Saturday, December 20, 2008

"A shocking disregard for the facts and for the corps' own mission" 

From Noladder we were alerted to today's T-P editorial:

Levees.org clearly is making the Army Corps of Engineers uncomfortable. Otherwise, why would corps employees post hostile messages on the advocacy group's Web site?
...
The content of some of these messages is appalling. A report on WWL-TV Thursday featured two of the postings. One said: "Sure, blame the corps for the floodwall failures, but who do you blame for your own stupidity for putting your families in such a situation?" The other talked about Levees.org trying to persuade "underinformed people that Katrina was a federal flood" to get the American people to put more money "into the sinkhole of New Orleans."

That shows a shocking disregard for the facts and for the corps' own mission. The Corps of Engineers is charged with building flood protection systems that shield us from storms. We are supposed to be able to trust that floodwalls and levees are going to hold back storm surge.

And if the corps had built the floodwalls properly, much of New Orleans would have stayed dry after Katrina.
...
Some people at the corps still don't want to admit that. [Levees.org founder Sandy] Rosenthal said that at least a half dozen corps employees seem to have posted the inappropriate messages. [USACE] Col. Lee's apology [to Ms. Rosenthal] indicated that the offensive postings came from the New Orleans district. If so, those people are in the wrong line of work.

Any corps employee, especially in New Orleans, who thinks that residents here are to blame for their homes being flooded shouldn't be a corps employee.

Ms. Rosenthal believes at least six different USACE employees (some or all of whom are working in this district) are posting inappropriate messages? That's highly disturbing. Who are these employees that are using government computers to insult outspoken citizen activists? How many other Corps employees working in this district dispute the notion that a "Federal Flood" occurred in New Orleans? Shouldn't they be fired or transferred to another district, if they disagree with their mission here? How many other local blogs have they visited?

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kimberly roberts 

An inside source tells YRHT that about a month after inauguration, President Obama will visit New Orleans and meet with Mayor Nagin.

Exciting news, to be sure. I hope OUR Mayor can "maintain" himself (4th paragraph).

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* (lyric)
** (movie)

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This looks like a promising direction 

From Cryptogon we learned of this disturbing BBC story:

Teachers in England will have to act as “role models” both in and out of school under a proposed new code of conduct. They could face losing their status if they get drunk and into arguments while out socialising...

Exactly. Why would a Teacher need to blow off some steam over drinks and lively debate? Nothing ever drives them to the edge.

Certainly, you'd only want instructors who didn't have a problem with this "role model" code teaching your kid... right?

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Friday, December 19, 2008

"Swallow this." 

Hostilidays entry:

"The First Toenail"



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*

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"They turn around the big fire, they sing a song to get higher." 

"Bonfire-lover" Michael Homan is seen throughout this local news report explaining why the annual Mid-City bonfire should continue. (Suddenly, city authorities-- the ones who preside over a "world murder capital"-- think New Orleanians can't safely handle a bonfire.)

I'm not familiar with this particular New Orleans ritual, but it involves pagan behavior and fire, so it can't be all bad. Mid-City citizens have gathered on the neutral ground and torched their old dry X-mas trees for many decades, now. Then they dance around the flames in a Dionysian throng and find a temporary respite from the pain of individuation... or something. See for yourself.




Professor Homan states that "You have to run around the bonfire three times for good luck. If we don't have a bonfire, what's going to happen in 2009?"

Is he implying that this snake-bit town can get less lucky? Have we been coasting on bonfire luck the past few years? That's a sobering thought.

At least Homan was wearing a shirt. I'll give him that.


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* title ref "Tribal Convictions" by Voivod

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

kimberly roberts 

The January 2009 issue of Esquire is out in stores. It has a picture of Clint Eastwood on the front, looking severe and manly. The Esquire cover story is titled "The Meaning of Life: wisdom and damn good advice from Clint Eastwood, Eminem, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Jeb Bush.... [and 46 others]." Esquire decided to interview one person (usually a celebrity) from each of the fifty states, and highlight a particular quote from each interview that they believed was wise or good.

Alright, so who'd they pick for Louisiana?

"Amazingly" enough, they chose Kimberly Roberts, from the highly-acclaimed "Trouble the Water" documentary. Very nice! And what were her words of wisdom? Well, Esquire picked a quote that was very much like the quote from the movie which I reprinted (from memory) at the end of my review of the film. Here's what she said to Esquire (short version):

Louisiana: "New Orleans, that's my city. That's my problems. My jazz. My children. My brothers, my sisters. My city."

There's something very New Orleanian about taking pride in this city's "problems", and finding a strange sort of comfortable familiarity in them. After the flood, Kimberly evacuated from the 9th ward to a neighborhood in Memphis, which she initially (and understandably) viewed as a vast improvement over her old place. But it didn't take. She missed her hometown's problems, among other things, but she also had a new compulsion-- to go back and attempt to fix those New Orleans problems, in some small way.

Here's Kimberly Roberts' full quote from the interview:

I thought about not going back [to New Orleans]. I did. Because when I left [after Katrina], I stepped out and got to look in, and I understood why I had been doing what I was doing. But I still ended up going back, 'cause that's my city. That's my problems. That's my music. That's my jazz. My children. My friends. My family. My brothers , my sisters. That's my hometown. My city. I had to go back so that when I'm an old lady, I can say, I went back to help my city. If I don't do nothing but fix up two houses after the storm, I can show my daughter: "I fixed up that house and that house."

Now re-read this conversation Kimberly Roberts had with C. Ray Nagin. Marvel at the way OUR Mayor just makes stuff up while he's talking to her, and see how quickly she calls him on his bullshit. Look at his condescending attitude towards her throughout the conversation.

Nagin walked out during the first five minutes of the "Trouble the Water" documentary, which could possibly win an Academy Award. This is one of the truest and most inspiring things people will see about The Aftermath of the Federal Flood in New Orleans, and the Mayor couldn't even sit through it because something in the film hurt his feelings.

Two years ago Esquire interviewed Nagin, hoping to glean some "wisdom" from OUR Mayor. Nagin proceeded to spin a tale about a "really earthy" shoe shine guy who helped inspire him to run for Mayor.

Right.

Then Nagin talked about how he kept his daughter's gold fish alive during the Federal Flood aftermath.

Touching.

What I'm trying to say is... Kimberly Roberts should be OUR Mayor*.

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* Thx to mominem who helped me edit that sentence for better clarity.

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Here in my car, I feel safest of all 

This is simple.

The Inspector General reports that the city administration is using 273 take-home vehicles. City ordinance allows a maximum of 60. If the administration eliminated 200+ vehicles from the fleet, it could save nearly a million bucks per year.

Yes, I acknowledge that this has been going on a long time. Nagin's not the first to do this. And, yes, I acknowledge that 273 is less excessive than 450. But still, now that this excess is on the table... let's deal with it!

Get the numbers in line immediately, and there will be less spazzing about some of the employees who were obviously abusing the take home car policy and gas cards:

[A] Safety and Permits Department official was caught by a television station with four city vehicles in his driveway. The official later stated in an internal memo that he considered one vehicle unreliable, another was a new car to replace the older one, a third he was using while another employee was ill and the fourth had not been assigned yet.

After Nagin promptly reduces the administration's take-home vehicle count by 200+ vehicles, as I'm sure he will (*wink*), the city should sell those vehicles to a Car Share service that wants to do business in town. This isn't difficult. Let's just handle it, and take similar measures at the NOPD, Aviation Board, Civil Sheriff, Criminal Sheriff and Sewerage and Water Board, if need be.
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Update: What mominem said, especially about Nagin's "newfound gradualism".

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*

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Congratulations, Grandmère Mimi! 

Belated kudos and starstruck wonderment to Grandmère Mimi of Wounded Bird, who recently enjoyed two lengthy profiles in the Huffington Post and the Houma Courier. Please read the profiles and associated links. Grandmère Mimi's life story is amazing-- she's overcome a lot-- and I'm so glad to see her flourish as a blogger.

It all started less than two years ago, when she felt "forced" to create a "faux blog". Slowly but surely, Wounded Bird became one of the most entertaining and informative blogs in Louisiana. Her readership is loyal and widespread. Many Wounded Bird fans were concerned when Grandmere took a "break" from blogging last month, but that lasted all of twelve hours, so I guess she's hooked.

All I can say is "Press on!"

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Bush Memoir titles 

Kos has a post up inviting readers to name Bush's book. Bush is planning to write a memoir and might need help choosing a title. There were only a few creatively funny suggestions in the first 200 Kos comments ("If I Did It", "Mein Inkamphetence", "Your Erroneous Zones" ref here, "Watch This Drive: Strategery in a Time of Terra"), so I think we should open things up here at YRHT.

I'll start (I jotted these down earlier this morning, actually):


Could Have Been Worse (unless you died on 9/11, or in Iraq, or in New Orleans)

Hard Slogs Come on Neo-Con Feet

Walk a Mile in my Flightsuit

Relapse

Did I Bring it on, or what?

Whew! That was a close one


"Must be twice as bad on the ground."

Do What Now?*

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*That's an homage to Norbizness.

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"You can't say civilization don't advance -- for in every war, they kill you in a new way." 

Times have been tough for YRHT during the hostilidays. While other bloggers were brainstorming about important matters, we were spending late night hours assessing the relative "merits" of highly offensive Klan Kristmas Karols. (And then the best/worst one gets pulled from Youtube right before we could use it even though it only had 70 viewings! Aargh! Damn anti-racist complainers!)

The assaults from our enemies were brutal, inventive and unyieldingly savage. New war-fronts were opening by the second. It was overwhelming.

So we retreated. We were at a low ebb. Victories were difficult to remember. Morale was in the crapper. We were about to give up, wave the white flag, and surrender in shame. We even wrote a "Merry Christmas I don't want to fight tonight" post that is still sitting in the draft folder.

But then, like a Christmas miracle, comrade joejoejoe provided us needed reinforcements!

He sent us this, erm... video... and it really speaks for itself. But please stay with it. (For example, at 3:31 think: release the Juice-Kraken!) And remember that the second "shot" of Juice is actually about anticipating a torrid one night stand the consummation of a secret crush, not about innocent childhood holiday expectation.



Thanks to our brother-in-arms joejoejoe, we are now re-invigorated, and are willing to suffer through this long war... and prevail!


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* Will Rogers

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Poetry time 

THE FOG OF MORN

Orleans agog
At thick morning fog
I keep inside
drink nog, and blog.

-- oyster

Like oyster, D.H. Lawrence also wrote poetry. For example, "Southern Night" begins

Come up, thou red thing.
Come up, and be called a moon.

The mosquitoes are biting to-night
Like memories.

"Like memories". That's pretty darn good.

Below I'm reprinting Lawrence's poem "The American Eagle". I think he wrote it when he was on a vision quest in New Mexico or something. It's not great, but it does ask whether America is a dove or a pelican or a prosperity gander or really an eagle. That's always an interesting question.

THE AMERICAN EAGLE


The dove of Liberty sat on an egg
And hatched another eagle.

But didn't disown the bird.

Down with all eagles! cooed the Dove.
And down all eagles began to flutter, reeling from their
perches :
Eagles with two heads, eagles with one, presently eagles with none
Fell from the hooks and were dead.

Till the American Eagle was the only eagle left in the world.

Then it began to fidget, shifting from one leg to the other.
Trying to look like a pelican.
And plucking out of his plumage a few loose feathers to
feather the nests of all
The new naked little republics come into the world.

But the feathers were, comparatively, a mere flea-bite.
And the bub-eagle that Liberty had hatched was growing a
startling big bird
On the roof of the world ;
A bit awkward, and with a funny squawk in his voice,
His mother Liberty trying always to teach him to coo
And him always ending with a yawp
Coo! Coo! Coo! Coo-ark! Coo-ark! Quark!! Quark!!
YAWP!!!

So he clears his throat, the young Cock-eagle!
Now if the lilies of France lick Solomon in all his glory ;
And the leopard cannot change his spots ;
Nor the British lion his appetite ;
Neither can a young Cock-eagle sit simpering
With an olive-sprig in his mouth.

It's not his nature.

The big bird of the Amerindian being the eagle,
Red Men still stick themselves over with bits of his fluff,
And feel absolutely IT.

So better make up your mind, American Eagle,
Whether you're a sucking dove, Roo — coo — ooo! Quark!
Yawp!!
Or a pelican
Handing out a few loose golden breast-feathers, at moulting
time;
Or a sort of prosperity-gander
Fathering endless ten-dollar golden eggs.

Or whether it actually is an eagle you are,
With a Roman nose
And claws not made to shake hands with,
And a Me- Almighty eye.

The new Proud Republic
Based on the mystery of pride.
Overweening men, full of power of life, commanding a
teeming obedience.

Eagle of the Rockies, bird of men that are masters,
Lifting the rabbit-blood of the myriads up into something
splendid,
Leaving a few bones;
Opening great wings in the face of the sheep-faced ewe
Who is losing her lamb,
Drinking a little blood, and loosing another royalty unto the
world.

Is that you, American Eagle?

Or are you the goose that lays the golden egg?
Which is just a stone to anyone asking for meat.
And are you going to go on for ever
Laying that golden egg,
That addled golden egg ?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spoiler Alert! 

Both shoes miss.

Yep. Bush ducks, and the flying footwear sails clean over his head. Twice. Watch it as much as you want, but he always ducks and the shoes always miss. POTUS is nimble like that. He's alert and wily. Nothing gets by him unless he wants it to get by him. He isn't fazed by airborne soles. No, he's all like "Shoe guy, don't bother me. Shoe guy, don't bother me..."

Elisabeth wanted to be included in this post, but I told her that would be overkill.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

I want to be a Cao-boy 

President-elect Obama and family will be taking a train to Washington D.C. for the inauguration. I don't know if it's traditional to take a train in, but as John Avarosis says in the link it's a "cool" thing for Obama to do (especially now). And this is what I was talking about when I wondered if Representative-elect Joseph Cao had an instinctual, naive brilliance to him.

Recall that after the election, Cao thought he might ride a bike in from Virginia to the Capitol. And when he was reminded that it was winter, his immediate Plan B was "mass transit". That's also "cool". It sounds silly and naive, but there's a potentially seductive brilliance to the play. A newbie Vietnamese-American Congressman riding to the Capitol on bike or train (during a recession)... the media would eat that up with a deep Pho Bo spoon!

Similarly, when Cao-- at the apex of his national popularity-- expressed interest in getting a seat on a top committee, I couldn't tell whether that play was naive, or brilliant, or both. Same with his desire to join the Congressional Black Caucus-- naive, brilliant, or perhaps brilliantly naive!

Adrastos correctly predicted that we'd be hearing Mr. Smith Goes To Washington analogies, and the T-P happily obliged. Adrastos, however, is not as sanguine as I am about the potential for Mr. Cao to effectively leverage his "naive brilliance". To be sure, the odds are against him. But I'm not going to count him out yet. The question is, will Cao be able to extend and ride his current wave of publicity? And to what effect?

Can Cao (media) surf?

===


Aside: What is Lemme Kilmister doing in this video?

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Thieves and liars 

These same quotes from this Wapo story were flagged by Atrios and Josh Marshall, but still... this is insane.

But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.

Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives.

and

Meanwhile, Paulson repeatedly told lawmakers that he did not plan to use bailout funds to inject capital directly into financial institutions. Privately, however, his staff was developing plans to do just that, Paulson acknowledged in an interview.

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And speaking of stealing billions of dollars, I agree with Cryptogon and Ritholtz. This Madoff story smells very fishy.

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Will that sinking feeling ever subside? 

The Times Picayune's three part series on "Losing Louisiana" reads like an obituary in the present tense. Today's installment dealt with our subsidence problem, and it wasn't a fun way to start the morning. Here's how it began:

From atop the bridge soaring over Bayou Lafourche, a sweeping panorama of the southeast Louisiana coast unfolds. Scattered strings of green marsh break up wide expanses of open water. Pelicans swing on the breezes. Fish jump across the waves as crabbers and oyster harvesters pursue their livelihoods in a postcard scene of a rich life close to nature.

But Windell Curole, whose family has lived here for five generations, can't find the beauty in it. He sees tragedy. "When my grandfather was a boy, there were cotton fields here," he said waving his hand in a 180-degree arc that took in mostly water. "But in just 50 years, it became marsh, then it became open water."

The culprit: subsidence of soft marsh soils, combined with coastal erosion.

"This whole area is sinking -- and we're sinking at the same time the Gulf of Mexico is rising. You don't need to be a scientist to understand what that means," said Curole, general manager of the South Lafourche Parish Levee District.

Of all the threats facing southeast Louisiana in the age of global warming, subsidence is the most daunting, because it is a problem without a solution.


And it just goes downhill from there.

Perhaps the Venetians can provide some solidarity, if not guidance.

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Update: And we can't forget how coastal loss hurts the ersta industry, either.

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Quotes of the weak 

"While it is bad for someone to be killed by the KKK, it is equally as bad for criminals to claim to be in a national group when they actually are not."

-- Former KKK member (he dropped out after a few months in '79) and YRHT blogroll member Greg Aymond


"Let me be clear, I' m not trying to block this [automaker loan] package in spite of job losses that would occur if these companies went down, I'm trying to block this package because of that."

-- Sen. David Vitter, apparently explaining why his stupidity has reached critical ass job losses are central to his opposition to the auto bailout.


"[T]he shrill Left is increasingly far more vicious these days than the conservative fringe, and about like the crude Right of the 1950s. Why? I am not exactly sure, other than the generic notion that utopians often believe that their anointed ends justify brutal means. Maybe it is that the Right already had its Reformation when Buckley and others purged the extremists—the Birchers, the neo-Confederates, racialists, the fluoride-in-the-water conspiracists, anti-Semites, and assorted nuts.—from the conservative ranks in a way the Left has never done with the 1960s radicals that now reappear in the form of Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, Cindy Sheehan, Moveon.org, the Daily Kos, etc."

-- A "random, politically incorrect" thought from Victor Davis Hanson's blog, "Works and Days", which borrows its title from Hesiod.

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