Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Weekend Wars" -- MGMT 

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Cowherdly mentality 

Last night, watching ESPN, I saw Grandmaster Wang's friend Colin Cowherd. I know Cowherd gets paid to have provocative sports opinions, but this was ridiculous. During a segment comparing Drew Brees and Eli Manning, Cowherd was acting like it wasn't even close. He said Eli was the most underrated player in the league, and claimed Brees was a "system quarterback" who played in a Dome and couldn't win a road game, especially one in the cold.

That's an interesting belief.

It so happens that two of my favorite Saints performances of all time were road games in 2006. Coach Sean Payton, for whatever reason (familiarity?), seems to really step up his gameplanning against NFC East opponents. (I'll wait a sec while you check this season's Saints schedule... notice anything? Yeah you right.) In the memorable year of aught six, the Saints went to Dallas and destroyed the Cowboys in front of 70,000 dumbfounded metroplexuals.

Btw, where else in the blogosphere are you going to enjoy locutions like "dumbfounded metroplexuals"?

Anway, Payton exploited the Cowboys big "D" with clever use of the fullback. Even Reggie Bush was almost playing like an unalloyed superstar. Here's a recap of how the national media saw it:


Payton called for a reverse on a fourth-and-1 and made featured players out of guys who had never scored. Everything he drew up worked so well that the first-year head coach was brazen enough to call for an onside kick while his New Orleans Saints already were well on their way to a 42-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys...
...
“That was a pretty good licking,” said Parcells, who shared a quick handshake with Payton at game’s end. “I can’t think of anything we did very well.”

The Cowboys (8-5) had won four straight games and five of six. They were playing so well that on Monday he spoke to them about what it takes to win a championship.
...
A defense that hadn’t allowed more than 22 points in any of the last six games gave up 21 in the second quarter, then another 21 in the third.
...
Cowboys fans headed for the exits when the third quarter ended— it was already 10 p.m., after all— leaving the seats mostly to the gold-and-black clad Saints fans. And there were plenty of them, as heard every time “Dooooo-ce” McAllister [111 rushing yards] got the ball, or when “Reg-gie!” Bush [162 total yards] did something exciting. Chants of “Who Dat?!” rang out throughout the fourth quarter.


I don't mean to be lewd in a blog that reaches mixed company, but... reading such descriptions positively tickles my gonads.

Oh, and that Drew Brees guy? He went 26 of 38 with five TD passes. Must've been "the system". No doubt Danny Wuerffel would've had the same performance. Respectfully, though, I must submit that this might count as a "road win" for Brees.

If not, I got another for Cowherd. Same season, two weeks later. Setting: the New Jersey "Meadowlands", Christmas Eve.


A year after enduring a "homeless season" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the reborn Saints are a game away from a first-round playoff bye after beating the Giants 30-7 on Sunday.
...
Rookie sensation Reggie Bush ran for a career-best 126 yards and a touchdown, Deuce McAllister had 108 yards rushing and a TD and the defense limited New York to six first downs and 142 yards in a rout that turned Giants Stadium into a ghost town in the fourth quarter.

Unbelievably, the Giants (7-8), who did not have a snap in Saints' territory all game, remain in the playoff hunt.
...
"I feel badly for all Giants fans to come here on Christmas Eve and then for us to lose the game the way we lost it," Coughlin said. "It's embarrassing."

The sellout crowd let Coughlin know it was upset, twice chanting "Fire Coughlin" before heading for the exits.

Again, I don't want to offend some of the more sensitive members of the YRHT audience. But that description of the Giants' beating stimulates my fuzzy warbles.

Manning had 74 yards passing that day. After the game he said "Today was awful. We never had anything quite like this. We've had some tough games and games where we didn't finish well, but today, we didn't do anything."

When you're completely dominating teams coached by the likes of Parcells and Coughlin, in all phases of the game, in December, and emptying out their stadiums... that counts as a road win.

Sunday's match up with the undefeated NFC East-leading Giants will likely not be a cakewalk. However, if the Saints win, they will be playing at a level unseen since the peak of 2006-- and that's saying something. And as much as I'd like the opportunity to disprove Cowherd's insulting analysis of Brees, if the Saints win Sunday they'll be poised to avoid any inclement road playoff games in January.

But first things first.

---
Sidebar: After a second look, I disagree with Gloomypants' analysis of one of Payton's calls during the Saints/Jets game.

Late in the game, [while] protecting a 7 point lead, the Saints could have trotted out their MVP of the season-to-date (punter Thomas Morstead) and pinned the Jets deep in their own territory. Instead, Coach Soupy decided to Les up on us. He elected to send his offense back onto the field in a mincing, cowardly attempt to draw the Jets offsides. Luckily for Soupy, the gimmick move actually worked when Jets DT tackle Kris Jenkins fell for the lamest trick in the book and jumped the snap on 4th and 1. Jenkins should have been cut immediately for being such a tool. He won't be. Soupy should have had to answer for his decision to employ this cowardly and unsportsmanlike strategy. But, because he was lucky, he won't. One problem with this football season so far is the staggering lack of cosmic justice being dispensed.

When the Jets made a goal line stand against the Saints earlier in the game, their Defense jumped offsides but got back before the snap. (I forget which down it was, it might've been the 4th down attempt.) Later, when the Saints went for it on fourth again-- which Pants zealously criticizes above-- they actually ran a QB sneak which would've worked, but the Jets called a timeout just before the snap. So, when they lined up again to replay fourth down, the Jets were primed to defend against an actual play. (The earlier lame 4th down call at the goal line only enhanced their belief that a play would be run this time.) Given their propensity to jump offsides, and their belief that the Saints would run a play... I think the attempt to draw them offsides was a very smart maneuver. Given the circumstances, it had a fair chance of working, and the upside was huge. Hardly a "cowardly" or "unsportsmanlike" call, in my opinion.

And I think the arc of "cosmic justice" can extend beyond discrete seasons, and even beyond coaching terms. This season, just maybe, karma will be on the Saints' side all year long. Sometimes, if you wait long enough, you can recycle an Aints bag and use it to hold championship parade throws.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

In anticipation of future precipitation 


I HEAR THE RAIN - Violent Femmes
by doulai

According to this fairly entertaining list of Femmes facts
A girl was lost in the Amazon for three days. When she was rescued the journalists asked her how she kept up her spirits during the ordeal. She replied,"By singing songs from the Violent Femmes album, "Hallowed Ground".

Kind of funny if you know how dark the album is in places; "Country Death Song" for example. Maybe she was focusing on "Jesus Walking on the Water".

Speaking of which, I just checked the lyrics to "I hear the rain" and found out I was in error for nearly the past quarter century. I always thought the last lines went something like

Jesus ain't watching me, now I think I'm going (say)

instead of

She use to sit and watch and wait.
Now I think I'll go and sit.

Screw it. I'ma be me, and continue to sing it with my imagined lyrics.

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Dear Mr. President: Don't throw Cat 5 over the bridge 

And to those New Orleans patriots who don't have a ticket to Obama's town hall and school visit, and who would like to incorporate activism into their daily morning constitutional, here's A "Fun Field Trip" for Levee protection and Coastal restoration. Please consider assembling a quick costume and attending.

(Thanks Noladder.)
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotations from Bartlett 

Bruce Bartlett :

During the George W. Bush years... [Supply Side Economics] became distorted into something that is, frankly, nuts-- the ideas that there is no economic problem that cannot be cured with more and bigger tax cuts, that all tax cuts are equally beneficial, and that all tax cuts raise revenue.

If that "distortion" of Supply-Side voodoo is "nuts", then the Grand Ole Party is chock full of 'em! And, by the way, some of those nutty "distortions" were in full force at the inception of Supply Side-ism. The "tax cuts raise revenue canard" didn't begin in the glorious years of Dubya. No, twenty years before Bush Deux, supply side cheerleaders like Art Laffer and the Wall Street Journal were treating this fallacy as an iron law of the universe.

These incorrect ideas led to the enactment of many tax cuts that had no meaningful effect on economic performance. Many were just give-aways to favored Republican constituencies, little different, substantively, from government spending. What, after all, is the difference between a direct spending program and a refundable tax credit? Nothing, really, except that Republicans oppose the first because it represents Big Government while they support the latter because it is a "tax cut."

Mmm. Good point, BB.

The supply-siders are to a large extent responsible for this mess, myself included. We opened Pandora's Box when we got the Republican Party to abandon the balanced budget as its signature economic policy and adopt tax cuts as its raison d'être. In particular, the idea that tax cuts will "starve the beast" and automatically shrink the size of government is extremely pernicious.

Indeed, by destroying the balanced budget constraint, starve-the-beast theory actually opened the flood gates of spending. As I explained in a recent column, a key reason why deficits restrained spending in the past is because they led to politically unpopular tax increases. But if, as Republicans now maintain, taxes must never be increased at any time for any reason then there is never any political cost to raising spending and cutting taxes at the same time, as the Bush 43 administration and a Republican Congress did year after year.


No political cost until their "more and bigger tax cuts/more and bigger wars" platform makes things go kablooie, and they're voted out of office. You'd think such a comeuppance would lead Republicans to reflect (like Bartlett) and re-adopt their long lost "balanced budget" approach. But you'd be nuts.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Commentary by David C. Bellinger 

YRHT is happy to publish commentaries by David C. Bellinger, aka The Flaming Liberal.
===


October 12, 2009

Broussard’s Call for Good Government Regarding Parish Business with Hubbard, and not for the Baronis is Inconsistent

Re: “Jefferson to drop Hubbard contracts Parish had deals with ex-official's companies,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, by Richard Rainey, October 07, 2009

Dear Blogger:

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s call to invalidate contracts with the confessed felon Bill Hubbard should be commended.

And, understandably, Jefferson Parish Chief Administrative Officer Tim Whitmer expects questions regarding vendors conducting business with Jefferson Parish involved in illegal activity in St. John Parish to be raised.

But, Broussard never acted upon a special audit suggested by the New Orleans Times-Picayune -– {“If they hope to make amends, the best thing the politicians could do is to order up special audits of all the contracts they gave to Urban Planning. Jefferson Parish alone has paid the company $1.3 million in recent years. Nick Baroni may have taken the Navy for chump change. But if he did it there, he could also have done it on local contracts. . . . . . . . ” –- Source: “Landing those contracts, the Baroni way,” by Drew Broach, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 18, 2008}

Nearly at the same time, when Jefferson Parish politically well-connected and close friend of Aaron Broussard, Nick Baroni (former president of the Kenner council), and Keith Baroni of Urban Planning and Innovations, were committing mail fraud (billing the U. S. Navy for $120,000 for work not performed, while troops were sacrificing and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan), the Baronis were submitting invoices to Jefferson Parish in excess of $1,300,000. (The writer is in possession of copies of the invoices).

And additional “ethical” escapades of politically connected Nick Baroni, as written by the Times-Picayune -- {“And he (Nick Baroni) served briefly on the East Jefferson Levee Board, before deciding he would rather make money at his consulting firm, Urban Planning & Innovations, instead of obeying ethics laws that precluded Urban Planning from doing Levee Board work while he occupied the seat.” -– Source: “Landing those contracts, the Baroni way,” by Drew Broach, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 18, 2008}

Moreover, In the tradition of time “honored” Jefferson Parish good ole boy politics, for the thirteen-count confessed plea-bargained felon, Nick Baroni, forty-seven politicians and friends, possessing no shame or decency, wrote letters to the judge requesting leniency. The list of bleeding hearts included: Aaron Broussard; mayor of Kenner, Ed Muniz; Kenner council persons, Michele Branigan and Ben Zahn; mayor of Jean Lafitte, Tim Kerner; Broussard aide (no surprise), Terry McCarthy; former Kenner councilman and former state judge and Kenner city attorney, James Cannella; and, putting the cherry on the sundae; Thomas Rodi, Bishop of Biloxi!

[Except for Mayor Ray Nagin] not a New Orleans elected, or unelected, official wrote a word to request leniency for confessed felon, former at-large city councilman, and heavily-favored to be elected mayor of New Orleans in 2010, Oliver Thomas -- and Thomas accepted a $19,000 bribe to secure a parking concession for a business person -–small potatoes compared to the near treasonous crimes of Nick Baroni.

Astonishingly, no record of a special audit or questions regarding the $1,300,000 plus of invoices billed to Jefferson Parish by the now multiple-count confessed felons, the Baronis -– as best that I could determine -- has ever been conducted or raised by Jefferson Parish officials.

Given the Baronis' criminal records and possible conflicts of interest, the lack of diligence by Nick Baroni’s fellow world traveler and prayer partner -- Aaron Broussard -- and Jefferson Parish officials' failure to call for an independent examination of the invoices submitted by Urban Planning and Innovations -– while calling for an examination of Bill Hubbard related companies, is not only inconsistent -- but is tantamount to malfeasance.

And one must wonder if Aaron Broussard influenced his appointee, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Whitmer, to order an expenditure of $340,000 to be inserted into the Jefferson Parish budget to improve property for a business -- Mr. Bubbles Car Wash -- owned by the sons of Nick Baroni -– {“ . . . it is immediately obvious that a parish which forces retailers such as Wal-Mart or Lowe's or any other private commercial enterprise to pay for any and all road work or infrastructure improvements has lost it's way. The Mr. Bubbles Car Wash will not even pay parish sales taxes as car washes are exempt.” -- Source: The Dead Pelican -- http://www.thedeadpelican.com/2009/FAM5.HTM}

{“From: TAWhitmer
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:40 PM
To: Antoinette Scott
Cc: CJumpiere; JGonzalez
Subject: FW: Mr. Bubbles Car Wash

Please include in the capital budget ordinance for 4/01/09 $340,000. from council district 3 funds for this project. Chief Administrative Officer” -– Source: The Dead Pelican -- http://www.thedeadpelican.com/2009/FAM5.HTM}

And even more of an outrage for the taxpayers of “imperial” Jefferson Parish to digest -– {“When more work was unexpectedly needed for the project parish employees seem to joke that the parish would be willing to spend $1M dollars to keep the project on track.

From: MDrewes
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 8:43 AM
To: RABreaux
Cc: CHotard

Subject: RE: Butler Ditch in Avondale (Adjacent to Mr. Bubbles Car Spa)

If I were you, I'd fill in $1,000,000.” -- Source: The Dead Pelican -- http://www.thedeadpelican.com/2009/FAM5.HTM}

And you just “gotta” love the knee slapping sense of humor of the folks in the Gretna Courthouse and Uncle Jed would say, after reading Drewes’ e-mail, “If that doesn’t take the fat off the ham!”

And should there be doubts of my suspicions, or no empathy for my outrage, then you would not believe that Broussard was attempting to sell the Causeway (a widely unpopular idea with the public) to the Shaw Group and raise tolls –- and one must wonder what awaited Broussard for the deal when out of office -- {“Broussard attended a third meeting with Lambert and the Shaw Group, and it was at this meeting that the representatives proposed instituting incremental toll increases, perhaps every two years, Lambert said. Though Lambert, France and Davis said they aren't interested in further discussion with the Shaw Group, Broussard said it would be premature to quash the idea.” -– Source: “Officials rebuff Causeway sale proposal,” by Andrew Boyd, New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 19, 2008}

Or that Broussard had a clue who ordered the pump operators to Washington Parish prior to Katrina, while not exactly being forthright with the citizens–- {“In contrast to his public comments defending the Hurricane Katrina evacuation of pump operators, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard testified under oath that he had no idea who sent the emergency workers more than 100 miles from their posts and didn't bother to ask his directors about their storm preparations. Broussard said he didn't know the pump station workers left their stations until they had already headed to Washington Parish shelters on Aug. 28, 2005, according to a transcript filed recently into court records. Further distancing himself from responsibility for the decision, he said he didn't know the "Doomsday Plan" that called for the pump workers' evacuation existed until the press started questioning the decision in the weeks after the storm.” -– Source: http://blog.nola.com/kenner/2008/01/broussard_says_he_didnt_send_p.html}

Too bad that Aaron Broussard was not as well prepared to protect Jefferson Parish from the horrors of Katrina as he was able to write a three and one-half page letter requesting leniency for a multiple-count confessed felon who defrauded the U.S. Navy, and was likely able to dispense contracts to political allies, and likely able to have abnormal budget insertions for the politically connected, but let’s all thank the Almighty that the Causeway is bolted to Lake Pontchartrain.

David C. Bellinger
(404) 762-8779
E-mail: davidc53@juno.com
Atlanta, GA

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