Friday, October 31, 2014

What's in the early vote trick-or-treat bag?

Grim in the dark
Mary Landrieu's electoral prospects?

The early voting period for the November 4 election ended Tuesday. From Mary Landrieu's point of view, the turnout looks good but probably not good enough.
The Secretary of State's office reports that just over 236,000 ballots have been cast for the Nov. 4 election. In 2010 -- when Vitter was at the top of the ticket -- only 125,000 people voted early.

Still, the 2014 early voting numbers don't compare to early turnout in 2008, when Landrieu was last on the ballot. In that election -- which featured President Barack Obama for the first time -- over 292,000 people turned out to vote early.
It's difficult to interpret 2008 as a benchmark.  It's the last time Mary Landrieu was on the ballot. But the turnout was obviously driven by Barack Obama's presence. Contrary to what is implied by Bill Cassidy's commercials, Obama is not on the ballot this year.    

On the other hand, the 2010 midterm was such a snoozer in Louisiana that it doesn't fit the bill either.  2012, the election I've been looking at to get a set of upper-end aspirational turnout numbers for Democrats, is different as well. That was a Presidential year with no Senate race on the ballot.  But, since it also saw the highest turnout numbers of all, it deserves some attention.  (You can find all of these turnout numbers at the Secretary of State's website, btw)

So we've got 2008: Mary and Obama running together; 2010: Neither Mary nor Obama; 2012 Obama but no Mary; and 2014 Mary but no Obama. Lots of variables there, including the general trend toward more early voting in each election.  It's a confusing game to play at and it might even be pointless... eh but okay here we go.

The T-P has already done the work of comparing this year's numbers with 2008 and 2010. Statewide, the early vote total in 2012 was 356,603.  So that's:

2008: 292,213
2010: 125,054
2012: 356,603
2014: 236,088

I'm going to try and compare apples to apples without getting too complicated. First let's look at the expected drop in turnout that happens between every Presidential election and its following midterm.

The difference between Presidential year 2008 and midterm 2010 was a 57% drop in early vote turnout.  But compare Presidential year 2012 to midterm 2014 and the drop is only 33%. This suggests that Landrieu is succeeding at driving the turnout up this year.

But it's also true that more people are opting to vote early each election cycle as they get more and more used to the process. Let's assume the two Presidential elections, where early turnout increased by 22% from 2008 to 2012, provide a fair baseline for this expected natural growth in early voting.
If we, then, compare the two midterm elections (2010 and 2014) we get an eye-opening 88% increase in early turnout.

The difference between 2010 and 2014 has to be significant.

Even more significant will be placement. Landrieu is counting most on juicing the turnout in Orleans Parish. You probably noticed these signs around town last week.

Vote Early purple

Here are the early vote turnout numbers from Orleans Parish for the elections under discussion.

2008: 16,912
2010: 9,733
2012: 30,304
2014: 23,152

You can play around with those numbers if you like but here is what I find most significant. Remember the statewide drop in early turnout from 2012 to 2014 was 33%. In Orleans Parish it was only 23%.  This suggests that Mary is getting people to vote where she needs them to.  There still may not be enough of them, of course.  But the answer to the main question here is, yes, the early vote push was effective.

This is different from saying it will help Landrieu win, of course.Take a look at this New York Times feature on the Louisiana elections published this week.  
The main political event this year, the Senate race, could not be further removed from the Edwards era. No one here at the harvest festival was particularly excited about Senator Mary L. Landrieu, a three-term Democrat, or Representative Bill Cassidy, the Republican challenger who will most likely face Ms. Landrieu in a runoff. A few said they might vote for Rob Maness, a hard-right Tea Party favorite and retired Air Force colonel who is also running, though most acknowledge his chances are slim.

“They used to say that the biggest sin in Louisiana politics was to be boring,” said R. Michael McHale, a lawyer in Lake Charles. “Now Louisiana’s become more like Washington. To a certain extent, elections aren’t even about Louisiana anymore.”
The degree to which that last observation is true will be the key to this race. The idea that you can win a statewide election in Louisiana with an unappealing nerd of a candidate running on a generic nationalized platform feels wrong.

The polling right now suggests that Cassidy defeats Landrieu in a runoff. But still one's instincts hew back toward the notion that, when they really have to decide whether or not they want to make the "weird dude" their Senator based on cable news talking points that have little if anything to do with  Louisiana, voters are going to balk.

Earlier this week I wrote that Mary and Cassidy are making different assumptions about what voters think a Senator is for.  Here is more on that from the NYT piece. 
Roughly $40 million has been spent on the Senate race here by campaigns and outside groups, and television is saturated with a wave of nasty ads that have exasperated the fact-checkers. But it is not the most expensive race in the country, nor is it remarkably nastier than the rest of the paint-by-numbers Senate campaigns this year.

Mr. Cassidy is running a generic if effective Republican campaign, tying Ms. Landrieu to President Obama, to Harry Reid, and to Washington in general. Ms. Landrieu could be described as the standard-bearer for an older style of Louisiana politics, with a bring-home-the-bacon campaign. But even she is relying for her survival on millions of national ad dollars and a typical Democratic constituency of black voters and women.
Do voters care that Mary Landrieu, whatever her faults, at least presents herself as Louisiana's Senator rather than just the Democratic Senator from Louisiana?  Or are they more interested in voting against the effigy of Barack Obama her opponents seem to be running against instead of her

Probably the answer is the latter but tune in Tuesday just in case.


Same old century over and over

Bobby Jindal, usually not shy about turning back the clock on various aspects of social and economic policy, is upset with Mary Landrieu for "living in a different century."
"Senator Landrieu's comments are remarkably divisive," Jindal said. "She appears to be living in a different century."
We already know Jindal has an affinity for the 19th Century so we can't imagine that he'd be too critical of Mary for wanting to live there.  What century is she living in?   The one when we told the truth about racism, apparently.
"I'll be very very honest with you," Landrieu said. "The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It's been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader. It's not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It's more of a conservative place. So we've had to work a little bit harder on that, but you know, the people trust me, I believe. Really they do. Trust me to do the right thing for the state."
Actually maybe I'm giving Mary too much credit for truth telling here.  "Has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans."  Jesus, that is some mealy-mouthed euphemistic shit or what.  Mary, if you're going to... correctly... say that racism is a major source of the Obama antipathy in Louisiana, you can't describe the racism as some past tense unfriendliness. No wonder Republicans are jumping on Mary over this. She's practically making half of their argument for them.

The pitch the Republicans reacting to this story are making is that racism is a thing that happened once, a long time ago, before America got over it... sometime around.. you know.. just before whenever you were born, probably.   The upshot being that anyone, particularly any Democratic politician who even brings it up is "living in the past" or, worse, guilty of something called "reverse racism" which is what they call it when you get too explicit in pointing out the privileges enjoyed by the privileged.  Mostly it's about telling white people they are the real victims.

And it's nothing new.  Bob Mann cites the rise of David Duke during the early 90s as a counterpoint to the "racism is over" argument.  
But Bobby Jindal wants you to know that he’s outraged by even the suggestion that there exist racists in a state in which 60 percent of white voters gave David Duke their vote (in the 1990 U.S. Senate and 1991 governor’s races).

I guess all those Duke voters are dead, right?  Now, it’s all sweetness and light in Louisiana.
It's worth noting also that, "racism is over" was a central argument of Duke and his supporters even then.  People concerned about Duke's Klan background were, "living in the past," they would say. Anyone hung up on such a detail was probably one of the real racists. (It didn't help that the local media tended to treat Duke's assertions as legitimate arguable points, by the way.. but that's a story for another time.)   That was 20 years ago.  But really, this stuff goes back further.

The modern iteration of the GOP was made out of the white backlash politics of the 1970s.. a time in which we seem to have become forever stuck.  This is from Joan Walsh's review of Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge.  (Read this book, by the way.)
Of course everything Perlstein covers in “Invisible Bridge” feels eerily current and familiar. The parallels to the backlash to President Obama are obvious.

The revolt against the Equal Rights Amendment and Roe v. Wade that began in the mid-1970s continue, in the renewed attacks on abortion rights and even contraception today. The conservative backlash against Common Core has its roots in the right-wing uprising against ’70s curriculum standards abetted by those early Heritage Foundation staffers. When Joni Ernst talks about “nullification” of laws passed under our first black president, she represents the enduring Goldwater alliance between anti-Washington Northerners and states’ rights Southerners that powered the presidencies of Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes, too.

When Sen. John McCain calls President Obama “cowardly” for not castrating Vladimir Putin over meddling in Ukraine, or neocons bray that the president has “abandoned” Iraq, we are living with the results of refusing to face up to the limits of American power, even as the lone remaining “superpower.” They’ve been screaming about this since Jerry Ford had to go out and attack Cambodia to “rescue” the SS Mayaguez – unnecessarily killing 49 American servicemen because Henry Kissinger believed “the United States must carry out some act somewhere in the world which shows its determination to continue to be a world power.”

Again the media are complicit, covering the Tea Party as though it was something new and novel and tailored to the times, rather than the Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan coalition dressed up in funny costumes, many of them still animated by an abiding racism. In fact, the American right has lost some of the authentic anti-Wall Street, anti-crony capitalism energy that powered Goldwater’s rise. But Perlstein shows how Democrats have been complicit too, from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.
Democrats like Carter and Obama are "complicit" in that they concede too much of the culture war argument to effectively refute it. Which is precisely what Mary Landrieu does wrong when she says, "The South has not always been friendliest.."

Partly that is just Mary being diplomatic.  But it's also a manifestation of Perlstein's major complaint against the post-70s Democrats' ability to communicate with voters.  
In all three of his books Perlstein rubs liberals’ noses in the difference between the way we face adversity, and the way the right does. We trust in our own moral superiority – and lately, in our moral superiority tied to demographic destiny, which seems unbeatable. But they just get busy trying to out-organize the other side – whether the other side is Ford Republicans or Obama Democrats – and after a few setbacks, they beat us anyway. Over and over since the rise of Barry Goldwater, Democrats and much of the media have concluded that the Republican Party is dead if it won’t court new voters, and over and over they don’t do that – and they win.
We... meaning those of us who tend to side with Team D for various reasons.. think, hey we're the good guys here. This is so obvious to Team D that we hardly deign to spend any time telling anyone.  Surely these voters will know this about us. What's wrong with all these ignoramus voters who don't get it? 

Hence the indignation when we find out...
People Think The Economy Is Rigged To Favor The Wealthy
Q: Do you think the U.S. economic system (generally favors the wealthy) or (is fair to most Americans)?
Generally favors the wealthy 71%
Is fair to most Americans 24%

People Think Republicans Will Fix This
Other polls show something ironic: People trust Republicans more than Democrats to fix this and make the economy favor regular people again.

An October 13 Gallup poll: “On the No. 1 issue, the economy, Republicans have more than doubled their April lead over Democrats, to 11 percentage points.”

So, yes, voters are clearly ignorant of even the most very recent history.  But it is the Democrats' combination of condescension and laziness that allows us to keep repeating it

Nobody actually lives here

Look at all the vacant housing in New York City.
In a three-block stretch of Midtown, from East 56th Street to East 59th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue, 57 percent, or 285 of 496 apartments, including co-ops and condos, are vacant at least 10 months a year. From East 59th Street to East 63rd Street, 628 of 1,261 homes, or almost 50 percent, are vacant the majority of the time, according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

“My district has some of the most expensive land values in the world — I’m ground zero for the issue of foreign buyers,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, whose district includes Midtown. “I met with a developer who is building one of those billionaire buildings on 57th Street and he told me, ‘Don’t worry, you won’t need any more services, because the buyers won’t be sending their kids to school here, there won’t be traffic.’  ”

The developer told her that the buyers basically would never be here, Ms. Krueger said. “He said it like this was a positive thing,” she added. “You can’t make this stuff up.”
In New Orleans, we're seeing rents and real estate prices skyrocket right now. Short-term rentals and "Pieds-a-Terre" litter... and in some cases... blight the landscape.
The owner of the Royal Street building is Elaine Petrie, according to city assessor's records. Petrie did not live in the building, a portion of which was rented to a Baton Rouge couple as a pied-a-terre. Petrie could not be reached for comment, but neighbors said the building's interior had been crumbling for years.

Lousteau said the condition of the Royal Street property is a classic example of the demolition-by-neglect that can take place beyond what can be seen by the naked eye.
But we encourage this.  The city's development and budgetary strategy is dependent on wealthy property owners who can pay high property taxes.. even if they don't actually live here.  All that's left to do now is legitimize AirBnB and tax that too. (That is coming, by the way.)  Then nobody has to actually live here at all.

The circular argument that takes place in the middle of all this would be funny if it weren't also so depressing.

The rent is too damn high

Well the housing supply is too low

Ok then let's build more housing

Sure, here are a whole bunch of new luxury condos for rich people

The rent is too damn high.

And on and on like that until nobody actually lives here anymore.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Deal with it later

Senate election, city budget hearings, blah blah blah...

I really wanted to finish the Mark Ingram post, though.

Oh well.

Here, instead, is a Jack-O-Lantern I made in 2009.  You know, for luck or whatever.. but I'm pretty sure we got this.

Who Dat Halloween

"Evicted from the city as a whole"

San Francisco is the extreme example, but the rent is too damn high in cities all over the country. In the it cities of the sort that New Orleans strives to be included with, this sort of thing is going to continue happening to people.
According to the San Francisco Rent Board’s annual report on evictions, 1,977 eviction notices were filed this year, a 417% increase from 2012. The highest they've been since the first tech boom hit the Bay Area in 2001. 

“Unlike in years past, if a tenant is evicted from their home today in San Francisco, they are more than likely going to be evicted from the city as a whole,” said Erin McElroy, a housing rights advocate and founder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.
Every time you flip open your NOLA.com and see yet another "Entrepreneur Week" or "Tech Week" or "Tech Entrepreneur Week" happening remember the aspiration is to emulate what's happening in San Francisco.  The urban development policy here, really since Katrina, has been to build nice things for rich people and kick everyone else out.

I don't know why anybody would want to live in a city homogeneously populated by wealthy tech bros but that does seem to be the goal. 

Bobby Jindal is burning witches for Halloween

New Orleans, Louisiana: Where we've nearly completed construction of a new state of the art "biomedical corridor"; home to Tulane University's renowned school of Tropical Medicine; heavily invested in welcoming large groups of tourists and conference attendees from all over the world....  is off limits to scary medicine wizards by order of  Governor Jindal's Secretary of Health and Hospitals.
Louisiana’s top health official is warning researchers and medical professionals who’ve fought Ebola in West Africa to stay away from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual conference in New Orleans, set to begin Sunday.

“We do hope that you will consider a future visit to New Orleans, when we can welcome you appropriately,” Kathy Kliebert, state Secretary of Health & Hospitals and Kevin Davis, director of the Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, say in the Oct. 28 letter to the society.
Ordinarily, Bobby Jindal would perform mitigating exorcism but he's currently out of state campaigning.    So now we're trying to get Elbert Guillory's witch doctor to come down and stand in but this is kind of his busy season.

What did Bobby Jindal know and when did he know it?

You know the Presidential campaign is ramping up when you hear the shredders whir into motion.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Not the only cover-up currently under suspicion, by the way. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(Ronnie Virgets Voice) Your New Orleans Advocate It's like the iPhone of newspapers

Not sure which is the best quote from this John Georges event to pull so I guess the part where he says he is "disrupting" the newspaper business is the default.
“It’s good to have outsiders,” Georges said, calling himself a “disruptor” of the traditional newspaper game. Georges pointed out that the people who created the now-defunct Palm Pilot personal digital assistant didn’t understand Steve Jobs’ concept for the iPhone and dismissed it out of hand, adding quickly, “I’m not saying I’m at his level.”
So I guess that makes him a "dangerous person" of the not-internet.

Georges said other things that make even less sense. Go read the rest.



Y'all, come on.  You gotta give out tricks-or-treats.  You really shouldn't have to be told this.
The last two years, on my block, not a single house except mine has given out Halloween candy. When I look up or down the street, there’s only darkness. No friendly porch lights, nobody out front, no candy for the kids of the Upper Ninth Ward. These newer neighbors have opinions about how New Orleans should be, how it needs to change. Most want to be part of making New Orleans “better,” but there’s a fundamental disconnect. Every one of them I’ve asked about it went trick-or-treating as a kid. So why don’t the kids in this neighborhood deserve that same opportunity?
Seriously, there's plenty of time for other stuff.  Here is the route for tomorrow night's Krewe of Boo parade. The big haunted houses are open all week.  (This is supposedly the final year for House Of Shock.) Halloween is on Friday night this year so most of you will have plenty of time to head out to the shows and parties and stuff after the kids have all gone to bed.

But trick-or-treat only lasts a few hours in the early evening.  Get out there and make an effort.

Halloween candle

Speaking of children's Halloween stuff, I noticed this book listicle the other day.

Those are pretty good but here also are these read-aloud favorites:

What's In The Witch's Kitchen by Nick Sharratt
This is a flap book tour of a witch's kitchen.  Open the jars, and pots, and cupboard doors, and such to reveal either treats or tricks. 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Leonardo is terrible at being a monster; puts together a plan to get better at it. 

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds Illustrated by Peter Brown
Jasper Rabbit likes to eat carrots.  He eats lots and lots of them. Until one day, some of them start following him....

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly
Each new page describes a new part of the monster until it fully manifests.  Then you get to yell at it until it goes away.  It's kind of like the employment cycle of a football coach. 

Keep drinking milk

Bobby Jindal has a solid handle on how to fix his already flagging Presidential prospects.
I’m a congenital pessimist, so don’t give me too much credit for drawing attention to this pending debacle-cum-comic-relief. Instead, all praise should go to National Review’s Eliana Johnson, who reported Monday evening that a source “close to” Jindal was willing to confirm that the “slight” governor “has gained 13 pounds over the past few months” because he’s “looking to beef up” now that the 2016 campaign is “on the horizon.” Yes indeed, the guy whose political future began to unravel as soon as people noticed he sounded like Kenneth from “30 Rock” seems to think he can revive his flatlining career by reminding everyone that he doesn’t exactly reflect the Republican Party base’s particular vision of rugged masculinity.
Those of us who know Bobby Jindal now are hardly surprised.  This is the guy who purposely asks people to call him after a character he saw on the Brady Bunch.   Is it too much of a stretch to assume that Jindal would also draw an electoral strategy from something he saw on TV?

Edit: I changed the milk commercial after publishing. Couldn't decide which was the most.. Jindal. Several of them work. Browse YouTube and find your favorite.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The wages are too damn low

Tourism is booming in New Orleans!  Get excited, everybody.
For all its bulk, however, the red-hot tourism industry has failed to create a solid middle class in a city riven by some of the worst income inequality in the country, data shows.
It's an uncomfortable truth for industry lobby groups used to touting tourism's massive impact on the local economy.
This is a remarkable article, often the sort of thing that gets drowned out by the overwhelmingly bombastic boosterism on NOLA.com.  It looks like McClendon has difficulty getting the "industry leaders" to talk to him. Instead they sent talking points and a business school guy they keep on retainer.
The city's main tourism boosters - the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and New Orleans Lodging Association - all declined requests for interviews for this story.

Stephen Perry, president and chief executive of the CVB, issued a written statement in which he touted the industry's history of job creation. "The tourism industry offers competitive wages, job security and career advancement potential unlike any other industry in New Orleans," he said.

The trade groups also referred comment to John Williams, dean of the University of New Orleans College of Business Administration and director of the Hospitality Research Center, which frequently produces economic-impact studies commissioned by the industry.
Throughout the rest of the story, Williams offers the regular BS.. which is immediately revealed to be exactly that.
Job figures from the Data Center show that employment in the oil and gas industry dropped by 46 percent from 1980 to 2011. Shipping fell by 45 percent. Tourism, meanwhile, exploded, growing by 33 percent to its peak before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. By 2011, it had rebounded significantly even as other industries continued to falter.

The bulk of those jobs are low paying, though, according to the Data Center. Of the so-called export industries, tourism -- at $32,000 -- had by far the lowest average annual wage.

Williams, the industry researcher at UNO, disputed those figures, saying that many tourism positions are supplemented with tips, so income data that seems to show the industry as dominated by low-paying jobs can be misleading.

The Data Center report says it has taken tipped wages into account.
Also, the tipping system is itself terribly unfair to service workers.  
US companies are allowed to pay tipped employees pittance because customers are expected to tip well enough to surpass at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and, if they don't, companies have to chip in the rest.

But that's not how things always work in the real world. "The servers who make 'good money' are in the minority," says Maria Myotte, a spokesperson for Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which aims to improve conditions for workers in the industry. She notes that tipped workers are hit especially hard by "wage theft," whereby restaurants don't make up the difference when the tips aren't rolling in. Between 2010 and 2012, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor conducted nearly 9,000 investigations in the restaurant industry, and discovered that 83.8 percent had some kind of wage and hour violation.
The industry knows this but they like for you to imagine differently.  (Just because the system is unfair doesn't mean you should stop tipping your sever, of course.)

Later Williams says something truly horrifying. 
Williams, however, said it's unfair to paint the industry with such a broad brush.

Take prep cooks and front desk agents, two typical entry-level jobs in the tourism industry, he said. In the local market, they earn an average of $21,340 and $22,000 a year, respectively, both well above minimum wage, Williams said. And, with the market booming, it doesn't take them long to move up, he said.
Well above the minimum wage! You guys don't know how great you have it. And, of course, every one of these jobs is held by a real Horatio Alger type kid just waiting to move up, right?  Stephen Perry even jumps back in to say so. 
Perry, the Convention and Visitors Bureau president, likewise said that the industry provides unparalleled career ladders. "We have hotel general managers who began as dish washers, CEOs of restaurants who started as food runners and so many more success stories. This kind of opportunity is an offering unique to the hospitality industry."
It's not a great wage, but, you see, you are also paid in "unique opportunities." Really why would anyone complain?  The fun thing about this article is it goes on to tell you why.  
Walker said that hasn't been his experience. After more than a half-dozen years in the business, he was recently turned down for a promotion to butler, he said. He knows people in housekeeping who have been in the same job for more than a decade.
This should be obvious but you can't go around boasting about being responsible for "creating jobs" for tens of thousands of people in town, if the great majority of those jobs are dead end positions that can't even support the cost of living here.
The combination of low wages and a hot real-estate market has only exacerbated the pressure, said Laura Tuggle, executive director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, which represents low-income workers on housing issues such as landlord-tenant disputes.

The low wages aren't new, she said, but expensive housing costs are. "Now we have New Orleans wages and New York rents." Service industry workers, including those in the tourism world, now see much of their check eaten up by their living costs, she said.
The rent is too damn high and the wages are too damn low and the answer to that has to be better than, let them eat "opportunities."

Anyway, there's a lot more there. I hope this article gets a lot of play. These kinds of questions are rarely asked whenever we talk about the so-called "lifeblood" industry of the city. We always talk about how much money is spent on tourism in New Orleans.  It's weird that we never talk about whether that money actually benefits anyone.

We tried to get into it a little during Rising Tide 7 although that conversation skewed more toward quality of life, and "cultural appropriation" issues brought on by tourism.  The video is still worth a look.

Bike stop and frisk campaign

NOPD issued a press release today emphasizing some of the city's bicycle ordinances.  These are all regulations that have been on the books for years but one assumes this  presages an enforcement crackdown.  A lot of these are tedious and unnecessary but here is the critical one.
Sec. 154-1403. - Registration required.
No person who resides in the city shall ride or propel a bicycle upon any street unless such bicycle has been registered and a registration plate is attached thereto. This section shall be applicable to new residents of the parish at the expiration of 90 days.
No one registers their bicycle.  There are other rules on this list that few people follow but the registration bit is the one no one is even likely to know how to comply with.  It's actually kind of a mysterious process and was almost made even worse in 2010.
Bicycle registration typically is $3, but for bikes without a receipt, the city requires a notarized affidavit, and total registration can cost up to $35. At the event, Bike Easy will pay the notary, and the Fraternal Order of Police will pay the licensing fee. To register, bring your bike and a photo ID. Bike Easy also will offer free bicycle safety training from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In 2010, New Orleans City Council was set to consider a sweeping bike registration ordinance but it was pulled from the agenda. It would've updated the existing law — adopted in 1987 and requiring each bike pay a $3 registration fee — to enforce a $15 fee.
That's from an article about a "free registration" event that took place last year.  I'm actually having trouble figuring out what the normal procedure for registering a bicycle even is.  What this is telling everyone is that the police have cause to stop you pretty much just for being on your bike.  That, and that they would like to ticket you for more things. The fine for riding an unregistered bike is apparently $100.

So anyway, be careful out there.  Maybe it's safest just to stay indoors under a blanket.  (Blanket registration $50)

Football season has only just begun

Apparently basketball season starts tonight. Read some of this when you get a chance.  Also this.  It looks like it could be fun. Our team has a superstar forward.  It also has a guy named Jimmer this year. So that's something.

But really I'm not ready to think about that because we're just now coming around to the idea that football season is beginning.  So instead you should read this.
A week ago the consensus was that the Saints were the best team in a terrible NFC South, but last night the Saints could have beaten any team in the league. Mark Ingram looked like a goddamn monster, and you can blame the Packers’ bad run defense if you want to be a nihilistic pussy, but Carolina is nearly as bad. The offensive line gave Drew time to throw properly, not underhanded or while looking at the sky, and the defense executed (harrowingly) a new thing where they cover wide receivers instead of throwing the entire roster at an unflinching offensive line. It was a whole hell of a lot of Stuff Just being Done, it was interesting and successful for 114 out of the last 120 minutes, and we can only hope those other six minutes were the aberration, and not the other way around. Supposing that’s the case, this team could make the previous goal of 7-9 and a home playoff game look like a sad, fatalist joke.
 And also this.
Who are the 2014 Saints, though?  Even though they won a lot of games last year, it never seemed like the team really had a firm identity, a real idea of who they were.  Payton was much more likely to rely on his defense last year than ever, and rightfully so, but we were not really a “defensive” or “offensive” team.  There wasn’t a specific thing they could hang their hat on.  They started the season passing a lot, then migrated over to running the ball more.  There was success here and there.  No one really said too much about it, because they were winning.

That lack of identity carried over into this year, but when you’re losing more games than you’re winning, everything is going to be amplified and questions that weren’t being asked become fair game:

What is this team about? What is their mark, as a team? Are they still the high-flying offense of the past? Was last year’s defensive play an aberration?

Have they forgotten who they are?  Did they ever really know?

Maybe, just maybe, they’re starting to figure it out.
That's kind of what I was saying here.   The point is this.  It's all in front of us right now.  We can't really call Sunday night a "breakthrough" until we see that performance replicated.  Put together a convincing win on the road to claim first place, though, then history will might look back at that Packers game differently.

Here's something that crossed my mind last night.  Remember this?

God Jim Mora was such a goddamn pompous jerk.  To this day, I have no idea why anyone ever put up with playing for a guy like that.

But that's not important right now.  What is important is that history records this embarrassing outburst as the turning point in the Saints' 1987 breakthrough season.  After this 49ers loss, the team went on to win 9 straight games finishing 12-3 (it was a strike shortened year) and earning, not only their first playoff birth, but also the first winning season in the then 21 year history of the franchise.   It was kind of a big deal. If you're of a certain age, in fact, 1987 might still be your most fond football memory despite some interesting recent developments.

Anyway, the thing about the "Coulda Shoulda Woulda" speech is that, when it happened, the Saints' record was 3-3.  There were some strange circumstances at play thanks to the strike and the replacement games having jumbled everything up.  But, really, that team was in a situation very similar to the one people are saying the 2014 team is in.

The sentiment coming through the blogs today is that the 2014 Saints have spent the first 7 weeks finding themselves.  That's not exactly the same as having to deal with the chaos of an interrupted schedule and a strike-fractured roster.  But the challenge is similar. With nine games left to play, it's not impossible to imagine the 2014 Saints "figuring it out" the way the 1987 team did.

It's possible the 2014 Saints have as much to look forward to as the 1987 Saints had a the same point in their season.  The difference may only be in coaching style.  Jim Mora yelled like an idiot Schiano Man.  Sean Payton just sent everyone a stupid email forward.

On second thought, that actually might be a distinction without a difference. 

Exploding voters

Not quite exploding pie but... ok nobody gets that joke anymore.  Today is the last day for early voting.  According to the T-P, the turnout has "exploded."
About 17,430 city residents have cast ballots during early voting, which ends today, said Sandra Wilson, registrar of voters. That's more than four times as many early voters as the last midterm election in 2010, when 3,278 cast early ballots, she said.

The big early voting turnout may be a good sign for Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu as she fights to keep her Senate seat. African-Americans, who vote overwhelmingly Democrat, have much higher early voting rates than whites, and maximizing voter turnout in New Orleans is seen by many as key to Landrieu's electoral hopes.
If we include yesterday's count, the total is now 18,066 in Orleans.  That's an impressive 60% of the early vote turnout during the 2012 Presidential election. It's still probably not going to be enough for Mary.  Although, this surprise late entrant might muddle things up on the Republican side.
Wilson speculated that the sharp rise is due in part to the intense interest in the senatorial race between Landrieu and David Cassidy, the Republican front runner.
Last night Mary Landrieu debated Rob Maness and one additional empty space where Bill Cassidy might have been.  It was uneventfully on-script. 

Mary made a point of name dropping every Republican she is friends with and telling us how magically delicious petroleum is.  (Consider putting some on your scrambled eggs or in a soup, she said.  We already know how much you love it on seafood.)  

Maness talked about how "the free market" will help us "find solutions" on "the table."  The Colonel also said "war is a racket," while simultaneously talking up his military record. Apparently he did secret things in "countries I cannot name." So he was a covert racketeer, we suppose. Next he said that "politics is a racket" so now it makes sense why he is even running.   Rob Maness is an interesting fellow.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton is stumping for Mary this weekend, in case that is the kind of thing that gets you excited.  Go out and vote today if you plan to vote early. 

So one more point about that Politico op-ed by BP about how great the Gulf is now

Yeah, that was wrong.
Based on an analysis of sea-floor sediment samples collected from the the Gulf of Mexico, geochemists at the University of California-Santa Barbara were able to offer the first clues about the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil. Their results were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

The data, which was gathered as part of the ongoing federal damage assessment, shows "a smokingly clear signal, like a bulls-eye" around the Macondo well, said lead author David Valentine.

Mission Accomplished

Bobby Jindal declares victory in his long standing mission to bring Louisiana back to the Gilded Age.
“Today, Louisiana is the epicenter of an industrial renaissance surpassing anything we’ve witnessed since perhaps the industrial revolution in 19th-century America,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday.
And he's right about that.  Louisiana is seeing an industrial boolet of sorts.  And we are combining it with massive cuts to public educationhealth care services, and worker benefits.  We don't believe in evolution.  We don't think of women as people.

And, of course, the "industrial renaissance" is predicated on granting tax privileges to multibillion dollar corporations to fill our air and water with poison. 
The company will qualify for Louisiana’s new Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive, which would provide up to a 15 percent payroll rebate for each GTL job, and Quality Jobs Program, which would give up to a 6 percent payroll rebate for each ethane cracker job, for up to 10 years. Sasol is expected to use the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program for both the ethylene and GTL facilities.
We're definitely bringing back all the old time religion.  Congratulations, Bobby.

Monday, October 27, 2014


So it turns out that the much maligned "per diem" system for funding Orleans Parish Prison operations, long the target of prison reform activists, has already been quietly shelved.
The so-called “per diem” approach — which effectively mandates a budget increase for housing more inmates — has been sharply criticized by groups such as the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition. And in 2011, City Councilwoman Susan Guidry called it a “perverse incentive to keep people in jail.” In prior year budget talks, including 2014, Gusman has asked to move to a traditional, preset budget allocation.

For 2015, the city is in fact using a traditional flat budgeted amount. What’s more, officials with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office and the Sheriff’s Office confirmed, the city already stopped using the per diem formula this year.

“It happened,” Guidry told The Lens Monday. “The 2014 budget was the first one for the sheriff that was not per diem.”

However, it’s unclear when or how that happened. The city’s adopted 2014 budget appears to include the per diem funding scheme. And the only media report on the purported change came last summer, in a brief correction earlier this year on how the jail is funded in a NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune article.
Yay? Well maybe not.  At the moment, all this means is that we no longer have any idea how the Sheriff's budget will be determined. The new thing could still be a "perverse an incentive" as ever to put people in jail. We just don't know what the formula is yet.

They might be figuring it out

While we're already on the subject of comparing the Saints' and LSU's seasons, here is one that angle to that exercise I hadn't thought about.

We already know both teams are in the process of turning a slow start into.. something.. hopefully really a great something but who knows what will happen in the future. But they're clearly improving.  Each team turned in its best performance thus far during what we all  figured would be a pivotal weekend. LSU just ruined the LIFE of an ancient rival.  And the Saints have positioned themselves to play for first place (!) Thursday night in Charlotte. Football season is longer than you think. This one may just be getting started.

Anyway one common denominator here that wasn't so obvious to me before is youth.  LSU fans have had to be patient all season with many key positions manned by freshmen or first year starters.  But they're talented freshmen who started to grow up a little now after six or seven games.

Meanwhile, Saints fans tend to think of their heroes as veterans.  This is year 9 of Sean Payton and Drew Brees (yeah yeah not even halfway done) and with other familiar mainstays like Marques Colston and Robert Meachem hanging around, the tendency is for fans to focus on the general "Grandpa" vibe the Saints seem to give off.

But what if we told you that what the Saints have really been doing all year is waiting on some young guys to get it together?

While many have been quick to lay the blame for the Saints' early-season struggles squarely on Brees and his uncharacteristically high seven interceptions through seven games, the players have not. Not even after last week's meltdown in Detroit, when Brees finished the game by throwing incompletions on 12 of 14 passes, one of which was a late four-quarter interception that put the Lions in position for the winning touchdown.

It was Brees who, in fact, rallied the team after that devastating loss; Brees who, despite his heartfelt disappointment, remained a positive influence in the locker room and didn't allow the team to sulk or lose focus; and Brees who, Graham said, demanded more from each and every player leading up to Sunday's win.

"I mean we've been giving all we have but he demanded even more from us as a whole, as a receiver group, as an O-line, our running game, he just demanded all the little things and we were able to do that tonight," Graham said.

Right tackle Zach Strief railed the leadership last week for not doing enough to pull the younger players along. That, he said, was no longer an issue.

"We've got some young guys that have never been in those situations and they need to hear it and that's what I was really talking about last week when I said that it's on us," he said. "You have to teach that every year because you can't take it for granted that a guy knows what it was like in '11 when we started rolling because there were like five of us (then)."

The Saints offense, and the team for that matter, responded with its most complete game of season, racking up 495 yards en route to the team's 14th consecutive prime-time win in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Every season is different.  Rosters shift. Players get better or worse or hurt or suddenly become living symbols of everything that is awful about America.  And even teams with a core of veterans have to spend some time figuring out how to fit the new team together.

We've been complaining about the deep passing game all season but it's tough when your main threats there are a rookie and a second year player battling through an injury. Getting those guys in synch is probably going to take some time.  It's nice if you can eke out a few wins while you're going through this process but it doesn't always work out that way.  But if you can manage to just hang in long enough... and if your nearest rivals suck enough to allow you the time.. you might start figuring it out after six or seven games.

The 2014 Saints might finally be figuring it out. Stills is getting healthier. Cooks is getting more comfortable.  And, we assume, the veterans are adjusting to being veterans on this team.  In Grandpa Sean's case this means sending everybody annoying email forwards of his favorite Ziggy cartoons.  Meanwhile Drew Brees is.. sharing banal words of wisdom. 
Said Brees, "My grandfather always said: there's three types of people, three types of teams: those that make it happen, those that watch it happen, and those who wake up one day and say, 'What the heck happened?' I feel like all this year we've been waking up and saying, 'What the heck happened?' and it's about time we made it happen."
Whatever you say, Grandpa.

That's probably wrong, though.  Football is so wacky and chaotic that most often the only thing we can do to explain it is wait til it's over and then play, "What the heck happened?"  And this week, the best we can figure is that the Saints might be figuring out how to be a good football team.  But check with us after Thursday because we might have a whole different idea then. 

A lot will depend on what people think a Senator is for

WWLTV dropped a Senate poll on us this morning which shows us pretty much what everyone expected it would show.
The Suffolk University poll, conducted for WWL-TV, USA Today and Gannett Louisiana newspapers, shows the two frontrunners in essentially a statistical dead heat, with 36 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote for incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Nov. 4 primary. 35 percent chose Rep. Bill Cassidy and 11 percent chose Tea Party-backed candidate Col. Rob Maness. 18 percent were undecided or chose other candidates.

"It's an amazing race right now and it looks from the polling that Sen. Landrieu's best shot to make a real showing is in this November election," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which conducted the poll. Suffolk surveyed 500 voters across Louisiana Oct. 23-26. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

If, as expected, the race goes to a Dec. 6 runoff between the two frontrunners, those polled favored Cassidy 48 percent to 41 percent, with still 11 percent undecided.
The conventional argument is that Maness's support all accrues automatically to Cassidy in a runoff.   Although one wonders how many of them will bother to show up at all. The fact that Maness polls as well as he does now is a reflection of just how unlikable Cassidy is, even to the conservative voters he is courting.  People think the dude is weird.

So you have to figure on a lot of  Maness-iacs (TM) staying home in December. The question for the ones who do show up will be, what do they actually care about? 

Notice the issues these pollsters focus on in their analysis.
"Two years ago when we had a nationally popular president, you didn't have the ISIS situation, we didn't have the Ebola threat and what's been going on and there were many other news events that have hurt him," Paleologos said. Obama has a 60 percent unfavorable rating and a 36 percent favorable rating in the poll.

Those polled also showed little love for those in congress, with 64 percent giving them an unfavorable ranking. Paleologos says it's actually higher in some places.

"That tells us there's a big frustration with Washington, D.C. and the solutions of Washington and of course in Louisiana you've got issues like Obamacare that don't poll well. It's perceived as sort of a national program that's hurtful."
Ebola, ISIS, Obamacare, all the generic stuff in the national news right now. If these are the issues on the minds of Maness voters, and they aren't excited about Bill Cassidy, my guess is a lot of them will stay home.

Mary Landrieu's campaign, on the other hand, is about none of these things.  Instead she, along with every big name and news organization endorsing her, has emphasized her constituent services record and her powerful Senate Energy Committee chairmanship. 

I don't know what the Maness voters are going to do in the runoff.  But I don't think it's too far fetched to guess that those who are interested in the Louisiana-specific issues will be more motivated to stay in the game than those who are just playing the run-of-the-mill Obama protest game.  It still might mean that Mary doesn't have the numbers she needs. But it's hard to argue with the formula.

Early voting is still available today and tomorrow, by the way.  See the Secretary of State's website for information on polling locations.

Mike McCarthy is kind of dumb

Curious things
Whether it was a sign of disrespect or one of creativity, Green Bay did some curious things early in the game that ultimately bit it later on.

On the second series of the game, the Packers brought linebacker Julius Peppers on the field, lined him up at tight end and attempted to throw him a pass on a second-down play in the red zone. After an unsuccessful third-down play, Green Bay settled for a field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Green Bay attempted an unsuccessful onside kick, giving the Saints a short field that they used to add a field goal.
There was also a point in the third quarter where the Packers went for a 4th and 1from their own 40 while only trailing by a touchdown. The Saints converted a gimme field goal and Green Bay never got the margin back to less than two scores.

Fun night for all sorts of reasons.  But if you're looking for a deciding factor in this game, the answer is Mike McCarthy is kind of dumb.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Welp, that went pretty well all things considered

Holy crap

“It’s a crazy atmosphere. This is the craziest place I’ve played. Absolutely was a factor.”  - Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace

Yesterday we decided, sort of as a last minute lark, to drive up to Baton Rouge just to take in the atmosphere a little bit.  We didn't have tickets and had low expectations about getting a hold of any but at the time we didn't figure on the game being the point of the day. 

Really, we were just out to steal food from people.  Turned out we were pretty good at this. Or maybe everybody just made too much.

Pasta jamabalaya

Pasta jambalaya with sausage and pork shoulder from the Valley Shook tailgate.


Chicken andouille gumbo from @RougarouxLSU's tent.

I'm an LSU grad and my wife is a foreigner so I also relished the opportunity to show her around campus a bit.  It was homecoming weekend which makes the whole exercise a little cliche but this was such a perfect day it didn't matter.


Tiger Stadium

Geaux 2 Hell Ole Miss pumpkins

We lucked out all around. Perfect weather, perfect parking spot... almost perfect beer planning.  Somehow we ran out.. but that was ok because we just stole more from the tent where Chef James was cooking.  Oh and we took all their food too.

Cullen tailgate

Football is 90% mooching off of people's stuff.

Oh yeah and we got into the game too. I'd never sat in the terrace at Tiger Stadium before.  The view of the river from up there is impressive.

PMac and River

We sit up at the top of the Superdome for Saints games so we're used to being high up.  Certainly couldn't complain about this view of the field. 

Band pregame

This morning everyone is writing about the "throwback" nature of the game. It was the biggest LSU vs Ole Miss game in decades.  I explained to Menckles that in the Norman Rockwell version of LSU at night in Tiger Stadium, Ole Miss is the visiting opponent. And, although LSU supposedly has no single "arch-rival",  people seemed pretty fired up about this.

Geaux 2 Hell Ole Miss

Also the game itself was heavy on defense and (to an absurd degree) on LSU's rushing attack.  I'm not exactly a football purist, but I can't say I don't find these Les Miles signature grindfests entertaining.  Driving 95 yards on 12 runs and one 2 yard play action pass isn't the only way to win a football game.  On the other hand, any team who pulls that off probably deserves to win when they do.

It's been fun watching this young LSU team come together.  They're not perfect and they aren't going to the playoff or anything like that this year. But they're talented and they're getting better. Whatever they do the rest of the year (even if that includes a win over Alabama) this was the highlight for 2014.  We decided at the last minute to be there.  Glad that worked out.

I never caught up with Rob Maness, though.  Guess he didn't want to do any keg stands.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Enjoy it while you can

There's a very real possibility that this is the last biggest weekend of the football season in South Louisiana. And, given the also very real possibility that the games in question might not go the way you like, the best way to take advantage of that is to get out and see the parties before the games happen. 

So even though we haven't wrangled up any tickets we're going up to Baton Rouge just to look around and yell with people. Luckily the Saints play a night game Sunday so there's recovery time before we go yell with those people too.  Anyway the point is, get the fun while you can because this might be all there is.

Vote early signs appear often

Vote early hanger

If you're in Orleans Parish, chances are you've pulled one of these hangers off of your front door this week. You're also likely to have noticed similarly designed signs on the neutral grounds.

Vote Early purple

They also come in red.

Vote Early red

The signs and the hangers merely inform of the dates available for early voting in the 2014 election. (October 21-28, except Sunday. See here for early voting locations.)  Reading the Times-Picayune's account of things, though, one almost gets the impression this public information campaign amounts to some sort of nefarious conspiracy.
The purple and gold signs popped up, seemingly overnight, along New Orleans boulevards and neutral grounds last weekend to cajole residents to "Vote Early."

There are reports of them in Baton Rouge as well.

Who planted them so far is a bit of a mystery. Where they came from is, too, although a little footnote on each says they were printed in a union-labor shop.

What is clear is that should they succeed in their mission to remind voters to exercise their right during the early voting period, which begins Tuesday (Oct. 21) and lasts a week, the results almost certainly help U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in her pitched battle to hold on to her seat.
All the signs do is encourage people to take advantage of the early voting period. They endorse no candidate or issue. And yet, the T-P story suggests to us a "mysterious" dirty trick is at work.  The conservative blog, The Hayride, posted a photo of one of the door hangers today and expressed a similar suspicion.
This week, a mail-out was sent out on behalf of Democrats by a group called “Stand Up and Vote Louisiana.” However, the group is not a registered entity with the Louisiana Secretary of State, the Louisiana Board of Ethics or the Federal Election Commission.
What could be wrong with that?  Well... something.. probably.. right?  That seems to be the implication.

But what is wrong with encouraging people to vote? According to the T-P, doing so would "almost certainly help Mary Landrieu," which is apparently unfair for some reason.
Landrieu needs to boost turnout in her hometown, a Democratic stronghold, and other urban areas across Louisiana to fend off U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge. The majority of the New Orleans electorate is African-American and Democratic, and blacks disproportionately tend to vote early rather than on Election Day, said UNO political scientist Ed Chervenak.

So by way of a little transitive reasoning, those signs stand to benefit Landrieu.
So encouraging black people to turn out and vote benefits Mary.  And this effort to encourage black people to turn out and vote early is "mysterious."  Therefore.. by way of a little transitive reasoning.. The Hayride and the Times-Picayune are suspicious of black people voting. 

They're not alone, of course. Voter suppression has long been a favorite tactic of conservatives and one that has come more and more into fashion as of late. Texas, for example, recently passed a voter ID law which the US Supreme Court, shockingly, allowed to be implemented last week.  Justice Ginsburg's dissent complained that the law is clearly designed to prevent minorities and poor people from voting.
Importantly, Ginsburg concluded that the effect of the law in its entirety would be to diminish voter confidence in the system. “The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” she wrote.
This is the kind of thing they might applaud openly in Hong Kong. We're not quite there yet. But we're getting close.   In the meantime we continue to develop subtle ways of implying that poor people and minorities have no business participating in civic life.

Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper recently told an audience that a school board election there was under the undue influence of a "black mafia" of unscrupulous machine politicos. Until very recently, it would not have been unusual to hear a white New Orleanian describe the city's political structure in similar terms. A petition to create the City Of St. George springs from similar white resentment of the East Baton Rouge Parish school district.  In one way or another each of these are manifestations of the pattern of white resentment still prevalent in American politics.  It's strange that the T-P would write about the Vote Early campaign in a way that echoes the air of conspiracy so frequently deployed in its expression.

This week John Lewis participated in an early vote rally in Baton Rouge. 
Lewis, the last living member of the civil rights era’s big six, described for about 250 Southern students such events as the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery to campaign for voting rights. Lewis and others were injured when attacked by police on what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”

He ended the speech asking the students to vote for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is running for re-election in a tight race against Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge. Lewis is the Democratic congressman representing Atlanta.

“Some segments of society are counting you out already,” Lewis told the students. “Vote like you’ve never voted before.”
"Vote like you've never voted" is battle cry right now.  Why? Because, big surprise, who turns out has a real influence on what governments end up doing.
All of this suggests that more turnout, particularly among low-income voters, would shift our political system to the left. The Median Voter Theorem postulates that democratic systems will produce policy outcomes that align with the preferences of the median voter suggests that turnout gaps as a source of policy bias toward more affluent households. Because non-voters are more economically liberal than voters, the median voter is more conservative than the electorate at large. If more low-income people voted, politicians would become more economically liberal to court the new voters. In one interesting study David Broockman and Christopher Skovron finds that politicians believe that their constituencies are significantly more conservative than they are:

conservative politicians systematically believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are by more than 20 percentage points on average, and liberal politicians also typically overestimate their constituents’ conservatism by several percentage points
Such a bias should be impossible to sustain - a Republican could easily win by moving slightly to the left of his opponent. However, given that the population that votes is significantly more conservative than those who do no, it’s unsurprising. Politicians respond to voters, not non-voters. In a recent study examining party platforms, Gerald Wright and Elizabeth Wright find, “a portion of the differential responsiveness we identified stems from parties overlooking low-income constituents who are unlikely to vote.”
I suppose you could say, as the T-P did last week, that an expanded electorate brings with it a built-in advantage for Democrats.  But, unless you mean to argue against a democracy that fully reflects the will of the population it represents, then it's hard to see such an advantage as anything other than fair and proper.

So this year, in battleground states like Louisiana, turnout is key.  So how is that going so far?  Well that depends on what you think the target should be.  Here, via the Louisiana Secretary of State's office, is where you'll find the early voting tallies so far in this election as well as those numbers from previous years.  As of this writing, the tally is updated through close of voting on Thursday.  Currently this is where it stands.

Statewide there have been 96126 votes cast. That breaks down racially into 64393 white and 29629 black. 2104 list race as "other."  By party there are 50685 Democrats in the early votes and 32862 Republicans.  Also 12579 early voters are listed as "other" party which reflects the increasing number of voters who do not affiliate with the major parties.

Here are those tallies from Orleans Parish: 8303 votes. 1872 white 6137 black 294 other. 6792 Democrat 674 Republican.  Interestingly the 837 "other" party votes exceed the number of Republican votes in Orleans Parish.

What we're interested in knowing, though is how these numbers compare with previous elections. It seems logical to look first at the 2010 midterm. But it's probably not fair to compare the relative snoozer 2010 race with this year's major Senate battleground scenario.  By turn, it's also not exactly fair to compare this year with the 2012 Presidential year race. But 2012 is helpful as an aspirational benchmark for Democrats.  In order to consider the turnout push a success, Democrats should expect to blow the 2010 number out of the water and at least pull a respectable percentage of the 2012 turnout.

If we compare this year's numbers so far with the early vote totals from 2010, they look pretty good. Early voting is still happening so I have to project a little based on number of votes cast per day in order to compare 2014 with previous years. So take this for what it's worth.. which may be nothing.

First let's compare 2014's trend with 2010's totals. If the early voting continues at its current pace, the statewide total looks like it could exceed 2010 by more than 87,000 votes. In heavily targeted Orleans Parish, this year's early vote looks like it can be expected to double its 2010 total.  That sounds pretty good although it may also be what one would expect given the heightened interest in this race vs 2010 when David Vitter's reelection was a foregone conclusion.

So let's do the same comparison with 2012.  At present it looks like this year's early vote is on pace to turn out at about 62% of the 2012 tally statewide and 64 percent of the Orleans Parish vote. That sounds respectable. But is it enough to save Mary Landrieu's seat?  I'm don't think she should be optimistic.

Anyway, we'll look at these totals again next week after the early vote period ends. If you'd like to vote early, you still can until Tuesday. It's OK. Nobody will accuse you of trying to cheat or anything.  Well, probably they won't anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Saints' last and best hope

Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram's teammates carried the load for him while he missed three games with a fractured bone in his hand.

On Sunday, he'll have the opportunity to return the favor.

Ingram is back at the forefront of the New Orleans Saints' running game after injuries sidelined Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson.

"A couple guys are down, so I've got to step up and pull my weight and do my job," Ingram said Friday.
One weird-ass football season.  I'm still stupidly optimistic about things.  The whole NFC South is a mess.  The Saints, despite some glaring weaknesses and a disturbing pattern of crucial mistakes by the quarterback, still do several things well enough that we can reasonably argue they are the best team in their crappy division.

Still... they might want to start fast this weekend. Otherwise that Superdome crowd could get a little spooky.

Who can boo?

Everybody hates Bobby

"I think locally, if you're looking at it, the best thing Bobby Jindal can do for Bill Cassidy is stay away. And that's just because his approval ratings are so low. I mean, he's really kind of become—I don't know if toxic is the right word, but I mean, he's not popular and his support I don't think helps Cassidy," an aide to a member of the Louisiana delegation said.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I've got a longer post on this in the works but the short version tracks very close to this.
But the real problem Landrieu has is that her 2002 and 2008 coalitions seem nearly impossible to reassemble.  The 2002 runoff coalition suffers from the fact that the “normal” Democratic coalition is still down from 2002.  Consider: In 2000, the population of Orleans Parish was 484,674. In 2010 it was 343,829. So, there has been a huge drop-off of adults. If we assume that 40 percent of these adults would vote, this translates to 57,000 fewer voters.

Assume further that Democrats had a 60-point edge in this group (Obama received 80 percent in Orleans Parish in 2012). That's about 34,000 net Democratic voters lost from 2002. Landrieu won her 2002 runoff by 42,000 votes, so she would have no room for erosion in the rural areas of the state.  Of course, there are also other parishes outside of Orleans that lost population, but they tend to be from the more Democratic portions of the state.

Landrieu could also try for the 2008 coalition, but the problem there is generating sufficient turnout.  Consider: If we take Landrieu’s vote shares from 2008 (losing whites 29-65; winning blacks 96-2) and apply these numbers to the 2010 electorate (71 percent white, 24 percent black), Landrieu would still lose, albeit narrowly.
In the back of my mind this season has been the 2003 gubernatorial election.  There was a moment on election night that year just after the polls had closed where Oliver Thomas, speaking to a TV reporter, made a point of referring repeatedly to "Governor Blanco."  Some of that was bravado, of course. But also one had the sense that OT knew the turnout numbers from Orleans Parish and that those numbers would be enough to elect his candidate.

Last weekend when I was writing this post about New Orleans demographic changes post-Katrina, I mentioned in passing that it meant bad things for Mary Landrieu.  Right now there is a strong effort to encourage early voters.  The Landrieu camp rightfully assumes that the more early votes turn out, the better off her chances are.  That effort seems to be going well. Even so, I don't think the votes she needs in New Orleans to put her over the top exist anymore regardless of  how strong the GOTV effort is.

Anyway, I'll try to finish the post later.  There's also a lot of football I'd like to get to as well.  I've just been busy lately.  Good thing nobody pays me to keep this blog up to date.

Blowed up real good

WWL has video of that building collapsing in the Quarter for those of you who enjoy seeing such things.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tom Benson's gigantic house on Audubon Place

Your tax dollars at work.
For the renovation, the first priorities were to add an elevator and remodel a bathroom to switch out a tub for a shower. A wine cellar, disguised behind an antique stained-glass window, would be another project, and eventually the third floor would be turned into a large closet, bathroom and a gift-wrapping area.

In the backyard, shaded by the leafy, 160-foot spread of a more-than-300-year-old oak tree, the couple added a swimming pool, a cabana, a slate patio and landscaping.

The outdoor area and the first-floor formal rooms provide plenty of space for the couple's parties, which often revolve around Gayle Benson's philanthropic activities, among them an effort to raise money to renovate the Notre Dame Seminary. (She's also co-chairwoman of the New Orleans Museum of Art Odyssey Ball, scheduled for Nov. 7 at the museum, and chairwoman of the Ochsner Cancer Institute's Moonlight & Miracles Gala Nov. 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.)
Are they sure they are finished renovating? Because they can have this back if they can make room for it back by the pool maybe.

Bronze Tom