Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two old Pelicans preparing for a fresh snack 

One

Two

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It's hateful 

Wapo:

Most of America's largest publicly traded corporations -- including several that are receiving billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers to finance their recovery -- have set up offshore operations that could help them avoid paying U.S. taxes on their profits...
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The bailout recipients on the list include Bank of America, which received $45 billion; Citigroup, $45 billion; American Express, $3.4 billion; and Goldman Sachs, $10 billion...


Sing wit' me: Anything I want, he gives it to me

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Not to be outdone, Jindal gets his icon on 

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Inspired by Obama, Vitty-cent rolls out new 2010 campaign poster 



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Thanks to Athenae at First Draft.

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Update: Bummer.

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Pfizer's love poem to the city of New Orleans 

The new commercial for "Lyrica", a medication for Fibromyalgia, features New Orleans. Perhaps it will be better received than the first commercial, which many sufferers of Fibro disliked.

As you know, I pretty much loathe pharmaceutical ads that advise you to "ask your doctor" about their product. However, I do love that Big Pharma has to disclose a long list of risks and side effects during the commercial. While you see images of happy, functioning people frolicking outdoors, you're hearing warnings like "common side effects include extremely loose stool, brain rot, genital shrinkage, and hallucinations of marauding bands of half-orcs".

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Blind singer leaves Seacrest hanging on hi-five 

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Shortcircuit city 

AP:

Bankrupt Circuit City Stores Inc., unable to work out a sale of the company, said Friday it will go out of business — closing its 567 U.S. stores and cutting 30,000 jobs.


Some blame their business model, but I blame their repetitive in-house music selections.

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Sweet Justice 

I feel much safer now.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's going on here? [updated] 

E at WCBF applauds Republican Rep. Joseph Cao for joining Democrats on the SChip vote. However, he says Cao's vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a "major disappointment", and links to alli's discussion of the bill at Fiyou on da Bayou. In her post, Alli linked to the Roll Call vote tally, showing Cao siding with 165 other Republicans who voted "Nay" on the Act.

So, from a Progressive's viewpoint Cao went 1 for 2. Good on SChip, bad on Fair pay.

Then why does the Times Picayune story on Cao's vote say the following?

New Orleans Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao parted company with the other Republicans in the Louisiana delegation Wednesday, voting to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program for the poor, a prime Democratic legislative goal.

Again: Yay!

It was the second time since Cao was sworn into Congress last week that he found himself voting contrary to the other five Republicans in the Louisiana delegation. Last week he supported another Democratic initiative intended to improve the prospects of women pressing wage discrimination cases in court.

Say What!??
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Update: In the comments, E explains:

[C]ao voted yes on HR 12, to add the paycheck fairness act onto the end of HR 11, the ledbetter act, on which cao voted no.

7 other republicans and 2 democrats voted yes on HR 12 and voted no or did not vote on HR 11.

So Cao voted yes to the law but no to enforcement of the law. Or otherwise he just wants to be able to say he voted for equal pay even though he actually sought to kill the more substantive remedy.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Disney-like" 

If I hear another "leader" from our Mickey Mouse government extol the virtues of a "Disney-like" French Quarter, I'm going to combust.

Jeffrey reminds us that a year or two ago, the "Disney-like" term was a "laughable insult". Have we so soon forgotten our beloved Ms. Kimba, the international laughingstock who "seemed to prefer Disneyland to the real thing"? Apparently so.

Sure, a less acrid Quarter is a pleasant notion. But why would we ever describe ourselves by referencing the cultural sterility of Disney? What's next, are we going to say that the galleries on Royal St. feature "Thomas Kinkade-quality" art?

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"This has to do with money and the influence of power" 

A month ago, I railed on the Bush administration for contributing to the delay of the Army Corps of Engineers' Category Five Flood protection plan for South Louisiana. I claimed that the delays were intentional, and directed from the White House. No other interpretation of the facts made any sense to me.

Tim made a comment to my post confirming my view. He wrote:

Every report/study/recommendation that comes from the Corps must first pass through the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House.

You have it 100% correct: The Current Occupant does not want an actionable recommendation.

However, The Gambit didn't see any larger conspiracy behind the Corps' delayed report. In their editorial that week, they said that "Blame for the delays and failures falls squarely on the Corps."

Well, today's T-P article on outrage over the Corps' delayed Cat 5 flood protection report adds fuel to the conspiracy fire, because it concludes with a tantalizing quote from King Milling.

The new study was supposed to aim for protection from "the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane" by combining higher levees, gates and coastal restoration projects.
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But after initially focusing on a list of projects that the corps and state had quickly identified, including many in the state's own master plan, the corps moved into "an era of stonewalling" during the summer of 2006, said King Milling, chairman of the Governor's Advisory Committee for Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation.

Rather than identifying and endorsing projects, the agency adopted a recommendation to create a complex "risk-informed decision matrix," causing considerable delays. The decision matrix, however, would produce no decisions; the agency instead merely identified five groups of alternative plans for five different regions along the coast.


(We remember the "decision matrix that produces no decisions". Two and a half years ago we wrote about it and said: "[Any] sentient being can look at the evidence and conclude that Category 5 flood protection does not fit into this Administration's intended "legacy".)

Here's the rest of that tantalizing King Milling quote:

Milling said that change of strategy was ordered by the White House Office of Management and Budget, rather than the corps' New Orleans District officials in charge of the study.

"This has to do with money and the influence of power," Milling said.

The change of strategy was ordered by the White House, and "this has to do with money and the influence of power". The story ends with that cryptic quote, hanging there, screaming for elaboration.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quotes of the Weak 

"Until there's a demonstrated need in our economy, and a plan to address that need, I think it would be irresponsible for Congress to release the additional [stimulus] money."

-- Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, during his Face the Nation interview.


“Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the U.S. Senate. I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer. I don’t think that anyone, any U.S. senator who’s sitting in the Senate right now, want to go on record to deny this African-American from being seated, seated in the U.S. Senate.”

--Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush, defending Gov. Glagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate. In 2004 Rush, a former Black Panther leader, endorsed a white man over Barack Obama, who was attempting to become the lone African-American in the U.S. Senate. In later comments, Congressman Rush compared Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate leaders with segregationist icons Orval Faubus, Bull Connor and George Wallace, and then Rush said the U.S. Senate was "the last bastion of plantation politics."


"[T]he one area that [Gov. Jindal] and the legislature and our communities must focus upon, as soon as possible, is the overwhelming prevalence of drugs being used by our kids. While private school students are not immune to the temptations, as a state, we have control and greater rights over the kids who frequently use our public facilities whether they be our junior or senior high schools or our institutions of higher education. As a result, it is time that all of our public schools to engage in random drug testing of the students who do use these public institutions.
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"[T]he schools are a hotbed for stoned students populating our facilities who are loaded during school hours, or after school empties or even during the weekends. Yes, the drug use might not take place within the confines of the school yards, but often the students talk about drugs at lunch or between classes or in the case of our universities, on campus, and the peer pressure continues builds.
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"'Just Say No' should be 'Just You Dare'. The war on drugs has failed miserably. Governor Jindal talked often about sex offenders being 'monsters'. The real monsters are the very communities which have allowed four decades of drug tolerance. Unfortunately, the kids we raise are both the victims and the perpetrators.

"Homeland security begins at home and in our schools. There is no greater way to protect society in general, our students in our schools but to randomly test our public school and public university students and penalize those who are frequent violators. Clean minds that are getting “wasted” is a terrible thing to waste. We are losing our young talent to drug predators who are causing terror to our greatest resources. Teenage drug use is a war against ourselves that we must win before it is way too late."

-- Bayou Buzz founder Stephen Sabludowsky

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Monday, January 12, 2009

"The party of Lincoln Reagan" 

Cousin Pat flags Chris Hitchens' recent celebration of Abraham Lincoln in Newsweek, and correctly says that Lincoln belongs at the top of the "American Pantheon". Pat goes on to say that "It shocks no one that the GOP continually reminds us what party Lincoln was a part of".

Not so fast my friend!

While it would seem that Republicans wouldn't hesitate to brag about the Republican President who saved the nation... the plain fact is, many conservatives who vote Republican are discomfited by Lincoln. It's true. At best, they see him as a mixed bag. At worst, he is anti-conservative and (therefore?) un-American.

Indeed, Hitchens describes in his article how blemished Lincoln appears in certain conservative quarters:

A hundred years after Lincoln's murder, an editorial in William F. Buckley's National Review depicted him as "essentially negative to the genius and freedom of our country" and a sworn foe of states' rights as well as a pitiless advocate of indiscriminate war upon civilians. Visit the neo-Confederate (by no means neo-con) Web sites, and you will find this same flame of resentment being assiduously nursed to this very day.

In my view, Hitchens understates the range of conservative dyspepsia over Lincoln. It goes beyond a few fringe "neo-Confederate Web sites".

For example, when Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani spoke to the Conservative Political Action Committee in March 2007, Rudy made the mistake of praising Lincoln:

[Some CPAC] attendees said Mr. Giuliani lost momentum when he heaped lavish praise on Abraham Lincoln.

While many conservatives regard the Civil War president as the spiritual founder of the Republican Party, others deeply resent him as a man who ruthlessly suspended constitutional rights and freedoms in order to militarily challenge the South's belief in its right to secede.
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"Rudy thought he was addressing a Republican audience," said Mike Long, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party. "Mitt understood this is an audience of people who are conservatives first."

Then, this sequence occurred at Tuesday's debate among the six candidates vying to become the next Republican National Committee Chairman:

Grover Norquist, the moderator and head of Americans for Tax Reform, asked each candidate to name his favorite Republican president. The tally: Reagan, 6; Lincoln, 0. "Okay, everybody got that one right," the moderator announced.

Clearly, the Lincoln-haters in and around the GOP don't constitute a majority of Republican voters. But it seems to me that they do constitute a significant minority that Republican candidates do not wish to alienate.

Ask yourselves, how would a Republican candidate running for high office fare if he or she talked about their open admiration for Lincoln like Obama does? How would a Republican candidate fare in a debate or forum if they decided to pass up a chance to praise Reagan, and praised Lincoln instead?

Wouldn't such political behavior be risky, even in today's GOP?

Isn't it somewhat shocking to think that if one wishes to succeed within "the party of Lincoln"... they would do well to limit their public praise of Lincoln?

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"Belief Tank" 

Today's Doonesbury is funny.

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Ethan Brown joins TalkLeft 

Congratulations to Ethan Brown, who joins a big time blog.

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Heckuva job, Bushie! 

Wapo:

President Bush has presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades, according to an analysis of key data...

The number of jobs in the nation increased by about 2 percent during Bush's tenure, the most tepid growth over any eight-year span since data collection began seven decades ago. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic output, grew at the slowest pace for a period of that length since the Truman administration. And Americans' incomes grew more slowly than in any presidency since the 1960s, other than that of Bush's father.


And yet 72% of conservative Republicans approve of the job he's doing.

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Update: My gracious! Meteor Blades runs with the topic of job growth, and links to this handy WSJ presidential comparison chart. But please note that Bush's stats will be worse after January's numbers and Nov/Dec revisions come out.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Rome is fully aware" 

Christopher Tidmore's article in Bayou Buzz (and forthcoming in the Louisiana Weekly?) on the evictions in two New Orleans "vigil churches" looks to be pretty interesting. Unfortunately the article is not online yet, but YRHT received an advance copy.

The piece addresses the central (unasked) question which animated this sarcastic YRHT post about the recent evictions of the vigilists in St. Henry's and Our Lady of Good Counsel. Why did the New Orleans archdiocese call in the police after only 9 weeks, when the Boston archdiocese continues to allow vigils in its churches after 219 weeks?

First let me quote a bit from Tidmore's piece about the legal issues involved. Daniel and I were wondering exactly how the titles of the properties were worded:

According to the Orleans Parish Assessors' website (www.opboa.org) the physical properties are owned by corporate bodies of the "CONGREGATION OF ST HENRY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH" and the "CONGREGATION OF OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH".

[Informed vigilist Barbara] Fortier explained to The Louisiana Weekly that under the original articles of incorporation filed when the churches were established in the 19th Century, there is supposed to a five person board that runs each organization. While the Archbishop and his auxiliary Bishop (in this case, Morin,) are listed as members of the board, so the documents also say are the Churches' pastors and two lay people from each congregation.

As Barbara Fortier outlined, "After the original two gentlemen who sat on the board past away, the Archdiocese never nominated any replacements," as they were legally required to do. This "Church Board", consequently, never met to dissolve the Parishes, a requirement of the original incorporation documents.

Moreover, Fortier and her fellow parishioners discovered, "In the articles of incorporation filed with the Secretary of State's office, it says, "this church will continue to exist for 500 years.'" She wondered how the Archdiocese could change that without a vote.

Since the archdiocese resorted to "secular law enforcement" relatively quickly (despite an imminent compromise to end the vigils that was in the works) I wouldn't mind seeing some "vigilant" lawyers take the Archdiocese to court over this. To me, it looks as if the parishioners have a case.

Tidmore's article centers around the possibility that the public embarrassment of departing Archbishop Alfred Hughes at a press conference helped prompt the timing of the evictions. On the Saturday before the evictions, Hughes incorrectly announced to the world that "the vigil at Our Lady of Good Counsel had ended". Knowing that some vigilists were still hiding there, journalist Tidmore corrected the Archbishop, saying

"Archbishop, how would you react if I told you there were people in Good Counsel right now?... How would you also react if I told you the vigil continues? That they have no intention of ending it? And, that they claim that a person stayed behind and let the other parishioners in, so there was no breaking an entering?"

Hughes was flummoxed.

As the television camera rolled, for almost a minute, Alfred Hughes stood silently absorbing what [Tidmore] had said. He then said simply, "This is new information."

Tidmore writes that this public embarrassment might have accelerated the timing of the evictions and arrests on Tuesday morning. A vatican expert supports this view.

Peter Borre', one of the leaders of the Boston vigils that have continued in six Massachusetts Catholic Churches for 51 months protesting their closure, has often visited the two New Orleans' Churches and has served as a close advisor to the parishioners of St. Henry's and Good Counsel.

In an interview on the author's radio program (on 1190 AM from 3-6 PM weekdays), Borre' explained, "There are three remaining absolute dictators in the modern world: a Captain of a ship at sea, little Kim in North Korea, and a Bishop in his diocese."

"The Authority of an Archbishop cannot be challenged," he continued, "at least not in the view of the Church, and there is a tradition of not leaving a mess behind when you leave office.

"The Vatican recently announced that the appointment of Alfred Hughes' successor to Archbishopric was imminent. The Archbishop has passed the mandatory retirement age of 75, and has spoken of his plans to retire formally in the coming months.

Given that fact, "It's very likely, Chris," Borre' admitted, "that your comment did help cause this chain of events to occur."

Archbishops do not like to be embarrassed before Rome and the World, and certainly not before the television cameras. "Make no mistake. Rome is fully aware of what is occurring at Good Counsel and St. Henry's," said Borre' and former resident of the Eternal City for eight years and an acknowledged Vatican-expert.
To be continued.

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James Gill's T-P column about the vigils had this delicious quote:

They are saying the best way to stop Hughes sending the cops to a church is to tell him there are priests inside abusing choir boys.

Personal embarrassment, on the other hand, apparently gets his butt in gear.

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Last week's Tidmore's article on the eminent domain and financing issues surrounding the planned LSU/VA hospital (which also finds a way to incorporate the author's radio show into the story) is worth your while, too.

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