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 - NOLA.com
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 | wwltv.com
“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' | BuzzFlash.org
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.

2theadvocate.com | 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 | Chron.com - 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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