Tuesday, July 31, 2007

That "electability" bullshit again

AFL-CIO is making a mistake if they go with either Obama or (especially) Clinton over Edwards. He is far and away the most labor sympathetic among the "top tier" candidates. But.... they never learn do they?

Stacking the Deck

Now this is interesting.

LOS ANGELES - A Republican-backed ballot proposal could split left-leaning California between the Democratic and GOP nominees, tilting the 2008 presidential election in favor of the Republicans.

An even more interesting reform would divide the electoral votes proportionally among ALL candidates in the race.

An even more interesting reform than that would do this in EVERY state.

An even more interesting reform than that would do away with the electoral college altogether.

The moral bankruptcy of modern politics

And the winner is:

Six months after his improbable return to the Senate Republican leadership, Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has raised about $1.5 million for his leadership political action committee (PAC), more than 12 times the sum raised by Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Lott has also raised far more than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the highest-ranking Republican and Democratic leaders in the House.

Jindal is Bad

Tuesday edition

All of a sudden, he's my favorite writer

I agree with DeBerry again!

And even now, after District Attorney Eddie Jordan has declined to go after the nurses and an Orleans Parish grand jury has declined to indict the doctor, there are some people who are missing the point. It's perfectly acceptable to argue that Pou, Budo and Landry are innocent and express happiness that they won't face prosecution. It's another thing entirely to argue, as some people persist in doing, that law enforcement officials have no business investigating those in the medical profession.

If we all have equal standing before the law, then the reverse also should hold true, and the law ought to treat us as if we're all equally capable of wrongdoing. To argue otherwise is to say that the people who sign up for certain jobs are no longer human but belong to some special breed that is incapable of breaking the law.

Let me make it clear that I'm as pleased as anyone that Foti's grandstanding at the expense of this doctor and these nurses is coming to an end.

But I too felt that the outrage expressed at this investigation was fueled by a sense of class privilege as much.. or likely more.. than by a sense of justice... especially given the current vogue for more vigorous prosecution of accused murderers who happen to be of a lower caste.

Why the news sucks

Here are some excerpts from The Decline of Broadcast News a report issued by the Writers' Guild of America. Most of you will find things you probably already know. Corporate media consolidation and cost-cutting labor practices have led to a gross mismanagement of your "public airwaves." I encourage everyone to read the report anyway.

The Public Interest

Unlike other media platforms like newspapers and cable, which use privately-owned distribution, broadcasters distribute their product through the public airwaves. The Communications Act of 1934 imposed several requirements on broadcasters licensed to use the airwaves, including that they "serve the public interest."


Several key research studies in the last few years have demonstrated one practice in particular that has alarmed the public and elected officials: the media's reliance on VNRs (video news releases). One study by the New York Times in March 2005 and another by the Center for Media and Democracy(CMD) in April 2006 found that many local broadcasters aired VNRs. These videos look like news reporting, but are produced primarily by PR firms to tout their clients' products or points of view, and are usually aired without attribution to the sponsoring company. After the Times story came out in 2005, the FCC issued a notice calling on broadcasters and cable operators to follow disclosure rules when airing VNRs. The notice explained, "Listeners and viewers are entitled to know who seeks to persuade them."

The CMD report found 77 TV stations in markets large and small airing VNRs without proper disclosure. "In each case," CMD wrote, "these 77 television stations actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients' messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety." CBS' Los Angeles station, KCBS, was among the stations cited for running VNRs. Disney's KABC, also Los Angeles, and a number of ABC affiliated stations ran VNRs as well. In a follow-up study released in fall 2006, an ABC national news broadcast ran a VNR for a pharmaceutical company


Media outlets have been moving away from hard news and toward more lifestyle/ entertainment news, or "infotainment," for some time now. Whether the trend is driven by cost pressures and a fear of offending the powerful, or by a desire to "give the people what they want" and win the ratings battle, one result is clear. Less hard news is making it on to the airwaves

A member at CBS' KNX Radio in Los Angeles wrote, "I was told at various times, 'There's nothing happening in Iraq'... [Stories] must be titillating, embarrassing, or morally disturbing." Another reported, "Jane Fonda signs a deal, Prince Albert's illegitimate daughter, Britney Spears' baby trouble: All bump real news. We do this every day [emphasis added] on both KCAL and CBS-2."

"Managers seem to think that if it's not entertaining, no one will listen. More to the point - affiliate managers will complain [about the news product], they say." A CBS Radio writer echoed her concerns, and added that the negative effect is not only on today's news. He said, "I feel sorry for our desk assistants, the radio reporters and producers and newswriters of the future. The worst thing you can do to a young journalist is teach them to be scared, and that is what we're doing. The copy editor and the anchor are often hectored [by management] when they don't do enough 'exciting' stories, and it's made them gun shy about doing hard news or otherwise using their own judgment." He mentioned an example: when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie named their baby Shiloh, the news desk personnel tried to find an expert on celebrity baby names, thinking that that might reduce the management's pressure for lighter news.


There are also reports of frequent parent corporation product tie-ins at CBS. WGA members took particular exception to the requirement that they regularly write interviews with the previous night's Survivor or Amazing Race loser, stories about the "real-life missing person" featured on that Sunday's episode of Without A Trace, and numerous feature stories incorporating syndicated daytime talk-show host Dr. Phil. CBS writers are sometimes pressured to use material from "corporate partners" such as Simon & Schuster or politico.com before they go to other sources, who might be able to better speak to an issue.

Like I said, there's much more. Go read.

President Petraeus

Frank Rich:

There was, of course, gallows humor galore when Dick Cheney briefly grabbed the wheel of our listing ship of state during the presidential colonoscopy last weekend. Enjoy it while it lasts. A once-durable staple of 21st-century American humor is in its last throes. We have a new surrogate president now. Sic transit Cheney. Long live David Petraeus!

It was The Washington Post that first quantified General Petraeus’s remarkable ascension. President Bush, who mentioned his new Iraq commander’s name only six times as the surge rolled out in January, has cited him more than 150 times in public utterances since, including 53 in May alone.

As always with this White House’s propaganda offensives, the message in Mr. Bush’s relentless repetitions never varies. General Petraeus is the “main man.” He is the man who gives “candid advice.” Come September, he will be the man who will give the president and the country their orders about the war.

And so another constitutional principle can be added to the long list of those junked by this administration: the quaint notion that our uniformed officers are supposed to report to civilian leadership. In a de facto military coup, the commander in chief is now reporting to the commander in Iraq. We must “wait to see what David has to say,” Mr. Bush says.

Now can we talk about impeachment?


LRA's Road Home Website will crash sometime today.

Update: Yup! thnx, bigshot.

Martial Law

We're having a discussion at work this morning about whether or not actual martial law was declared in New Orleans after Katrina. I don't think we ever technically got there. Can anyone give a definitive answer?

F.U.s coming due

This is a very good week to scroll through Atrios's posts if you're not a regular reader.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Domino theory

Gonzales impeachment legislation may be introduced as soon as tomorrow.

And if that gains any momentum then maybe there's this to think about

We've noted Sunday's NYT editorial endorsing the impeachment of Alberto Gonzales if Solicitor General and acting AG Paul Clement does not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Gonzales' alleged perjury before Congress. But a number of readers have pointed out this odd passage. The Times editorial rather blandly states that it was Vice President Cheney who ordered the nighttime visit to John Ashcroft's hospital room.

I know it's not much at the moment but the suggested potential for catching bigger fish by turning up the heat on Gonzales does sound like fun.

Speaking of fun.. the John Edwards campaign has a mildly diverting activity for those who wish to help pile on the AG.

Emergency Housing Policy

I FEMA didn't make the trailers poisonous, no one would ever want to desert these luxurious pleasure boxes.

Environmentally safe housing would only be coddling the flood victims who, we all know, have bled the federal treasury dry already.

Exporting American Values

Ho hum... just another day trying to subjugate the globe

Two American civilian contractors who worked on a massive U.S. Embassy construction project in Baghdad told Congress yesterday that foreign laborers were deceptively recruited and trafficked to Iraq to toil at the site, where they experienced physical abuse and substandard working conditions.


RTA hears pitch to add Loyola loop to streetcar

Given the fact that after 2 years, the St Charles line still isn't running.. this project should take only two decades.. right?

Quote of the weekend

I found myself unable to look away from the Dynasty episode published in Sunday's T-P regarding the four-way marital drama involving State Senator Julie Quinn, hotel mogul Patrick Quinn, Jefferson Parish councilman John Young, and longtime local media personality Mary Lou McCall.

While shamefully engrossed in this fluff, I found myself groping for the appropriate one-liner to describe what I was reading.. but all I could come up with was, "Freaking crazy-ass white people!"

This morning, I find the most amusing comment has been supplied by the Head Pelican where they ask "Is leopard print the new black?" (Yes you have to click for the visual)

Update!: Do not miss the additional analysis of contemporary political fashion from Oyster this morning.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Doesn't happen often, I know

But DeBerry's column is spot on today. Every word of it.

Stuff to Do

Sorry. This is all I've got so far. I must be preoccupied with something.

  • Varg points us to Ferry Night in Algiers to celebrate the return of slightly more civilized ferry hours.

  • Homer! On the one hand, I've been looking forward to this moment for... practically my entire life. On the other hand.. if this movie disappoints as badly as last week's Harry Potter finale, well.. that would just suck the proverbial horse balls all over again.

Questions are not flammable

When we last saw the New Orleans Saints, they were trudging off a snowy Soldier Field in Chicago having come only one win short of ending life on this planet as we know it. As I said at the time, nothing stings like being stood up by the Rapture. On the plus side, we've all gained a bit of empathy for apocalyptic Christian cultists throughout history. I'm still not sure I'm over it completely.

We'll soon find out if the Saints themselves are over it as they take the practice field today in the Jackson, Mississippi for the opening of their 2007 training camp. But before we consider the months ahead, let's take a few minutes to revisit the Saints's movements during the intervening months that passed between now and that cold dark day in Chicago.

Coach Sean Payton (A.K.A. "Soupy" on account of something strange Menckles once said about his eyes) has gone to great lengths to encourage the Saints to put the 2006 season behind them going so far as to stage a jazz funeral for the team's collected trophies and awards. Frankly, the move strikes me as not only too cute but also rather futile since the the team seems to have racked up at least as much new bad karma as it has divested itself of by releasing long time fan favorites Michael Lewis and Joe Horn and also by appearing at or near the top of every prognosticator's pre-season NFC ratings.
Worse than that, the 2007 Saints open training camp while appearing on the latest Sports Illustrated cover ...although I do like that photo... which brings us to this.

Reggie Bush embarked upon a glorious Summer of Douchebaggery during which he

Will Bush be able to put all this behind him to once again juke, spin, and mostly run backwards in an effort to match the 3.6 yards per carry he notched in 2006? We're on pins and needles.

Apart from the unfortunate dumping of Lewis and Horn, the Saints roster moves this offseason have amounted to mostly minor tinkering. The major additions in the secondary and at linebacker do make the roster deeper but amount to only a marginal talent upgrade. Early impressions of first round draft choice Robert Meachem are that he is fat and fragile but these are.. early impressions.

As far as we know, Hollis Thomas's summer has been clenbuterol-free.

As NFL teams open training camps this week, sports publications nationwide are issuing lists of what they have irritatingly termed "burning questions". So while doing our best to avoid burning anyone, let's ask a few questions ourselves.

1) Will 2007 be another "hangover year"?
Prior to 2006, the two most memorable Saints teams were the 1987 12-3 team which made the first playoff appearance in team history, and the 2000 10-6 team which (barely) came away with the franchise's first playoff win. The 2001 Saints followed that up with a sleepy 7-9. Worse still, the 1988 Saints finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs anyway. If the 2007 Saints manage to be similarly disappointing, you can't say that it's without precedent.

2) Does anyone even listen to WWL sports talk anymore? Not that we could have expected them to but they just haven't come close to replacing Buddy D. Bobby Hebert is okay.. in a clownish sort of way.. but Kenny Wilkerson just needs to be choked. Buddy used to make even the worst football seasons not only bearable but downright fun. God I miss that guy.

3)Five pre-season games? WTF!
The whole team is likely to start the season on the inactive list.

4) Will the awful black pants make an appearance?
And who can we kill if they do?

5) Did the Saints miss a window to win it all in 2006 that has already closed?
We certainly thought so last year when I wrote this
It's like this. If this group is going to win a Superbowl, they need to do it this year. I know they're a flawed team now.. but they won't get better next year. Horn will be year older, Deuce and Reggie will not be so willing to share the backfield, Charles Grant will likely be too expensive to retain, Soupy won't command as much respect from the players through their fear of the unknown, and the whole team will be burdened by the increased expectations. Win it this year or not at all.
(Note Horn is gone.. but Grant is back) But now.. well.. you have to have some reason to keep watching don't you?

Update: Here it is! Fat guys w/luggage!
h/t: Dillyberto

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Dr. Ed Blakely took a few jet-lagged moments to produce a column for today's T-P apparently with the aim of removing all doubt that his recent trip to Italy was every bit as enlightening as a ride on Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. The most valuable nugget of information bestowed upon Dr. Blakely by this world gathering of Urban Consulting Illuminati amounted to more or less a breathless restatement of 1950s futurism.

Cities as we know them are forms of the agricultural era. All of our institutions are based on the farm era. Our city size and organization emerge from the time when city boundaries were formed on the basis of a day's horse ride. But as the speakers at the forum pointed out, it is the mega-region that will form the basis for the generation of future economic wealth. These new super-regions are economic systems and ecosystems that are interconnected and act as the economic engines for the mega-region. For example, the Los Angeles mega-region stretches from Santa Barbara to Baja, Calif. In the case of New Orleans, our mega-region stretches from Houston to Pensacola.

These new mega-regions are the vehicle for the development of a new world trade system that respects regions more than nations.

Did you hear that? The motorcar has made our cities bigger! There's a "new world trade system"! The World is Flat, muthafucka!

Oh but the future is not all monorails and Tang. There are serious obstacles to progress that must be surmounted. Luckily we have Dr. Blakely to show us the way. And that way is decorated with as much richly empty consultant-speak as Dr. Blakely can toss off in one column. Wanna try your hand at highly paid professional urban consulting? See how many similarly vacant statements you can make by rearranging the highlighted words in this paragraph.

That means that we need to think both internationally and locally as we design our economy. We have to build our eco-system as we rebuild our local economy to account for improved social and economic equity. We must view initiatives such as the bioscience center, port distribution center and digital media as steps to our role in the mega-region development that will build new jobs for a sustainable future for all of our residents.

And if that doesn't work, you can always just throw out some factoids, imply that you have important theories about these factoids, and dare your audience to spot the contradictions.

Within the next decade, single adults will outnumber married adults. This is in part because women live longer than men. But it also because Americans and most of the developed world are experiencing later marriage and lower birth rates. But despite this, the United States is projected to have 125 million more Americans by 2050 than we have today.

Some of these new Americans will come from a constant flow of new immigrants who are escaping countries where poverty and a lack of opportunity are forcing them to find new horizons. But the vast majority of the new population will come from the current cohort of Americans as they have children and their children have children.

The big money in Urban Consulting goes to those who have mastered the art of talking in complete circles.

But never mind that now. The important thing is to remember that the cranes are on their way.. any day now. And when they get here they'll build us a greener, more sustainable, post-agricultural, eco-friendly, mega-region where an explosion of racially diverse immigrants are free to be born to the current cohort of New New Orleanians.

I just hope it comes with a Space Mountain too.

Correction: I hastily linked to the wrong Suspect Device cartoon. The one I actually wanted isn't online yet. I literally just grabbed the url for the latest one published and linked it in there without even looking. I'll correct the post when it goes up. Meanwhile this earlier one is slightly more relevant.

Further corrections, clarifications, and whatnot: See the comments.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


When in the course of human events...

Look. I know this is post just more of the same thing I posted last week. But this time I'm quoting Josh Marshall who seems halfway to changing his position towards favoring impeachment.

Without going into all the specifics, I think we are now moving into a situation where the White House, on various fronts, is openly ignoring the constitution, acting as though not just the law but the constitution itself, which is the fundamental law from which all the statutes gain their force and legitimacy, doesn't apply to them.

If that is allowed to continue, the defiance will congeal into precedent. And the whole structure of our system of government will be permanently changed.

Whether because of prudence and pragmatism or mere intellectual inertia, I still have the same opinion on the big question: impeachment. But I think we're moving on to dangerous ground right now, more so than some of us realize. And I'm less sure now under these circumstances that operating by rules of 'normal politics' is justifiable or acquits us of our duty to our country.

The argument in favor of impeachment goes beyond the simple political calculus and straight to the dire need to salvage what is left of our constitution. If nothing is done; if this President is allowed to ignore the law of the land this brazenly, then the executive branch itself has become a rogue institution unchecked by the Congress and utterly unaccountable to the citizenry it purports to govern. No, I'm not being a civics geek either. These are issues that go to the very heart of what makes us American. It's worth taking some action. Even if you're a Douchey Dem.

Q & A Corner

Q: (posed in this article) "One obvious question for DeCarlo is why should progressives support Nader and not U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic candidate for president whose views on the War in Iraq, labor and trade, the environment and healthcare are similar to Nader’s?"

A: Ask the "stars" that made us.

Happy Fat Guys With Luggage Day!

Be sure to catch the evening news for your annual fix of exciting footage of big fat football players checking into their dormitories.

Meanwhile, if you're planning to visit Jackson this summer you may want to check out this training camp guide prepared by the T-P graphics people. It's worth a click if only for the dancing Deuces.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NOLA Criminal Justice System lets another thug walk

I wonder if anyone will march on City Hall or demand resignations over this one?

A police officer fired from the New Orleans Police Department for the post-Katrina beating of a retired school teacher was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing on Tuesday, declared "not guilty" of battery and false imprisonment by Judge Frank Marullo.

The incident on Bourbon Street received international attention, as the altercation between several law enforcement officers and 64-year-old Robert Davis was captured on videotape.

But Marullo said the defense proved their case that instead of the beating decried by prosecutors, the video showed that Davis was resisting the officers' attempts to handcuff him. Robert Evangelist, who then had been on the force for two years, didn't use excessive force, the judge concluded.

"I don't even find it was a close call. I saw five minutes of struggling to put on the cuffs," Marullo said, of the scenes in the video where Davis is pushed against a wall and then on the ground with four police officers over him.

"I don't even find it was a close call"

Internets are broken

Power Outage Causes Major Web Problems


Just throwing this out there.. but who else can see Atlanta Falcons QB Aaron Brooks sometime in the near future?

What I learned from last night's "You Tube" Debate

Q: What's more gag-inducing than watching vacuous blow-dried celebrity news persons pose smugly while questioning pathetically phony presidential candidates?

A: Watching idiots on YouTube do the same shit from home. It's like what would happen if we could televise the Letters to the Editor page of the T-P.

Update: This is exactly right
The real revolution would be in trying a formula that features candidates posing questions and follow-ups to each other. Then we could finally and truthfully call them debates.
Throw in a steel cage and I'm totally there.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Anti-Climactic Ending

The following post contains a brief review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Thus it contains a number of what the kids like to call "spoilers". If you have not read the book and still plan to do so with as little foreknowledge of the plot as possible, you may wish to do that before reading this post. It is also possible that you do not wish to read this post at all regardless of your plans to read the book. I certainly understand that sentiment.

We managed to endure the unseemly midnight release of the book at the Garden District Book Shop with minimal difficulty. It's a small store and the crowd was manageable (about 70 or so folks). Many of the pitiable souls in attendance chose to costume as their favorite character. I was expecting this so I was not too put out by it. I felt a bit sorry, though, for the dog who was compelled to serve as an accessory to someone's Hagrid costume and also for the one kid who was inexplicably dressed as Yoda. After an hour of milling about, complimentary snacks and beer and wine, some arts and crafts and then more milling about, we lined up, received our books and got the hell out of there. The sight of Potter fans with their new books, many of them grown men and women, unable to resist reading the book as they hurry downstairs, squeeze through the front door of the Rink, and sprint to their cars is.. comical to say the least.. and well worth the price of the book. As is the case with most inexcusably stupid events, I was overjoyed to have been there to see it.

Once home, I claimed the comfortable couch and settled in for what I expected to be a long night of reading when the phone rang. It was Daisy calling from California on her way to the release party for the book at her library.

Me: Harry's gonna die!

Yeah, hey dude. Look. It's like 10:30 here and I'm not gonna get my book until 12.

I have mine. It says Harry dies.

Daisy: Listen. I'm on my way to the library right now.. but...

Me: I got mine at a bookstore full of costumed weirdos.

Daisy: Look, can you read some of it to me?

There was a big dog there. And free Abita. And they had a "Sorting Hat"

Daisy: Did you hear me?

Me: Turns out I'm a Slytherin.

Will you just read me some of the fucking book? I'm serious!

Me: Okay okay... um.. alright, here we go. The first chapter is called, "How Harry Dies"

And so it was with some prodding that I was made to read the first seven pages or so to Daisy over the phone until she arrived at her event and left me to begin reading for myself in earnest.

This is not to say that the rest of the night went uninterrupted, however. In addition to the head start granted her by my ministering to Daisy's impatience, Menckles reads faster than I do. So throughout the night, I was repeatedly made to stop and contemplate Menckles's various gasps and indignant screams as harbingers of as yet undiscovered (by me) horrors. I think this may have slowed my progress through the narrative further as I subconsciously determined that I might keep characters from dying by not turning pages. This phenomenon was compounded after Daisy acquired her copy.

Daisy reads faster than most humans so it wasn't long before I began receiving her indignant screams and gasps from the pages ahead of me via text message. Daisy's messages had the added feature of citing page numbers. So throughout the night and on into the weekend I received messages like, "WTF p. 134" or (my eventual favorite) "unexpected hilarity p. 736".

Because of the decided bloodiness of this book, Daisy's messages began to take on the aspect of a running body count (with page numbers cited). As each death notice arrived, my return message invariably speculated that the latest victim was Harry. "Harry's dead again?" was a text I remember sending more than once. Eventually this developed into a collection of alternate titles. Harry Potter and the Unmitigated Carnage which later became Harry Potter and the Eventually Ameliorated, Although Unmistakably Massive Carnage

Finally, after reading the epilogue.. and Daisy's commentary on the book, I have decided on the alternate title indicated in the post below this one. While Deathly Hallows does have its satisfying moments, and while it does tie up most of the series's loose ends, it disappoints in that it fails to tell the story Rowling wants it to.

Geeky fantasy meme aside, the enduring appeal of this series has been its value as a children's coming-of-age saga. In this, the final installment, Rowling intends for her main characters to learn about the consequences, compromises, and sacrifices that come with adulthood. She has made these ideas evident to the reader but has clumsily thrown them onto the page in such a way that blunts their intended emotional impact.

One possible explanation for this has to do with Rowling's decision to abandon her paint-by-numbers plotting scheme. The timing of the previous books has generally progressed around the school year. Rowling is used to moving Harry from the Dursley's to the Burrow to the Fall term at school to the Christmas Holidays to the Spring term and then to the.. part where Dumbledore explains everything. In this final book, Harry is no longer in school. Once he leaves the Burrow, he and Rowling enter unfamiliar territory and things slow down... a lot. She has tried to compensate by adding more action scenes.. but these start to feel aimless and repetitive after a while. (How many times can Voldemort scream "Nooooo!"?) By the time we've reached the final confrontation, there really isn't anything left to do or say... although Rowling manages to make it awfully talky anyway.

The Potter series is about growing up and Deathy Hallows is supposed to be about the ambiguity, fallibility, and loneliness of adulthood. The ideas are there... but poorly navigated by the author. The mystery of the Hallows is intended to serve as an exploration of Dumbledore's faults and regrets, but it is so poorly woven into the main storyline that it, as Daisy observes, could have been left out altogether.

Even Rowling's most compelling character, Severus Snape is mistreated by her clumsiness. Snape, motivated by the pain of an unrequited love, chooses a life of isolation, lies and facades. Although it is revealed that he is lying for the right people, such lies serve to perpetuate the state of loneliness which bore them. Should he have let his crush go at some point? Do the risks he takes make him brave? Or does his decision to hide his broken heart with a false face make him a coward? Snape's sacrifices should ask Rowling's readers to contemplate some very adult ideas but the manner in which she presents this is forced, unemotional, and unsatisfying.

Of course, she's trying to get it right. We like her and we like her characters which is why we tend to give her a pass on this stuff. Rowling wants her young readers to come away from this series having learned the following:
  • Love and trust those close to you

  • Question authority

  • Do not be defeated by sadness

  • Do not fear death

It says something about Rowling's writing, however, that the character in Deathly Hallows who best embodies these virtues is also the most one dimensional. But then Dobby does get a very satisfying moment in the book so we can forgive Rowling for that as well.

The clumsiness with which Rowling handles her themes combined with the out and out awfulness of the epilogue has me wondering if she reached a point with this book where she just wanted to get it over with. I'd like to say that this is because Rowling herself doesn't want to be an adult (a virtue in any good children's author) but I think instead that she just hasn't learned to be anything other than a mediocre writer. Like her famous protagonist, Rowling has made the most of her ordinary talent, and a bit of luck, to do some great things. And like I imagine she is, I'm just glad to have it over with.

Note: Re-posted this several times to correct minor spelling and format errors

Update: Also this was cute last night.

Harry Potter and the Sucking of the Horse Balls

Quoting my favorite line from Daisy's review, "The epilogue sucked horse balls. What the fuck?"

Read it here.. but only if you've read the book.. or don't mind having much of it spoiled.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I still heart Meemaw

Stuff to do

This weekend.. not much outside of chasing down horcruxes.

Tonight, I am less than proud to say that I will endure one of the events listed here in order that I may purchase my copy at midnight and then get the hell out of there. I haven't decided if I'll have to bring a bottle of Off in order to keep the geeks from standing too close to me.

And another thing: Might I add that my devotion to keeping my promise to participate in this evening's douchery without having sneaked a peek at the book itself is making it very difficult to ignore the mysterious and tempting brown paper bag sitting five feet behind me at the moment.


N.Y. blast raises questions about aging infrastructure

I blame the backward locals in NYC. Or to borrow a paragraph from Varg:

Well, I’m blaming it on the backwards political process whose responsibility it was to oversee those levees city infrastructure. And that process starts at the voters and moves on up through Washington. They are ALL to blame. And the longer you lived (t)here and did nothing during the years leading up to Katrina this dangerous manifestation of urban decay, the more you are to blame for sitting back and lamenting that “things are never going to change” and not doing a enough to protect your homes from Lake Ponchartrain public from exploding streets.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Dear Douchey Dems,

I hope you enjoyed your slumber party this week. But please get up off your duffs and impeach these bastards before it's too late.

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

If you need a little more encouragement, this discussion recently aired on Bill Moyers's program is a good place to start.

JOHN NICHOLS: The hearings are important. There's no question at that. And we should be at that stage. Remember, Thomas Jefferson and others, the founders, suggested that impeachment was an organic process. That information would come out. The people would be horrified. They would tell their representatives in Congress, "You must act upon this." Well, the interesting thing is we are well down the track in the organic process. The people are saying it's time. We need some accountability.

BILL MOYERS: But Nancy Pelosi doesn't agree.

JOHN NICHOLS: Nancy Pelosi is wrong. Nancy Pelosi is disregarding her oath of office. She should change course now. And more importantly, members of her caucus and responsible Republicans should step up. It is not enough--

BILL MOYERS: Well, Bruce is not the only conservative--

JOHN NICHOLS: --and others are. But--

BILL MOYERS: And Bob Barr, who's been here.

BRUCE FEIN: David Keene

JOHN NICHOLS: But they do so, by and large, in a cautious way. They say, "Well, the president's done too much." Let's start to use the "i" word. Impeach is a useful word. It is a necessary word. The founders in the Constitution made no mention of corporation or political parties or conventions or primaries or caucuses. But they made six separate references to impeachment. They wanted us to know this word, and they wanted us to use it.

BILL MOYERS: You're-- does this process have to go all the way to the end? Do Bush and Cheney have to be impeached before it serves the public?

JOHN NICHOLS: I think that what Bush and Cheney have done makes a very good case that the public and the future would be well served if it did go all the way to the end. But there is absolutely a good that comes of this if the process begins, if we take it seriously. And the founders would have told you that, -- that impeachment is a dialogue. It is a discourse. And it is an educational process. If Congress were to get serious about the impeachment discussions, to hold the hearings, to begin that dialogue, they would begin to educate the American people and perhaps themselves about the system of checks and balances, about the powers of the presidency, about, you know, what we can expect and what we should expect of our government.

And so I think that when Jefferson spoke about this wonderful notion of his that said the tree of liberty must be watered every 20 years with the blood of patriots, I don't know that he was necessarily talked about warfare. I think he was saying that at a pretty regular basis we ought to seek to hold our-- highest officials to account and that process, the seeking to hold them to account, wherever it holds up, is-- a necessary function of the republic. If we don't do it, we move further and further toward an imperial presidency.

If you need help drafting the necessary articles, Jefferson has also provided you with a useful template here.

Also, this is no excuse. Impeachment is a necessary move against the un-American institution of the imperial executive (60 plus years in the making now) not just the particular assholes currently running it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I heart Meemaw


Honestly, I don't see what's the big deal. It seems understandable to me that some casual consumers of a certain form of entertainment may not care enough to want to purchase and consume the entertainment in its entirety.. but may like a short synopsis of that entertainment.. including its oh-so-secret ending.. to be made available to them.

Mind you, I'll be purchasing and consuming the particular entertainment in question myself this Friday and am therefore not interested in spoilers this time.. but I can see why some people might be.

Also: I completely agree with Yglesias. There are a lot of douchebags out there... particularly among his commenters.


John Maginnis says: Vitter believes in "traditional marriage". Vitter purchases whores. Purchasing whores is a time-honored part of "traditional marriage". Ergo: Vitter is not a hypocrite.

Crime Wave in Jefferson Parish

Maybe they should have a march.

Baseball thief swipes big load of beer

Sex offender flashes girl in library


Are the multiple criminal justice related street activists afoot in the city these days marching in favor of or in opposition to detaining murder suspects indefinitely without charges? Please make your position on Habeas Corpus a bit clearer so that you may alleviate some of your Democratic Senator's apparent confusion.

Update: Above we see Bad Mary, but here we have Good Mary giving 'em hell during last night's slumber party in the Senate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Perfect case study in how to blow your credibility


And on Wednesday, one of ESPN's brightest nights of the year—the taping of its annual sports awards show, the Espys—was dimmed by the news that longtime "SportsCenter" anchor Dan Patrick, arguably ESPN's most cherished on-air personality, was leaving the network. ESPN still has plenty of big names on the payroll; its TV dominion is secure. But Patrick's departure is a watershed moment, not least because it epitomizes a battle for the soul of ESPN. As an anchor, Patrick struck the perfect balance between wit and gravitas; he had the funniest one-liners and he asked the toughest questions. But in recent years, networkwide, that balance has begun to tip unmistakably toward the kind of athlete-centric idol worship that seems more like the province of Us Weekly than ESPN.

Some of this is inevitable. ESPN's lucrative partnerships with the NFL, the NBA, MLB and NASCAR, among others, have put its news operation, and "SportsCenter" in particular, in a unique bind. "Imagine The New York Times owning half of the Broadway theaters whose plays it reviews. Or imagine CNN paying billions of dollars for exclusive ... rights to cover the War in Iraq," wrote ESPN's own ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber, in a May 10 Web column titled "At ESPN, Conflict of Interest Is Business as Usual."

Remember, this is the news organization that first brought Keith Olberman to a national audience. They certainly have fallen a long way.


David Vitter is not a Cajun

Otherwise he'd have to give it to his Momma

Leftover Campaign Cash Comes in Handy for Lawmaker-Turned-Lobbyist Tauzin

Nagin to meet with Dean in D.C

To chat, I guess.

A city spokesman traveling with the mayor said he did not know what Nagin planned to discuss with Dean, the former Vermont governor who chairs the Democratic National Committee, the principle engine of party politics at the national level.

Nagin recently danced around questions about whether he will run for governor or for the 2nd District congressional seat if it were vacated by U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat who is under federal indictment on 16 corruption-related charges.

But he continues to raise money for his war chest, now estimated to exceed $500,000. Last week, he attended a fund-raiser in Kansas City, Mo. Nagin's second terms as mayor ends in 2010.

Uh oh

Ed Blakely:
"We've turned the corner."
You know just give it one more FU and you'll see some cranes and shit.... as long as we give the surge time to work or something.

Also in this article Dr. Blakely enlightens the buffoons on the concept of rebuilding:

"It's like building the city over again."

Actually from this article we learn that very little has changed since we last checked on the progress of Blakely's funding scheme except that the first sale of bonds related to that $260 million capital improvements package approved by voters in 2004 is now tied up because the city is unable to provide potential creditors with a current fiscal audit.

Oh and the infamous Blight Bonds aren't looking so hot either. But that's okay. It looks like there's a plan in place to get that jump started too. See what we'll do is:
Blakely earlier said he hoped to award a $150,000 contract for a professional money manager to handle the task by June. On Monday, he said he was still reviewing proposals, but didn't indicate when the city would make the hire.

I hate to start repeating myself here but this still looks to me like a process of perpetually punting promises into the future until it's time to pack up and go back to Australia.

Asked whether the failure to nail down financing will force him to revise his pledge to have construction "cranes on the skyline" by September, Blakely said, "My goal is to ensure that we have a program in place in September."

Related: Baghdad Blakely

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two more Vitter-related items

Nagin threatens to "lose it"

Oh this is too easy.... just watch the video.

Side note: The above was filmed today at the Main Library for some reason. I think it likely has to do with this but I'm not sure.

Update: Yup, looks like it


If Ray Nagin, Bill Jefferson, and the entire Bush Presidency have taught us anything, it is that we are living currently with a politics of severe hard-headedness. Embattled pols are far more likely to fight than to bail no matter how ridiculous the circumstances.

I don't think Eddie Jordan is going to resign. He's going to stick it out and use his embattled status as a merit badge in his run for reelection in much the same way Jefferson and Nagin did before him. Among stubborn pols, Jordan is particularly notable for his pig-headed and even bizarre behavior at times. I think the fact that he has alienated so many potential political allies over the years is ultimately a greater threat to him than the current popular outrage. But even so, the DA's office is a powerful one that I don't see him giving up without a fight.

Also not resigning any time soon is Senator David Vitter. Please go re-read everything Vitter-related at YRHT and come back and tell me if you think this man has any shame. If the State GOP thinks Vitter too damaged to stand for reelection (in 2010) then they may find a way to force him out... but not until Jindal is in position to appoint his successor.

WWL is reporting that Vitter plans to speak at 5:00PM today. Also.. I just added some links to this post for the purposes of fun.

Update once more: Vitter's press conference was a textbook political apologize-but-blame-the-media-and-"enemies"-at-the-same-time gambit. He also denied all of the "New Orleans stories" which just seems ridiculous. Should be interesting.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Two days after Bastille Day, the unwashed masses are planning to storm the Cabildo and demand the head of Eddie Jordan. You know.. I'm all for anarchist insurrection.. but I'm still quite dubious about all this. I kind of feel like.. if you demand show trials you'll get show trials... which can be fun but I'm not sure what's actually accomplished.

Either way, have fun storming the castle, kids.

Today I'm like.. a kabillion years old

Life gets progressively pointless as at 27 you outlive several dead rock stars, and then at 33 you outlive Jesus.. I'm looking forward to someday passing Homer Simpson.. but there is some debate as to his actual age... most often cited as 36 though.

Today: 1) Put up with crazy relatives. 2) See Harry Potter 3) It's my birthday so... I'll be.. taking myself to the dirty part of town.....

Friday, July 13, 2007

Oh one more for the road

Can't compete with Oyster on the Vitter stuff. But just in case you need more answers, you can always ask Chef.

Quote of the Day


"I'm telling everybody every day that I'm focused on running for mayor," Nagin said at a news conference, before quickly correcting himself: "I mean, being mayor."

We know he has difficulty making that distinction.

Sorry about the low volume of posts lately (especially while there's so much going on. I'll have more soon. Meanwhile, the places to look are listed to your left.


Oh also Stuff To Do this weekend:
1) There is an embarrassing dearth of Bastile Day activities in New Orleans this year. More on this later

2) See Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It's my favorite of the books. Hopefully the movie will live up to that.

3) Sunday is my birthday so.. you know.. party like an old man!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gourmet Ice Cubes

An embarrassing new low for the ever-diminishing T-P food section... and for trendy bullshit in general.

Back to the land of no internets

But before I set out this morning I'll take the opportunity to needlessly urge you to keep reading YRHT this week for continuing unbeatable coverage of the ongoing Vitter adventures.

Brush Your Teeth

Like six or eight times a day from now on.

Without mentioning it to residents for nearly two years, the Sewerage & Water Board quit adding cavity-fighting fluoride to New Orleans' drinking water supply after Hurricane Katrina and has not restarted because of a supply shortage.

S&WB Executive Director Marcia St. Martin said Wednesday that the agency got cut off from its supply chain because of Katrina and has been unable to resume deliveries because of a subsequent dearth of fluoride nationwide.

She said the water board, which started adding fluoride to tap water in 1974, did not notify the public because officials believed they would find a supplier.

"It's not something we brought a lot of attention to," she said in an interview. "We constantly thought we had a solution. In the last several weeks, we realized we're not finding a supplier, no matter how much we try."

Further, St. Martin said dental health guidelines are not based on the fluoride content of drinking water, so residents who follow those rules would not be affected by a lack of the compound flowing through their faucets.

"If you listen to the American Dental Association, the recommendation is that you always buy fluoride toothpaste, whether you have fluoride in the water or not," she said.

However, an official with the state Department of Health and Hospitals who met with water board administrators and other dental and health professionals Wednesday to discuss the fluoride deficiency said the water board could have spread the news earlier.

"I think that maybe the physicians and dentists could have been notified, if not the public. They could have been prescribing supplements," including drops and pills aimed at boosting fluoride intake in children, said Sheri Sison, manager of the Office of Public Health's oral health program.

"People could have been a little more hypervigilant," she said, though she said she did not believe S&WB officials acted with negligence.

In addition to New Orleans, five water plants in Plaquemines Parish, plus five others across the state, have not resumed adding fluoride to their drinking water since the storm, according to the health department, which tracks fluoridation as an "optional" water treatment. Plaquemines officials could not be reached Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 21 other systems, including those in Jefferson, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes, have restarted the process, said Lauren Mendes, a health department spokeswoman. St. Tammany, which draws much of its drinking water through wells, does not use fluoride, a public works official said.

Why must S&WB turn this office into a house of lies?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I've been at the DMV all morning renewing my license and updating my voter registration. (I can't wait to vote against Stacy Head!) Since I've got the rest of the day free, I'm on my way back out the door. But not before leaving you with the something to do while I'm gone.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Even Harry Potter thinks Harry Potter is toast

Daniel Radcliffe: I think Harry Potter dies

Will they have Ray Nagin to kick around?

I was going to let today just slide by at first. It's (still) a holiday week and the Yellow Blog has been on the back burner for the past few days anyway. There hasn't been as much internet time at work lately and I suppose I could post more from home but... that time is already set aside for watching Sifl and Olly.

But as I sit here waiting for Informed Sources to start, I simply must make note of the fact that the Nagin-for-Governor rumors are once again swirling. Oyster informs us that the latest Nagin poop is being pushed by conservative talk radio station 99.5 FM (broadcasting home of Nagin-booster extraordinarie Rob Couhig) and, of course, The Dead Pelican. As Oyster has documented exhaustively, Louisiana conservatives argued strenuously in favor of Nagin's reelection last year. But now, the same characters are all too eager to play kick-the-clown with their guy as the Governor's race gets underway. This is obviously too inconsistent to be accidental. In State politics this year, and for a good time to come, the name of the game will be "kick-the-crap-outta-those-NOLA-buffoons" and right now, like it or not, Ray Nagin is the most high-profile NOLA buffoon available. Louisiana Conservatives like Nagin right where he is; in power, in the news and eminently kickable.

As for Nagin's motivations, Mr. Clio has it on good information that it may boil down to a choice between Baton Rouge and Dallas. I hardly expect that even Nagin actually harbors illusions of winning the Governor's race. But I can easily see him calculating that his stature may be enhanced if he becomes a racial martyr a-la Cleo Fields. All I can say for certain is that if he does decide to run, I promise to link to this video every day until the election.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fix the Pumps Signs Off

Over the past year, Matt McBride has lent his expertise to documenting the continuing gross incompetence and indifference of the people charged with protecting New Orleans from a repeat of August 2005.. or worse. In other words, he's been doing very important things.

Fix the Pumps will remain an indispensable document of the damage done to public works by our broken system of crony capitalism.

Oh and Happy Fourth.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Great Moments in American History

Four years ago today.

Momentary lien

Sorry, Varg

Much fascinating discussion about race, class and New Orleans going on at b.rox and at Varg's place. Go look. There's nothing for me to add here that I haven't already said in those two comment threads.

Harry Potter is Toast!

It's July. It's Harry Potter month. I've been preparing by re-reading Book 5 (the film version will debut July 11) and Book 6 (because.. Book 7 comes out July 21.. in case you live in a broom closet).

Of course, this means that I've had to once again endure Rowling's merciless march of NOUN-VERB-ADVERB sentences. But.. as I've said previously.. I've made my peace with the Potter books because they are.. thematically at least.. excellent coming-of-age children's stories.

And, like most fans, I've made this recent pass through searching for clues about what might or might not happen in Book 7 reaching at least one conclusion which I have placed in the title of this post. I think Harry is going to have to snuff it in order to bring this increasingly dark series to a satisfactory end. I could be wrong. I usually am. But I'm sticking with this.