Saturday, October 31, 2015

I'm pretty sure I remember the word "several" coming in to play

That's what Vitter said the day after the primary, right?
Vitter has participated in limited debates, citing his duties as a U.S. senator, and had limited media access. On Saturday, after the election results came in, Edwards spent nearly an hour talking to reporters while Vitter left without interviews.

Vitter said Sunday that he hopes to participate in several debates during the runoff campaign.

“I look forward to those,” he said.
Okay so "several" is apparently not a direct quote. But they do have him say "those" in quotes.  This is just one.  Can't he count?

HELL of a defense

Rob Ryan with the Halloween themed quote of the week.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is certain they're on their way to being that good again.

"I'm telling you, the best is yet to come," Ryan said Friday. "We're going to be a hell of a defense."
Hey, they've got a chance to pull back even at mid-season tomorrow on All Saints Day. If they can do that, this season is already ahead of expectations. 


Interesting strategic decision, Billy Nungesser.
Don’t look for attack ads in the lieutenant governor’s runoff between Democrat Kip Holden and Republican Billy Nungesser.

“We have agreed that we are going to run a campaign dealing with the issues at hand and not get into the mudslinging,” said Holden, who is Baton Rouge mayor.

Nungesser, former Plaquemines Parish president, said he told Holden “I’m running nothing but positive ads.”
Any particular reason for that? 

Those dang "trial lawyers"

When you hear David Vitter spend a goodly portion of the next month complaining about the "trial lawyers" out to get him, just remember who he's trying to protect.
Some state judges have called the class-action bans a “get out of jail free” card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources.

Patricia Rowe of Greenville, S.C., learned this firsthand when she initiated a class action against AT&T. Ms. Rowe, who was challenging a $600 fee for canceling her phone service, was among more than 900 AT&T customers in three states who complained about excessive charges, state records show. When the case was thrown out last year, she was forced to give up and pay the $600. Fighting AT&T on her own in arbitration, she said, would have cost far more.

By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to practices like predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination, court records show.

“This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history,” William G. Young, a federal judge in Boston who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. “Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.”
Vitter, who lives in something of an alternate fact universe, believes big business is not quite yet insulated enough from any semblance of accountability.
“I’m the only candidate for governor this year who has said flat out the biggest problem we have for our business climate is the litigation environment,” Vitter said. “We have to change it.” 
Here is BP's head of State and Local Government Affairs speaking a few weeks ago to an industry luncheon.  Notice how similar his and Vitter's absurd takes are.  
“I believe in the legal system; I believe in its fairness and impartiality. I don't believe in a system that measures justice based on the depths of your pockets,” Ellis said, citing a 2013 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that ranked Louisiana 49th among lawsuit climates. “The oil and gas industry in Louisiana...are threatened not as much by the decline in oil prices and market prices as they are by the attitude that some have that the industry's deep pockets make for good lawsuits.” 
This week, Vitter received an endorsement from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association... just in case you didn't already know he understands how prostitution works.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Guess we'll go sit outside

If the kids are coming tonight, then probably  somebody ought to be there.

Might be a wash

Mitch Landrieu finally endorsed the only Democrat running for Governor today. 

Clearly Edwards needs more robust turnout from Orleans Parish in order to win in the runoff. But he kept Mitch at arms' length during the primary for a reason.  Vitter is ready to pounce on an opportunity to link "John Bel Obama" with "Monuments not Murders Mitch"

Vitter's path to victory is pretty clear here. If only everybody didn't hate him so much.

Where's the swiftboat?

Seems like there must be at least one West Point classmate of John Bel Edwards or maybe a fellow paratrooper who is a big enough asshole to slime him in an attack ad.  If I were Team Vitter I'd have a private investigator or two on the case right now. 

It's a season of trolling

I noticed ESPN skipped on its weekly wild Sean Payton's "next job" rumor last week.  Guess this makes up for it.
ESPN says a trade of Drew Brees to the New York Jets before the NFL trade deadline Tuesday would be one of five "trades we'd like to see."

The trade in this case would bring the New Orleans Saints a third-round pick and save them $20 million and free some space on their already-bloated salary cap for 2016, according to the proposed ESPN trade.

The ESPN post characterized the 3-4 Saints as "hopelessly far behind" the 6-0 Carolina Panthers and 6-1 Atlanta Falcons.

Why would anybody even want this job?

The new governor's first task will be dealing with yet another terrifying budget crisis.
The Jindal administration is not expected to release a plan for coping with midyear cuts until next month. State legislators said they expect no action to take place until after the gubernatorial runoff on Nov. 21, when Jindal's replacement will be selected. The current governor and the incoming governor would probably coordinate on how to handle midyear cuts.

To cope with the shortfall, Jindal might access Louisiana's "rainy day" fund for financial emergencies. The governor is allowed to remove a third of the fund -- around $172 million -- to address pressing budget issues.

Both candidates for governor, U.S. Sen. David Vitter and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, have also said they would deal with the current year's financial crisis during a special fiscal session either in January or early February.

Louisiana's budget shortfalls typically fall on the backs of its public colleges and universities because so much other state funding -- health care dollars and coastal restoration dollars, for example -- has constitutional protections. It's easier to cut higher education funding than almost any other part of the budget.

Both gubernatorial candidates and state legislators have said they are hoping to insulate higher education from additional cuts. But the scope of the problem is so large, that it is hard to imagine they won't take at least some hits.
Congratulations, Governor!  You're sure this is what you want, right? 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Other businessman

Has anybody figured out who the "other businessman" is yet?
DeNoux told The Advocate on Wednesday that he did the opposition research on Vitter for a “businessman,” whom he said he could not name. The businessman asked him to share his information with Berry, DeNoux said, adding that he did not know the blogger previously.

DeNoux said his client was not Cummings, a prominent trial attorney, large landowner in New Orleans and longtime foe of Vitter. DeNoux said Cummings is a friend of his but that he has never done paid work for him. DeNoux also said the client for the Vitter assignment was not an elected official and not the Democratic Party.
Huh.. it might still be Cummings, of course. But previously, we'd pointed out all the funny money being passed around the various SuperPACs a month or so before the election for "research" purposes. 
Campaign finance reports show that Gumbo PAC donated $5,000 on Sept. 14 to the Now or Never PAC, which spends money to support Dardenne.  Gumbo PAC is run by Trey Ourso, the former executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

In spite of its Democratic political ties, Gumbo PAC describes itself as a group supporting "anybody but Vitter" in the governor's race. Dardenne is also actively courting Democratic voters in his gubernatorial bid. As a Republican, Dardenne claims he has a better shot of beating Vitter statewide than does state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only major Democratic candidate running in the race
Technically neither GumboPAC nor Now or Never (guess it turned out to be Never for Jay) can be described as "an elected official" or "The Democratic Party" which are the only possibilities DeNoux excludes.  Although, if we consider Vitter's demonstration as to how loose the rules of separation really are between PACs and campaigns, then maybe everyone is still a suspect.  

Guess the Geek Appeal kind of passed him by

Middle age is tough. Just ask Bobby Jindal. It was only a short few.. eight.. years ago when Jeremy Alford wrote about Bobby's Geek Appeal to "Gen-Xers" who... I guess.. were what Alford and Gambit considered The Kids Today in 2007.

Anyway, back then Bobby was a different kind of conservative. Sure, he went out and pandered to the churchy folks. But he did it while multi-tasking on his Blackberry.
During one 25-minute interview at the State Museum, Jindal mentions God no less than eight times. "This is God giving us another chance," he says, referring to the campaign's promise for a fresh start.

According to the D.C. newspaper The Hill, Jindal was seen on Ash Wednesday last year at St. Peter's Catholic Church spending a "great deal of time on his BlackBerry during service and prayer, both reading e-mails and sending e-mails." Jindal responded through his spokesman: "The Congressman was on his BlackBerry to staff asking that meetings be pushed back because the service was running long. He didn't want to leave."
Yeah the Blackberry, right? He probably kept it in a holster on his belt. Right next to the onion he wore there. Which was the style at the time.  Anyway, those were the days.

What's our Whiz Kid up to now that we all live in The Future
You won’t see Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal checking Twitter on an iPhone or hailing an Uber, like some other Republicans running for president.

During a lighter moment of Wednesday night’s GOP debate, Jindal admitted he still uses a Blackberry — and mostly for scheduling and staying in touch with his family.

“I may be the last American out there without an iPhone,” Jindal joked, adding that he has one game on his phone: Bricklayer.
Whoah there, grandpa. Are you sure you've "got the bandwidth" for that?

This is what it's come to for Bobby.  The world really does pass us by so quickly.  Sooner or later we all end up back at the kids' table.  Jindal got there sooner than most, though.

As for the kids' table itself, that's kind of getting old too. Here's Grace today:
These "undercard" debates, featuring a handful of low-polling candidates and preceding the main events, are getting old. CNBC was the latest network to make up for excluding Jindal & Co. from the big stage by offering them airtime, but once again, all the network did was reinforce the idea that these are the candidates who aren't serious. We're talking about a governor, a former governor, a senator and a former senator. Sure, having ten candidates on stage is already unwieldy, but would adding four more be that much worse?
The last kiddie table candidate standing gets to sit with the... no let's not call the major GOP candidates adults. Somebody will get the call up, though.  Otherwise it might just be Bobby talking to himself.  Like a senile old man, perhaps.  It comes upon all of us sooner than we think.  

Tax farming

You have been cited for traffic violations and ordered to appear in court under the authority of... some private management company with a school charter somewhere.

Individual charter schools in New Orleans could soon be allowed to install traffic-enforcement cameras on school buses, according to a proposal pending before the City Council.
City Councilman Jared Brossett said a law passed in 2010 allows the New Orleans Police Department to contract with three entities — the Recovery School District, the Orleans Parish School Board, and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education — to put traffic cameras on their buses for bus stop sign enforcement.

The proposed amendment would allow for individual charter groups to enter into their own contracts individually, Brossett said at a recent meeting of the council’s transportation committee.
“Because the bus contracts are held by the charter organizations, it’s opening it up for that to be contracted directly,” said Tracy Mercadel, executive director of site services of the Algiers Charter School Association, said.

Mercadel said the contracts will still be overseen by NOPD.

“It still has to be managed by the city with the New Orleans Police Department so it’s nothing changing. It’s just opening an opportunity for the charter groups,” Mercadel said.
"Opening an opportunity" for what?  To cash in on a tax farming license
In ancient times, rulers relied on a practice now known as "tax farming" in which tax collection was outsourced to other groups or individuals who maintained order in particular areas and passed on revenue to the monarch. The abuse that resulted from this system is thought to be one reason for the fall of the Roman Empire.

In modern times, governments are again turning to private companies to enforce certain laws and charge fees. A new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, titled Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public details how as many as 700 communities across as many as 28 states contract out to private companies that install and operate automated red-light or speed cameras and then send tickets in the mail to the owners of cars caught on film for legal violations. According to the report, one in five Americans live in a jurisdiction that outsources traffic ticketing this way.
Jefferson Parish residents actually sued over traffic cameras a few years ago.. and won... sort of. They actaully won a half-victory on appeal and reached a settlement afterward.  
Though the appellate judges agreed there was no merit to arguments that the red-light camera system was unconstitutional, they said they could not tell precisely what the parish’s role was in creating or enforcing the rules governing the program.

The judges also questioned, among other things, whether ticketed drivers received proper notice of proceedings against them in parish court and whether the District Attorney’s Office could prosecute the tickets. Further, they said Sullivan’s ruling in favor of Redflex and the parish prevented the plaintiffs from having a chance to get a full accounting of the money the program collected.
Strange ruling, really. They're saying it's constitutional but also here are several due process issues they have with it so...

Regardless it's a designed ripoff meant to, of course, increase parish revenue, but also benefit the for-profit company responsible for the cameras. In Jefferson, here is how that loot was split.
The contract between the School Board and ONGO Live directs 60 percent of the bus camera revenue to the company, 20 percent to the school system and 20 percent to the Sheriff's Office, which has deputies review the gathered footage of drivers. School officials said the district's share comes to about $20,000 a year and goes toward buying computers.
The MC Messenger story doesn't mention what sort of take the for profit (yes they are)  charter operators will get. Does anybody know?  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

David Vitter's next TV ad

Like I said yesterday

Vitter is going to try and make an issue out of Cummings, the Whitney Plantation, and the Confederate monuments.
Previous speculation focused on Cummings as the target not only because he is a Democratic donor and supporter of Edwards, but also because his name had been swept up into the swirling debate over the removal of New Orleans' Confederate monuments. Vitter has opposed Mayor Mitch Landrieu's call to remove the monuments, and polls have shown that the issue resonates among Louisiana's conservative voters.

Cummings is the founder and benefactor of one a museum he said is devoted to telling the unvarnished truth about slavery in the United States. His $8 million investment to transform the Whitney Plantation at Wallace into a tribute and memorial to those who died in slavery made him a prime candidate to be the anonymous donor whom the Landrieu administration has said was willing to pay for removing the statues.

Cummings, however, emphatically called those rumors untrue. "It's not me," he said.
You can always see stuff like this coming a mile away. All you have to do is pay just a little attention. 

David Vitter's war on Christmas

Why does Vitter hate Santa?
Robert Frenzel was booked on one count of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, after deputies found him hiding in the neighborhood around the Metairie coffee shop where he recorded Normand's group, said the report released Tuesday.

Frenzel told deputies "he was on assignment to conduct surveillance on a subject with a white beard," said the report. "He did advise that it was not sheriff Normand that he was assigned to follow."
 See also: Grinch releases obligatory Willie Horton ad

Mayor Giuliani goes to Bourbon Street

Shocked SHOCKED that you can find "lewd/immoral acts" there.
Several strip clubs on Bourbon Street have been busted by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and Louisiana State Police for activity involving drugs, prostitution and "lewd/immoral acts," the agencies announced Tuesday morning.

The results of a month-long undercover investigation called Operation "Trick or Treat" will be released at a news conference this afternoon.

Names will be released and charges will be discussed by ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert and LSP Col. Mike Edmonson.
On the one hand, maybe it fits with the Disneylandrieu narrative. Mitch is going to Bourbon Street to sanitize it the way  Giuliani did Times Sqaure. You know, to make it wholesome enough to please the better people moving in to the new New Orleans.  Remember last weekend, wealthy French Quarter property owners approved a new sales tax that helps fund the presence of these State Police officers... along with Sidney Torres who once was known for making everything down there smell "lemony fresh."

So there's that angle. But also, given the way French Quarter prostitutes and powerful people have been in the news, lately,  maybe we're seeing a little bit of the spirit of Jim Garrison at work here.
Years before his inquiry into the Kennedy assassination, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison first captured the national spotlight in late 1962, when he launched a series of raids on French Quarter strip clubs and bars. Even more extraordinary than the vice raids themselves was Garrison's verbal feud with Orleans Parish's criminal court judges, whom he accused of restricting funds for his raids due to their ties to organized crime.
And that seems kind of appropriate also following on the heels of Oswald Con  and, of course, the shocking news that Oswald is, in fact, alive, well, and coaching the football team.

Anyway, God help the strippers if it turns out they were making too much noise.

Monday, October 26, 2015

LA-GOV runoff quotes of the day

This is only Day 2 post-primary.

Pollster Bernie Pinsonat handicapping the next phase of the election:
Vitter has to be considered the favorite based on traditional patterns. He obviously can win, but he’s going to have to run a picture perfect campaign and put together the factions, which are pretty angry right now.
Jason Berrry on what you can and can't expect from the press.. especially during election season.
Berry's day job as a freelance videographer allows him a loose enough schedule that he can spend years on his important, sometimes Earth-moving stories. As such, the local papers love Berry, or at least love aggregating his hard work . But Berry claims no interest in turning his success into a full-time gig for any outlet."I don't trust any of the newspapers in this city," he said. "That doesn't mean I don't trust the reporters. We have incredible reporters in this city, but I don't trust the media entities they work for. I've been doing this for ten years and... What I have seen time and again is money and influence buying editorial control."
Berry, again, on the personal risks he's taking which the media companies he criticized typically do not.
Now Berry says he’s getting “paranoid” about what kind of surveillance the Vitter campaign is doing on him. In addition to seeing Frenzel pass by his house last Wednesday, personal information about Berry from a web tracking service was found in Frenzel’s car on Friday.

Berry acknowledged that he had been speaking to some of the people who were at the table Friday with Normand when Frenzel was caught filming them.

“David Vitter… is a very vindictive person,” Berry said. “I’m worried about my family. I mean, I worry about retribution issues. That concerns me greatly.”
Finally, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand on the sort of Governor David Vitter might turn out to be.
Normand, still indignant during an interview with The Advocate on Monday, said he had in fact met with Vitter for more than an hour to discuss law enforcement issues, although he said it was not an entirely cordial exchange.

Normand said he told Vitter that the latter “would be the worst governor in the history of the state of Louisiana.”

“I’ve been straight up, brutally honest with this man,” Normand said, likening Vitter to “a 5-year-old in the sandbox.”

Very ethicsy

David Vitter's car accident was maybe more problematic than it seemed at first.
On Friday, the day before the primary election, Vitter and Callihan were involved in a minor traffic accident in Metairie. Callihan was driving and Vitter was the passenger when Callihan hit a second vehicle. Vitter was quickly transported from the scene by a campaign staff member. http://louisianavoice.com/2015/10/25/minor-auto-accident-could-further-undermine-vitter-bid-for-governor-federal-campaign-finance-law-violations-possible/

On the one hand, Vitter was riding with his campaign finance director. On the other, he was riding with the person who shares an address with FLF.

Where is the line of separation?

Does anyone really believe that Vitter never discusses campaign strategy with Callihan?

Likewise, does anyone believe that Callihan never consults with FLF on campaign strategy?
Maybe the problem is the post-Citizens United rules are absurd and basically meant to be violated.  On the other hand the absurd rules are the law and David Vitter is supposedly very serious about the law, right?

"Natural enemies"

LABI might jump into the Governor's race now.
“All of our natural enemies are behind Edwards, with money from unions and trial lawyers,” said an influential PAC member with a long history with LABI, adding, "It would be a sad day for the business community in Louisiana if John Bel wins. He's a nice guy, looks good on paper, likable, West Point. There’s a lot to like, but on policy he doesn't match up.”
Meanwhile, the Louisiana Sheriff's Association is backing John Bel.  At first glance, that seems like a big coup but, remember, Edwards's whole family is made up of Sheriffs, practically.  Also, one in particular is pretty pissed at Vitter.

Also, various Dardenne staffers are declaring their individual support for Edwards via social media.  Jay Dardenne, himself, probably won't say anything at all.

Doesn't have to be one or the other

For some reason the Vitter campaign thinks hiring a spook to stalk John Cummings is somehow less creepy than having him stalk Newell Normand.
Vitter's campaign spokesman Luke Bolar provided the following statement: "This person works for a firm that we hired to do research, all within the bounds of the law. This includes John Bel Edwards’ business associate and major donor, and his relationship with the John Bel Edwards campaign. It has nothing to do with Newell Normand.”
Not sure what the point would be of that distinction.  In any case, the subject of this "research" project doesn't have to be one or the other. It's actually probably both

Still, if you're wondering why Vitter might have so much interest in talking up Cummings's relationship to John Bel, get ready to hear him make a campaign issue out of "Edwards donor John Cummings's slavery museum" at some point.  Probably right after he cuts another "murders not monuments" radio ad.

Having fun yet, Saints fans?

Didn't we tell you it wouldn't be so horrible?  I mean, it ain't great or anything. But everything we've said about the process of watching a young defense slowly gain confidence is right on track.  Rob Ryan said a few weeks ago, the defense was "on the verge of a breakthrough." Yesterday, it even appeared a bit ahead of schedule.
The Saints defense completely controlled the game. They held the Colts to 3 of 13 on third down, sacked Luck 4 times, and limited the Colts to 75 rushing yards. Give the defensive line credit for dominating and pressuring Luck and Rob Ryan for having a great plan making sure Luck never seemed comfortable. Get this defense 2 more NFL quality defensive tackles and another pass rusher and this unit could be really good, but that's a 2016 topic and there is still plenty of 2015 to look forward to.
Remember, this whole year is pretty much a long 2016 pre-season, so Ralph is right on target there. If Delvin Breaux doesn't fall down twice the Colts probably don't climb back in it. 

Also it might have helped matters had the offense not totally sputtered into nothing during the second half. It sure was a good thing Thomas Morstead was back this week. The Saints needed him to punt 10 times. If Sean Payton ever walks over to yell at Ryan on the sidelines again, Ryan should deck him. 

Although it should be pointed out, the offense showed up in time to make two very big plays when it counted.  First, Drew Brees hit Brandin Cooks for a 47 yard conversion of 3rd and 8 from the Saints' own 3.  The Saints didn't score on that possession but the play helped them "flip the field" on the Colts and let some air out of the clock at an important time in the 4th quarter.  Later Marques Colston, finally, did an actual Marques Colston thing holding on to a 3rd down pass from Brees to put the game away.

But really the story of the Colts game was the three gift turnovers which the Saints were able to turn to their advantage.  This is also the story of the Falcons game, by the way, which is another way of saying the 2 of the Saints' 3 wins this year come with big assists from the opponent and/or the turn of Fortuna's wheel. (We can also ascribe the result of the Cowboys game to chance if you really want to talk about it... although not the sort that involves turnovers.)  But since we've endured so long frustration with a defense that seemed preternaturally incapable of catching the ball, we're not going to complain.

Anyway, we'll try and do some sort of mid-season summary after the Giants game. If the Saints climb back to 4-4 by then, they're already playing with house money.

Everybody dreads Vitty

Everybody hates David Vitter. On the occasions when they aren't also in debt to or afraid of him, they will come out and tell you so. Otherwise, they fall in line.

It was really interesting on Saturday night, watching which Louisiana Republicans made sure to show up at the Vitter after-party to pay tribute.  Congressman Charles Boustany, for example, who very much would appreciate Vitter's blessing to run for his Senate seat should Vitter become Governor was the first one in the room. State Treasurer John Kennedy who enjoys a brand among fanboys in the media as a "principled independent" also made an extra special effort to be seen on camera at the Vitter party. I wonder what sort of favor he's trading.

I hope the Treasurer would have the presence of mind to keep the receipt.  Many have found out the hard way that Vitter is not always to be trusted.
If history is a guide, expect Vitter in particular to be a barroom brawler. In each of his races, he has run against something — former Gov. Edwin Edwards and the state Democratic Party when he won elections to the state House in the 1990s; the past and the status quo when he defeated former Republican Gov. David Treen in a special congressional election in 1999; and Washington and national Democrats in his two Senate victories.

This time, as Vitter showed Saturday, he will be running against “the politicians in Baton Rouge,” even though Jindal is a Republican and Republicans hold majorities in the state House and Senate.

John Treen has never forgiven Vitter for his unrelenting attacks against his brother in that 1999 election, after Vitter and David Treen, at Vitter’s initiative, agreed not to attack each other. Keeping that deal was important for Treen, who was known among Democrats and Republicans alike for his honest and honorable approach to politics.

Vitter, however, went on the attack, according to John Treen and two others who were part of that campaign, in fliers with different messages to white and black voters that the Treen campaign found far outside the bounds of fair play.

“To distort my brother’s record, I thought, was despicable,” John Treen said, adding that his brother, who died in 2009, never fully recovered emotionally from the defeat. “The idea that someone made a deal and broke his word got to him.”
In other words, "David Vitter killed my brother!"  Holy crap, John.  People really do not like David Vitter. Treen is far from the only person with these kinds of hard feelings.

But he's also out of politics and doesn't really have anything to lose or to trade.  These guys, on the other hand... 
During the primary, Vitter and a super PAC allied with him savaged his two Republican rivals — Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne — with attack ads. Both men cried foul.

“Sen. Pinocchio,” Angelle called Vitter.

The opening image on the Dardenne campaign’s website Sunday morning continued to consist of the words “SENATOR LIAR” stamped over a grainy photo of Vitter. “The more David Vitter spends on television ads the less truth they contain,” reads the opening line of the top link on the Dardenne website.
Angelle and Dardenne obviously are in position to help tip the scales of this election now. Despite their strong language during the primary, and despite the obvious fact that the two of them, like most humans, can't stand David Vitter, it isn't clear what, if anything they're actually going to do.

Dardenne has already said during one of the debates that he will not make an endorsement in the runoff.  On election night, Angelle told supporters, "You will hear from me again."  On the surface that looks like Dardenne is abstaining and Angelle might come out and attack Vitter some more. The horse trading game is funny, though. Yesterday, on the parallel internet, Lamar shared this quote from one of the great treatises on Louisiana politics, A.J. Liebling's Earl of Louisiana
It is unusual for a candidate to win first time around, and if one does he arouses a certain amount of resentment as a spoilsport. After the first primary, each beaten candidate and his backers trade off their support to one of the two men who are still alive, in exchange for what he will bind himself to do for them in the way of legislation, patronage or simple commercial advantage. Naturally, the runoff candidate who looks more likely to win can buy support at lower political prices than the other fellow, but by trying to drive too hard a bargain he may send the business to the underdog. Many a man has beaten himself that way. A Louisiana politician can't afford to let his animosities carry him away, and still less his principles, although there is seldom difficulty in that department.
Everybody may hate Vitty.  But he's made a career out of making sure that they, at least, fear him.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Those New Orleans rumors

What if it turns out that the only salacious story we've heard about David Vitter that isn't true is the diaper thing?

Meanwhile, see also.
So it would make sense that David Vitter would want to leave the scene, due to the fact that Courtney Guastella Callihan is possibly connected to a Super PAC that is supporting his gubernatorial campaign. News reports list her name as Courtney Guastella, but fail to mention her married name which ties her to her husband – or the fact that her home address is the same as Fund for Louisiana.

If these connections are true, along with a possible investigation into his spying on private individuals, it’s likely that David Vitter could find himself in serious legal trouble. Granted, the rules governing the actions of Super PACs are so loose that Vitter could have found a way to do this without breaking the law. The problem for Vitter is that it is especially hypocritical considering the fact he went after Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s campaign for allegedly coordinating with his own Super PAC in photos apparently taken by a private investigator.

Considering the fact that these would be potential federal investigations instead of state investigations, Vitter wouldn’t be able to leverage as many political connections. The people of Louisiana might be able to look the other way and vote for a “pro-life conservative” despite his serious moral failings, but the FEC and FBI don’t subscribe to the same hypocritical moral code as the people who voted for David Vitter.

Can is different from will

Bob Mann writes a correction. John Bel Edwards can beat David Vitter.
Edwards only needs about 25 percent to 30 percent of the non-Vitter Republican vote — and less, if substantial numbers of disaffected Republicans refuse to vote at all (or if Edwards substantially increases his black vote on Nov. 21).

A certain percentage (maybe 5 points) of Angelle’s and Dardenne’s combined 34 percent were likely Democrats who voted for one of the two Republicans for various reasons (Baton Rouge-area or Acadiana residents who voted for the home boy). Those Dardenne-Democrats or Angelle-Democrats will come home on Election Day without much effort.

Edwards will have to work to persuade the others to vote for him, but they have already voted against Vitter once. It is not difficult to see how Edwards could peel off a mere 25 percent of the remaining non-Vitter vote by appealing to their disgust or disenchantment with Vitter.
You can see the path but it's not going to be easy.  If I had to lay odds I'd say Vitter is probably a slightly better than mild favorite. But a lot of people really hate him so he could lose.

More importantly, in this scenario where Vitter loses to Edwards instead of to a Angelle or Dardenne in the primary, it will mean a more significant shift in direction in Baton Rouge from the way Bobby Jindal had been doing things.  People don't like Jindal. Now they can vote against him and Vitter all at once.  A smart campaigner might take advantage of that.

We don't really know how smart John Bel is just yet.  He hasn't really had to do anything to get where he is. But all indications are he has a real chance to do this.  But there's a long way to go, still. 

Several debates

Is he sure that's what he wants?
Vitter has participated in limited debates, citing his duties as a U.S. Senator, and had limited media access. On Saturday, after the election results came in, Edwards spent nearly an hour talking to reporters while Vitter left without interviews.

Vitter said Sunday that he hopes to participate in several debates during the runoff campaign.

“I look forward to those,” he said.
Remains to be seen.  So far Vitter seems content to not say much of anything except, "Obama" as many times per minute as he can.  A campaign for Governor of Louisiana has to be about something more than that. 

Why does Stacy Head hate service industry workers?

I'm not even sold on the premise of this argument. But assuming it is true, Stacy thinks employees are inconvenient people.
On Magazine Street, for example, later hours could mean that more workers will start parking on side streets where parking isn’t metered, she said. That would free up spots in front of the businesses for customers. Because those customers now park on the side streets, such a change would not result in a net increase in parking in residential blocks, she said.

“There are studies and proof that parking meters in fact improve the viability of urban shopping districts,” Head said, noting that preventing people from parking on the street for long periods of time means more spots for customers. On-street spaces in shopping areas, she said, are the most valuable and should not be taken up by employees.
The help parks further away and comes in through the back door.

All economic theory is bunk

Or at least, macroeconomic data can often mean whatever you want them to mean. Or they can mean nothing at all. 
In a way, the debate over how much faith the Fed puts in the Phillips curve shows the broader dilemma of economic policy. For all the researchers over the decades and centuries who have tried to understand how the economy really works and to predict its course with precision, our ability to know where the economy is heading next year is no better than the ability of weather forecasters to predict whether it will rain three weeks from today. The United States economy is, after all, determined largely by the endlessly complicated interactions of 320 million people producing $17 trillion worth of stuff, which even relatively complex models can’t keep up with.

Most importantly, policy is determined by politics. And in that context, even seeming ironclad laws of conventional theory like the Phillips Curve are just means to limit the scope of policy to conform to what the politics will allow. In our case, we have arrived at an argument that says, "don't let unemployment get too low, or else." But the basis for making that argument is less strong that what we often admit.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mid-day election notes

Sad signs

Kind of a grey day in New Orleans.  I've been in detention for most of it so I haven't gotten out of Uptown. From that limited perspective, things are slow. I didn't see anyone canvassing my neighborhood. But maybe that shouldn't come as a surprise since nobody actually lives there anymore and Airbnb transients do not vote.

No one was even waving signs at the major intersections. That might have something to do with SELA, though.  No room on any of the big neutral grounds. But even St. Charles Avenue was pretty barren this morning. I saw only one small sign there.  It was a Vitter sign and it looked very lonely.

But, like I said, the scope of my view is limited today.  Others have gotten out a bit more.

As of right now it hasn't started raining quite yet in New Orleans, which is also pretty lucky.

Elsewhere the hearsay reports "heavy turnout in prime Vitter territory" so, clearly, there's action out there. 
Meanwhile, I noticed the latest Vitter Escapades were kept off of the front pages of both local papers this morning. That has to be a good sign for him.

The national reporters have happily picked it up, though.  Politico had it as soon as I woke up today. The closing quote there is the most notable.
Polls show a surprise second-place finish from either Dardenne or Angelle would boost Republicans' chances in the runoff. But Bradley Beychok, who managed Melancon's failed bid against Vitter five years ago, thinks neither Republican has been direct enough to sink Vitter in an open primary — despite the increasingly explicit references to Vitter's past.

"This is Godzilla. To slay Godzilla, you got to go directly at him," Beychok said. "You can't slay a dragon by chopping at his feet."
TPM's Josh Marshall is entertained. He says it's like something out of "Fargo." 
Apparently Normand holds a weekly get together with other political players at a Cafe in Old Metairie once a week to talk political business and gossip - because of course he does. On Friday morning Normand was meeting with his buds when he noticed a kid at the adjoining table - later identified as 30 year old Robert J. Frenzel of Dallas - apparently recording their conversation. Normand asks whether Frenzel was recording their conversation; Frenzel denies it. But of course, Frenzel, rattled, fumbles his iPhone or some similar recording device long enough for Normand to see the recording app open on the screen. A short while later Normand comes back to snap a picture of Frenzel at which point Frenzel bolts out of the Cafe at high speed and makes a run for it - with the Normand political crew in hot pursuit (one imagines, all a generation older than the presumably still spry Frenzel).

Please stop for a moment and try to work up a good visual image of all this in your head. Thank you.
It's a little weird to me that out of town observers would be surprised at just the fact of Normand's coffee klatch. I pick up my coffee every morning a few feet away from a similar meeting of Uptown gossips. When I was much younger I had a summer job bussing tables in a restaurant where Harry Lee would regularly hold court. If I had a smart phone back then, I guess I could have recorded them too. Anyway, it doesn't seem like the sort of thing we should consider out of the ordinary. But when I told this story to Menckles (she's from Baltimore) she thought it was funny too.

Meanwhile, if you still are looking for your polling location or sample ballot, you know where the website is. I noticed last night  WWLTV was hyping results maps they'll have provided by The Lens.  But I don't see the slightest hint from The Lens that they've got anything of the sort in the works.  Check back later, I guess.

Finally, even though I haven't got a very good handle on what the turnout looks like today, I'll go ahead and submit an entry to the predictions pool just for fun.



T-BOBBY:  20

MR. BEAN: 17

A lot of drama this past week, but it's likely we're gonna get the runoff we expected all along. Polls close at 8. Happy voting.

The Breakfast Club

It was supposed to be such a bummer.  This evening, on WWLTV's  6:00 newscast, Clancy Dubos told us that, sadly, turnout in these elections is not expected to be much better than 40 or 45 percent. It's a statewide election with an open governor's seat.  How could this be? Clancy and Ron Faucheux frowned at us and lamented that "the tone" of the campaign has been bad and that the candidates have failed to "inspire" people.

Later, on Informed Sources, Errol Laborde told us the lack of interest might actually be a good sign. You see, according to Errol, if a lot of people are coming out to vote, that usually means something is wrong and voters are angry at the candidates. People voting makes Errol uncomfortable. Anyway, according to these pundits, the problem with turnout is either voters are not "inspired" enough by the candidates or they are far too happy with them.

All of that is nonsense, of course.  Voter apathy is up for a combination of the following reasons. First, the domination of TV advertising by SuperPAC money has "nationalized" the narrative of what should be a campaign about Louisiana. Voters are bombarded with cookie cutter type ads designed to appeal to (mostly) conservative voters in any state.  "Dardenne/Edwards/Angelle is an Obama liberal"  "David Vitter likes puppies" One ad said John Young is "like Hillary Clinton" because he also uses email... or something. In any case, the majority of the paid media aimed at voters tells them none of this stuff has much of anything to do with them.

Add to that the raft of mainstream pundits insisting that there are no significant policy differences among any of the candidates. I was surprised to hear Stephanie Grace say precisely that on Informed Sources tonight since, if you read her columns (and ignore their headlines) you'll see she clearly understands where they differ. She's not the only one who does this. In fact, she's far from the worst offender in this regard. But the effect of all of this is that even voters who pay at least some attention to the news probably have been given the very misleading impression that their vote doesn't make much of a difference.

And yet there was everyone on TV tonight scratching their heads trying to get at this problem of low turnout.  Jeremy Alford said he thinks voters are "burned out on politics." I think he may have been projecting a little bit there. Which is probably not good for someone who writes about politics for a living.

We here at the Yellow Blog have tried to spend what time we've had this election highlighting the actual policy differences between the candidates since the mainstream pundits have not done so.  It's incredibly frustrating since our primary source on all of this is just.. you know.. their own papers which we know they must read also. I had intended to make this the topic of tonight's Election Eve post. But I'll have to come back to that later because it's starting to look like one of the camapaigns has suddenly hauled off and "inspired" some people tonight.
It all started Friday morning, as Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand convened his regular coffee klatch at the Royal Blend cafe in Old Metairie. At some point, the group’s gossip shifted abruptly from the latest news about Donald Trump to a furtive young man seated at a nearby table.

He was filming the group, the sheriff said. “He was acting very strange and odd,” Normand said in an interview.

Normand confronted the young man, asking him what he was doing.

“Are you filming me?” the sheriff demanded.
I don't want to the ruin the beauty of this narrative. But to save time, yes, the kid was filming them. Why? Because David Vitter had hired him to. Why would he do that?  Well, now, that's where the fun begins.

First, here are the members of Newell's gossip group... or as the Advocate terms them, the "breakfast club." 
The sheriff’s breakfast club, composed of several regulars who come and go, continued chatting for a time, the sheriff said. Among the others at the table were Danny DeNoux, a local private investigator; John Cummings, a prominent local attorney; and Danny Martiny, the state senator who also works as an attorney for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
So let's see.. Newell is definitely Emilio Estevez. Cummings is probably Anthony Michael Hall.  Let's say Martiny is played by Ally Sheedy.  Can't really say who Molly Ringwold is in this cast but Vitter's spook is most definitely Judd Nelson.

Only at some point he sorta morphs into Ferris Bueller.
Frenzel darted from the Metairie Road cafe toward St. Francis Xavier School, making his way toward Vincent Avenue, the sheriff said.

The man jumped the gate of an abandoned residence, prompting Normand to call several deputies to the scene to search for him, the sheriff said.

“Five deputies searched the backyards,” Normand said. “He trespassed through at least three or four properties.”

Frenzel eventually was found hiding behind an air-conditioning unit in the 100 block of Stella Street and taken into custody. He was booked on one count of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, and was released Friday evening, the sheriff said.
Anyway, it's not clear just which Breakfast Clubber Vitter's PI was actually stalking.  His campaign said later that he was following a "John Bel Edwards business associate and major donor" which can only mean Cummings. There's reason to buy that. But there's also reason to believe Sheriff Normand was a target as well.. even if he seems a bit baffled by it himself. 
Normand, who faces token opposition in his re-election bid for sheriff Saturday and had publicly flirted with a bid for governor, is a longtime political enemy of Vitter.

“What do I have to do with the governor’s race? Everybody knows I endorsed (Lt. Gov.) Jay Dardenne,” Normand said. “Everybody at that table is very upset with this. I didn’t know we had become the state of Russia.”

“Everybody does opposition research,” the sheriff added, “but quite frankly, I’m not the opposition.”
 Here's a picture of Newell looking not at all Kruschev-like as he addresses an audience very far away from "the state of Russia."


Anyway, the trail here, unsurprisingly leads back to our friend Jason and his investigation into Vitter's long simmering prostitution scandals. The Jefferson Parish deputies who arrested Frenzel today say they found a "dossier" on Jason in Frenzel's car. It is more than likely the PI was surveiling Jason and his sources. Why did the trail lead him out to the Old Metry Breakfast Club? No one can say just yet. But there are hints.

Oyster provides us with one here in an old post he linked back to tonight about "dark secrets" about David Vitter supposedly held by Normand's predecessor, the late Harry Lee.
Assuming Lee did again threaten "to reveal dark secrets" about Vitter in 2002, do you think he would he have done so without having solid evidence? Would he just bluff, and make some cryptic but vague remarks about Vitter's "moral fitness", OR did the Sheriff have "proof" in his backpocket about Vitter's "nameless sins"? Did Lee even know about Vitter's "New Orleans stories", or perhaps did Lee know about a different "Metairie story" that took place under his own jurisdiction? And if Lee did have solid evidence, why did he back down at the last minute in 1999 when Vitter ran against David Treen for U.S. Rep? And why didn't Lee make threats in 2004, when the GOP cleared the way for Vitter's Senatorial campaign?

Vitter is practically daring the press to find "hard evidence" of him whoring in New Orleans. The conventional wisdom is that Sen. Vitter will survive unless some evidence beyond the testimony of hookers is revealed. One wonders: what evidence, if any, is Harry Lee sitting on-- and why?
The suggestion is that Normand and pals still have access to this "evidence" once held by his old boss. And that it is evidence Jason may very well be trying to produce. This is from the AZ post about the new Wendy Ellis revelations
It is very important to her, and very important to me, that the identity of the child remain anonymous and I realize that it would be the one foolproof way to corroborate her story but I believe it can be corroborated by other means than putting the child's well being at risk.  I do know more about the adoption and I personally believe the information she provided in this interview to be true.
Finally, remember that shrill TV reporter Vitter supposedly had fired for asking about the prostitutes? He's on Twitter tonight publishing things people email to him.

Oddly enough, after everything that's happened, we seem to have landed on "Where's the birth certificate?"

It's all very amusing... and sleazy.. and "colorful" if you will. But it's also pretty sickening.  If these and some of the other stories flying around about Vitter (and yes the rumor mill gets even worse than what all of this might indicate) are true he's not only a moral hypocrite, but also someone who has allowed his hypocrisy and ambition to harm many others in frightful ways. It would be... um... bad if he became Governor.

But we already knew that, didn't we? (Not so fast, Times-Picayune.) What I mean is, we already knew.. or should have known.. that elections are about more than the personal character of the individual candidates.  They're are popular referenda  on competing programs for the future of the state.  It's not enough to just elect "Anybody But Vitter."  The point is to elect Somebody but Vitter. And despite what our failed MSM opinion-makers would have us believe,our choice of who that somebody ends up being really does matter.

Like I said earlier, I had planned to make those press failures the theme of this post but the Vitter stuff kind of exploded on us so, instead, here is a short version of what we have learned following these candidates. There are key differences in the sorts of programs each would enact. The most clear distinction is between John Bel Edwards and his Republican opponents. At least on the issues the candidates have been asked about, here is how Edwards is different from the other three.

1) Edwards will immediately accept the Medicaid expansion associated with the Affordable Care Act. Jindal has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars tilting at that windmill. The other Republicans say they are open to accepting the money but when asked about it adopt Jindal's baseless rhetoric about waivers and exceptions in case the law somehow ends up not saying what it says. Edwards won't waffle like this. He'll just do what Jindal should have done years ago.

2) Edwards supports a raise in the minimum wage. During a recent debate, Jay Dardenne asserted a common right wing idiocy about minimum wage raises leading to unemployment. Angelle and Vitter are similarly hostile. Angelle, in fact, makes a point of talking about how he's going to make welfare recipients work harder to "pull the wagon" which is a line he also adopted from Jindal.  Dardenne and Angelle are openly and irrationally hostile to the working poor. Edwards's stance on Medicaid and minimum wage stands in stark contrast to them here.

3) Edwards is the only candidate to have expressed at least some middling support for legal action against the oil and gas industry over coastal loss. Dardenne, Vitter, and.. especially Angelle are made of oil money.

There are several other issues, particularly where it relates to the state budget where, although the candidates sound similar, I would argue that Edwards is more likely to do the responsible thing. In the final debate, for example, he said he would "cap and sunset" all of the special tax credit programs that have blown a huge hole in the budget over the past decade. None of the other candidates has stated this as strongly.

Edwards is still a pretty conservative guy. He's a military dude. His whole family is made up of sheriffs. He's pro-gun and anti-choice. There's a lot not to like. But on several very substantive questions that the next Governor will face, he's head and shoulders above the rest of those clowns.

And yet, with a few exceptions it has felt to me this year like I have been among a very slim minority of commenters in non-traditional media even talking about any of this. I have long believed that the potential of citizen-driven media lies in the opportunity it affords us to shift the narrative away from the superficial, bought off, or burnt out focus of commercial press and place it back on the actual consequences of politics for ordinary people.

This is an election whose outcome will have serious consequences. It's an election that Edwards can win if he ends up facing Vitter in the runoff. This is why it matters that we pay attention to how, when, and why, events occur which affect whether or not that happens.  That is, if we give a shit. Apparently some of us do not.
Berry is highly critical of the senator's support for the social-conservative Louisiana Family Forum, which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, and he spent nearly half a decade chasing down leads about Vitter's alleged dalliances—all of which ended in dead-ends. "I don't give a shit what the candidates are doing," he says. "I don't give a shit about the election. I've been working on this story since 2010."
How very noble. Of course, I appreciate that what Jason means here is that his reporting is not simply hack work on behalf of any campaign.  I fully respect the integrity of what he's doing. But this doesn't absolve him of the responsibility to pay attention to the way it affects and is affected by the campaigns. 
The tip on the Ellis story came from an opposition researcher, who Berry says was not affiliated with a specific campaign, although he couldn't say for sure what the individual's motive was. The researcher "just found her for me and said, 'Hey do you want to talk to her? I've got her. Hey do you want to call her? I've got her number.' I'm not denying that." From there, Berry says he coaxed Ellis into talking. He chose the questions. He decided to pull the trigger.
Again, here is where Jason will correctly point out that he has to take this opportunity to talk to Ellis. But we can't just dismiss the reasons why she's all of a sudden available to him.  Remember there's a lot of money and information floating around that isn't technically "affiliated with a specific campaign" if it's funded by a PAC.. or... shared between PACs. 
A Democratic-affiliated PAC that was set up to target U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the Louisiana governor's race gave money to a PAC set up to support Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican, earlier this month.

Campaign finance reports show that Gumbo PAC donated $5,000 on Sept. 14 to the Now or Never PAC, which spends money to support Dardenne.  Gumbo PAC is run by Trey Ourso, the former executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

In spite of its Democratic political ties, Gumbo PAC describes itself as a group supporting "anybody but Vitter" in the governor's race. Dardenne is also actively courting Democratic voters in his gubernatorial bid. As a Republican, Dardenne claims he has a better shot of beating Vitter statewide than does state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only major Democratic candidate running in the race.
That $5,000 donation was later explained to a reporter as having paid for "research." It could be anything. I'm not saying that this specific transaction has anything to do with Ellis suddenly becoming available to talk. But clearly the person who got the lead for Jason was funded somehow.  Also, probably meaningless, but remember $5,000 is the price Ellis claims she charged Vitter to keep her as an "exclusive" client during their relationship.

Anyway, the point is parties are making this information known now.. before the primary happens.. specifically because they don't want Vitter in the runoff. Which necessarily means the parties undertaking these transactions prefer one of the other Republicans to John Bel Edwards. I know there is some subtlety involved in coaxing information out of these sources but I still have to point out that aiding them in timing this story just so is tantamount to working to elect a Republican governor.

It's still a great story, and I hope it was worth it. I hope when this is over we never have to put up with David Vitter and his slimy smirk ever again. But as someone who does, in fact, "give a shit" about the result of this election.. as we all should... I do hope we have him to kick around for just a few more weeks.

Friday, October 23, 2015

How can you tell when David Vitter is nervous?

Just look to see if he's crashing his car into stuff.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter was a passenger in a car involved in a traffic crash in Metairie on Friday afternoon, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. The crash occurred about 12:05 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Boulevard and Carrollton Avenue, said Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the department.

Vitter, who is a candidate in Saturday's gubernatorial election, was riding in a 2006 Mercedes Benz driven by a New Orleans woman who was not identified by JPSO. She hit a 2011 Honda Civic driven by a woman who is also from New Orleans, Fortunato said. 
Okay so Vitter wasn't driving this time.  But, you may recall the last time he was dealing with bad press over his.. um.. proclivities... this happened.  

Big day tomorrow.

Authoritarian zoo

What is even real anymore?
Fox is looking to put a new spin on the cop drama.

The network has handed out a script commitment to an untitled drama based on the New York Times story "Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?"

The drama is inspired by the article and explores what happens when an enigmatic tech billionaire makes a deal with a bankrupt, dying city to provide a privately owned and operated police force.
Basically Fox is pretty high on the idea of Sidney Torres as Batman.  It's perilous to try to identify the point in time where we fell of the ledge of reality anymore.

Tomorrow the mayor wants some of you to approve a new tax on French Quarter hotels and retailers which will allow Torres to continue his superhero cosplay operation.  (That article says the sales tax pays for State Troopers. But it's part of a package of dubious special taxes for specific security measures in the Quarter.)  After that some state tax credits will subsidize a TV show about it.

Can't pay for hospitals or universities but this we can make happen.

Strongest hurricane ever recorded

Not the strongest tropical cyclone on record, but the strongest one called a "hurricane" which is what we call them in our part of the world.
At 4 a.m. CDT, the eye of Hurricane Patricia was about 145 miles (255 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

In addition to its unprecedented 200-mph (320-kph) sustained winds, Hurricane Patricia now holds the record for lowest pressure in any hurricane on record. With a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars (25.99 inches of mercury) at the 4 a.m. CDT advisory, Patricia broke the record of 882 millibars set by Wilma almost exactly 10 years ago.
Equally stunning, if not moreso, is this
Patricia’s rate of strengthening since Wednesday has been truly remarkable. In a mere 36 hours, Patricia’s official NHC rating went from minimal tropical storm (40 mph) to Category 5 hurricane--among the most rapid intensification rates one might expect in a hurricane anywhere.
In 2005, Governor Blanco declared a state of emergency when Katrina was still a cat 3, 72 hours away in the Gulf. At closer to 48 hours Ray Nagin issued the first voluntary evacuation order for New Orleans. The storm had still not reached full strength and was still a considerable distance away.  But people could more or less see it coming.    What if it had blown up just off the coast practically overnight? How do you tailor your plans to react to something like that?  And please don't say the answer is you need more "resilience." 

Triumph of cynicism

Start your Friday with this Baffler article by Anne Elizabeth Moore about the nightmare that is Vice Media. The heart of it is this three paragraph critique of amoral hipster culture.
Millennials, in other words, want to make an imprint on the world’s cultural fabric too, but the simple fact of managing to pin down that fabric and give it a thorough dye job seems to count for more than the substance of the design. Indeed, as I asserted in Unmarketable in 2007, the corporate adoption of independent modes of cultural production has left us with a deficit of integrity. The book was generally well received until last spring, when I got a flood of angry emails about it from young folks assigned it in a college course. My correspondents were appalled that I would delineate a meaningful difference between corporate and independent modes of production—and what’s more, they were downright furious that I would hold the latter in higher regard. Couldn’t I see, several young men some twenty years my junior demanded, that efforts to attract the largest possible mass of people by any means necessary were always virtuous?

This surely sounds harsh: some of my best friends, I swear, are millennials. And it’s almost certainly the case that the millennial set’s much-maligned displays of narcissism are rooted in other motivations. These are, after all, folks whose culture is created in large part by Murdoch’s shifty maneuverings and Vice’s kind of pseudo-journalism—not people, like Smith and myself, who recall a media environment before Jonah Lehrer, Mike Daisey, Jayson Blair, and @Horse_ebooks. We now live in a culture of increasingly hostile and invasive media, where getting consigned to an unsure economic future is a far more daunting prospect than getting caught in a lie. Another Pew study from 2013 showed that most teens take evasive measures to protect their privacy online: 58 percent of teens used codes to communicate on social media, and 26 percent deliberately posted false information about themselves to protect their privacy.

What I’m suggesting is not that young people are necessarily becoming more self-absorbed, as many have already, but that they may be abandoning truth-telling as a potential source of protection. I can’t really blame them: we’ve fostered a culture where fact-finding is anemic, but consumer products are doing just fine.
How hollow are we now that we only know how to gauge #content based on the speed at which it can amass attention/dollars? 

Mitch Landrieu will be voting "Anybody But Vitter"

Anybody But Vitter

He's careful not to actually make an endorsement here, of course.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu thinks three of the four major candidates running for Louisiana governor would do “great.”

The candidate Landrieu isn’t high on? David Vitter.

“I’m not in favor of Senator Vitter. He’s been a career politician that’s divided us for a long time, and I’m not hopeful if he gets to be the governor that he’s going to help the city (of New Orleans),” Landrieu told Garland Robinette on WWL 870 AM on Thursday afternoon.
The general speculation afoot tends to rest on the notion that Mitch has not endorsed John Bel Edwards specifically because he was asked not to by the campaign. That would jibe well with the general impression one gets of Gomer's strategy. Edwards has barely spent any time or money in New Orleans.  It doesn't appear as though there will be an especially aggressive GOTV effort in the city on Saturday. 

I can't remember a statewide election where Orleans Parish and.. black voters in Orleans Parish in particular.. were so thoroughly marginalized by every campaign.   In fact the city only comes up at all in the context of David Vitter's dubious assertion that Mitch is not spending enough time and money focusing on crime.

What does it say that the state's largest and most vital city is no longer considered a critical factor on the path to its governorship?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who is panicking now?

The Hayride's pollster has Gomer all the way up to 40% That seems a bit much. Looks to me like they've either lost track of or purposefully reassigned a big chunk of undecideds.  I'd have a hard time believing that 4.3%  (down from 15% in one month!) is a raw number.

Hayride poll

If you read the post at the Hayride, you'll see they're already blaming Dardenne and Angelle for failing to decide which one of them should have dropped out months ago.  The real problem, though, is everybody hates Vitter... when they're not afraid of him anyway.  And the more vulnerable he looks as a candidate, well, the less afraid people become.

But as Vitter's weakness becomes more and evident, you'll notice some of the folks relying on him becoming Governor are beginning to panic. Yesterday we mentioned Phyllis Taylor's wavering, for instance.
It's unclear why Taylor has started giving money to Angelle's PAC over the past few months, while not contributing to Vitter's recently. A call to the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation in search of Taylor was not returned on Tuesday (Oct. 20).

But of the four major gubernatorial candidates, Angelle has made the strongest statements about keeping the TOPS program very similar to the way it operates now. The other candidates have been more willing to talk about tweaking TOPS, such that the scholarship would not necessarily cover the entire cost of college tuition in the future.
This doesn't have anything to do with TOPS.  Taylor's foundation is one of many conduits through which oil money is piped into the Louisiana political process.  And right now, since "Big Oil's Boy" David Vitter looks like he's in trouble, that money is looking for somewhere more productive to go.

Why such urgency? Because the oil companies have come to view the attack on Vitter as a direct assault on them.  Only a few days ago, BP's Head of State and Local Government Affairs speaking at a business luncheon said that lawsuits, not falling prices, are "the biggest threat to the oil and gas industry" in Louisiana. 
The constant threat of a potential lawsuit has dampened industrial growth in the state, especially in the Houma-Thibodaux area, Ellis said. He said small businesses may not hire more people and delay plans to add new equipment or projects out of fear of a lawsuit. 

“I believe in the legal system; I believe in its fairness and impartiality. I don't believe in a system that measures justice based on the depths of your pockets,” Ellis said, citing a 2013 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that ranked Louisiana 49th among lawsuit climates. “The oil and gas industry in Louisiana...are threatened not as much by the decline in oil prices and market prices as they are by the attitude that some have that the industry's deep pockets make for good lawsuits.”
Tyler Bridges corroborates this somewhat writing in the Washington Post this week that "trial lawyers" have been out to get Vitter from the beginning.
But this year, as he has pursued his gubernatorial bid, a Baton Rouge law firm has spent $1.6 million to broadcast television ads — using video clips and shots of sensational headlines — to remind voters of the scandal.

The trial lawyers behind the ads want to defeat Vitter because he has promised to kill lawsuits filed by the firm that accuse oil and gas companies of polluting land and aquifers throughout the state, as well as destroying coastal wetlands.
John Bel Edwards is the only candidate who has expressed at least some middling degree of support for legal action against the oil industry.  If Vitter can't protect them, it looks like Big Oil is gonna need another boy.

Luckily they've got plenty of those laying around.  For example, Phyllis Taylor's new favorite.
But Angelle, who used to be a Democrat, is trying to appeal to moderates in that party. Angelle is a social conservative, who said he switched parties primarily because national Democrats weren't backing up the oil and gas industry like they should have.

Angelle has close ties to the oil and gas industry. He majored in petroleum land management at the University of Louisiana–Lafayette. As the head of the Department of Natural Resources, he helped regulate the oil and gas industry for the Blanco and Jindal administrations.

Angelle sits on the Sunoco Logistics board of directors, for which he gets paid almost $390,000 – as long as he attends all of the meetings – according to federal filings. U.S. Sen. David Vitter's campaign has called foul on that relationship, implying Angelle used his positions in state government to get the board post. 

Angelle said he has not been involved in regulating the company while sitting on its board. If elected governor, he said he would step down from the position.

Oilman and gas CE0 James Flores has also donated $1.25 million to Angelle's affiliated PAC, called Louisiana Rising. Flores' mega-donation has raised some eyebrows.
It's a bit late in the game, but some of these money people are starting to realize just how damaged David Vitter is.  If he makes it to the runoff there is a very good chance Edwards can actually win.  And even though Edwards is himself a fairly moderate to friendly figure toward oil and gas, the industry would nonetheless interpret this as a disaster. So now they are pulling out all the stops to get a stronger horse into the runoff.

And this is why I found it telling that Angelle was the candidate pushing Dambala's hooker investigation during the debate this week. The trial lawyers may have started the ball rolling with this but, in a fun bit of irony, it looks like having the scandal catch fire in the final week before the primary is the oil industry's best hope to ensure it has a candidate in the runoff who can win.

If Vitter makes it anyway, take a look at whether the scandal stays in play.  The Edwards campaign really hasn't mentioned it all. If it stays on the airwaves, it will have to come from somebody's PAC.  But whose?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Return of Voldemort

Interestingly, we are back to the days when NOLA.com would not dare say his name.
He urged viewers to visit a blog that has been posting recent video interviews with a woman who has claimed since 2007 that Vitter was her client when she worked as a prostitute in New Orleans.

It's an "historic breakthrough"

Congratulations, you've approved a plan.  
Planned diversion projects designed to take sediment from the Mississippi River to build marsh near the Breton and Barataria sounds won approval from a state coastal board Wednesday — a vote that means this long-desired work will finally move beyond planning.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority recommended advancing the Mid-Barataria sediment diversion near Myrtle Grove and the Mid-Breton sediment diversion at Wills Point. The approval means these two diversions will move forward toward engineering and design.
Now we can move forward to the next 5-10 years of arguing over design and permitting. If the ocean eats up all of the land before any actual works happens, then the rest of the money can go to reinforcing the Fouchon pontoon bridge.  Because as long as the oil and gas infrastructure is accessible, none of this other stuff matters.

How much longer will we care about Vitter's hookers?

Try to imagine what life will be like sometime next week.  The primary election will be over and we will know for certain whether David Vitter has survived into the runoff or if one of the other Republicans has wedged him out on the strength of this month's sudden hookermania. What happens then?

David Vitter will either continue as a US Senator or as a candidate for Governor. Will we keep getting these shocking new long tacitly understood but little pursued details about his "serious sin"?  Or will everyone suddenly lose interest in Vitter's hookers again just as suddenly as they seem to have found it?   I strongly suspect the answer is it's all going to fade away again just as soon as all the PAC money feeding it does.  Because if it's not going to help elect a "pro-business" Republican, what is the point?

Big Oil's boy?

They're all Big Oil's boy
Campaign finance documents show Taylor contributed $50,000 to Louisiana Rising super PAC, which supports Angelle, on Sept. 15. She had previously given the PAC $5,000 back in May, making her contribution to Angelle's election efforts $55,000 overall.

This is a bit odd, since Taylor had been a big supporter of U.S. Sen. David Vitter's gubernatorial efforts. She gave the Vitter campaign the maximum donation allowed, $5,000, back in 2014. Campaign documents show she had also given The Fund for Louisiana's Future, the super PAC that supports Vitter's gubernatorial campaign, $25,000 in 2013
Article wants to make this about TOPS. But Pat Taylor's money is oil money. 

One of these is not like the others

Louisiana should have accepted the federal money for expanding Medicaid as soon as it became available a few years ago. Unfortunately, the Governor was already running for President on a platform based on adherence to a crazy cult of cruel austerity and so we've already thrown millions of dollars away that we'll never see again. 

Because they are also in the crazy cult, three of the four candidates running to replace him are running the risk of throwing away even more.
And the longer the state takes to obtain a waiver, the more it costs: Under the current Medicaid program, the state is reimbursed for just over 60 percent of costs for Medicaid patients. Under the Affordable Care Act, the state receives 100 percent reimbursement. Many states have waited more than a year for federal approval of a waiver.

Also, the reimbursement starts to phase out in 2017, meaning the state will have to start paying a 5 percent match that year until it gradually increases to a 10 percent match in 2020. So if the state is going to expand Medicaid, it will save more money the sooner it begins getting the 100 percent match.

There is added pressure to expand Medicaid sooner rather than later because of a deadline the Legislature agreed to during the spring legislative session. If Louisiana expands Medicaid by April 1, 2016 the Louisiana Hospital Association's members have agreed to cover the state's matching funds starting in 2017 using a fee charged through hospitals.
The three crazy cult members are crazy, though. Louisiana has already painstakingly "reformed" its Medicaid delivery system according to their preferred privatized model. There's no need to appoint any new committees to study the issue and there's no need to apply any sort of "waiver."  All we need to do now is take whatever is left of the federal money the law entitles us to.  Only one candidate says he understands this. 
Edwards: We should stop sending our federal tax dollars to Washington, D.C., so they can send it to the 30 states that have expanded the Medicaid program. I'm not going to back down, I do support the Medicaid expansion because it's the right thing to do.
Last month, Gambit recommended a candidate who clearly does not.  They did this either because they are too stupid to understand it (not likely), or they believe their readers are (possible).  In either case they're putting their fear of being embarrassed by David Vitter's hookers over articulating a clear policy choice for Louisiana. And they're asking you to accept the costs of that choice.