Monday, October 24, 2016

Pretty ok weekend

We had the fancy people seats in Tiger Stadium.


LSU-Ole Miss on Saturday night with a slight but not uncomfortable chill in a quintessential Louisiana cultural experience. There are probably dozens of  Thrillist clickbaity articles that say this already.  Anyway it's a good time. Especially win the Tigers win. Especially when they win on the strength of a record-setting performance from one of their all time greats.

If you're gonna go, it's important to be aware of a few things, though.  First, there are no alcohol sales in Tiger Stadium.  This seems kind of prudish at first, although it's probably a good thing at least as far as one's wallet is concerned. It's far cheaper to start drinking early on and use the time in the stadium to sober up. Not everyone does it this way.  Try to give the amateurs as wide a berth as possible.

Also, if you're driving to and from Baton Rouge, be prepared to wait in traffic.  We parked over in one of the "levee lots" over by River Road about a ten minute walk further back from where this picture was taken.

Tiger Stadium and cars

After the game, all of those cars have to funnel out onto a single file line going away from the river. We got in the car around 12:30 and didn't make it out back to Nicholson Drive until almost 2:00 am. And that was before the hour and a half drive back down I-10 to New Orleans.

So I guess what we're saying here is, if you're going to Tiger Stadium, be sure and bring plenty beer for the pregaming activity, and plenty of something well caffeinated for the ride home.  Whatever you do, avoid taking an Uber because, well..

Oh and be aware that when there's an election coming you'll want to steer clear of the politicians and.. well... worse than politicians who tend to creep about the stadium during this time.

Spotted David Duke at the LSU 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Any of these guys could lose

In case you missed this week's Senate debate, here is that.

I wrote an itty bit about the Senate race on Tuesday and I'm sure there will be more before election day. (We also got into it a little on the last Hunkerdowncast.) But here are just a couple of quick notes on the debate to keep things short.

First, we already knew this was a lame field. But it took seeing (some of) the candidates interacting on stage together to show just how weak each is in his or her own way.  Holding aside each candidate's fundamentals in terms of geographic or ideological base, name recognition, etc. and just looking at them as campaigners, they're all pretty bad to downright terrible. All things being equal, any of them could lose to any other. Anyway, here's the quick and dirty.

1) Caroline Fayard, as she has for much of the campaign, looked unready. Her responses sounded, not only like she was reciting a script, but also like she was nervously rushing to get through it. The saving grace there is that anything she says is wholly devoid of substance anyway. Her position on the state's lawsuit against the oil and gas industry continues to be weak tea. When she wasn't mumbling around about the futility of legal action, Fayard said she plans to assemble "a coalition of the willing" to fight coastal loss. That she would describe a project by invoking George W. Bush's phrase used to sell his Iraq invasion to doesn't instill much confidence. We don't know which staffer wrote that for her. We hope whoever it is is paid well.

2) Foster Campbell is, of this bunch, the candidate who comes nearest to getting the key issues right. He's the only candidate who backs the coastal lawsuit. In fact, he's the only one willing to fully accept the science on climate change being caused by human activity. (Although, we'd love to hear him try to say the word, anthropogenic out loud.)

But there's a reason Campbell has never been a successful statewide candidate.  He's a crappy campaigner who can't fend off even the most obvious attacks.  During the direct question part of the debate, sandwich magnate John Flemming attacked Campbell with a standard "guns and fetuses" type question tying Campbell (perhaps unfairly) to national Democrats' positions on abortion and gun control.  Foster could only boast of owning 36 shotguns in response leaving voters to determine whether they think that's a pointless dodge or a disturbing image.

3) Charles Boustany is boring.  This may work for him as much as it does against him.  For one thing, it helps him present as the least amateurish among the rough edged doofuses populating this very weak field. Because of this he can talk convincingly about his ability to "get results" without anyone remarking on the fact that those "results" mean the regular package of deregulation and favors for oil and chemical companies or trade and immigration policy that favors employers who rely on virtual slave labor.  It also might work to minimize the damage done by his having been linked to a salacious murder and prostitution scandal in Jeff Davis Parish. Voters may have difficulty processing that association if they aren't convinced the candidate has much of a pulse to begin with.

4) John Fleming is trying to corner the Generic Tea Party market. But that's not easy for him to do if he can't bribe Rob Maness out of the race OR draw enough support to keep freaking David Duke from qualifying to appear in debates. By the way, has Fleming considered trying to buy Duke out?  We're pretty sure he will take the money.

5) John Neely Kennedy is the smarmiest, phoniest, most despicable person, not only on that debate stage, but possibly in the entire state of Louisiana. He's a textbook example of what happens when a social incompetent tries to do politics. This is the only person we know of capable of inserting himself into the Boustany prostitution scandal and looking like the grosser person in the process. He is Louisiana's Ted Cruz.

During the debate Kennedy railed against "bureaucracy and regulations" before rattling off a list of regulations he would propose in order to reign that in. I suppose that is not surprising from someone who spent the better part of his tenure as Treasurer demagoguing against rather than honestly trying to solve the state's perpetual budget crisis.   In the process he has made enemies of just about everyone.  But he asks us to mistake that for a sign of personal integrity.

His ads are laden with this sort of condescension. This one got attention for a bizarre "love is the answer but you ought to keep a handgun" riddle. But it's the incoherence of the policy assertions that really serves as Kennedy's signature.  In the ad he says, "I believe gubmint tries to do too much," one breath before saying government "needs to enforce its immigration laws." Here is one where he threatens to bomb the hypothetical goats belonging to anyone who might join ISIS. That none of this makes any sense is evidence that he doesn't think the voters are very smart.  Maybe that's a fair assumption, but it's the obviousness of the insult that causes him to miss. 

His delivery is overlain with an affected folksy manner that sort of calls to mind an absurdist version of Ross Perot. He smacks his lips disgustingly and blinks approximately 50 times a second. All politicians are shameless liars. But the ones who voters can viscerally sense are lying every time they open their mouths are the most profoundly talentless. Only a hack as tone deaf as John Kennedy could produce a line as unfunny as his much talked about "week killer" bit.  The more Kennedy appears on TV, the less people are going to like him.

Of course that might matter more if any of his opponents weren't as glaringly weak as each is.  Any of them is bad enough to lose to him.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

The "very reasonable request" wasn't enough

Nobody could have predicted that.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has increased the amount of money he thinks the state needs for federal flood relief — from $2.8 billion to $4 billion.

In a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday, Edwards said that the total impact of the catastrophic flood that swept across South Louisiana in August, killing 13 people and leaving thousands of homes damaged or destroyed, is becoming clearer as officials assess the damages.
Except, we did predict it with just a little back of the napkin math that could still mean they aren't asking for enough. The best I could guess was they'd need between $3 and $6.4 billion to fund the recovery plan... which we also sketched out for them here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

So close to finding out what's in Stuart Fisher's vault

Somebody call Geraldo. We're going in.
The developer who won the right to redevelop the World Trade Center appears to be within striking distance of resolving a lawsuit brought by a Florida developer that has held up the project since March 2015.

Orleans District Court Judge Tiffany Chase on Thursday (Oct. 20) set a trial for the lawsuit to begin on Nov. 21, which was considered a victory for Cambridge, Mass.-based Carpenter and Co. and New Orleans-based Woodward Interests. The two companies are planning a $360 million, 350-room Four Seasons with 76 hotel-serviced condos, and have been trying for months to get a trial date set to avoid further delays in the case.

The lawsuit has halted what had been steady progress for the city to complete a redevelopment deal after choosing Carpenter and Woodward from a competitive bid process. There had been questions from the start over whether Two Canal Street Investors could obtain financing; the lawsuit was filed questioning the selection process.

But the winning developers could have a chance to resolve the lawsuit before the trial date. Chase also set a hearing for Nov. 7 to determine whether the plaintiff, Two Canal Street Investors, still has legal standing to continue litigating at trial. In a series of bizarre developments that played out in court on Thursday, Chase allowed the Two Canal Street Investors' attorneys to withdraw from the case, and reviewed documents that raised questions about whether the company even exists and the person behind it.
Are we really about to find out who Two Canal Street Investors actually is? We've been waiting for so long, I thought we'd never get here.  What if it's nobody.
The questions came up after the resignation earlier this month of Stuart "Neil" Fisher, a Florida real estate investor, who had been the face of Two Canal Street Investors. But Chase was told Thursday that a new, mysterious overseas investor has taken over for Fisher.
Holy shit what if it's Putin! Guess we'll check back on November 7. One day before Election Day. Surely this is just a coincidence. 

Update: Was in a hurry when I posted this so I forgot to mention one thing.  A clear sign that everyone thinks this is finally the endgame to the lawsuit is the mayor's decision to account for it in his budget proposal.
The city is also expecting increased revenue from several other sources. Property tax collections came in about $4.4 million higher than originally expected in 2016. About $2 million is expected from permits and fees once the World Trade Center Redevelopment begins. And about $1 million is expected from sales taxes at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome due to a change in state law this year.
Could also be BS just like the rest of the budget. But it at least reflects confidence on their part. 

Ridiculously miniscule

The election "rigging" is not going well.
Louisiana’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Tom Schedler, says voters don’t have to worry about a “rigged election,” and charges his party’s presidential standard bearer, Donald Trump, with “overplaying the fraud card.”

Trump repeatedly has warned of rampant voter fraud that could throw the Nov. 8 election to Hillary Clinton.

“I’m telling you, November 8 (Election Day), we better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it is going to be taken away from us,” Trump warned as early as August and has been focusing on that warning in the last week.

Schedler disagrees that voters need to be watching out for fraud when they vote.

“For (every) 10 complaints, we maybe get one thing of some substance, and usually it is something ridiculously minuscule,” Schedler said.

They don't care about you

The politics of climate change and coastal loss is never about pulling together to solve a common problem. It is about every faction fighting to be the one that absorbs the least of the cost.  In South Louisiana this means a political class owned by oil companies looks to protect those oil companies at the expense of everyone else they ostensibly represent.
A paradox hung over Wednesday’s legislative hearing. The parishes most at risk of slowly disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico – particularly Lafourche and Terrebonne – are the most vociferous opponents of suing the oil and gas companies, because their local economies depend on the industry.
Politics is not about magically divining a perfect consensus that benefits everyone. Politics is abiut conflict. The winners impose their version of "consensus" on the lossrs. And most of the time the surest way to be a winner is to start with money.

In New Orleans, for example,  there's no such thing as a "reasonable compromise" on the short term rental question. There is only a well financed faction of landlords trying to impose its version of consensus on the rest of us.  Our mayor and Council members will pretend they're there to facilitate reasonable compromise but that is not actually their function. Politicians are not leaders or founts of venerable wisdom.  They are tools by which political factions attack one another. Sometimes... on very rare occasions.... the tools can be manipulated by direct democracy but that takes time, energy, and organization.  Most of the time difference they just respond to money.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mitch Landrieu does not care about renters

Nothing new since yesterday. Just reiterating.
"I was encouraged at first," said Carol Gniady, executive director of the Louisiana Landmarks Society and a Marigny resident.

But on Tuesday, Gniady learned of proposed ordinance changes that showed officials are considering allowing people to rent out entire homes for as many as 120 days each year.

Although the mayor's administration billed the changes as a compromise, Gniady said the proposal was in many ways what opponents of whole home rentals had always feared. Under the proposal, owners of whole homes could be rented out every day of every weekend, leaving them empty on weekdays and without the possibility of renting or selling to people who want to live in the neighborhood for the long term.

"I feel the city is selling us out -- they're selling us out for the tourist industry so that they have a place to come and party, disrupting the quality of neighborhoods," Gniady said. "It's just really sad that the city is at this point where they're willing to cater to visitors over the needs of residents."
They care about their friends and relatives. They don't give a shit about you. They prove it every day. 


J.P. Morrell writes in to the Advocate
The compromise being proposed by STR proponents is no compromise at all. This new language seeks to expand the Temporary STR permit to 120 days a year (instead of 30) and omits the Homestead Exemption requirement. It’s a disingenuous effort by STR supporters to circumvent the City Planning Commission and the public process. Essentially, it allows Whole Home STRs with less regulation.

To be clear, the ordinance without this new, so called compromise language accomplishes what many individuals sought, the ability to rent part of your home to pay your mortgage. The omission of the Homestead Exemption requirement allows our housing market to be overrun by out of state investors snatching up housing stock.

Consider this: AirBNB began in San Francisco years ago as new, wondrous, disruptive industry that was supposed to add to that city’s diversity and innovation. AirBNB’s has run roughshod over all rules, laws and efforts to protect San Francisco residents. Housing stock is short, rents are high, and it is now a city overrun with tourists rather than residents. San Francisco has battled, repeatedly, to put the genie back in the bottle and failed. Even now, AirBNB sues to block, or ignores, any attempt to make them accountable for their actions.

For once, as a city and state, let’s not ignore the history or facts. We in New Orleans should learn from San Francisco’s mistakes. Giving STRs the keys to our city, and our neighborhoods, will lead to the rest of us being evicted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Deal is getting worse all the time

I want to live

Yesterday the mayor made kind of a big deal out of his move to broker a "compromise" on the short term rental question. But when the compromise is structured such that we're still turning entire apartments over to tourists all over the city, it's difficult to see just what residents are gaining from that.
But Landrieu for the first time said Monday in no uncertain terms that he would not support the most controversial type of rentals, of whole homes in residential areas. Thousands of such rentals are listed on websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

"That's going to be off the table. That's not going to happen," Landrieu said.

At the same time, Landrieu and Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni — who has served as the administration's point man on the issue — said workable regulations will have to allow for other types of short-term rentals. Those likely would include renting rooms and half-doubles, renting full condos or apartments in commercial and mixed-use complexes, and time-limited rentals of full houses for up to 30 days a year.

That's kind of giving the whole game away, dude. But okay. "Whole home" is apparently "off the table" by some tortured definition.

Or maybe not.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared on Monday that full-time, whole home short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods were "off the table" for his administration.
It turns out, a lot depends on how you define "full time."

A pair of ordinances the administration submitted to council members Monday afternoon -- after consultation with sites like Airbnb and Homeway -- would allow anyone who owns or leases a property in a residential area to rent it out up to 15 times each year for as many as 120 days. That essentially means residential properties could be turned over to short-term visitors for a total of four months while still being considered a "temporary" rental.
In other words, yeah, we're just gonna keep letting them do it.  Again, not sure exactly, who is on the other end of this "compromise."  It's definitely not New Orleans renters. Oh wait here it is. 
But a key element in crafting the proposal appears to be getting buy-in from the sites that host listings for short-term rentals. In his email, Berni said, "If this framework is put in place, the major platforms have agreed to voluntarily collect taxes on behalf of (short term rental) permit holders, pay a fee into the (Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund) for affordable housing and provide certain pass-through data to the city on a quarterly basis, including the names and addresses of operators and the number of nights each operator has rented on the platform for the previous 12 months.

"This industry participation is critical to making anything work," he wrote.
LOL they wrote an ordinance based on that Airbnb told them they wanted. Way to look out for us, guys.  Thanks a lot.

Anyway, City Council takes this up on Thursday.  Can't wait to see how that goes. 

Tuesday Night Debateball

(Some of) Your 2016 Louisiana U.S. Senate Candidates take the field tonight in Ruston. The debate is carried by LPB and you can (probably) stream it here. I suppose this means we should note a few recent developments in the race this week to get ourselves hyped up.

First of all, there is this JMC poll out. More than anything else, it appears to show a little Campbellmentum.


There are people (real people... seriously reputable people.. not just me) out there who have been speculating for months about the possibility of sneaking two Democrats into the runoff somehow. Theoretically, this still might might be ever so slightly mathematically possible if we assume enough of that 16% undecided vote are Democrats.  It's hard to know just what the electorate will look like in this crazy year. But we do have this tantalizing take on the scenario via this week's Gambit cover story.
That outcome would be a nightmare for the GOP, and the chances of that nightmare becoming a reality increase as front-running Republicans play it safe on the issues in order to protect their respective bases around the state. For example, all are pro-life, pro-gun, pro-oil, anti-Obama, anti-Hillary Clinton, anti-union and, of course, pro-Trump — though some may be less enthusiastic in their support of the GOP presidential nominee after his latest pronouncements.

  The same could be said of the leading Democrats, except there are only two of them to divide the 40-42 percent of the electorate that reliably votes "D" in national elections. On the Republican side, at least four major candidates — plus at least two more with 5-8 percent of the vote on average — will be competing for the other 58-60 percent of the vote. Add to that another 5 to 8 percent gobbled up by the 15 or more also-rans and it's easy to see how "jungle" is an apt political metaphor in Louisiana this year.
One thing else to consider here is this particular national election could skew the electorate slightly more Dem than usual given waning enthusiasm for Trump among "moderate" (I know, I know, just go with it) Republicans combined with the much stronger and more professional "ground game" operation on behalf of Hillary and the general understanding... even among Trumpistas... that the election is pretty much over at this point.   Given all of that, it is conceivable that the Democrats get a significant edge in turnout. Consider also that the Republicans who do turn out are likely to be  Trump true believers who split more of their vote somewhere along the Duke-Flemming-Maness end of the field and you can still sort of see that Double D runoff happening.

Of course it's a long shot.  For what it's worth, JMC's own analysts  don't think it's worth mentioning in their narrative.  According to them, the demographic trends don't look favorable for Fayard.
Four candidates now have a viable path to the December runoff. Democrat Foster Campbell essentially has clinched one of the runoff spots, while Republicans John Fleming, John Kennedy, and Charles Boustany are competing for the second runoff spot.

Foster Campbell is essentially a lock for the runoff because his lead among black voters has expanded from 33-24% to 48-18% over Fayard; if undecided “leaners” are included, his lead among this demographic expands to 52-18%
Meanwhile, as for the Republican front-runners, there's a bit of news about them this week as well.  Hillariously, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune endorsed Boustany. Their editorial board writes that Boustany  is "poised to play a significant role in reforming the Affordable Care Act."  Actually he wants to repeal it and has boasted of the 60 times he voted to do just that. They also praise his work to "stop China from unfairly subsidizing shrimp to undercut U.S. producers."  But they don't mention his work to help his friends in the Louisiana seafood processing industry to "compete" with imports via the use of virtual slave labor.  But oh well.  Of course, we all remember last year when the T-P endorsed David Vitter for Governor. Maybe they just like candidates who prefer a certain kind of lifestyle.

Speaking of David Vitter, today's Stephanie Grace column is about the similarities in style and strategy between last year's failed Vitter campaign and this year's John Kennedy operation. 
But with Kennedy facing tough competition from fellow Republicans Charles Boustany and John Fleming for a spot in the December runoff, he's clearly hoping the plan that helped Vitter ward off GOP rivals Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle will work for him as well.

The strategy that Vitter's affiliated Super PAC used, its executive director Joel DiGrado explained at a post-gubernatorial election discussion at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, was to make sure that neither of the other Republicans emerged as the single alternative in voters' minds. So when one seemed to be rising in the polls, the group would target that person for attack.

“Every week, we had to reassess who we’re beating up,” said DiGrado, who likened the exercise to playing “whack-a-mole on a balance beam.”

Kennedy also has an affiliated Super PAC, called ESAFund, It's ostensibly independent even though most of its money came from Kennedy's state campaign fund, and it just so happens to be run by Vitter's former campaign manager, Kyle Ruckert. And it too is running harsh attacks against fellow Republicans, with an obvious eye toward keeping either of Kennedy's main GOP rivals from edging him out or joining him in an all-GOP runoff, when he'd clearly prefer to face a Democrat.

This, of course, is the part of the plan that worked for Vitter. His Super PAC's brutal attacks against Dardenne and Angelle may have kept either from catching up to him at the polls.
But being a big aggressive asshole to Dardenne and Angelle came back to haunt Vitter in the runoff when both of those guys were all too eager to hit back at him. Even at the height of his power, it was pretty much a given that Everybody Hated David Vitter. But they were also afraid of him. That worked for a long time. Until it didn't.  Everybody may hate John Kennedy too before this is over but I don't think anybody is all that scared of him.

Anyway, happy debating, kids.

Update: Sorry. I missed this little intrigue today between fringe Trumpista Rob Maness and The Man Who Would Be King Of All Fringe Trumpistas John Flemming. 
Louisiana Senate candidate Rob Maness said Tuesday he was asked to drop out of the race and throw his support to GOP opponent John Fleming in return for significant funding in a future race.

Maness told The Advocate that he met Paul Dickson over coffee at Abita Roasting Company in Madisonville on Monday afternoon. There, Dickson, who identified himself as the person “running the John Fleming PAC” and a decision maker with the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, offered support to Maness’ future political endeavors, he said.

“He told me that he would provide opportunities for my future, if I left the race for Senate and endorsed John Fleming. But, if I didn't do it before (Tuesday night’s statewide televised) debate, I'd be finished as a politician,” Maness said. “Although I'm not naive, the unethical threats and power play by the thugs behind the John Fleming campaign against me was shocking even by Louisiana standards.”
It's certainly a believable story. But then again, Maness is kind of a nut so who knows? Also, isn't there usually a private investigator filming surreptitiously whenever these little coffee shop meetings happen?  Maybe a tape will turn up.

Monday, October 17, 2016


This is about as deeply as our mayor cares to appear to think about anything
Landrieu said during an editorial board meeting on Monday with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune that he is believes that online short-term rental platforms like Airbnb fall under the category of "disruptive technologies" that are nearly impossible to put an end to altogether. As a result, Landrieu said he wants to see clear regulations imposed on short-term rentals that would allow them under "reasonable" conditions.

That would mean allowing short-term rentals that are clearly regulated and enforceable, and would generate enough money so that the city could pay for enforcing the regulations. Landrieu said he also wants to use money generated by short-term rental platform operators to help address the questions opponents often raise about affordability and the depletion of housing stock.
The kids and their disruption and their magic apps and stuff. No need to bother with the quaint old ways like enforcing laws or whatever if people don't want to follow them. The free market has spoken.  You'd think this means we don't need to cut every city department five percent in order hire more police, then.  But you'd be wrong about that. You'd also think that maybe we'd be less zealous about this.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu is proposing to nearly double the number of traffic cameras in New Orleans early next year, adding 55 new devices to watch for speeders and red-light runners.

The plan was announced as officials began rolling out the city's $614 million budget for 2017 early Monday. The proposal came during the city's Revenue Estimating Conference, which determines how much money the city has to spend.
Leave aside for a second the fact that traffic cameras are basically crooked tax farming operations that primarily benefit for-profit private contractors. Leave aside also the fact that cities across the country are growing so weary that they're no longer really considered "best practices" by any but the most regressive minded governments. Instead let's just ask what the heck is the point if we're no longer in the business of enforcing laws people are just going to "disrupt" anyway?

But there is that thing in there about "cost of enforcement." Apparently that's the threshold for determining where to focus the machinery of state now.  As long as there's revenue that can be gotten in a way that hurts poor people instead of our wealthier friends, we're all for it. But when poor people are being taken advantage of by those same wealthy friends and relatives, well there's nothing we can do. 

Tiny suppressions

George Orwell on humor:
A thing is funny when — in some way that is not actually offensive or frightening — it upsets the established order. Every joke is a tiny revolution. If you had to define humour in a single phrase, you might define it as dignity sitting on a tin-tack. Whatever destroys dignity, and brings down the mighty from their seats, preferably with a bump, is funny. And the bigger they fall, the bigger the joke. It would be better fun to throw a custard pie at a bishop than at a curate.
And now every "tiny revolution" has to be put down
By Monday morning, however, the satirist’s joy at confusing enraged conservatives reached new heights when his tweet was reported as genuine by the right-wing blogger Jim Hoft, who demanded to know if someone in a position of authority would “follow up on this.” It apparently never occurred to Hoft that he could have followed up himself, by attempting to contact the Californian who posted the tweet, or by scanning the rest of his Twitter feed, which is devoted to political comedy.

After Hoft’s post was linked to from the home page of the Drudge Report, it was shared more than 90,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.

Within hours, the fictional story had also been discussed, as fact, by Rush Limbaugh, and prompted investigations from both the United States Postal Service and the Secretary of State of Ohio, Jon Husted.
Something is going on here beyond just elites and authorities being stupid or having no sense of humor. It's more insidious. The new thing is a pose. Every joke or piece of satire is taken at face value.. not by accident.. but specifically with an eye toward suppressing dissent. And it's not strictly a right-wing phenomenon. It's also well-practiced by Hillary wing Democrats. Whining about "the tone" is the last refuge of every scumbag. But the scumbags are in charge. And this affected humorless passive aggression is their m/o.

Remember, "Remember me" hits?

They sure did nail the hell out of Cam a lot on Sunday.
The pass rush allowed the Saints to build a 21-0 lead as the Panthers' first four drives ended with three punts and an interception. All of those hits, even if they don't end up resulting in sacks, have a cumulative effect on the quarterback.

"There's an attrition in regards to the quarterback," Payton said. "You get a pass that's thrown quicker than it needs to be, because there's a clock in the quarterback's head that begins to change, and that's every one of them. ... You can't help but be affected when you're getting hurried or hustled or hit."
Has Goodell seen this quote?

Governor Landry wins a round

The judge says, actually,  Governor Landry can overrule Governor Edwards if he wants to.  

Attorney General Jeff Landry can reject dozens of state legal contracts because they include language preventing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people -- among other reasons, according to a Baton Rouge state court ruling Monday (Oct. 17).

Judge Donald Johnson, of the 19th Judicial District Court, determined Gov. John Bel Edwards does not have the right to sue Landry and force the attorney general to approve legal contracts with a LGBT nondiscrimination provision Landry finds objectionable.

The judge said state law is hazy about whether Landry or Edwards has the final word over legal contracts, which made granting the governor's wishes for forcing the Landry's hand on the contracts difficult.

"I believe that the law is uncertain -- and it does not provide the court with a clear path," Johnson said from the bench, adding: "The court denies the request of our governor."

The governor's office said they will either appeal the court's decision or file a new lawsuit that might use a different type of legal angle to get the contracts past the attorney general. Either way, they don't plan to take LGBT workplace protections out of legal contracts until other avenues have been exhausted first. But the process could take months, bringing some areas of state government to a grinding halt.
A "grinding halt." Just because Governor Landry and friends feel like being mean to teh gayszz.  Earlier today, Governor Landry's pals signed a letter attesting to their own status as deplorable basketcases themselves. There's a list of them here. It includes two of the highest ranking Republicans in the legislature.
Two of them are members of the House Republican leadership. State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, is head of the House Republican caucus and Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

And "lesser evil" is still evil

Hillary Clinton is definitely going to be President.  Shouldn't we start talking about how objectively bad that comparatively less bad thing will be?
Since primary season, we have heard variations on a theme from self-styled progressives: Clinton isn’t perfect, but a Donald Trump presidency would be so disastrous that we have to elect a safe, centrist candidate to stop him. Therefore, they had to put aside their critiques of Hillary in favor of preventing the rise of the Third Reich in America.

Now that we’re all but certain that Trump will not, in fact, win, they should feel liberated.

They can stop focusing on how terrifying a potential Trump presidency would be and begin to focus more honestly on how terrible Clinton’s track record has been and likely will continue to be at home and around the world. Every liberal and progressive who has held back on criticizing Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street, or the disturbing revelations of the content of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, or her incredibly destructive foreign policy past from Libya to Honduras and her all-but-assured hawkish foreign policy future, or her role in pushing welfare reform, or her palling around with ghoulish war criminals like Henry Kissinger, and her pride at winning the endorsements of neoconservatives whose hands are dripping with blood like John Negroponte.

But strangely, it’s been over a week since the tape was released, and we haven’t heard from much from those supposedly reluctant Clinton supporters suggesting any kind of shift
Wonder what gives with our so-called liberal Hillary Dem friends. Maybe the problem is they really do believe in this stuff. The lesson of 2016 is either that or that they hardly believe in anything at all. I'm still trying to work out which is worse. Gonna have at least 4 years to figure it out.

Populist football

There are a lot of compelling aspects to the DACOACHO storyline taking place in Baton Rouge this year. There's the obvious hometown boy facet. There's the improbable coincidence of Orgeron finding himself in the same situation at LSU he once was in at USC.  But the best story is probably the "second chance" narrative about a man who has gotten his break once and failed coming back a little wiser this time.

Specifically, Orgeron's story is about learning to be less of a dick.
At USC, he would do simple things like cater Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for his players and have people like Dr. Dre and Ray Lewis talk to the team. He gave hand-written notes to every member of the USC band, thanking them for what they do.
Trojans safety Dion Bailey spoke in 2013 about how refreshing Orgeron was:
He really emphasized that this time around being a head coach he wants to do it the right way, he really learned a lot from his time at Ole Miss, he asked us our input about a lot of things on the team, and he really inputted our input into the schedules and event-planning, things like that. He's always looking out for what's better for us, what makes us comfortable, taking care of our bodies. That really made us appreciate him, and from then on, guys have been behind Coach O and would run through a brick wall for him.
At LSU, he’s using those same practices.

“Let ’em have their cell phones and headsets,” Orgeron said in a recent interview with SB Nation. “Let ’em dress the way they want! Let ’em be who they are, as long as it’s respectful. Don’t put shackles on them. And I know it works. I know it works. I had kids at USC hugging me, crying, when I left. Begging me, ‘Don’t leave.’"

In that same interview, he added that part of being both a good and impactful head coach starts with showing players that you actually care about them.

“Before, I didn’t let them know I cared. I was the D-line coach. You can’t coach a receiver like a D-lineman. I just realized, here are some of the things I’ve got to change. I started writing, and I came to a realization: If I treat these boys like I treat my sons, I think we’re gonna be fine. How do you treat your kids? When my boys come home, I cook ’em a steak.

“That’s my motto now: Treat ’em like you would your sons. And hey, I’m Cajun. We eat a lot."
There you go, Coach. Give the people what they want. A steak in every pot.. or something like that. We can get behind that. 

With this going on at LSU and the Saints seeming like they're at least going to be interesting to watch as they struggle to 7-9 or thereabouts, football season is suddenly looking fun again. 

Year of the bang

It's city budget season, y'all.  There's an unveiling scheduled for the mayor's 2017 proposal at a press conference today. But voters have an opportunity to significantly alter the outlook by passing the a millage on the ballot next month (CORRECTION:On the December ballot) to shore up funding for the firefighters' pension settlement. We rejected that the last time around because it was tied up with a second tax meant for hiring more police. Those issues have been separated but the mayor is still intent on punishing us for not giving him his NOPD money. At least that's what this sounds like.
The main question hanging over the budget is how the administration will respond to an April vote of the people rejecting two property taxes that would have funneled $26.6 million a year to the New Orleans Police Department and the firefighters' pension system.

While the city is hoping to bring in some new revenue from other sources, without the defeated police tax the budget will include cuts aimed at providing more money to pay for NOPD expansion as well as other key priorities, Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni said.
They're also, as is their habit lately, talking about squeezing more money out of us via regressive fees much the way they did last year when they boosted rates and hours at parking meters. This article doesn't have specifics on that but its author is reporting from the revenue estimating conference this morning where we are getting some hints.

More traffic cameras

A liquor tax

They mention permit fees from the WTC development although that project is still in legal limbo for now.  Also there is this.
There is also one new stream of money that's already been approved. Officials expect a change in state law this year allowing sales tax to be collected on purchases at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome could bring in about $1 million.
I'm going to have to look this up when I have time later. But the way I remember this happening last year was the legislature almost accidentally violated Tom Benson's lease on the Superdome by making concessions there taxable during the Spring special session.  Later they had to scramble back and restore Benson's privileges. So I don't know if this new change in state law referred to above is in compliance with that fix or something different.

Update: Nevermind. Got the answer via Twitter. Athletic events are excluded from the sales tax. Figures.

Anyway, we await the mayor's budget launch speech.  His hype man says it's gonna be big.
The city is expected to provide more details on a $2.5 billion plan to repair or rebuild a substantial portion of the city's roadways over the next eight years. Much of that money will be contained in the capital budget, a separate document that outlines infrastructure spending.

"2017 is going to be the year that kicks off with a bang," Berni said.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A whole year

The bending reality shtick is not entirely original to our show but it doesn't make it any less of an achievement. We like to think of it as a sign that we've arrived. Anyway it's been fun and we think we're finally getting the hang of it. Thanks to everyone who has listened, contributed, and corresponded with us this year. We're going to try and have more guests on in the future... provided we can ever arrive at a more regular recording schedule.

Anyway this one has an exclusive interview with Coach Orgeron so that's a good start. It's also got the Senate election, the requisite football talk, and a little book talk as well. Plus... extras, as always. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Ed Orgeron:
Orgeron hasn’t engendered a wisp of criticism since taking over for Miles, but his tenure won’t have as much to do with the court of public opinion as the field of cold, hard numbers. Win enough games, though no one knows how many that would be, and he gets to crumple up the interim tag next to his name.

He couldn’t ask for a tougher gauntlet, with five ranked SEC teams lying in wait, all preceded by months of unbelievable drama.

Somehow, Orgeron has embraced it all.

You know, whatever,” he said. “This is college football. Whatever the day brings, we’re going to face it and be positive about it and go after it and adjust on the move.”
Maybe not the most profound thing. But you do have to respect a guy who subscribes to "You know, whatever," as a guiding principle. 

So who bought out Stuart Fisher?

Can't imagine he's walking away without having received something for his $10 investment.
The lawsuit that has held up redevelopment of the old World Trade Center building in New Orleans for more than a year has taken a bizarre turn, with the head of the company that filed the suit abruptly stepping aside and his former legal team asking to be removed from the case.

After a competitive review process last year, the city chose a team of developers who plan to turn the former office tower at the foot of Canal Street into a Four Seasons Hotel and condos. However, one of the losing applicants, Two Canal Street Investors Inc., has been trying to block those plans, arguing the city broke state law in making its selection.

At the center of the dispute has been Stuart "Neil" Fisher, who bought TCSI after its proposal already had been rejected. He’s been accused of pursuing a frivolous lawsuit with the hope of scoring a quick payday in the form of a settlement with the city.

But Fisher stepped down as president of TCSI earlier this month and says he no longer has any stake in the company, though he insists that others will carry on with the lawsuit in his place.
Actually it's not entirely clear that he's walking away.  Something has changed, obviously. But that something is not necessarily the end of this lawsuit. 
Neither side would comment on the lawyers’ decision to pull out of the case, a step that still needs approval from Civil District Court Judge Tiffany Chase, who told both sides in a status conference this week that she plans to proceed quickly with a trial over the suit.

Fisher said Friday that a new team of lawyers and a “nationally famous litigator” could be coming aboard to handle the lawsuit, but he would not name them.
Fisher has "stepped down," and his lawyers are (maybe) off the case but he's still here hyping the mystery Superlawyer to be named later?  It's suggested by the other side that this is just a delay tactic. But if it is, then on whose behalf is the case being delayed?  This isn't the first time we've had trouble understanding just who the plaintiff is in this case.

Fisher bought the company but didn't file the lawsuit. Maybe. At some point he indicated that he wasn't even the owner of the company anymore. But we weren't told exactly who is.
In an interview in March, Fisher said he is no longer an owner of Two Canal Street Investors, but he is the president and "authorized representative of the owners, both foreign and domestic." Fisher said he has a group of new investors including a Wall Street hedge fund, all of whom he declined to name.
Now Fisher is leaving.. again? But not really? And the legal team is shifting around.. maybe. I still don't know who the actual plaintiff is in this case. And I know even less about who actually owns TCSI now. Somebody does, though. Or maybe this is just one of those perpetual motion lawsuits that keeps going under the power of its own inertia.

Correction: Misspelled Stuart in the title. That happens a lot. 

Gumbo season

It's mid-October and we're all still sweating our ballses off. It looks like we're headed for another Halloween In The Tropics this year. Not sure what that means for your Sexy Ken Bone costume.

Anyway, everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about..... (shoot me please.) So this month I've been trying to make fall happen by cooking more gumbo.  A few weeks ago this chicken, andouille, and oyster deal was a major success.  Seriously. That's my favorite one I've made since the Great Turducken Gumbo Of 2011.

This past Thursday I did a gumbo z'herbes very much like the one shouted about toward the end of this podcast episode. Because, you see, there was this local uproar about people putting kale in gumbo. But that was stupid because you can totally put kale in gumbo. People do it all the time. I put it in this one along with several other types of green as well as some smoked pig tails. 

Green gumbo

So shut up about kale already. It works fine in the gumbo.  Meanwhile the gumbo cooking hasn't helped the fall weather roll in quite the way we'd like. But we'll keep trying.

The Joe Callahan Era

Welcome to the future 

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Why'd it take you this long?"

It was getting to be pretty depressing watching Hillary and the Democrats embrace and congratulate every craven Republican who suddenly abandoned Trump just as he finally started to crash and burn. These Republicans are thoroughly undeserving of praise, many of them having supported, passed, and signed horrifying legal actions against women in the form of health care restrictions, limits on the availability of abortion, forced ultrasounds, etc.

By and large Democrats were letting them get away with this because it was a cheap way to make their Presidential candidate look more "bipartisan" or whatever. That was stupid.  Here is a clip of the President in Ohio today doing better.

But but but... it's just risotto recipes

I'm looking forward to the end of the 2016 campaign.  It was fun during the primaries when the Democrats were actually arguing over the outsized  influence of the corporate oligarchy and the Republicans were staging a bizarre revolt against the rotten money power that controls their party. As we stagger to the finish, though, that's all well behind us.  The Democrats have fully embraced the oligarchs and what's left of the Republican Party is no longer in revolt so much as just plain revolting.

Another annoyance about this stage of the campaign is the near total absence of substance coming from either major candidate or their surrogates.  Of course when one side nominates a lecherous quasi-fascist reality TV star, that's almost understandable.  But that isn't the only source of the inanity.  It's clear now (as it should have been for several months) that Hillary Clinton is going to be President. One would think that the focus of discussion now would be on the kind of President she will be.  One would be wrong about that.

With the election reduced to fait-accompli status, it might be a good idea for the party assured of victory to start to work setting the governing agenda.  Let's talk now about what we'd like to see President Clinton accomplish in order to attach the popular mandate of the landslide election to our priorities. For some reason Hillary partisans aren't interested in doing this. In fact, they are doing everything they can to forestall that kind of talk.  Even now, as they've beaten the American voter into submission, the Hillary people aren't in the mood to take a victory lap.  Instead, they are still playing defense. Sloppily.

Take the recent Wikileaks releases of hacked emails, for example. It's understandable that the campaign itself considers them a distraction or embarrassment. But what about those Democrats who aren't employed directly by the campaign or the DNC? Or what about just the average voter? There's some stuff in there that most of us might find worth talking about.

In her speeches to Goldman Sachs, Hillary basically said that bankers are the best people to regulate bankers and that if you aren't getting rich in America, you must be some kind of loser.
At the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit, Clinton responded to a question from chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, who quipped that you “go to Washington” to “make a small fortune.” Clinton agreed with the comment and complained about ethics rules that require officials to divest from certain assets before entering government. “There is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives,” Clinton said.
She also admits her own position on Syrian intervention is going cost a lot of civilian lives
In her remarks to Goldman Sachs, Clinton pointed to the Syrian government’s air defense systems, and noted that destroying them would take the lives of many Syrian civilians.

“They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas.  So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians,” she said. “So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”
That's actually an example of the "private Hillary" being better than "public Hillary." It might bode well for what comes after the election.  On the other hand, we're in a shooting war in Yemen now, apparently. So... well, we'll see.  Anyway, none of us are much surprised to learn also how much Hillary loves Wal-Mart but that's in there too.

There's other stuff but let's not catalog it all here.  The point is that, despite the protestations of the professional sycophants and hangers-on (lol risotto!), there's relevant information in these emails. They tell us what sort of President we're about to have and what she and the people around her believe. In a better world, this would be the most relevant election topic at this point given the inevitability of the outcome. Instead, thanks to Donald Trump, we're spending time in 2016 arguing over whether or not women are people.

Here's why it matters that we start to contemplate the Clinton Administration now.  David Dayen writes that the leaked emails also instruct us that by the time Obama took office in 2008, the opportunity to substantively shape the course of the new Presidency had already passed.
If the 2008 Podesta emails are any indication, the next four years of public policy are being hashed out right now, behind closed doors. And if liberals want to have an impact on that process, waiting until after the election will be too late.

Who gets these cabinet-level and West Wing advisory jobs matters as much as policy papers or legislative initiatives. It will inform executive branch priorities and responses to crises. It will dictate the level of enforcement of existing laws. It will establish the point of view of an administration and the advice Hillary Clinton will receive. Its importance cannot be stressed enough, and the process has already begun.

The wing of the Democratic Party concerned about personnel decisions made its opinion known almost two years ago. Dan Geldon, now chief of staff to Senator Elizabeth Warren, met with Dan Schwerin, a top adviser to Clinton’s campaign, in January 2015. According to an email follow-up with Podesta and others, Geldon “was intently focused on personnel issues, laid out a detailed case against the Bob Rubin school of Democratic policy makers.” He was also “very critical of the Obama administration’s choices.”
Dayen goes on to argue that this year the so-called "Warren Wing" has earned some clout during the election (Bernie won 42 percent of Democrats!) and deserves to be heard in these discussions. But given the condescension toward them that drips out of some of these emails, it's not clear just how much influence they'll end up having.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The governor needs to stop being "reasonable"

The state needs to just go ahead with its lawsuit against the oil and gas industry.  The opposition is dug in and is never going to meet us halfway. In this Lens Op-Ed Anne Rolfes describes the oil lobby's recalcitrance in comparison to what she terms Governor Edwards's "reasonable" though ineffectual hope for a negotiated settlement.
Edwards would rather not sue. Time and again he has said his preference is for oil companies to meet him at the table and negotiate a settlement. This is a reasonable path, but instead the industry cries war. The oil and gas group casts the governor as a villain who has set greedy lawyers upon them.  Any mention of why our coastline is destroyed conveniently omits causation. “Save the coast,” is the vacuous cry that the oil industry has heartily promoted.

Refusing to honestly address the problems oil and gas extraction has caused is a recurring theme. Ask the industry to reduce pollution and it will roll out an opinion piece, like the one in which the Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association depicts itself as an industry hogtied by regulation and law.

In fact, the opposite is true. The laws that regulate pollution are not enforced. When the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency, the regulator of on-shore facilities,  reviewed enforcement of environmental laws throughout the nation, he found enforcement in Louisiana to be the worst. One of the reasons is cited on page 16: “a culture in which the state agency is expected to protect industry.”
The state's only recourse at this point is to press on with legal action against the oil and gas industry. The case has enough merit, anyway. Last week, John Barry wrote in the Advocate that "the industry has no actual defense." 
This has become laughable. The very existence of coastal Louisiana is at stake, Governor John Bel Edwards wants the oil and gas industry to restore the part of the coast it destroyed, and the industry responds by attacking the attorneys he wants to hire.

Of course that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The industry has no actual defense, so it needs to distract. Let’s look at the issue point by point, starting with causes of the problem.The industry’s minions blame levees for land-loss, and levees do cause damage. But industry has, too — and in some areas of the state industry is the biggest cause. Don't take my word for it.

Ask oil industry scientists. In 1972 a study by pipeline companies concluded that every mile of pipeline causes the loss of 54 acres of land, and industry has dredged thousands and thousands of miles of pipelines and canals. In 1989, a study by the Louisiana Mid-continent Oil and Gas Association, the trade association for major oil companies, examined the area of the state with the worst land-loss and concluded that "the overwhelming cause" of that land loss was industry operations. In 2001 the U.S. Geological Survey oversaw a study including industry scientists which concluded 36 percent of land loss was caused by industry. And many scientists believe industry caused a much higher percentage of the land loss.
Of course, if your strategy is to dig in and distract, it helps to have political players on your side. It helps when the Attorney General is willing to intervene in the process on your behalf. It helps when local parish officials are so cowed by oil money that they refuse to lend their voice to the cause. And it helps tremendously when a Democratic Senate candidate refuses to back the effort.
Caroline Fayard, also a Democrat, noted that she is an attorney but said that she doesn’t think suing the oil and gas companies was the solution to restoring lost land.

Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming, she said, and provide no guarantee of results.
Fayard, by the way, is the daughter of a wealthy civil attorney whose fortune derives from involvement in various high profile environmental lawsuits. Specifically it derives from his ability to subtly play both sides of the fence in these scenarios. Most recently, American Zombie detailed how this worked during the BP settlement process.  The Fayards also benefit from their cozy relationships in state and national politics.  But much more on that later. Suffice to say for now that it's laughable to see Caroline positioning herself against the governor's lawsuit here. Especially so when in her campaign appearances and literature she emphasizes her role in the BP negotiations. Here, for example, is a push poll where Fayard's candidate bio describes her as "a civil justice attorney and small businesswoman who took on BP and helped negotiate the state settlement."  But  Senators have a different set of priorities than trial attorneys sometimes. Or at least they're paid differently.

In Louisiana they're also paid to deny that humans (specifically humans in the fossil fuels business) are responsible for climate change. At the forum,  according to the Advocate, "Fayard also said that climate change is real but did not pin blame." Unfortunately, as we've noted previously, this is also the governor's ridiculous position. Apparently, this is what the conventional wisdom of state politics tells us it means to be "reasonable."  John Bel really needs to stop that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Voter suppression

Today was the last day to register for new voters looking to participate in November's elections in Louisiana. The Presidential race still isn't expected to be close here. (Which may explain why the major Republican Senate candidates, state GOP insiders, and Steve Scalise are all standing by Donald Trump even now.) But there are state and local elections to consider as well. 

So there's ample incentive to register. Unfortunately the Secretary of State's office is doing everything it can to discourage that.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler plans to give each voter a sticker of the famous “Blue Dog” saying "I voted."

Schedler and the family of George Rodrigue, the New Iberia artist of the "Blue Dog" paintings, unveiled the art for the sticker Monday at the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

“The 'Blue Dog' has become synonymous with Louisiana,” Schedler said.

Among the many Rodrigue works that include the iconic pooch is a painting President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, commissioned by the Democratic Party during their term in 1990s. Rodrigue's first "Blue Dog" was as part of a collection of ghost stories.

The Secretary of State’s Office printed about 4 million stickers, which should be enough for everyone who votes early, starting on October 25, or casts their ballot on November 8. The stickers cost $21,000 to print.

Louisiana had about 2.97 million registered voters at the end of September. Registration for the upcoming election closes Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.

Another SELA Mardi Gras

Danger Keep Out

The last update from S&WB that I'd paid any attention to came several months back during the spring. At that time, we were told that the SELA drainage work on Napoleon Avenue would be completed "by the end of the year."
The long-awaited end of the Napoleon Avenue drainage-canal project is now expected to be the end of the year — all of it — and landscaping on the neutral ground should be done next year, officials with the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told neighbors Thursday night.

The section of Napoleon from South Claiborne to Carondelet Street is all but finished already, said engineer Ron Spooner of the S&WB and John Fogarty of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a town-hall meeting at the St. Stephen Catholic Church school cafeteria. The box canal has been completely installed, and Boh Brothers contractors are now finishing up replacing curbs and sidewalks that were removed during construction.
In recent months, their progress has been evident.  Most of the culvert is finished and buried.  The intersection at Camp Street has reopened. Others are tantalizingly close to completion.  At the same time, though, they clearly have a lot of work left to do.

Road Closed

So today I happened to glance at the project site to find that the completion date has quietly been moved to July 2017.  Get ready for another parade season in the construction zone.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Advocate's Jeff Adelson for checking up on this. 


Roscoe was a good boy
LSU's live tiger mascot Mike VI is dead, LSU officials announced Tuesday.

The 11-year-old Bengali-Siberian tiger died after his health declined significantly from a rare, incurable cancer diagnosed in May.
He had a friend named Jeff


Monday, October 10, 2016

We were trying to film our own Daisy ad

Over the weekend we had to go to Ocean City, MD to attend what, I guess, you'd have to call a destination funeral. It was a strange experience staying on the beach in a summer resort town during the fall on a less than celebratory occasion. Also there was a muscle car convention in town so, throughout the weekend, we were never far from the sound of revving engines and smell of burning rubber. Oh and on the last day the remnants of Hurricane Matthew passed over us and threatened to flood our drive out of there.

So, yeah, weird times.  On the morning after our first night in town, we did witness a nuclear device detonated just off the coastline there. Hope everyone is ok.


Columbus Day is kind of a big deal

This article is from last year but it's a great Columbus Day read. 
Columbus’ landfall in the Western Hemisphere was the opening of Europe’s conquest of essentially all of this planet. By 1914, 422 years later, European powers and the U.S. controlled 85 percent of the world’s land mass.

White people didn’t accomplish this by asking politely. As conservative Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington put it in 1996, “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion … but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”

All we did was build nice things for rich people

When all you do is build nice things for rich people, you run the risk of creating a glut in the market for nice things for rich people.
That split between the high and low markets represents a key issue for the city. James Amdal, a senior fellow at the University of New Orleans' Transportation Institute who has studied the Warehouse District, said both the undersupply of lower-income housing and the oversupply of higher-end properties result from development patterns since Hurricane Katrina.

"Citywide, it seems as if affordable housing has become an absolutely critical in-demand commodity, and there just isn't any," Amdal said. "I think it dates to Katrina and post-Katrina and no one really understanding or knowing what needed to be done. Everyone decided that the low-hanging fruit was upper-middle, upper-class housing."
Not only did we focus on the upper end of the spectrum, we actually used funds designated for affordable housing development to do it.
We found short-term listings that appear to be in four developments subsidized with HOME Investment Partnership funds, one of several federal programs that fund affordable housing:
  • Bienville Basin, on the site of the former Iberville public housing complex near the French Quarter
  • Blue Plate Lofts, at the foot of Jefferson Davis Parkway in Gert Town
  • The Muses Apartments in Central City
  • A house at on Carondelet Street in Central City
Most of the listings were for an entire apartment.

This doesn’t mean that tourists are recovering from nights on Bourbon Street in low-income housing. The developments have a mix of market-rate apartments, affordable housing and, at Bienville Basin, public housing.

“My rent was $1,400 a month,” wrote Mark, an AirBnB host whose listing appears to be in Bienville Basin. “Let me know when that’s affordable.”
$1,400 is not affordable for anyone who actually lives here.  But it appears to be well below the price point at which the nice things for rich people are profitable for their management companies. In that Advocate article about the "cooling" of the rental market we find a Cotton Mill condo manager bellyaching that she recently had to take only $4,500 a month from a tenant.

Unfortunately it is this upper bound "crisis" and not the affordable housing problem that is likely to generate a policy response.  The market for nice things for rich people had been held afloat thanks to our gross public subsidy to the film production industry. It also appears to have benefited from the unrestrained encroachment of short term rentals.   One can easily envision policymakers acting to relieve the "glut" by either restoring the Hollywood South tax credit, further liberalizing STRs, or both.

As for helping the rest of us afford a place to live... well there really isn't much in the works.  The mayor's much praised affordable housing plan, for instance, is heavily dependent on so-called "inclusionary zoning" requirements.  But inclusionary zoning is an insidious and ineffective approach  based in trickle-down economic theory.  Basically it supposes the only way to build more affordable housing is to first build more nice things for rich people.
Inclusionary zoning is a fatally flawed program. It’s not just that it doesn’t produce enough units, or that the apartments it creates aren’t affordable, though both observations are undeniably true. The real problem with inclusionary zoning is that it marshals a multitude of rich people into places that are already experiencing gentrification. The result is a few new cheap apartments in neighborhoods that are suddenly and completely transformed.
Any political leader who asks us to believe in bullshit solutions like this isn't really trying to help. Instead they're looking for easy ways to appear to help which won't piss off their real friends.  Here's what happens when they actually try to help in ways that make their friends uncomfortable.
New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head on Friday joined a small but growing crowd objecting to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to build a “low-barrier” homeless shelter in Central City and calling for a new location with more comprehensive services.

The low-barrier shelter concept, pitched as a cornerstone of the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, has evolved since it was first proposed more than a year ago.
Stacy and Latoya Cantrell (who also opposes the shelter) are worried because a charter school executive told them it's located too close to his territory.  So much for inclusionary zoning, in spirit, anyway. The homeless shelter doesn't do anything to subsidize or finance any nice new high end apartment developments so it's a no-go. We're trying to build and maintain a nice city for rich people to visit where nobody actually lives. The dip in the market for luxury housing stalls that a bit. But I'm sure the leadership team will come up with some way to help.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The city we always wanted to be

Who did we rebuild it for? 

Vacation rental services like Airbnb say they offer anauthentic experience, a chance to live like locals. In New Orleans, where rents have outpaced wages over the past decade, that means tourists can rent an apartment in a development built with tax dollars for affordable housing.

The Lens found nine rental listings that appear to be located in developments that received city funding to offer affordable housing. About half appear to be in a mixed-income development located at a former public housing site.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Unexpected travel weekend

Good luck to everyone in the path of a scary storm this weekend. Seems kind of silly they're still trying to play a football game in that as of this morning.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Normcore wars

Oh isn't it so quaint how plain and mild the VP candidates are. Except actually both of them are horrible people running on the tickets of indefensible monsters.
While Trump has favored isolationist rhetoric, both  running mates sounded distinctly neocon themes in the context of the Middle East. Lee Fang noted that “Mike Pence broke in a big way with the top of his ticket on foreign policy during the debate, declaring that his administration would be prepared to ‘strike military targets of the Assad regime.'” Zaid Jilani pointed out that Pence and Kaine “surprisingly agreed on establishing ‘safe zones’ in Syria for beleaguered civilians,” while both also “failed to mention the troop commitments such zones would take to defend.”

Kaine and Pence also agreed on some domestic issues. Alice Speri wrote about how they both enthusiastically support community policing because “It sounds great. It means basically nothing.”

We noted that, in a debate that barely focused on the two vice presidential candidates themselves at all, Kaine ended up somehow straddling some wide moral chasms: He repeatedly noted his missionary work in Honduras, while ducking Hillary Clinton’s warm relations with military coup leaders there and their U.S. enablers; he spoke about carrying out executions even though it violated his personal convictions.
Pence probably "won" the debate in the useless, perverted sense that we tend to score such things.  He needled Kaine's dorky, practiced one liners. He lied freely and assuredly while Kaine failed to seriously challenge him.  He even got to ramble on for an extended period about how his faith informs his extremely disturbing anti-abortion rights position  without facing a rebuttal from the compromised and ineffectual Kaine. 

Not that any of this matters. Most people didn't watch. And the thing most people who did even remember about it is a jokey hashtag. America's two dads can now be safely returned to their storage containers. Only a month of this depressing election to go. Hang in there.