Friday, October 10, 2008

Shepherd 

WWL AM870:

At a hearing before the presiding judge, [State Sen Derrick] Shepherd pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Shepherd also resigned his Senate seat.


You can bet that YRHT nemesis Shepherd will not go out quietly, either. Since he's pretty much friendless, politically-speaking, Shepherd will freely dump any and all dirt he knows. I wouldn't be surprised to see him cooperate with the Feds against Rep. Bill Jefferson (or his family), despite endorsing Jefferson two years ago.

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Me dream pretty one day 

Russ W. of LaPlace writes into the T-P with a lovely idea:

It's time to begin thinking seriously about a regional airport.... High-speed rail, monorail or mag-lev links [to the new regional airport] could whisk passengers from both cities' centers in less time than driving to the current airport takes. And the high-speed links could form the backbone of a 21st-century transportation grid serving all of southeastern Louisiana.


Or, how about this? Instead of a modern airport connected by high speed rail, what if we build a centralized regional stable filled with thousands of really fast flying unicorns?

[Apologies for the sarcastic pessimism, but if we can't build a single prefab cottage three years after an epic disaster... I'm not holding out much hope for supertrains flying over the swamps, pressing N.O and Red Baton closer together. But it's pretty to think so.]

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Everyone is entitled to their own excuses, not their own facts 

A year ago, Art "Voodoo Economics" Laffer appeared on Larry "nosecandy" Kudlow's CNBC show, and explained to everyone why a recession was not in the works because taxes were low and no new tariffs had been slapped on imports. Literally every day, for at least four years, Larry had been proclaiming the Bush Boom to be the "greatest story never told".

Well, here' s the "greatest story's" final chapter:


Net Payroll Jobs Growth

Clinton: about 23 million

Bush 2: about 5 million (and much of that was government jobs)


Federal Budget

2000 budget surplus $236 billion

2004 budget deficit $412 billion

2008 budget deficit $438 billion


Federal Debt

2000: $5.7 trillion

2008: $10.2 trillion (much of it financed by China)


Dow Jones Industrial Average

1/19/01: 10,587.59

1/19/05: 10,539.97

10/09/08: 8,579.19


NASDAQ


1/19/01: 2,770.38

1/19/05: 2,073.59

10/09/08: 1,645.12


S&P 500


1/19/01: 1,342.54

1/19/05: 1,184.63

10/09/08: 909.82


Value of the Dollar


1/19/01: 1 Dollar = 1.06 Euros

1/19/05: 1 Dollar = .77 Euros

10/09/08: 1 Dollar = .73 Euros


Osama bin Laden has not been killed or captured, and the upcoming National Intelligence Estimate reportedly says that "Afghanistan is in a 'downward spiral", and casts "serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there".




Heckuva job, Bushie.

With the stimulative aid of unsustainable tax cuts, ultra-low interest rates, wild overspending, the baby boom demographic in its peak spending years, and a massive housing bubble... Bush leaves us with ... wait for it...

Panicked Markets in the crapper, a recession, and government jobs financed by China!

And after the nation was united after 9/11, eight years later Bush managed to leave us with a failed war in Afghanistan and a hideously expensive misadventure in Iraq.

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Country zuerst 

Dana Milbank reports from the campaign trail in Berghof Bethlehem PA:

John McCain and Sarah Palin were backstage, and Lehigh County GOP Chairman Bill Platt was warming up the crowd of 6,000 at a rally here for the Republican ticket.

"Think about how you'll feel on November 5 if you wake up in the morning and see the news, that Barack Obama -- that Barack Hussein Obama -- is the president-elect of the United States," Platt said. The audience at the Lehigh University arena booed at the thought of it.
...
The sage Platt had more information to disclose. "Barack Obama refused to wear an American flag on his lapel," he said of the man who, at the presidential debate the night before, was wearing a flag pin on his lapel.
...
The verbal barrage in the hall must have convinced McCain he was running with a rough crowd.

"Across this country, this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners," he said when he took the stage.
...
Only the polka band, which entertained the crowd before the speeches, seemed unaffected by the pervasive anger in the arena. "Ha, ha, ha, come join my happy song," sang the man with the accordion. "Clap along!" The crowd clapped. "We're going to party tonight," he crooned, "with joy and laughter, that's what we're after."

It was a jarring juxtaposition: At one moment, those gathered were dancing, clapping and singing along to the polka; minutes later, they were enraged.

Possibly not the first time in human history that such a "jarring juxtaposition" occurred.

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What's the big idea? 

David Brooks:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party.... Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Oh, I'm sure it's not all that bad. There are plenty of conservatives who like Palin and also like ideas... right?

For example, what have the luminaries at the National Review Online said recently?

Rich Lowry:

I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me.

K-Lo:

When Obama says Pock-i-stahn I have an uncontrollable urge to read The New Yorker and find some Chardonnay.

Fortunately I have an old copy of NR and a Coors Light to snap me back to reality. Seriously though -- no one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying.

"Seriously though"? Wow.

And then this response from Mark Steyn:

Re Senator Obama's ostentatiously exotic pronunciation of Pakistan, one thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says "Eye-raq".


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Steyn and Lowry seem to be the type of guys who, after spending about ten minutes immersed in deep cogitation, will suddenly declare

'Hello Again' by the Cars is an extremely underrated strip club song.

Or something along those lines.



Yes, that's really Andy Warhol tending bar.

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Cops not cameras 

According to a WWL 870am news report, City Councilmember Stacy Head asked questions this morning about the City's expensive crime camera maintenance contract. She wanted to know why, after 18 months of inquiries to the Mayor's Office of Technology about the cameras, she only recently learned about Ciber Inc.'s $3 million contract to "maintain" the cameras. Ms. Head wondered if the cameras are worth it at that price, and whether we wouldn't be better off just hiring more police officers.

Bingo!

Combine the waste and ineffectiveness of the expensive crime cameras with the hideously efficient traffic ticket cameras, and you got yourselves a political winner. Stacy Head deserves a lot of credit on this issue. Kudos! And keep up the hot pursuit.

Wonder what potential mayoral candidate Arnie Fielgood thinks about this.

Update: From the DP, we find this juicy WWL Channel 4 vid. Apparently the interim technology officer approved $2.5 million in extra funding for the crime camera maintenance program, and the Council wasn't informed of this.

Some members of the City Council intend to raise "ethical questions" about the crime camera program, and former members of the Nagin administration who are now running the companies enjoying these fat maintenance contracts.

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"Investment banks created a demand for subprime loans because they saw it as a new asset class that they could dominate" 

Happily, Americablog directs us to Daniel Gross' latest Newsweek piece, where he tackles the "lending to minorities caused the subprime crisis" theory. This is an issue that commenter "go" and I have been debating on and off for weeks, and that Moldy City touched on recently.

We'll quote from Gross' article in a bit, but first, a little history that you may not know about, from New Orleans native John Kimble, author of Insuring Inequality:

What few today remember is that one of the government's central goals in [creating the FHA and Fannie Mae and other Depression-era "mortgage market reforms"] was to segregate American cities by race. As the insurer of much of the national mortgage industry, the FHA fixated obsessively on fears that racial integration would harm real estate values and leave the government responsible for bailing out legions of failed loans. The agency mapped the racial composition of 250 American cities and automatically color-coded predominantly African-American and mixed-race neighborhoods red, refusing to insure loans in those areas (and creating a practice known as "redlining.") This guaranteed that banks, which desperately needed federal insurance to do business during the Depression, would not offer loans to people of color or to anyone living in integrated neighborhoods.

As for more recent history, the Cunning Realist has some excerpts from a 2003 Bush speech you should read.

Like Gross, I believe that bad lending wasn't the cause of the current crisis, it was the opportunity for investment banks and hedge funds to make highly leveraged returns on, basically, a big shitpile of risky assets. These maneuvers were aided and abetted by the feckless rating agencies that masked these assets vulnerabilities. Commenter "go" has a different view, and he's invited to make his case (again) in the comments. Here's what Daniel Gross said:

Look. There was a culture of stupid, reckless lending, of which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the subprime lenders were an integral part. But the dumb lending virus originated in Greenwich, Ct., midtown Manhattan, and Southern California, not Eastchester, Brownsville, and Washington. Investment banks created a demand for subprime loans because they saw it as a new asset class that they could dominate. They made subprime loans for the same reason they made other loans: They could get paid for making the loans, for turning them into securities, and for trading them—frequently using borrowed capital.


I agree.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Since Gov. Palin reads The Economist... 

I hope she enjoyed this article.

A number of years ago I had an amusing exchange with Edwin and Candy Edwards involving The Economist magazine.

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H/T Big Mattress
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*

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Adopted home towns 

Jason is keeping tabs on Brad Pitt and Council on Foreign Relations member Angelina Jolie, as they've been visible in New Orleans recently, yet "no one seems to care".

Senator Obama should've thrown Angelina's name into the mix tonight during the debate, when he was asked about possible Treasury Secretaries. It would've livened things up a bit. And, similarly, Governor Bobby Jindal should ask Pitt to be Katrina Kottage Kommissar (but first they need to rework the title of that position, and quick).


That reminds me, the Big Mattress put the word out that Pinky the cat still needs to be adopted.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Election Results 

Justice of the Peace races in St. James Parish:

In District 1 Ronald "Shine" Boudreaux prevailed.

In District 3, it was Timothy "Droopy" Bourgeois, in a landslide.

Same thing with Johnnie Shorty in District 4.

In District 5 "Knot" Celestin couldn't overcome "Bin" Malancon or "Syl" Winchester.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

We iz baelded out yet? 



Dow falls 800 points, below 10,000 (before recovering). Forgotston has some questions.

Some good emails are making the rounds.

Here's one I got:

If you had purchased $1,000 of AIG stock one year ago, you would have $42 left. With Lehman, you would have $6.60 left. With Fannie or Freddie, you would have less than $5 left. But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all ofthe beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have had $214. Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle. It's called the 401-Keg....

Cheers.

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Spill, baby, spill 

Thanks to joejoejoe who brought this AP article to my attention:

Hurricane Ike's winds and massive waves destroyed oil platforms, tossed storage tanks and punctured pipelines. The environmental damage only now is becoming apparent: At least a half million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas, according to an analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

In the days before and after the deadly storm, companies and residents reported at least 448 releases of oil, gasoline and dozens of other substances into the air and water and onto the ground in Louisiana and Texas.


Can we expect to hear more lies about oil drilling safety from the conservative political experts? Will the media call them on it?
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Update: Michael was on this first, and has a great graphic to accompany the story.

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Quotes of the weak 

"The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work."

-- Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Chris Cox. [Yeah, no kidding! And that's basically the same "system" we have with Big Oil and royalty payments.]


"Today is people day."

-- Congressional runoff candidate Helena Moreno [Speaking of 'days', perhaps Helena should schedule a 'let's study up on the Stafford Act day' instead of a 'color my hair, inject botilinum toxin in my eighthead, and unleash the campaign hotties day'. Yes, I'm disappointed in the election results, and yes I'm questioning this candidate's substance, and yes I'm irritated that a Moreno volunteer temporarily blocked me on my way down Napoleon to the voting booth.]


"I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America."

-- National Review editor Rich Lowry [Ummm... "sent little starbursts through the screen"? Did you "return fire", there, Richie?]


"Mom! Dad's making me squeegee the TV again!"

-- Rich Lowry's son [j/k]

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

CHANGE you can hate on 

In between the Hwy 231 metropoleis of Dothan and Panama City, there's Marianna Florida.

I believe the new motto of the town is "Marianna: slightly more charming than Wasilla".

Some tips: If you stop to get gas in Marianna, and are headed west, you're still a long way from the closest Buc-ee's Beaver emporium. And that's a shame. Also, if you're in Marianna and are tempted to drive down to Dirty Dick's Crab House for lunch... don't.

One more thing, if you stop in Marianna and see this douchemook, tell him to go Cheney himself.

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Heh. Speaking of the "most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history", he's scheduled to do a fundraiser for Rep. Steve Scalise tomorrow. Sorry, not open to the media or the public.

A recent press release from the Jim Harlan campaign noted

Cheney's trip to Louisiana will cost taxpayers an estimated $500,000, but the candidates he visits must only reimburse the government for the price of a first class airline ticket, according to a story in The Advocate in Baton Rouge today.


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H/T to Animundi

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Fight the power 

At the Gambit Daily blog, Clancy Dubos concisely explains the shenanigans going on under Entergy's corporate umbrella which Councilmember Midura is vigorously opposing. Please read Clancy's entire post.

The latest example of Entergy’s disregard for local ratepayers... is one for the ages. Entergy New Orleans (ENO) is effectively sitting on its hands while two of its sister companies — Entergy Mississippi Inc. (EMI) and Entergy Arkansas Inc. (EAI) — move to pull out of a “system agreement” under which six Entergy subsidiaries agreed to share the costs and benefits of generating and transmitting electricity.
...
Indeed, if ENO does nothing while two of its sister companies walk away from an agreement — and a direct order from FERC — that calls for equalization of costs among all Entergy ratepayers, the company’s position is morally indefensible. Citizens all over Louisiana should rail against it.
...
The Arkansas and Mississippi power plays merely confirm what Entergy’s critics have said all along — that the subsidiaries exist solely to feed the mother ship, not to prudently provide power at reasonable costs to their customers.

Agreed. Let's get ready to rail.

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Fun fact! About ten years ago, Entergy and [an anonymous nolablogger-to-be] got into a dispute about rates and billing, and [the anonymous chap] decided to forego Entergy's services for a year. The sultry New Orleans summers were a bit uncomfy, I'm told, but you can get used to living without A/C.

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