Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ironbutt vs Steel

Hey how 'bout dem Hornets, right? No? Okay well I'm about to try and get Menckles and her bum knee down to the Superdome in time to see... I don't know what we're going to see tonight. I do know that I'm late with last week's football post again and that I've been promising to stop that. But we've been playing a lot of Plants vs Zombies at home this week as we recover from surgery and that has sapped some of the time. Also, we (meaning I) just kind of suck this season. (Unlike Wang who continues to nail it week-in and week-out)

Every week at about this time, I promise to get this shit straightened out. And then a few hours later I'm reading the Saints' post-game interviews where they're promising the same thing. But what the hell, it's only Week 8. We'll get this shit sorted out next week Promise.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of our accustomed laziness, please enjoy this recycled image of last year's Fleur-de-Jack-O-Lantern.

Who Dat Halloween

The stories of our lives are told by simpering elites

AZ pulls up a Taibbi quote that says it pretty well.
I grew up around journalists. In the 50s and 60s, Journalism wasn't a profession. It wasn't something you went to college for—it was really more of a trade. You had a lot of guys who came up working in newspapers at the copy desk, or delivery boys, and then they would somehow become reporters afterward and learn on the job. They tended to be working-class guys who had an attitude about power. They saw themselves as being working people, and they had an emotional mandate to stick-it-to-the-man. I remember those people—when I grew up there was this kind of iconoclastic attitude. There are still some people who are from that world—Seymour Hersh is a great example. The guy grew up in newspapers and still just fucking hates people, and works in this dirty little office in Washington—he doesn't do fancy lunches. But somewhere along the line, in the 80s or 90s, after All The Presidents Men came out, journalism became this very fashionable profession, a thing for the Ivy League kids. If you go on the campaign trail, what you find is a lot of people who are really turned on by the experience of being near powerful people. They see themselves as being on the same team as the people that they're covering.

It's something to think about when you read the Times Picayune's election recommendations.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Knowing it gets worse as it goes

I think I've made it abundantly clear over the years that I'm fairly unhappy with and distrustful of the Democratic Party and President Obama. But as frustrating as it has been to watch Democrats (predictably) squander opportunities these past few years, watching what happens next can only be worse.

We are on a need to know basis

Some secrets are too important to let go of until game time.
The New Orleans Saints will wear black jerseys for the first time in the Superdome this season - fitting for Halloween night. Some players are expecting the black pants, as well, though Payton didn't confirm the choice of pants, which he said can be changed up until game day. The Saints' choice of uniform is often one of the most discussed topics among fans, who believe some uniform combinations lead to better outcomes on the field. Payton, however, said there isn't much strategy or superstition when it comes to choosing the colors.

Because some people still like to do Friday cat-blogging

That looks comfortable

Yes there will be a late football something or other either tonight or tomorrow.

It'll be like the Superbowl for stray dogs

Quote of the day from The Lens' continuing coverage of the city budget hearings.

Clarkson said the council cuts money, not services, adding that the LA/SPCA needs to determine what services it can offer for 12 months for the money the city is willing to pay.

Zorilla said her agency doesn’t simply offer a menu of services. She warned that decreasing services might result in an increase of strays, more bites and attacks and ultimately more euthanasia.

When the Super Bowl comes, do we want roaming packs of stray dogs?” she asked rhetorically.

I'm not sure if Super Bowl for stray dogs is a sign of progress or regress from "Super Bowl for prostitutes" New Orleans hasn't hosted the actual Super Bowl in a while so it's difficult to determine the baseline.

Why Captain Hindsight matters

This week's South Park episode featured a character called Captain Hindsight, a superhero imbued with the power to confront major crises by telling those involved what they should have done in order to prevent each disaster in the first place. Captain Hindsight "The Hero of the Modern Age" flies to the scene of a catastrophe (he also has the power of flight, apparently, although it is of little consequence) and shouts at people the various ways they could have avoided their predicament.

It's a clever jab at modern punditry. (Captain Hindsight, is himself a "former TV reporter") But the joke can be read as a discounting of the need to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions, inactions, obfuscations, corruptions, and other nefarious activities rather than allow them to continually reoccur.

For example, yesterday we learned via the Oil Spill Commission Captain Hindsight Committee

National Oil Spill Commission investigators have found that the Halliburton cement used to seal the bottom of BP's wild Gulf well in April was unstable and was used despite multiple failed tests in the weeks leading up to the massive well blowout.

What's more, the commission investigators found Halliburton knew about the problems and used the cement mixture anyway.

The trouble with acts of criminal negligence on the scale of the Macondo blowout is that they are so large and so horrifying that we tend want to see them as uncontrollable acts of God rather than pinpoint the specific acts of malfeasance behind them. But if no one does this, if no one undertakes the necessary act of employing our the benefit of hindsight to locate the specific points of failure, then those points of failure become embedded institutional givens. And what we're left with is a perpetual cycle of nobody-could-have-predicteds where the best most victims of unpredictable events can expect each time is a new round of "We're sorry" commercials.

See also: A Photo of a Group of Soon-To-Be Dead People

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who are you and what have you done with Charlie Melancon?

It's strategically pointless to wait until the garbage time of the final days of a campaign to come out swinging, but Melancon demonstrated in tonight's WWLTV debate that he at least knows how a person might theoretically run a successful race against David Vitter if a person... even a person as generally lame as Charlie Melancon... wanted to do that.

Watch this debate. It just gets better as it goes along.

Part 1

Part 2


Part 4

They should have brought in Colbert

Last night President Obama appeared on The Daily Show where Jon Stewart asked him some fairly easy questions mostly about politics instead of policy. Even so, Obama didn't seem up to it. The President was at turns annoyed, condescending and even stupid in dealing with the largely deferential Stewart. The "Heckuva job, Larry Summers" blunder was particularly telling and not at all the "intended pun" Obama tried to pass it off as. When the conversation turned to the financial crisis, Obama mostly just ran out the clock by talking long enough to keep Stewart from getting any tough questions regarding the issue he knows the most about.

Earlier in the day, the President met with five well-known progressive bloggers who asked more specific questions and received more thoughtful, if decidedly wormier, answers.

Q Mine is an easy question. Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

THE PRESIDENT: We are awaiting a report from the deficit commission, or deficit reduction commission, so I have been adamant about not prejudging their work until we get it.

But I think you can look at the statements that I’ve made in the past, including when I was campaigning for the presidency, that Social Security is something that can be fixed with some modest modifications that don’t impose hardships on beneficiaries who are counting on it.

And so the example that I used during the campaign was an increase in the payroll tax, not an increase — let me scratch that. Not an increase in the payroll tax but an increase in the income level at which it is excluded.

And so what I’ve been clear about is, is that I’ve got a set of preferences, but I want the commission to go ahead and do its work. When it issues its report, I’m not automatically going to assume that it’s the right way to do things. I’ll study it and examine it and see what makes sense.

But I’ve said in the past, I’ll say here now, it doesn’t strike me that a steep hike in the retirement age is in fact the best way to fix Social Security.

In other words, no, the President will not rule out raising the retirement age to 70. The "I'll study it" dodge is particularly grating to anyone who has watched Rep Joseph Cao pretend to care about issues important to his constituents before voting against them for two years. It what a politician says when he can't say, "I don't really give a shit about you"

Also, I can't help but notice the conspicuous absence of any questions about the war during either of these sessions. Was that a condition of the President's participation?

Whoops, missed one

Sobriety checkpoint last night in Bywater. Hope you didn't get Serpased.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pokes head up; ducks

I've been playing home nurse these past few days so there hasn't been a whole lot of time to look at the news. Here is a brief impression as to what has been going on out there in the meantime I gathered by occasionally glancing at my phone.

Injured NFL official listed in stable condition in the neuro ICU Not the most encouraging report. Crappiest thing about a pretty crappy day in the Dome. (More on this game later this week, of course)

On Monday morning I had a chuckle at this story about the 2nd District Congressional candidates canvassing churches over the weekend. The best line,
At Historic Second Baptist Church, the pastor, the Rev. Robert Jackson, commended Cao, for whom Jackson's son, Jed, works doing constituent casework.

"I know he has good judgment," Jackson said of Cao. "He hired my son. He's a very intelligent man."

Jackson, it turns out, had less of a chuckle since his church does not endorse either candidate. The T-P ran a clarification on Tuesday.

Budget hearings are underway in City Council. The coverage by The Lens, particularly via Twitter has been helpful. Councilmembers, however, not so much. So far this week we've learned that Stacy Head wants poor people to pay more taxes.
Head said she will be looking for ways to scale back the increase because the property tax burden is borne by only a small percentage of the city's population. Most property tax is paid by business owners and owners of expensive houses.

"We've got to come up with more money," she said, but it would be unfair to put most of the burden on a relatively small number of taxpayers.


Head also suggested raising the city's utility tax, which appears on Entergy customers' bills, because she said that increase would be borne by everyone who uses electricity in the city, even those who live outside New Orleans. She said, however, that she is still researching whether the council can legally do that.

Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell objected to that idea, saying she would oppose adding any charges to utility bills. "There is a portion of this city that is struggling to survive," she said, and the council should keep in mind those who can barely pay their rent and utility bills now.

It is amazing to me that there are still ostensible liberals in New Orleans who approve of Ms Head. Not only is she hostile toward poor or less than upper class people when she encounters them at Wal-Mart, she openly endorses policies and also Republican candidates who will advance these hostilities beyond the check-out queue and into people's lives, their wallets, their housing, their health care. I've said in this space many times that Stacy Head is the Peggy Wilson of her generation. I am told by Facebook friends that I'm being suckered into buying a contrived T-P narrative in making this observation although I've always thought of it as my own contrived narrative.

Also the budget hearings have taught us that Arnie Fielkow may have lobbied hard for that NORD reform initiative, but he's not too keen on funding it right away and that coucilmembers' go-to suggestion for every department is, maybe you can write a grant.
When Deputy Director Charlotte Parent told the council that the city’s Health Department budget gave $3.2 million to help service clinics, Councilwoman Stacey Head asked why the department couldn’t run and administer clinics with grant money instead.

In response, Clarkson said that Trigs needs help finding outside money: “It may not be able to be more from the city or more from millage, but you do need another source of income.” Clarkson said that the fact that the city’s libraries were so devastated after Katrina should be enough substance to gain considerable grant funding.

Not gonna get too bogged down in this, but "considerable grant funding" is keeping several city departments operating at current capacity already. Imagine your computer stops working, and you call Jackie Clarkson for technical support. You probably aren't surprised when the first thing she asks you is if the computer is plugged into the wall, but you can't help but sigh anyway. Now imagine that's the extent of the help you get from her and you see how these discussions are going.

And I think that's everything I missed. Oh.. and also Teabagger Paultards in Kentucky are now stomping on women's heads. Adrastos says
This is the second time in a week that teanut goon squads have roughed someone up. This episode was particularly egregious as it involved Ms. Valle being tackled and then stomped on. The teabaggers, of course, are blaming the victim. Rand Paul's statements have been ludicrous in attempting to blame this assault on "political passion." Fuck you, Rand and the horse you rode in on. Someone should send this malaka dead flowers...

Rand Paul is the scariest of this year's crop of tea party extremists. Why? He's smart and a genuine zealot with an overweening sense of entitlement. Watching him smirk his way through the campaign has sent chills up and down my spine. I've come to realize that he's George W Bush with a brain: a frat boy who reads Ayn Rand is just as dangerous as one who doesn't read at all. The analogy is perfected when I contemplate their fathers: both Poppy Bush and Ron Paul are wrong on many issues but not terrible human beings. Their sons on the other hand...
To which I say, yep, pretty much.

Tea Party presents its election 2010 closing argument

See here via here

Landrieu administration all-in on traffic cameras

People hate them. Courts keep chucking them out. No reason not to err on the side of assholery, though.
It's not clear what will happen next. The Supreme Court's ruling puts the kibosh on the cameras from the time being, but officials in Mayor Mitch Landriue's administration have said they believe they will be able to pass ordinances to help the camera system pass legal muster.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Whoah Hey!

Saints stress ball

Seems there's quite a premium on stress relief in New Orleans today. Hang in there, kids. You still have a nifty trophy to look at.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Happy Saturday!.. night... or possibly early Sunday morning... whenever this post gets up eventually. Much like the Saints' offense we've had difficulty getting the momentum going for the recap post each week. The pieces are all there but they don't quite come together. Like the Saints, we've been kind of sliding by on just good enough but not really blowing anybody away. We know the Uptown Ladies are starting to get nervous. Give us a little more time to and we'll get it straight. Or maybe we'll cut the kicker again a few more times first.

The idea this week was to start with a long boring lecture on hipppie bicycling advocates and their diabolical scheme to ruin the best way to get around New Orleans through over-regulation and unnecessary traffic striping. But this afternoon I find that I'm not really in the mood for all of that. Instead, since it's almost Halloween, and since Les Miles is about take the field again in about half an hour, I'd like to talk about brains.

Brains got ate up
Actual photo of Miles' brain. Yeah, he just leaves it laying around like that sometimes.

There's been a lot of talk about brains and football lately.

How serious is a brain injury?
METAIRIE, La. ― The Saints put cornerback Randall Gay on injured reserve after the veteran defensive back continued to suffer from symptoms associated with a concussion.

What are the long term effects of one?
NEW ORLEANS -- Former Saints offensive tackle Kyle Turley knows about concussions all too well, but he doesn't know what exactly the long-term effects of repeated concussions are. So he's lending his mind and his body to the cause, now and later.

Turley is one of 300 current and retired athletes who have volunteered to join a Boston University medical school program to be the subjects of research into the problem.

Along with the others, Turley will undergo a battery of annual tests and has agreed to donate his brain to medical science for further research after his death.

What is the proper way to prevent them from happening? Actually that one's kind of complicated since the NFL has announced it will begin imposing heavy fines and suspensions on players for violations of its "helmet-to-helmet" hit rule. Most observers understand this to mean a crack down on any hit the league office might subjectively deem unnecessarily vicious. Some players, like former Saint and visiting Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita sees a tinge of hypocrisy in the league's stance.
"The same league that's talking about fining players for these hits and talking about maybe now suspending players for these hits who pretends to care so much about our health and safety, let's be honest," Fujita said. "They don't give a crap. Let's be perfectly honest about that.

"Eighteen games is asking a lot. And 18 games now without even a discussion about changing the vesting requirements for post-career medical. It's pretty astonishing. Another thing, too. This league is talking so much about these big hits and how they're trying to prevent that and protect the players. Well these are the same big hits they're showing around the clock on every [channel], NFL Network and everything else and trying to get everyone hyped up about the game of football.

"Well why are you advertising all of this stuff if it's against the rules? Same thing with some of these celebration penalties and everything else. They're fining guys like crazy for it and calling penalties, but that's the stuff they use to promote their games. So to me, it's kind of a weird deal. They need to get on the same page and figure out exactly what they need to do."
So not only do we not know how badly football players are treating their brains, we're still not even sure the NFL cares about that.

My advice here is, if you have to bring your brain to a football game, it's probably a good idea to keep it protected. But even when you're away from the stadium, you're not entirely safe from football player inflicted brain injury. Especially if you happen to be near any player holding a beer bottle.

Oh, by the way, here's an update on that LSU game that was about to start when I began typing this section and has just ended. The recap goes like this. LSU down by 7 faces a 4th and 6 deep in their own territory. The clock shows 3:27 remaining and LSU has 3 timeouts. Miles should probably punt here but I guess he might go for it because, you know, it's what he does. But either way at least he'll have those three timeouts to... WAIT TIMEOUT RIGHT NOW! Miles burns one because, obviously, it's Jello break time. The team comes to the sideline, meets with the coach, and returns to the field to run their fourth down play. Naturally they have no idea where to line up or what to do. People shift randomly for a few anxious seconds, the ball is snapped just because. Jarrett Lee runs for his life and doesn't make the first. Game over. In spite of all the trouble over saving people's brains, Les Miles' probably isn't even worth it.

So anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, these Saints games.

  • Well, first of all, congratulations to Joe Horn on his induction to the Saints Hall of Fame. Horn is the Saints' all-time leader in touchdown receptions and in 3rd person self-references. Earlier this year, Ros and I caught the "Madden Gras" parade downtown which commemorated the launch of a video game which seemed really important at the time. Joe Horn was there. She got to kiss him.

    Kissing Joe Horn

  • It's the year of the bounce pass A day after Les Miles' insane luck beat Florida by virtue of a no look backwards flip of a ball which skipped off one hop into the hands of a kicker who ran for a first down, the Saints were done in at Arizona by (among other things) more balls bounced advantageously off the turf. Cardinals quarterback Max Hall skipped one fumble to tackle Levi Brown who scooped it up for a touchdown which evened the score at 10-10 in the second quarter. In the third quarter Hall managed to turn a sack into a drive sustaining five yard gain by bounce passing to guard Alan Faneca. The drive ended in a field goal again tieing the game at 13. Later the Cardinals would open their largest lead when Ladell Betts bounced a ball to Arizona defensive back Kerry Rhodes who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. If ever there were a day to pull out the "ball didn't bounce the Saints' way" line, this was it.

    There must be some sort of trick to this

  • Ironbutt arrives Good to see Chris Ivory start to hit his stride. The Saints' running game showed signs of improvement at Arizona but really took off against Tampa Bay where the Saints just dominated the line of scrimmage. Ironbutt led the way with 158 yards on 15 carries (HOLFUCKINGSHIT). The Saints who were at the bottom of the league in rushing statistics two weeks ago have leaped to the middle of the pack. When Ivory isn't dropping the football, we do like to watch him run. This dude gets the ball and immediately starts looking for someone to hit. Imagine if they allowed him to carry a bottle with him down there. While their top two backs are our with injury, the Saints are learning they've got someone else they might be able to rely on. And this isn't the only position where that's happening.

  • Malcolm Jenkins arrives Jenkins hasn't exactly been Darren Sharper 2009 at free safety this season, and he may, in fact, be a "no-catching motherfucker", but he does have the look of a guy who is coming into his own a bit. Against Tampa, Jenkins was around more balls in the air than he has been all season. He's still not picking them off but he's getting to them more.

    He's also not too shy a tackler either. Jenkins was second on the team with 6 vs Tampa including a key play during what was nearly a shut-out preserving goal line stand in the fourth quarter. I thought the controversial double personal foul call against Jenkins was suspect as well. If anything one of those should have gone against Josh Freeman for starting the after-the-whistle shoving and also just generally looking like a Cabbage Patch Kid. Gregg Williams is saying the late hit might actually be his fault for.. I guess.. preparing his players to play defense. But the NFL doesn't see it that way. I'm sure they'll tell you they're just protecting precious brains.. however incompetently.

    Anyway I just read that Darren Sharper will be activated for this week's game. But I'm unsure if he really ought to be the starter over Jenkins right now.

    Seriously, though. Right?

  • Congratulations to Drew and Brittany Brees on the birth of their second child, Beefsteak or Bowstaff, or something. This obsession with the coming of the second Brees child has been embarrassing enough already. But earlier this week, as we sat around the Tweeter Tube anxiously awaiting news of the birth, I was struck with even more embarrassment for myself and for all Saints fans that neither I nor any of us had taken advantage of the opportunity to comment on games this season from a fake @Breesbaby or @Breesusfetus or something similar Twitter account. Maybe it was too obvious.

    Anyway so not five minutes after I lamented our oversight, somebody decided to take advantage of whatever time we had left until the arrival of the actual person made the joke less funny. And so @Babybrees was born. Here are some things I got to say to or about @Babybrees that night before the joke did in fact wear out.

    @Babybrees has just been suspended by Commissioner Goodell for leading with the head.

    Les Miles just asked where @Babybreeses come from. Thought they were delivered by magic referees after time has expired.

    Still no word on @babybrees @FletcherMackel seen poking around area mangers disguised as a Wise Man #notfoolinganyone

    Can we all just agree right now that @Babybrees is NOT being born in Kenya?

    Bank of America has hired @Babybrees to sign foreclosure notices. Actually hired 7 months ago.

    I'll admit it is more than a little fishy that @babybrees was already admitted to a Gretna magnet school.

    But now that the kid has been delivered and named and hired on as a placekicking consultant, all that fun is over with. We're gonna need something new to distract us. How about @ChrisIvory'sbottle?

  • Uh oh the kicker sucks 46 Year Old John Carney was brought in after perpetual head case Garrett Hartley exhibited an inexcusable inability to convert a 29 yard field goal attempt in a crucial situation. In Arizona, Carney exhibited an inexcusable inability to convert a 29 yard field goal attempt in a crucial situation. And so Carney is gone, Hartley is back from vacation, and Sean Payton is all fine with everything. In an era of general placekicking suckery the Saints are far from the only team with problems. Leaguewide field goal percentage at .797 is a seven year low. I'm trying to think of a way to make that fact reassuring but not quite getting there.

    46 Year Old John Carney prepares to take all of his balls and go home. Hartley looks like he could just kick something... if only someone would let him

  • Uh oh the other kicker is Snidely Whiplash Speaking of sucky placekicking, Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth had quite a day himself last week. Barth not only bounced two field goal attempts off the upright, but he also exposed the FOX television audience to his interesting facial hair. After his second miss, Barth was spotted on the sideline twirling his handlebar mustache in the manner of a cartoon villain. I got a text message asking if Barth had a "damsel tied to a railroad track somewhere". Maybe he should have tied her to goalpost.

  • Just here to pick up my check While kickers are having a hard time around the NFL lately, punting is currently in the throes of a golden age and the Saints have one of its leading lights. Thomas Morstead currently leads all NFC punters in yards per kick total (46.9) as well as net (42.2). In three of the Saints' first six games, Morstead's punts have been fumbled, muffed, or ricocheted off of opposing return men resulting in huge game-changing turnovers. The guy makes things happen.

    Why is it, then, that coach Payton has, in recent weeks, contrived ways to take the ball out of the hands (and off of the feet) of one of his best players? During the place-kicking shuffling Morstead was replaced as holder by backup quarterback Chase Daniel(s). No explanation for the move was given, although Hartley has sounded less than pleased with it. When asked about the hold on his 33 yard miss against Tampa, Hartley didn't rule it out as possible factor. Payton has also inexplicably taken the kickoff duties away from Morstead and handed them over to Hartley. Against Tampa, none of Hartley's kickoffs made it to the endzone. The only action Morstead saw all day against the Bucs was his one punt during the fourth quarter. It was a very nice punt which traveled 46 yards before being downed at the 12.

    Now we understand that fewer punts probably means thing are going better for the team overall. For example, Cleveland's Reggie Hodges enters this week's game leading the AFC in number of punts attempted. But there are certain situations where we know Morstead can help and he isn't being allowed the opportunity to do so. Late in the Arizona game, the Saints lined up to attempt an onside kick. Saints fans might remember Morstead having some success executing this maneuver in.. one of those games last season. In Arizona, Payton handed the job over to Carney. Why?


  • Also just here to pick up my check The Saints offense broke out and hung 31 points on the Bucs. Devery Henderson did not participate for some reason. Has anyone seen him?


Aaaand that's all we got this week. I know we're not there yet. We're still a bit late but we're starting to feel it a bit. The Yellow Blog 2010 is the Chris Ivory of football blogging. Don't give up on us just because we dropped a few early on. It will be good to get back in the Dome tomorrow afternoon. I guess we're bringing our brains with us but we'll try not to beat them against the wall too much. Gotta save that for next week while we're putting off the next re-cap.

Hey look the oil un-vanished again

Really getting hard to keep up with all this flashing on and off.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aqua Budha

You know if you change just one or two circumstantial details, these stories about Rand Paul's fraternity days aren't all that different from things we've read recently about the youthful activities of some of our other favorite prominent politicians.

For example, compare this kidnapping episode Paul participated in.
"He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot." After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek.

With Bobby Jindal's own account of his exorcism.
The students, led by Susan's sister and Louise, a member of a charismatic church, engaged in loud and desperate prayers while holding Susan with one hand. Kneeling on the ground, my friends were chanting, "Satan, I command you to leave this woman." Others exhorted all "demons to leave in the name of Christ." It is no exaggeration to note the tears and sweat among those assembled. Susan lashed out at the assembled students with verbal assaults.

Sure one of these stories involves forcing a supernatural entity of sorts into a person's body while the other is about pulling one out. But in each case a group of very weird cultish college students are detaining and forcing their will upon a woman against her protestations.

Ambitious young men certainly can get themselves into some unusual mischief before they grow up to become our very important civic betters. At least the Paul story doesn't involve any goats (that we know of) but there is plenty of the same mean racial stereotype based humor we've seen in other places and which seems to be a required rite of passage for young men of a certain social cache.

Question that's been nagging at me

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department advised Americans against traveling in Europe, and particularly in France, due to new (but secret and vague) information about impending al-Qaida terror attacks. This was at about the same time I started reading about national strikes in France protesting the impending raise in the retirement age.

Is this a coincidence? Or is "al-Quaida terror" just the go-to shorthand for any potential civil unpleasantness at the State Department these days?

Tough 2004 for Cedric Richmond

Not usually into blaming the victim but, at the very least, wouldn't most of us have become more vigilant about locking the doors on the second house after the first burglary?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chestnuts glowing on an open screen

Just in time for holiday travel.
Over the next few days, the federal Transportation Safety Administration will start using four whole-body imaging machines at security checkpoints at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

The new scanning equipment, which has already been deployed in 59 airports around the U.S., has created a mild stir because of concerns about invasion of privacy.

While a TSA official informed them about the federal government's plans to roll out the technology in New Orleans, aviation board members were greeted Thursday with a poster board display showing ghost-like, but revealing black-and-white images of a man, his face blurred but his genitals clearly defined.

I distinctly remember reading about a widely celebrated survey which suggested that the genitals of New Orleanians were quite well-defined already without the aid of high tech image enhancement, thank you very much. Of course, one could argue that these images are needed for the purposes of verifying the survey... or conducting new surveys of a similar nature. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and, frankly, TSA won't be using much of that anymore anyway.

Naturally, the typical set of privacy advocates are putting out the typical range of concerns for the right to privacy of their privates. TSA assures us they've got that covered... for lack of a better word.

But TSA regional director Ray White, who oversees airport security in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, assured the aviation board that several steps are being taken to protect privacy and ensure images of bodies are not retained.

He said only one TSA employee will be able to see the images, in a separate room where they will have no contact with any travelers. He also said the images will be erased immediately after the screener determines that there is no threat, and only written data will be retained.
One guy alone in a dark room will look at the nekkid pictures, spend a few minutes assessing their level of threat, and then immediately erase them from his hard drive. No American will have any real trouble understanding this procedure. This is how porn works in any number of households across the country. But if that makes anyone uncomfortable they can always opt for the less invasive full body pat-down alternative.

In addition, all travelers will have the option to decline a full-body image scan. They will be able to opt out and be screened using traditional metal-detectors, White said, but they will be subject to pat-downs and other secondary screenings that they should be able to avoid if they go through the body imaging.

Can't see anything going wrong with that policy at all.

Gotta remember ot make a few Hornets games this year

Before they get contracted.
The owners' ongoing talks about competitive balance, profitability and revenue sharing have included the notion of whether teams are operating in "the best available markets," the person said, and whether reducing the number of teams from the current 30 would help improve the product and the bottom line.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Great Lakewood-Lakeview War of 2011

You laugh now, but if New Orleans neighborhoods continue to arm themselves via private security special taxing districts, it's really only a matter of time before the inevitable hostilities erupt. All that firepower isn't just going to sit idle forever, right?

What if, for example,Lakeview decided one day to annex adjacent and relatively tiny Lakewood? (See map) Or maybe some minor but passionate disagreement over something like say a baby name could cause partisans in Milenburg to load into their Wackenhut SUVs, turn on their yellow flashing lights, invade Uptown, and lay siege to the Brees residence until the spelling of Bowen is officially changed to Beauxen. Practically anything could set off this powder keg.

Just this afternoon we learned that the city was awarded $2 million from some sort of joint HUD DOT EPA grant to study the feasibility of demolishing the Claiborne Expressway. This could be the very flashpoint we're talking about here.

Leave aside the question of whether or not 2 million dollars could have been better spent on infrastructure projects more urgent than this fashionable hipster's cause for the moment and focus on the potential fallout from this study. If intra-neighborhood hostilities erupt over post-Expressway traffic engineering, will sections capable of mustering their own security forces hold the muscle to impose their will on those who have not prepared their own deterrent?

What happens if the study concludes, yes let's tear it down and go back with the original Riverfront Expressway plan it replaced back in the 60s? Will the French Quarter be prepared to defend itself this time around? Having rejected the creation of their own security district, they'd be practically defenseless. Sure the Guardian Angels are still hanging out down there but they've got to be outgunned and out-manned by districts that have chosen to fully fund the troops in these dangerous times. Can anyone afford to have this kind of rent-a-cop gap on their hands?

Hey look all the oil disappeared again

Yesterday's T-P even points us to another helpful food metaphor to help us visualize the vanishing.
"Keep in mind that if we're finding a half a part per billion at the highest, we wouldn't be able to recover in the water column itself at parts per 10," Lehmann said. "It's like trying to get cream out of your coffee, we just don't do it. There's a limitation to what we can do in terms of mitigating the oil in the environment."

Not sure if they're saying the oil is "mostly gone" as the headline states or if they're saying it's very difficult to clean up this oil so it may as well have vanished as far as they're concerned.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Impressive acronyms being rolled out here.
New Orleans– As required by the Louisiana Supreme Court, the New Orleans Police Department is issuing a public advisory regarding an “Impaired Motorist Saturation Patrol.” This patrol is a tactic used to significantly impact an area that is known for a high concentration of alcoholic impaired drivers, based on recent fatal crashes and serious injury crashes. The Special Operation Division Traffic Section will conduct all testing from the SOD Traffic Mobile Command Post that will be positioned at a predetermined location on Read Boulevard.

The New Orleans Police Department’s SOD Traffic Section will conduct the Saturation Patrol on Friday October 22, 2010, in the New Orleans East area, beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M., and concluding approximately 5:00 A.M. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license if requested.

IMSAP? As in, I'm a sap if I get held up by Serpas' Stasi on Read Boulevard?

Government for and by the property owners

When I first read that HANO was refusing to release data about voucher usage, I thought they were just obstructing efforts to analyze their effectiveness. Their reasoning sounded like a dodge.
“Everyone is always concerned with the concentration of poverty but I’m not sure if we can identify concentrations,” said Keith Pettigrew, deputy general manager for operations at HANO in an interview outside council chambers. “It’s a roundabout way of finding out where people live and people have a right to keep that private.”
But reading the quotes from our illustrious Councilpersons in this article, I get the impression that Pettigrew is spot-on.
Head pointed to Central City, where she says Section 8 vouchers may be concentrating to the detriment of residents who complain about properties that landlords don’t maintain, even though they are receiving the government subsidy, and tenants who “do not conform to” the standards of the neighborhoods.
Head is clearly implying that her way to deal with negligent landlords involves eliminating affordable housing. I have no idea what she means by "tenants who 'do not conform to' the standards of the neighborhoods" but it sounds like a typically Stepfordish Head statement. Meanwhile Jon Johnson is concerned about the needs of landowners in his district while subtly suggesting that subsidized residents just don't belong in his neighborhood.
This is not equitable or fair to the people who have returned and rebuilt, or to the low-income people who I believe are in some cases being steered places without being told about opportunities in other parts of the city that may be more advantageous or more central,” Johnson said after the meeting.

A few weeks ago, Head and Johnson were equally as vicious toward New Orleanians still unfortunate enough to be stuck with FEMA trailers.
“At what point is the administration going to say, ‘We understand there have been hardships we recognize it, but we have to enforce the rule of law?’ ” Head asked. She said that homeowners in her district believe that “their house value is down 25 to 30 percent because a trailer is in the neighborhood.”

Five and a half years after Katrina, you have to make a value judgment about how you value the people who have come back,” she said, recommending the city set a deadline of the end of the year to have all trailers removed.

It stands to reason that the folks who are still stuck with trailers at this point are among those who have had the roughest time getting back on their feet. The obstacles presented by negotiating the Road Home process, dealing with SBA loans, arguing with insurance companies are only amplified for homeowners without sufficient means, education, or experience fighting these sorts of battles. More often than not the people left behind by the process are the most socially isolated or the poorest or they have other disadvantages such as disabilities, or they're caring for disabled family members.

Stacy Head wants to make a "value judgment" as to whether or not its worth kicking these people into the streets in order to allay paranoid plutocratic fears about property values.

Property values were of indispensable use to those people Jon Johnson wants to be fair and equitable to now that they've returned and rebuilt. A case is pending in federal court right now which may determine that Louisiana's Road Home program discriminated against poor homeowners in less desirable neighborhoods by basing restoration grants on property values and not the actual cost of rebuilding.

For years, fair housing advocates have complained that the Road Home’s use of home values to calculate grants amounts to racial discrimination because it means families in economically depressed neighborhoods, which are typically majority-black, get less money to repair their homes than someone with an identical house in an area where values have appreciated.

This discrimination could have affected as many as 25,000 families many of whom could be staying in subsidized housing right now. Stacy Head wants to know where they live so she can make a value judgment as to whether or not they're really necessary.

On November 2, I think I might just write in this guy in every race.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lawyers accuse one another of being lawyers

Also, politicians accuse one another of being politicians, Republican accuses Democrat of being a Democrat. Democrat denies that a little bit.

Stupid boring race between another pair of nothings? You betcha! But we kind of have to pay attention nonetheless because we might be talking about the next Governor here.
The election was called to pick a successor to Mitch Landrieu, who resigned as lieutenant governor in May to become mayor of New Orleans. The winner will hold the office for about 14 months and will have to seek re-election next year, but would be considered the favorite to win the full four-year term starting in January 2012.

If Gov. Bobby Jindal decides to pursue national ambitions and steps down, the lieutenant governor would ascend to the job as governor. Besides being first in line of succession to the governor, the only defined duty of the office is to oversee the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the state's chief tourism promotion agency.

Consensus media opinion has it that Jindal is all but guaranteed to either run for President, or Senate, or beg whichever Republican wins the Presidency in 2012 (if that happens) for a job in Washington. I agree that he probably wants one of those things. I'm not so sure any of them will be available to him, though. State budgetary disasters like the one Louisiana is facing this year have a way of chewing up Governors. We'll see what Jindal's prospects look like when or if he comes out the other side of this mess.

So far the Governor's strategy during the crisis time appears to be spending as much of it as possible on the out-of-state speaking circuit. But there's a letter writing campaign underway aimed at getting him to stop that.

Gold Pants looked pretty strong yesterday

And that concludes our Monday morning commentary. More later, of course, But... when?

Friday, October 15, 2010


I'm not usually much of a credit whore or anything but I think it's worth pointing out that we've been on this topic at the Yellow Blog since long before that Dallas game.

Curse of the Black Pants: Saints deny uniform style is jinxed

After Dallas beat a black pants-wearing Saints late in New Orleans’ 2009 Super Bowl run, the drumbeat grew louder and louder from Saints fans who knew one thing – wearing black pants was not the way to win the big game.

After the Saints lost to Atlanta in the third game this year while wearing, you guessed it, black pants, Who Dats were screaming about the uniform faux pas from the highest points they could find in flat southeastern Louisiana.

I've never liked the Saints' black leotard look and I've nagged about the black pants here and there but didn't start building a serious case against them on the grounds that they affect gameplay until the 2007 season right about here. And then the idea quickly gained momentum. Readers began compiling statistics. We examined various pants match-ups. Black vs Gold. Black vs Black. People started to organize. There's a Facebook group. Bugging WWLTV via Twitter to get the scoop on what color pants the Saints are going with has become a weekly ritual. It takes years of persistent lobbying before a cause reaches critical mass but at least this article demonstrates that we've managed to get somebody's attention anyway.

Now, about these pink gloves...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines"

Reviewing and servicing everyone's mortgage documents.
In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn't define the word "affidavit." Others didn't know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property. Most troubling, several said they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers' accusations about document fraud.

"The mortgage servicers hired people who would never question authority," said Peter Ticktin, a Deerfield Beach, Fla., lawyer who is defending 3,000 homeowners in foreclosure cases. As part of his work, Ticktin gathered 150 depositions from bank employees who say they signed foreclosure affidavits without reviewing the documents or ever laying eyes on them -- earning them the name "robo-signers."

Barrry Ritholtz is pleading for criminal charges to filed with an urgency that suggests, at least to me, that the likelihood of any justice being done is pretty slim. Why? Well I'll highlight it for you.

If your home was broken into by a firm to change the locks illegally, that is breaking and entering, and conspiracy. If the wrong bank filed a foreclosure action, if the wrong house was foreclosed upon, its time to go criminal prosecution route.

Go to the local police department, fill out the requisite forms. Then go to your District Attorney’s Office or County Prosecutor’s office, and ask to speak to someone in charge. Tell them you want to prosecute. You can also contact your state Attorney General about the same. Follow up with written letters, that you send you your local newspaper and the NYT, WSJ, USA Today.

If any local DAs balk — some will know bank execs from the political groups and golf courses — let them know you will keeping a written record of all of this, and you plan to make sure that their opponent in the next election knows all about their bank coddling ways. When they stammer, hammer them about their opponent’s interest in who is and isn’t a bank bitch.

Change "some" to "all" and the part in red is the end of it, really. And it's not just "local DAs" either. Fundamentally, the entire power structure, from the local tax assessor to the U.S. Senate is playing golf with the banksters, so to speak. The system doesn't work for hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and assembly line employees who we find here hired to robo-sign one another's foreclosure papers. It works for the banksters on the golf course. This isn't to say that Ritholtz isn't right to recommend that people attempt to bring legal action if for no other purpose than to highlight hypocrisies. But don't expect any of those hypocrisies to be overturned any time soon.

Update: For a decent example of just how entrenched bankster interest is, see Matt Taibbi's post on the upcoming second round of quantitative easing from the Fed.

QE is difficult to understand and the average person could listen to a Fed official talk about it for two hours right to his face and not understand even the basic gist of his speech. The ostensible justification for QE is to use a kind of financial shock-and-awe approach to jump-starting the economy, but its effects for ordinary people are hard to calculate. Theoretically the entire country has some sort of stake in this program, as (among other things) U the Homeowner may see your home value stay stable or fall less than it would have thanks to this artificial stimulus. You also may be able to buy a house when you wouldn’t before, thanks to declining mortgage rates.

And jobs, I suppose, may theoretically be created by all this dollar meth being injected into the financial bloodstream – although the inflationary effect of printing trillions upon trillions of new dollars would probably wipe out the value of the money you make at that job. When it comes to calculating what QE actually does for you, or how much it harms you, that question is just very hard to answer.

But one thing we know for sure is that big banks and Wall Street speculators are real, immediate beneficiaries of the program, as they suddenly have trillions of printed dollars flowing through the financial system, with endless ways to profit on the new chips entering the casino.

And by an amazing coincidence, many of the biggest players in the financial services industry have a habit of buying up MBS or Treasuries just before these magical money-printing programs of the Fed send their respective values soaring. If you own a big fund, for instance, and you know that the Fed is about to buy a trillion dollars of mortgage-backed-securities through a new Quantitative Easing program, buying a buttload of MBS a few weeks early is a pretty easy way to make a risk-free fortune. One of the worst-kept secrets on Wall Street is that the big bankers and fund managers get signals about the Fed’s intentions about things like QE well before they are announced to the rest of us losers in the public.

Just because

Mango pork chops

We almost ordered Chinese food last night but then I got up and rooted around the fridge to see what I could come up with. These simple boneless pork chops were first browned in dark butter and then simmered in a... whatever that is... sauce made from serrano peppers, green onion, garlic, and sliced mangoes. There's some basil in there, a little brandy, oh and more butter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Democrats Against Health Care Reform, Equal Pay for Women, and Financial Reform

Nice to get them out in the open where we can see them.

As the only citywide African-American politician on the program, Assessor Erroll Williams was expected to make the biggest splash among Democrats who announced Tuesday that they are crossing party lines to endorse Republican U.S. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao in his campaign for re-election to the U.S. House.

But Williams was a no-show for Cao's news conference on the steps of City Hall. The Cao camp said Williams had a "scheduling conflict" and issued a statement on his behalf.

"Erroll is with us in sprit," Cao spokesman Devin Johnson said.

That left City Councilwoman Stacy Head as the headliner for the "Democrats for Cao" event, which also featured defense attorney and 2008 DA candidate Ralph Capitelli and David Williams, a former appeals court judge

Aw who are we kidding? We knew who they were already. Have Head or Capitelli ever been Democrats in any meaningful sense? Head certainly doesn't seem to have been there "in spirit" anyway.

But beyond the policy objectives outlined in the title of this post, none of these "Democrats" appears to be endorsing anything other than his or her own personal spite. The T-P article speculates that Williams is doing a favor for Cao campaign manager Cheron Brylski. Not sure what Head's excuse is. Maybe she really does want to see a GOP run House of Representatives next year.

Apparently satire compromises objectivity

NPR tells staffers to stay away from Colbert, Stewart rallies How many NPR reporters attend Garrison Keillor shows?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Today's Must-Read

Barry Ritholtz explains the Foreclosure Fraud Crisis
It is a legal impossibility for someone without a mortgage to be foreclosed upon. It is a legal impossibility for the wrong house to be foreclosed upon, It is a legal impossibility for the wrong bank to sue for foreclosure.

And yet, all of those things have occurred. The only way these errors could have occurred is if several people involved in the process committed criminal fraud. This is not a case of “Well, something slipped through the cracks.” In order for the process to fail, many people along the chain must commit fraud.

Don't be an Uptown Lady

Adrastos is trying to get everyone to calm down, which I endorse but I don't get all the way behind this reasoning.

This off-season, there was way too much chest beating, swaggering and celebrating by both the team and the fans. It's time for everyone to take a deep breath and find a comfortable place between cockiness and despair.

Yeah I'm not gonna complain about the celebrating. The freaking Saints won the Super Bowl. If you can't celebrate that, you can't celebrate anything. In fact I might go crack open another bottle of champagne tonight just because I'm thinking about it right now. At the same time, I see what he means about the cockiness. Cockiness is what leads to obnoxious fan behavior (which we've seen our fair share of at the dome already this year) and that way leads to madness.

Fact is, the Saints aren't playing any worse now than they have during any other year in the Payton era... which if you throw out last season is at or around .500. And HEY that ain't too too bad anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a fine thing for football fans to discuss in detail the specific things their team is failing at. But the reason I think this is a fine thing is I know criticism is part of football, meaning it's at least half of the FUN of being a fan in the first place. In fact, I think the more the team struggles, the more fun this can be. The best years are the ones when the team is good but not blowing people away every week which, frankly, I think is boring and makes the fans obnoxious.

This season has the potential to be a fun ride for fans if they just let the damn story develop. So far this drama is already thicker and richer than at this point last season where, if I remember correctly, I was too hungover to even make it to the Giants game. Anyway, whoever heard of a heroic epic wherein the heroes don't face any adversity? For chrissakes, we're barely into Act II here. You, in the front row, sit the fuck down and quite your yapping before I call the damn usher.

This morning I was standing in the coffee line behind an Uptown Lady who noticed the T-P I was holding. The coffee shop I frequent in the morning is kind of an Uptown Lady headquarters. Peggy Wilson is regularly holding court in one corner of the room when I walk in, for example. Anyway the front page of my paper says, "No Reason To Panic". The Lady's face became suddenly very ugly when she saw this, "Well I'm panicking. They're just disgraceful." I tried to cheer her up as best as I could.

"Well it's a long season, and anyway we still get to keep that trophy from last year, right?"

This wasn't good enough.

"Well I don't want to go back to being the Aints"

And that was it. No smile. No humor. Just win every game or it's right back to Aintsville for this Lady. And there was palpable but restrained malice in the way she said it too. It was as though the servants hadn't set the dining room table with the proper centerpiece before an important party. This woman, and a lot of Saints fans lately, aren't paying attention to this team with a rooting interest so much as a snotty concern that it might cause them to look bad. I think maybe we owe the defending champions and ourselves better than that.

Don't be an Uptown Lady. Give the 2010 Saints a chance, please.

More on this week's game later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coach Rumsfeld

Two quotes from Sean Payton's Monday press conference via WWL's sports twittering:

1) Payton on RBs: "These are our guys. There’s no one walking in here to save the day off the street right now.

Because you go to war with the fumbling pink-gloved scrubs you have.

2) Payton on Brees' many check downs this season: “I don’t see it being a number that’s different than it has been."

Does he mean that the number of times Brees has had to take the safety route isn't different from last year at this point? Or does he mean that he doesn't see the number as being different even if those of us familiar with the old math might? Because that would be getting into a real weird area there.

Update: And another one from Stinchcomb
Jon Stinchcomb: "We feel like the fixes and solution to the problems are in this locker room."
Which sounds an awful lot like this.


The legal haggling over this point may end up only determining who pays the damages and not affect who gets paid at all. But it's still an interesting thing to follow.
BP offshore land negotiator Michael Beirne said that there are e-mails showing that minority well owners Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX 2007 LLC were provided real-time data from the rig in the days before the explosion.

The disclosure could be a factor down the road in parceling out financial liability for the disaster.

BP has already spent more than $11 billion related to the cleanup and response to the spill. It also has agreed to set aside $20 billion for a victim's compensation fund, and it faces tens of billions of dollars in fines, penalties and other potential liabilities from the disaster.

Anadarko and MOEX would be excused from paying their share of the damages if BP were deemed grossly negligent or shown to have committed willful misconduct, according to an agreement among the three parties. Absent such a finding, the partners would be responsible for a portion of the damages, depending on the amount of their culpability, according to testimony at the hearings Wednesday.

Beirne also testified that the Macondo well project was nearly $60 million over budget days before the explosion.

Despite the fact that the testimony could indicate a degree of culpability on the part of these minority share owners, they won't be held responsible if BP is found "grossly negligent". Recall that earlier this year, Senator Vitter introduced a bill designed to limit the liability of all oil companies involved in such accidents to $150 million or an amount equal to the company's last four quarters of profits. Vitter's bill was apparently designed specifically to protect smaller oil companies like Anadarko in situations like this. Anadarko is a long-time contributor to Vitter's campaigns and as such one of the first interests, the Senator moved to protect in the wake of the disaster.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


NOPD is stopping individuals on the street for vague reasons, filling out a card with each individual's personal information, and entering that information into a big database. Which they keep. None of which is anything like what goes on in paranoid totalitarian society at all.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Were these men separated at birth?

Separated at birth?
The similarities are striking. The same nose, the same beady, squinty eyes, they even have the same stupid smirk on their faces. But it goes beyond that. Those of us who are old enough to remember the political career of George W. Bush will recall that among his "strengths" in that arena was his ability to appeal to average American idiot everymen (everysman? everymans?) as one of them. Bush supporters would frequently concede that the man may not be the world's most accomplished policy wonk, or representative of anyone's ideal of intellect or even competence, but that wasn't the point. The point for many Bush voters was that this was a man they could relate to; someone they wanted to have a beer with. And even if you didn't support him, what American can honestly say that he wasn't a little inspired by the concept that if George Bush could lazily fail upward all the way to the White House, wasn't there hope for all of our bumbling, slacking lives as well?

Spencer Hall finds a similar example in Les Miles' football team.


Just watch Alabama and stand in awe of their fearsome symmetries: their pinpoint precision with defensive assignments, their power run game coupled with an efficient and devious passing game, their locked-up special teams coverage. Alabama's pants are pressed to a fine crease, their hair styled to a fine edge, their ties knotted with a precision Germans would find intimidating. They write thank you notes with immaculate penmanship, and never forget their mother's birthdays.

This is not you, most likely. You forget things. You mismanage the clock, and often find yourself scrambling at the end of the day just to get the most basic assigned tasks done. You probably have a stain right now on your pants, and it's probably food, you disgusting pig of a person. You don't drive with your hands at ten and two on the wheel, and most likely sometimes hit the rumble stripes while looking at an interesting bird or shapely lady walking down the street. Honestly, sometimes you do it just because you're thinking about bacon or something. It's amazing you haven't killed anyone yet.

You're a lot closer as a person to being the LSU football team than you are to being the Alabama Crimson Tide, because admit it: sometimes, despite the bad snaps you've made in life, you're ahead of a lot of the plodding dullards who insist on showing up "on time" and "clean shaven" and "totally sober" to their required appointments in life. Sometimes that's been part of the fun, something you can only admit to yourself after you've run around with your hair on fire, broken several major rules of company accounting and best practices, and possibly stabbed a fellow employee in order to get done what you needed to get done to survive.

What Hall is saying is that LSU football under Les Miles is Homer Simpson. Dumb as all hell but somehow it all works out. And who doesn't love Homer Simpson, right? We've devoted a lot of Yellow Blog space over the years to the Fire Miles campaign. But the terrifying truth is by not acting early, as I had recommended, we've now crossed a threshold beyond which dropping Les is only going to do more damage to the Tigers' program than just closing our eyes and hanging on for dear life.

And that's what we're planning to do in about an hour from now when I'm pretty sure LSU is going to beat Florida. How? Well, after watching the way the Tennessee game ended last week, I had a revelation.
Miles' uber-stupid is the Tigers' secret weapon. Tennessee had too many people on the field because they were as dumbfounded as everyone else in the building as to what the hell LSU was doing. As an opposing coach, you know Miles is going to do something comically, spectacularly idiotic at some point in the game. How do you prepare your team for that?
You know Urban Meyer has been driving himself nuts all week trying to figure a way to get his team ready to handle Miles' unpredictable crazy bomb. Is there a practice drill wherein Meyer suddenly runs onto the field in a gorilla suit and passes out cupcakes with sprinkles to everyone? Has he been sneaking up on players and yelling "boo!" at random all week? Would any of this make any difference? Sooner or later today Miles is going to drop the mighty hammer of crazy stupid at some point and the Gators cannot possibly be ready for it.

Meanwhile, in keeping with our characteristic mismanagement of the clock, here are last week's Saints-Panthers notes submitted at the last possible second.

  • Pinkwashing is back: As we noted earlier in the week, the NFL is once again participating in National Brand Your Product With Cancer Victims Sympathy Month. Last year we discussed the perils of Pinkwashing at length. This year, we'll offer only the following three observations.

    1) The pink accessories matched well with the Panthers' powder blue jersies. Someone remarked to me that they looked like they were dressed for a baby shower.

    2) Rosalind has frequently remarked in the past that Saints' kicker 46 Year Old John Carney looks like a chemo patient. How could the Saints not bring him back for Cancer Month?

    3) The pink gloves are obviously faulty.

  • #Iamnotworried about losing to a team with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback The Saints benefited from facing a rookie QB last week. Clausen (11 for 21 146 yds) made several mental errors that worked out to the Saints' advantage. He failed to recognize coverage mismatches. He demonstrated a Les Miles-like capacity for mismanagement resulting in wasted timeouts. The Saints will face another rookie QB in Arizona tomorrow. It's the greatest luxury in pro football.

  • Sedrick Ellis is a monster Hey is anybody on the team playing better football than Sedrick Ellis right now? (Other than Morstead, of course) Ellis disrupts plays, bats passes down, sacks quarterbacks, does really stupid looking dances. What's not to like?

    Ellis bats down a Clausen pass here making the best use of his goofy pink gloves

  • Who the hell are these guys? The Saints entered the game with three running backs on the active roster none of who played a down for them a year ago. On the Saints' first possession, this led to some nasty flashbacks for fans as Sean Payton called several exotic reverses hoping to manufacture a running game. Robert Meachem took a couple of these and looked slow. We wondered if he was injured. Tight end Jimmy Graham even took one. Saints fans hurriedly checked their programs or their phone apps or whatever trying to figure out just who the hell numbers 80 and 46 were. 46 was Ladell Betts who had a very nice game, by the way. 13 carries 47 yards 4 receptions for 23. Modest numbers, maybe, but productive. Combining Betts' numbers with Ironbutt Ivory's adds up to 25 carries for 114 yards. All in all not a bad day. A few turnovers ended up obscuring the Saints' best performance of the season offensively highlighted by a strong commitment to the running game which is something we always like to see.

    Betts wasn't flashy but he ran with a furious energy against Carolina. Maybe the pink stuff made him angry.

  • End of the First Possession Juggernaut: The Saints took the ball over for the first time in this game on their own 9 yard line and very nearly drove all the way down the field for what would have been their fourth consecutive opening drive touchdown this season. In the fourth quarter, the Saints took possession on their own 7 and drove 86 yards in 18 plays to set up the go-ahead field goal. Did we mention this was a good day for the offense? Had it not been for a few turnovers such as the one that killed the first drive on the Panters' 2, the score in this game wouldn't have been close.

    Lance Moore fumbles near the Carolina goal line. Moore went on to score the Saints' only touchdown of the day. Fantasy football geniuses across America picked up Moore the day Reggie Bush got hurt.

  • Powder Blue Bullies: The Saints' offensive line turned in a pretty shitty performance all things considered. Sure the Saints moved the ball on the ground, but I can recall more than a few instances of linemen missing blocks that could have sprung backs for longer gains. Plus the Panthers were allowed to beat the crap out of Brees for most of the afternoon which is never a good idea. Menckles says she has spotted Brees "kicking his knee out" a few times as if it were bothering him. (Menckles knows knee pain. This week we learned she's going to need arthroscopic surgery to clean up a medial meniscus tear. She hopes to be back in action before Tracy Porter is.)

    Brees: 33 of 48 275 yards 1 touchdown Without checking, I think this was his first game under 70% completions all season.

  • Uh Oh the kicker doesn't suck. Now what? 46 Year Old John Carney was the man. He hit from 25 yards once and 32 yards twice. Note that the two 32 yard kicks are three yards longer than the one Garrett Hartley missed in overtime vs Atlanta. Both kickers remain on the roster for some reason.

    Garrett Hartley (pink hat worn backwards) This is the reason we had to release Arrington.

  • This week's Dome complaint: I made the mistake of staying to watch the Tiger band play at halftime after which I went and got myself stuck in the longest pee line ever. Seriously, I left with two minutes left in the halftime and didn't get back until there were two minutes left in the third quarter. The good news is I didn't have to watch DeAngelo Williams' 39 yard touchdown run. The.. um.. so-so news is that I got to watch a giant fleur-de-lis play the Crunk song to an enthusiastic crowd.

    Golden Band from Tigerland

    But man I am not getting stuck in that line again for anything.

  • Still thinking Jeremey Shockey is about done: Want to know the crucial difference between Poochie and Dave Thomas? Thomas is the one who doesn't immediately fall down when he catches the ball.

  • This week's fan complaint: During the third quarter, the Saints faced a third and twenty which they failed to convert on a incomplete pass. The score was 14-10 with plenty time left. A smattering of boos issued forth from the Superdome stands. I'm not usually one to come out against fans expressing themselves but, simply put, Saints fans are not allowed to boo their defending Super Bowl Champions this season... particularly not for minor setbacks such as failing to convert 3rd and 20. I never thought I'd live long enough to see the day where people were expecting perfection from Saints football and goofy entertainment from the LSU squad. But these are the crazy times we live in. Besides I thought I was supposed to be the cranky one here. I was embarrassed for everybody in the building.

  • Why don't you boo after 3rd and 20? It means Thomas Morstead is coming on the field: While some Saints fans were still booing, Morstead booted the ball 50 yards to the adorably named Captain Munnerlyn who became the third Saints opponent in as many weeks to cough up a fumble on a punt return late in the game. The Morstead Magic Punt-fumble is the Saints' bread and butter this year. The turnover led to a Saints field goal... which the fans also booed but which also became the difference in the game.

    Notice that Morstead has no pink evident in the uniform he's wearing.

So I started working on this post about an hour and a half before the LSU game kicked off and now it's a few minutes after I've apparently called the outcome thanks, in part, to an insane over-the-shoulder bounce pass to the kicker. Don't ask. It's Les Miles. Anyway I think that means it's time to quit while we're ahead. Saints have a good chance to put things together tomorrow and calm their restless fans. Which is good because I don't want to hear any more boos when they get back to the Dome in a few weeks.

The new NOBC

As a card carrying member of the great uncouth, unwashed, lazy, malcontent, and often drunken citizenry of NOLA I am naturally suspicious of all city planning and planners. But I will say that it's probably slightly better to have a professional (albeit a political careerist professional) planner run the New Orleans Building Corp. than the previous practice of allowing a developer to run it.

If you are unfamiliar with Kristina Ford, you may profit from watching this hour long talk she gave at MIT about the challenges facing New Orleans in October of 2005. She says some good things as well as some things that I construe as naive, patronizing and condescending toward poor and working people but that's pretty typical of her ilk anyway.

Also during the talk she mentions her plans to write a new book about planning in New Orleans which was just published a few months ago. I bought a copy at the book table during this year's Rising Tide but haven't gotten a chance to start reading it yet.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Solving the Sandra Hester problem

One way to keep New Orleans' most persistent open-meetings scold off of your back is to create a system out of too many boards violating the state open meetings law at once for one person to keep track of.

In response to three months of requests from The Lens, a surprisingly large number of New Orleans charter school boards failed to comply with even basic requests for information. Many didn’t respond at all. Of the officials who did answer, some provided only partial information – and still others claimed they aren’t public officials or required to do their work in public, even though state law says otherwise.

About a month ago, Jarvis DeBerry presented this column where he addressed the confusion New Orleans parents seemed to be having as to whether or not the charter schools were in fact public entities.
The way some people talking about schools after Hurricane Katrina use “charter” as an antonym of “public.”

Perhaps you’ve heard people make that distinction and found yourself puzzled by it. After all, there isn’t a single charter school in New Orleans that charges tuition, so how is it that so many people speak about them in a way that suggests they’re in the same class as private and parochial campuses?

At this point in DeBerry's column, I was with him. I thought, well yes, the strange configuration of public schools in New Orleans presents a bizarre and confusing obstacle for parents to navigate. The opaque nature of this system is evident in the confused language people use to describe it. Shouldn't the public schools make every effort to provide accessible services to all students and to inform parents of the services available to them? The charter system seems designed specifically to do the opposite.

This Newsweek article focuses on the charters' exclusion of special needs students, for example, but in fact the charters' selective admissions policies and confusing overall structure end up doing more than just that. What the charter system does is segregate students according to their families' ability to navigate the application process. More often than not, such divisions occur along the same lines as class, social status, and race. The result is a system where the best performing charters draw the most privileged students while the most needy are shunted off into a separate but equally "public" educational ghetto.

I was waiting for DeBerry to make this point, but instead, he took an unexpected turn.

There was a fear right after Hurricane Katrina that New Orleans would become increasingly hostile toward the poor. With much higher rents, it has become more difficult for people with low incomes to make it here. But some of the changes in the city, charter schools in particular, don’t require money to navigate as much as they require a certain sophistication.

It takes knowing that the Orleans Parish School Board still exists but that many of the schools under its control are magnets or have selective admissions. There’s also the Recovery School District, which took over the city’s worst schools. And there are charter schools, some of which are overseen by either the OPSB or the RSD. The application required to get into one school might not be the same application used at another.

And that regrettable tradition of waiting till after Labor Day to enroll a child? Parents who tarry are sure to be disappointed.

If you’re accustomed to simplicity, the new system of systems can be dizzying in its complexity.

If you haven’t adjusted to the new complexity, you might decide that public can’t be used to describe a school that won’t enroll your child.

What Jarvis appears to be saying, in so many words, is that the byzantine system isn't failing Orleans Parish parents, it's the unsophisticated parents "accustomed to simplicity" whose children, I guess, deserve inferior schools due to their failure to "adjust to the new complexity".

This struck me as a little cruel if not an altogether snobbish argument for DeBerry to make, so I (politely) attempted to Twitter @ him the case that apportioning public education resources according to caste seems inherently unfair. DeBerry is actually very good about responding to readers via online comments so we had an extended back-and-forth about it. And I think he agreed with or had sympathy for some of my argument. But when the conversation reached this point, I figured we were at an impasse.

Sequential DeBerry tweets:

1) My mother was an English teacher. That gave me all sorts of advantages that other kids were without. No, it's not exactly fair.

2) By the time I reached 5th grade I had read almost every book in that school's library. Again, not exactly fair.

After going round and round, Jarvis' point is that students who come from more supportive and stable families have an advantage anyway. Again, I don't see why the public school system should compound this inequity but that's where we ended up. I suppose Jarvis' other point is that he was a bright, well-read kid but I always figured as much.

On the other hand, it's getting more difficult to have much patience with DeBerry's attempt to blame parents for their inability to apprehend the fact that charter schools are public schools when even the charters' own boards are missing out on the concept. Perhaps they lack the requisite sophistication.

For now, at least, the school boards have managed to avoid the Sandra Hester problem by virtue of being too numerous and difficult for just one open-meetings advocate to track down, even one as tenacious and sophisticated as Ms Hester.

The Orleans Parish School Board used to have a budget rivaling that of the city – close to half a billion dollars – but it now shares its state allocation with the Recovery School District and myriad charters. For citizens to follow the money allotted to public schools – $7,995 per child in state money – they need to know when and where the boards meet.

No longer can activists or interested taxpayers plan on attending just regular meetings of the School Board. They also need to travel to Baton Rouge sometimes to hear about Recovery School District schools, and try to track down the meetings of the nearly three dozen charter school boards. (see calendar of charter board meetings here, in Excel)

The Lens attended a handful of charter board meetings recently, and they were lonely affairs. At some, the only other audience members were employed by the school.

Maybe we should have her cloned.

Update: Newsweek has taken their article down for some reason. I hope it's temporary.

Story is still missing. Gambit is on the case.

Uppestdate: FTW, Leigh has the article preserved here.

Also more on the stupid elitist American discourse about schools in today's Daily Howler
As these bozos pretend to proceed, they rarely fail to help us see their own exquisite moral greatness. (Waiting For Superman director Davis) Guggenheim has crafted a destructive, simple-minded thesis—a thesis which advances the teacher-bashing and union-bashing preferred by current elites. But his interviews—and apparently, his film—are built around his own moral greatness. Poor Guggenheim! He feels so bad as he drives his kids to private school in Los Angeles! As these people make jokes of our discourse, could they at least refrain from making us marvel at their personal greatness?