Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Must read on Wikileaks

If you read one article about the Wikileaks fallout this week, please make it this Greenwald post.
Before setting forth why these WikiLeaks disclosures produce vastly more good than harm, I'll state several caveats as clearly as I can. Unlike the prior leaks of war documents, there are reasonable concerns about this latest leak (most particularly that impeding diplomacy makes war more likely). Like all organizations, WikiLeaks has made mistakes in the past, including its failure to exercise enough care in redacting the names of Afghan informers. Moreover, some documents are legitimately classified, probably including some among the documents that were just disclosed.

Nonetheless, our government and political culture is so far toward the extreme pole of excessive, improper secrecy that that is clearly the far more significant threat. And few organizations besides WikiLeaks are doing anything to subvert that regime of secrecy, and none is close to its efficacy. It's staggering to watch anyone walk around acting as though the real threat is from excessive disclosures when the impenetrable, always-growing Wall of Secrecy is what has enabled virtually every abuse and transgression of the U.S. government over the last two decades at least.
Much more. Just go read.

Things everybody saw yesterday that nonetheless must be noted

When we noticed that this year's Gambit "Bar Guide" issue wisely refrained from ranking the bars according to some nebulous arbitrary criteria the way they sometimes do, we were relieved that we were not obligated to produce a handy key to those rankings the way we did last year.

Better still, this year's simplified bar guide comes to us in the form of a mind-blowing flowchart created by Ian Hoch. It is designed to help locals or visitors reach the appropriate watering hole using a decision-based approach. And I gotta say it works pretty darn well. Even if it doesn't get you exactly where you expect (there is no way to get to Igor's or Fahy's) it will get you somewhere similar or perhaps nearby. Would have been a great thing to hand out to Menckles' friends and family when they came in for the wedding.

Hippies and Teabaggers

Unlike most conventional pundits who rail against the tyranny of polarized extremism, I think the problem with our political system is the overwhelming power of consensus elites to define debate and control outcomes. One way they do this, however, is through the promotion of extremist sounding but essentially just stupid paranoid rhetoric purposed toward elitist policy goals.

For example, ADM and Monsato could just lobby on their own behalf to be left unaccountable for putting poison in your food. But it's a far better strategy to let the argument fall into the hands of stupid crazy people who just make a mess of everything.
Conservative activists have apparently rallied to the call, helping to ensure that passage of a bill that once seemed like a sure thing is far less certain. While the tea party's interests often seem to coincide with corporate America's—as in the health care debate—in this case big agriculture, the grocery store lobby, and the restaurant industry all firmly support the bill. Why? The food industry has found the recent rash of food-poisoning outbreaks to be extremely expensive and generally bad for business.

But Coburn and the tea partiers have found an unlikely group of allies in their fight against the bill: hippies. Or "granolas," as food safety lawyer Bill Marler calls the organic farmers, locavores, health nuts, and artisanal cheesemakers who oppose the legislation. "The granolas come at it from a standpoint that they want to eat all natural foods, and drink raw milk because they believe it cures everything from autism to erectile dysfunction," says Marler, who's been involved in drafting the food bill for a decade. "Then you have the tea party involved not because they drink raw milk but because they don't want the government involved in any aspect of their lives. It's all about how the government is out to get their seeds."
Everybody wins here. Agribusiness gets to take a reasonable public position on food safety while not actually having to be held responsible for it by the law. Increasingly angry and threatened American consumers get to channel their outrage into cathartic but unproductive activities such as buying "survival seeds" and balancing their chakras. Nobody pays a political price for any of this other than these mythical "liberals in Washington" who don't really exist anyway. Meanwhile, our news media doesn't have to get bogged down in discussing the boring ins and outs of food safety regulation but instead has a ball ogling and promoting the spectacle caused by these misguided activists.

And the self-perpetuating cycle of stupid can continue.

Monday, November 29, 2010

We broke it, you buy it

When new hurricane protection levees settle, U.S. won't have to help pay repair costs

Congress will no longer require the federal government to help pay the cost of raising new hurricane levees when they subside, a rule change that flood managers in Louisiana argue could make it impossible to properly maintain the new system now being built.
Tomorrow is the last day of the 2010 Hurricane season. We hardly knew it. It seems like so long ago that the future of everything in New Orleans depended on the redesign of the damaged and inadequate flood protection measures the Corps of Engineers once famously admitted comprised a "system in name only" into a modern and sustainable bulwark against the possibility of our world ever being destroyed by water again. Gone were the days when we would aim to meet only the most minimal standard when it came to protecting the lives and livelihoods of our families and neighbors. Well, that's what we said we wanted anyway.

"We're building a system that, at the end of the day, will be certified to give us the 100-year protection that's required" in order to buy federal flood insurance, said Steve Wilson, president of the State Association of Levee Districts. "But if there's no money three or four years from now to raise our levees back up to that level of protection, what have we really accomplished?"
As it stands right now, the project authorized by Congress and scheduled for completion next year not only meets a minimal and inadequate standard, there is no provision to ensure the funding levels necessary to maintain even this poor standard.

The other day, while flying back into New Orleans after the holiday, our plane took the somewhat rarer route into town from the east. Out of my window I had a clear view of Mobile Bay, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and its barrier islands, the Chandeleur Islands, and the Louisiana coast, all of which appear much closer together when viewed from the air than one typically thinks of those places being.

As we approached the city, we flew in over the fragile and fragmenting wetland marshes of lower St. Bernard Parish. As we crossed Lake Borgne I craned my neck to get a glimpse of the one-of-a-kind mega surge barrier the Corps is building across the Intracoastal Waterway.

Wilson said another key operations and maintenance issue that will be examined next week is the continuing concern of both east and west authorities that Congress is saddling the districts with operating massive new structures in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway that should clearly be operated by the corps.

Although all other navigation structures on the Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River are maintained and operated by the corps, Congress once again failed to include that mandate in post-Katrina legislation financing construction of the world's longest surge barrier and multiple navigation gates to stop surges out of lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain from entering the Industrial Canal. Another sector gate across the Intracoastal Waterway is also part of the $1 billion West Closure Complex to block surge from entering the Harvey and Algiers canals.

Gate expectations

"Not only is the corps building a bigger system, it will be more complex," Doody said. "Operation and maintenance costs of the surge barrier and Seabrook gate alone are mind boggling.

Here's to making it through another storm-free year. Until these inadequate systems are complete, we can't afford to have anything more threatening than that. After they're done, we may not be able to afford many more seasons with or without storms.

Dear Mr. President,

Will you kindly go fuck yourself?

Come back when you're done paying for rich people's tax break out of nurses, clerks, and park rangers' paychecks.

The best defense is belligerence

I'm starting to think maybe Sarah Palin really could be President. Because these days leadership is basically defined by making stupendous ignorance a virtue to rally around. And Palin has a special talent for this.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Whiskey

Not telling you what to do with your Sunday but reading through the reporting on the Wikileaks revelations might be worth your time.
Even when they recount events that are already known, the cables offer remarkable details.

For instance, it has been previously reported that the Yemeni government has sought to cover up the American role in missile strikes against the local branch of Al Qaeda. But a cable’s fly-on-the-wall account of a January meeting between the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the American commander in the Middle East, is nonetheless breathtaking.

“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Mr. Saleh said, according to the cable sent by the American ambassador, prompting Yemen’s deputy prime minister to “joke that he had just ‘lied’ by telling Parliament” that Yemeni forces had carried out the strikes.

Mr. Saleh, who at other times resisted American counterterrorism requests, was in a lighthearted mood. The authoritarian ruler of a conservative Muslim country, Mr. Saleh complains of smuggling from nearby Djibouti, but tells General Petraeus that his concerns are drugs and weapons, not whiskey, “provided it’s good whiskey.”

Update: A good place to keep track of the releases and the reporting on them is at Greg Mitchell's The Nation blog.

Upperdate: See also Simon Jenkins' essay in The Guardian about the documents and the ethics of reporting.
America's foreign policy is revealed as a slave to rightwing drift, terrified of a bomb exploding abroad or of a pro-Israeli congressman at home. If the cables tell of the progress to war over Iran or Pakistan or Gaza or Yemen, their revelation might help debate the inanity of policies which, as Patterson says, seem to be leading in just that direction. Perhaps we can now see how catastrophe unfolds when there is time to avert it, rather than having to await a Chilcot report after the event. If that is not in the public's interest, I fail to see what is.

Clearly, it is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets. Were there some overriding national jeopardy in revealing them, greater restraint might be in order. There is no such overriding jeopardy, except from the policies themselves as revealed. Where it is doing the right thing, a great power should be robust against embarrassment.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alright alright

Look. I gotta go to the airport and get by balls fondled by TSA. I've been trying to get this Saints post finished all day but have been interrupted by various episodes of packing, building maintenance, janitorial services, and emergency wasp nest removal. (Seriously, yes)

So I'm being pushed out the door now and it's not ready. And that's a shame because it has all sorts of killer movie references, current news, and very serious theater reviews. So dammit.

We'll just have to figure out some kind of way to fold all that stuff into the next opportunity which won't be until after we get back Saturday... and after we catch Testaverde at the Circle Bar on Saturday night.

Anyway meanwhile Wang is waiting for Morten. You should probably just go read that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Uh oh

8 shrimpers fined for trawling in areas closed after Gulf oil spill

Better ask BP for more marketing money.

Okay so what happened?

Boil water order lifted across east bank of New Orleans
But officials on Sunday also admitted that they still hadn't figured out what caused the Sewerage & Water Board's in-house power plant, located at the South Claiborne Avenue campus, to shut down for about 10 minutes late Friday. The brief crash caused pressure in the city's water pipes to drop to levels that could allow bacteria to invade the pipes.

S&WB Executive Director Marcia St. Martin has called Friday night's sudden shutdown of the power plant, which also supports about half of the city's drainage capacity, a "catastrophic failure of all the redundant systems."

"Yes, there are backup systems, and yes, they failed," she said Sunday.

St. Martin has admitted that until officials can figure out what caused the power plant to crash, there's a chance it could happen again.
I hope they tell us when they find out. Or maybe they'll just move on to the all important marketing phase of recovery.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crescent City Clear

Sewerage and Water Board work site

This weekend's failed infrastructure excitement had me reminiscing about this long-forgotten harebrained scheme of Ray Nagin's

"Clean," "clear" and "refreshing" may not be the first words that leap to mind when you think about New Orleans tap water.

Maybe that's why Mayor Ray Nagin's plan to bottle and sell the treated Mississippi River water that flows into Orleans Parish homes has met with some skepticism.

"Y'all think I'm playing," said Nagin, defending the plan to a chuckling audience as quickly as he announced it during his May 6 inauguration speech.

This month, he made clear he was not. Nagin directed the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans to form a committee to write a business plan for a new water bottling venture. The committee is to report back to the board in about two months.

Meanwhile, a pilot water bottling program will go forward. The board is paying Dixie Brewing Co. about $850 to fill 25,000 plastic, long-neck bottles with fresh tap water under the name "Crescent City Clear" for delegates of the National Water Works Association convention; the 15,000-member organization will hold its annual meeting in New Orleans June 16 to 20.

I remember Nagin joking about the name "Crescent City Clear" sounding a lot better than if they had put "Sewerage and Water Board" on the bottle. Friday night on the Tweeters I inadvertently typed "Sewage and waterboard" which I think may actually violate the Geneva Convention.

Despite the warnings, I'm gonna go ahead and shower before going down to the Dome today. I was tempted to stay good and ripe for my Superdome security pat-down but it's not exactly a TSA style operation over there. At the Dome you can get your flask full of rum by the welcome huggers roughly 10 out of every 10 attempts. At the airport, they have no compunction whatsoever about squeezing your urine. Anyway I'm gonna try and go early. I hear the first 10,000 fans receive a complimentary copy of Jeremey Shockey's new book, Cooking With Four Loko just in case we still don't have water by Thanksgiving.

After the game, do stop by John Paul's (940 Elysian Fields Ave.) for the final performance of To Moscow, You Betcha (see Kevin Allman's review at the Gambit blog) which begins at 7.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't worry about it

It's funny, like ha ha funny

New Orleans - Lt. Joseph Meisch took the stand saying he recalls Officer Greg McRae laughing as he came down the levee from the scene of a burning car -- a car containing Henry Glover's body. Blank and expressionless is how he described Lt Dwayne Scheuermann, the other defendant accused in the car burning.

Lt Meisch was a 4th District investigator when Katrina struck. He told jurors he was standing outside when he saw two vehicles driving on the levee. He watched the first car drive down the levee out of site, then saw a plume of smoke as two officers walked away from the car and toward him. He recalls "Greg McRae said 'Don't worry about it' and Lt Scheuermann said 'I got it'." Meisch told jurors he was confident Scheuermann would handle whatever it was. He also told jurors that after the Glover investigation became public, Scheuermann encouraged him to tell the truth, adding that McRae 'made a stupid mistake'.

Not exactly "I got it" as in #wegotthis but similar.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How the news gets made

From Michael Moore's site we find this telling Democracy Now interview with former health insurance industry spokesperson Wendell Potter

AMY GOODMAN: When the film came out and you did the research, did you feel that you actually had contained it at the beginning? I think of a CNN critique that Sanjay Gupta did, Sanjay Gupta did.


AMY GOODMAN: Did you have anything to do with that?

WENDELL POTTER: I didn’t. Again, some of the reason you hire these big PR firms is you can do this with a little bit of a hands-off kind of operation. The big PR firms have very good connections with producers of network shows and cable shows and columnists and pundits. And so, you rely on them to be able to get your messaging out. And they’re very, very successful in influencing people about how they write or how they put a show together.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, he was furious. Michael Moore went on CNN, was outraged, and said that everything they said about him wasn’t true. And in the end, CNN had to apologize.


AMY GOODMAN: They were not correct, what they said about Michael Moore’s film, that he had gotten his facts wrong.

WENDELL POTTER: I think CNN and Sanjay Gupta undoubtedly were embarrassed that they had been, frankly, duped by the insurance industry, probably not even aware of the role that the insurance industry was playing in that.

AMY GOODMAN: Did the insurance industry put out to all the networks—you had your chosen producers at all the networks—fact sheets on Sicko?

WENDELL POTTER: Not directly. Again, that’s why you hire these third parties, these PR firms, to do it for you, so that your involvement cannot be traced.

Pierre Pressure

Looks like Bush is ready. Where's Frenchy? It's time for the Saints to put together a win streak.

Update: The Tweeter Tubes tell me that Thomas has returned to practice.


Via the court-mandated press release:

The New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Division will conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Friday, November 19, 2010, in the Uptown Area. The check point will begin at approximately 9:00 P.M. and will conclude at about 5:00 A.M. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have the proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, driver’s license, etc., available if requested.

I'm hearing that motorists who do not wish to participate in breath or blood screenings may opt to have TSA called out to feel their intimate parts instead.

Deep cleaning

BP contractors to collect oil buried beneath sand

PENSACOLA -- BP cleanup contractors say they will step up efforts in coming weeks to collect tons of buried oil and tar beneath the surface of beaches and waterways in Escambia County.

During a boat tour of Pensacola Bay and Perdido Key on Sunday, Joe Waller, BP's Pensacola division supervisor for oil-spill cleanup, said cleanup contractors are facing new challenges while determining how best to collect deposits of oil and tar that were found submerged at Pensacola Pass near Fort McRee last month.

The previously undiscovered deposits are believed to be the source of about 17,000 pounds of oil a month that continues to wash ashore on beaches at Pensacola Naval Air Station, BP officials said.

BP deep-cleaning Gulf coast beaches amid new worries
Workers have dug down about 30 inches so far to find oil, and officials say the dozers can dig as deep as needed to get the worst of the oil deposits. Different, gentler cleaning methods will be used in more delicate areas like Mississippi's coastal islands and the marshlands of Louisiana, the company says.

BP spokesman Ray Melick says the major work should be done by mid-February, before the weather turns warm and visitors begin heading back. Natural processes should finish cleaning tourist areas once the big machines have dug up all the oil they can.
I can't imagine what the "different gentler cleaning methods" planned for Louisiana might entail since we're still pretty sure the magic microbes got all of ours anyway.

Remember, at one time, the idea that BP was burying oil on the beaches was a controversial conspiracy theory. Now that the PR emergency is over with it's okay to do the dirtier work. At least until tourist season starts back up. I hope they don't forget the fancy towels.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quantitative Easing explained by cute little bears

Via Taibbi where there is commentary.

Communications strategy

Trash company makes statement in its dispute with the city by creating more trash.

Tuesday Link Dump

  • Audit finds widespread accounting problems at nonprofit linked to Jefferson Parish councilman

    Dambala suggests that Lee, a close ally of Congressman-elect Cedric Richmond, was planning to go to Washington with him.

  • Pat attends and takes detailed notes on James Carville's Bipartisan Policy Center's post-election conference at Tulane.

    When I saw this event announced, I'll admit I was less than enthusiastic about being invited to listen to Carville-Matlin along with the likes of Tony Blankley, Paul Begala and "some of America's top political journalists and and analysts" (no relation to the "world's most visionary intellects" but I can see how one might make that mistake) fart out of their mouths about "bipartisanship" all day long. Neither the twittering from attendees nor Pat's note taking has done much to change my mind. If I have to sit within earshot of a plutocratic tool like Dan Glickman lamenting the lack of "civic literacy" among the rabble, or a repulsive toad like Dan Bartlett complaining that Rahm fucking Emmanuel's problem is that he is too liberal, then they damn sure better let me bring my durian catapult in with me. Otherwise I'll wait for the DVD to come out so I can give my cat a new scratching toy for Christmas.

    Nevertheless, it is worth noting what these gasbags are blowing at us since it will doubtlessly crystallize into the next broken rhetoric trap impeding progress until the whole thing starts over again with the next election cycle. Please take the time to look at Pat's write-up. As with everything he presents, it is patiently and thoughtfully written. I have a few bones to pick with it but I'm saving those for a much longer post about the re-emergence of the do-nothing mushy pseudo-left which we're going to watch get bulldozed by the incoming Republican congress these next few years.

    One observation Pat calls special attention to is the puzzling "deference to the Tea Party" exhibited by the assembled mainstream pundits. Here, Pat describes the Tea Party pretty well.
    I wish we had an actual movement in this nation expressing libertarian, foundational views of this republic; I’ve long held that I may not agree with Ron Paul or Paul Ryan on the issues, but they are legitimately held positions that represent a legitimate understanding of history and economics, and represent a competing vision for this country’s future. I think there are some individuals who consider themselves “Tea Partiers” who believe that they are doing something similar.

    The Tea Party I have seen is not that, however. In their own words, it has morphed into a Christianist, xenophobic and intolerant movement that supports high spending, government violation of civil liberties, religious oppression, endless war (Iran is next!), subsidization of the uberwealthy and unilateral foreign policy. Once they have enunciated those positions, they turn around and posses the historical amnesia to dismiss hard-fought American social advancements, and ascribe tyrant status to President Obama and Democratic members of Congress for “controlling every aspect of our lives” in ways that the government has done for decades, if not centuries. These aren’t new arguments, by the way.
    No they aren't new arguments. And more importantly, the "Tea Party" isn't a new "party" or movement or anything new at all really. It is, as Pat also points out, merely the latest marketing strategy for the same right wing agenda that has dominated our politics for most of my increasingly long lifetime. It's a marketing strategy aimed at misdirecting legitimate working class discontent so that it ultimately furthers the plutocratic interests. I know. You're bored with hearing that. I am too. But as long as we've got one party willing to lie and pander to an increasingly impoverished population while the other sneers and condescends at it, this is what we're stuck with; a bi-partisan, cynical hostility of the ruling classes toward the rest of us.

    Unsurprisingly, Clancy DuBos attended the same conference where his big takeaway was, "Most important of all, Independents believe both parties should move more to the center." But both parties are already at "the center." They aren't exactly the same party but they do both agree to serve slightly varied schisms of the money power at the expense of the rest of us. As long as mainstream punditry misrepresents the less meaningful distinctions between the parties as "uncivil partisanship" this will remain the case.

  • Along those same lines regarding tea party phoniness and civil discourse see this Drake Toulouse post.
    On the Sunday morning talk shows, Rand Paul, Kentucky’s newest senator criticized Barack Obama for being too harsh with British Petroleum. “I didn’t think the president or his people should say something like putting the boot heel on the throat of a business. I didn’t like that,” Paul said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation. His main point of contention appears to be that Obama set the wrong tone, engaged in creating an atmosphere that is unfriendly to business.

    Ya, I get it, boot heels and throats are a rather unfriendly way of speaking to an oil company, however considering that this oil spill occurred almost seven months ago, and yet no charges have been brought against anyone, I would say that BP, Halliburton and Transocean, yet again, are getting off light for, yet another, accident.
    But at least we'll have a more civil tone, which is the important thing.

  • The Lens reminds us that this is "Transit Week"
    Our transit advocacy organization, Transport for NOLA, is promoting New Orleans’ first Transit Week, starting today. Try taking transit to work or recreation at least once during this week. Visit our website at www.transportfornola.org/transitweek for schedules, maps, and information on how to take transit. Let us know how it went and how it can be better.

  • Arianna Huffington steals rather than creates something. And this is somehow news.

  • Hornets lose. Now Monty Williams doesn't have to worry about deciding between resting his starters and preserving a perfect season anymore.

  • Sarah Palin is un-refudiated by OED as her coinage is named the word of the year.

  • And on that note, To Moscow, You Betcha! runs for two showings tomorrow night (7PM and 9PM) at John Paul's (940 Elysian Fields) and again on Sunday night at 7PM. Good times.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Curbside recycling

According to reports from WWLTV and WVUE, the city just signed a new deal with Metro disposal.

Recycling added, price cut in Metro Disposal deal with city
The deal is a one-year contract extension that takes the cost per home down to $1599 from $1815. It also includes recycling.

Metro Disposal and city agree on new garbage contract
"Both Richard's and Metro Wednesday submitted to the city of New Orleans offers which included a 10 percent reduction in the rate charged to the city across the board for the remaining six years of the contract term, with the addition of curbside recycling citywide at no additional cost to the city," said attorney Daniel Davillier, who represents both Richard's Disposal and Metro Disposal.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend digest

  • This morning I emptied the bookdrop and found two diet books, one book on how to pray yourself rich, one success-in-life type biography of a well-known business person, and one book about how "effective people" communicate. I should probably start paying attention to the circulation rates of these sorts of items. If there's a reliable method to gauge the general "unhappiness" of the population during a recession, this would be it.

    Also, I'm not sure what this means, but this title was stolen almost as soon as it arrived.

    Another absurd book cover

  • On Wednesday, James Gill's column speculated about Gov. PBJ's next career move.
    The secret of Gov. Bobby Jindal's success may be that he can fast-talk his way into a fancy job before he has had quite enough time to be judged a flop in the last one.
    He has held so many prestigious posts in a relatively short career that he must get credit for knowing when to get out of Dodge.
    Gill goes on to suggest that Jindal may not be quite ready to run for President in 2012, but instead may be interested in replacing Michael Steele as RNC Chairman. This morning, NOLA.com points us to yet another possibility.

    Catholic bishops say more exorcists are needed

    Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who organized the conference, said only a tiny number of U.S. priests have enough training and knowledge to perform an exorcism. Dioceses nationwide have been relying solely on these clergy, who have been overwhelmed with requests to evaluate claims. The Rev. James LeBar, who was the official exorcist of the Archdiocese of New York under the late Cardinal John O'Connor, had faced a similar level of demand, traveling the country in response to the many requests for his expertise.

    The rite is performed only rarely. Neal Lozano, a Catholic writer and author of the book "Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance" about combatting evil spirits, said he knows an exorcist in the church who receives about 400 inquiries a year, but determines that out of that number, two or three of the cases require an exorcism.

    No one knows why more people seem to be seeking the rite. Paprocki said one reason could be the growing interest among Americans in exploring general spirituality, as opposed to participating in organized religion, which has led more people to dabble in the occult.

    Talk about your indicators of general unhappiness during a recession, right? More and more Americans are looking to magic for answers. And if that means more and more amateur witches and exorcists seeking office, then that's what it means. Whether or not it means we can still teach science to our children remains to be seen.

  • Easy reference question of the day: "I can't get the internet on this computer" Answer: "Double click the blue 'E'"

  • Oh and speaking of career opportunities, State Rep. Walker Hines has made quite a turnaround in seeking his.
    State Rep. Walker Hines of New Orleans announced today that he is switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, making the GOP the majority party in a legislative chamber for the first time in modern Louisiana history.

    A few years ago, Hines invited several local New Orleans bloggers to meet over coffee where he made some statements about his "principles" that are interesting to reflect upon now.

  • This one kid came in today chewing on a plastic pen cap. He spent the whole day here and out on the basketball court without discarding it. Just chewed the hell out of it all day long.

  • William Jefferson's freezer cash eclipsed by bills in a bra In which T-P reporter Bruce Alpert actually writes, "They didn't explain how she had enough room for so much cash."

  • Witness recounts 'pop' that felled Glover In which read the following testimony:
    Calloway also testified Friday about his experience at the police compound, where he said officers beat, insulted and threatened him and two other men as Glover lay dying in the backseat of a car.

    "They said this is gonna be the judge and jury right here," Calloway, 39, testified. "They were saying stuff like they were going to cut our tendons ... push us in the river ... they kept saying we were looters, pieces of s---."

    Glover's brother, Edward King, grew angry with the officers and said he would find and kill the person who killed his brother.

    That's when an officer choked and slapped King, said Calloway, who added that he saw the officer's name tag -- at least "all the way to the little 'm.'" He pronounced the name "Schumacher" in early interviews with the FBI, an apparent reference to defendant Scheuermann.

    Calloway recalled Friday seeing an officer with roadway flares in his pocket -- identified by another witness as officer Greg McRae -- drive off in the car containing Glover's body. McRae's attorney has admitted his client drove the car to the levee and set it afire.

    Sometime later, the officer who hit King gave them an update, telling them Glover had been shot for looting and that they could get the body from the coroner, Calloway testified. The officer then instructed colleagues to give the men a bottle of water and let them go.

    Calloway said he and King ran in a criss-cross pattern from the police compound "because we didn't want to get shot in the back ... I never ran that fast in my life."

  • I'm so old I can remember reading Josh Marshall's TPM when it was one years old. And today it is ten. Ten years seems like a long time, especially in internet years, but sometimes even the old internets still seem sort of newish to me.

  • Difficult reference question of the day: "When are they gonna fix that water fountain?" Answer: Who knows? A few days ago, I took this picture of the leaking water fountain on the basketball court at Laurence Square.

    Leaky fountain

    About 8 months ago, I took this one.

    Busted fountain

  • Right now Georgia is trying to give Auburn some trouble which could further screw with the BCS picture. More importantly, it can give LSU a real shot at an SEC title should Alabama, you know, find some motivation later in the schedule when they play Auburn. Les Miles will be grazing on ULM later this evening.

  • And finally, speaking of grazing, last night we made chicken enchiladas with a salsa verde, which requires many many tomatillos.

And that's all I got. No Saints game tomorrow so I've been scheduled for alternative activities which I sincerely hope are not rained upon.

The textbook committee decided to leave it all out... for now.

No mandatory "alternative theories to evolution" for Louisiana students. Not yet, anyway.

A state advisory panel Friday voted 8-4 to endorse a variety of high school science textbooks that have come under fire for how they describe evolution. The vote was followed more than three hours of discussion.

Two of the “no” votes were cast by Senate Education Committee Chairman Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, and House Education Committee Vice-Chairman Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe. The decision likely paves the way for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve the textbooks when it meets Dec. 7-9.

The textbooks that triggered criticism were approved earlier this year by a review committee that spent months studying them. But final action on the biology I and biology II, and environmental science textbooks was delayed by BESE last month amid criticism that they put too much credence in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

End of the day link dump

Must read Matt Taibbi piece on the foreclosure crisis.
For most people, the former bit about homeowners not paying their damn bills is the important part, while the latter, about the sudden and strange inability of the world's biggest and wealthiest banks to keep proper records, is incidental. Just a little office sloppiness, and who cares? Those deadbeat homeowners still owe the money, right? "They had it coming to them," is how a bartender at the Jacksonville airport put it to me.

But in reality, it's the unpaid bills that are incidental and the lost paperwork that matters. It turns out that underneath that little iceberg tip of exposed evidence lies a fraud so gigantic that it literally cannot be contemplated by our leaders, for fear of admitting that our entire financial system is corrupted to its core — with our great banks and even our government coffers backed not by real wealth but by vast landfills of deceptively generated and essentially worthless mortgage-backed assets.

You've heard of Too Big to Fail — the foreclosure crisis is Too Big for Fraud. Think of the Bernie Madoff scam, only replicated tens of thousands of times over, infecting every corner of the financial universe. The underlying crime is so pervasive, we simply can't admit to it — and so we are working feverishly to rubber-stamp the problem away, in sordid little backrooms in cities like Jacksonville, behind doors that shouldn't be, but often are, closed.
See also: Debtors' prisons!

The Lens: Even with plenty of subsidized housing, most still clustered in poorest areas
Despite the demolition of the city’s four largest public housing developments, New Orleans has more subsidized housing for its poorest residents now than it had five years ago. But even after spending billions to tear down the old projects and issue vouchers to encourage low-income renters to settle in better neighborhoods, the Housing Authority of New Orleans continues to see these clients concentrated in the city’s poorest areas.
I've always been dubious on the very concept of alleviating poverty by scattering people. Some of these "discoveries", for instance, seem like they should have been fairly obvious from the start.
“People who are poor don’t depend on incomes to get by,” she said. “They depend on social networks: the person that is taking them to grocery store, the auntie who is watching their child. If that is how you are surviving, you are going to move to be close to that community.

“When we started this, we expected the choice to be constrained,” Reid added. “But we expected the constraints to be structural. What we’ve found is that the situation is far more nuanced.”

Reid said that the experiences and desires of low-income people must be figured into the policymaking process in a deeper way, if cities want do more than simply relocate poverty.

“We need to be talking to the people that are affected by policy,” she said.
Some of us remember back when these housing policies were being debated rushed through in the wake of the federal flood, "talking to the people that are affected" basically meant gawking at the size of their televisions. Oh and also blowing kisses at them too, which was nice. But those were simple simple times.

CNN: Pilots urged to avoid body scanning
Pilots' unions for US Airways and American Airlines are urging their members to avoid full-body scanning at airport security checkpoints, citing health risks and concerns about intrusiveness and security officer behavior.

It's good to read about these "health risks" just before the Holiday traveling season. Saints fans who are used to their "welcome hug" each time they enter the Superdome may not be as averse to opting for the pat-down as other passengers.

Obama deficit reduction commission recommendations worse than previously thought.
1. Raises the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to 69.

2. Cuts Social Security benefits.

3. Ends the mortgage tax deduction.

4. Ends the tax deduction for workers' health benefits.

5. Freezes salaries for federal workers for 3 years.

6. Establishes co-pays for veterans at VA health services.

7. Raises fees to visit the national parks and the Smithsonian.

8. Merges the Small Business Administration into an agency (Commerce) that has always prioritized helping bigger businesses, and cuts their budget.

9. Eliminates the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

See also: Many deficit commission staffers paid by outside groups
Instead, about one in four commission staffers is paid by outside entities, many of which have strong ideological points of view about how to tackle the deficit.

For example, the salaries of two senior staffers, Marc Goldwein and Ed Lorenzen, are paid by private groups that have previously advocated cuts to entitlement programs. Lorenzen is paid by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, while Goldwein is paid by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is also partly funded by the Peterson group.

Finally, on a happier note, New Orleans East doesn't have to say goodbye to its beloved zombie apocalypse hell-scape quite so soon after all.

Six Flags razing rumors denied
Although a video making the rounds on the Internet says the theme park is scheduled for demolition next year, New Orleans officials say there are no plans to demolish the Six Flags amusement park and that an offer to redevelop the site is still pending.
Detritus photographers everywhere rejoice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


There's been some positive, or at least not horrible, news coming out of this week's budget hearings as both Chief Serpas and Sheriff Gusman appear open to reasonable changes that can reduce the costs in grief and funds generated by unnecessary arrests and an out-dated system of paying to house those arrested. See the following Lens articles:

Thousands arrested needlessly on warrants; Serpas makes pledge to end NOPD policy
The New Orleans Police Department arrested 20,000 people needlessly on warrants last year at a cost to taxpayers of almost $2 million, said Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas at a City Council budget hearing this morning.

“To say I was stunned was an understatement,” Serpas said, describing his reaction to the statistics. “To know that we have 20,000 arrests that we didn’t need to do under state law. Certainly I’d like to see that go down by almost 100 percent.”

Most of the arrests were for warrants on relatively minor matters, such as unpaid traffic tickets, Serpas said. Those arrested spent an average of 4.2 days in Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s jail.

In turn, the city paid Gusman $22.39 a day to care for each of those prisoners, many of whom were released after the other parishes declined to come pick them up.

Meanwhile, Gusman says he's willing to consider giving up the per-diem system for pricing his operation.

Gusman open to negotiations about how jail is financed

Sheriff Marlin Gusman would be willing to move away from being paid a daily rate by the city per inmate, he told a City Council budget hearing this afternoon.

New Orleans’ daily rate per inmate originates from a lawsuit filed by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1969, on behalf of all prisoners at the Orleans Parish Prison, asking that the city pay the Sheriff’s Office sufficient money to maintain constitutional conditions.

An order establishing the daily rate was added in 1989 and has been amended several times since, most recently in 2003, to the current rate of $22.39 per day.

The ACLU withdrew its name from the lawsuit last year on the grounds that its original intent — to improve jail conditions — had ultimately been turned on its head by the per diem system. They say the arrangement encourages jailing more people, leading to worse conditions.

Later, Gusman said he was going to consult with his legal counsel over this year’s budget.

“We need to have more to properly run the facility,” Gusman said, in answer to a question by Council President Arnie Fielkow about whether the city is in violation of the 2003 legal agreement.

Obviously, Gusman isn't convinced that abandoning the per diem system will translate into overall reduced costs. And he may be correct about that but removing the perverse incentive to incarcerate more people is a step in the right direction either way.

On the other hand, some perverse fetishes for heavy-handed policing die hard.
The department is well placed to focus even more on violent criminals next year, Serpas said. But it should also be able to focus on more community policing, too. Councilwoman Stacy Head had a thought on that front.

“I firmly believe that the murderer also litters,” Head said, encouraging Serpas to get officers to issue summonses to people who toss cigarettes. Serpas agreed.

So be warned. If you aren't up to her fastidious standard of tidiness and personal rectitude (which we have learned by now can be quite harsh), you're practically a murderer in Stacy Head's mind. And Serpas agrees.

Not really surprising

Attendance Low Despite Hornets' 7-0 Start

It's nice to see the Hornets off to a good start, but as the team continues searching for a niche in the busy NOLA calendar, it's looking more and more like for real basketball season around here is kind of a post-Mardi Gras thing.

Also,I noticed Sean Payton sitting courtside during last night's game. I'm starting to wonder if Saints players and staff have some quota of Hornets games they're required to attend each year. Do any Hornets ever come to Saints games?

WTF has Obama not done so far

He has not protected Social Security or Medicare.

Debt Commission Report Targets Social Security, Medicare

Today's upcoming report by the White House's fiscal commission is expected to include recommendations to raise the retirement age for Social Security and cut Medicare benefits -- two policy prescriptions that will be met with deep opposition from Democrats and some Republicans -- according to a source who has been briefed on the proposal.

More from Digby
Now, in reality, keep in mind that all this is just to form the basis for "bipartisan cooperation." So, I wouldn't expect that in the end we'll see any cuts to the VA or farm subsidies. I think we know very well that there will be no tax hikes of any kind. And as I mentioned defense and Homeland security aren't on the menu. This is just an exercise designed to create a new "bipartisan"starting point for the destruction of social security.

WTF has Obama not done so far

Because stupid children are indeed stupid incorrigible with no concept of the magnitude of what's been squandered, we're going to start a list of things that our timid, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-Wall Street President has failed to accomplish despite the overwhelming electoral mandate for change that swept him into office.

WTF has Obama not done so far?

He didn't get us out of Afghanistan.

Obama to begin backing away from 2011 Afghan pullout date
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy Newspapers.


Looking for saturated motorists again.

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.

The New Orleans Police Department’s SOD Traffic Section will conduct the Saturation Patrol on Wednesday, November 10, 2010, in the Lakeview/Lakefront area, beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M., and concluding approximately 5:00 A.M., and on Friday, November 12, 2010, in the Warehouse District 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.

Compare and contrast

Demo 2010 student protests - live coverage
Why are they protesting?
The government is proposing to raise tuition fees, allowing some universities to charge as much as £9,000, while cutting university budgets by 40 percent. Currently, students in England pay £3,290 pounds a year. Students, lecturers and some university vice-chancellors say these proposals are an unfair transfer of the cost of higher education from society to the individual.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana,

Jindal meets with students on LSU cuts.
Hudson said Jindal focused his discussions on talking about how LSU and other colleges must improve their value and graduation rates. Jindal also argued the budget cuts have been minimal when factoring in tuition increases and funding hikes that occurred before budget cuts began, Hudson said.

In the UK, if you make higher ed less valuable and less accessible, the students storm your offices. In Louisiana, if you do the same thing, you get to run for President.

Update: Storming the tower in Louisiana

See also, Gill: Is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal plotting another getaway?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


T-P: Historic New Orleans neighborhoods to get new guidelines
A draft of the proposed revised guidelines will be presented to the public Tuesday at a joint meeting of the New Orleans HDLC and Central Business District HDLC. It will start at 6:30 p.m. in the parish hall of Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal St.

At the meeting, Dominique Hawkins, a Philadelphia consultant hired to write the document, will present the proposed revisions and the public will be able to ask questions and make comments.
HDLC is a non-elected, unapproachable quasi-governmental body empowered to levy fines on people whose houses don't conform to the arbitrary aesthetic ideals set forth by a club of social elites. They love to talk about "historic preservation" as though they're doing God's work, but mostly what they do is make it as difficult as possible for families of modest means to own homes in much of New Orleans.

Besides the irony that working class families are being excluded through the "preservation" of architectural forms originally developed out of the necessity of providing affordable housing for those very same sorts of working class families, preservation boards like HDLC also hamstring innovations that could reduce societal costs of living such as energy consumption.

Of course, every 40 years or so they make a move to catch up to some of that stuff.

"LeBlanc said the most up-to-date thinking about historic preservation influenced the proposed revisions, such as addressing energy-efficiency measures and streamlining the method of rating the significance of buildings in historic districts.

The guidelines we had didn't address any of the advances in technology since the 1970s, so every time someone wanted to install solar panels, for example, we didn't have any consistent guidelines to go by," he said. "Now we will."

Here's a true story. My parents, after an extended and frustrating period of haggling with the HDLC restrictions in the Irish Channel finally moved into their newly constructed home this year. During the contentious approval process, Mom and Dad appealed for permission to install solar panels on their new roof. They were flatly turned down at first but after some argument they were grudgingly granted a response of, "Well... maybe if they're hidden under a tree or something." And so they just decided to drop the whole thing.

Also, note that the existence of "guidelines" celebrated in this article doesn't necessarily mean the guidelines will be particularly friendly to innovation in the future. But nobody ever said rule by a patrician class would be efficient, only that it would be pleasing to the patricians.

Coming events

It's a busy November. If you're not too exhausted from last week's Mirliton Festival or the NOLA Bookfair or the upcoming Festival of the Overstuffed Oak Street this weekend, rest assured there's more coming.

Next week, the NOLA Fringe Alternative Theater Festival The Fringe website explains the idea here.
Fringe theater is a tradition that started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 when eight performing groups were excluded from the mainstream annual arts festival. They decided to perform anyway, finding inexpensive or free venues on the fringes of the city. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has since grown into one of the largest arts festivals in the world, eclipsing the original festival that was too afraid for fringe.

Great ideas spread. Fringe Festivals have been launched in cities throughout the US, the most well-known being the festivals in Minneapolis and New York. New Orleans has always been a city that embraces artists, where creativity has flourished and the avant-garde has gravitated. These are the roots of the New Orleans Fringe Festival – the festival of the wild, weird, fresh, and original.

The Festival provides the venue and the audience; the performers do the rest. Anything can be performed: we let the audiences decide what is excellent, astonishing or brilliantly insane.

Interestingly enough, the NOLA Fringe Fest has grown so large that it has become necessary to exclude some of its participating performances from the main venues due to time limitations. And so you get a number of shows designated as "Bring Your Own Venue" events which I suppose we could call the Fringe of the Fringe.

One such Fringe2 show called To Moscow, You Betcha! will be at John Paul's (940 Elysian Fields Ave.) for two performances on November 17 and a third on November 21. The play is a mash-up of scenes from Chekhov's Three Sisters with actual quotes from Sarah Palin's various media encounters, and internet postings in such a way that inserts her into the play as a character. Menckles, who appears in the cast as Masha, says the effect is something like watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon with Palin as Bugs wisecracking over a melodramatic background. Check it out if you can.

Also we're hearing there will be two one more Testaverde shows the week of Thanksgiving. One on November 22 at One Eyed Jack's with Dax Riggs, and another at the Circle Bar on November 27. Perhaps the new record will be available at one of these this shows.

Update: Sorry about the Facebook link to the play's info. It requires a Facebook login. Facebook is pretty stupid generally.

Upperdate: As corrected in the text, there is only one Testaverde show scheduled now.

Monkey's brains, though popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington D.C.

If you need the reference, which I doubt, scroll to about 1:30 or so into this. If you're wondering why, it's because it's no longer possible to leave comments at YRHT.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I believe I am the first person to make this reference

The only thing worse would be if Tom Wolfe decided to write a book about it.
A fund manager for Smith Barney is getting off without felony charges after he allegedly ran over a cyclist with his Mercedes and fled the scene in Eagle, Colorado, because, the DA says, felony charges would be bad for the fund manager's business.

Martin Joel Erzinger will not be charged with a felony because "Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession," according to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.

Update: Colbert explains why we really should be relieved at this.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Nothingness
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Tricks Before Treats or This Grandma's Gone to Heaven

Knee surgery is sort of like shoe repair. One brings one's knee into the shop, speaks with a receptionist, signs a piece of paper, and if one's knee happens to be attached to one's wife, one is told to drop it off and come back in an hour. All told, it's actually very convenient. And the small specialized facility where we brought Menckles is fairly discrete too. So if you're looking for a quick, no frills place to get your torn meniscus cleaned up with little or no fuss from the press, I highly recommend bringing your spouse's knee there. In other words, Brittany Brees, shoot me an email if there's anything we need to talk about.

Anyway we're very happy to report that Menckles is doing well and has already returned to work. She even made it to her regular position in the Dome for the Pittsburgh game, which is more than we can say for Pierre Thomas.
"I feel pain all over my ankle," Thomas said. "When you touch it, I feel pain all over my ankle. They touch different spots and they say, 'You feel it there?' And I say, 'Yeah, I feel it there.' So I really messed it up. They say I really messed it up pretty bad."

And also this.
Thomas was also asked about a NewOrleans.com report that suggested he was nearly traded to the New England Patriots for a cornerback before the Oct. 19 trade deadline. He said he had never heard of the report and seemed genuinely taken aback, laughing and saying, "Wow."

"No, no. That's shocking. That's real shocking," said Thomas, who had also pleaded ignorance to a recent Fox Sports report that he was in Coach Sean Payton's doghouse because of his lingering recovery process.

So Pierre can barely walk, and he was almost traded to New England just before Sean Payton remembered the first rule which is never make any deal with Belichick. I want to be clear that I'm not exactly implying that my wife is actually tougher than Pierre Thomas. She also could barely walk.. for like a week or so, anyway... after having a pencil-sized scraping device jammed into her knee. But at least she had this creepy hand-carved cane to get around with on Halloween night.

Creepy Cane
Yes, those are actual human teeth.

We're not sure what Frenchy was dressed as that night. We know he wasn't going as a football player, which is a shame because he missed a hell of a game. At least we were where we were supposed to be for that one, and the one before it which, while not as satisfying to watch, did make for entertaining reading in the hospital waiting room the next day.

Saints vs. Browns and Steelers:

  • Dirty: The first amusing story I read in the waiting room involved yet another team accusing the Saints of playing dirty football.
    NEW ORLEANS -- Nick Sorensen and Josh Cribbs accused the Saints of dirty play during Sunday's 30-17 upset by the Browns.

    Sorensen said Saints players were gouging at his eyes and ripping at his face while he was down on the ground recovering a fumble on a kickoff return. Cribbs said the Saints were grabbing his groin while he was down after the opening kickoff of the second half. And linebacker Blake Costanzo told Sorensen he saw Saints choking Browns in the pile on the opening kickoff of the second half.
    These sorts of complaints first started popping up toward the end of last season when various football pundits suggested that the Saints' playoff victories were somehow "illegitimate" because old people don't like being hit or something.

    But this year, there may be something to it. I haven't watched a Saints game yet this year that didn't include a lot of extra pushing and shoving between players after the whistle. It happened again all night during the Pittsburgh game. It's something to keep an eye on as the "Bad Guys" make their way through the remainder of the schedule.

  • Cleveland Rocks: Brown fans are pretty cool. When their little team came in to play the Saints, they were 1-5 and hoping a rookie quarterback could hold down the fort for them until Jake Delhomme was healthy enough to be... Jake Delhomme. But they sucked it up and made the trip anyway, and in impressive numbers. And they were nice people too. We had a good time explaining to the Cleveland people in our section what a Fleur-de-lis is. They didn't mind telling us what a Brown is. We didn't mind telling them how badly our kicker sucks. Good times.

  • When traveling to away games, don't forget to bring a Terrible Towel: The Browns fans also told us the incoming Steeler fans would be assholes. They certainly showed up in numbers large enough for a statistically valid sample. The Pittsburgh fans travel in even greater numbers than the Cleveland fans do. Just before kickoff on Halloween night, I could have sworn the crowd was 40-50 percent Steeler fans. But they weren't assholes. Had as good a time talking to them as we did talking to the Cleveland people. For the most part, all of the visiting fans to the Superdome have been pretty cool. The Saints fans have been less so at times. More on that in a minute.

    Meanwhile, I'm wondering two things.

    1) Have Saints fans been selling their tickets in greater numbers lately because they're having money trouble or because they're losing interest?

    2) Since Ben Roethlisberger says this was the most noise he's ever had to deal with, are Superdome sound technicians pumping in artificial noise to make up for the reduced number of Saints fans in attendance?

  • Tricks: Not sure what's worse about the Cleveland game. It's either that Eric Mangini thinks he's coaching high school, or that all that high school shit he tried actually worked. Let's see here. Cross-field lateral on a punt return? Check. Fake punt for 60+ yards? Sure, why not? You want your slow, fat halfback to run a throwback pass accross his body and accross the field to your rookie quarterback? You know what? Fuck you. That Les Miles shit is all well and good if it beats Alabama, but if you're gonna do weird shit in the NFL, come back when you learn how to bounce pass.

    Actually, Darren Sharper should have stuffed this play but got caught sneaking into the backfield.

  • None of those trick plays were called by Coach Fujita:We knew going in that Cleveland would benefit from having ex-Saint Scott Fujita around to match wits with his former teammates. We didn't realize just how much he would own this role. Fujita (10 tackles 1 sack 1 interception) managed a defense that not only seemed to know what the Saints were running before most plays, but also disguised its own alignment throughout the game frequently lining up with some or all defensive linemen in standing positions off the line of scrimmage. The Steelers tried a little of this the next week. Expect the Saints to see it often for the rest of the year.

    As frustrating a day as it was for the Saints' offense, most fans wouldn't begrudge Fujita his successful homecoming. Fujita was and continues to be an advocate for the rebuilding of New Orleans and the restoration of its surrounding wetlands. In addition, it was clear that Fujita's decision to leave for a once-in-a-career free agency payday was the correct decision for him and his family while the Saints' decision not to match the offer was just as sensible. It was an amicable parting all around. Why, then, were audible boos detected from the Superdome crowd at every mention of Fujita's name during the visit? No one expects fans to cheer the opposing side, but there's just no call to single out Fujita for unearned hostility here. Saints fans are having a strange year.

    How do you boo such a winning smile?

  • Seriously, Saints fans, chill.

    Who can boo?

    By this point, we're all well aware of the imperfections of the first half of 2010. But I have to ask again, what exactly was everyone expecting? Are the Saints supposed to win every game from now on or are they just supposed to win the Superbowl every season? (Note: At 5-3 they're still in the hunt for that) We cannot possibly be this spoiled or stupid. The Saints are the current champs. They're winning more than they're losing. I'm not saying that you can't be concerned if things don't go well, but it's important to keep at least some small sense of perspective.

    But I suppose if 5-3 really does necessitate some theory as to what is "wrong" with the Saints, try this. Every football season is different. Each year every team makes changes in personnel, coaching and strategy in order to adjust to the results of the previous season. Even if you make the bare minimum number of changes, you're liable to have a harder time of things in the new environment.

    While the rest of the football universe was making adjustments and signing free agents and begging Brett Favre to come back, the Saints were spending their offseason signing books, and riding in parades, and poorly planning their families. (Again. Nothing wrong with that. Super Bowl Champs. High five and whatnot) This is why it was perfectly logical for us to believe, as we said at the beginning of the season that it was possible for the Saints to play as well as they played last year and still win fewer games. So far, they haven't even played as well as they played last year and still have managed to win five out of eight. This during the same stretch where the two pre-season darlings of the NFC, Dallas and Minnesota have more or less collapsed. We're still here, us. We'll take that. Right?

  • Grandma gone to heaven: As we walked away from the Superdome after the Cleveland game, it started to rain... but in the most annoying way. It rained just hard enough to prompt us to open our umbrella and struggle to share it as I stumbled about after having too much liquor and she limped along after having too few painkillers. But it was also raining lightly enough to cause us to wonder just how necessary this precarious side-waddle was in the first place. It may have been only drizzling, but we had to walk a long way in the drizzle and so felt like we should try and keep the drizzle from accumulating. Even if we felt a little silly about that.

    So we were already self-conscious when we heard someone about a block behind us shouting criticism at other umbrella users he judged inappropriately timid. "What the fuck are you doing? Why are you people afraid of a little weather? Put that away! It's a nice day out!" After a Saints loss, even random advice to enjoy the weather carries a hint of malice, especially when shouted by strangers. And soon enough, the vaguely angry advice was being directed at us. "Oh come on! It's just a little wet!"

    We turned to face our aggressive moisture advocate and were pleased to recognize him as the "Sean Payton Killed My Grandma!" guy we had last encountered nearly two years ago. As I lowered the umbrella, Menckles blurted right out, "How's your grandmother?" After a few moments of explaining ourselves, we learned that, yes, his grandmother may have survived Payton in 2007 but only long enough to see the Saints win the Superbowl earlier this year. At first I thought, "Ah so he got her eventually" but somehow managed not to say that out loud. I got the impression that it might have been okay, since the guy went on to say that she got to see what she had been hanging on to see and he seemed pretty content with that and isn't a nice day out here after all.

  • Tricks: Doesn't Sean Payton know that he also is not coaching high school football? Hell, there aren't even any grandmas left to kill now but Payton spent the Pittsburgh game trying all sorts of crazy shit. The fourth down shift out of kicking formation had us scared half to death that Chase Daniel might actually be called upon to do something during a real game. Marques Colston was asked to execute a play where he might, should he so choose, throw the football. Luckily, he chose not to but then, after pulling the ball down and becoming a runner like he might on any play, Colston slid feet first as though the mere assignment of becoming a potential passer rendered him incapable of taking on tacklers. Any actual high school coach (as opposed to one just calling high school plays) would have thoroughly bitched him out for that.

    Worst of all, Payton finally busted out the one trick play we all knew he'd had in his pocket for the better part of two seasons now. The long-awaited "Number 64 is an eligible receiver" payoff was dialed up. This was a trick we would have actually considered a treat to witness. And yet...

    Eh... maybe next Halloween

  • Let the Thomas Morstead for Pro Bowl campaign begin now: It all starts with press clippings.
    In a season in which the Saints have struggled for consistency, Morstead has not. Each week he excels in one way or another. He averaged 51 yards on four punts against Cleveland and dropped three kicks inside the 20-yard line against Pittsburgh.

    As I was making my way to the top of the Superdome last week, a stranger noticed my Morstead jersey and asked, "Are you with the Morsteads?"

    "I.. um... well, no.. see I'm a.. uh, I'm a fan, I guess"

    The upshot of that encounter is I now know what section the Morstead party sits in during the games. I had been wondering where Morstead himself had been lately during Saints kickoffs and was pleased to see him back out there on the last one of the night last week. I thought for a minute that Hartley was being punished for hitting a spastic looking squib kick earlier on but it turns out, he's got some sort of injury. Maybe if 6 booms a few through the endzone at Carolina, he gets the job back permanently.

  • Malcolm Jenkins is still a No-catching Motherfucker: It's good to see Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter coming back this week since it means we no longer have to watch Malcolm Jenkins try to play corner. Jenkins had been coming into his own at free safety and we think he probably deserves to continue as the starter in that position even though it was nice to see Darren Sharper get back to doing what he does when he collected the fumble that saved the game against Pittsburgh. When they're all standing upright, the Saints (ranked 3rd in total defense and 3rd vs the pass) have some impressive depth in the secondary.

    Darren Sharper: Catching motherfucker

  • Brees' knees: Okay so it may be slightly less than 50 million gillion percent certain that Brees' play is being affected by his obviously still sore knee. Whatever the cause, there have certainly been problems. It's true that he's been hit a lot more this season than he has in the past. Watching him against Pittsburgh, I was convinced there had to be something physically affecting his ability to throw the deep ball. But that's a tricky thing to judge knowing that Brees' arm was never very strong in the first place.

    Of course, it could still be the dreaded, oft-whispered about Madden curse. Until the Cleveland game, I had been putting off giving any serious consideration to the video game based superstition. (I've already invested most of my capacity for magical thinking in this pants thing) But after watching Drew throw two interceptions to the same defensive lineman whose name is only one letter off from the one Brees just gave his newborn son, I have to wonder whether or not something cosmic does have it out for him after all.

    David Bowens indicates the current number of Brees children as he runs his second interception of the day back for a game-clinching score

Speaking of magical thinking, could somebody please inform the media that one win in black pants does not instantly erase a longstanding losing record? It certainly doesn't make them look any less stupid anyway. Besides, there could have been any number of mitigating counter-jinxes in play on Halloween night. For example, the Saints could have been aided by the presence of our Who Dat Pumpkin.

Who Dat Pumpkin in the Dome

Or maybe the outcome was just in the cards that night.

Tarrot cards

Either way we're keeping the Pumpkin. I mean, just look at how well he fit in at the bar after the win.

Who Dat Pumpkin at White's

If for some reason we are called upon to build another altar this year, it seems like a logical item to build around. And as we move into the second half of the season with the Saints in the thick of things the thought that something that ridiculous may still become necessary is pretty sweet thought to start on.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


If the incoming GOP majority in the House really is looking for an impeachable offense in the Obama administration, might I suggest obstruction of justice for his refusal to prosecute George W. Bush for approving these war crimes.
In his book, titled "Decision Points," Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was "Damn right" and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives, according to a someone close to Bush who has read the book.

The Satchel Paige of rock and roll

Just one of the great insights from this interview with Philadelphia sportswriter and GBV fan Reuben Frank the following line being the highlight.
One night in New York he (Pollard) was onstage ripping Bright Eyes, just killing ’em. He was going, “Ask the person next to you if they own a Bright Eyes album, and if they say yes, punch them in the face.” And it turned out Conor Oberst was standing about 10 feet behind me.

I want to buy a piece of the Mega Zeph

Maybe they'll make some of it available after Six Flags is finally demolished. Watch this video of the abandoned park that's been going around the internets today.

Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans was only marginally successful at best during its brief run in Eastern New Orleans but that roller coaster was really something special.

Mega Zeph during better days

End of the Internets

TPM: All 95 Candidates Who Pledged Support For Net Neutrality Lost On Tuesday Thanksabunch, all you "freedom-loving" Tea Partiers.

I should be finishing the football post right now

One thing I was going to note this week was Drew Brees' problems this year look to me to be physical. During the games, we frequently notice him flexing his knee as though he's working through discomfort. Every deep ball he throws just looks terrible. Last week, he was intercepted by Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor on a badly underthrown ball to Devery Henderson that looked like it should have been a touchdown. Even his successful deep ball to Robert Meachem later in the game was so weak that Meachem had to come back and field it as though it were a punt.

And so today we learn (or we think we learn) Report: Saints hiding fracture, torn meniscus in Brees' knee
Kenny Wilkerson of WIST radio in New Orleans recently reported, with a high degree of conviction and passion, that Brees has a fracture and a torn meniscus in the knee.

Wilkerson cites an "impeccable source," and he claims that the information is "100 thousand-trillion-million percent" accurate.

Wilkerson also claims that, at times, the pain is causing Brees to make mistakes when calling or executing plays, citing unnamed sources in the offensive huddle.
"100 thousand-trillion-million" has got to be like the most percents of accuracy ever assembled by one human. And yet amazingly there remain those who question this report. PFT cites Wilkerson's shocking lack of medical expertise as one reason for skepticism. Others point to his suspiciously slurred speech during the broadcast. But I'm willing to look past the source here on the grounds that the visual evidence corroborates the claim, or at least makes it plausible.

In a better world, we could just ask the player and his coaches what was wrong but, unfortunately, we live in a world where those people are paranoid lying dickwads.

: Payton is denying the report at his press conference today.
Payton said the report on Brees' knee is "inaccurate.... completely false."
Which, of course, only further feeds our suspicions. Everyone knows that "100 thousand-trillion-million percent accurate" is more than "completely false"

Upperdate: Brees responds and matches the percentage ante
When approached in the open locker room session with media Thursday afternoon, Brees joked about the report before saying that reporters see him every day working without a brace, which he hasn't worn in two games.

He also did jumping jacks in front of his locker and said he practiced drop-kicks during practice. When asked if he could do drop-kicks with an injured knee, he said he was "100 thousand-trillion-million percent" sure it would hurt if he did have an injured leg.

Also, there was this.
When told some questioned arm strength on deep balls. Brees: I'd like to watch film w/those people.
To which we say, when would you like to come over? You can even bring Bowen.