally billions of dollars:


a. ENO has agreed that a new System Agreement will preclude Bandwidth remedy payments.1 Pursuant to controlling FERC precedent, Louisiana ratepayers are indisputably entitled to those payments, at least until 2013, when EAI would exit the System. By agreeing to impose a new agreement before 2013 that does not to pursue the Bandwidth payments, ENO is surrendering approximately $200 million per year, for six years, that would flow to the benefit of Louisiana ratepayers – or $1.2 billion.


b. In agreeing to surrender the right to receive these payments, ENO is facilitating EAI’s evasion of possibly more than $200 million per year for an indeterminate period of time in the future (even after 2013), all of which would flow to the benefit of Louisiana ratepayers.


c. At Entergy Operating Committee meetings, ENO has agreed that EAI and EMI will owe no break-up fees or transition costs for exiting the System Agreement.2 In a 2007 ruling, FERC announced that Louisiana ratepayers might be entitled to such fees.3 By agreeing that EAI and EMI are not required to pay them, ENO is prejudicing New Orleans ratepayers’ ability to recover hundreds of millions of additional dollars.


Your letter does not (and cannot) deny any of the above. It is shocking to this regulatory body that ENO has taken these actions. It is equally shocking that it has never informed the Council that it is doing so, in spite of our repeated requests for information.


Instead of agreeing to surrender hundreds of millions of dollars that should be flowing to the benefit of Louisiana ratepayers, we expect ENO to take dramatic action to protect those ratepayers from EAI and EMI’s attempt to exit the system without adverse consequences. A prudent utility company should be doing all of the following in this situation:


a. Refuse to allow EAI or EMI to amend the System Agreement before 2013, and thereby escape more than $200 million in annual Bandwidth remedy payments that must be paid pursuant to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) order;


b. Fight for continuing equalization payments pursuant to FERC precedent, which holds that affiliated entities with a history of joint planning and operations must have roughly equal cost structures, even in the absence of a system agreement requiring equality;


  1. Fight for ENO’s right to transition costs or breakup fees upon EAI’s exit from the System Agreement;


d. Organize an effort of the non-withdrawing Entergy Operating Companies (“EOCs”), who hold a majority of the voting power on the Entergy Operating Committee (“Operating Committee”), to oppose EAI and EMI’s efforts to withdraw without consequence;


e. Communicate openly and consistently with the Council on what ENO and Entergy Corporation (“Entergy”) are doing to protect New Orleans ratepayers’ rights to Bandwidth remedy payments between now and 2013, Bandwidth remedy payments after EAI’s withdrawal, and transition costs; and


f. Development of an ENO long term generating resource plan with and without EAI and EMI’s participation in a successor system agreement and communication and consultation with the Council on the economic impacts of such plans on ENO ratepayers.


ENO has taken none of these actions.

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Just doing my part to keep the brand out there 

FP: New Orleans is a world murder capital. Number 2, behind Caracas Venezuela.

Recall this WWL news piece from 8/10/07:

In a city where the tourism industry is the lifeblood of a fragile economy, the wave of violence threatens to derail efforts to bring visitors -- and former residents -- back. Yet Nagin, at a bricklaying ceremony Thursday, told reporters it's a "two-edged sword."

"It's not good for us, but it also keeps the New Orleans brand out there, and it keeps people thinking about our needs and what we need to bring this community back," he said. "Sure it hurts, but we have to keep working every day to make the city better."
Speaking of two edge swords...

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H/T Tree of Woe.

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Permanent pump stations delayed to 2013? 

Matt McBride writes an open letter to New Orleanians with some disturbing information:
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Dear New Orleanians,

The Corps has filed a revised consistency statement regarding the permanent pump stations with the state of Louisiana:http://www.nolaenvironmental.gov//nola_public_data//projects/usace_levee/docs/original/IER5CZMPublic.pdf

In there, for the first time, they have revealed an estimate construction time. It is 36 months.

They have publicly promised the pump stations by June 1, 2012. Thus contracts would need to be issued by June 1, 2009, if not earlier.

However, according to page 5 of their own construction schedule (dated August 8, 2008): http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/hps/pdf/Upcoming_Contracts/Potential_Upcoming_Contracts_8_Aug_08.pdf

They are not due to issue the contract for the stations until the first quarter of 2010. And there is no guarantee construction would begin as soon as the contract was issued.

Thus it would appear there is no way they can meet their 2012 date. It seems far more likely the pump stations will not be ready until 2013 at the earliest, or three years after they were originally promised.

Matt McBride
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"Unconscionable" 

Flashback! On 11/05/07 a Times Picayune editorial stated:

11 months after the state landed $75 million, not a single [Katrina] cottage has gone up -- and that's a disgrace.

In a strongly-worded letter to the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency delivered in November 2007, Governor Kathleen "Queen Bee" Blanco agreed, saying:

The LHFA is strangling this project in red tape.... [its] inability to deliver the first cottage is unconscionable.
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You will begin construction on the first set of cottages before the end of November. There will be no ceremonial groundbreaking. You will commence construction posthaste...

Then I wrote:

[N]ow all these embarrassing delays [comfort] all the Bushies and all the Louisiana haters who think we are too stupid and corrupt to self-govern. "It's no use, they'll just waste it... look at Mississippi...etc".
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I am hopeful that Governor Jindal will be a huge improvement over Blanco in terms of cutting red tape and dealing with sluggish state bureacracies.

Item! From the front page of today's Times Picayune (now only $.75 a copy):

Public officials say they have made progress on an alternative housing program in the seven months since Gov. Bobby Jindal stripped the project from the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency and gave it to the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

But through two governors, two contracts with the same builder and a change in the state agency responsible for oversight, none of the projected 500 or so Louisiana Cottages have been built; and there are no groundbreakings scheduled for Louisiana's $75 million share of the $400 million pilot program that Congress authorized in 2006.

Mississippi has 2,810 cottages in place. Louisiana, zero. Governor Blanco ordered the LHFA to begin construction eleven months ago, and they didn't get it done. Then Governor Jindal gave the project to the LRA, and they haven't gotten it done. If the delays were "unconscionable" eleven months ago... what are they now? Criminal?

Also, as mominem noted in the comments last year, Treasurer John N. Kennedy suggested that the Road Home program should be administered through the hapless Louisiana Housing Finance Agency.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Draft 

On Tuesdays I do some blogging at First Draft. Unfortunately, today's post sucks, but the one for next week is going to be spectacular.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Barr barred from LA ballot 

From the Reduct Box, we learn that "Louisiana voters will not be able to vote for Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr."

So, let's see. Conservative Louisianans voted in the primary for Mike Huckabee, but those votes didn't count for a hill of beans.

And now they won't have the opportunity to vote for Libertarian Bob Barr. My friend Medium Jim was going to support Barr. Now what? I think LA conservatives who are not enthralled by McCain should find a fringe protest candidate to support. Demand more voices, more choices. Not some orchestrated selection by the powers-that-be.

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Update: Socialists are off the ballot, too. More here.

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Ratboy returns 

My friend Ratboy (and his better half) moved back to New Orleans after spending three years in Chicago after Katrina. He's glad to be home, and he accompanied me to the Saints game yesterday.

It was fun. Dilly and Berto told us about the "Captain's Table" concessions area (near Sect. 634), which features incredibly good Dome food! Delicious seafood stuffed bell peppers, decent-looking po boys, and Blue Moon beer on tap. Definitely worth the walk.


Glad to have you back, Ratboy.

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Braceletgate 

This bracelet b.s. is exactly the sort of unsubstantial issue for which the right wing drools in anticipation. Over the weekend they incessantly cried "Where's the media? What about braceletgate?" Well, the media followed up on the non-story, and, predictably, there's nothing there.

Now the right is silent.

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Cedric Richmond injects drug use into campaign debate 

This totally lacked class:

With U.S. Rep. William Jefferson awaiting trial on federal corruption charges, the six Democrats trying to defeat him in next Saturday's party primary have made honesty and integrity the centerpiece of the campaign.

But during the taping Friday of the only televised debate of the contest, two of Jefferson's most formidable challengers -- state Rep. Cedric Richmond and former TV news anchor Helena Moreno -- spent more time trying to discredit each other on those same issues than the nine-term incumbent.
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[W]hen Richmond got to pitch a question, he targeted Moreno again, though he said his challenge was intended for the entire panel.

"Would everyone up here, Miss Moreno specifically, would you be willing to submit to a random drug test?" Richmond asked, noting that many job applicants face such screening.

What an idiotic move by Richmond! When he said "Miss Moreno specifically", his implication was clear. Moreno smartly called his bluff, and took and passed a drug test immediately after the debate, and presented the results to the Times Picayune.

Since Richmond wants to make drug use a campaign issue, YRHT wants to know: where is Richmond's most recent drug test? Has he ever "experimented" with an illegal drug? If no, would he be willing to take a comprehensive spinal tap test and publish the results? Put up or shut up, Cedric.

Now, as Chris Rock humorously made plain a couple nights ago, context matters. I'm usually not a fan of the ole' "what if a white person said that" mode of analysis, but let's play that game and imagine the following: what if, say, in the New Orleans DA race, one of the white candidates had asked the lone black candidate "Would everyone up here, specifically Mr. Jason Williams, be willing to submit to a random drug test?" You know there would be a firestorm of publicity over that. It would dominate the discussions until election day. Yet, Richmond makes a comparably stupid, dumb move, and won't receive a commensurate backlash.

I'm sorry, I can't vote for this guy, and I'm dumbfounded that he's garnered so many endorsements.

Moreno, no. Richmond, no. Kenya Smith, hell no. Byron Lee, hell no to the tenth. James Carter, possibly (in the runoff, holding my nose).

Right now, like the Krewe of Truth, I plan to support Troy Carter in the primaries.

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Update: I laughed out loud during Chris Rock's bit about violating Gatemouth's fatty armpit.

Also, regarding spinal taps, here's a quick story.

Early in my youth, when I was young, just a little boy, wanting to have fun... there was an odd boy in high school who was in my AP calculus class. We'll call him "Jerome". Jerome often sat in the back of the classroom muttering to himself. Jerome hardly ever interacted with anyone in my AP calculus class (which I can sort of understand), but he rarely said anything to anyone-- ever-- and when he did, it was often a very strange non sequitur. Then Jerome missed about a week of school because (rumor had it) he got pissed off at his mom and threw a tv into the pool.

One day the AP physics class took a special nuclear physics test for the U.S. Navy, and everyone was shocked to learn that Jerome aced the damn thing. He went and got a spinal tap, and was accepted (I think) to the Navy Nuclear Power School. For all I know he's in a nuclear submarine as we speak.

Towards the end of senior year, I was driving a van full of heavy metal enthusiasts down I-4 to see the titanic Slayer/Anthrax/Megadeth concert in Orlando. We listened to Pennywise's "No Way Out" along the way (among other selections). We were excited and sort of scared-- this show was going to get "sick", and the mosh pit would be intense. Then Jerome pulls up alongside us, driving a black Trans Am. He leaned out the window with raised spiked leather fist, and unleashed an epic barbaric yalp, then sped away to the show.

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