Saturday, July 30, 2011


From what I understand, the above suggestion is inexplicably losing to "Leg" as a possible Thomas Morstead nickname on Twitter right now. I think we're going to go with "DatBoot" this season regardless of what the Tweeter Tubers come up with. Anyway, from today's practice:

Morstead’s howitzer
Morstead’s right leg should be classified in the same class as World War II artillery guns.

His leg is that lethal.

During one 10-punt rotation in Saturday’s practice, he averaged nearly 57 yards on 10 kicks. Only one went less than 51 yards and six went 60-plus yards.

Sure, there weren’t any gunners and no one was rushing him. But still, Morstead was killing it.

Who will answer tonight's fire bell?

This is an interesting Digby post about the intractable lunacy that runs like a long thread through the history of the American conservative tribe.

The parties still represent the two tribes that were created out of slavery and the same dynamic prevails today. During the Bush years we were all fascinated by the comparison between the civil war map and the 2004 election. It still represents the political bases of the two parties pretty well, with the ascension of the Randian kook faction recently coming out of the Upper Midwest. It's interesting how this tribal identity spread beyond region, however, a subject which is partially covered in fascinating detail in Kevin Philips 2007 book called American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. he shows how the Southern Baptist convention spread beyond the South to dominate Protestantism in general and it partially explains how this Southern based tribal identity comes to be found in pockets throughout the country. There's also urban white backlash and the dominance of corporate sponsored media aimed at stoking the resentments that animate this particular American identity. This tribe now calls itself the Tea Party or the Conservative Movement and it dominates the Republican coalition.

If President Obama wants to be the Lincoln of his day he needs to recognize that the same dynamics that drove the Southern coalition to total lunacy in 1860 are driving it there today because as John Judis points out, he's had it wrong from the beginning
Go read the whole post for the the Judis reference and more. But the point is what you're watching today is an utterly recalcitrant, immobile, childish, angry faction of legacy confederates preparing to completely wreck the country rather than put off their outlandish extreme agenda until the next budget debate comes around. And it's far from the first time this tribe has reacted this way in a crisis.

Serpas Signal

In addition to booze they're also checking for joints, apparently.

The New Orleans Police Department and The Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office will establish a Joint Sobriety Check Point on Saturday, July 30, 2011 in the Hollygrove area. The checkpoint will operate between the hours of 9pm to 5am Sunday morning

Through the looking glass

Every now and then I have to do a double take when I read a quote like this and note that the person is talking about the Saints.

"I'm just excited to be a part of a franchise with that kind of tradition, that kind of history and those kinds of guys," Rogers said when asked about joining the former Super Bowl champions.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We would be Remi-ss

If we were to let the sad news of Remi Ayodele's departure from the Saints be overshadowed by other flashier less substantive transactions. Thankfully Varg has preserved the memories for us here.

Except Varg's compilation is not quite complete. Here are two Remi moments that do not appear on his list.

First, there was the time Remi claimed to have peed on the Falcons logo following a Saints victory at Atlanta.

Second, in addition to inspiring an Onion article (which Varg does make note of) Remi's touchdown fumble recovery vs. the Jets in 2009 inspired this classic Bobby Hebert reaction.


It's been fun

Welp, to begin with we'd like to thank the Miami Dolphins for stepping up to offer the Saints something in return for the privilege of once again warehousing a discarded enigma of ours. I haven't read anything about the details of the trade yet but I'm guessing the Saints will receive a conditional draft pick based on the number of times next season he "changes the defense" by "commanding attention" or whatever it is an "X-factor" like Bush is supposed to produce. I think those numbers are measured in Fre Flo Do units but will have to check with Elias on that.

There's probably a formula. Let's try total yards per field appearance divided by times he actually touches the ball minus lateral yardage covered while unnecessarily reversing field minus fumbles multiplied by number of injuries caused by artificial turf all of which is then rounded up to the nearest Kardashian.

Anyway regardless of how it's calculated, we all know the one thing Reggie Bush produces on the football field above all else is attention.
The two-year, $9.75-million deal was almost certainly more than the Saints could offer, but ultimately. this deal was about something Bush regards as much if not more than money: Status.

After five years of playing alongside and in the shadows of Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Deuce McAllister, Bush sought a more prominent role than New Orleans could offer. The selection of Alabama running Mark Ingram only exacerbated the problem.

In Miami, the competition for carries and catches will be greatly reduced. Bush should be able to showcase his skills more often than he did or would in New Orleans.
And now that he'll be taking those talents to South Beach we hope he finds all the attention he deserves there.

Reggie Bush in Miami, Jeremey Shockey in Carolina. Your 2011 New Orleans Saints: Now with 100% less douchebag.

Update: We haven't even read Wang's commentary on this yet but just noticed that it's up and felt the need to alert the universe.

: Now that I've read that post, I am happy to report that it contains exactly the numbers I was hoping someone would compile.

So why is it that, looking back now that it's finally over, for the entire time Reggie has been here, the Saints' offense has an unblemished record of being more productive without Reggie than with? And I do mean unblemished.

2006: Reggie played in all 16 games.

2007 with Reggie: 12 games | 343.91 yds/gm | 22.16 points/gm | 5-7 record
2007 without Reggie: 4 games | 413.25 yds/gm | 28.25 points/gm | 2-2 record

2008 with Reggie: 10 games | 390.7 yds/gm | 25.2 points/gm | 4-6 record
2008 without Reggie: 6 games | 444 yds/gm | 35.16 points/gm | 4-2 record

2009 with Reggie: 14 games | 400.78 yds/gm | 31 points/gm | 11-3 record
2009 without Reggie: 2 games | 425 yds/gm | 38 points/gm | 2-0 record

2010 with Reggie: 8 games | 341.5 yds/gm | 23.5 points/gm | 6-2 record
2010 without Reggie: 8 games | 403.5 yds/gm | 24.5 points/gm | 5-3 record

Reggie Bush is not "essential" to this offense, and hasn't been for half a decade. He is, in fact, detrimental to this offense.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All that lovely money makes us bad and rare

I would have preferred we just ignored anything coming out of the Pelican Institute since we'd pretty much pegged them as a dishonest right-wing propaganda house some time ago when we read about their ties to the krewe of clowns James "Lil' Liddy" O'Keefe assembled to execute his botched break in to Senator Landrieu's office last year.

But as the New York Times Magazine reminds us, no degree of dishonest punkery goes unrewarded these days... well at least none that emanates from the right anyway. So I guess it shouldn't surprise us very much to see Tulane graduate and Pelican Institute founder Kevin Kane published in The Lens espousing some bone-headed tripe about getting gubmint out of arts funding.

Luckily we have Lamar White around to slap that shit right back down.
Kane’s misunderstanding of the interplay between public and private investments is never more obvious than when he posits the Frenchmen Street club scene as a pure case of cultural capitalism.

In fact, the Backbeat Foundation and the Let’s Be Totally Clear campaign for smoke-free bars and nightspots have utilized funding from the New Orleans Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to foster innovative arts and music programming and community based events and projects in and around Frenchmen, Kane’s showcase of purely “private-sector innovation.”

Is this complex weave of public and private funding streams having the desired impact? As Sarah Palin might put it: You betcha. In New Orleans, according to a report issued by Mayor Landrieu’s office, the cultural economy accounts for 28,000 jobs, over $1.1 billion in wages, and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional economic impact. Festivals, which are heavily subsidized by the city, attract over 3.2 million tourists annually.

Of course, most Louisianans don’t talk about our “cultural economy;” we talk about our culture. Culture imbues and defines Louisiana identity. “There are many reasons why Louisiana has ‘generations-old traditions like jazz, second lines, Mardi Gras Indians, zydeco and parade floats,” Kane writes. “Our state’s unique history, geography and demographic diversity have all had a hand.” And government support for arts and culture? Kane wants to rule that out — no matter that it is a long and well-established part of our “history.”

Note also that, in 2011, the City of New Orleans spent about $3 million on Mardi Gras related expenses including police, sanitation, EMS and various other serivces that make this "generations-old tradition" possible. The Times-Picayune seemed to think that was quite a bargain, in fact.

Bridge under covered water

This is interesting but confusing.
Initial plans for the Loyola Avenue extension, which will run from Canal Street to the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal at the intersection of Loyola and Howard Avenue, pegged the cost of the .8-mile line to fall somewhere between $27 million and $30 million. Yet the final cost will be closer to $34 million, said Lance Nowacki, project scheduler for the Archer Western, the Illinois-based contracting giant selected for the 12-month job.

Nowacki blames a large portion of the increased costs on a shipping canal that connected Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi River through what is now the CBD. Shoveled out by by Irish immigrants in the 1830s, the New Basin Canal was covered over in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A turning basin that occupied the area that is now Loyola Avenue between Julia Street and Howard Avenue was covered over in 1937, according to Tulane University geographer Richard Campanella.

Now the vestigial remains must be secured and spanned by a bridge strong enough to support streetcars, Nowacki said.

“You want to make sure that ground is solid and secure,” he said.

I think they're saying the ground where the canal was is less stable than the surrounding sediment. I'm not sure what they mean by a "bridge" though since we're just talking about filled-in dirt. Anyway, just thought it was neat either way.

Oh and also Lance Moore's Tweeter Tube says he's re-signed with the Saints for 5 years so... more of this to look forward to.

Let the Do Flo Fre

Still waiting for the flood of Saints free agent transactions everybody keeps promising.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's really broken

More than anything, it's our lazy establishment media that causes our politics to fail through the promotion of these false but easy to write narratives.
Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president. Once again, health reform — his only major change to government — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.

What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on.

Shanle Shanle Shanle I can't let you goooo

New Orleans Saints free agent linebacker Scott Shanle said he has talked to St. Louis Dude takes a lot of criticism. But he will be missed if he leaves.

Also the Saints have to deal with a ka-billion free agents. (Note: That figure, ka-billion, does not include the soon-to-be-relesased Reggie Bush) If there aren't a sufficient number of players under contract when camp opens next week, Drew Brees will hold a series of raffles in order to fill out the roster.


One wonders if the Tea Party-States Rights crowd would even want the Constitution ratified in the first place.
The centrality of debt holders in our constitutional order isn't a bug, it's a feature. Indeed, the national debt -- created through the federal assumption of state war debts -- was created to do precisely this: get the holders of bonds, necessarily wealthy and powerful people, to have a vested interest in the fixity and stability of the federal government.

A pretty good and accessible recent book to read about this is Woody Holton's Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution

William Hogeland's very enjoyable book about the Whiskey Rebellion also treats some of the same material.

"Extrajudicial execution"?

Can anyone read what Tevfik Eski, the head of the Abramson Charter School's governing non-profit has to say about the Times-Picayune's reporting other than the crazy phrase at the top of this post? The site of the Istanbul paper that published his interview sets off the web filter here.

Nevermind. Here we go. Also thanks to Duff for copying it into comments. There's not as much there there as I'd hoped. The most glaring avoidance is Eksi's continued citing the "measurable success" of School Performance Scores which the T-P stories all alleged to have been manipulated through fraud.

Oh well.

Quick debtagaeddon thought of the morning

A lot of the problem here is that after the 2010 elections, Obama decided his path to reelection was through deficit hawkery. Back when Clinton took this tack, he did it through the "Reinventing Government" initiative and welfare reform. Obama wants to do it by allowing cuts to Medicare and raising the retirement age.

But those are actually very unpopular ideas, the fact of which should have discouraged Obama from pursuing them. Instead he decided to let the Republicans appear to twist his arm into doing it. In his mind, he's getting it both ways. On the one hand, his administration is pursuing a draconian austerity program which all the "responsible grown-ups" assure us is what "independent" voters want. On the other hand, he gets to pretend like he's been backed into a corner by crazy Tea Partiers which keeps his sycophants sufficiently "fired up" to shout down his liberal critics.

I'm sure the President thinks he's handling this brilliantly but he's wrong. For one thing, it's a losing electoral strategy. He's planning to sell himself in 2012 as the guy who really wants to cut your Medicare but is too ineffectual to accomplish that against a party of true believers who really want to cut your Medicare and will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Also cutting Medicare is a really shitty idea.

Also do not forget

Rick Warren was invited to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Red Ink Superman

This morning I went ahead and mailed in my credit card payment. It is due tomorrow and I've obviously been putting it off for some time. But, you see, I was pissed off because the bill was so huge. Not exactly unmanageable, but infuriating nonetheless, especially considering why it is owed in the first place. Last month, I incurred an emergency expense when one of Serpas' finest nailed me on St. Charles Avenue at 43 in a 35. Plus the expired brake tag. (If you know anything about the Tercel, this should not surprise.) Plus a seatbelt violation. (For a rear passenger, BTW. Who even knew that was a thing?) Anyway so that ends up being $420 on the tab. I don't like having to pay this exorbitant amount but what are you gonna do? Everyone knows traffic violations in Orleans Parish are strictly non-negotiable.

When this month's bill arrived in the mail, I was understandably pissed off. The sum of the debt and the occasion for which it occurred both greatly offended my sense of moral rectitude. In addition I found myself in the grips of a great frustration with my own inability to do anything other than capitulate to the demands of my creditor. I may see the charge as unwelcome, wasteful, perhaps even unjust but, the bank, frankly, doesn't give a shit about any of that. I'm contracted to pay them. They just want their damn money.

So I did the mature thing. I hid the bill at the bottom of a pile of mail on my dresser and left it there for weeks while kvetching impotently about the awfulness of it all. The nearer I got to the due date, the angrier I became about the crisis implicit in my possibly deciding not to pay my bill, the more I wished for an alternate reality in which I could simply hold my breath long enough to force someone else into, if not paying my bill for me, at least agreeing to stop expending government resources on frivolous pursuits. But, alas, Chief Serpas shows no sign of deviating from his current program.

My bluff was called. Of course, when I finally came to grips with that fact this morning, the crisis was already out of hand due to my childish negligence. I woke early, wrote out a check, addressed the envelope and discovered only then that I was out of stamps. Already late for work and in full panic mode, I rushed to the post office. Once there, due to a recent decision to remove the stamp vending machine, I had to wait twenty minutes in line behind fifteen customers needing to have complicated service issues resolved at two out of six possible open windows. I wish someone would find a way to fund a full postal staff somehow. Maybe if we had let the Bush tax cuts expire....

Anyway I haven't actually done any of the work involved in putting together a Congressional campaign yet. That shouldn't surprise you, of course. As you can deduce from the above story, I'm a pretty lazy and childish little shit. Which is why, if I ever get to Washington, I'm clearly Speaker material.

Spat in rivers while the fish eggs were hatching

Last week, Bobby Jindal announced Louisiana's plan for using its share of BP money to be paid out in compensation for the 2010 Macondo oil well disaster.

Former director of the Governor's Applied Coastal Science Program and LaCoast Post founding editor Len Bahr assesses Jindal's plan in this post at NOLA Defender.

The governor is well aware that the Gulf Environmental Restoration Task Force established by President Obama envisions using the total amount of money that is ultimately billed to BP and the other responsible parties for comprehensive recovery from cumulative long term Gulf coast damage, not limited to oil damage in 2010.

No matter what level of funding the state actually receives in the near term, I strongly disagree with the first two of three categories for which Gov. Jindal decided to allocate the BP bucks: (1) oyster habitat restoration: (2) fish hatcheries; and (3) barrier island restoration projects. Categories 1 and 2 will do absolutely nothing to prevent the continued sinking and shrinking of America’s Delta.
Bahr goes on to speculate that Jindal's disbursements reveal a political deference to the oyster and fishing lobbies which distorts priorities in a way that hinders comprehensive coastal restoration efforts. This echoes a similar criticism of the oystermen by Ivor Van Heerden which appeared in The Lens this spring.

I have no doubt that there is some truth in this. Certainly Jindal is pandering to a well-orgainized interest group and probably this is diverting some funds and attention away from where they may be of more immediate use. But it's important to remember, while we're keeping score, that the oystermen are on the victims' side of this too.

It wasn't oystermen who chewed through the Louisiana marshes with pipelines and service canals and it wasn't oystermen who have dumped nearly half a million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the past five decades not including last year's BP disaster. (See here for more on this number and Senator Landrieu's disgraceful lies about the size of that number.)

Fisheries and oyster beds were directly damaged by last year's spill and their reclamation deserves attention. Yes, it would appear that the oyster industry needs to give some ground concerning the use of freshwater diversion for coastal rebuilding. At the same time, however, this ongoing dispute is already being used by BP to shun responsibility for this year's kill.
the company has clearly moved from a public relations strategy to one focusing on litigation over whether damage to the state's oyster beds was BP's fault. The state contends that its decision to open many freshwater diversions along the Mississippi River to full blast at the height of the oil spill kept oil from entering the oyster beds, though the fresh water killed the oysters, requiring the beds to be restocked with cultch, oyster shell deposited beneath the water on which oyster larvae grow.
Coastal scientists like Bahr and Van Heerden might be better served to focus their attentions on holding the oil and gas industry accountable for the damage it has done to everyone who depends on a healthy Louisiana coast rather than on the dismal internal divisions that damage has engendered.

Countdown to Reggie Bushpocoalypse

Lockout is over. Free agency activity is expected to begin tomorrow. According to this report, the Saints begin the week with 29 unsigned players. We're expecting that number to go up by at least one real soon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Once again we cut live to John Boehner's Friday evening press conference

We are so screwed.

University Presidents continue their reign over everything in NOLA

No idea why these people serve on every board or commission imaginable. Especially when they're clearly there specifically to do miserable things to people.

Saying that hundreds of city workers had signed a petition against Wildes' appointment, Scott said that putting him on the commission would "bring irreparable harm to the city of New Orleans."

He also cited a 2006 vote by Loyola faculty members expressing a lack of confidence in Wildes because of actions he took to terminate some tenured professors and eliminate or suspend numerous academic programs after Hurricane Katrina.

Telling response

Remember that Friday story about the bizarre goings on at Abramson Charter school?

A few teachers and state education department investigator Folwell Dunbar had reported a slew of irregularities including unattended classrooms, institutional academic fraud, insufficient (or non-existent) service for special needs students, and a suspicion that at least some questionably qualified faculty may have been employed there as a means of gaming a visa program. Dunbar told the Times-Picayune that a contractor associated with the charter company attempted to bribe him during the course of his investigation.

These are serious charges, of course, but also politically important charges as they appear to demonstrate that simply contracting out public school management to private companies isn't going to magically ensure that we're getting a system any less corrupt or indifferent to the needs of students than the old NOPS edifice was.

The fundamental trouble with our approach to the school system lies with the ongoing work of our elites to carve out a sliver of seclusion where their children can be educated apart from the progeny of our more "undesirable" elements. Ever since desegregation, New Orleans has used the parochial schools as sort of an alternate school system. But not everybody who wants separate and unequal schools wants to pay through the nose for them. By incorporating some of the public schools into the stratified structure the charter movement seeks to solve this problem for them. If some charter schools may perform well that's nice. If some do not, that's not so nice. Certainly there are professionals working within the system, such as it is, to do the best job they can but none of that has anything to do with why the charters exist in the first place. The important thing is that parents in the elite club can make sure their children are going to school with other club members.

Of course there always could be something I'm missing. That's why last week I asked the charter advocates to tell us how the new structure might address the crisis at Abramson. If charters are supposed to reduce corruption and increase efficiency, isn't this their moment to do so?

The nearest approach to an answer we got was from Sobieski although it was more of a negative argument than anything.

I'd say take the charter school license in place at AHS, revoke the license, and start over. Maybe under the RSD, maybe split it into TWO charter schools, I don't know. There are probably several remedies. What I do know is that under the old OPSB there were NO REMEDIES.

Anyway here's the system's answer to how it plans to handle things.

Folwell Dunbar, a state education official who warned of problems at Abramson Science and Technology Charter School more than a year ago, confirmed Thursday that he was fired this week along with his boss at the department, Jacob Landry.

That ought to fix it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Will there be peace in our time?

Democrats Balk at Possible Debt-Limit Deal as Deadline Looms
July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats reacted angrily to reports that the White House is cutting a deal with House Republicans to boost the U.S. debt ceiling and reduce deficits by about $3 trillion over 10 years without immediate revenue increases.

President Barack Obama’s team has told congressional leaders it is pursuing such a deal, according to two officials familiar with the talks, as the White House and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio denied one was at hand.

NFL owners poised to vote on labor deal
Some discord emerged as NFL owners pored over a tentative deal to end the league's labor dispute before an expected vote Thursday.

"I don't see why we wouldn't" vote on the proposed settlement, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said during a lunch break after more than three hours of discussions. "Like anything else, the morning gets a little ruined by not getting all the things you hoped to get when you hear the whole thing. I'm hopeful that eventually we can get a positive vote."

Meanwhile, City Council continues to squabble over competing redistricting plans. Here's the latest as of this posting.

Johnson says "we didn't have to take this up today" says we can stay till midnight if they wish. #citycouncil

"Honorable gentlemen"

If you can't play nice with the "honorable gentlemen" they don't want you in their club.
Uygur often refused to treat members of the political and media establishment with deference and respect. He didn't politely imply with disguised subtleties when he thought a politician or media figure was lying or corrupt, but instead said it outright. In interviews, he was sometimes unusually aggressive with leading Washington figures, subjecting them to civil though hostile treatment to which they were plainly unaccustomed. As Uygur put it in explaining last night why he rejected MSNBC's offer to stay on:

I said on the air that most politicians are corrupt. And I remember, my guest was like: "What - how can you say that? These are honorable gentlemen" [laughter] I am not going to do a show where I pretend that most of the politicians in Washington are honorable gentlemen. Hell no.

Uygur explained that, several months ago, he was summoned to a meeting with MSNBC boss Phil Griffin and told that while it is fun and enjoyable to be an "outsider," that is not what MSNBC is for. Instead, Griffin told him, MSNBC is "part of the establishment," and Uygur must conduct himself in accordance with that reality. It's perfectly fine in establishment discourse to express contempt for one of the two political parties. It's equally fine to periodically criticize your own. But what is most assuredly not fine -- particularly in a high-profile nighttime spot and without having a real power base that comes from mammoth ratings -- is to be aggressively adversarial to the political establishment itself and the financial interests that fund, own and control that political system. That is what Uygur was, and while there's no evidence that this was the primary cause of his removal, it was clearly a serious source of dissatisfaction with the station's executives, including MSNBC's chief.


Big time announcement today. Brace for game-changing, super nutso crazytime... zzzzzz

* I'm sorry but I totally Jim Browned that title. I just couldn't stand the thought of it languishing in the depths of Twitter "chit-chat" land, though. Far better to call it up into the realm of officialdom, right?

#Rumorhasit The lockout is ending today

The rumored end is expected to happen during a rumored 7 PM NFLPA conference call where the players will likely vote to approve the new CBA. And then the post-Poochie era of Saints footbafll can officially begin.

#Rumorhasit our tickets have already arrived via the postal service.

Update: Rumor confirmed!

Tix 2011

#Rumorhasit that our "Dream Punter of Tomorrow" is ready to get this started.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sorry, I've been momentarily distracted by bullshit

Nothing like following ridiculous Tweeter Tube rumors all morning to snap you out of your malaise. The sugar high never lasts, however, and once the thing has run its course without validation you're just kind of left there grasping for meaning much like you were before it all started. Oh well.

In the meantime try to think about something else. Here's what else has been going on while we've been chasing rainbows:

City Council redistricting is almost finished. Tomorrow they'll be making a decision between two competing maps... or just pulling several other possibilities out of a hat at the last minute.
As with any proposed ordinance, council members are not restricted to an up-or-down vote on either plan and could offer amendments from the floor. That process likely would create headaches, since each new change would have to maintain the rough balance of residents in each district while also complying with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Perhaps most challenging will be satisfying the desires of district council members, whose competing interests in neighborhoods, public amenities and commercial corridors tend to drive the way the map gets carved up.

BP and the Feds are still disputing flow-rate estimates. This will continue to be important as the National Resource Damage Assessment process determines BP's future responsibility to repairing the gulf coast.

Oh shit the lockout is ending!

Oh wait, maybe not.

Ditto that on the Debt Ceiling negotiations

Finally, from the "They're only just now thinking of this?" dept:

LSU to brew and sell its own beer

I think I remember seeing something about SEC schools considering lifting the ban on beer sales in football stadiums. Is this a sign?

Update: Oh good heavens!

Because Varg is being a twat about this.

Varg being a twat

We have preserved the twitted rumor and placed it here basically for his benefit although we're nearly 100 percent certain it is worthless bullshit.

Rumor 1

Rumor 2

Rumor 3

We hope the universal balance has been restored.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great campaign slogans of the century

"Don't set up a situation where you're guaranteed to be disappointed."

Nobody wants this job

But if somebody did want to run against Governor PBJ this year he or she would save money on ads just by running this 2007 spot.

"We can't tolerate corruption. We can't tolerate incompetence."

On top of this.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's recovery program panned in audit
The findings seem to fit in with years of complaints from applicants and HMGP staffers alike, who said the program is plagued by miscommunication, convoluted verification procedures and ever-changing policies. The policy changes were mostly intended to speed up a program that took almost three years to pay significant dividends for homeowners but was "front-loaded" to pay program management fees to a prominent state contractor, the Shaw Group.

At one point late last year, one of every four dollars paid out by the program had gone to Shaw for administrative fees.

Or this.

Medicaid contract throws a wrench into confirmation hearing
The confirmation of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein ran into trouble Wednesday in a Louisiana Senate committee after he acknowledged that his former employer had won a $34 million contract to process state Medicaid claims.

But nobody wants this job.

I've cheated so long I wonder how you keep track of me

No need for me to comment on this Gambit story about Jim Brown's plagiarism problem. Mark Moseley, who has made it a point to track Brown's activities over the years, adds his notes here.

Update: Ah but today's winning commentary comes from Slabbed (itself an occasional outlet for Brown's column) where we are reminded that Gambit isn't always the keenest arbiter of what constitutes plagiarism.

I will now lift the relevant comments in their entirety and reproduce them here.

I actually welcome the topic of plagiarism here on Slabbed and since I don’t have a “flea’s dick’s (sic) worth of talent” the dark arts of plagiarism evidently escapes me, but it has still appeared a time or two on these pages, especially in regards to one of Louisiana’s most famous plagiarist in the late Stephen Ambrose, for whom part of I-10 is named. The fact Ambrose was a shameless self promoter with limited academic talent was well-known inside the halls of UNO back in the 1980′s but the Gambit’s own Clancy Dubois (sic) evidently was not in on that bit of inside knowledge when he wrote this after Ambrose passed away:

Near the end of his life, Ambrose battled two demons: cancer and questions about the integrity of his scholarship. Critics claimed he had used the words of others without giving proper credit. In the end, the controversy amounted to little more than omitted quotation marks (footnotes gave proper credit in each case).

Really? It appears that Clancy missed the rest of that story big time, especially David Plotz’s piece in Slate which ran under the lede Why Stephen Ambrose is a Vampire well before Ambrose’s passing:

Ambrose ducked plagiarism No. 1, but then Forbes.com’s Mark Lewis started digging. On Monday, Lewis revealed that Ambrose lifted sentences from Jay Monaghan’s Custer biography in his 1975 book Crazy Horse and Custer.Two days later, Lewis exposed Cases 3 and 4—pilferage in 1997′s best seller Citizen Soldiers and 1991′s Nixon: Ruin and Recovery. And today the New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick discovered five more swiped phrases and passages in The Wild Blue. Ambrose’s patriots can’t fall back on the factory defense anymore: Two of the cases occurred when Ambrose was an obscure professor, before he became Stephen Ambrose Industries. Ambrose is more defiant than apologetic.

Finally this Gambit piece is no doubt the reason that Jim contacted me late last week with news his column has gone on hiatus. As for me I’ll continue running Slabbed the same way as always because if the model isn’t broke it doesn’t need fixing. The power is in the ideas folks not the messenger. I am not condoning the past problems in Jim’s columns, but I do welcome the diversity of ideas Jim presented.

I think the bottom line here is in blogging like most everything else the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Jim Brown wrote his weekly column for shits and giggles. Ambrose built an entire career partly off other people’s non attributed work. For me it’s not even close but to each his own.

Of course the other part of what Ambrose built his career on was being an ass-kissing militaristic court historian which I'm guessing at least partially explains why so many of the other courtiers were so eager to overlook the fraudulent part. But I digress.

What I found even more intriguing were the various writers Gambit interviewed for the story who were oddly careful not to cast Brown's actions in too harsh a light.

But many of the writers themselves weren't so sure. Gambit contacted several journalists whose work was similar to (and predated) various passages in Brown's columns. Dalrymple, the Islam historian, wrote in an email, "Haha... The whole of literature is a game of Chinese whispers and we all borrow and learn from our peers. It's clear your friend has read my piece, but whether it's plagiarism or influence is not for me to judge."

  Alison Fitzgerald, a reporter for Bloomberg News whose February 2009 analysis of a Securities and Exchange Commission deal bore a resemblance to a Brown essay on the same topic published three months later, wrote to Gambit in an email: "While there are certainly similarities here, I'm not equipped to determine whether this is plagiarism," adding she intended to forward the example to Bloomberg's in-house attorney for review.

  In March 2008, Brown wrote a column on highway privatization, portions of which bore a strong resemblance to a 2007 Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Steven Malanga. (See "You Be the Judge.") Malanga told Gambit, "His passage does seem awfully close to mine in that both the ideas proceed together in the same way sentence by sentence and some of the language is exactly the same as mine. I was not aware of this." Malanga concluded, "I leave it up to editors who publish his work to decide if they consider this improper."

Sounds a lot like "There but by the grace of God" from these professional writers. And I guess that's understandable. On the other hand, Brown seems like a pretty straightforward case to me.

Get ready for Roemermania

Also don't blink while it's happening.

Roemer has announced he will make a "major announcement" Thursday.

A Boston Globe report said Roemer plans to live in New Hampshire for the next several months.
Several months sounds like a long time but, trust us, it will be all over with before you can snap a rubber band against your wrist.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cedric Richmond's 13K performance

I know what you're thinking but,no, we're not talking karats. This is Ks as in strikeouts.

What now?

Okay, charter advocates. Here is your moment. We're faced here with a pretty clear example of a New Orleans public school that has failed under its current regime. What is your remedy? How does privatized school management and "competition" step in here to fix this problem?

Keep in mind that, without the efforts of a few whistleblowers and the Times-Picayune's willingness to publish their complaints (even if they did this during the late Friday - early Saturday dead end of the news cycle), Abramson's charter was about to be renewed despite everything.
In fact, state auditors had already turned up startling deficiencies at Abramson. The records they kept of unannounced visits to the campus, as well as interviews with former teachers, paint a chaotic scene: classrooms without instructors for weeks and even months at a time, students who claimed their science fair projects had been done by teachers, a single special-needs instructor for a school of nearly 600.

Dunbar -- having declined to take money from Akpinar -- recommended more than a year ago that the state board of education yank Abramson's charter.

But the board ultimately stopped short of closing down the school, giving it a year to shape up under a "corrective action plan."

So let's hear it. Explain to me how the charter school system harnesses the power of "free enterprise" to make corruption and incompetence go away. Other than through bribery, I mean.

On a follow-up visit to the school, Dunbar was told that representatives from both the Cosmos Foundation and Atlas Texas had arrived and wanted to meet with him.

"They proceeded to shower me with compliments, to the extent that it made me feel uncomfortable," Dunbar wrote. Akpinar, the vice president from Atlas Texas, even contacted Dunbar after the meeting to see if they could get drinks that evening.

"I declined," he wrote.

After persistent requests, Dunbar said he agreed to meet her at the Starbucks on Magazine Street, where Akpinar offered $25,000 to help "fix this problem," Dunbar wrote. He recalled explaining that it would be a conflict of interest for a state official to take money from the school.

She responded that he would "only need to advise them," adding, "You are the only one who can help us."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Old man stuff

Who orders before-dinner cocktails? Old people, that's who.


That one there on the right is the Sazerac I ordered last night at Boucherie. I know. Shut up. The Sazerac, like many New Orleans cultural adornments, is only the latest in a long string of classics to have been imbued with new life as a hipster icon. Although it's difficult to disentangle this fascination from the larger designer cocktail trend currently darkening the land. At least it's no "Cransithe" but give it a few more seasons of being flung about on Treme and soon enough it will serve the same status broadcasting purpose. But who cares about any of that crap when it's your birthday? I figure I'm old enough now to pull off a geezer cocktail before dinner regardless of what the damn kids are doing. The kids may be idiots but this was a nice drink anyway.

As was everything else at Boucherie which, most people already know, does for southern, and I guess barbecue, style cuisine what Cochon has been doing for southern and Cajun. It elevates country kitchen and picnic table dishes to fine restaurant fare in a way that manages to be just creative enough without insulting anybody. For example it turns out that you really can steam mussels over collared greens. And after last night, we recommend that you do this as often as possible. Similarly, muddled cucumber and pickled green tomatoes over scallops and pilau? Yep.

Scallops with muddled cucumber and "low country risotto"

Like I said, the theme here is southern and barbecue centered so nearly everything on the menu is either smoked or pickled in some way. There's a bottle of tangy house garlic vinegar on every table that added the proper accent to the deep smokey flakes of the beef brisket Menckles ordered.

But what makes Boucherie really special (and this is a particular advantage it has over Cochon) is its pricing. Nothing on the menu costs more than $15 which is great if you want to try a bunch of different stuff. We split three "small" and two "large" plates along with two deserts and a bottle of Malbec for what we would have paid for one entree and maybe a spoonful of grease or something at Stella. Oh and, of course, this leaves room for the old man cocktails which actually go for $9 a pop and is probably where they're making their money here. But after I got to the bottom of the glass, I didn't mind that so much either.

Update: Somehow I completely missed this interview with Chef Nathaniel Zimet which ran on Blackened Out earlier this month.

Not doing anything for a while

Number of the Week: 5% Unemployment Could Be Over a Decade Away

Friday, July 15, 2011

Is that all?

Shut up

‘Republicans in Washington must insist that any bill to increase the debt ceiling include a Balanced Budget Amendment, caps on spending, and real cuts in federal spending,” Mr. Jindal said.

Gonna blow up the whole country

I honestly have been expecting there to be a deal on the debt ceiling one way or the other simply on the grounds that it would be very very crazy not to get one.

The first to fall will be “directly linked” debt. These are bonds that rely on payments from the federal government. Naomi Richman, a managing director in Moody’s Public Finance division, puts it bluntly: “There are certain kinds of municipal bonds that are directly reliant on Treasury paying or some other direct payment,” she says. “If those bonds don't receive their payment, they have no other source of revenue.” So down they go.

Then there’s the “indirectly linked” debt. That’s debt from state government, local governments, hospitals, universities and other institutions that rely, in some way or another, on payments from the federal government. If Medicaid stops paying its bills, all the hospitals that rely on Medicaid’s payments become less creditworthy. If we stop funding Pell grants, then all the universities that enroll students who pay using financial aid become less creditworthy. And since the federal government passes one-fifth of its revenues through to the states, and the states pass those revenues through to cities, if the federal government stops paying its bills, all states and all cities are suddenly in worse financial shape, which will make it harder for them to get loans.

And then there’s everything else. Mortgages. Credit cards. Loans that businesses take out to expand. Much of the debt in the American economy, and in fact globally, is “benchmarked” to Treasury debt. When your bank quotes you a mortgage rate, the calculation begins with the rate on 10-year treasuries and then adds premiums for various types of risk specific to you and your area on top of that. “There’s a whole credit structure,” says Pete Davis, president of Davis Capital Investment Ideas. “Think of it as roads and bridges, but it’s finance, it’s all connected, and it’s all on top of treasuries. Your CD at a bank, your credit card interest rates, your car loans, your mortgages — that’s all built on Treasury rates. So when you shake the basis of it, everything on top of it shakes, too.”

But now I'm starting to wonder if they really are very very crazy.

Serpas Signal

Guess they're taking their Batmobile thingy out for a ride tomorrow night.

The New Orleans Police Department will establish a Sobriety Check Point on Saturday, July 16, 2011 in the uptown area. The checkpoint will operate between the hours of 9pm to 5am Sunday morning.

Lather, rinse, repeat


President Obama has made it clear that he’s willing to sign on to a deficit-reduction deal that consists overwhelmingly of spending cuts, and includes draconian cuts in key social programs, up to and including a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility. These are extraordinary concessions. As The Times’s Nate Silver points out, the president has offered deals that are far to the right of what the average American voter prefers — in fact, if anything, they’re a bit to the right of what the average Republican voter prefers!

Yet Republicans are saying no. Indeed, they’re threatening to force a U.S. default, and create an economic crisis, unless they get a completely one-sided deal. And this was entirely predictable.

First of all, the modern G.O.P. fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of a Democratic presidency — any Democratic presidency. We saw that under Bill Clinton, and we saw it again as soon as Mr. Obama took office.
There was an opportunity at the very beginning of the Obama administration for the new President with his large congressional majorities and significant electoral mandate to break this cycle.

During the stimulus debate, when, as Krugman points out, the memory of the political dynamic that existed during the Clinton years should have made the situation easy to read, and when the Republicans made it clear they were going to persist in their desire to function as the Groucho Caucus, there was an opportunity to just tell them to STFU for once. But instead the President then, as now, bent over backwards to compromise when no compromise was either necessary or even invited by the other side who carried on with the same song and dance they're doing now.

The result was a crappy stimulus plus Republican political points. The same storyline played out during the health care fight. The same thing is happening now.

And I can guarantee that the next cycle of Democratic politics will bring admonitions from the punditry that what we really need is a President who is willing to "reach across the aisle" to "get things done" because nobody ever learns anything.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Government Grants To Rock

This is actually a response to a comment two posts down but I'm putting it here because it's kind of a personal mission statement and I don't want to lose it.

In response to my post about my fear of being priced out of my neighborhood, Ricky P. says:
Sounds like you need to find a way to get paid for your blog, then you can join the cause for gentrification.

The truth is no one should ever pay anyone to blog... especially no one should pay me to do it. But there was a time when I had made it my life's ambition to stumble upon just the right obscure grant or other accident of fate that would allow me to just get around New Orleans every day watching people, reading the news, and then going out to eat and getting stupid drunk every night.

My friend Ros and I used to talk about this back in the Pre-Katrina days when living in New Orleans wasn't such a big fucking hipster fad. We'd fool someone into giving us a stipend to be here because we had the, then very rare, quality of actually enjoying it. We'd live for free, hang out and dine out a lot and then at the end of the year write up some bullshit report on whatever we could contrive the value of our experience to be. We'd submit it to some sleepy little known federal department of cultural preservation or keeping it real or whatever. They'd send us a check. Nobody would know or care.

But that never happened for us. Of course nowadays there's a whole industry in that sort of thing. Only it's a more sinister and attention-seeking version that capitalizes on the death and horror wrought by the Federal Flood. Witness Treme, Ed Blakely, Kirsha Kaeschle, numerous internet start-ups, half the assholes in town selling T-shirts. But really I like to think of this as a crass debasement of our original vision of what would have been a very quiet little racket.

In 1997 this vision was crystallized for me when I saw GBV (the Cobre Verde Mag Earwig version of GBV) play at the old Howlin Wolf. It was either a Wednesday or Thursday night and Bob was getting ready to start the second encore. It must have been about 2 am. Bob says to the crowd

"Don't you people have to work tomorrow? Does anybody work in this town? Or do you all just get grants from the Kingfish?"

And then there's a quick pause after which he adds,

"Government grants... to rock"

This and Ignatius Riley's "Employers sense, in me, a denial of their values" are still my two most prized personal mottoes. I don't think of this as decadent self-indulgence so much as an admission that most of us, our lives, our labors or what some of us arrogantly think of as "talents" aren't really all that special or even necessary. But we are all alive and we are all people and we all ought to be allowed to appreciate that at least a little bit. There's so much wealth and knowledge and industry in this world but its product is stupidly distributed according to the most severe and fraudulent definitions of what people do and do not deserve. Instead I submit that we'd be better off recognizing that everyone should have at least a modest little grant.. to rock.. or whatever works for them. The older I get the more convinced I am of this.

Government Grants To Rock, in fact, should probably be the title of something. Probably a memoir or maybe an album. But I like to think of it as the title of my long lost dream of being paid to not work. Maybe someday. For now it's still just a matter of hanging on to my sinking paradise.

Known to crush and crumble schools

Back in the dark ages* when I attended a New Orleans Catholic high school** the math and science curriculum there was pretty high quality. I went off to college with enough grounding to test out of several hours of basic physics and biology requirements. I also had the benefit of pre-calculus instruction from a very strange but PhD qualified teacher. Of all the complaints I could offer you about my high school education, the quality of the science instruction is not among them. (Actually, and this seems odd for a supposedly "religious" education, it was the humanities that suffered with lots of English and history classes taught by people we addressed as "coach".)

Anyway, I'm wondering if Louisiana's religious high schools are still teaching science so well these days when the public schools are so insistent upon teaching religion.

*Tomorrow is my birthday, actually. I will be turning 75 which they're now saying makes me eligible for medicare in fifty years.

** One of the non-beating ones

Distinction without a difference

Sometimes Atrios can be one smug asshole.

Gentrification often isn't about rich people in, it's about people moving in period. And, yes, that can eventually start driving up rents and property values as the act of people moving in begins to improve a neighborhood. Existing owners may decide to cash out, and existing renters may be driven out. So, yes, there might be victims of gentrification in that sense. But if you're genuinely concerned about housing options for poor people you should be concerned about the fact that most places effectively don't let them live there, not that some students and hipsters begin reversing the depopulation trend that hit a lot of urban areas.

And the difference there would be what, exactly? I guess if you're someone who lives comfortably in a gentrified city neighborhood already, it's easy to imagine we should be concerned with some unnamed way in which cities "don't let (poor people) live there". But in the real world, poor people are forced out of neighborhoods by gentri-fucking-fication. And speaking as an actual poor person who has watched the house across my street be converted from low rent apartments to time share condos over the past year, this worries me.

Happy Bastille Day

Capture the magic by emulating the excitement evident in our having been photographed near various Paris landmarks.




And if that doesn't work, maybe Frenchy Ronald McDonald will get you in the right frame of mind.

Aire De Jeux

Oh no

John Mosca, owner of the landmark restaurant bearing his name, dies at 86

Not many people will tell you this. My favorite dish at Mosca's is the crabmeat salad.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Slight detail that had escaped me

It's former mayoral candidate Troy Henry who wants to beat St. Aug students with wooden paddles.

One more exicting news item before bed

The Advocate

Pick for La.’s Medicaid work protested

A company with ties to the state’s health secretary low-balled the cost it gave for handling the state’s Medicaid claims processing work, a competitor alleged in a protest of the contract award.

ACS State Healthcare, one of the competitors, claims in recently filed documents that CNSI stated it would perform certain required work, then failed to budget personnel and dollars to do the jobs the contract required.

State officials have said repeatedly that CNSI’s low price tipped the scales toward the Maryland company winning the contract.

See this right here is totally shocking to everybody after we had previously learned that Jindal's appointee to run the State Department of Health and Hospitals, Bruce Greenstein was formerly employed by CNSI and that Jindal officials tried to keep the awarding of this contract secret during Greenstein's legislative confirmation hearing.
The Medicaid contract is among the largest in state government, and CNSI was one of four finalists to handle the job of processing claims from doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers that treat the poor as part of the $6.6 billion-a-year program.

Although the winning bidder was selected weeks ago, agency officials had refused to tell lawmakers, citing a state statute that said the contract award had to first be disclosed to a joint meeting of the health-care committees in the House and Senate. That committee might not meet until after the Legislature adjourns June 23.

That brought a torrent of criticism from senators, including allies of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who accused the administration of stonewalling and called Greenstein's integrity into question.

"It seems like somebody is trying to cover something up," said Sen. Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales.

"We've got to determine whether we trust the integrity of the people before us," said Sen. Robert Kostelka, R-Monroe, the committee's chairman. "And this is why this is so important. You can't serve two masters."

Shortly thereafter, Greenstein excused himself from the witness table to huddle with his top deputies before coming back to the committee to tell them that his old employer had won the contract.

Also Bobby Jindal first emerged on the scene in state government as Governor Foster's head of the Department of Health and Hospitals so we can be reasonably sure he knows which contracts are the big money contracts there.

Also, for more fun, here is a ridiculous cartoon in which the Times-Picayune's Steve Kelley suggests to us that Jindal has come to "slay the dragon" of corruption in Louisiana.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Mississippi's AG Jim Hood is suing Ken Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility over what Hood believes is a lack of transparency in the claims process.

Jim Hood said Tuesday that he has tried to negotiate with the fund's administrator, Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. He says he's seeking to make the process more transparent so people will know whether Feinberg is looking out for the best interests of oil spill victims or BP.

Hood filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Hinds County Chancery Court.

Feinberg said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Associated Press that, "Our lawyers will respond in the ordinary course." He had no other immediate comment.

Hood has previously said he believes Feinberg's operation is intentionally delaying and denying legitimate claims, an allegation Feinberg has denied. Others have also criticized the size and pace of payments and a perceived lack of transparency.

Feinberg has said Hood could undermine the claims process by urging a court to intervene and by making allegations that border on defamation.

"Defamtaion" is Feinberg's go-to complaint against anything approaching judicial oversight.

Attorneys general of four Gulf Coast states this month asked US District Judge Carl Barbier to conduct an inquiry into the claims process and the GCCF. They assert that Feinberg is using “economic duress to manipulate financially desperate claimants’’ into signing off on insufficient settlements in the GCCF’s Quick Pay option, which gives $5,000 to individuals and $25,000 to businesses in return for waiving the right to sue or seek further money from the claims facility.

Feinberg attacked the appeal to Barbier in emphatic language, saying that it verges on “defamation.” “The court does not have the power under the Oil Pollution Act to impose upon the GCCF the monitoring sought by the attorney general,’’ said Feinberg lawyer David Pitofsky in a court filing this week. Such a step would “chill the ability of GCCF personnel to work expeditiously without fear of running afoul of an independent auditor and a court-imposed evidentiary hearing.”
I don't yet know enough details to speak to Feinberg's claims regarding what the Oil Pollution Act might disallow. But "defamation" is a fairly dickish thing to scream back given the circumstances.

Quote of the day

This is the only place I saw this today and I really hope Moller plans on writing up the event.

EWE old as you feel

: At least somebody was shooting video.

Uppperdate: Ah here we go.

See how easy that was?

Mitch McConnell calls his own bluff.

WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated a novel way out of default on Tuesday, suggesting that Congress give up its power to raise the debt ceiling, and instead effectively transfer that authority -- and the political pain that comes with it -- to the White House for the remainder of Obama's first term.

Does this mean Obama will be sad that he doesn't get to raise the retirement age?

Coastal austerity plan

Good to see someone is sending a message to the Louisiana coast that it can't just sit there eroding all day and expect the federal government to pick up the tab. Pull yourself up by your damn hip wader straps, marsh.

That's a different lie

Shut up
In a recent interview with ESPN's Colleen Dominguez, Reggie Bush blamed the turf at the Superdome for his injury struggles with the Saints.

"There's a big difference between playing on grass, and then you play on FieldTurf," Bush said.

Some quick fact checking on Twitter by Larry Holder, Jeff Duncan and Ricky Prado brings us Bush's injury history.

2007: vs Tampa in the Superdome

2008: at Carolina, and again at Chicago

2009: at St. Louis

2010: at San Francisco, and again at Seattle

Totals: 6 injuries, 3 on turf, 3 on grass. Only one in the Superdome.

Interview is here I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but people are arguing that Bush didn't specify the Superdome turf in his complaint. Of course that doesn't matter much because 1) his injury history is evenly divided between turf and grass 2) either way the implication is that he doesn't want to play all of his home games on turf.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Difficult to organize that which cannot be seen.

“There used to be a sense that unemployment was rich soil for radicalization and revolt,” says Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor of labor history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “That was a motif in American history for a long time, but we don’t seem to have that anymore.”

But why? It’s partly because of the greater dispersion of the unemployed, and partly because of the weakening of the institutions that previously mobilized them.

Unemployment doesn’t necessarily beget apathy, Mr. McDonald says. Rather, demographic groups that are more likely to be unemployed also happen to be the same groups that are less likely to vote to begin with, such as the poor and the low-skilled.

Even so, numerous studies have shown that unemployment leads to feelings of shame and a loss of self-worth. And that is not particularly conducive to political organizing. As Heather Boushey, an economist at the liberal Center for American Progress, puts it, rather bluntly: “Nobody wants to join the Lame Club.”

One thing we've very nearly perfected is blaming the powerless for having no power. There's also this.

In other countries, workers have mobilized online. Unions here, too, have reached out on the Web. They include groups like Working America (the community affiliate of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.) and UCubed (created by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers).

But many Web sites geared toward the unemployed aren’t about mobilizing workers. Many instead provide guidance about things like posting résumés online, or simply offer the comfort of an online community.

It’s not clear why this is the case, when social networks have been so essential to organizing economic protests in places like Britain and Greece, not to mention political movements in the Middle East.

“You have to remember that technology is not independent of social structures, motivations and politics,” Mr. Kazin says. “People can feel like they have their own community online, which is useful emotionally, but they also have to have the desire and demand to do something about their situation first before they start using that online presence to organize anything in person.”

Obviously part of the problem here is what we think of as the classic "digital divide". Low skilled workers with minimal educational attainment are frequently uncomfortable navigating even the simplest online job application much less connecting with "online communities" of people in similar circumstances.

Libraries deal with this problem every day and it isn't pretty. Because physical unemployment offices are either shrinking or closing altogether, public libraries are among the few places available for the unemployed to even apply for benefits much less find a new job. But libraries aren't the ideal setting for getting this accomplished. Even for a relatively competent user, landing a job using a public access computer is far from simple. Imagine having to accomplish the following tasks.

  • Build a resume from scratch.

  • Locate and read through multiple job postings to decide which openings are best suited to you.

  • Comprehend and complete the unique application process for each job. This may mean many or all of the following.
    1. Registering a user account with the hiring organization's website.
    2. Completing a potentially lengthy online application and questionnaire.
    3. Tailoring a resume and cover letter to the specific circumstances of each job.
    4. Locating and submitting various supplemental documents or pieces of information.

  • Be reachable within a reasonable amount of time, and preferably by email, to answer additional requests or schedule an interview.

How much of this could you accomplish working on a publicly shared computer in a frequently crowded and, yes quite often, loud public library which you have access to for probably one hour each day? How well would you be able to present yourself? Now imagine how much more difficult that process becomes for someone with little to no ability to use even that inadequate tool.

So the online spaces where the unemployed and marginalized can seek assistance and organize themselves are every bit as inaccessible to them as the physical spaces have become. Is it any wonder they aren't being seen?

Maybe he will build a really big sand berm

I suppose this press conference is still on and wasn't washed out by the daily tempest.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to announce today a list of projects the state has chosen to restore the state's coastal areas, fisheries and oyster seed grounds from the impact of the BP oil spill.At a 3:15 p.m. press conference at the Port of New Orleans, Jindal will spell out how the state would use its share of a $1 billion advanced payment by BP of damages under the federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, which is spelled out in the Oil Spill Act of 1990.

"Queen of FEMA"?

On the one hand, it's good to see Jonathan Tilove is enjoying his job. On the other hand, some of the phrases he turns in this Sunday morning feature on Mary Landrieu are more strange than clever.
She also chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security (while also serving on the Homeland Security Committee), making her a "cardinal" of Capitol Hill -- a lawmaker with a key say in spending matters -- and with great sway over much of the nation's disaster-response machinery, something like the queen of FEMA.
"Cardinals of Capitol Hill" is actually a well traded term of art in Washington for the kind of fiscal power broker Mary has become. But I've not heard "Queen of FEMA" before. That one effectively turns what should be perceived as a Landrieu strength into something that sounds unsavory. If I were planning to run a Republican campaign against her, I might hold onto that one.

There's also this paragraph.

Last year, Melancon, running as a pragmatic, deal-making Breaux-Landrieu Democrat, was thumped by incumbent Sen. David Vitter, R-La., scarlet letter and all. Melancon's old seat in Congress went to Republican Jeff Landry, a Cajun conservative from New Iberia who is now among the most caffeinated Tea Partiers in Congress. Louisiana voters, it seems, preferred red meat to the sausage of legislative compromise.
Nevermind the sausage and caffeine. Shouldn't the "scarlet letter" quip be explained a little more thoroughly? Sure we all know what it means but newspapers aren't written in code, right?

Anyway, the biggest news here to me was that Landrieu is planning to run again in 2014.

"I'm planning on running," Landrieu said. "I'm looking forward to serving another term, if not two. I have no reason not to. I'm still relatively young. I mean 55, by Senate standards, is young."

After the 2008 election, we were getting indications she was about to retire. What happened? Are the energy lobbying firms not hiring right now?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Up and down week for the Advocate

This week the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate was the only Louisiana newspaper to report that Governor PBJ was defying the wishes of the just recessed legislature as well as the advice of his own consultant to move ahead with his dubious scheme to privatize the State Office of Group Benefits.

Three firms are vying to advise the Jindal administration on the possible privatization of a state employee health plan.

Michael DiResto, spokesman for the state Division of Administration, said Wednesday that the firms are: Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Keegan.

The governor said earlier in the day that the administration is a couple of weeks away from choosing a firm.

The possibility of a private company running an insurance plan that covers thousands of state workers, retirees and dependents is spurring fears of increased premiums and decreased benefits.
Meanwhile the Times-Picayune managed to send a reporter to a Jindal photo op in New Orleans where he signed two non-controversial bills extending historic renovation tax cuts.

Will no one else pick up the still developing OGB story? Because honestly we don't trust the Advocate to keep at it by themselves. It looks like they've already got their hands full covering the Baton Rouge chain restaurant scene right now.

Monkey touching

2 convicted of cruelty to monkeys on Bourbon Street

State wildlife agents confiscated the monkeys Feb. 26 after watching them touch people as part of a street act.

Perhaps they will plead "life artistry"

Jump off 'cuz nobody cares

Read this interview with infamous jet-setting "life artist" Kirsha Kaechele that showed up at The Lens yesterday morning. There is much rich humor just in the intro.
In 2008, during Prospect 1, the city’s much-hyped bid for standing on the global arts festival circuit, Kaechele, through her organization KK Projects, held a $250-a-plate dinner party on the block where she operated her galleries. Movie star Uma Thurman and Nagin recovery czar Ed Blakely were among guests who ate raw oysters and organic pork loin on a hand-carved, candle-lit wooden table set out in the middle of an otherwise desolate street.

Kaechele, 35, now lives in Tasmania, an island state of Australia, with her boyfriend, David Walsh, a professional gambler who made a fortune using a high-tech system to bet on horses. In January, with Kaechele at his side, Walsh opened the Museum of New and Old Art in Tasmania as a home for his private art collection, the largest in the southern hemisphere. His collection is stamped with the avant-garde sensibility and fascination with mortality that characterized the exhibitions in Kaechele’s now-shuttered KK Project galleries.

Since leaving New Orleans, Kaechele has let her St. Roch properties fall into neglect. She owes $38,573 in real estate taxes and code enforcement liens on the St. Roch holdings, one of which – the house at 2451 N. Villere, was recently torn down after the city cited Kaechele for “demolition by neglect.” Kaechele has torn down two others on her own initiative.
I know, right? You couldn't make up crazier shit than that. Hey, Treme watchers. Is there a Kirsha character in the show yet? I mean if we overlook the fact that the whole show is its own Kirsha, really. Anyway there's a tremendous amount of denial and selfishness and just plain evil crazy loaded into that interview, and since sociopathy seems to be the theme of the week, please feel free to dive right in. How damaged does a human have to be to seriously conceive of her own life as a piece of performance art? Or at least, how thoroughly dishonest would she have to be? But I've gotten tired of trying figure out what motivates people like Kirsha Kaeschle or Ed Blakeley. I only know that they allow themselves to do real damage to the world around them while torturing out a way to think of what they do as heroism.

But enough of that. The Quote of the Day here comes from Varg who examines the interview in detail here. One of his observations.
Ah yes. The fascination with the destruction of New Orleans! Among the most common themes of artists who visit/move here! The beauty of its entropy! Some of us find its restored creole cottages and shotguns beautiful. Not all of us are third world and loving it. Some realize i’ts nothing like the third world, don’t love the conditions here, and actively spend a little part of each day trying to make it better rather than glamorizing its destruction. Dear creators out there, the artistic depiction of demolished thing like New Orleans houses and old amusement parks and flooded stuff, by all means, do it if you have to. But there is nothing original in it.
Although it sure does keep the brand out there. Which is why we can't have nice things. Like hospitals. Or any development beyond our sad industry in feeding and sucking up to "life artists" who come to make a spectacle out of our decay.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Does not deserve a second term

Earlier I said I'm tired of watching this movie. But here it is in chart form anyway.

Maybe it's worse than I thought

Maybe David Vitter really has managed to kill the hospital project.

Update: Mitch responds

I'm not sure what the "Open Charity" movement thinks they're even fighting for any more aside from giving Tulane an inordinate share of a far smaller pie in the future. Congratulations on giving David Vitter what he wants, assholes.

You see we really really really mean it this time

House Democrats so super seriously do not want to cave in on Social Security and are very very upset with the President and so they intend to take a very stern stand on... yeah I'm not buying it either.

I'm tired of this movie. Digby says we've been watching it since 2009 but that generously ignores all of the 1990s. I'm getting old but I'm not that senile yet. And thank God too since now I won't be allowed to retire until I'm... well, ever.

Pilates and Pinkberrys

It's the new coffee-gelatto-sushi on Magazine Street these days. I suppose for the sake of symmetry we can throw Walgreens into that mix. It's increasingly difficult to cover a single block and not encounter at least one of those six entities.

Anyway in the future we'll also have signage announcing when more of them are on the way. So we'll look forward to that.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Unfortunate headline of the day

Chris Rose: Sexting


Quote of the Day

Bill Clinton:
There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today


Obama administration objects to bill with no funding for Louisiana projects

The statement didn't threaten a veto, but raised hope that Congress would work with the administration to resolve some of the conflicts.

Does not deserve a second term.

Does not deserve a second term

Obama bargaining away Social Security now.

HUD settles in discrimination case

I should add that the problem with the Road Home valuation formula wasn't just that it was de facto racial discrimination (although it was certainly that) it also was just a flat-out raw deal all around.

And now your moment of Hester

City Council doesn't want to hear your lip any more.

According to local community activist Sandra “18 Wheeler” Hester, the rule change is nothing less than duct tape over her ever-active mouth, a ploy to stifle the “voices of dissent”.

Hester carps that the new rules can be manipulated at the will of the council, allowing those in favor more time to speak, while chronic commenter’s – i.e. Hester — are shunned and silenced.

The loquacious Hester slid comment on the rule change into a recent “general matters” harangue (see link to video clip at end of this article) on St. Augustine High School paddling dispute.

“Why did the amount of time change all of a sudden,” Hester demanded to know in a slight digression from paddling. Councilman Arnie Fielkow answered her interrogatory by drily reminding Hester that she had three minutes to complete her commentary on the St. Aug flap. To which she replied, “Nice trick.”

Hester had time to lob only a few parting shots before stalking out of the council chamber. Whether that was proof the rules work beautifully or badly will depend on your enthusiasm for Hester’s rants.

I happen to harbor a great deal of enthusiasm for Ms. Hester's rants. Here's a sample courtesy of the above referenced Lens story.