Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Understatement of the Day

Greenwald: "The duty of Congress is not to obey the wishes of the President."

Long Dies The King of Pop

Today Michael Jackson is still dead and people everywhere are still freaking out. As I am typing this, CNN just tweeted the date and location of the public viewing. OH and look they found his will. Michael Jackson "news" and photos were given front-page treatment by the local paper IN NEW ORLEANS for four consecutive days. At the moment, he's been displaced at the top of the NOLA.com feed by Dollar Bill but I'm sure we can expect that to change by this afternoon. According to Pew, "Fully 93% of cable coverage studied on the Thursday and Friday following his death was about the King of Pop." The fanfare is inescapable. Even if you shot your television and ran screaming from your house on Sunday, you may have run right out into a friggin second line for Michael Jackson attended by hundreds of people.

I've noticed several columnists, bloggers, and other generic opinion spewers write the same milquetoasty missive in which it is claimed, 1) The writer was not really a fan but 2) The writer prefers not to dwell upon the tabloidy freak show aspects of Jackson's life (but isn't going to not mention them) because 3) The music was "important" or it "really holds up" or some other non-negative acknowledgment (although the writer was not really a fan). What is it about the death of Michael Jackson that has stricken so many commenters with a sudden reticence to call crap crap?

Michael Jackson... or at least Quincy Jones and Pepsi and Disney and the rest of the machinery presenting Michael Jackson sold the world a sort of post-modern motown-disco fusion which, although catchy and cleanly engineered, never sounded like something produced by an actual person. Perhaps this was fitting as Jackson himself, owing to his unusual child-prodigy-celebrity upbringing, was about the farthest thing from an actual person a human being can be but more likely this is just coincidence. Jackson's well-trained voice and athleticism made him a perfect spokesmodel for the several products and fashions he was employed to promote. Jackson's legacy lies not in the music-like product he was associated with (Can we call it musicyness?) but in the innumerable industrially produced bubble-gum tabloid pop acts he helped pave the way for. Without a Michael Jackson prototype, we may never have been able to produce a Britney Spears... and THEN where would Chris Rose's career be?

As for the public freak show that we came to know Jackson's personal life as, contrary to the popular wisdom, I think there's some significance in that as well. Richard Kim at The Nation sums it up well
Without his extravagant eccentricities and ambiguous, obsessive relationships to race, gender, mortality and childhood (and children)--indeed without the conspicuously tenuous link he had to the category of the human itself--Michael Jackson would have been a B-list has-been. Most likely last seen on the latest episode of Celebrity Apprentice, his obit would have followed Farrah Fawcett's. In short, he'd be John Oates.

Our fascination with Whack-o Jack-o has never been only, or even primarily, with his prodigious skills. It was with the way he personified our culture's most central ambitions to whiteness, immortality, wealth, real estate and fame. Lodged somewhere between the superhuman and the alien, aspiration and disgust, Jackson was a grotesque reflection of our collective desires.

While never allowed to be an actual person, Jackson did become a personification of our collective ugliness. In the end as ugly, twisted and phony as the world that made and used him. Or, as Mike Gerber writes the world that took out its frustrations in ridiculing him.
Unlike say, Cary Grant, Michael Jackson had the ill fortune to be a celebrity when nightly scrutiny of a pop singer's personal habits became what passed for incisive commentary. Precisely when American power needed all the restraining that satire could throw at it, satire became obsessed with celebrities. Coincidence? Surely not. Part of this was the entertainment industry's self-aggrandizing belief that nobody in the audience knows about anything but entertainment--which, after fifty years, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But even more powerful was simple risk-aversion. Any Jackson joke was risk-free. Since he was both celebrity and inhuman autopilot, the material flooded forth; and in that flood was protection, safety in numbers. That's why it all felt strangely impersonal, as if this "Michael Jackson" we were all laughing at didn't exist as a person. To the extent that anybody I knew spared a thought for the guy, the human being, they decided he deserved it for being so weird. Such is the compassion of the herd.

On the other hand, as Adrastos points out here, ridicule of the Michael Jackson phenomenon DID help bring Weird Al Yankovic's career to greater prominence in the 1980s. And the world was certainly a better place for that.

Title modified slightly post-publication. It's still a bit weak.

Nothing to add here

But I saw this story about a junkyard fire in East New Orleans and couldn't resist linking it since it gives me an opportunity to use the "flaming garbage" tag for only the second time ever.

Little understood Tweeter Tube facts

About two thirds of the "content" is advertising. We live in a truly bizarre time where people voluntarily sign up to follow a series of pizza commercials, bar specials and... oddly calculated gossip about the exciting yet undefined activities of ad-hoc business associations. It's the world's worst opt-in spam machine. But everybody loves it.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm thinking something very much like this.

Starting the week off on a downer note

Shrimp season closing in eastern Louisiana

I was really getting on a roll with the large head-on shrimp the past few weeks. Last week I made barbecue shrimp with an Abita Turbodog sauce. A few days ago, I boiled a few pounds and made a remoulade salad. If the price is still good by this weekend, I'll try and do another shrimp creole.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meanwhile, back in the real world

The Climate bill that just passed the House may not be the most direct way to go about reducing carbon emissions or "creating green jobs" as the President is fond of claiming, but it does create some interesting secondary markets.
When the program is scheduled to begin, in 2012, the estimated price of a permit to emit a ton of carbon dioxide will be about $13. That is projected to rise steadily as emission limits come down, but the bill contains a provision to prevent costs from rising too quickly in any one year.

The bill would grant a majority of the permits free in the early years of the program, to keep costs low. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the average American household would pay an additional $175 a year in energy costs by 2020 as a result of the provision, while the poorest households would receive rebates that would lower their annual energy costs by $40.

Several House members expressed concern about the market to be created in carbon allowances, saying it posed the same risks as those in markets in other kinds of derivatives. Regulation of such markets would be divided among the Environmental Protection Agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Wow what a fascinating potential clusterfuck that is to ponder.

Anyway, I'm not usually one to cheer oddball compromise market-incentive-based approaches to environmental legislation. A better bill would have set limits on emissions and EPA enforced penalties for violating those limits. But what they've come up with is far more imaginative and should be fun to watch in action. I'm just not so sure I mean "imaginative" and "fun" in a good way.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Humble plea

Those of you who are about my age or older will, no doubt, remember the grinding nausea imposed upon an entire generation by the post-mortum semi-deification of Elvis Presley. Let us not begin the cycle anew. Now is the time to nip this in the bud. Anyone claiming to spot a miraculously risen Michael Jackson crossing the street or working at a local Arby's or whatever will be shot on sight.

Phenomenon already dangerously close to out of control.

When in doubt, take the Tiger

I enjoyed watching Marcus Thornton at LSU. Let's hope Byron Scott doesn't lose patience and run him off like he does all his other young prospects.

Interesting scenario

Has a foreign government ever placed a sitting U.S. Congressman under arrest?
Kachikwu said he had once worked closely with Jefferson, testifying that in May 2004, he had gotten information that authorities in Nigeria were prepared to arrest the congressman, who was in the country trying to resurrect the telecommunications project. Kachikwu said he learned the arrest was based on complaints from a fellow NDTV executive that Jefferson had sought bribes from the company.

Kachikwu said he drove the congressman and iGate CEO Vernon Jackson to the airport about 5:30 a.m. so they could leave the country earlier than planned and keep Jefferson from being imprisoned.
Really? The Nigerians were going to arrest him? On bribery charges? Really? Did they think that would have looked okay diplomatically? How would it have looked on cable news? Would Nigeria have been declared a terrorist state? Would there have been a call to send in the Special Forces? What would Jerry Bruckheimer do with this material? Does anyone else think Kachikwu's story is bullshit?

LA Legislature hits the showers

Time for everyone to shake hands, congratulate themselves, and wait for Jindal to veto everything... including the hard fought NOAH rescue.
The health care restorations include 67 positions at the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, the Uptown mental hospital that Jindal had proposed to close in a cost-saving measure. But Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine said he will ask Jindal to veto that language, as the money for NOAH would be taken from dollars that are targeted for outpatient mental-health services in the New Orleans area.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


City Biz is giving up. For this article, they tried to get the labor department's Tim Barfield to tell them we're bucking the trend but even he couldn't make a 3700 jobs loss in May disappear.

We will regret this

Locking the city into an unchallengeable suburban template is a very bad idea.... unless you really are looking for that "Atlanta moment"

Yes, it's charming

But it would be nicer to have a grocery store or two nearby.

I haven't seen a Bentley's truck in Central City but I have seen several like it. Over-sized food vendors ride through the area fairly often and at unusual hours. At 9:00 PM the appearance on your block of a large, brightly illuminated van playing eerie carnival music feels sort of like a UFO sighting. You aren't sure what you've seen makes sense and you don't know if or how you might go about describing it to somebody.

I'm guessing most of the trucks I see have been following second lines all day. But it's also probable that they're selling "various vegetables, cheese, and school supplies" because the nearest Rouses is 4 or 5 miles outside of the neighborhood.

Radtke Rehab

Can we please stop validating the guy's existence? Couldn't they have hired anybody else to fix this?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mafia tactics

If you happen to have a public disagreement with Stacy Head over her enthusiasm for destroying affordable housing in New Orleans, she will take steps to fuck up your life.
A March 2007 exchange between Head and lawyer and confidante Nyka Scott makes reference to protests being staged by public housing advocates outside Head's Uptown home at a time when the City Council was beginning to mull the demolition of four large complexes. Scott and Head talked of planning a "HUGE" rally at the home of Washington, whom they blamed for the picket sessions at Head's house.

"They have declared war, " Scott writes. "We will get 100's to go to Tracy's house. I plan on going by the week to get a picture of her house. She paid $175,000 for it in 2000."

Responds Head: "Would sugge4st (sic) that Nancy Marshall needs to reassess her property since it has likely gone up in value. You wanna get -- -- -- -- -- to tell her that?" The name is redacted.
It's telling that Stacy and her friends are more concerned with taking out their petty personal grudges against rival lawyers than they are with the actual people whose lives these political disagreements affect. It's all about Stacy and her right-reformist-enlightened lawyer buddies getting the best of their "ASSS" political opponents and their "old time political bs" (quoting previously published Head emails). Who really gives a crap about those Wal-Mart shoppers and their "RICE KRISPYS" anyway? All they do is hold up the goddamned checkout line.

And, no, Ms. Washington wasn't the only target of this sort of thing.

About a month before that exchange, Head wrote to someone named Rachel -- the recipient's last name and e-mail address are redacted in the message posted at Head's Web site -- in response to a forwarded statement from Bill Quigley, director of Loyola University's law clinic.

In his message Quigley encourages volunteers to repair plumbing and electrical problems in public-housing units that had been recently reoccupied against the orders of local and federal housing officials.

"I have bcced 2 of my most trusted friends on this, " Head writes, referring to the blind carbon-copy function. "They are considering filing a bar complaint against Quigley for his promoting people to break the law. If you are aware of any other possible ethics violations committed by he or Washington, please let me know."

The important thing to remember here though is that, come election time, we'll hear from all the Yuppie Lefties in town about how great Head has been at ridding us of all the nasty "politics of the past" or something like that. What they'll mean is that they prefer a nasty person who is openly nasty to poor people better than a nasty person who merely fails poor people. But they'll like the way they say it better.

Catching up

It seems that every time I go away... even if for a few days... all hell breaks loose around here. Luckily I don't get out of town too often. Bad for my valve, you know. Y'all just need to be thankful I don't commute from Sydney or some crazy shit like that. Really who would hire someone to do that anyway?

  • I just got back from Pensacola Beach where the entire island is being taken over by something called Portofino Island Resort which is a timeshare/hotel monstrosity occupying four high rise towers on the last piece of real estate that isn't reserved for the Gulf Islands National Seashore. In addition to the resort itself, the company also owns and operates several attractions on the island, the most prominent of these being a Disnesyesque boardwalk featuring various boutique jewelry and tchotchke outlets, a surf shop, a daiquiri bar, and, of course, a Hooters.

    Guests who don't want to drive the 1 and 1/2 miles between the boardwalk and the resort can board a complementary catamaran which departs each location on the hour. They can also hire a taxi, which isn't difficult to do since the cab companies are fairly used to making this trip. I also noticed that, on weekends, there is a "trolley" service for hauling tourists up and down the same route.

    That may seem like a lot of effort expended in the interest of keeping visitors moving between the pool bar and the toe-ring shop with minimal difficulty but at least the cost of it all appears to be fronted by the private businesses and individuals who benefit from these services. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the international private company in charge of our public transit system seems to prefer spending our tax dollars on similar tourist amusements.

  • I'm terribly disappointed in South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. When I heard that he had turned off his cell phone and gone missing for a few days without notifying his family, friends, or... anyone in his office I was not just sympathetic but downright moved. It's so difficult to find quality alone time these days. If a State Governor can't manage to pull it off, even if for a day or two, what chance do any of the rest of us have anymore? When it turned out he was actually in Argentina banging his "dear dear friend" I was devastated. Instead of an elected leader making touching statement against the encroachment of the modern world upon the private soul, Sanford was just another "family values" politician having a hypocritical affair. How boring.

    And then, of course, there's Fox News not missing a beat. They do this all the freaking time.

  • Mark your calendars. It's happening again. New Orleans Bloggers will present another conference on the status and future of the city as it approaches the fourth anniversary of the Federal Flood. Details (late as usual) coming soon.

  • Here's the point about the Bill Jefferson trial that doesn't get talked about much. If Jefferson's attorneys are correct in asserting that the Congressman didn't specifically sell any of the official functions of his office, then what is he actually accused of selling? His brand name? His supposed clout as a consultant? If so, how is this any different from the brand that any pol sells when he or she takes a job with a lobbying firm? If we're going to put Bill Jefferson in jail for this, shouldn't we start going after all of them? Not that that isn't an unpleasant thought....

  • Prediction: The minute everyone is satisfied that Tulane has what it wants, the paper will not run another word against the construction of the new hospital in Mid-City.

  • Gotta go with the Tigers tonight. Despite what it says above the T-P masthead this morning, LSU did not "drop the ball" last night. They just ran up against an outstanding pitcher having the game of his life. What a great tournament this has been!

  • The Landrieu faction is ruining your chance at a more just health care system, America.
    The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

    What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

    Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.
    Their reasons are that they quite accurately see themselves as representatives of their friends in the insurance industry. Those are the only people they listen to.

  • If you ever have an opportunity to adopt a cat, I can't recommend Maine Coons highly enough.* I've owned a few cats in my time but Sovereign was unlike any I had known. Most cats tend to have a sort of pompous aloof aspect to their personalities. They accept you but they're sort of above you. But Sovie was surprisingly unpretentious and affectionate... Clownishly playful and genuinely friendly without any of the typical feline standoffishness... more like a calmer than usual dog, really. And the dude was huge. I still think I see him around the house sometimes. I'm gonna miss that guy.

*Sovereign was a rescue cat from the Baltimore Humane Society. I would always recommend rescuing and animal from a shelter regardless of any breeding preference.

Update: Here's one I almost left out. Can I get a WTF on this, please?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Away for a few days

In the meantime, Here are some kitty pictures.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Malibu Stacy

Dan Baum has a cliched understanding of things he's been well-paid to report on. But hey, he's got a new hat!

Elections have no consequences

We all know the only people who matter are Mary Landrieu's insurance industry campaign donors. None of this other stuff means anything.

"Most treacherous"

Apparently UK Twitter avatars must be greener than ours.

In an uncompromising address at Friday prayers, Khamenei claimed that the high turnout at the elections showed how much the Iranian people supported the regime, and blamed western powers for interfering in Iranian politics, singling out the UK as the "most treacherous".

Who knew there was a trans-Atlantic douchebag gap?

Answering Stephanie Grace

You know, temporarily humoring a crazy lady who's obviously out to get you sure seems like an "honorable explanation" to me.

Also, regarding the phrase "socialite with a supposed do-gooder streak" Isn't that what the "Young Professionals" grow up to be once they're finished Twittering the local politics up to their standard... or whatever it is that they do?

About 70% of what goes on on Twitter


Update: Of course, the above link is satire. In real life, it looks more like this.

Upperdate: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, that's not entirely accurate. It also looks like this.


Same thing Eli asked in the comments a few days ago.

Why is it that NOLA.com has the ability and inclination to aggressively pursue critics of levees.org but doesn't give a crap about the racist swill bubbling in its comments section every day?

Should we have been calling Dennis Woltering all this time?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stop it, already

For the last time, yes, people care about the news from Iran. No, nobody gives a shit that YOU joined a club.

Scorched earth

Was bound to happen sooner or later. On his way out the door, Ed Blakely manages to point one last finger of shame... this time at his old boss.
When he was hired in late 2006, Recovery Director Ed Blakely said he wanted to assume the role of a deputy mayor. Many larger cities, such as New York, use deputy mayors to coordinate specific areas of city government and give them the power to approve contracts. Blakely said he suggested this structure to Nagin, and he opposed it.

“The mayor believes much more in a flat organization without too many people with agglomerate power,” Blakely said.

That flat organization required Blakely to answer to various department heads, which he says slowed recovery projects because every city contract required multiple approvals and ultimately the mayor’s signature.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Address the argument

Sure it's instructive to note that participants in the discussion are corps employees. But it doesn't mark them as voices that need to be stifled. The enthusiasm WWLTV and Levees.org continue to exhibit for denying individuals their free speech rights is truly breathtaking.

One sure way to get the old Spidey sense twitching

Anything involving politics and the phrase "Young Professionals" Really, I just can't wait to find out about all the exciting new ideas the "Young Professionals" will bring to campaign 2010 in New Orleans. I'm guessing they like charter schools, aren't very happy with crime, and may have a rant or two to unleash about "unproductive citizens" along the way. But it'll be ON TWITTER so that's very exciting.

Fully vested in the local rags pension fund

Congratulations, ANTIGRAVITY

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Maybe we should all dye our thumbs purple too

Go ahead and put me in the It's-not-about-us column. I don't know what it is about people that makes them so desperate to feel like they're somehow part of every thing they read about. Just because you're interested in something important doesn't mean you are important also.

Meanwhile, I'm working on ways to make this blog look even less green.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Missed Opportunity

I was disappointed to learn that Senator Landrieu sent a subordinate in her place to the open house at Pres Kabacoff's girfriend's Bywater Hippiedrome on Saturday. According to The Healing Center's website, the organization seeks to offer the following services to the community.
  • Yoga

  • Homeopathic and herbal supplements

  • Self-Improvement and educational books

  • "Audio instruction manuals for exercise and life-style enhancement"

  • Amateur-taught shop classes inspired by "the belief that comradeship and learning are fundamental to self-awareness, self-integration, self-healing, and community healing"

  • Juice

  • And naturally, "Healing Center logo brand clothes and supplies."

It's a shame the Senator couldn't be on-hand to mix with the crowd at this event. I was really hoping someone would ask her if, in light of her opposition to a public option health plan, she was endorsing the Healing Center's "holistic" health offerings and merchandise as an alternative to the actual medicine she doesn't seem too excited to help anyone get access to.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

Ray Nagin:
"Politics in New Orleans is the dominant industry, so I decided to get in," he said. "Besides tourism, politics dominates everything. I just think it's part of our legacy and our history. Politics is definitely a sport and something that the citizens pay attention to."
Let me add that I like this quote very much. I know certain humorless individuals frown on the description of politics as a "sport". I am not among them. In fact, it's fair to say that I probably use exactly the same part of my brain to "pay attention" to politics that I use to follow sports. (Some day I'll detail my plan for making Head Football Coach an elected office)

As for the line about Nagin getting into politics because it's "the dominant industry" I'd say that's an exceedingly astute and introspective observation for the Mayor.

Little-known fact about stealing elections

When you can pull it off, it works really really well.
“We are not disposable things to be thrown away,” said Mahshid, 20, a student who declined to give her last name because she feared repercussions from the authorities. “From now on, we won’t vote. They have insulted our feelings of patriotism.”

At the same time, it's worth saying that this very well may be a legitimate result. "Wishful thinking" often clouds the outside observer's judgment. We should understand this fairly well in Louisiana.

Hughes High

This morning's T-P supplements its feature on incoming Archbishop Gregory Aymond with a list of our Bishops/Archbishops through the years. The names of several Archbishops now grace (ha!) the marquee at area Catholic high schools.

What's interesting to note is that the location of the Archbishop schools neatly fits the pattern of 20th Century outmigration of white middle-class Catholics from New Orleans into the suburbs. Archbishops Chapelle and Rummel high schools each opened in a booming East Jefferson in 1962. Archbishop Shaw High was established on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish in the same year. The Archdiocese's controversial restructuring plans in the wake of the Federal Flood show up in the relocation of Archbishop Hannan High School from St. Bernard to St. Tammany Parish as well as the closure of Archbishop Blenk High School in Gretna.

All of this raises the question, when the time comes to honor the outgoing patriarch, where should we put Archbishop Hughes High School? Mandeville? Central Lock Up? Broadway South?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Crazy is the new black

And Glenn Beck is its spokesmodel.

Via: Adrastos who's been on crazy-watch all day today.

Abita Satsuma

Abita Satsuma

Pro: Yup, they managed to make my beer taste a little bit like satsumas.

Con: I'm not so sure that's a good thing.

Pro: It's not a bad summer idea, theoretically.. like a Hoegaarden with a slice of orange, or an Abita Wheat with lemon.

Con: I think I'd rather have either of those two than this.

Nagin: It's the port's fault

It really is an unfortunate thing for us to have.
Well, you know, crime has always been a challenge for us in the city of New Orleans. It’s a historic thing that dates back, you know, 20, 30 years ago. Unfortunately we do have a port that brings in a lot of drugs into our community.

Still got it. It takes more than a week of quarantine to keep this guy down.

Update: Stop it. Yes, I know that's not what he meant. It's just that the dude talks funny sometimes. May be a brain tumor or something.

Holy Shit

They actually did something they said they were gonna do.
Chevron Corp. is selling its former New Orleans operations center to the city for conversion into a new city hall, the company said Thursday.

And it might not actually be such a bad idea either... or at the very least it's probably a neutral idea.

Stuff To Do

Can't remember when last I actually had any free time. I've been meaning to get down to check out the high river, for example. Not too long ago this was a simple task. Lately it seems like I have to book a formal appointment just to get some quality aimless wandering time. Maybe this weekend's three-headed festival will provide a decent enough excuse.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We like this

I'm not sold on the idea that a new D coordinator somehow magically makes chicken salad out of chickenshit BUT I do like the idea of giving the team's best tackler more opportunities to... tackle people.

WWLTV writes future-fic headlines


Voters would approve city's master plan if bill had been passed

When I saw that headline I at least expected it to refer to some sort of recent polling data. Even then, I would have had an issue with it. But nope it's just a story about the stalled vote on Murray's bill which would put the finished plan to a referendum. But no need for any of that! The headline swami has spoken.

Dave Eggers

To say he can be off-puttingly pretentious at times would be an understatement. On the other hand, this looks interesting.

Oprah = Pure Evil

Yes, of course, but did you know specifically why?

Via Athenae who I could pretty much link and quote all day long BTW, and who adds this observation about the a key tendency of Oprah's audience.
Bad things don't happen to good people, and I am a good person. That's the assumption. You hear it every time someone is featured in the news as being poor or unfortunate, the subtext (or, increasingly, text) that "she should have done this, that, the other thing," that "I would never make that mistake." You'd evacuate before the hurricane, you'd sell some bling to buy health insurance, you'd refuse a cheap mortgage if someone dangled it in front of your face and told you to take it, etc, etc, etc. Nothing bad would ever happen to YOU, because you're smarter, more virtuous, you're destined to be okay.

And there you have the more-or-less permanent core values of the American political center laid right in front of you. Anyone asking why I seem to be such a pessimist can always refer back to this point.

Consider the beast starved

This NYT budget analysis ends on a rather glum note.

“Things will get worse gradually,” Mr. Auerbach predicts, “unless they get worse quickly.” Either a solution will be put off, or foreign lenders, spooked by the rising debt, will send interest rates higher and create a crisis.

The solution, though, is no mystery. It will involve some combination of tax increases and spending cuts. And it won’t be limited to pay-as-you-go rules, tax increases on somebody else, or a crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse. Your taxes will probably go up, and some government programs you favor will become less generous.

That is the legacy of our trillion-dollar deficits. Erasing them will be one of the great political issues of the coming decade.

Among the possible mitigating steps that could be taken, the article lists health care reform as one of the best places to start.
When challenged about the deficit, Mr. Obama and his advisers generally start talking about health care. “There is no way you can put the nation on a sound fiscal course without wringing inefficiencies out of health care,” Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, told me.

Outside economists agree. The Medicare budget really is the linchpin of deficit reduction. But there are two problems with leaving the discussion there.

First, even if a health overhaul does pass, it may not include the tough measures needed to bring down spending. Ultimately, the only way to do so is to take money from doctors, drug makers and insurers, and it isn’t clear whether Mr. Obama and Congress have the stomach for that fight. So far, they have focused on ideas like preventive care that would do little to cut costs.

Second, even serious health care reform won’t be enough. Obama advisers acknowledge as much. They say that changes to the system would probably have a big effect on health spending starting in five or 10 years. The national debt, however, will grow dangerously large much sooner.

We already know Mary Landrieu isn't particularly serious about this, anyway. Oh well. Enjoy repealing Social Security, I guess. As long as Mary keeps her donors happy, everything's just fine in her world.

Yeah you rite


You know, there is no injustice to which people are subjected that radio talk show nutballs cannot explain away by smugly asserting that it was simple dumbassery that got them screwed over. I'm not even arguing the facts of this case, simply noticing the pattern: Something shitty happens, and clearly whatever it is, it's the fault of the person it happened to.

Happens every damn day. The level of discourse on most talk radio is about two steps below your typical barroom argument.

Getting the brand back out there

Nagin comes back off the DL today. Will make his next start vs the University of Sydney.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Paradigm cranes

Read Gill today.


Mary Landrieu

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said on Tuesday that she is opposed to the creation of a public health care plan patients could opt into that would compete with private insurance.

"No, I'm not open to it. I'm not open to a public option," said Landrieu. "However, I will remain open to a compromise, a full compromise. Public option is not something that I support. I don't think it's the right way to go."

Athenae had a good post about this yesterday.

Discussion of making sure everyone is insured drives me wild. Insurance for all is not the goal. Even good insurance for all is not the goal. HEALTH CARE for all is the goal, because even if you have a job, and have health insurance, and you need an operation or other procedure and the insurance covers 90 percent of your costs but the other ten percent is $10,000 and you don't have $10,000, you're still screwed. That's the BEST CASE scenario, that you're screwed. Insurance is not the solution.

In other words, the "public option" plan is the "compromise", Mary. And a pretty crappy one at that.

Deep Thought

Maybe Moses-Fields is on to something. We know that Mayor Nagin cannot be truly "absent" because our hearts have not grown any fonder.

Soupy to nuts

Sean Payton (Also known by his nickname "Soupy" around here) has some strange tendencies. We all remember the bizarre jazz funeral for (and subsequent exhumation of) Saints team awards from 2006. Last week, we learned that Payton has developed a screenplay for a movie about Xboxes. And today we find him... searching for treasure.

They did what?
Head Coach Sean Payton said the team took yesterday off from practice, instead working through a treasure hunt through much of downtown and the French Quarter.

I'm worried about Coach Soupy. He's approaching a Ditka-esque level of oddball behavior. Doesn't he even know that Pyratecon isn't until April?

More on the treasure hunt from Soupy's afternoon presser

"Yesterday we had an excursion; we didn't have a practice."

What did you do?

"We were in the French Quarter with a scavenger hunt. It was a pretty interesting day. It was three hours and 21 teams. There was a group that came in and put together the package. It started downtown and finished over at Drago's in the city. It was good."

How did it work?

"There was a series of 10 clues where you had to go throughout the city - mostly in the French Quarter - and you were being graded by time and the amount that you got right."

Quote of the Day

Jon Stewart: "Why do I have to follow CNN on Twitter? If I want to follow CNN, I can follow them on CNN"

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Monday, June 08, 2009

Mayor Nagin is in two places at once

You've got to hand it to Mayor Nagin's administration. In the space of one week, they've treated us to not one but two spectacularly Clintonian semantic arguments. You may remember that on Friday, Nagin's communications director told WWL that just because the Mayor tells us x number of crime cameras have been "repaired" we shouldn't conclude that he is also telling us they are "working".

Tonight, in light of the fact that the Mayor is currently sitting in quarantine in Shanghai, a new discussion has bubbled up over the question of who should serve as "acting mayor" in the absence of the officially elected honorable person. It turns out that the Mayor's practice of appointing an acting executive from within his administration to serve during his travels abroad technically violates a city charter provision which requires the temporary Mayoral purple to fall to one of the two At-Large Council members.

Now while sane persons at this point in the story are asking questions like, "What does a temporary 'acting mayor' actually do anyway?" or "Is this something any of us should spend more than two minutes worrying about?" this evening we find City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields presenting us with the far more interesting brain twister, Does indefinite detention on the far side of the globe, in fact, qualify as "absence"?

Fielkow said citizens voted on the requirement in the charter, and it should be followed. But the city attorney argues that the mayor is not absent.

"The mayor is in charge. He's directing. He's advising," said city attorney Penya Moses-Fields. "He's giving direction as it relates to these matters. Of course, the chief administrative officer as always provides insight and direction as it relates to operational departments, but as far as I'm concerned, the mayor is still in charge."
We are left to assume that Nagin is providing direction and advice through the use of some modern communications convenience...although we find it hard to believe anyone in city government wants to spend too much time emailing these days. Maybe he's Tweeting it.

In any event, what we'd like to know is if Mayor Nagin never intended for his voyage to China and then to Australia to qualify as an "absence" why bother to appoint Dr. Brenda Hatfield to temporary Herzzoneritude in the first place? If he's not really absent then she's not really the acting mayor, right? Does she know this? Do you think maybe it bums her out just a little?

We should pay attention

At some point in the very recent past, it seems that the The Gambit finally settled on calling itself simply the Gambit. Which, while less amusing to type, is probably the way to go. When was the big announcement and how did I miss it?

I hate change

This site has been on Blogger since 2003. And because it pre-dates some fairly major overhauls of the service, it uses a "classic" and increasingly obsolete template. If I wanted to install any of the new widgets, I'd have to upgrade the whole site. But I get the impression that this is going to be more of a pain-in-the-ass process than I'm willing to put up with.

In a sort-of-related matter, I subscribe to Cox's "expanded basic" cable service at home which (with internet service "bundled") costs me about a hundred and forty dollars per month more than I think I should reasonably have to pay. I've just learned that next month, they're moving CSPAN II over to the digital package. If I can't get Book TV on the weekends anymore, I'm going to have to look into stealing cable again.

Update: Speaking of CSPAN, today David Simon appeared at the National Press Club today which, I am given to understand, is a thing of some mild local interest. This is a pretty good passage,

"Selling crap and calling it gold eventually comes home. It came home to New Orleans about four years before it came home to the rest of the country in a very literal way -- not in a metaphorical, financial way.

"What I really admire about people there is that they're really trying to find their way home, because it is one of the great places in America culturally, and they're trying to find their way back and they're doing it on their own.

"If you look at everything from the way Road Home money was administered to the way FEMA behaved -- not just in the immediate aftermath but in the months and years since - and now in terms of the state and local government and what they're doing in terms of everything from zoning issues to the hospitals -- that city's enduring and trying to find its way home on its own and without illusion anymore about what the country is, how hollow America actually is when it comes to certain things, and I find that to be interesting and admirable, and it's kind of what I want to pay attention to now.

"And I think we're all in that boat. A lot of things we believed were there to keep certain parameters and certain standards inherent in everything systemic in our lives really weren't there, and have been eviscerated over the course of decades. So ... New Orleans is looking at us now I think a little bit, like 'Well, what did you expect? We've been there.'"

Video here.

WSJ nominates Hank Paulson for a Bernardo

Or do we call this a Goldman?

Law enforcement demands the right to look at you

If they could mandate that all vehicles be made entirely transparent, I'm sure they'd do that too.

Streetcar expansion

Symbolically, this is a good idea. American cities should be investing in better electrified mass transit and a high-profile project like this is a nice gesture in that direction. Plus the streetcar is such an iconic element of New Orleans's character that expanding its visibility also makes sense from an aesthetic point of view. However, there are two concerns.

1) A look at the proposed routes causes one to question whether this has been conceived as a public transit enhancement for residents or as a schlocky amusement for tourists. I can see the logic in connecting Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street via Loyola Avenue (or S. Rampart as the T-P article speculates) but the St. Claude route into the Bywater seems like a better plan because it actually connects a residential neighborhood to the commercial core of town. The Convention Center route is just stupid.

2) On the other hand, New Orleans streetcars pretty much suck as a reliable means of getting to work on time... but that's really never much of a priority around here anyway.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

This explains a lot

Coach-turned-screenplay writer?
Payton thinks up concept for movie
Sunday, June 07, 2009
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer

Apparently, Sean Payton's creativity extends beyond his offensive playbook. He came up with an idea for a screenplay two years ago as a "summer project," and it's now being shopped around Hollywood by top talent agency CAA.

The movie, currently titled "The Xbox Kid," is about a boy from a poor family in New Orleans who starts controlling the outcome of NFL games through a refurbished Xbox given to him by his grandfather after a devastating hurricane.

Payton said the idea came to him when his son, Connor, would play upcoming Saints games on his Xbox during the 2006 season.

"I just wrote about four pages, piddling around with it," said Payton, who later turned over the idea to a professional screenwriter to flesh it out.

Payton said he envisions the movie as both a sports film and an inspirational story about the city's recovery.

That Payton has been paying a little too much attention to football as rendered by video games is unsurprising to anyone familiar with his annoying and too-clever-by-half play calling style.

Also, I'm wondering if the plotline to this feature film involves gambling in some way. (It seems easy enough to imagine.) And, if so, I wonder how happy such a thing would make the NFL if it gets picked up.


Nagin Quarantined In China Amid H1N1 Case

I'm actually not going to add anything. Feel free to write your own.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Who will be the accountability structure now?

Back in February 2007, Ed Blakely was throwing a small hissy fit to members of the Louisiana Legislature in which he threatened to quit if his office did not receive total control over all recovery funds coming into New Orleans. When questioned about how he saw his (as of this point unstaffed) office putting together a means of tracking and accounting for public dollars allocated for such a crucial purpose, Blakely was typically flippant. Claiming that his status as "one of only six people in the world" with the requisite disaster recovery experience should be enough to satisfy the public trust Blakely responed "I want to be your accountability structure."

This week, as he prepared to leave, Ed Blakely spoke to WDSU about the "accountability structure" now in place as New Orleans moves forward with the benefit of having basked in his wisdom these past few years.
He said keeping track of all the ongoing work will be a tough job for his successor. "We have over $1 billion worth of projects, 600-some projects coming on stream," he said. "At some point, we're going to have 200 or 300 projects going on at the same time with a city bureaucracy that's accustomed to doing two or three.

"So the oversight for this . . . will be on two or three people's shoulders. And that's going to be an enormous challenge."
We would like to take the opportunity to once again thank Dr. Blakely for his service and the concerned manner in which he hands off this "enormous challenge" he didn't seem to worry too much about creating. Nicely done.

Friday, June 05, 2009

All the children are above average

Saints players run around in shorts all afternoon. Coach says every player he's asked about is, "doing a good job" Fans and sportswriters waste unnecessary hours and words trying to make it all somehow important.

By the way, Mike Bell looks like crap to us, but what do we know?

If they turn it into another boutique dress shop I'll burn it down

Tee-Eva’s Looking for New Location

Of course, we can't rule out the possibility of even more gelatto, sushi, or coffee either.

A bucking trend is a difficult thing to get a handle on

City Biz headline two days ago: New Orleans, Houma buck national unemployment trend

City Biz blog yesterday:
Industrial employment down in La.
Thursday, June 4, 2009 · No Comments

By Deon Roberts, Online Editor

Here’s more evidence that Louisiana is not immune from the national recession.

According to a report released today by Manufacturers’ News Inc., the state lost 3,385 industrial jobs and 101 manufacturers from April 2008 to this past April. Industrial employment in the state fell 1.7 percent during that time.

Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, tried to put a positive spin on it for Louisiana.

Due to its stronghold in the oil and gas industry, Louisiana’s losses are not nearly as severe as many other states,” he said.•

Is your head spinning yet? One day we're "bucking the trend" the next day we're "not immune" to it. But then in the same story we have someone say we're still kind of trend-bucky after all. Another week in the life of City Business wishful reporting.

Interesting that at this moment, it's the oil and gas industry that's doing the trend-bucking for us. On the days that oil prices are lower, it's the service/tourist sector that makes us immune. But today is apparently a down day for them.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bizzarre moments in damgage control

I don't get it either.

Update: I still don't get it.
The day before his scheduled appearance before a federal grand jury probing allegations of corruption in New Orleans' troubled crime-camera program, a former city technology chief told reporters he is not a target of the inquiry and has been "vilified" by unnamed politicians reeling over his refusal to hire their favored campaign contributors for the program.
Wha... who? Is AJ saying that he was protecting the pristine IT dept from potential corruption from the outside? Really?

Upperdate: Oh but it gets even more fun.

Uppestdate: AJ's attorney really is playing long ball here. Dambala's right to say that it's not necessarily in his client's best interest for Burns to use him this way. Which raises the question of who Burns actually thinks he's working for.

Good Washington Post Op-ed on EFCA

Here's how your so-called "secret ballot" elections currently function:

In 34 percent of the elections I studied, companies fired employees for union activity. In 57 percent of elections, employers threatened to shut down all or part of their facilities, and in 47 percent, employers threatened to cut wages and benefits.

In 63 percent of campaigns, supervisors met with workers one on one and interrogated them about their union activity or whether they or others were supporting the union. In 54 percent of the elections, supervisors used these one-on-ones to threaten individual workers.

Ms Bronfenbrenner's study, "No Holds Barred The Intensification of
Employer Opposition to Organizing" is available here (PDF)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Haunted by the East moment

This morning, Leigh wrote about New Orleans East a little bit.
After all this time, the East still haunts me...probably because it is similar to the circumstances in which I grew up. It is one of the most stereotypically suburban parts of New Orleans - if anybody wants evidence of how much this city styled itself after larger cities such as Houston and Atlanta, it need only take a look at the skyscrapers in the CBD (most of which are currently empty and rotting) and at lakefront neighborhoods such as that of the East. These places were representative of the ultimate in civic hubris, of the faith in physical expansion leading to greater economic development. Patrician inequality giving way to a more plebeian sharing of the local wealth. If it is built, all of that will come and heal New Orleans' ills.
Yeah, well, maybe. I'm no big fan of suburbia but you won't find mine among the pointed fingers shaming the idea of developing that land in the first place. We hear the word "hubris" thrown around a lot in regard to Albert Baldwin Wood's triumph over the backswamps. I have trouble accepting that, though, because 1) it's inherently fatalistic and 2) it discounts as folly the nuts and bolts of the past three generations of life in New Orleans. The neighborhoods flooded after Katrina were not mistakes. Quite the contrary they were made possible by a remarkable technological solution to a drainage and flood control problem. Now they are challenged by a new but similar problem in need of a similarly remarkable but (hopefully) achievable solution.

The East may not have been aesthetically or functionally anybody's ideal urban living space. But that's a different issue from whether or not anything should have been built there at all. In February I wrote about the demolition of the East New Orleans Regional Library which was a place I knew quite well first as a young child and later as an adult employee. The internet archive has preserved for us the now-defunct web page which described that building and its services. In the lobby there was this bizarre sculpture credited to a "Mrs. John Petre" of what appeared to be a young man in an ambiguously uncomfortable pose. Blurry picture below.

Last week, I accidentally happened upon that same statue downtown.


I have no idea what's supposed to happen to it eventually, but encountering it in this state was, well, in a word, haunting.

The good-king fantasy

As we've known for some time, I could pretty much just link to Taibbi every day and consider the thing well-said.
Everywhere I go I keep hearing people say, “How come Obama is letting X happen or Y happen, how come he’s letting his underlings do Z? It seems so unlike him!” It reminds me of the way people view leaders in Russia. Going back centuries, Russian peasants wrote impassioned letters to the Tsar, sure he was completely unaware that his Grand Dukes were all thieves and his okhranka agents were rapists and torturers. Now that Obama’s on the scene a lot of Americans are demonstrating a similar public desire to believe in the good king. Obama seems so decent and intelligent, it’s hard to imagine that his act is just a big sales job, that he’s really just a smooth-talking shill for a bunch of Wall Street bankers and Pentagon generals. So people tend to scramble for the exculpatory explanation: he’s being tricked, he’s unaware, his hands are tied, and so on.

You can sort of see that, maybe, with the economic policies. If you were bent on clinging to the good-king fantasy, you could hold your nose and imagine that Summers/Rubin cast a spell on poor Barack. But this Gitmo thing is different. It’s not like Barack Obama doesn’t know what habeas corpus is. The guy was a freaking constitutional law professor (or “senior lecturer,” if that controversy over his academic title still rankles you). And yet Obama seems to be determined to preserve the whole concept of preventive detention, which is every bit as jarring and upsetting as the preemptive invasion concept Bush introduced. In fact this whole Gitmo episode should serve as a reminder that the upper crust of the current Democratic leadership has not, for the most part, even publicly renounced preemption.

But then I've always said Obama would give us a more-or-less Clinton II administration. The fact that Obama shows little or no enthusiasm for shaking off the darkest aspects of the Bush foreign policy only makes matters worse.

The unfortunate key is that many so-called liberals are just fine with this. As long as the good king demonstrates an ability to "feel pain" and "empathize" or whatever, most middle-class white voters are just fine with private health insurance (as long as they're employed... and not too sick) and an economy directed by a kleptocratic financial class (as long as they're employed and their mortgage isn't in default).

The only real reason that alternatives to those policies are even on the table is that fewer people than normal are employed (or at least reasonably assured of continued employment). But even then, the discussion involves enough muddled talk and scapegoating that we can all remain confident that, at the end of the day, our good-king won't really overturn the apple cart.

Dammit I knew we shouldn't have bucked the trend

FEMA may put storm victims in foreclosed homes
by Lisa Orkin Emmanuel, The Associated Press
Wednesday June 03, 2009, 10:59 AM

MIAMI (AP) -- The federal government is exploring how to put Florida hurricane evacuees in foreclosed homes if a Katrina-like storm devastates the region and shelters, hotels and other housing options are full, The Associated Press has learned.

Unfortunately, since City Business keeps telling me that our local T-shirt-and-booze plus knocking-shit-down economy is impervious to the national trends, we certainly won't have enough foreclosed homes for this to work here.... wait, what?

STOP THE PRESSES we're saved!

Update: Right on cue, the kids at City Biz write us another headline.

The question is

What niche does a Riley-for-mayor campaign aspire to fill in the political power landscape? Adrastos posits that it will at least be seen as a Nagin continuation for the most part. On its face, it seems like the sitting police chief would be at a serious political disadvantage in an election where the failings of that department loom as a central issue. So I'm wondering what else is going on. And, no, I don't accept, "Riley is just delusional" as an explanation.

Also, speaking of the mayor's race, E has his latest comprehensive handicapping of the potential candidates up. It's a must-read if you haven't been following it.

Also also, today E adds,
a reader wrote in to suggest that I'd been too hasty to remove trumpeter Irvin Mayfield from the list of potential contenders. This is probably right. He should be on there. It's hard to gauge where he'd fall on that list. People love Irvin Mayfield but I kind of doubt people will love him in politics.
My hunch is he's not as hot for a political career as the rumor mill suggests. BUT if there's any candidate out there who fits the Nagin (circa 2002) profile it's Mayfield. A much better choice than Riley to fill the Nagin niche.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Signs that Hurricane Season is here

The crepe myrtles are starting to bloom on Napoleon Avenue.


Yes, we're obviously going to an all-horticulture-all-the-time format here. We figured we'd get a head start on the time when it becomes illegal for anyone to talk to anyone else about the news without paying the Associated Press for the privilege of doing so.

Also, you may now feel free to begin the obligatory everybody-hates-crepe myrtles discussion.

4 years in a row

Plus 50,000 on the wait list. It's one of the more eye-catching post-K facts. On the other hand, this is the franchise known for leading the NFL in attendance per win so it isn't that unfathomable.

One time it would be okay for Reggie to run backwards

We tend to give Reggie Bush a hard time on the Yellow Blog. And I'm not saying he hasn't earned that. But this.... nobody really deserves this treatment. Please, Reggie, for the love of all that is holy, it's time to walk away from this mess. Or run away... fast. I tell you what. Pretend like you're trying to get to the sideline before somebody hits you. That should do it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Quote of the Day

Okay well quote of a few days ago... I'm still gettin caught up.

The recent haggling over Guantanamo Bay is such classic Democratic Party politics, it almost makes you want to laugh. Almost, except that it’s, you know, revolting. Eight years of Clintonian squirming was bad enough, but now we have Barack Obama, smoking Habeas Corpus and not inhaling it.

Weekend News Roundup

A few items from the local paper we didn't have time to comment on over a busy weekend:

  • I really wanted to like Gordon Russell's front page feature on Mose Jefferson in yesterday's T-P. As it is, it's certainly a must-read for anyone who isn't already familiar with the Jefferson clan's background and their rise from small-town poverty and racism to big-time urban and national politics. One interesting fact I learned from the article was that Bill Jefferson authored a semi-fictionalized memoir called Dying is the Easy Part. I will have to locate a copy somewhere.

    Reading Russell's piece, I would have liked to learn more about the complicated reasons why urban political machines like the Jeffersons' in New Orleans and the Shaws' in Chicago were as successful as they were and why they seem to be fading now. It's a subject I'd like to see examined maybe from the point of view of the people who voted for the Jeffersons as much as just that of the people around them.

    I guess what I'd really like is a book-length treatment of this subject and I realize that a Sunday morning T-P feature probably isn't going to get all of the angles I'm looking for. But even so, the article seemed strangely unbalanced. What we read here is, Mose grows up poor - Mose moves to Chicago -Mose learns to steal -Mose turns that into a profession. It's one point of view... and not necessarily inaccurate but I found myself saying, "Yeah but we knew that already."

    And then there's this odd moment.
    Like Jefferson, the Shaws were Southern transplants -- they came from Hope, Ark. -- and they imparted their love for old-school politics: Shaw elections were won in the streets, with campaign workers and shoe leather, not TV ads. The brothers weren't above trickery, either: U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a longtime foe and son of the civil rights leader, blamed the Shaws when a truck driver named Jesse L. Jackson took him on in 2002.

    Then there were the Shaws' ethical snafus. Bill Shaw was simultaneously an Illinois state senator -- serving alongside Barack Obama -- and mayor of the village of Dolton.
    Here's where an editor says, if the highlighted phrase is deleted, do we lose anything crucial to the story? Other than also being an Illinois state senator, what exactly does Barack Obama have to do with any of this? Is Russell throwing the President's name in there because he's afraid his readers are getting bored? Is it merely a fun fact? Should every story about Illinois politics include an Obama mention somehow? In the larger context of the right's constant attempts to imply Obama's Chicago-corruption-by-association, I question his superfluous inclusion in this story.

  • In celebration of the beginning of the 2009 Hurricane Season, the Sunday paper ran a colorful insert full of standard "preparedness" type articles. Conspicuously absent from this story about the city's evacuation plan was any discussion of last year's re-entry fiasco.

    For those of us who have memories, the sights and sounds of Crazy Freak-Out 2008 are still fresh in our minds. After having absurdly exaggerated the size and strength of Hurricane Gustav in order to panic the populace into fleeing their homes at great personal expense, local officials arrogantly and condescendingly lied and fought to keep residents from returning to their homes well after the danger had passed. People were really upset about this and rightly so. NOLA.com's James O'Byrne wrote an op-ed titled "Next Time, We Won't Leave" which summed up everyone's feelings at that time.

    The fact is, the very concept of an entire city jumping up and running at the first (possibly exaggerated) sign of trouble is an untenable state of affairs to begin with. Those of us who choose to live under these circumstances do so with the (possibly misguided) faith that, in the future, we'll be better protected than we were on 8/29/2005. The treatment we received from our elected officials as we went through that exercise last year was unacceptable. It's sad that the paper chose not to address these concerns.

  • Here is a re-print of a letter-to-the-editor I read Sunday.
    If Tulane wants in on Charity, close its hospital
    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    I am a Louisiana State University pulmonary/intensive care physician who has had the honor of providing medical care to the underserved for over 20 years at Charity Hospital. What made Charity Hospital world-class was not the facility itself, but the personnel who provided the absolute best care.

    While there is great debate about the new facility, there is one point upon which everyone agrees. In order for this facility to be economically viable and less dependent on state support, it must care for both the uninsured and the insured.

    Before coming to LSU, I was at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where this model worked well. LSU has publicly stated that we will admit our insured patients to the new facility. Tulane has not, and that is the critical point in this discussion. How can Tulane assume a central role in the financial operation of the new hospital when it operates a competing, for-profit facility only three blocks away?

    Perhaps the simple answer is for Tulane to withdraw from its competing hospital and join as a true partner with us as we build the new academic health science center that will once again identify New Orleans as the destination for state-of-the-art health care for all of our citizens.

    Steve Nelson, M.D.


    LSU School of Medicine

    New Orleans


  • Very sad to see Angus Lind go. Lind's column was a document of the home-grown eccentric New Orleans that still existed to some degree as I became a young adult. Chris Rose's column, which basically replaces it, is a document of the phony approximation of that New Orleans which continues to be sold to tourists and transplants in the post-modern era.

  • And finally, "straight to DVD" is kind of an apt metaphor for Ray Nagin's shtick by now. The novelty is gone, the act is stale, and no one's paying any attention any more.