Saturday, November 29, 2014

There's always someone worse off than you are to hate

Shorter Elbert Guillory: "Barack Obama doesn't care about black people."
His latest video, released Monday, is far more egregious. Guillory peddles pure fear and ignorance and cynically pits blacks against Latinos. Referencing President Obama's recent executive action delaying deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, Guillory implies that the president is more concerned about Latinos than blacks. He charges that Obama has done nothing to create jobs in the black community, hasn't fixed declining schools nor has he reformed the criminal justice system.

Instead, he says, "President Obama has chosen to bypass Congress and the Constitution to grant citizenship to over five million illegal immigrants."

That statement, of course, proves that Guillory knows nothing more about Obama's immigration actions than he does about the president's concerted efforts to create jobs and push education reforms. Obama's order did not award these immigrants with citizenship. The president did not even have the authority to grant them Obamacare
The things that Guillory "knows nothing about" could fill volumes.  High school level science is particularly elusive to him.
In the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up category: A Louisiana state senator defended the Louisiana Science Education Act — a 2008 law that allows creationism to be taught in public school science classrooms through materials that ostensibly “critique” evolution — by invoking a witch doctor that he visited and found helpful. (See video below)

A bill to repeal the law was recently killed for the third straight year by Louisiana’s Senate Education Committee. In this post on Slate, Zach Kopplin writes about Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory, who explained at a May hearing that he doesn’t think the law should be repealed because he wouldn’t want to dismiss faith healing as a “pseudoscience.” Guillory even describes his encounter with the faith healer, who was “half naked” and used bones in a ceremony.
On the other hand, he does know a lot about avian folk sport

Under normal circumstances, he'd be some sort of a joke but we do not live under normal circumstances.   We live where a hateful, medieval minded bumpkin gets to be a leading candidate for Lieutenant Governor in order for the Republican Party to demonstrate how totally diverse and inclusive it is.

"Need to fix it"

Never a good thing to hear in Week 12.  
"Every year's different, and every game's different. So that's what you keep battling for," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said, per ESPN.com. "We've got a great room there to work with. We've got great coaches, and we need to fix it. "Because right now we're hurting our team, and that's not what I was hired to do."
We're great. The coaches are great. The room is apparently also great.  But something needs to be "fixed." I wonder what. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ethics panel time again

While everyone was busy with Thanksgiving, The Advocate picked up the Cassidy double-billing story.
The roughly 16 timesheets show Cassidy received the same $1,666.70 payment each month regardless of how many hours were booked. He was supposed to give “20 percent” effort, which would calculate out to about eight hours a week. Most of the time records show about 6 hours per week, sometimes less.

“The documents speak for themselves and certainly raise serious questions that Congressman Cassidy will have to answer,” Fabian Levy, a spokesman for the Landrieu campaign wrote in a prepared statement. “Congressman Cassidy may have taken home over $100,000 in taxpayer funds for work he never did.”

Levy pointed to LSU documents posted Tuesday on the websites of American Zombie and Cenlamar.com.
This is pretty clearly an ethics violation.  How serious it is, though, is open to interpretation. But I tend to agree at least a little bit with Jason and with Lamar that it's certainly not nothing.  It is at least as newsworthy as the Cassidy campaign's talking point about Mary Landrieu's travel expenses which our professional editorialists have been happy to assist in elevating to major issue status.

Those editorialists are now, just as stupidly, knocking this one down.  I have no idea how they pick and choose like that.  Seems like something you'd expect a "political blog" to do.
I don't even know why I'm reposting this moron but I broke my cardinal rule and tried to comment on Nola.com....of course it wouldn't let me.  Here's the comment I tried to post:

" I am not a political blogger.  YOU are a political blogger.  I am an actual journalist...you should learn the difference, dipshit."

He didn't even get the story right.....I have no idea why he thinks it's only about $20,000.  It's about lying about his medical malpractice insurance, it's about $100,000 over 5 years while only turning in 16 of 63 timesheets, it's about being tenured at LSU as a part-time employee when that is specifically against their policy, it's about whether or not he actually did the work he got paid for, it's about him lying to The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.
So you've got one of NOLA.com's political bloggers discounting factual information because it was posted on some political blogs while himself misstating the facts. There's a long popular meme about "blogger ethics panels"  someone should refer to here, I think.

Anyway, the most exhausting thing about all of this is that getting bogged down in something like this is the dumbest way for Mary Landrieu to finish an already lame campaign. I'm told this stuff is coming out so late in the game because LSU has been dragging its feet with a public records request. And that is probably true, but if it is, the very fact that they finally let it go just before election day should tell you that even they know it's not very politically useful at this point.

Mary could have spent the final weeks of the campaign... or any portion of the campaign really... telling voters about why it matters to them whether they vote for her or for the other guy.  She could have talked about her commitment to preserve social security as compared to Cassidy's determination to raise the retirement age.  She could have taken some pride in her vote for the ACA and spent more time attacking Cassidy's opposition to the Medicaid expansion. (BTW, Cassidy's billing issue with LSU basically amounts to Medicaid fraud. You'd think he'd be in favor of putting more money in that pipeline.) 

Instead, she's mostly made her campaign about her deep and abiding love for the oil and gas industry.  And, now, I guess it's also about this last minute document dump.  So, you know, best of luck.

Everybody hates Bobby

Keeping in mind that nothing written about the 2016 Presidential election right now means anything, here is an article about the 2016 Presidential campaign.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.)

Strategists say Jindal has the strong record on policy but lacks the charisma to make a dent in the field.

“He’s nobody’s favorite and everybody’s backup,” one Republican said.

The strategists largely believe that Jindal will be a big presence on the campaign trail, but say he’s likely angling for a Cabinet spot in a potential Republican administration.
Hope he's not running for Secretary of Energy. Oil prices are on the same trend as his poll numbers. 

Maybe they will all make big bronze statues of themselves

Mayor names the worst people in New Orleans to Tricentennial Committee.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gentrification is a policy choice

Not as fun as it used to be for some anyway.
“Having to kick people out takes all the fun out of owning a house.”

Oren Goldenberg, a 31-year-old filmmaker based in Detroit, could have bought a $500 house at the Wayne County tax auction this fall-- but having to evict a homeowner turned him off.

Goldenberg had been burned before. He had made a previous purchase in the yearly tax foreclosure auction. His coup turned less appealing as he was confronted with the reality of removing the owner and then-occupant from her home. Goldenberg sold the house it back to its occupant for the bargain price of $7,000 – twice what he had paid for it, but half what she had owed in property taxes.

Now Goldenberg won’t consider an already-occupied house. “It goes into this long-term narrative of Detroit is vacant and empty and there’s no one here. So when you look at it and you think oh my god, we’re going to develop this area, no one thinks that you might be pushing people out.”
 No matter, it's the policy.  Detroit has decided the way to move forward is to first move all the poors out.
— Wayne County has begun tax foreclosure proceedings on nearly 75,000 properties, a record number that includes thousands of delinquent accounts that officials have ignored for years.

Treasury workers last month began posting notices on the properties that the county plans to auction in fall 2015 if owners don't pay taxes or agree to payment plans. In Detroit alone, 62,000 properties owing $326.4 million in taxes, interest and fees are set to be foreclosed.

More than half of those Detroit homes — 37,000 — are occupied, according to Motor City Mapping data analyzed by Loveland Technologies. That has folks such as Sharon Weatherly fearing she eventually could be out on the street.
You don't clear out 37,000 households by accident.  This is not just "the free market at work." It is the consequence of deliberate policy where we foreclose on some for going delinquent on property taxes... but offer "incentives" to (meaning we don't collect taxes from) others.
Detroit is 83 percent African-American, and 38 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. But the older, blacker Detroit starkly contrasts with a whiter, wealthier new Detroit that's been wooed in by tax breaks and living incentives—which gives these evictions a heavily racial subtext.
 And it's not just Detroit.  Remember all the superstar Mayors in America's rapidly "revitalizing" cities get together and compare notes
In an exchange of ideas similar to what took place when former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing toured New Orleans three years ago, Mayor Mitch Landrieu planned an on-the-ground viewing of the Motor City's deteriorating housing stock for this weekend.

After speaking at the Mackinac Policy Conference Friday, Landrieu said that he hoped to offer advice to Detroit after his administration's blight strategy led to the mitigation in one way or another of roughly 10,000 blighted properties in New Orleans' historic neighborhoods, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Barber shop talk

Not sure why it's any worse that one policeman in Missouri gets to walk because he was afraid of  "magic negroes" than it was that a whole conspiracy of of police got to walk because NOLA.com allows anonymous comments but that did happen.

For whatever reason, though, the kids in New Orleans would prefer to go to trendy copycat protests rather than worry about what goes on in the city where they actually live.  At least today we learned that  the US Justice Department said something about it.
Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Collery wrote in the government’s brief that Perricone’s anonymity in the comments should be relevant on appeal, “as it ensured that his position as an (assistant U.S. attorney) would not cause his comments to exert an undue influence on potential jurors.” It’s “highly doubtful,” Collery contended, that any jurors “were exposed to and remembered Perricone’s postings, which were indistinguishable from the comments of others.”

“Even before the Internet age, people were exposed to chatter about high-profile criminal cases as they went about daily life,” she wrote. “Moreover, an anonymous comment on the Internet carries no more weight than the opinion of the garrulous customer in the adjacent barber’s chair, which is to say, next to none.”

The Justice Department complained that Engelhardt overreached in his attempts to get to the bottom of the online commenting, saying prosecutors eventually were relegated to serving as “the court’s investigatory adjunct” as defense attorneys sat “sidelined entirely.”

“Because (Engelhardt) attempted to act simultaneously as a neutral arbiter of defendants’ new trial motion and as an independent investigator of government misconduct, an objective observer might reasonably question (his) impartiality,” Collery wrote. “It is questionable whether a district court should ever undertake an independent investigation of federal prosecutors.”

Being terrible

CNN are masters of it.
But the worst component of CNN’s Ferguson coverage—which no video or still can adequately capture—is the fact that, for much of the night, what viewers saw were Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo bantering with each other and other on-scene anchors. This was CNN: Anchors interviewing their colleagues, rather than anyone around them. Amidst a crowd resisting the profound injustice of Michael Brown’s death, you were watching television personalities talking to themselves.
Gawker does a good job with the style problem there.  But the substance was even worse.
Lemon then asked multiple times how (Jesse) Jackson could "make excuses" for looters in Ferguson.

"I don't want to speak for you, that you're making excuses for the bad doers," the CNN host said. "So what do you want to leave with people? What is your message going forward?"

"I am not making excuses going forward. I'm giving an analysis that compounded injustice leads to anarchy and justice leads to peace," Jackson answered. "I am fundamentally an advocate of non-violence but I understand how pain plays out when it's compounded, and it is a long train of abuses."

Lemon then suggested that the violence in Ferguson was a change from peaceful protests in the 60s.
"Reverend, part of your legacy is that you marched with Dr. King peacefully, non-violent protests," he said. "What has changed in our culture and our society that people result -- resort to things that played out here last night in Ferguson?"

"You do know that when Dr. King was alive we had the Watts riots and the Newark riots and the Detroit riots and Chicago," Jackson responded, adding that "police action triggered those riots."

"Blacks are ten times more likely to be arrested. That matters. And for juries to look in the face of killed young blacks and say that jury was justified in letting them go through, that's a bitter pill to swallow," Jackson added.
Don Lemon's nominal job is to inform people about the events CNN is filming.  Ideally, this would mean it's his job to tell us relevant facts about the social, political, and historical context in which these events are occurring.  But this would also require him to know at least one goddamned thing first.

But, in reality, Lemon's job isn't to inform so much as it is to comfort.  He's not really there to tell us anything. He's there to say stupid things that validate the ignorance of the know-nothings in the audience. This way they feel better about themselves.  Reward the stupidity long enough to keep them watching through the next Cialis commercial.  That's all this is for.

"Dim view"

Don't even know what that's supposed to mean.  
Orleans Parish School Board employees  can’t hang any more signs from board property urging people to vote on an upcoming tax measure to benefit schools, but neither do they have to take down existing signs, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The signs don’t explicitly ask people to vote for the measure, but Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Tiffany Chase noted they’re all smiling and holding their thumbs up.
If they don't have to take the signs down, then the judge approves of the signs.  This is not "taking a dim view" as the headline says.  Maybe they can't illuminate the signs at night or something. 

Anyway,  the ballot item in question is basically just another power grab attempt on the part of the people who have been working to privatize and thereby destroy the institution of public education in this city ever since the Katrina flood allowed them to illegally fire thousands of people and get away with it.

It will probably pass because, you know, the signs all tell us to "think of the children" or whatever. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why did Mary not run this ad?

Instead, it appears as though her campaign... or some fellow traveler has just dumped the stuff out onto some bloggers and reporters hoping it gets picked up. Anyway, for what it's worth,
It appears (Cassidy) told the House Ethics Committee a lie. I don't know for sure but in order for him to accommodate the minimum amount of hours he needed to work for LSUHSC and make his $1,666/ a month, he may have had to lie about his work hours to Congress. It appears he either lied to LSU or to the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics in order to pull down that extra Louisiana taxpayers' cash...I hope he will explain this to the public.

What's more important to me is that even if he did lie to the House Ethics Committee it looks like LSU bent over backwards to accommodate him as an official staff member and pay him for doing....something on the internet...for 8 hours a week. WTF?

LSU even maintained his tenure in spite of the fact that he was working at a 20% "LOE" (level of effort). According to LSU's rules, Cassidy should have lost his tenure when he took on the job as a congressman. They either held their nose or, even worse, genuflected in order to keep "Dr. Bill" on staff and on payroll.
Not sure how huge a thing this really is.  But it isn't nothing.  And while you've got Cassidy running months of commercials about non-issues like Mary's travel budget and the goddamned  Advocate thinking enough of that to run editorial cartoons about it, then you'd think maybe the Landrieu campaign could have put some of this ammo to use at some point.  Why didn't they?

Update: Now Lamar adds this.
Despite what he had represented to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, he never taught a class; the vast majority of the very little work he apparently did for LSU-HSC is listed as “clinic.” He also billed for his own continuing education hours.

Even more troubling, on at least 17 separate occasions, Cassidy’s time sheets indicate that he spent multiple hours in LSU-HSC’s clinics on the same days in which he also participated in committee meetings and roll call votes, which would have likely required him to bend the rules of space and time. On four other occasions, Cassidy billed multiple hours for “on the phone” consultation with LSU-HSC while at working from Washington, D.C.

But I have to ask again.  This complaint is not in any way new information.  But it's being flogged now in the final weeks of a Senate campaign. Clearly there is a reason it hadn't been brought up earlier during that campaign.  What is that reason? 

Is it because the Landrieu campaign doesn't think this is a winning point of attack?   Is it because there really isn't very much to it anyway?  It's one of those. Maybe both.

50 state strategy

Once upon a time there was a man named Howard Dean who had this idea that in order for Democrats to be competitive nationally, they should put a genuine effort to... compete nationally.
The D.N.C. created his job — along with a position for a communications director — last year as part of Dean’s signature program, known as the 50-state strategy. Under this program, the national party is paying for hundreds of new organizers and press aides for the state parties, many of which have been operating on the edge of insolvency. The idea is to hire mostly young, ambitious activists who will go out and build county and precinct organizations to rival Republican machines in every state in the country. “We’re going to be in places where the Democratic Party hasn’t been in 25 years,” Dean likes to say. “If you don’t show up in 60 percent of the country, you don’t win, and that’s not going to happen anymore.”
And it worked.  It worked because it was the right thing to do, not just strategically, but also morally. If you believe in your party's message, then you take that message out where people need to hear it.  It requires also that you believe in the local people and invest in them.  And that you don't just abandon places where you aren't currently doing well.   Here's Dean talking about this in Salon today.
I believe in the South the Democrats will come back, but you can’t do it if you don’t pay attention. I went down to Mississippi to a dinner when I was chairman. A guy gets up, he must have been born in 1920. A wizened old guy with a deep Southern accent. And I’m thinking oh boy. The next thing I know, he introduces the chairman of Ways and Means, which is one of the most powerful, and the guy’s a young black guy. What it said to me was, the Democratic Party is a big tent, and all we have to do is fund this stuff and we can make some inroads. And I think we can. Alabama is going to change because of all the car plants coming in. When you raise the standard of living, and education gets better, you get more competitive. We had two great candidates in Georgia this year, for governor and Senate. It was a terrible year for us, but what if that would happen in a presidential year that pulls out the people that Obama pulled out?

The point is that if you give up before you start, then you give up. The 50-state strategy was never about giving the same amount of money to Alabama as you give to Colorado. Never about that. But it was about giving everybody a base, and some competence level to work off, and then they were on their own. And it’s amazing what people will do if you give them a chance. Especially people who have been beaten down for years by the national party, who feel that nobody cares about them. The DCCC and DSCC wouldn’t put any money into these places for years, they didn’t care. And anybody who could self-fund, they became the candidate. That’s no way to run a party.
This was, as much as the candidate himself, what got Obama elected in the "wave" election of 2008.  After that happened, Obama hired his cynical piece of shit friend Rahm Emmanuel to run the White House and they fired Dean from the DNC.

And that's how that story ended.  Oh well.  

Language of the unheard

I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
A grand jury isn't going to return an indictment if you don't set out to prosecute anyone.  And it's clear from this the county never intended to prosecute this cop.

And to them, it's a pretty simple calculation. You can either prosecute the cop and seek some sort of official justice; whatever that might have ended up being. Or you can not do anything and then use people's anger over it to justify your inaction after the fact. The second option is more destructive but also obviously easier and represents a clear choice of status quo over justice.

We have not forgotten

The Bronze Tom statue is the most egregious of insults.
In case you have forgotten, Tom Benson is the slimeball who relentlessly threatened to move the Saints unless he received sweetheart concessions from the State of Louisiana and City of New Orleans. The post-Katrina deal he eventually negotiated sees him reap an estimated $392 million in state subsidies, simply for keeping the team in New Orleans. Forbes estimates that Benson is worth $1.63 billion, and is the 381st richest person in the United States. I'm sure residents of Louisiana are thrilled that some of the money they pay in taxes is going to a billionaire so that he can get his name on a 22,000 seat stadium in Ohio. 

Who riots and why

What Billmon said

Ecclesiastes 9:11

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
This verse is about the NFC South, probably.  So hang on. It'll all be ok.  Or at least, it won't have anything to do with who is the strongest, swiftest, or smartest. And that's a good thing. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bottom rail on top

This is an op-ed by C.W. Cannon that ran in the T-P a few years ago during the minor controversy over whether the shoebox art Krewe of 'titRex was infringing on the Rex organization's trademark.  Cannon's article appealed to the spirit of parody via "social inversion" which lies at the heart of Carnival culture in the first place.

Anyway here is a snippet.
The complication is that it's not simply "culture" we're talking about here, but "Carnival culture," a far more problematic concept.

Because the cultural concept of Carnival is to turn against, invert, or critique the broader culture in which it is enveloped. The bottom rail on top, the village fool in burlap (or blue tarp) finery.

The issue of more general cultural authenticity aside, the Zulu King in his lard-can crown was always more carnivalistically authentic than Comus, Rex, et al, in their faux jewels.

The same distinction goes for humble shoebox floats, drawn by people (the practice of the toddling 'Tit Rex krewe), versus tractor-pulled ones with people paying big bucks for the ticket.
I know last week some of the major parading organizations began making announcements about the 2015 Carnival season; celebrity guests and whatnot.  But all of that is still a long way away from now. 

The reason I bring this up, though, is only to point out that this situation right here..

.. is not an "embarrassment" as, the stupid national sports media will relentlessly put it, but is instead as true a cause for celebration as one is likely to find in New Orleans.

Senator Landrieu is a friend to all dogs

At least, according to this mailer she is.

If these animals could vote

As it turns out, the dogs could use a friend in Louisiana because... yikes!
On Oct. 13, 2014, the town of Moreauville, a small and sleepy community of less than 1,000 people located in the heart of Avoyelles Parish, enacted one of the most draconian and arbitrary ordinances against so-called “vicious dogs” in the entire country. If the town follows through on its promise, as it’s indicated, it will confiscate each and every rottweiler and pitt bull living in family homes, and unless the family suddenly finds others to adopt those dogs in other cities, Moreauville will kill those family dogs within thirty days.
Seems a bit harsh, I know.  But have you met the Mayor of Moreauville?

I guess basketball season can officially begin now

The ceremonial injuring of the Eric Gordon typically kicks things off.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis with 43 last night.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Terrell Suggs: Science denier

Everybody knows that Drew Brees and Sean Payton have never beaten the Ravens.  Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs chooses not to know.
"I don't believe that, I don't believe that," linebacker Terrell Suggs said when a reporter pointed out that fact. "Didn't I tell you all about the no-hitter [rule regarding jinxes]? You guys are the worst."

Brees is 0-3 lifetime against the Ravens, throwing six touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has completed 59.5 percent of his throws against Baltimore, a drop from his career 66.2 percent completion rate. Brees has a passer rating of 73.2 against the Ravens, which is tied for his second-worst against any team in the league.
He's not going to believe the facts you tell him even if the science necessary to verify them involves nothing more complicated than counting to three. A little superstition in sports can be fun.. but some of these guys get a little carried away.  Am I right, ESPN?

Speaking of superstitions, I'm convinced  the Ravens curse emanates from this 2006 game when a Baltimore native in our group decided it would be cute if she wore a goddamn  purple sweater under her Saints gear to the Superdome and then make faces the whole time.

Purple Sweater

I hope she's still as pleased with herself.

Early voting begins today

Here is where you will find your favorite Senate Candidates.

Senator Landrieu of the Gret Stet of the Flag Of Texaco is promoting this statewide "Souls to the Polls" rally.. which is actually kind of confusing in that the fliers merely list polling locations in each parish.  But these are definitely rallies.  At least according to Mary's website they are.
NEW ORLEANS, LA This Saturday, November 22, Louisiana leaders and members of Congress from across the country will participate in more than 30 “Meet Me At the Polls” events around the state, where they will remind voters about the importance of voting early and highlight Senator Mary Landrieu’s record of fighting and delivering for Louisiana.
“We will never stop fighting to raise the minimum wage, ensure we have quality schools for our children, or provide affordable health care to all working families,” Senator Landrieu said. “This weekend, thousands of Louisianians will join our campaign by voting early and, together, we will continue to fight so every Louisiana family has the opportunity to build a prosperous future.”

The “Meet Me At the Polls” initiative was created to call voters to action, while highlighting the importance of early voting in the runoff election. More than 30 events this weekend will be spearheaded by Terrebonne Parish Councilmember Arlanda Williams and Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. U.S. Senator Cory Booker, U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond, and Democratic National Committee Secretary and Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, are only a few of the headliners of “Meet Me At the Polls.”
The most high profile participant in the "rallies" is Senator Booker (D-NJ). Booker's star has been rising steadily as he's become better and better at pushing whatever horseshit agenda the big banks ask him to much the same way Mary has done for big oil over the years.  Booker also just got finished voting against Mary's Keystone gambit this week.  Anyway, so have fun capturing that magic.

Meanwhile Wannabe Senator Frankenberry is rallying alongside Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today in Gonzales and in Kenner.  The two will spend most of their time telling really big lies about immigration, probably.

You see, when Cassidy claims that Mary Landrieu “voted against stopping executive amnesty,” what he really means is that Landrieu, along with 67 other Senators, voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

Guess who else voted for that bill? I’ll give you a hint: He was a member of the so-called “Gang of Eight.” Remember them?

No, it wasn’t John McCain, though he supported the legislation and has campaigned for Cassidy. And it wasn’t Lindsay Graham, who co-authored the bill and worked tirelessly to ensure its passage. After the bill passed, Graham told Politico (bold mine), “I consider this an astounding success. You could ratify a treaty or override a veto. This is as good as it gets in the Senate.”

Who else could it be?

It was, in fact, another one of its authors, none other than Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Quoting again from Politico (bold mine):
Before the final vote, the legislation’s chief authors took turns defending the bill and reflecting on the hard-fought path toward reform. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke of the ups and down of his 12-year fight on behalf of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. And Rubio detailed the journey of his parents as they emigrated from Cuba.
“Here in America, generations of unfulfilled dreams will finally come to pass,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “That’s why I support this reform.”
Remember, this legislation is the very same thing that Cassidy is attacking Landrieu for supporting, and tomorrow, he will be campaigning with one of the bill’s most prominent supporters and co-authors. “[I]nstead of saying Landrieu ‘represents Barack Obama’ on the immigration issue,” FactCheck.org reported, “the Cassidy ad could just as easily have said her vote ‘represents’ Graham or Rubio.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I've been collecting stories about this for a few months now but haven't had time to sit down and write out the whole post yet.  Quick and dirty version is this. 

The state has a billion dollar budget hole this year you may have read about.  This is due to lots of things but among those lots of things is the sinking price of oil.  And, in Louisiana, not only does the price of oil directly affect state revenues, it also tells us, to a large degree, what kind of employment numbers to expect.

For example, when the price gets low enough, we start to see oil field services companies begin to reorganize and contract.
If you're a logistician, an office manager or executive assistant at Halliburton or Baker Hughes, then you should be updating your LinkedIn account and resume. Page nine of a presentation released Monday shows that of the $2 billion in cuts the combined company expects to make, 31 percent will be in North American operations, 18 percent will be in administration and 9 percent in corporate.

If you're an engineer, scientist or field worker, you're probably OK for now.
Emphasis should be on the "for now" there.  It doesn't look like anyone expects a turnaround soon.
In a note to clients over the weekend, Goldman equity chief David Kostin writes that the firm went to Texas this week to meet with portfolio managers, and those conversations "started and ended on the topic of oil."

"Although still stunned by the ferocity of the selloff," Kostin writes, "everyone we met was resigned to the idea that crude prices would remain low for several years. Although we met many Longhorn alumni, we met no Energy bulls."
Goldman expects oil to hover at or around $75 bbl at least through the first part of next year.   (Don't be shocked if it goes lower, though.) At that price, the so-called "shale boom" is effectively over. At least, in Louisiana it is.
Profitability varies depending on the rocks’ depth and density, access to pipelines and the mix of oil and gas that wells pump. Drillers in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale of Louisiana and Mississippi break even at $79.52 a barrel because they have to bore more than two miles deep, according to data compiled by BNEF. The cheapest field was the Green River basin in Colorado and Wyoming, at $50.10 a barrel.

And this is one reason the unemployment numbers have been ticking steadily upward since about the middle of the year.

That graph doesn't go all the way through to October but Louisiana very narrowly exceeded the national unemployment rate last month for the first time since Katrina. (Still bucking the trend!)

Granted, there's way more to the story than just this but I already said this was the quick and dirty version. It's just that Bobby Jindal keeps promising us these billion dollar budget holes he keeps creating via massive tax giveaways to chemical companies are going to bring about a "new industrial revolution" in Louisiana. (Complete with pre-20th Century environmental and labor standards.)

But so far, the state's fortunes seem like they're just as tied to the price of oil as ever. And the price of oil, like the state of Louisiana itself, is sinking.

NFL UK Disney

You know the "World Showcase" part of EPCOT where you can visit like a half dozen different pavilions themed after the very Disneyesque version of selected foreign nations?  It's like being a world traveler except also not at all like that.

That's what this experience must be like for Brits.
There is always music in the air, provided by a rotation of local rock bands, DJs and groups of competitive beatbox teams. The layout -- identical at Saturday's rally and Sunday's daylong tailgate -- is the standard American county fair. There are enormous beer tents, all operated by Budweiser and dressed in solid bright red. You can't buy a pint of Fuller's or anything bitter, but aluminum bottles of Bud Light scatter the lot. The idea, presented big and clumsy, is to sell the "American" experience of American football.

The food vendors are all English companies, but they're providing "American" food -- hot dogs, hamburgers, burritos ("American burritos!" one clerk yells to passersby) and, scariest of all, barbecue. Or at least a concept thereof. There are at least eight different stands to buy BBQ from, and all are frighteningly suspect to a native. Sampling one stand's most popular item, "pork and mac: a pile of pit barbeque on top of classic American mac 'n cheese!" is to experience a nullification of flavor by American standards. Dry, onion-laced pork on top of white elbow macaroni. Fans are lined up to drop 8 pounds apiece for the dish.

Mike Nichols' beer commercials

Varg went and found all the youtubes.

They're voting on the city budget today

Barely a word about it in the newspapers this morning. Looks like Maldonado is tweeting.  Don't see any other noise about it right now.

But, hey, I hope they find that baker dude.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Serpas could not fail Serpas could only be failed

Thanks for being a stand-up guy.
While serving on a panel discussing the police shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., and the civil unrest that followed, Serpas fielded a question about the inspector general's rape report from fellow Loyola Professor Laura Hope.

His initial response was that the leadership can't know about every rank-and-file failure.

"You can't be in every room and every report and see everything," he said. "You have to rely on these employees and these supervisors and the system."
Oh. Ok well enjoy your big pension anyway

Start your icons

New round of WTC bids released today.
The city has received 11 proposals from developers in response to its latest attempt to redevelop the long-vacant former World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal Street.

The proposals include plans mostly for hotels or mixed use hotels and residences and come from a wide-range of local and national developers, including the team that won the right to develop the property during the last selection process. That deal fell apart during negotiations with the city.
This time they can't knock it down which was an idea that made some people upset last time around for whatever reason.  But I'm sure there's still room for "iconic structure" or two in there somehow.  Like maybe a ball pit or a tiger cage or something.  I don't know. Use your imagination.

Anyway here is the timeline from here on.
A “short list” of developers will be released Dec. 15. That group will have until Feb. 16 to submit more extensive proposals, that include detailed drawings, costs, timelines and proposed financial payments to the city. Those ideas also will be presented in-person to a selection committee.
"A selection committee."  Has the makeup of the committee been determined yet? Because that is pretty much the most important factor. 

You and your superior conscientiousness are meaningless

We live in a libertarian age. Everyone wants to believe they have some individual power to change the world just by being a "better consumer."  It doesn't work that way.
I try to be an ethical consumer, but I also find myself thinking that that very concept is a farce and leads to a kind of preening self-righteousness—the moral equivalent of bragging that you don’t own a TV when someone asks what you think of Homeland. And it can be tiring to submit each company with which we interact through some personalized better business bureau. We run the risk of attaining false consciousness and, through our supposedly conscious consumption, buttressing the kinds of bad actors we claim to oppose.

The virtue of the regulatory state is that it takes these ethical impulses of ours and cements them as policy. No wonder that cyber-libertarians, like Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, hate regulation; it does the exact opposite of what they claim that their technologies do. Regulation takes responsibility out of individual hands and entrusts it to a larger, more powerful body. There’s good reason for this; civil rights, privacy among them, are a collective matter. The law is supposed to act as a guarantor for us all, especially those who don’t have the resources to fight for their own protections. An infringement on Sarah Lacy’s privacy, or on a nameless Uber driver’s labor rights, is potentially an infringement on mine and yours as well.

Sean Payton's strangest motivational tactic yet

You guys watch this crappy movie.
Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton said there was already one slight tweak to the normal routine on Monday when players broke down film on their own as offensive and defensive units. Lofton said they've done that before, but usually coaches are involved in the film breakdown. This time, the coaches put it on the players.
I guess that's better than taping Ziggy cartoons to everyone's locker.  Although, I kind of like this one if he wants to stick with the hole digging motif.

So they kept digging

That's a scene from Sam and Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, by the way. If you get a chance to look through it you'll agree it's a fairly apt metaphor for how this season has gone thus far... right down to the oddly "spectacular" ending we're still kind of hoping for.  Anyway, here's the official book trailer which is a thing that publishers create these days.


John Yoo is very serious about the constitutional limits on executive authority.
Those who believe Obama is going too far warn it is a dangerous precedent for future executives as well.

“Can a President who wants tax cuts that a recalcitrant Congress will not enact decline to enforce the income tax laws? Can a President effectively repeal the environmental laws by refusing to sue polluters, or workplace and labor laws by refusing to fine violators?” University of St. Thomas law professor Robert J. Delahunty and University of California at Berkeley law professor John C. Yoo wrote in the Texas Law Review.
You might remember John Yoo from such executive overreaches as...
Delahunty and Yoo served in the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration. Back then, Yoo argued for an expansive definition of executive power, most famously in a series of memos maintaining that federal laws against assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to interrogators dealing with al-Qaeda captives.
So the "reach" of the executive, ideally, goes only as far as it takes to attach the electrodes to the prisoner's genitals.  Anything beyond that is too far.

Normalizing the police riot

At the end of this column, Pierce gets at what the pre-Wilson indictment/non indictment freak out is really all about. It's a doubling down on the police militarization stance.
The Guard is a military organization, as many Guardsmen who served under the unsteady command of C-Plus Augustus in Iraq can tell you. Their weaponry and their training are all military. In some cases, such as a response to a natural disaster, this plain fact is evinced simply by the Guard's military efficiency. In this case, however, it will be evinced by bayonets and tanks. And the examples cited occurred when the Guard was called in to face a situation that already had begun. In this case, Nixon has called in the Guard before anything has happened. So, Chief, the response is already "militarized." Multiply that.

If Wilson gets no-billed, there will be a reaction, and all of it will not occur in Missouri. I don't think I'm out of line when I wonder whether or not said reaction will be used as a test case for how much official violence the general public will tolerate to be kept safe from Unruly Others in the street. I do not think I want to know the answer to that.
Not only are they preparing to forcefully put down any civil disobedience, they are begging for the opportunity to do it.  It's nice that we've spent the last few months having a sad about the fact that we police the streets with army men now. But that doesn't magically make the army men go away. 

They want to keep their army stuff. And the best way to keep your army stuff is to demonstrate that you need to use it.  Which is why they're all geared up right now.  Just hoping something happens... or planning to make something happen.

Ebola cure discovered

Mostly, it involves electing Republicans.
In early October, the GOP developed a plan to make the federal government's response to Ebola a central part of its midterm elections strategy. Television media played into Republicans' hands, helping to foment panic about the disease. Following the diagnosis of a handful of U.S. Ebola patients, the major broadcast networks ran nearly 1,000 segments about the virus in the four weeks leading up to the elections. Coverage of the disease plummeted in the two weeks following Election Day, with the same networks running fewer than 50 total segments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Affect the head

This was a remember me hit, I guess.
Bengals safety George Iloka got a personal foul penalty for a late hit on Saints tight end Jimmy Graham on Sunday. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis didn’t mind.

Lewis said that while he’d prefer not to lose 15 yards, he believed that hit set the tone for the physical way the Bengals’ defense played against Graham. And Lewis was very pleased with the way his defense played against Graham, who had only three catches for 29 yards.

“Unfortunately it cost us a penalty, but I think . . . it took a little bit out of him for the rest of the football game,” Lewis said, via Cincinnati.com. “He’s obviously someone we wanted to get hands on every chance we get. He’s such an effective receiver.”
In other news, Marvin Lewis has not been suspended for a season and the Bengals have forfeited no draft choices. 

What do you do well that the other party does not do?

Democrats are running away from that question and paying for it.
You can already some see of that impatience in this year’s elections. As my colleague Nate Cohn has explained, the Democrats’ voter-turnout efforts appear to have succeeded in several battleground states, according to early evidence. Democrats didn’t lose Senate seats in Colorado and North Carolina because turnout was lower than in a normal midterm. They lost, in significant part, because they failed to persuade swing voters — in spite of the unpopularity of the Republican Party and its positions.

Why might that be? The economy is the obvious culprit. Weak income growth has helped make Mr. Obama unpopular and made most Americans unhappy with the country’s direction. No wonder people voted against his party, just as they voted against the party in power at previous times when incomes were stagnant.

Slow-growing incomes won’t necessarily keep Hillary Clinton — or whoever is the Democrat nominee — from becoming president in 2016. But if she can’t persuade Americans that she has a plan for dealing with the great wage slowdown, it will be her biggest vulnerability.
Also one surefire way to fail at persuading voters you care about stagnating wages would be to nominate Hillary. 

Who found the money?

Starting to think someone at City Hall has turned over a couch cushion with some unexpected change they aren't quite ready to talk about yet.
Later in the meeting, the commission approved a 20 percent pay raise for police officers, based on a recommendation from the Civil Service Department staff. Under the proposal, officers would receive a 10 percent bump next year, to be followed by 5 percent increases in years two and three.

Landrieu’s 2015 budget proposal, however, only accounts for a 5 percent increase, and Landrieu has not committed to continued raises in 2016 and 2017. Funding for the raises will ultimately have to be allocated by the City Council.

The commission approved the proposal above objections from a top Landrieu aide. Alexandra Norton, the city’s director of organizational effectiveness and the chief architect of the Great Place to Work Initiative, said she would support a resolution to the City Council supporting police pay raises.
City Council will vote on the budget this week. 

It's all about ethics in journalism

Turns out Gamergate was actually Uber the whole time.
A senior executive at Uber suggested recently that his company fight back against the press by hiring a team tasked with digging up dirt on critical journalists and spreading information about their personal lives, according to a Buzzfeed report published Monday.
Here's the thing, though.  For some time now, it has been clear to anyone who cares that the new temp economy of which Uber is a significant part is a scam designed to exploit an increasingly desperate workforce in order to enrich a few tech bros. 

 Despite the overwhelming obviousness of this, the general feeling among journalists has been basically pro-Uber.  Josh Marshall even introduces the above TPM story this way.
Lots of my friends can't live without Uber. But more and more evidence that it's a wildly sleazy operation at the highest levels.
But even that is absurdly myopic.  The problem isn't just that these Uber guys are sleazy (they are).  The problem is that the entire "sharing economy" is sleazy.  You'd think a herd of people whose own profession is being chipped apart into a constant hustle of freelance piecework would recognize the problem here. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Today might actually be New Year's Eve

If the Saints fall to 4-6 today, we might just be ready to skip ahead to 2015. So let's see how that goes.  On the bright side Aaron Brooks will be there.  So try and be on time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Slightly less reliable than walking

This is a long running issue in New Orleans, but also in many cities.  If you're heading downtown for a big event like a Saints game, or if it's Mardi Gras, or New Year's Eve, or Halloween, even... chances are you're going to end up having to walk back home.  Or at least, having to wait a long time.
On Halloween night, I, with many others, simply could not get home from the French Quarter. I had made the decision to take the streetcar from my home to meet friends. However, when I decided to leave at around 12:30 a.m., I was left stranded with hundreds of others as only one streetcar, that filled immediately, passed in an hour and half of waiting.

Taxis would not stop for a single person. Empty cabs were just driving by looking for large groups. It was cold. It was annoying. And the tourists around me were loudly proclaiming how they had never experienced this in any other city.
Okay well forget about the angry tourists.. as well as the bratty Tulane kids also mentioned in this letter. The fact is other cities do this as poorly as we do. (Some are experimenting with doing better but it is a struggle to make that happen.)  But certain types (tourist and Tulane types) have a propensity to play kick NOLA when inconvenienced so.. who cares what they think. But just because they are jerks doesn't mean there isn't a problem.  Obviously it's not the safest choice to drive home after a long night out partying. People need safe, affordable alternatives.

Even on nights when cabs (or.. God forbid...  Ubers)  are available, they can be pretty expensive.  Just getting to the Quarter and back from Uptown via cab can add another $20-$30 to your night. I love getting around on my bicycle when it's just me. But Menckles doesn't ride, and since she's my date for most special events, that isn't typically an option.

New Orleans is supposedly a 24 hour town. And the frequency of NOPD traffic checkpoints leads one to believe it is a town that is concerned about keeping the roads safe at night from drunk drivers.  The best solution is better public transit running later into the evening... at least during special events like Halloween or New Year's. But something tells me we're not even close to accomplishing anything like that.

Friday, November 14, 2014

No future

There's an axiom about teams who can't decide on a starting quarterback that goes, "If you've got 2 starting QBs you really don't have any."   Similarly, if you've got a guy on your roster you tag as your "QB of the future," it's very likely that guy has no future with your team.

How much does inmate care actually cost?

Nobody at City Council has any idea.
The New Orleans City Council expressed deep skepticism Thursday about the $62.6 million Sheriff Marlin Gusman has requested from the city to run Orleans Parish Prison in 2015 — an amount more than double the $28 million allocation recommended by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

As Gusman watched from the audience of the City Council chamber, leaving an empty seat at the budget presentation table, council members grilled the sheriff’s top deputies about a recently signed contract for inmate health care they assailed as “obscenely” expensive. The five-year deal, awarded to Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee, is worth more than $15 million in its first year, a sum city leaders said is hard to stomach.

“Are we doing elective surgery and eyelifts?” Stacy Head, the council president, asked Michael Tidwell, Gusman’s chief corrections deputy. “I expect this is going to be, ultimately, an embarrassing scandal for the city of New Orleans when it’s all said and done — that we are spending this much money for health care when we have as many needs as we do in the city.”

“It’s such a high cost, I question what kind of services (inmates) could possibly be getting to cost this much,” added Head, whose outrage was shared by Councilwoman Susan Guidry. “You could hire a cadre of primary care physicians, a couple of surgeons, a few psychiatrists and keep them on full time, full staff, like the feds do at their prisons, for just a tiny percentage of what this costs.”
The issues are these. 1) Gusman is under a federal consent decree to rectify what have been judged shameful, inhumane, and unconstitutional conditions at the prison.  That's an expensive problem to solve. How expensive is a matter of disagreement between the city and the sheriff. But nobody asking the questions today seems to know exactly how expensive it should be.  2) Gusman has signed a health services contract "behind closed doors" and that makes everyone reasonably suspicious.
Gusman has contended that the medical services contract, which became effective this month, was necessary for his office to have any chance of complying with the medical and mental health care provisions outlined in the federal consent decree he signed with the U.S. Justice Department. City leaders, however, maintain the contract negotiations lacked transparency because Gusman failed to hold public meetings during the selection process.
But if we're going to get to the bottom of this, it can't possibly help matters for Stacy Head to make sarcastic jokes about inmates perhaps being treated to better health care than she imagines they deserve.  Isn't that kind of mean thinking what got us into this mess in the first place?

Republicans don't care about governing

Episode 9,001
Asserted as a fact of political life, “Republicans must show they can govern” is a failure of imagination, and a sentimentalism. It refuses to grapple with other equally plausible possibilities. For example: that declining to govern will produce so much confusion about lines of responsibility and alienation from a broken political system that voters can’t, won’t, or in any case don’t “punish” the people who went for obstruction. Behind a statement like Peter Foster’s: “Republicans must use the next two years to show they are a party of government…” is a prediction about price-paying that does not necessarily apply in a hyper-partisan and super-polarized era. Political journalists are supposed to know that. They are supposed to know that better than anyone else.

Cavalry is pulling out of Dodge

You only thought you'd been hearing city officials go on and on about "doing more with less" these past few years.  Just you wait.
On top of that, the city will be receiving less money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it crosses more and more Hurricane Katrina-related projects off its to-do list.

Grant said New Orleans needs to have “at least another several hundred million” dollars available on an “ongoing basis” to invest in capital projects. As it is, the city on its own will generate only about $250,000 annually, through donations and the sale of property, in the next five years to use for that purpose.

According to the five-year Capital Improvement Plan, $883 million will be available to spend on capital projects from 2015 to 2019. Sources of funding include FEMA, other federal and state grants, and airport revenue bonds.

The bulk of the funds, $609.5 million, is dedicated to building the new terminal at Louis Armstrong International Airport. The rest will be used to repair streets and make improvements to city-owned buildings such as City Hall, the French Market and fire stations.

The plan includes no money for parks and other recreational facilities or for libraries and museums.

It also does not include any money from new general obligation bonds.

“We will be entering into a very robust process here in the coming year to figure out what’s the next program,” Grant said. “Truth of the matter is, we will not see major addition of federal dollars infused in the capital budget in coming years.”
Because the federal stimulus of post-katrina rebuilding is ending, and because the default mode of state and federal aid to cities these days is, "drop dead," it's safe to assume the good times (these were the "good times", believe it or not) are coming to an end.

The city's long term solution is to make up the difference in property tax revenue.  This means they're going to need property values to continue to inflate at the ridiculous rate they have been. It also means, they'll continue to do everything they can to help build nice things for rich people.  Or at the very least, allow more and more of the local housing stock to be sold to investors planning to use it for vacation rentals. Because when gentrification is the policy choice, having too many actual residents in your city becomes a burden.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


In keeping with the theme from the previous post...
Tens of thousands of Americans who went through bankruptcy are still haunted by debts long after — sometimes as long as a decade after — federal judges have extinguished the bills in court. 

The problem, state and federal officials suspect, is that some of the nation’s biggest banks ignore bankruptcy court discharges, which render the debts void. Paying no heed to the courts, the banks keep the debts alive on credit reports, essentially forcing borrowers to make payments on bills that they do not legally owe.

The practice — a subtle but powerful tactic that effectively holds the credit report hostage until borrowers pay — potentially breathes new life into the pools of bad debt that are bought by financial firms.
This is a system that eats people in order that it may trade on their remains. 


People are still.. rightfully.. appalled at yesterday's Inspector General's report on NOPD's cavalier indifference to victims of sexual assault.   But it's also important to look beyond just the five officers named in the report. Back out a little further and you'll find a systemic problem with NOPD  downgrading statistics to benefit the career interests of top brass.

Back out even further and you find a health care system just blithely making victims responsible for the consequences of their own suffering.
2014 has revealed a staggering amount of “revictimization” among Louisiana survivors of sexual assault. In addition to the above reports, the Times-Picayune reporter Rebecca Catalanello outlined in a series of articles the massive medical bills many sexual assault victims receive after emergency room visits for rape kit collections. While Gov. Bobby Jindal passed a bill this year to speed up the state’s rape kit backlog collection, Catalanello unveiled an institutionalized signal to victims to literally pay for their own assault.
Further out from that you see an entire political economy based on feeding people to stupid and corrupt bureaucratic machines both public and private. In other words,  read Matt Taibbi's latest book.
A condensed form of Taibbi’s conceit: The wealth gap turns out to be about far, far more than allocations of wealth. It results inevitably from two separate bureaucratic systems—Taibbi characterizes them as two different actions of one system, but they may be easier seen as two. The two systems, Taibbi writes, run “...on bureaucratic autopilot—and autopilot turns out to be a steel trap for the losers and a greased pipeline to money, power, and impunity for winners.”

That most gentle characterization of the Divide comes well over halfway into the book, in a section that draws together all Taibbi has discussed before. He begins with tales from the Wall Street crash and white collar crime, and moves on to stop-and-frisk (so called “broken windows”) statistical policing, then into the cruel banality and Sisyphean toil of urban courtrooms and finally to the nearly unfathomable riches of financial pillagers and the definitely unfathomable complexity of their crimes. The author synthesizes all of this into one tentacled, beaked monstrosity. He drags his beast up from the depths like Tennyson’s kraken.
I prefer Taibbi's concept of one big stupid system.  It chews up most of us but it helps your chances if you have a lot of money to throw at it.  Otherwise, good luck, but you're bound to find yourself victimized and revictimized many times over. 

Thank you, "49ers fan"

Another week, another letter to the editor from a grateful visiting fan.
Saints fans are by far the most welcoming, professional fans I have ever experienced.  The people of New Orleans have much to be proud of with their fans.  Not once, before the game, during the game or leaving the stadium did a Saints fan engage in derogatory "smack talk" or anything else that would make an away team fan feel anything less than welcome at the Superdome. Even with such a difficult overtime loss, nothing!

I have never had a better NFL fan experience than I did in New Orleans last weekend.  The Saints fans are exemplary role models for all NFL franchises, including my beloved 49er fans.
The suspicious part of me is beginning to wonder if these frequent letters are maybe planted via some NOTMC PR consultant somewhere.  But never mind that right now.

As sweet as this letter is, it's worth noting that 49ers fans are pretty terrible.

The whole budget is a participatory budget

So called participatory budgeting has its pros and cons.  Mostly cons. There's a certain populist impulse behind it.  But really it's only the sort of populist impulse that ends up.. marginally... empowering the narrow sample of people who show up to put beans in jars for fun.
An advocacy group assembled to prod city officials to open up the yearly budgeting process brought about 60 residents together at the Tulane City Center last month to run an experiment. Given beans that each represented $1 million in the city budget, they were asked to set their spending priorities by dropping the seeds in jars marked by city department and state office.
What ends up happening is the little pool of money designated for "participatory budgeting" becomes a little fiefdom for the bean counters.  And, of course, the little bean counting room ends up working the same way the larger political body works in that inevitably Commander's Palace ends up getting more beans than Mais Arepas just by default.. so to speak. 

So instead of setting one little bit of the budget aside for people to make pretend is "participatory" maybe just focus on arguing over the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


This was all over Twitter but didn't make anyone's column for whatever reason. Anyway here's what appears to be Drew Brees acknowledging that people find him annoying.

Held back a year

This is weird. But so is everything to do with public ed in New Orleans.
The New Beginnings charter board made history Monday night, quickly reconsidered the action, and then worked to undo it and delay a decision on transferring one of its four charter schools back to Orleans Parish School Board oversight.

Had its original 3-2 vote carried, the board would have been the first to move a school from the Recovery School District to the School Board. The day-to-day operations and overall authority to run Lake Are New Tech Early College High School would have remained with the New Beginnings Schools Foundation and its board, but general oversight would have shifted to the school board.

Maybe you don't like Daniel Tosh

That would be fine. But probably you like ESPN even less. In which case, here is a clip for you anyway.

And if you enjoyed that, then please see this further reading on corruption and exploitation in big time sports.

Coach Wooden told us that there was no changing the NCAA’s minds, that they were “immovable, like the sun rising in the east.” I never personally encountered any players who cheated or shaved points, but I could see why some resorted to illegally working an extra job or accepting monetary gifts in order to get by.

The worst part is that nothing much has changed since my experience as a college athlete almost forty years ago. Well, one thing has changed: the NCAA, television broadcasters, and the colleges and universities are making a lot more money.

Data driven

It is upsetting, although unfortunately not overly surprising,  to read that NOPD detectives handling rape cases don't believe rape is a crime,
Another detective, identified as Detective D, "told at least three different individuals that Detective D did not believe that simple rape should be a crime," according to the IG. "Simple rape" is a felony in the state criminal code and is defined as knowingly having sex with someone who is incapable of resisting or giving consent.
But the question to ask, then, is why put this sort of person on these kinds of cases?  Seems like poor personnel management, right?  Thomas Morstead is a hell of a punter but you don't want to ask him to do a lot of passing if it isn't his thing.

And remember we're not talking about one officer playing out of position but five. So one wonders if there might have been a reason for that. 
The new report adds disturbing detail to the picture of an NOPD sex crimes unit that former Police Chief Ronal Serpas acknowledged had a historical tendency to look for ways to disprove rape allegations rather than attempting to back them up.

It also buttresses the IG's audit findings from May that already questioned if large percentages of sex crimes were being improperly downgraded.

Following up on the audit that sampled 90 cases in the spring, Quatrevaux's office focused in on the five detectives who were assigned to cases in that sample that lacked key documentation.

Expanding their review to all 1,290 sex-crime-related calls for service that were assigned to those five detectives between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2013, investigators found that 840 cases, or 65 percent of the calls, were classified as "miscellaneous incidents," not sex crimes, and closed without follow-up.
It was good of Serpas to acknowledge NOPD's "historical tendency" to downgrade rape cases.  But then maybe it helps to have a tendency in order to recognize it.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas' tenure as police chief in Nashville is under scrutiny amid recent revelations that the police department there is reclassifying hundreds of sexual assault reports.

The move comes after media reports that showed disparities in how reported crimes were calculated and questioned the claims of public safety officials about drops in crime. 
At the time we hired Serpas away from Nashville, though, the emphasis was on his PhD in criminology tied to his cutting edge "data driven" approach to crime fighting.
Landrieu has even set out to overhaul the New Orleans Police Department, which has a sordid history of corruption and crooked cops. The city’s murder rate is the highest in the country—10 times the national average—and the violence can be savage and chilling (one guy dismembered and cooked his girlfriend). “The culture of death and violence on our streets is unnatural,” Landrieu said in a July speech. He’s responded by naming a new police chief, Ronal Serpas, who specializes in data-driven and community policing. And he called in the Justice Department—which is pursuing at least eight criminal investigations of the NOPD—to oversee police reforms.
I always worry when I read about "data-driven" public service delivery. Not because I have anything against data or.. the sense of technocratic professionalism the term implies. More often, though, it's a sign an agency is less interested in its actual mission than it is on manipulating perceptions of its performance. For example. 
The classifications and handling of sexual-assault allegations has been a hot topic in national law enforcement and victims' rights circles.

Experts testifying before a U.S. Senate panel months ago called on Congress to put more oversight on the statistics that most local police departments report to the FBI. They asked Congress to implement more stringent reporting requirements and an update to the terms that police use in investigation sexual assault allegations.

The panel was prompted in part by reports across the country that police were downgrading or misclassifying cases. In Baltimore, police have reclassified numerous investigations and are looking at why some allegations were ignored.

And this week, a Cleveland newspaper reported that its police force closed more than 50 sexual assault investigations without ever identifying a suspect.

Grounds for impeachment, probably

Damn runaway executive unilaterally conspiring with the Chinese to kill everybody's job by 2030.
In a surprise announcement Tuesday night, the world's two biggest economies and greenhouse gas emitters, United States and China, said they will partner closely on a broad-ranging package of plans to fight climate change, including new targets to reduce carbon pollution, according to a statement from the White House.

The announcement comes after President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping today in Beijing, and includes headline-grabbing commitments from both countries that are sure to breathe new life into negotiations to reach a new climate treaty in Paris next year.

According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

Tuesday's announcement is equally remarkable for China's commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will "peak," or finally begin to taper downwards: around 2030. China is currently the world's biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China's leaders.
The heart of the agreement involves a 15 year plan to replace 40% of China's current coal usage with nicotine gum  or something like that.  I haven't heard Ted Cruz's full explanation yet. But it's clearly Obamacare for the climate and nobody wants that. 

Right now Mary Landrieu is preparing a campaign speech about how she plans to work with Republicans to stand up to the President and reverse whatever progress might have been made here today.  Several key Senate Democrats are moving quickly to help her.