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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I wanted to say some more things about the Florida vote

But I ran out of time today before polls closed. I'm guessing Mitt breaks 40% tonight while Newt struggles for 30 if that much. Saul Alinsky could surprise with 5 to 10% though so keep an eye on that.

Someone needs to shake a finger at Jan Brewer

Haven't seen the last one of these fights. Not by a long shot.
With a sweeping series of bills introduced Monday night in the state Senate, Republicans in Arizona want to make Wisconsin’s battle against public unions last year look like a lightweight sparring match.

The bills include a total ban on collective bargaining for Arizona’s public employees, including at the city and county levels. The move would outpace even the tough bargaining restrictions enacted in Wisconsin in 2011 that led to massive union protests and a Democratic effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“At first glance, it looks like an all out assault on the right of workers to organize,” Senate Minority Leader David Schapira (D) told TPM on Tuesday. “And to me, that’s a serious problem.”

Oddly enough he's still underrated

Jim Henderson was (is) as good as it gets in his profession. That he spent so much of his career in one market is unusual. But it's the sort of thing that's much more likely to happen in New Orleans than in most places.

Henderson's trick was his eloquent and understated style actually allowed him to get away with as much or maybe even a little more irreverence than some of the more boisterous local sports dudes have over the years. When Buddy D or even Ron Swoboda or someone like them picked a fight... usually with Saints brass, but also other people... they often ended up just as bruised as their targets in the altercation. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But Henderson had a kind of finesse that allowed him to be just as critical and just as independent without also getting thrown off the plane or, perhaps, "cold cocked" as Ray Nagin would put it. That's a rare talent.

Those of us who are old enough to remember ESPN's Sportscenter in its heyday will recall that Dan Patrick often got away with more as the dry straight man than his showboaty partner Keith Olbermann did. Today Patrick's nationally syndicated radio sports talk show is eminently more listenable than Olbermann's serial cable news embarrassments. Jim Henderson could have been Dan Patrick if he wanted to. He had (has) that kind of talent.

But Henderson, probably in the ultimate testament to a sense of judgement superior to that of anyone we can compare him to, decided to stay in New Orleans instead. My guess is it was worth it.

Maybe

But if Dambala is right about this, I don't think the oil industry is suddenly lacking for a local mouthpiece. I mean, they'll always have the city funded GNO Inc., right?

PAC tracking

As Florida Republicans go to the polls to give Mitt what looks like a sizeable victory today, the various Super PACs are filing finance reports for the final quarter of 2011. Here's what we know so far. Stephen Colbert's gag Super PAC appears to have out-raised PACs associated with ex-candidates Herman Cain and Rick Perry.

Colbert's PAC included a copy of its form (PDF) with a press release sent out this morning which included the following comment.
"Colbert Super PAC has brought in a staggering $1,023,121.24, which my accountant explains to me that is a number far above 'one,' 'two,' 'five,' or even 'many'" said Stephen Colbert, President and Returning Champion of Colbert Super PAC. "We raised it on my show and used it to materially influence the elections – in full accordance with the law. It's the way our founding fathers would have wanted it, if they had founded corporations instead of just a country."

Buried lede of the day

Beneath this sad headline, Gingrich Sued Over Use of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ we find a much sadder story being told here.
My legacy, my life, has been ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ ” Mr. Sullivan told the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported about the legal action on Monday. “Those copyright laws are there to protect people like me who are lucky enough to create a copyright. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is an iconic copyright. It’s become a lifelong legacy — something you want to pass down to your kids.”


Suggested revised headline: "Man not at all ashamed of horrible song he still accepts money for having created"

Carnival items

  • So far, this is the year of high-falutin' King Cake elaboration. Unsatisfied with the standard slate of 50 or so possible flavors, local bakers are pushing the King Cake to whole new dimensions of unnecessary variety.

    La Dolce Nola and La Divina have improbably each added a Nutella and an apple-goat cheese flavor although I am told they did this without having coordinated. According to this NOLA Def article, Maple Street Patisserie has a chocolate marzipan king cake available.

    But it's not just the specialty bakeries pushing these baroque ideas on the public. On a recent stop at Rouses we found a "triple chocolate" king cake, a "Black Forest" king cake, and, yes, many many "red velvet" king cakes.

    Red Velvet King Cakes

    That snapshot doesn't do justice to the horrifying bright red of the actual item. Stop in and gawk for yourself sometime. Meanwhile, that King Cake vodka we were promised is still mysteriously unavailable... although suddenly it doesn't seem so weird anymore.

    Anyway, I'm thinking I might pick up one of these this weekend just to get into the spirit and whatnot.




  • Quote of the Day: Gambit's Alex Woodward previews this weekend's Krewe Du Vieux

    The impending 2012 apocalypse was an obvious thematic choice for members of Krewe du Vieux — humorous doom and gloom, puns and portmanteaus involving death and anything else are right up the krewe's alley. Instead, it opted for a different theme, one that draws attention to a local women's rights organization — but the krewe isn't skimping on its gratuitous sex jokes and paper mache penises. Krewe captain Lee Mullikin notes, however, "There's not so many penises this year."


    So that's good to know. On a more serious note, Mullikin worries about whether or not KDV is in danger of getting too big for its... often prominently displayed... britches.
    And as the krewe ages and grows, it also fears becoming what it hated: a "bead-throwing krewe" it set out to mock in the first place. So far it's kept as quiet as possible (the krewe is tight-lipped about its membership and float themes), and tried to avoid crowd sizes that would jeopardize its route through the French Quarter. But the Polo Club Lounge at the Windsor Court named a drink after the krewe, and Mullikin remembers the fine-dining crowds asking waiters to hold their tables while they caught the parade.

    "We don't want to blow our own horn too much. We don't want our crowds to get so big they won't let us march anymore. But we don't want to pretend like we don't exist," says Mullikin, who hopes the krewe "educates people to dance with us, laugh, look at what we're doing."
    Maybe they should have thought about that before they agreed to appear on Treme. Oh well. Can't be helped. Just keep changing the route every year (yes, there's a new one this year again) and everything should be fine.


  • Finally, this afternoon we learn that the Lakeview women's marching club, Krewe of Brid won't be parading this year due to "money problems." The short article doesn't elaborate but I'm curious as to just what it was such a small operation couldn't afford. If they had trouble putting the money together for a parade permit, I can't imagine the ladies of Lakeview would have to worry too much about being pepper sprayed if they just decided to march anyway. That's not the sort of thing that's done in their neighborhood.


Douchebag Headlines Of Our Century Presents

Occupy protest in Oakland divides movement, rekindles debate about flag-burning

Get it? Because there's kindling going on! And... you see.. IT'S FUNNY, DAMMIT! Oh nevermind.

On the bright side, since nobody's paying any attention to what's left of the #Occupy movement anymore anyway, there's nothing left for these stupid kids to damage.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mayor Landrieu growing tired of his own bullshit

September 19, 2011 New Orleans Mayor Landrieu Addresses Committee Members At NLC Policy Forum
Mayor Landrieu stressed that while Washington maintains a “slash and cut” ideology — reducing investments in key areas such as public safety, infrastructure, community development and education — the citizens of our hometowns still expect and deserve an outstanding government that represents and fights for the growing needs of the country’s communities. So while New Orleans has not been immune to the same fiscal difficulties that plague other cities, its mantra has been to “cut smart, reorganize and invest in the future.”

“Our approach is not mired in ideology,” Mayor Landrieu said. “It’s not about politics or egos. It’s based on flexibility and efficiency. It’s about producing results for the people of New Orleans… Our goal is not just to do more with less, but to be smarter with less, better with less.”


October 17, 2011 Landrieu presents NOLA budget
The mayor said he will continue to try and do more with less, saying department will face cuts, with the notable exception of the New Orleans Police Department.

"We're not cutting the police department," the mayor said. "As a matter of fact, we're going to add the first recruit class for this administration."

The mayor said the city must do something about ever-increasing expenses, noting that 25 cents of every dollar must be dedicated to covering the city's growing pension obligation.



November 14, 2011 Despite public’s pleas for basic repairs, mayor wants to cut public works spending
Despite that clear call, the mayor has proposed cutting overall departmental spending by $4 million from, $23 million in 2011 to $19 million in 2012. General-fund spending will shrink by $840,774 or four percent. The Landrieu administration maintains that the cut won’t affect the quality of services because of increased efficiency within City Hall. Wielding data that shows steady improvements in meeting monthly goals for pothole fixes and streetlight repairs, the administration says that will continue an upward performance spike, regardless of cuts in personnel and operating spending.

We are doing more with less,” Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development Cedric Grant said at a budget hearing Monday in City Council Chambers. “These are difficult times and we are making difficult decisions.”


All of which brings us to this week's press conference.

Mayor Mitch Talks Guns Following Morning Murder in Algiers

Piggybacking on President Barack Obama's call for "nation building at home" during last night's State of the Union address, Landrieu talked about the need for more funds at home.

"When Washington and the state of Louisiana says do more with less, it's a myth," Mayor Mitch said. "You can only do less with less."


Perhaps.. it's learning.

Protecting the tourists from the First Amendment

Why does Kristin Palmer hate free speech?
Although the law, sponsored by Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, spelled out the justification for the crackdown on aggressive panhandlers, it offered no explanation for the blanket ban on letting people assemble on Bourbon Street at night to voice their views on politics or religion.

Aw the poor dears

900 words of "Ow you hurt our poor feelings"

A different kind of F-word is stirring a linguistic and political debate as controversial as what it defines. The word is "fracking" -- as in hydraulic fracturing, a technique long used by the oil and gas industry to free oil and gas from rock.

It's not in the dictionary, the industry hates it, and President Barack Obama didn't use it in his State of the Union speech -- even as he praised federal subsidies for it.

The word sounds nasty, and environmental advocates have been able to use it to generate opposition -- and revulsion -- to what they say is a nasty process that threatens water supplies.


Here's what hydrofracking operations do to the surrounding groundwater supply.
Some ingredients mixed into the hydraulic fracturing fluids were common and generally harmless, like salt and citric acid. Others were unexpected, like instant coffee and walnut hulls, the report said. Many ingredients were “extremely toxic,” including benzene, a known human carcinogen, and lead.

Companies injected large amounts of other hazardous chemicals, including 11.4 million gallons of fluids containing at least one of the toxic or carcinogenic B.T.E.X. chemicals — benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene. The companies used the highest volume of fluids containing one or more carcinogens in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

The report comes two and a half months after an initial report by the same three lawmakers that found that 32.2 millions of gallons of fluids containing diesel, considered an especially hazardous pollutant because it contains benzene, were injected into the ground during hydrofracking by a dozen companies from 2005 to 2009, in possible violation of the drinking water act.

A 2010 report by Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, found that benzene levels in other hydrofracking ingredients were as much as 93 times higher than those found in diesel.
But by all means lets watch our language so as not to hurt anybody's feelings.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today's episode of shit Obama is talking about 3 years too late

Of course even this isn't quite enough. And of course it's an empty campaign stunt. But at least he gets the conversation in the right direction.

President Barack Obama will announce a plan to shift some federal dollars away from colleges and universities that don't control tuition costs and new competitions in higher education to encourage efficiency as part of an effort to contain soaring college costs.


Meanwhile, some quick notes regarding some of the seemingly "populist" theme of Obama's State of the Union address. I recommend Taibbi's inconclusive but helpful speculation here. Even Obama's mortgage fraud investigation unit led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could be just more clever cover for letting the banks get away with whatever they want.

The question is, how real of an investigation will we get? The fact that Schneiderman’s co-chairs are Lanny Breuer and Robert Khuzami make me extremely skeptical. I’m actually not sure that both men, in an ideal world, wouldn’t be targets of their own committee’s investigation.

Before joining the SEC, Khuzami was senior counsel of the fixed-income desk at Deutsche Bank, which was creating exactly the sort of dicey CDOs that this investigation ought to be targeting.

Breuer, meanwhile, worked for the hotshot defense firm Covington and Burling, which among other things provided legal help that led to the creation of the electronic mortgage registry system MERS.

The MERS issues are probably more the province of the foreclosure settlement, but the banks’ joint efforts to evade the paper registry system are certainly an element of the larger effort to defraud MBS investors that will be covered by this committee. In fact, I’m not sure that mortgage securitization and the proliferation of CDOs and CDS could have taken place on anywhere near the scale that it did without MERS.

So having those two guys attached to Schneiderman’s hip makes me wonder what is going on here. Khuzami’s presence is especially odd. The theoretical reason we need a committee like this in the first place is because the federal agency that is supposed to be doing this work – the SEC – has stubbornly refused to do so.


And that, more than anything, is the tell. If after three years of refusing to bring the already in place enforcement apparatus against the banks, why on Earth would anyone expect the President to sanction suddenly radical action by some newly created committee? As David Dayen suggests here, this is all just more horrific Obama political phoniness.

Only this isn’t a victory at all, at least not yet. Schneiderman may be trying to work from within, but he’s saddled with a panel full of co-chairs tied to banks with a history of obstructing accountability. The united front of Justice Democrats has been nicked. Kamala Harris, facing enormous pressure to go along with the settlement (she remains opposed at this point), now must contend with being the main big-state holdout AND having a family member co-chairing the investigation panel!

This is a classic Obama move, putting a threat or a rival inside the tent. It happened with Elizabeth Warren and David Petraeus and Jon Huntsman, and it’s happening again. It divides the coalition against a weak settlement, which will at the least shut down state and federal prosecutions on foreclosure fraud and servicing issues. It puts hopes in yet another investigation, one with little chance for success.


Obama, much like Bush before him, was always primarily interested in protecting the banksters. Why should anyone expect that to suddenly change just because there's an election coming?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In sweeping reform, Mayor Landrieu appends the suffix "stat" to a bunch of stuff

With an eye toward crime, Landrieu administration starts tracking quality-of-life issues

Basic idea: New Orleans has, for some time, had a lot of potholes, broken streetlights, and abandoned vehicles. Oh and murders too.

So what we're going to do is this. We're going to take all of that stuff and put it down on a spreadsheet. (Except not the murders. Those are kept on a separate spreadsheet so that they can be easily matched to the arrest records of the victims... well usually, anyway.)

Next we'll take that spreadsheet to a meeting where we will frown at it in such a way that "target(s) the ills that (we) think lead indirectly to crime."

While the initiative aims to monitor a slew of matters that create minor headaches for residents -- from potholes to illegal signs to unpruned trees on neutral grounds -- officials plan to target the ills that they think lead indirectly to crime, Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin said.

The strategy aligns with Landrieu's vow to make reducing the city's soaring homicide rate his top priority.

"It's not that we're not going to be focused on potholes all over the city," Kopplin said. "But we're truly going to be trying to prioritize those things that we think are as closely related to the crime-fight as possible."


So, in order to maintain our stance that homicide is our "top priority," we're going to also "prioritize" and "target" but not necessarily physically do anything that we weren't already doing about a set of other public nuisances. We realize this may seem silly at first but keep in mind, and this is the key point, we'll be doing it all "with an eye toward crime." So there. Oh and we're putting a "stat" on the end of it as well just so you'll know how serious we are.

Dubbed QualityofLifeStat, the program becomes the latest effort by Landrieu to set clear performance goals and measure progress toward them. Like the Police Department's ComStat program, QualityofLifeStat will involve regular meetings during which mayoral aides review their progress toward established goals.

Put on a box-back coat, and an ankle bracelet

The Lens:
In what appears to be a departure from the recent New Orleans Police Department practice of releasing criminal records of homicide victims, the department has not released the arrest record of the Good Samaritan killed in an Algiers carjacking Wednesday. Superintendent Ronal Serpas has been widely criticized for releasing the records of victims, in some cases citing arrests, but not convictions, from more than 10 years ago. Critics say the practice tends to blame the victim, but Serpas said there’s a connection that shouldn’t be ignored between a homicide victim and his or her criminal past.


During yesterday's press conference where the Mayor proposed a scheme to funnel more money to bail bondsmen, he also managed to angle for Sheriff Gusman to get a larger piece of the exploding murder pie.
Ryan Berni, a Landrieu spokesman, said the mayor isn't asking that judges specifically adopt the $30,000 cash bond policy, but set higher bonds and use their discretion. In New Orleans, many judges set bonds that can be paid through a commercial bond agents, who charge 13 percent of the bond amount for a person to get out of jail.

Landrieu also asked that any gun-charge defendants who are released be electronically monitored by the Orleans Parish sheriff's office. If possible, the defendant should pay for this service, he said.


All of this begs one question. If future murder victims are found to have firearms-related arrest records, and Serpas is going to release that information to the public anyway, shouldn't we just go the whole nine and require the corpses to wear ankle bracelet monitors too?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Everybody curfewed?

Mitch is responding to the latest wave of killings with yet another presser starting at about 2.

Watch here.

Update: Looks like the plan is to ask judges to set higher bonds for firearm offenses and to get Gusman more mileage out of his no-bid ankle monitoring contract. So, hey, big profit all around. The Sheriff and the bail bondsmen should make a... um... killing.

Offended

Bobby Jindal is offended
A day after teachers unions blasted the rhetoric Gov. Bobby Jindal used in rolling out his plan to overhaul the state education system, the governor fired back and said he was offended by a comment a union official made about school vouchers. The comment, by Louisiana Association of Educators Executive Director Michael Walker-Jones, suggested that parents may not have the resources to make informed decisions about their children's schools.


He's not the only one.
What bothers me though about Jindal is his not-at-all-subtle attack on teachers. Consider his rhetoric. In rolling out his plan he made the following two statements about teachers:

1. "Short of selling drugs in the workplace or beating up one of the business's clients, they can never be fired."

2. "We are going to create a system that pays teachers for doing a good job instead of for the length of time they have been breathing.

Ugh. First teachers are easily fired. In fact, every teacher in New Orleans was fired after the flood. And my principal friends tell me all one needs to do is document the poor performance in yearly evaluation forms and the contract will be terminated. And notice in his business model he calls students "clients." Second, my wife is a public school teacher and I find this idea about her pay being based on simply living to be very offensive. My outrage is influenced by that fact that my kids and I all suffer due to the incredible work load placed on her shoulders. Ask anyone married to a public school teacher. Some of us call ourselves "teacher widows" and "teacher widowers." It's a major sacrifice. I look forward to June when I can have a wife again.


The Obama-Jindal-John White "school choice" plan will eventually widow us all from the very concept of universal public education. But God forbid anyone offend the Governor's sensibilities by pointing that out.

So long, and thanks for all the duck

Sorry to see J'Anita's go.

Sometimes even being really great at what you do isn't enough to sustain your small business forever. Best of luck to those guys in whatever comes next. Meanwhile it looks like I'll be wrapping my own cheese-stuffed apricots in bacon for a while.

It's getting to be that time again

DSCN6319

Parade season is coming. With that in mind, Uptown Messenger's Jean-Paul Villere provides with a list of guidelines for parade goers. Most of them are worth heeding although I am resistant to the suggestion that night parades aren't appropriate for children. Maybe they're not for your particular children but then again maybe you're a paranoid, overbearing jerk of a parent. How should I know? Lucky for us the city has proposed to relieve us of the burden of making that decision via the new curfew law. Good for them.

Still most of what Villere has to offer is helpful. Here he reminds us of the increasing difficulty parade goers have these days with the concept of sharing the public space.

4) A ladder is not real estate. None of the neutral ground is. The median namesake has no owner, hence “neutral.” You want a spot to hang with your friends? Great. Maintain it. With your own actual physical presence. None of this roping off or placing endless empty chairs “saving” a spot. Abandon it and expect to lose it. This is the code.


Actually I don't think that makes the point precisely enough. A parade is a shared experience that takes place on a public street. Expect neighbors to flow into and out of "your spot" as the event goes on even while you "maintain" that spot with your "physical presence". It's okay. Move a little bit for them once and later they'll move a little bit for you. At least that's how it's supposed to work. Lately such movement tends to be obstructed by obstacles like the strung ladders pictured above and more and more, (and also perhaps worse) row after row of festival chairs like these.

Little chair

Phalanx of lawn chairs

Last year, just prior to the major parades, Mayor Landrieu issued a warning to neutral ground hogs that the city would be more vigilant about enforcing the ordinances designed to maximize everyone's enjoyment of the spectacle. After that, unfortunately, beyond some unrelated pepper spraying of revelers in the Bywater not much actual enforcement occurred.

And so we're not particularly optimistic about anything changing this year. But, as Villere's example demonstrates, it can't hurt to remind folks of the preferred etiquette.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SOTU Drinking Game

Chug an entire bottle of Jack Daniels when the President engages in rhetoric that has no or little meaning when coupled with the policies he intends it to sell. For example, when he says,

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.


Go back and read this feature story from Sunday's New York Times describing the scope of the slave labor global economy Obama has no serious plan to ever confront.
To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts.

That’s because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States.

The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. “The scale is unimaginable,” he said.

Foxconn employs nearly 300 guards to direct foot traffic so workers are not crushed in doorway bottlenecks. The facility’s central kitchen cooks an average of three tons of pork and 13 tons of rice a day. While factories are spotless, the air inside nearby teahouses is hazy with the smoke and stench of cigarettes.

Foxconn Technology has dozens of facilities in Asia and Eastern Europe, and in Mexico and Brazil, and it assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics for customers like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Sony.

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”


Obama will speak in flattering terms tonight about the need to "restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot." He will meekly propose a return to the still laughably unfair system of taxation that was in place prior to the Bush tax cuts applied to the wealthiest earners. Keep in mind, Obama and congressional Democrats have already failed to clear even this ridiculously low set bar once during his term. This is, of course, just fine with the President for his purposes tonight and in the campaign to come. It's something he can continue to encourage us to "hope" for.

But as for that "blueprint for an economy that’s built to last"? Yeah good luck with this.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will flesh out his populist message with new proposals to spur manufacturing, including tax breaks for companies that “insource” jobs back to the United States; to double-down on clean-energy incentives; and to improve education and job training initiatives, especially for the millions of long-term unemployed, the officials familiar with the speech said.


The former industrial base of the American economy has shifted away to totalitarian states like China where slaves are kept in dormitories to service massive Dickensian monoliths like Foxconn and Obama's proposal to compete with that is tax breaks for "insourcing"? What nonsense. More from Sunday's Times

But such calculations are, in many respects, meaningless because building the iPhone in the United States would demand much more than hiring Americans — it would require transforming the national and global economies. Apple executives believe there simply aren’t enough American workers with the skills the company needs or factories with sufficient speed and flexibility. Other companies that work with Apple, like Corning, also say they must go abroad.

Manufacturing glass for the iPhone revived a Corning factory in Kentucky, and today, much of the glass in iPhones is still made there. After the iPhone became a success, Corning received a flood of orders from other companies hoping to imitate Apple’s designs. Its strengthened glass sales have grown to more than $700 million a year, and it has hired or continued employing about 1,000 Americans to support the emerging market.

But as that market has expanded, the bulk of Corning’s strengthened glass manufacturing has occurred at plants in Japan and Taiwan.

“Our customers are in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China,” said James B. Flaws, Corning’s vice chairman and chief financial officer. “We could make the glass here, and then ship it by boat, but that takes 35 days. Or, we could ship it by air, but that’s 10 times as expensive. So we build our glass factories next door to assembly factories, and those are overseas.”

Corning was founded in America 161 years ago and its headquarters are still in upstate New York. Theoretically, the company could manufacture all its glass domestically. But it would “require a total overhaul in how the industry is structured,” Mr. Flaws said. “The consumer electronics business has become an Asian business. As an American, I worry about that, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Asia has become what the U.S. was for the last 40 years.”
Once again, the President's answer to a fundamentally changed world built upon the criminal and inhuman exploitation of slavery by international industrialists is... more of the sort of tax loopholes that allow Mitt Romney to pay a 14% marginal rate in the US.

What a sick joke all of this is. But, of course, it will be taken quite seriously by many. And enthusiastically so at that. Hope you have plenty liquor on hand.

And I thought 2012 was sucking for local sports fans

Good God check out what's happened to Mitt's favorable/unfavorable ratings in January.

$76,000 or whatever is in this box?

Congratulations, Gulfport, the box is empty!
"They're taking a tough position," city council president Ricky Dombrowski said. "We're just going to continue to push them. How could (the claim) be worth zero when it was originally worth $76,000? I think they've just drawn a line in the sand."

BP initially offered the city $76,000 for tax losses, but the city previously rejected that offer.

BP has paid only two loss of revenue claims to local governments in Mississippi, BP spokesman Ray Melick said. BP records show the city of Moss Point was paid more than $57,000, while the city of Ocean Springs received almost $133,000. Melick said a total of 60 loss-of-revenue claims have been paid to governments along the Gulf of Mexico.
Admittedly Gulfport did ask for $11.8 million including $6.1 million in "community damages" which BP says can only be paid out via the NRDA process. I'd be interested in knowing if they're interpreting their liability through the Oil Pollution Act correctly, there. Unfortunately the article doesn't settle that question.

Elevated

Having proven its mettle through stellar management of the state hazard mitigation program, Shaw will be allowed to truck away the rest of the Road Home money too.

Hornets don't live in a "Hive"

And for that matter, neither do shrimp.

Update: Another way to look at this, of course, is the entity involved in spending BP money to suppress concerns over the safety of Gulf seafood is considering purchasing the "naming rights" to a publicly funded and maintained building. And using BP money to do that.

Upperdate: Dambala has a similar take here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'd watch a debate every night if they'd let me

I know it's fun to complain about the fact that tonight's GOP debate number elevety ka-billion and three feels excessive. But it's not the number of debates alone that makes it that way. What voters are actually fatigued over is the length of the campaign and the repetition of canned speeches, deceptive ads, and stupid lazy press narratives that go with that.

But the debates themselves actually make for the best opportunities for one or two revealing moments of spontaneity to break through all that scripted crap. Granted, the tight ground rules and poorly managed moderation by our nation's celebrity journalists mean such moments are few and far between. Often the best we can hope to see is an irrelevant gaffe, sighs, or "oops!" But every now and then an actual thing happens during the debates. And that's more than we can say for most campaign events.

If the campaign season were shorter, less expensive, and less stupid it could still contain a debate every few days and we'd be just as well off.

Ending in Slaughter

Just like everything else the LA Democratic Party plans.
The tour is designed to connect party officials with state Democrats on the subject of "rebuilding and the party's future," party spokesman James Hallinan said.

He said the tour will begin in the north Louisiana cities of Monroe and Bastrop on Thursday and end Feb. 4 in the Baton Rouge area town of Slaughter.

That'll help buck the trend

Maybe not such an excellent time to buy some dirt in Louisiana.
Allstate Corp. is asking to raise rates for 144,000 Louisiana homeowners who get their insurance coverage from two Allstate companies. According to the state insurance department, Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate wants an average 11.3 percent increase for 71,000 homeowners covered by Allstate Insurance Co. The company is proposing an average 5.9 percent hike for 73,000 homeowners covered by Allstate Indemnity Co. Together, the requests total just under $17 million in higher rates.


Right on the heels of...

With dire warnings that New Orleans' aging drinking water, sewer and drainage systems face "serious risk" without significant infrastructure investments, Sewerage & Water Board officials today will begin trying to build public support for a plan that would more than double customer rates by 2016.

Go home and think about wetlands

With a wink and a nod and probably an apology to Editlla, I'm trying out a new catch-phrase.

Anywhoo, in the spirit of the above... the state has released released its 50 year master plan for coastal restoration which you can access at this site. Today out at UNO the state is presenting the plan in a public meeting beginning at 1 PM with a formal hearing and comment session beginning at 5:30.

If you're going to the hearing, or if you're just interested in the plan at all, you may benefit from reading these short analyses from the Times-Picayune's Bob Marshall and The Lens' Mark Moseley.

Marshall begins by telling us the plan instills him with a sense of hope because it appears to take a harder, clearer line regarding the political obstacles to saving the coast.

The importance of that one accomplishment cannot be overstated. As author and levee authority member John Barry has pointed out, the biggest obstacle to solving our problems was never engineering, but politics. Not necessarily the Washington kind, but the local politics of competing interest groups.

Everyone has wanted to "fix" the coast, but often only if that fix didn't mean impacting their lives. From the shipping industry to sports fishers, if a project to stop land loss was going to hurt their interests, a quick phone to their Congressional members could scuttle the plans.


It's heartening to read that Marshall is encouraged here, but I would advise continued skepticism. It's one thing for a document like this to enumerate the choices it recommends our leaders make. It's another thing entirely to expect that to suddenly change the process by which those choices are made, as even Marshall has to admit later in the article.

The CPRA doesn't have the authority to put this plan into action. That lies with the Legislature and governor. In the week since the plan was released there's already been push back from interest groups who could be damaged. I'm not saying the plan is perfect, or expecting it to race through untouched. Maybe the plan can be tweaked to lessen impacts, but the politicians need support to resist ignoring science.


Something about Louisiana politicians needing to resist ignoring science doesn't inspire the greatest of confidence.

Meanwhile Moseley further diminishes our confidence in the practicality of the plan itself by focusing in on one peculiar item.
The coastal plan is a fine document, but the real headline, in my view, is the state’s belief that they can deliver 500-year storm protection for Greater New Orleans for the bargain price of $1.8 billion. And the subheadline to that should be: “Inexplicably, they suggest we wait decades to do it.”


That is quite the curiosity. I'd be interested to learn whether or not it draws much follow-up during tonight's hearing.

Possible Headlines of the Future

Les Miles severely injured by runaway float

The Krewe of Zeus has announced that Louisiana State University football players Jarrett Lee and T-Bob Hebert will preside as grand marshals of the parade on Lindi Gras, which is Feb. 20.

Is this all about getting Heebe?

Clancy seems to think so. I'm not so sure Broussard isn't a big enough fish all on his own, though.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flashback

People watching from the St. Charles Avenue neutral ground as the Giants beat the Patriots in Superbowl XLII on Bacchus Sunday 2008.





Feel any better, yet?

So this pathetic team who barely made the playoffs and was destroyed 49-24 by the Saints and who the Saints should have been hosting today just made it to the Superbowl. AND this is the best possible outcome at this point. Just kill me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Of course this means he'll lead the league in interceptions next season

Brees Family Announces Third Child On The Way

The last time this happened the entirety of the local Tweeter Tube dedicated itself to naming the poor unfortunate child who ended up with something worse than even the internet could imagine for him. This time around we only offer Menckles' suggestion that if it's a girl she should be called Bea Fimaq Bress. Give it a sec if it doesn't make sense at first.

Because I can't help it

Here's a guess at the South Carolina results. Because it's an open primary, I might be tempted to vote Cain were I a resident.



Newt: 40

Mitt: 30

Santorum: 15

Paul: 10

Cain: 5

Update: What Atrios said

Not that I need to add anything to Atrios' pithy line but this is the quintessence of why our entire system of elections and the people who cover them is corrupted beyond all recognition. King writes,
But disgust with the corrosive effects of super PAC money and coolness toward the likes of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are no excuse for trying to disrupt the presidential election system, as it appears Colbert has tried to do.
Um... yes, yes that is precisely what you do when you recognize that the system is a sham. You disrupt the fuck out of it or shut the fuck up. Otherwise you're part of the problem.

Upperdate:
Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has a guess on tonight's results at the end of this post as well. He also offers these thoughts on the GOPony race to this point.

I've given up trying to predict this race. Watching the events of last night, I saw plausible nomination scenarios for all four candidates. Don't forget that if the merry-go-round of incompetence continues much longer – if Romney and Newt and Santorum keep hot-potatoing frontrunner status and primary victories – Ron Paul is going to waltz into the convention with a mass of delegates and a legit argument that he was the strongest and most consistent candidate.


Sure, sure, that's fun to think about. But I'm sticking to my Romney inevitability thesis. If there's one candidate who most perfectly personifies the utter hollowness of American democracy at this stage in our history, it's Mitt. If there's another, it's the current President but that fact only strengthens my conviction here.

Building a better police state

Mitch picks up a few pointers in DC.

Lanier, Washington's police chief since 2006 who appeared with Landrieu at a U.S. Conference of Mayors panel discussion on youth crime, said some changes were accomplished relatively quickly.

She noted a "texting" program in which young people are encouraged to use their cellphones to report crimes and other suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.


Of course if we're going to enlist teenagers as a kind of secret police informant force in New Orleans, we may want to let them out of the house after 8PM

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Maybe

Good grief, Mitt.

Asked by CNN moderator John King whether he would follow his father, former presidential candidate George Romney, and release more than a decade of returns, Romney was noncommittal.

“Maybe,” he said, prompting boos and jeers from the audience. “I don’t know how many years I’ll release.”


Maybe

I was out while Newt was answering the question about his ex-wife with a prolonged "Fuck You," but my open relationship with this campaign allows that sort of thing. By the time I got to my TV, Newt was on to telling us about his big thinking about doing big things which is okay since we already know he's a big person.

Let's see, what else?

Mitt attacked Newt for having only 4 years experience as Speaker compared to Mitt's 25 years experience in business. But if you score it in terms of damage done to people's lives, it all works out kind of evenly. Maybe he should have converted to dog years.

Mitt also told us something about being, "from the real streets of America," video evidence of which is provided below.



Paul and Santorum held an elevated discussion on the merits of putting more Americans out of work so as to depress the price of the consumer goods they won't be manufacturing and so won't be able to afford anyway. I think Santorum even suggested more tax credits to "make American manufacturers competitive" or something like that. Perhaps he meant for them to be able to purchase suicide nets.

Mitt and Newt both seemed eager to outsource immigration enforcement to Visa and Mastercard.

Paul appeared to suggest that abortions happen because money is fungible before concluding that "South Carolina is known for its respect for liberty" which was almost as funny as Newt's closing plea that we vote for him as a means to avoid "radicalism."

The bobbleheads are all saying that Newt and Santorum "won" this debate. Whatever that means, it's pretty obvious that Mitt lost.. or at least looked (even) worse than he had in the 70 previous such appearances. Anyway, I'm going to change the channel now so I don't have to listen to Erick Erickson talk anymore. I suggest you do the same.

Saints D Spags out

After having spazzed out in San Francisco, that is.

Saints coach Sean Payton gave lip service to taking his time and talking to a lot of people in order to find his defensive coordinator. In truth, the Saints were zeroed in squarely on the biggest name left on the market.

New Orleans hired Steve Spagnuolo to be their next defensive coordinator, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.

Uh oh time to extend the curfew again

Have to keep those "white men with salt-and-pepper hair" out of the Whole Foods, you know. For their own protection.

More things you can do with consultants

I'm not sure if BP got this right. River Birch would have called her a lobbyist.
U.S. officials say a former BP executive was paid $107,000 a month to do consulting for a company lawyer, but allege the money may have been designed to influence her testimony during a deposition in litigation over the Gulf oil spill.

What SOPA/PIPA would actually do

We learned this week that our congresspersons still find it politically expedient to claim ignorance of the basic concept of the internet on the grounds that it is something only a "nerd" could understand. They're lying, of course, but there's a good reason why that lie works for them politically.

Mainstream news coverage (meaning big network TV, radio, and major papers) of the SOPA debate has been, until very late in the process, has been practically non-existent. But even when it is covered, it still happens within a vague political frame where little if any attention is paid to informing the audience precisely why the issue even matters in the first place.

And this is particularly striking when one considers just how easy it is to get it right. Take, as the rare example, this Ezra Klein interview with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. (H/T Michael F.)

Wyden has been this legislation's primary opponent for over a year now. And, who knows, maybe Wyden is actually a "nerd" (we're pretty certain Klein is) but that hardly makes this any less simple.

EK: What makes PIPA and SOPA cluster bombs? If you agree there is a problem, why aren’t these acceptable solutions?

RW: PIPA and SOPA, at their heart, are censorship bills and blacklisting bills, and they undermine much of the architecture of the internet. I recognize that you don’t have discussions about the domain name system at every coffee shop in America. But it’s essentially the directory to the net. If you didn’t have a universal naming system -- for my Senate site, wyden.senate.gov -- it would just be gibberish. What the bills do is say, when you get a court order, you can’t use the domain-name system to resolve to the IP address.

EK; When you say “resolve to the IP address,” exactly what that means. Let’s say I run EzraTube.com. And someone has uploaded copyrighted content to my site. What happens next?

RW: When you type EzraTube.com into your browser, your browser is asking Comcast to ask other servers where that goes. These servers basically act as phonebooks. What the so-called “DNS remedy” in the bill does is enable the attorney general to get a court order that tells Comcast, ‘when people want to find EzraTube.com, don’t send them there. Send them to a Department of Justice site instead.’ People who want to work around this would be able to. There are already third-party tools that use foreign servers or other domain-name servers outside of Comcast’s network. But that’s a problem because, for the last 15 years, we’ve spent all this time building the DNS system into a secure standard. Because of this effort, all of the important work on the net is built around the DNS system. In the national security space, everything we’re trying to do on cybersecurity is built around DNS system.

EK: And so their remedy to piracy is to make it a hassle for me to go to sites that include potentially pirated content, but the side effect is that the remedy corrupts the primacy and impartiality of the DNS system?

RW: Right. Though, by the way, it should be said that over the weekend, Chairman Leahy said he would make changes in the DNS part of the bill. We haven’t seen details of that. If it’s just a directive to “study it” before it goes into law, I would oppose that. So we have questions about that provision. We have questions about the authority the Justice Department has to get a court order to keep a search engine from directing to the site. That’s censorship. We have questions about the definitions applying to information-location tools, which our reading suggests that could apply to almost anything. That makes the legislation too broad.

Hedge funds are people, my friend

(Via Atrios)

People with human rights, presumably.
The novel approach would have the funds arguing in the European Court of Human Rights that Greece had violated bondholder rights, though that could be a multiyear project with no guarantee of a payoff.
Evidently this all comes from these damn Europeans having gotten the wording wrong.

Legal experts suggest that the investors may have a case because if Greece changes the terms of its bonds so that investors receive less than they are owed, that could be viewed as a property rights violation — and in Europe, property rights are human rights.
It's "pursuit of happiness," people! Damn don't you guys know how to write a legally vague enough constitution over there?

Just in case you thought this was excellent news for Newt

Newt is not going to win this.
In 1999, after refusing to take the seat he won in the 1998 elections, Newt Gingrich left his second wife, Marianne, for a much-younger staffer with whom he’d been having an almost-ignored affair. As in his first marriage, he did so shortly after Marianne was diagnosed with a serious illness; as in his first divorce, he fought Marianne tooth and nail over any financial settlement. And then he had the Atlanta archdiocese inform Marianne that their marriage was invalid in the eyes of his fiancĂ©e’s faith; 9 years later, he completed his conversion to Catholicism.


I shall fall Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more
-- Henry VIII Act 3 Scene 2

This car is running out of clowns

Once again the coveted Jindal endorsement is up for grabs.
Perry will hold a press conference at 11 am in North Charleston, South Carolina, where he is expected to announce he will drop out of the Republican primary for president, ending a campaign that began in mid-summer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"You are hurting this recovery and you need to stop it!"

Whenever they tell you you're not being "positive" enough, you're probably on to something.

After the meeting, Glapion suggested to a reporter from The Lens that stories focusing on the committee’s failure to comply with the open-meetings law might not be in the best interests of New Orleans.

“If we want to move the city forward, we’ve got to stay positive with our pen,” Glapion said to the reporter as Glapion walked from the room.

Sophisticating up the gang-banging

According the Tweeter Tube, moments ago Ronal Serpas said this.
"If you have a very organized gang you have greater opportunities to do intervention strategies that are successful."

Still waiting for the context of that but it sounds eerily similar to former New Orleans Inspector General Robert Cerasoli's statement that the problem with municipal corruption here was that it isn't sophisticated like it is in other cities.

Serpas also appears to be defending his policy of slandering murder victims by releasing their prior arrest records. "Well now the community is talking about it," says Serpas apparently regarding the often irrelevant but damaging personal information he attaches to public notices of violent deaths in New Orleans.

And then there's this.

Serpas: "100% of people were unemployed who were killed."


Any minute now we're expecting Councilwoman Palmer to suggest a curfew for all unemployed persons in New Orleans... for their own protection, of course.

Update: Here's the story Matt Davis (the source of the above quoted tweets) wrote for The Lens about Sepras' appearance at City Council today.

Bi-Partisanship!

Always brings us the most sensible policies.
Both bills have roughly an even number of Republicans and Democrats signed on as co-sponsors, making it difficult for members to apply to this hot-button issue their usual calculus about where they want to position themselves on the ideological spectrum.

Helicopter-mounted dog catcher?

Newt: Palin Will 'Play A Major Role' In My Administration

Feel free to make up whatever imaginary "major role" seems the best fit for Newt's imaginary administration.

They'll be back with pepper spray

PIPA and SOPA Co-Sponsors Abandon Bills

Still no guarantee these bills won't pass. They've been baking for quite some time now and continue to have very powerful and determined support. Even, on the off chance that SOPA and PIPA don't make it through this time around, unless the MPAA and the entire Hollywood lobby suddenly vanishes into thin air the internet is eventually going to be censored. It's only a matter of time.

"He does not allow his ignorance to undermine his confidence"

James Gill's review of Ed Blakely's book. The above line alone demonstrates that Blakely is the quintessential man of our age.

Kristen Palmer: "Won't somebody think of the children!"

The French Quarter is a Neighborhood

Councilmemeber Palmer appears in today's Times-Picayune once again lying (or at least deluding herself) about the recently passed curfew law. The law which Palmer disgustingly justifies on the grounds that it "protects children" in fact exists in order to codify the misguided notion that the oldest most iconic section of our city belongs more to tourists and the tourism industry than it does to the actual residents of New Orleans.

Palmer writes
The over-arching question has been, why the French Quarter and this particular section of the Marigny? The answer is simple. No other neighborhood in the city, state or nation sized at .66 square miles, just 12 blocks wide, contains more than 350 alcohol beverage outlets, and includes adult entertainment establishments and numerous strip clubs.


To begin with that's not the "over-arching question." The over-arching question is why does council claim the police authority to limit the movements of citizens in a free society at all based solely on their age? But, if you're an important person like Kristen Palmer who isn't likely to be randomly stopped just for being outside you don't care about that sort of thing in the first place.

What important people like Kristen Palmer care about is what makes other important people comfortable. In this case the important people in question are the operators of those beverage outlets and entertainment establishments who don't want their customers scared away from their Disneyland by the sight of unapproved characters. Nevermind any of this hooey about protecting minors. Most of the (also wrongheaded) popular support for these curfew laws is based on residents' and business owners' fear of, not fear for unsupervised minors.

Moreover, the very idea that there are sections of a city which are solely dedicated to one style of business flies completely in the face of the entire concept of urban living. Even today in its sorry denuded state the French Quarter is still a mix of restaurants, specialty shops, grocery stores, residential space, museums, courthouses, churches, schools, and of course bars and music clubs. Thanks to leaders like Kristen Palmer and the short-sighted moneyed interests she serves, we haven't been the greatest stewards of this special historic neighborhood but we also haven't quite managed to kill it yet.

Meanwhile The Lens has published a refutation of Palmer's elitist lies by Quarter native C.W. Cannon. I encourage you to go read his column in its entirety but here is where he makes his strongest point.

Black critics claim that the law is intended to target black young people. They’re right, of course, but even if we pretended this were not the case, the idea stinks. I realize there’s a national trend to shield children from witnessing certain adult behaviors, e.g. drinking and smoking, but I fail to see what’s so dangerous about my kid hearing music through the doors of The Spotted Cat or d.b.a., just as, when I was a kid, we used to hang in front of the Faubourg or the Dream Palace. In fact, I WANT them to experience a radically integrated society, including different races, sexual orientations, and age groups. That’s precisely the reason I’m choosing to raise them in the old neighborhood. This law isn’t about protecting them, it’s about protecting tourists from seeing them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This means we now have to add Tina Turner to the Armstrong Park sculpture garden

Ed Blakely wrote a book about us.
In telling his own version, Blakely at times sounds like a dilettante who never really soaked up the city's essence. The book's cover features a picture of storm damage in Slidell, not New Orleans, according to the photographer who shot it. And when Blakely tries to make a case for New Orleans' cultural relevance on the book's very first page, three of the five musicians he names as natives -- Scott Joplin, Josephine Baker and Tina Turner -- have nothing to do with the city.
I have not yet gotten my grubby little hands on this long-awaited chronicle of greatness but I plan to rectify that oversight in short order. This is the book we've been waiting for. This is the jewel of our Excellence in Recovery Bookshelf which holds such mighty tomes as Ray Nagin's Katrina's Secrets (Vol. 1), Veronica White's How to Maximize FEMA Funding Michael Brown's Deadly Indifference and hopefully someday that book we all need to get to work on convincing Greg Meffert's wife to self publish.

All of these celebrated authors are renowned for their creative story telling as well as their dynamic personalities and they all have their strengths. White was the fashionable one, Nagin was the funny one, Brown was the enigmatic unknowable one, but Blakely... he was the IT girl of the group, so to speak. The guy could do it all. Or rather, he never failed to tell us about the many things he could do.. as opposed to the things he actually accomplished during his time in New Orleans... anyway.

I can't wait to get a look at this book for myself and I'm sure neither can you. In the meantime, just to tide you over, maybe let's take a look back at the Blakely retrospective we put together in 2008 when we thought his tenure was nearing an end. As it turned out he stayed on another full year before amazing the lot of us by flying away in a balloon powered by his own hot air.

"Every evil to which we do not succumb, is a benefactor"

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I still don't really know what to say about this. Every time I close my eyes I keep seeing this film over and over.

Wang gives a nice little pep talk here. And I'm trying to keep my head up about things in the spirit of the words at the title of this post. The Superbowl win in 2009 was a payoff to 40 years of accumulated evils Saints fans had absorbed but not succumbed to despair over. The eventual benefit of that was a moment of joy the likes of which we're not likely to experience again.

Lombardi Gras Night
Lombardi Gras Parade crowd at Lee Circle February 9, 2010


But then again, if we can all manage the stamina to internalize a few more staggering evils like the one referenced above and, of course, this gut punch last year, maybe it won't be another 40 years before we've earned our next joy.

Uh oh Gonna have to extend the curfew again

Daddy Mitch will be displeased with this behavior. Outside of his jurisdiction, of course.
DULUTH, Ga. -- Authorities say an argument over an NFL playoff game led to the shooting of two men in the parking lot of a restaurant in suburban Atlanta.

Gwinnett County Police charged 31-year-old Donald Ray Ayro with assault charges for the shooting of 30-year-old Christopher Middleton and 30-year-old Corey Adams in the parking lot of an Applebee's in Duluth on Saturday.


But I'm sure one of our reputable city leaders will find a way to blame this on black youths running free in the French Quarter. Surely we must find a way to protect our fine, upstanding, tourists from our city's untouchables before civilization comes to an end.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Poor people's campaign



Meanwhile, yesterday's New York Times featured a cover story asking us all to take a "more nuanced" look at the super-rich in America. Call it a Rich People's Campaign. Whatever it is, it's what our nation's paper of record thinks is important for us to read on King's birthday.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Welp, it's been fun

There are more free agents beyond just these three, but if the Saints are interested in putting together one last run at things before this group falls apart completely, they'll have to bring Drew Brees, Marques Colston, and Carl Nicks back. It's also extremely unlikely they'll be able to do that.

For one thing, the Saints and Brees spent the first half of 2011 trying to hammer out an extension before giving up on that idea in frustration. Brees is now holds several NFL records he did not own at the beginning of this year. If the Saints continue to lowball him, he has every right to either walk or hold out.

Colston, meanwhile, could unwittingly become a bargaining chip between the Saints and Brees where the Saints could claim that Brees will have to bend for them if he wants them to afford to bring back his best receiver. If I'm Colston I might walk just on the general principle of not wanting to be used in this way. He's already said, he won't be granting the Saints a "hometown discount" and I believe him.

Probably Brees will be back but expect the negotiations to be longer and tougher than you might think. Colston, I'd give about a 30% chance. Nicks is reportedly gone already.

They're going to hate you either way

This Pro-Football Talk comment thread is pretty typical of what's flying around out there. Saints fans are "arrogant" Dome teams are illegitimate. Drew Brees is a "fraud" and a "stat whore." And, of course, everyone's favorite meme wherein they resent us for having endured a city-wide tragedy continues to be in evidence. America hates you, New Orleans. It always has. And that's the reason missing an opportunity to keep kicking them in the face stings the way it does.

It's been fun

John Deshazier:
Regardless of whether aggression is in the DNA of the Saints' defense, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his staff absolutely shouldn't have been blitzing Smith on second-and-10 from the 49ers' 33-yard line, with 40 seconds left.

As contrary as two-deep coverage might be to their nature, and as much as the collective defense might break out in hives if asked to execute the scheme, if ever there was a time to run it, it was with 40 seconds remaining and the opponent 67 yards away from the end zone.


The rumor is that Gregg Williams will be taking his talents to St. Louis next season. We hope he enjoys that.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Welp, That's pretty much what a Saints - 49ers game feels like

Hope you enjoyed the stroll down memory lane.

49ers Hate Day

Took this photo at Fisherman's Wharf when I visited over the summer. No idea what they think "Cajun Shrimp Creole" is. Didn't stop to find out.

Cajun Shrimp Creole

Apparently they also seem to think boudin is some sort of bread.

Boudin

San Francisco. It's a nice place to visit but really people shouldn't live there.

Also please see Bob Marshall's column in today's T-P

It was 1987 and the Saints had still not experienced a winning season in 20 years of trying, but that was about the change. Jim Mora's second team shocked the league and ignited bag burnings across The Big Easy by not only having a winning season, but going 12-3 and making the playoffs.

It was the start of a six-year run that made the Saints regularly respected for the first time. Mora's formula was beautifully simple.

He had a stifling "Dome Patrol" defense that could keep teams out of his red zone, and he had an all-time great kicker in Morten Andersen who was money from 40 yards.

So he put together a "no mistake" offense: A quarterback to throw after a strong running game was established.

No risk, no failure. Let the other guys make mistakes.

In any other division except the NFC West, it would have led to a string of championships during that era. But fate was not yet ready to smile on the Saints, because one of the other teams in that group was the San Francisco 49ers. They had a coach named Bill Walsh, then George Seifert. Quarterbacks named Joe Montana and Steve Young. Receivers named Jerry Rice and John Taylor.

They tortured Saints fans the way the Yankees tortured Red Sox faithful; they were always just a little better, especially late. In his winning seasons from 1987-1992, Mora would go 3-9 against the 49ers, never sweeping them. Even when the Saints compiled a 12-4 season in 1992 and 12-3 in 1987, they still finished behind the offense-rich 49ers.


Fuck the 49ers, fuck their "Cajun Shrimp Creole" and fuck their stupid bread. Today is a day to collect very old debts.

Collecting debts

Some of us have very very long memories.

A few years ago, an NFC Championship match-up with a similar bugaboo from days gone past had us quoting scripture we were in such a vengeful mood. Today is very much the same as then. The "destroying angels" have another cosmic debt to collect.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bad guys doing silly things

Martian Law is back!


If you've flipped open your local news dispenser lately, you're no doubt aware that that the number of persons shot in New Orleans in 2012 is currently keeping pace with the number of days so far in that year. Perhaps our city is emulating its football team's propensity for shattering records this season. Although I doubt any of us would have the nerve to accuse any of the shooters of "classlessly" running up the score.

In response to the deteriorating situation, Mayor Landrieu and Chief Serpas have treated us to a series of PR events where they have appeared in front of microphones in shirt sleeves hyping individual convicts up to the level of comic supervillainy, disrupted courtroom proceedings by impractically serving on a jury, and slandered murder victims by prominently highlighting their arrest records.

This morning they presented us with yet another press conference, this time ramping up their already alarming bellicose rhetoric which likens local crime suspects (often themselves children) to enemy combatants. Serpas promised us that he was "taking the fight to the street. We are going after the criminals with an intensity that has not been seen in the last 18 months," which was a funny thing to say at a presser where the Mayor complained that "too many people are afraid of the police." Serpas also told us about his plan to "flood the streets" which seemed a wildly inappropriate choice of imagery for New Orleans.

The Chief also unintentionally drove home the point about his over the top street-crime-as-terrorism rhetoric when he mentioned in passing that last night's "bomb scare" where officers supposedly found grenades in a suspect's car wasn't quite what we'd been led to believe. Serpas didn't go into details but basically admitted the "grenades" weren't actually grenades.


Speculative image of what NOPD officers actually found last night


The Mayor, meanwhile, engaged in an angry bullying back and forth with Times-Picayune reporter Brendan McCarthy over NOPD's manpower which, despite its reduced overall size, Landrieu insisted was the most fully staffed of any force in the country "per capiter". The Mayor weakened his own argument, though, by extolling the value of a "smaller but faster" workforce even as he insisted that reporters asking about the smaller police force were being "factually inaccurate." We know that the Mayor has a Romneyesque fetish for wanting to fire people but this line of discussion bordered on the absurd. Landrieu went on to talk about the city's unfortunate "culture of violence" which he summed up at one point as "bad guys who do silly things"

Everyone has his or her own idea about what will or won't actually make a difference regarding the city's murder rate. I read a lot of stories and opinions about police methods, community input, technology, and other ideas and schemes which may or may not be of some marginal use. But none of it gets to the heart of the problem we're facing.

Neither, by the way, does this silly op-ed the Times-Picayune published yesterday by Brett Will Taylor which postulates the following.

Why don't New Orleanians seem to care? Think about it. We don't hesitate to take to the street here for a second line or a parade. Forget the tourists; look at the masses of us who will be out in force this Carnival season.

Where are those same masses when our city's -- our city's -- murder rate spikes 14 percent? We can take the time to make a throw, but we can't take the time to say "no more"?

By the way, I'm not pointing fingers here. I'm including myself in this question. Before I started this column, I could tell you all about my Mardi Gras costume, but couldn't tell you what the 2011 murder rate was or how many of my fellow citizens had died already this year. We're numb here. I get it. But it has got to stop.
To begin with, it's astonishing that Mr. Taylor has difficulty recalling the last time the city's masses gathered to yell at City Hall about the out of control murder rate. I mean, I know it happened in the far ancient time of the year 2007 but that's hardly an excuse seeing as how it was recently immortalized on HBO's Treme.

None of this is to say that gathering in mass to demand a more tightly policed citizenry is a particularly useful tool in these matters. I may have had a few words to say about the efficacy of that before the last time it happened. Others will no doubt continue to disagree. But the point I think we all can agree on is that the problem is most assuredly not the fact that we do enjoy living our lives in this city at the same time that we grapple with the problems that come with doing that.

But the truth is we're never going to get this "culture of violence" under control until we fundamentally change the way our society limits opportunities for an increasingly large forgotten percentage of the population. And that's a problem not even the strongest "per capiter" police force who "takes it to the street" every day to kick down doors with all the "intensity" humans can summon will ever get a handle on for us.

Today's worst person in the world

LSU science and public health professor Edward P. Richards

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mardi Gras Mystery

NOTE: Post date moved from 1/11/12 to 1/12/12 because the fucked up way this blog archives rendered it invisible.

Unknown Parade

About ten minutes ago I ran out of the house barefoot hearing the sound of an approaching marching band. Usually about this time of year a person can catch either the Cohen High School or Sophie Wright Middle School band roaming the neighborhood practicing for the upcoming parade season. So I thought it might be fun to catch a few pictures or video of that.

What I found instead was the float pictured above along with two others following one band I was too late to identify on the Uptown bound side of St. Charles. It wasn't clear who they were or... what they wanted from us. I called to them to explain themselves. All I got in response was a few strands of beads and the phrase, "Work function."

I'm not sure what that means. I did happen to notice on my afternoon jog that part of St Charles just above Napoleon appeared to be occupied by a film crew. I hope this isn't somebody's staged faux Mardi Gras. But that's just a guess. It could be anything.

One more time regarding the NYT "Truth Vigilante" thing

It would be a lie of omission if I didn't direct those who had not yet done so to read Athenae on this topic.

More unraveling

Miles' players continue bailing on him.

#spon

In the grand tradition of the Mercedes-Benz Dome

As part of the agreement with the city, the Nike "swoosh," a worldwide fixture on sneakers and sports attire, will adorn the state-of-the-art football field. Under the deal, the trademarks of such rivals as Reebok and Adidas will be banned.

The city will operate and maintain the football field.


Speaking of the athletic apparel business, be sure and check out this ESPN Outside the Lines report on the Dallas Cowboys' use of Cambodian sweatshops in the manufacture of their independently produced line of products.

Eight years later, life is no simpler for Malay. She and her colleagues work harder than perhaps most people you know, logging regular 60-hour work weeks, sewing 10 hours a day, six days a week. They fear the wrath of their supervisors if they talk to a co-worker sitting next to them or take too long at the bathroom. They say they are essentially forced to work overtime daily and describe a hostile work environment in which supervisors yell and insult them. They work while sick because either they can't afford to go to the doctor or fear they will be fired if they miss work. They rent small rooms with sometimes as many as three other workers, eat substandard food and have irregular water and electricity.

All of this to make the clothes on your back, which just might include the Dallas Cowboys Sideline Kickoff Midweight Jacket you scored for Christmas, the one that sells for $100 -- or about what Malay will earn in one month.

Indeed, not just for America's Team but for nearly every sports team in America, virtually all of the jackets, jerseys, hats, pants and, yes, even bathrobes bearing your favorite team's insignia are made in factories abroad. Kol Malay, then, is the unseen face of a multibillion-dollar industry: The laborer who earns the minimum wage -- in Malay's case, 29 cents an hour -- who lives below the poverty level, who wouldn't know a Dallas Cowboy from a Dallas Maverick, and who has no real hopes of emerging from the cycle.

With the two hours of "voluntary" overtime she works daily, Malay brings home about $100 a month, which, according to one watchdog group is at least a third of what's required for a "living wage" in Phnom Penh.

"I can sew as many as 1,000 or 1,100 to 1,200 depending on the types of shirt," Malay says through an interpreter of the daily quota of parts of a shirt she completes. "To make so little money out of so many shirts made is an insult. I make thousands [of shirts], and they can sell each shirt for $70 to $80."

The issue is hardly isolated to the Cowboys, who, like most other major brands such as Nike and adidas, contract with independently owned factories around the world to get their merchandise made.

"The norm across the global apparel industry is your typical sweatshop, where workers are paid poverty wages," says Teresa Cheng, the international campaigns coordinator for United Students Against Sweatshops. "There's rampant sexual harassment. A lot of times there's even physical abuse.

"A couple decades ago, we first heard about all these sensational scandals about Nike sweatshops, and I would say, two decades later, not much has changed."


At the dedication of Nike Swoosh Field at Joe Brown Park, Mayor Landrieu made the following comments.

"This commitment to Joe Brown Park and New Orleans East shows the public and private sector confidence in our plans to build back better than before," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement released before a scheduled 4 p.m. ceremony.

Landrieu, who was slated to be joined by representatives of the three groups footing the bill for about one-third of the costs, said, "Through this collaboration, we're creating not just buildings, but productive opportunities for our young people."


Congratulations to Mayor Landrieu for embracing this fine "public-private partnership" in the interest of "creating productive opportunities for our young people" in New Orleans and in Cambodia, as well!

Punter's duel

Time to get excited
Morstead and Lee are the best in the business. Both enjoyed career seasons. Lee set the NFL record for net punting with an average of 44.0 yards. Morstead was right behind him at 43.1, the third-best season ever. Lee was selected to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team. Morstead is the first alternate.

The hidden yards Morstead and Lee gain in the kicking game Saturday might be less conspicuous than a Drew Brees pass or Frank Gore run, but they'll play a significant role in field position, and that's huge in a game where every yard figures to matter.

Out through the Tauzin

My proposal for the best neologism since Santorum would be this.

By insisting that the spike was “not a result of manipulative forces,” (former CFTC head Walter) Lukken helped Wall Street in its efforts to avoid reforms that might have prevented such abuses, like the closing of a series of loopholes and exemptions that allowed a handful of major speculators to play a lopsided role in the setting of commodity prices.

So what was Lukken’s reward for helping the financial services industry avoid such reforms? Well, Lukken has just been named to head the Futures Industry Association, or FIA, the chief lobbying arm of futures investors.

This follows the (Billy) Tauzin pattern of revolving-door hires: a government official carries water for a powerful industry, then moves on to take the cushy job with the industry’s lobbying arm once he leaves office.


Instead of talking about the "revolving door" leading from regulatory oversight offices to industry lobbying firms and back again, let's start saying "Slimy Whore X entered/exited through the Tauzin" Has a nice ring.

Adding: Here's what such a usage would look like. Earlier today we referred to an event where local luminaries gathered to honor former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy who, incidentally, exited office through the Tauzin.
Council President Jackie Clarkson called Barthelemy's role in securing the Holmes property for the city "masterfully visionary." No one mentioned that he later went to work for the same company, HRI, that he picked to redevelop the store as a hotel, apartments and retail complex.