Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Horse farm 20071, originally uploaded by joefromla.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Forbes bites the Unseen Hand.

Bush's Bad Mortgage Medicine -
The Bush Administration's plan to rescue the housing market and keep the economy from slipping into recession took flak yesterday for freezing interest rate hikes for a mere fraction of subprime, adjustable-rate borrowers. But there's a bigger risk: It could deepen and lengthen the credit crisis.

According to analysis by Barclays Capital, the "freezer-teaser" plan applies to just 240,000 subprime loans. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports the number of subprime adjustable rate mortgages at 2.9 million.

Summary: It won't help, punishes responsible home-buyers, and pisses off the free-marketeers.

Naomi Klein explains it all in Shock Doctrine.
The neo-liberal economic policies—privatization, free trade, slashed social spending—that the Chicago School and the economist Milton Friedman have foisted on the world are catastrophic in two senses, argues this vigorous polemic. Because their results are disastrous—depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth, by the author's accounting—their means must be cataclysmic, dependent on political upheavals and natural disasters as coercive pretexts for free-market reforms the public would normally reject.

Update: Thanks to Muggins for the correction. It's Naomi Klein, not Wolf, -- sometimes my fingers do the thinking on the keyboard.

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The Unseen Hand of the Market straightens out the housing mortgage crisis

Bush imposes curb on mortgage rises | Business | The Guardian
President Bush announced a package imposing a five-year freeze on mortgage rates, which are scheduled to jump to often unaffordable levels as short-term "teaser" discounts expire.

Seems that Deity has feet of clay -- for 30 years the Republicans have been destroying economies around the world in the name of "free markets." Now Bush, dimly aware that a full scale crash in housing prices could destroy the world economy, becomes a dreaded socialist. Remember, George, that the government is not the problem, it . . . something . . . fool me once . . .. can't be fooled again.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

What to make of this headline?

New Orleans CityBusiness -- Jindal stacks committees with BR residents

Has Jindal ticked off Citybusiness already?

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Plans for the houses in Brad Pitt's development.

Brad Pitt - New Orleans - Architecture - New York Times

With elevations, very nice. I wouldn't mind trying out one of these.

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How about a little consideration here?

Brad Pitt busy making it right in the Lower 9 -

It would be terrific if someone on the staff had thought about telling us how long the installation would be up.

No, really? They think I don't need to know? You're kidding? Right?

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New Orleans Didn’t Meet the Test for a Debate - New York Times
I would have loved for New Orleans to have been ready to meet that test. I would have also wished for greater geographic diversity. But as a member of the commission, I would not have voted for a site that would not have met the basic tests, despite any sentimental or business-oriented overtones.

This is silly, and no real defense of the presidential debate rejection of New Orleans. What exactly were the "basic tests" and how did N. O. miss them? Ms Ridings, surveying us with eagle's eye from her Olympian perch, doesn't say.

And she doesn't begin to answer the editorial she purports to refute.
Committee members said the city’s sponsors — four local universities and a leading post-hurricane recovery group — failed to guarantee adequate security, finances and logistics. Small wonder residents and boosters find that hard to believe, considering the feisty city already has been handling everything from presidential drop-ins to mega-conventions, with the national football championship game and its hordes of visitors on the winter schedule.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In other words, teachers should get ready to take a back seat. | News | Jindal cautious on issue of teacher pay raises — Baton Rouge, LA
LAKE CHARLES — Pay raises for public schoolteachers will be a key priority but it is too soon to tell whether their salaries will remain at the regional average in 2008, Gov.–elect Bobby Jindal said Monday.

Jindal, who will become governor on Jan. 14, said he needs more details of the state’s financial picture before he can spell out what teachers can expect.

Yes, we always have many other needs. Ethics, highways, drainage, pet legislator projects. We must have the right priorities.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yes, maybe it IS time to review this regulation. And maybe a few others.

The price we pay for energy independence. Company says capping well to take at least two weeks
And it’s legal for oil and gas drilling rigs to be close to a road or interstate, Frink said. “They can’t be closer to highways than the height of their drilling rig,” he said. However, state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny Bradberry said the governor has asked for a review of the rule that dictates how far from a road a well can be located. “That policy is being reviewed as we speak,” he said.

Note the use of the passive voice. Someone-- we aren't given to know who-- is reviewing the polity. Whew! That's a relief.

Update: More of the same.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

No one knows my name.

Forgotten hero: Exhibit honors Lafayette - Yahoo! News
And while hundreds of American counties, cities, squares, streets and schools bear the name Lafayette, how many people today could identify the Revolutionary War hero? "Not many," says Richard Rabinowitz, curator of a new exhibit on the Frenchman at the New-York Historical Society. "The American Revolution has ceased to be a story that we tell in our popular culture."

Here in Lafayette, Louisiana, we're celebrating Lafayette with a year-long series of events. Lafayette was an amazingly dedicated and idealistic man. It is a tragedy that America no longer fosters or honors such men.

I have heard that we got our town's name when the original Lafayette, Louisiana, then a part of New Orleans -- near Carrollton-- when that town gave up the name when it was incorporated into New Orleans proper. Before that, we were known as Vermilionville.

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Oops! The Corps of Engineers does it again.

Talking Points Memo | Mistakes made in New Orleans flood maps
The Army Corps of Engineers released flood risk maps on a block-by-block basis on June 20, but didn't include some technical data, preventing independent assessments of the accuracy of the maps.

The maps showed that the improvements made to the city canals' drainage systems would reduce flooding during a major storm by about 5.5 feet in Lakeview and nearby neighborhoods. The maps were based on a storm that has the likelihood of occurring at least once in 100 years.

But in a report released Nov. 7, Corps scientists estimated that the actual benefit the system would provide would be just 6 inches.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

KSLA on secret Chemtrails test.

KSLA News 12 lCHEMTRAILS: Is U.S. Gov't. Secretly Testing Americans 'Again'?

KSLA has been breaking some pretty explosive stories lately, like the recruiting of chaplains for Homeland Security. This one is shocking, and the story might not pan out, but there are a number of websites that have the evidence. It's been ignored by the big news outlets. KSLA is pretty brave to publish this.

Link to google search for "chemtrails conspiracy."

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

1.5 Trillion Dollars.

'Hidden Costs' Double Price Of Two Wars, Democrats Say -

$1,000,000 = million

or $20,000 for every American household.

As George Bush would say, "What's a brasilian?"

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bark in the Park, Lafayette

20071027-DSC_1481, originally uploaded by joefromla.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nice article on Katrina vs. San Diego fires.

California fires can't be compared to Katrina, officials say - Breaking News Updates New Orleans - Times-Picayune -
Katrina's scale of devastation and its impact on humanity, however, was far greater. The number of homes destroyed or still threatened in California is about 10 percent of the roughly 200,000 left uninhabitable by Katrina and the often overlooked Hurricane Rita, which struck three weeks later.

Just wait. Some bigoted right winger is going to tell us how much better white California reacted than black New Orleans. After memories fade a little.

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Good news on coastal preservation.

Saving barrier islands from the brink | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News | News for New Orleans, Louisiana |
“The corps issued this project on the condition that we constructed the first set of eight breakers, and if they worked, then we could build the next eight,” Norton said. “Well, they worked, and better than we could have ever planned.”

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Jindal now says his main campaign issue was "more about perception than reality"

You could have fooled me. I thought he meant real corruption.

Louisiana Govrenor-elect Jindal pledges to change Louisiana's reputation for corruption - The Boston Globe
And while he acknowledges that some of the concerns are more about perception than reality, he said they can still harm the state's ability to attract businesses and its requests for aid to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

My mind boggles at this. Jindal just ran on a campaign against "corruption" in Louisiana. And won. Now, after smearing his opponents with the same brush, he says that the corruption problem is really only about the "perception" of corruption in other states, and among businessmen. So there's no problem, really? And he just spent millions telling other states and businessmen that there IS a problem. Now what? Will he spend the same millions telling them "Never mind"?

We are our own worst enemy when it comes to the reputation of this state. (Some of you may remember me screeching about this at the "Rising Tide" conference two years back.) We have had no significant corruption cases at the level of state government since the end of the Edwards era, nearly 12 years ago. I am sure that Louisiana corruption is no greater now than in the average state in the US. And it is certainly no greater than the corruption and graft in the federal government since the invasion in Iraq. We'll never even find out what happened to the billions shipped to Iraq in cargo planes filled with shrink-wrapped bricks of hundred dollar bills. But we Louisianans constantly brag about our "colorful" politics, and the national media is glad to perpetuate the story. Think how hard this makes it to attract business, since a reputation for corruption (would someone please define that word for me?) is as bad as corruption itself. And businesses who may know better will still use it against us to get a better deal from the state.

How hard would it have been for someone to call Mr. Jindal on this issue during the campaign? Who among the press asked him "what exactly do you mean by calling your own state corrupt"? How damaging has it been for Louisiana to run a campaign on virtually non-existent corruption? After having spread libels about this state, will he have the courage to let the real facts be known.

And will we continue to chuckle over EWE stories with the national media? What about telling them we all still go to work in pirogues and keep pet alligators in the back yard?

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Good riddance,

Even if he loses his long-shot bid for the White House, Rep. Tom Tancredo will be leaving the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of 2008.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Confirmation of the Shock Doctrine in New Orleans

AFL-CIO Weblog | A ‘Disposable Workforce’ in New Orleans After Katrina

The bottom line is that reactionary ideologues from the Bush administration, and some business and civic leaders in New Orleans, took the damage and dislocation caused by the hurricane as an opportunity to conduct a mass experiment in privatization and union busting, panelists said. Tracie Washington, CEO of the Louisiana Justice Institute, a civil rights law group, says that after Katrina, there was an

absolute assault on civil rights and social justice guarantees that we thought we had. There was a blatant assault on workers’ rights.

In quick succession, she says, the working people—mainly African Americans:—who were making a decent living were the first to go: All 4,900 teachers and thousands of bus drivers were laid off. That was followed by a decision not to rebuild much of the public housing destroyed by the storm and the slow reopening of the schools and the decimation of the public transportation system.

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"The largest evacuation in the U.S. since Katrina"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yeah, you right, Ashley.

Ashley Morris: the blog
If you run for another office while currently holding office, and your win requires a special election, then you have to foot the bill for that election out of either your election coffers or your own pocket.

This could apply to Windy-Lewis and Jindal. Of course, now that Jindal has won (and has proven, yet again, that Jeff Sadow is full of merde), somebody has to run for that seat. I've heard Steve Scalise will run. Of course, Scalise (a Republican endorsed by this blog) won his state senate race. So there's another special election waiting to happen.

All these elections, all this vanity, all paid for by the citizens of the gret stet.


And go read Suspect Device too.

On torture.

What is the purpose of torture?
First of all, it is not primarily for the purpose of gaining information. Professional investigators know that information is more quickly and accurately obtained by other methods.

No, the purpose of torture is to disorient and ultimately to break down the victim to the point where they are no longer effective opponents. Those who break may be released into the general population, where they serve as an example to all who would oppose the regime. In effect, they become an instrument of state terror themselves.

The Nazis used torture to terrorize the population. So did Pinochet. So did Stalin and Mao. They knew that the threat of torture was more effective than any secret police force in keeping the population in line.

Now the president has the authority to declare American citizens "enemy combatants," and therefore eligible for "enhanced interrogation."

Good luck, Bobby.

You won on the first round. If you stand by the people of Louisiana in their time of need, you'll be remembered with gratitude.

Governor-Elect Tackles Louisiana's Image - Politics on The Huffington Post
"I think we're setting the bar too low when we say, 'Look, isn't it great that we haven't had a statewide elected official go to jail recently?'" Jindal said. "The reality is there are a lot of practices that are accepted ways of doing business in Baton Rouge that are considered unethical in other parts of the country, that are considered illegal in other parts of the country," Jindal said.

I'm just curious about all this corruption he talks about. There's been no scandal in the governor's office since Edwin went to jail nearly 12 years ago. Compared to the corruption in Washington, we've been simon-pure. I just hope that this "corruption. crisis" is not an excuse for a much bigger agenda.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shock Doctrine at work in New Orleans

Naomi Klein's book Shock Doctrine is beautifully written and well researched. What is happening in New Orleans is the outcome of four decades of economic theorizing by the "Chicago School" of laissez faire, unfettered, free market capitalism which has wrought misery in Chile, Russia, Iraq and a number of other countries. Now it has come home to the good ol' USA. Other parts of the country can expect the same. Perhaps the country as a whole.

Naomi Klein -- Shocking the World Bank and IMF Crowd With Her Analysis of 'Disaster Capitalism' |
Naomi Klein: The example that is most graphic is what happened in New Orleans after the levees broke. Here you had a disaster which, in many ways, had at its roots the ideology of unfettered capitalism. and the war on the public fear. What wasn't simply a natural disaster. It was a collision between heavy weather and a weak state infrastructure. That was the disaster in New Orleans. In the immediate aftermath of that disaster, there was a real discussion taking place in the United States in the mainstream media about how the public infrastructure had been allowed to erode in this way. It was a real wake-up call for a lot of people, this revelation that the federal government, that FEMA, was sort of an empty shell that had been totally outsourced. Everyone seemed to be on vacation. Their response, ironically, was to leap into the chasm opened up by the disaster -- the disorientation and the chaos, and the fact that people were focused on daily concerns of survival -- and they pushed through a very radical agenda that was essentially finishing the job and wiping out the public infrastructure in New Orleans. And this was immediate. I was in New Orleans when the city was still flooded. I was interviewing lobbyists who were already camped out at the state legislature building in Baton Rouge, talking about all the tax cuts they were going to get, and the new labor flexibility, and what a great opportunity this was, and making it very clear that they didn't plan to hire local workers to rebuild the city, but that it would be all migrant workers at lower wages. There was a great deal of excitement. This is what I mean by disaster capitalism. If you look at what has happened to New Orleans in the two years since, we see that this process that goes by the misnomer "reconstruction" has really completed this war on the public sector. The public housing projects are boarded up and stand empty. You have condo developers circling. Their largest public hospital, Charity Hospital, is empty. This was the hospital that was treating the uninsured. The New Orleans public education system is now the country's leading laboratory in the charter school model. Half the students in New Orleans who used to go to public schools are going to charter schools.

What disaster can we expect before the 2008 election? Will the "terrorists" give Bush/Cheney an excuse follow the blueprint for dictatorship?

See also this Youtube talk by Wolf for a precis.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Another no-show for Jindal.

I suppose he doesn't need black voters. | News | Governor candidates attend NAACP forum — Baton Rouge, LA
Candidates U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, and New Orleans businessman John Georges, who is not affiliated with a party, did not attend the forum.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007


Why do I have to always read about these things in a BRITISH newspaper?

Rebuild or retreat: US debates evacuation of Gulf coastline | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
The United States is working on a multi-billion-dollar plan to depopulate vast swaths of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico in a move which it is hoped would help re-establish a natural barrier against the catastrophic flooding caused by the likes of Hurricane Katrina.

In the first sign that the federal government is favouring a retreat from the coast rather than rebuilding, the Army Corps of Engineers is to present to Congress a radical plan which includes rebuilding the wetlands that have been disappearing at an ever-accelerating rate in recent years.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

You can help.

Blessings to Scout Prime for this campaign. Check this out and donate.

First Draft: Please Blog...Fund Raising Drive to Bring Miracle and her family home to the Lower 9th Ward
On a fresh late-summer's afternoon of the 22nd of September, 2007, Miracle Lewis came down to New Orleans to see her newly restored room. Miracle's family was rebuilding the home after the house had been filled with ten feet of water and damaged by a massive tree. After being forced out by the storm to Port Allen, LA, and on to Houston, TX, her family had made it a little closer to their goal of returning to their roots by finding temporary-stay housing in Baton Rouge. The gleeful approval in Miracle's eyes after seeing her room on this day, however, was truly a milestone on the soon-to-be-realized path of bringing the family back home.

Early the next morning, however, a cruel turn of events quickly devastated their dreams.

Some time during those early morning hours someone had parked a stolen vehicle [in] their backyard, removed the tires, and set the car on fire to presumably destroy any evidence linking the perpetrator to the vehicle. The resulting inferno engulfed the the home, and burned it entirely to the ground. A firefighter was quoted as saying that "the flames were seen from a mile away, that's how intense it was." Hours before, the house was 80 percent complete, and the electricity was scheduled to be turned on the coming Monday. All that remained now was ash.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jindal vs. MLK -- and the loser is . . .

A brilliant job from Your Right Hand Thief concerning Jindal's comment on Jena
"Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea."

--- Martin Luther King

Your Right Hand Thief
"We certainly don't need outside agitators to cause problems."

--- Piyush "Bobby" Jindal

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Jindal skips another debate.

No link, but isn't this just perfect Rovian politics? Can't wait for him to get into a runoff with a real politician. Jindal has had a free ride his whole career; he wouldn't stand a chance in a real campaign.

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Like we didn't already know.

The only surprise here is that someone is investigating.

N.O. Pump Contract to Be Probed Again | - Houston Chronicle
A federal agency says there is "substantial likelihood" the Army Corps of Engineers acted improperly in handling a politically connected Florida company's $27 million flood-pump contract after Hurricane Katrina.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Pumps may not work

Are we surprised?

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility: News Releases
Washington, DC — The main pumps protecting New Orleans in the event of a major hurricane or flood are “inherently flawed” due to poor design and have still not been properly tested, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers specialist assigned to oversee the city’s new pumping system says that key safeguards were circumvented and “there is an erroneous assumption that…hydraulic pumps are fully operational, and hence, the risk to the public remains high,” in the words of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Jindal on science

Talk To Action | Reclaiming Citizenship, History, and Faith
When a reporter asked his position on teaching creationism, Mr. Jindal’s response clearly favored undermining the teaching of evolution: “With evolution there are flaws and gaps. I think it's appropriate to tell our students that no scientific theory can prove evolution.” (“Sharp questions put candidates at governor’s forum on spot,” Associated Press, September 25, 2003) Jindal, a Rhodes scholar and Brown University biology graduate, surely knows better but apparently opted for political expediency.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

This is a must read.

If you care about New Orleans, or if you just care about the state of our world, Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine is absolutely essential. A conspiracy theory, yes, but it's an open conspiracy-- nothing secret, and no one is hiding their intent to control through chaos and destruction. If it sounds implausible, just thing about what happened after Katrina. How much money is being made, by whom, and what's being accomplished?

The shock doctrine

Guardian Unlimited Business
The news racing around the shelter that day was that the Republican Congressman Richard Baker had told a group of lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Joseph Canizaro, one of New Orleans' wealthiest developers, had just expressed a similar sentiment: "I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities." All that week Baton Rouge had been crawling with corporate lobbyists helping to lock in those big opportunities: lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers and a "smaller, safer city" - which in practice meant plans to level the public housing projects. Hearing all the talk of "fresh starts" and "clean sheets", you could almost forget the toxic stew of rubble, chemical outflows and human remains just a few miles down the highway.

Over at the shelter, Jamar could think of nothing else. "I really don't see it as cleaning up the city. What I see is that a lot of people got killed uptown. People who shouldn't have died."

He was speaking quietly, but an older man in line in front of us overheard and whipped around. "What is wrong with these people in Baton Rouge? This isn't an opportunity. It's a goddamned tragedy. Are they blind?" A mother with two kids chimed in. "No, they're not blind, they're evil. They see just fine."

One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was the late Milton Friedman, grand guru of unfettered capitalism and credited with writing the rulebook for the contemporary, hyper-mobile global economy. Ninety-three years old and in failing health, "Uncle Miltie", as he was known to his followers, found the strength to write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal three months after the levees broke. "Most New Orleans schools are in ruins," Friedman observed, "as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity."

Friedman's radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans' existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions.

In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans' school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city's poor residents still in exile, New Orleans' public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.

The Friedmanite American Enterprise Institute enthused that "Katrina accomplished in a day ... what Louisiana school reformers couldn't do after years of trying". Public school teachers, meanwhile, were calling Friedman's plan "an educational land grab". I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, "disaster capitalism".

Privatising the school system of a mid-size American city may seem a modest preoccupation for the man hailed as the most influential economist of the past half century. Yet his determination to exploit the crisis in New Orleans to advance a fundamentalist version of capitalism was also an oddly fitting farewell. For more than three decades, Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.

In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism's core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as "the shock doctrine". He observed that "only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change". When that crisis occurs, the actions taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. Some people stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas. And once a crisis has struck, the University of Chicago professor was convinced that it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis-racked society slipped back into the "tyranny of the status quo". A variation on Machiavelli's advice that "injuries" should be inflicted "all at once", this is one of Friedman's most lasting legacies.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

or was that O'Reilly??

The Simpsons
Mayor Quimby: I stand by my racial slur.

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Thank jeebus for Nevada!

At least we're not number one!

Gun Guys:
By the way, you might want to know the states that joined Nevada in the dubious achievement rankings for women murdered by men. They are, according to the Violence Policy Center: Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Don't worry about Jerry, but there are three other tropical trouble-spots.

It's JERRY!!!

Central Florida Hurricane Center 2007
Update - Sunday, 10:00AM EDT
Judging from observations from satellite, it appears that SubTD 10 has developed enough to be considered Tropical or Subtropical storm Jerry. Still no threat to any land.

Advisories beginning at 11 should reflect the new name.

As for the waves, here are development chances since a few asked:
Summary, a few waves to watch, nothing I would consider ominous, and nothing really has all that great a chance to develop.

Chances for Tropical Development of Disturbance in the Gulf (94L) In Next 2 days (Lounge discussion thread here )

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Oh. Vitter again?

Vitter earmarked federal money for creationist group

I could care less about the prostitutes. But this?! Whores make an honest living compared to Gitter.

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Chris Rose writes to K-Ville.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Another possible storm.

Central Florida Hurricane Center 2007
Of all the things in the tropics, a disturbance in the western Caribbean is the most likely to develop, but it may not be until it passes over the Yucatan peninsula and enters the southwestern Gulf. This is now being referred to as "94L".

The most likely scenario is that it crosses the Yucatan, forms into a depression in the Bay of Campeche and then begins moving more northward toward the Texas or Louisiana coastlines as potentially a sheared Tropical storm. This could change, especially if the storm stalls out in the Gulf, but that's the most likely scenario now.

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Income share of richest 10%

From Krugman's blog

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If Chris Rose likes it

Thursday, September 20, 2007


It's in the gulf now. If it strengthens to a TS it will be Jerry.

Tropical Weather... Done Better!™

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Possible hurricane threat.

Central Florida Hurricane Center 2007
The surface low associated with 93L, which moved over central Florida last night, is now in the Gulf, and may have a chance to form over the next day or so in the gulf. The system is looking more potentially subtropical at the moment, as it moves gradually westward.

Conditions are there for some development, but as it is a rather spread out system with little to no convection around the surface low (There is around the upper level low, however). The current setup allows more for subtropical development than purely tropical. However tropical or subtropical development could sitll happen by the weekend, as the Gulf sometimes can be unpredictable intensity wise. So those in the Central and Western Gulf will want to keep track of any developments.

Hurricanes this season have developed unusually fast. It's a good idea to keep an eye on this system. The comments on this link are particularly interesting.

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Monday, September 17, 2007


Lucy has snatched the football away again!!

Saints lose second in a row.

Watch out for a stampede for brown paper bags at the Piggly-Wiggly tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

NY Times backgounder on K-Ville

K-Ville - TV - New York Times
I realy realy hope that the series will be better than the pilot. It wasn't terrible bad, just bad bad. Silly, unbelievable, and, with an ending reminiscent of some old detective series that my parents used to watch. What was it?

Anyway, chases, gunshots, parental angst and sleazy rich people do not a series make.

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A new day in Louisiana | News | Candidate challenged as convicted felon -- Baton Rouge, LA
One of Louisiana’s gubernatorial candidates may be booted from the race because he was convicted of a felony.

Unusual for us to get rid of felons before they become governor.

Yeah, I know, cheap shot. But if I didn't do it, someone else would have.

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The last word.

Could it be . . . . global warming?

The Daily Advertiser
To put this in development perspective, no tropical cyclone in the historical record has ever reached this intensity at a faster rate near landfall," said James Franklin of the National Hurricane Center. Humberto didn't even exist when the day began on Wednesday. It was just a little swirl in the Gulf. But by mid-morning, it had become a tropical depression; by mid-afternoon, it was a tropical storm.

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This is crazy?

AL092007mlts.gif (GIF Image, 600x500 pixels)

Apparently Humberto is borracho.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Something Vitter this way comes . . .

Flynt Unveiling More Vitter Claims - The Huffington Post
NEW ORLEANS — A former New Orleans prostitute who says she had an affair with Sen. David Vitter has passed a lie-detector test and will provide details of the four-month relationship at a press conference Tuesday, according to Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.

Wendy Cortez, whose real name is Wendy Ellis, says she had a sexual relationship with Vitter, R-La., in 1999, when he was a state legislator.

Copies of the results of Cortez's polygraph test, which she took at Flynt's request, will be provided to reporters at the news conference at Flynt's office in Beverly Hills, Calif., Hustler said in a news release Monday.

The best part:
"He was a very clean man," Ellis said. "He came in, took a shower, did his business and would leave."

Pass the popcorn.

PS: As usual, Your Right Hand Thief is on top of the story. So to speak.

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Will this have any effect? Prostitute's new claims make life more complicated for Vitter
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Analysts said the political future of U.S. Sen. David Vitter again was thrown into question Tuesday after a former New Orleans prostitute vouched in person that the senator was one of her former clients.

"It's just a continuous drip of information, allegations, contradictions that are beyond his control," said Silas Lee, a New Orleans political analyst. "The question is what's the tolerance of voters."

Wasn't there a poll a few weeks back showing that Vitterhad not been hurt by the allegations. He had something like a 60% approval rating. Maybe what people were saying about Louisiana's tolerance for "nasty, bad, naughty boys"* is true.

*Thanks to Sen. Craig for this phrase.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Something unusual. TWO idiots in one month.

It's simply amazing that two people could be this stupid at the same time. They're using up most of the universe's stupid quota at one time. Please, won't someone ask them not to concentrate all the inanity into one month.

Ah, the Old South, complete with glue and dry ice in the rice

Just keep an eye on this.

Still just a tropical wave, and the forecast from the Central Florida Hurricane Center is that there is little chance for it to develop into a hurricane. It it does, it will probably be called Humberto.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Idiot of the Month

Stupid, rote conservative revisits Katrina recovery.

How many ways is this guy just perversely wrong?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Shreveport TV station: US to use clergy to "quell dissent."

KLSA Shreveport

Dr. Durell Tuberville serves as chaplain for the Shreveport Fire Department and the Caddo Sheriff's Office. Tuberville said of the clergy team's mission, "the primary thing that we say to anybody is, 'let's cooperate and get this thing over with and then we'll settle the differences once the crisis is over.'"
Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other. "In a lot of cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they're helping to diffuse that situation," assured Sandy Davis. He serves as the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13. Dr. Tuberville elaborated, "because the government's established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture."

Yeah, and "render unto Caesar . . ."
This is no hysterical loon warning about the dangers of state-religious tyrany (theocracy). It's a smiling, calm firefighter/chaplain with a nice haircut, and a director of Homeland Security in S'port City.

There's great irony in this, since the government's plan for evacuating New Orleans had given responsibility to clergy for those who had no means to get out. That was a complete failure, as we all know. But I think this plan has a better chance of succeeding, especially in the South, where many clergy are right-wing, and the people easily bend the knee to authority.

Here's a commentary on the Romans 13 passage by Eric Voegelin, refugee from the Nazis and former LSU professor, who notes how Hitler made use of the passage by getting the pastors and bishops of Nazi Germany to counsel caution to their flock. Are American clergy as easily manipulated?

It should be noted that the author of Romans, Paul, was executed by Roman authorities. It cannot be possible that those were the same authorities of whom he wrote:
" Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

Or maybe that's not an accurate translation. Ya think?

Here's a link to a more complete commentary.

Another former Reagan aide wants Bush out.

The Raw Story | Former Reagan aide says Congress must start impeachment inquiry
A constitutional lawyer who served in Ronald Reagan's administration says President Bush's "apparently criminal" authorization of a warrantless wiretapping program is grounds for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry.

But it's too late. If these "Wise Men" had spoken sooner, maybe things would be different.
And Nancy Pelosi-- why did you take impeachment "off the table"?

Thousands are dead. Bush arrogance and our inaction.

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The Craig/Vitter Double Standard

Leahy pointed it out on one of the morning programs this morning. The scripted republican response was predictable: "Craig pleaded guilty. Vitter did not. No crime so Vitter gets to stay." (And they say we Louisianans are shifty.)

Steven Benen has a good comment on the "no crime" defense.
his may not be wisest strategy. For one thing, confronted with evidence that made use of a prostitution service, Vitter conceded immediately that he’d “sinned.” I’m not an expert in the subject, but as I understand it, paying for sex is a crime, and Vitter publicly conceded that he’d violated this law. He would have been subject to criminal charges, but the statute of limitations ran out. For the GOP, that makes the “pretty big distinction” fairly small — Craig pleaded guilty to a recent crime, Vitter acknowledged guilt of a less recent crime.

Moreover, the whole argument seems premised on strained legalisms. Remember when the president urged Republicans to hold themselves to the highest moral standard? “We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right,” Bush said in 2001. “There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.”

So much for that idea.

Benen has a great memory for fine, aged hypocrisy, a rare talent in a time when there seems to be so much cheap nouveau hypocrisy.

Hey, even conservative Hilary-haters are disgusted with the sleaze on their side of the aisle.

And Ramesh Ponnuru at the "Corner" has an interesting take. "I don't think they're as worried that Vitter will be frequenting prostitutes." I wouldn't be so sure. And even if he does, he's still got Larry Flynt dangling the penis of Damocles over his head.

But the real reason for the double standard. If Craig quits a Republican governor names his replacement. If Vitter quits, Blanco names . . . who?

Two days ago this hurricane didn't even have a name.

Now it's already a category 5!!!
It is not supposed to change direction much, but it it makes a turn to the northwest, look out!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Local boy gets Blitzered.

Boustany shows he's not quite ready for prime time by letting Blitzer spank his fanny.

Big thanks to Think Progress.

The corruption lie.

But as the article points out, most of the corruption has been at the federal level.

Presidential candidate: Time to stop funding post-Katrina recovery | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News | News for New Orleans, Louisiana |
Citing a Government Accountability Office report, Tancredo said potentially more than $1 billion in taxpayer money has been "squandered through waste, fraud and abuse."

"This whole fiasco has been a perfect storm of corruption and incompetence at all levels" Tancredo said. "It's time the taxpayer gravy train left the New Orleans station." Tancredo said he had earlier warned that Louisiana officials could not be trusted with federal money. "State and local
officials have been shirking their responsibilities and taking
advantage of taxpayers since before Day One," he said. "Throwing more
money at this debacle will do nothing but perpetuate more of the same."

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The new senator from Idaho?

Is this any better than a bathroom troll?

Meet the New Hypocrite... | TPMCafe
"Here in Idaho, we couldn’t understand how people [in Louisiana] could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn’t whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That’s the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water."

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Another "dirty fucking hippie"

Former Reagan aide: 'Brownshirt' Bush among top 'mass murderers of all time'
"The war criminal is in the living room, and no official notice is taken of the fact," Roberts writes. "Lacking US troops with which to invade Iran, the Bush administration has decided to bomb Iran 'back into the stone age.'"

Pretty rough language coming from a Reagan Republican. It's just that it's too late. The dead are already dead. And so is America's good reputation in the world.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Third motorcade crash, second death.

Why is this happening? And what is the Secret Service doing about it?
Officer in Bush's motorcade dies in crash

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Yeah, you right.

Douglas Brinkley writes:

If we want New Orleans to die, we should say so
Eventually, the volunteers' altruism turns to bewilderment and finally to outrage. They've been hoodwinked. The stalled recovery can't be blamed on bureaucratic inertia or red tape alone. Many volunteers come to understand what I've concluded is the heartless reality: The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine.

That way, Rove can have his wish, a Republican governor and two republican senators.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Flynt still after Vitter

NY Daily News
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has been layin' low since he admitted last month that he'd been a client of "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey. But now the randy Republican has turned up someplace where he's a lot less likely to find hookers: Iraq. The News' James Gordon Meek reports that he was in the city of Taji this week "eating what looks like mystery meat in the chow hall of a U.S. camp for 1st Cavalry Division troopers." Meanwhile, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, the man who pressured Vitter to admit to paying for sex, tells us his investigative journo Dan Moldea has "nailed down evidence that Vitter had sex [with prostitutes] on more than one occasion." Vitter has denied Flynt's claims that some of his New Orleans constituents serviced him.

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The sound of one shoe dropping.

OK, another great Louisiana headline

No, we don't need to reform health care,

We just need to quit having babies. - U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world, report says
American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.

Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.

"The United States has more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn rate is higher than any of those countries," said the annual State of the World's Mothers report.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Two more books I want to read

From a review by Peter Lewis in the San Francisco Chronicle

'Attic,' 'Down' chronicle the disaster in New Orleans after Katrina

A passage about Chris Rose's 1 Dead in Attic
As the days pile up, along with the bodies and the refuse and the ineptitudes of the various governmental agencies, Rose's rambles coax the background to the foreground: all the race and class issues the storm throws into relief; the institutionalization of corruption; the profound neglect for the city's health care and educational systems and its infrastructure, including the levees; the willful ignorance of the mayor's office. His dire humor - "We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large, and, frankly, we're suspicious of others who don't" - gives way to anger: "[K]ids are pretty much the last consideration in just about every public policy decision around here." Then the anger gives way to the twilight of despair. He paints a sense of bleakness worthy of William Styron and turns to the psychopharmacopeia to find his own dry ground.

And This about Billy Sothern's Reflections from a Drowned City
"So here we are, sinking into the water around us, drowning in our own waste, poverty, incompetence, and the greed of those who came before us ...," Sothern quotes writer-commentator Andrei Codrescu, who lives in New Orleans by way of Romania, as saying. "We already know who is going to pay for all this. The poor. They always do. The whole country's garbage flows down the Mississippi to them."

And Sothern explains why I was so angry, and why I started to blog:
"[T]he dominant narrative focused on the lawlessness of the victims," he writes. "[B]laming people and mocking them for their own vulnerability is vastly more discouraging than naked and, sadly, expected racism."

Can there be any doubt that Nagin is a. crazy, and b. a closet republican?

This is an absolute MUST read.

Ex-Nagin aide pens tell-all Katrina book -
Later, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, a federal recovery official named by Bush, and Nagin have a public tiff about when New Orleanians should be allowed back into town. Nagin tells Forman that Blanco and Allen "are in this together."

Elsewhere in the book, the mayor indulges conspiracy theories. He becomes convinced, for instance, that Jefferson Parish officials closed a drainage canal in Hoey's Basin "to protect Jefferson Parish at the expense of New Orleans."

Nagin sends pictures to Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes," who never responded, according to Forman.

A month after the storm, the Rev. Louis Farrakhan claimed Nagin told him the levees had been blown up, citing "a 25-foot crater" under the breach the mayor had supposedly seen.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yes, but . . . aims for 100-year shield

But where's our $2.6 billion going to come from?

New Orleans CityBusiness:

Blanco to Powell: Levee deal lacks big detail

Maybe they take Visa.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Looks like Bush is determined to destroy both Iran and the US.

Prelude to an Attack on Iran - TIME
And what do we do if just the opposite happens — a strike on Iran unifies Iranians behind the regime? An Administration official told me it's not even a consideration. "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran."

I'm guessing this unnamed administration is . . .

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A ray of sunshine.

This may not be the "foodiest" moment on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, but it's one of the funniest.

Kos thinks the Dem attack onJindal is OK. Updated.

Finally looked at the adon Jindal's religious views, which is somewhat less obnoxious than I thought it would be. Kos makes an interesting point -- that the magazine that published the articles in the first place is preventing most people from reading them to find out exactly what Jindal said. If the state Dems are twisting his words, it would be a good idea for Jindal to release the articles so people can see for themselves just what his religious ideas are.

Daily Kos: LA-Gov: Jindal (R) accused of being anti-Protestant
That fundamentalist Catholic publication is doing everything they can to protect Jindal by removing copies of it from the web (almost nobody will pay for those articles). So Jindal can deny he wrote those things, while making it hard for people to verify for themselves.
This post, on Daily Kos, does what the Dems should have done on their website. It takes Jindal's article seriously, and at face value. Jindal is arguing the orthodox Catholic line, and he does indeed assert the supremacy of the Catholic church over all other Christian denominations. Yes, it is anti-protestant. And I suppose that his supporters among the evangelicals should know about it.

Find the original article"How Catholicism Is Different - THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ISN'T JUST ANOTHER "DENOMINATION" here. (Kos has most, if not all of the article in his point-by-point summary.)

Kos quotes Jindal and provides a brief, if accurate summary:

"Christ founded the Church and vested her with unique authority. The apostles, the very men who wrote much of the New Testament, were the Church's first bishops, and they appointed successors. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church traces its lineage directly to the apostles, and, thus, the Church claims to be the one Jesus founded."
"Summary: Jesus was a Catholic, not a protestant."

Even scarier.


Where would we be without people like Digby to let us see the slimy creatures under the rock.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

I wish I could say this was a parody. Read the whole thing. Then check out the link to the board of directors of this nuthouse.

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Vitter slammed by"The Conservative Voice."

Rudy is the main target, but Vitty gets slammed in passing at the end.

Personal Character DOES Count, Rudy G by Michael Gaynor
“Political freedom is not – and cannot be – based upon the relativistic idea that all conceptions of the human person’s good have the same value and truth,” the Doctrinal Note warned.

The Doctrinal Note rejected moral relativism and related the essential basis of democracy in the clearest terms: “If Christians must ‘recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs,’ they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.”

Rudy's "private life" disqualifies him as a nominee of the pro-life, pro-family values party (and perhaps Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana finally will realize it).

"The Doctrinal Note" is someting issued by the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It's full title is "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life." After slogging through Jindal's theological underbrush this morning, I wonder what our good Catholic Representative is thinking about his mentor, David Vitter.

UPDATE: The article turns up here, too.

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We might have expected this,

But Jindal is a House Republican, running for Governor, and he voted against the program. How can he explain or justify this. More shame.

The Shreveport Times

The Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides free or low-cost health care for more than 6 million children, will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress acts.

But its future is clouded by disagreements between the House of Representatives and Senate about how best to reauthorize the program. And the White House has objected to the cost of the bills.

The program, known as LaCHIP, covers about 110,000 children in Louisiana.

Every Republican member of the Louisiana House delegation voted against reauthorizing the program. Only Reps. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, voted for it.

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I wish someone would say something this nice about Blagueur

James Wolcott describing the blog Antiwar
". . . a lonely fort in a journalistic boneyard of lost ideals where David Broder and Tom Friedman walk by night, looking for golf balls gone astray."

Scratches head . . . mumbles incoherently

Would the results have been the same for a Democrat? I guess. I remember EWE.

The Crypt's Blog -
Sixty-six percent of voters either strongly or somewhat approved of Vitter's job performance in a survey conducted Aug. 3-9 by Southern Media & Opinion Research Inc., a Baton Rouge firm. Twenty-two percent said they disapproved and 11 percent did not have an opinion.

Louisiana's reputation for tolerance is safe.

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The DailyKingfish defends paying attention to Jindal's religious writings.

I think it's worth knowing that Jindal once participated in an exorcism. But I don't think it should be the subject of campaign ads, because I think that it will turn off as many voters as it will convince.

Daily Kingfish
Faith may be personal, but it is intellectually dishonest for anyone to suggest that the voters of Louisiana do not have the right to read and question a published essay written by Mr. Jindal, a candidate for governor. The Jindal campaign’s hard-line approach against those who question this essay is also troubling. They have attempted to suggest that Mr. Jindal’s published essay about an exorcism is inherently off-limits because it concerns his “personal faith.” Yet, on the campaign trail, Mr. Jindal frequently speaks about his personal faith, and he would certainly admit that his faith guides his legislative decisions. One must assume, therefore, that Mr. Jindal believes his faith can only be discussed when it is politically expedient. Otherwise, questions about his faith are off-limits, even if they concern his own published work.

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I'm not sure I like this tactic

Apparently the state Democratic party has begun attacking Jindal for articles he wrote praising Catholicism and downgrading protestants. It's an interesting article, but it makes me queasy. I just don't like religion used in any way in politica campaigns. I hope the state Dems rethink their tactics.

The Rothenberg Political Report: Louisiana Governor: Backlash Anyone?

In one of the hardest hitting – Republicans will undoubtedly say “dirtiest” – television ads aired in history, the Louisiana Democratic Party is accusing Rep. Bobby Jindal of being anti-Protestant.

A taste of what this is all about is on this site.

What do you think?
UPDATE: I've had a chance to read the articles in the links. They reveal a pretty orthodox version of Catholicism, with its emphasis on salvation, reason, and history. In addition, Jindal urges Catholics to proselytize and convert others. I disagree with his theology, and anyone who wants to vote based on those criteria is welcome to do so.

I was not planning to vote for him to begin with, since he seems to represent a fairly ruthless segment of Louisiana's big business community which would rather spend money on highway construction than on education. His reference to the unfortunate trend to "political correctness" in universities tells me that he may be a policy wonk, but sloganeering like that says that he doesn't think for himself. As an academic, I can attest that no such animal as "political correctness" exists in Louisiana's universities.

But I still don't think that it is good policy or politics to make religion a part of political campaigning.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Pretty much what you'd expect.

Well, at least this places the blame where it belongs.

New Orleans home starts lagging
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Federal bureaucracy is a significant reason for New Orleans lagging behind many similar-sized cities in building new houses, it was reported.

Since Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005, New Orleans has bulldozed an estimated 9,000 homes and approved construction for fewer than 1,400 new houses, USA Today reported Monday.

In the last two months, New Orleans approved permits for 269 new homes, trailing similar-sized cities such as Wichita, Kan., Sacramento and Lincoln, Neb., USA Today reported.

“We continue to take steps forward in the midst of incredible (federal) bureaucracy," said Ceeon Quiett, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ray Nagin, who has said the city is committed to rebuilding every home Katrina destroyed.

The state’s Road Home program, funded mostly by the federal government, is set to run out of rebuilding money by mid-December unless Congress approves a $3 billion bailout. At last count, 183,000 New Orleans area residents had applied for rebuilding aid.

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No progress. An old story.

ACLU: New Orleans jail 'unsafe, inhumane' --

The ACLU report is sharply critical of the Orleans Parish sheriff's office, accusing it of failing to seek expert guidance in developing a proper emergency preparedness plan for the jail, which wasn't evacuated until it flooded in the aftermath of Katrina in 2005.

The jail, the ACLU asserts, "appears doomed to repeat the mistakes made during Katrina. In the meantime, thousands of prisoners remain in the jail, where they are housed in unsanitary, unsafe and inhumane conditions."

The ACLU calls on the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Corrections to investigate the jail system's "inadequate medical and mental health care." It also recommends that the department's civil rights division look into the jail's "unsanitary conditions" and violence caused by poor staffing.

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More of No progress.

This seems to be national news. Like the jail problems.

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: Homeless ranks swelling in New Orleans
The homeless advocacy group UNITY of New Orleans says from January 2005 to January 2007 the number grew from about 6,300 to around 12,000. During this period only 60% of the general population returned.

Shelters say they are turning away hundreds each night, their beds reduced citywide from 832 to 232.

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Good news on the pumps

It's not often that a project like this exceeds expectations. So congratulations to the Core, this time.

Corps says pumps ready to go |
Original plans called for the pump to move 7,600 cfs, or cubic feet per second, of water. However, officials said the 43 pumps can move close to 9,000 cfs.

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Shame --

This would not be happening if the feds and the state had figured out a way to get that Road Home program to operate efficiently. And don't forget ICFI, either.

The Daily Advertiser
More Gulf Coast residents are thinking seriously about suicide or showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as the recovery from Hurricane Katrina inches on, a new survey finds.

The survey is a follow-up to one done six months after the hurricane, which found that few people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — about 3 percent — were thinking about suicide.

Click for details!
That figure has now doubled in the three-state area and is up to 8 percent in the New Orleans area, according to Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, lead researcher for the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group.

It may be six months before results are in publishable form, said Kessler, whose team interviewed 1,000 people last year and was able to track down 800 of them for this year’s interviews.

But he said some preliminary results are striking. One is that about 21 percent of the 800 people interviewed showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, up from 16 percent a year earlier.

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Bridge over troubled waters

Sorry. I couldn't resist

About the new causeway over Ponchartrain. New twin spans will be higher, wider, stronger
The new twin spans — when completed in 2009 and 2011 — will be higher, wider, stronger and more expensive, but the Federal Highway Administration is picking up the entire $803 million price tag. That bill includes more than $30 million in storm repairs to the current spans, which will be demolished when they are no longer needed.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

A 16th Century French Thinker Explains how We got Into this Mess.

Update: this post disappeared from the front page too quickly, so I put it back up for a while

Thanks to the web I have discovered a great political thinker unknown to me till now. He wrote what follows in about 1552.

On the American people:
It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born. There is, however, no heir so spendthrift or indifferent that he does not sometimes scan the account books of his father in order to see if he is enjoying all the privileges of his legacy or whether, perchance, his rights and those of his predecessor have not been encroached upon. Nevertheless it is clear enough that the powerful influence of custom is in no respect more compelling than in this, namely, habituation to subjection.

We have truly squandered our inheritance. The "Greatest Generation" would have been revolted at Bush's Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, and we let it pass without a murmur.

On the Republican party:

. . . whenever a ruler makes himself a dictator, all the wicked dregs of the nation---I do not mean the pack of petty thieves and earless ruffians19 who, in a republic, are unimportant in evil or good---but all those who are corrupted by burning ambition or extraordinary avarice, these gather around him and support him in order to have a share in the booty and to constitute themselves petty chiefs under the big tyrant.

A dictator always attracts petty crooks like Senator Stevens and Representative Cunningham.

On why Bush lives in a Bubble:
But the favorites of a tyrant can never feel entirely secure, and the less so because he has learned from them that he is all powerful and unlimited by any law or obligation. Thus it becomes his wont to consider his own will as reason enough, and to be master of all with never a compeer. Therefore it seems a pity that with so many examples at hand, with the danger always present, no one is anxious to act the wise man at the expense of the others, and that among so many persons fawning upon their ruler there is not a single one who has the wisdom and the boldness to say to him what, according to the fable, the fox said to the lion who feigned illness: "I should be glad to enter your lair to pay my respects; but I see many tracks of beasts that have gone toward you, yet not a single trace of any who have come back."

Nowadays, they write tell-all books after they leave the cabinet, but no one listens.

On what it must be like to be Abu Gonzales:
Good God, what suffering, what martyrdom all this involves! To be occupied night and day in planning to please one person, and yet to fear him more than anyone else in the world; to be always on the watch, ears open, wondering whence the blow will come; to search out conspiracy, to be on guard against snares, to scan the faces of companions for signs of treachery, to smile at everybody and be mortally afraid of all, to be sure of nobody, either as an open enemy or as a reliable friend; showing always a gay countenance despite an apprehensive heart, unable to be joyous yet not daring to be sad!

Poor Gonzales, you almost have to feel sorry for him.

On parents of the troops:

. . . you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows---to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance. . .

In memoriam, Pat Tillman. And 3356 other men and women who will not come home again.

On the solution:
From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces?

I wish it were so simple.

One last word to Etienne de la Boettie:
Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good!

Etienne de la Boetie,The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Less than half will return

A survey indicates that most Katrina evacuees will not return to Louisiana. Many have job, or have put down roots, or simply find it too expensive to move back. It's sad, but the road home turned out to be the I-10 to Houston. Newq Orleans needs visionary leadership or it will become a forgotten, quaint curiosity. And it's not just the tax base that suffers; there's a human cost too:

The LSU survey of more than 300 displaced Louisiana residents living in 10 FEMA trailer parks, including three in Baton Rouge and four in Lafayette, found that nearly three-quarters of the residents were employed before the storms but only a third have jobs today. The survey also revealed a “significant level of depressive symptoms’’ among the trailer park residents,
LSU sociologist Joachim Singelmann said.

“That is something you don’t find in the general population,’’ he said.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's about time.

Time Magazine finally concedes that the flood caused by Katrina is the fault of the Corpse of Engineers -- then scolds "Americans" for not understanding that sooner. Humph!


The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks. We never would have heard the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie." The Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) was the scapegoat, but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which bungled the levees that formed the city's man-made defenses and ravaged the wetlands that once formed its natural defenses. Americans were outraged by the government's response, but they still haven't come to grips with the government's responsibility for the catastrophe.

Time, as usual, eventually catches up with the truth, two years late.

Update: typos corrected.