Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cleansing flood

Katrina as one big lead remediation project.
It would have been hard to imagine that the foul layer of muck coating much of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina would have done anyone any good, but it seems that all that mud may ultimately have improved public health.

The infusion of new sediment, combined with the extra dirt brought in later to help raise homes throughout the city, appears to have contributed to a dramatic decline in the amount of lead found in both soil and blood samples, according to a new study published in the journal Environment International.
It’s not all good news. There's still a lot of lead in the soil. Especially in the "up and coming" parts of town.

Friday, July 29, 2016

So uncivil!

The people who think this is inappropriate are precisely what's wrong with America.
After the roll call, the protests moved outside the hall. One of Clinton’s most aggressive surrogates, super PAC maestro David Brock, was chased through the halls of the Wells Fargo Center by two Sanders delegates after Bill Clinton’s Tuesday night speech, according to a Democrat who witnessed the spectacle. “They were yelling ‘you f—g jerk,’” said the Democrat.
Poor David Brock whose feelings we're supposed to worry about actually is a fucking jerk, though. Maybe once or twice in his privileged life among the ruling classes, he actually has to hear it from the rabble. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016


For an unstoppable, inevitable, entrenched monolith of a sure-thing campaign, Hillary Clinton's sure is fraught with insecure, vindictive supporters.  Hillary secured the nomination months ago. By most plausible reckoning, she's going to win the Presidency. You'd think her campaign, surrogates, and supporters would lay the hell off of the nearly forty percent of the party whose votes they say they still want.

But, no, they go right ahead lecturing.  TPM's Josh Marshall, who has seemed on the edge of a nervous breakdown throughout the primary this year, threw yet another fit on Twitter yesterday at the impudence of "a small vandguardist/wrecker element" threatening to ruin everything just by being disappointed, I guess. It's truly bizarre to see grown political professionals act out with this level of paranoia.

The disturbing thing is that Marshall and Clinton wing liberals like him aren't just angry at their fellow Democrats for preferring another candidate in the primary. Instead they are maniacally fixated on stamping out any and all criticism.   Marshall even tacitly acknowledges this himself, admitting that disaffected Sanders supporters can't and won't negatively affect Hillary's chances through their vote because, well, the polling tells us they can't and won't do that.  Furthermore, even if a let-down Left did have an impact at the margins in terms of either reduced turn-out or third party defections, the Clinton strategy has already accounted for such a scenario. We discussed this further the other day, but, in short, they're planning to win by flipping white anti-Trump conservatives first and then assuming enough of the base turns out to finish the job.

This is a wacky campaign, of course, but things do seem pretty well in hand. So what is the deal with all these pissed off Clintonites? Why do they insist that everyone not only support but also love Big Brother?  Why are they so fixated on the notion of "Unity"?

Unity is a meaningless concept in and of itself. So, naturally, the press made it the dominant narrative question of the convention. "Can the Democrats achieve Unity?" asked about a billion headlines this week.  But finding "unity"of mind in the sense that the MSM..  and, apparently.. a lot of the Clinton people define it is a) creepy and undemocratic and, more importantly,  b) not even the damn point of the convention in the first place.

The Democratic Party is, and has long been, a complicated coalition. Unlike the relatively homogeneous Republicans, the Democrats stitch together a broad fabric of diverse groups with disparate interests who often work at cross purposes and sometimes even hate each other. There were some high profile arguments this year but, really, they fight like this at every convention. 2016 is more pronounced given the circumstances of the contentious primary. But it's not unique and it's nothing to have been worried about. If anything, it's a sign that passions are high and people are engaged in the work.

And that work isn't about finding unity of mind or, as Mitch Landrieu likes to say, "One Voice." Democrats don't have one voice. It isn't necessary to be unified in that sense in order to achieve solidarity of purpose. That purpose is mobilizing the troops such that they vote in sufficient numbers to defeat the opposing party in this year's election.  Aside from that, everybody can go right on disagreeing with each other.

From the looks of things, the 2016 Democratic Convention did its job as well as any. All that's left now is just to keep calm, go vote, and then we'll all get started on figuring out the next steps.  In the meantime, knock it off with the unity talk.  We're already good on that front.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mistakes were made

Turns out it's one of those homicides with no perpetrator.
Prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers accused in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in a downtown courtroom on Wednesday morning, concluding one of the most high-profile criminal cases in Baltimore history.

The startling move was an apparent acknowledgement of the unlikelihood of a conviction following the acquittals of three other officers on similar and more serious charges by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who was expected to preside over the remaining trials as well.
And now the search begins for the real killers. In the meantime, begin the healing. 


Good to see the tide might finally be turning here.
But he (John White) said there is too much duplication of tests in public high schools, and decisions have to be made on yearly testing for social studies in grades 3-11, which is not required by the federal government.

"That is a question I am frankly wrestling with," White said.

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, has complained previously about the number of tests given students in Louisiana.

"I am glad you pointed out Louisiana law requires more tests than the feds require," Richard said.

The hearing in Lafayette was the first of eight statewide on how education regulations should be changed in light of the 2015 federal law, which replaced No Child Left Behind.
Would be nice if bad policymaking didn't just happen according to group think trends we euphemistically call "best practices" so generations of people wouldn't suffer while we wait them out. But that's a bigger issue.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cut the check, Mickey

Congratulations to Junior Galette on getting another year of paid vacation.
Washington Redskins linebacker Junior Galette tore his right Achilles tendon and will miss the 2016 NFL season.

Galette tweeted about the injury on Monday, just before players were set to report to training camp in Richmond, Virginia. He missed the 2015 season with a torn left Achilles tendon.
I must have missed this yesterday when it broke over somebody's girlfriend's Twitter feed or whatever. 

Just another day at the office

If you take the ones that are big enough to make top of the site headlines and multiply them by two you'll get a sense of how often this sort of thing happens.

Triangulators gonna triangulate

Here's the quick and boring take on the Tim Kaine for VP pick just in case you haven't read some version of this all over the internet. Hillary's plan is to win by peeling off anti-Trump white Republicans. The Clinton campaign is following a version of the strategy the Bill Clinton campaign won with in 1992 and has basically been the Democrats' trademark throughout the post-Watergate years.  Even the seemingly bizarre context introduced by Donald Trump, they're sticking to the old school plan.  The Kaine pick is part of that strategy. Like any VP choice, it isn't an especially important part of it. But it does embody the larger plan to a significant degree. When pundits write that Kaine is a "safe" choice, though, what they mean is that he's not necessarily hated by white conservatives.

In particular, Kaine should appeal to the sort of white conservatives the Trump GOP may have alienated. On trade, for example
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) reportedly told Hillary Clinton he would oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership before she selected him as her running mate – but as recently as Thursday, the Virginia senator was praising the massive trade deal.

The Huffington Post reported Friday night that Kaine told Clinton he would oppose the trade deal between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. According to the report, Kaine said he agreed with Clinton — who had helped negotiate the trade deal as secretary of state but now opposes as the Democratic presidential nominee — that the TPP did not meet certain standards on wages and national security.
Kaine may be "evolving" his position on TPP now that he's the veep nom, but that's just textbook Clinton-speak. There's deniability now but the latent signal to global capitalists is that this guy is really one of them.  Hence this similar message to the financial lobby.
WASHINGTON ― Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is on Hillary Clinton’s short list of potential vice presidential nominees. He’s also actively pushing bank deregulation this week as he campaigns for the job.

Kaine signed two letters on Monday urging federal regulators to go easy on banks ― one to help big banks dodge risk management rules, and another to help small banks avoid consumer protection standards.
Meanwhile he's also "evolved" a fairly safe position on abortion over the course of his career emphasizing "faith-based" pro-life leanings which informed some of his actions as a governor, but later racking up a Senate voting record that scores highly with Planned Parenthood and NARAL. In any case, the only bearing this election has at all on abortion will be via the winner's Supreme Court nominations. And that doesn't have anything to do with Tim Kaine. Very little of the next administration's policy direction does. Again, this is all about signaling to specifically targeted portions of the electorate.

All of this, as we said, is textbook Clinton stuff. And they think their stuff applies to this year's electorate as well as it has to any. The expectation this year is, with two unpopular candidates facing off, and with a disappointed liberal base not turning out in huge numbers, the votes in play are the chronic voters among Independents and Republicans who are looking for excuses not to vote for Trump. They might be right about that and their play might work. But it also might not not.

There are two obvious caveats. First, none of the cynical conventional politics that usually work have worked against Trump during the primary. (Everything we knew about politics turned out to be wrong, there.)  I, somewhat hesitantly, don't think that phenomenon will be quite as evident in the general election. But I am worried about a second caveat which is, it's quite possible white conservatives will never vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. If so, that blows the whole thing out of the water.

In which case, Hillary would have been better served to do something to pick up the spirits of a demoralized progressive base.  It's hard to say what that could have been at this point.  Hillary herself is such a well known and distrusted figure to the left by now that she doesn't "Etch-a-Sketch" easily.  A more progressive VP choice, like Elizabeth Warren, for example, would have been one way to try. Although, Hillary's detractors may be too sophisticated (or just entrenched in their opposition) to buy into something like that.

Her supporters, on the other hand, are freaking Pod People. After the (intentionally "boring") Kaine pick was announced, the #ImWithHer corners of the internet erupted in shouts of completely inappropriate and disproportionate glee. It was one of the stranger things I've seen during this very strange cycle. It was a relief to find I wasn't alone in observing this. The best reaction came from Corey Robin
Christ on a stick, this is what I didn’t count on with the Kaine pick as VP.

The problem isn’t the pick itself: it is what it is (see #2 below). The problem is the ejaculations of joy it prompts among the pundit class and the Twitterati, who now have to sell it to us as the greatest choice of a second since Moses appointed Aaron.

And not because the pundits are on the Clinton payroll: I’d have a lot more respect for them if they were.

No, they do this shit for free. Out of love. Rapture. And bliss.
Some days I feel like we're living in a bad sci-fi movie where all of our friends and neighbors have been replaced by marketing droids. It's just not conceivable that the bots expressing such elation over Tim Kaine actually believe what they're saying unless they don't actually understand how feelings work in the first place.

I wonder if this isn't a symptom of something even more deeply damaged in the social fabric. Like the mythos of "personal branding" in service of a burgeoning social order where everyone is incentivized to always be selling the best possible version of themselves and their preferences has left scores of us incapable of harboring or expressing critical thought.  Or maybe they're just full of shit.

After all, these are the sort of people who, when they talk how their candidate might better serve the concerns of their voters, are only talk in the most insulting marketing speak, conceiving of their constituents  as "consumers" to be "acquired."
It's precisely this sort of un-thought that puts Tim Kaine on the ticket. See what we're trying to do here is show the NeverTrumpers how safe we are. But we'd also like to shore up that Latino market segment. I know! Here's a pro-life white dude from a swing state who knows how to speak Spanish!

And that's what the "smart" folks call Triangulation.

Today the Democrats at the convention will go through the roll call process of actually nominating the candidates for the ticket. It's more or less a ceremony at this point since we know who the candidates will be.  But as of yesterday there was still an effort afoot to at least make a little mischief where it regards the VP slot.
PHILADELPHIA — Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders are moving toward a challenge of Sen. Tim Kaine’s selection as presumptive vice presidential nominee, accusing Hillary Clinton of failing to roll back “some of the worst neo-liberal policies” with her choice of running mate.

“There’s serious interest right now and exploration as we speak of a formal challenge,” Norman Solomon, a California delegate and national coordinator for the Bernie Delegates Network, said at a news conference Monday. The network represents about 1,250 of the 1,900 delegates that have pledged support for Sanders.
We'll see how far they get. Right now it looks as if the forces of "Unity" may have already shut them down.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Oh well, get em next time

What if they held the most important school board election in years and nobody showed up? 

The close of qualifying Friday for the Nov. 8 elections awarded two Orleans Parish School Board incumbents outright victories in an election seen as crucial as the board prepares to reclaim its former role as overseer of most of New Orleans' public schools.
Maybe nobody remembered? Or maybe everyone is super pleased and entirely on the same page with regard to how public education in the city of New Orleans is run.That sounds plausible, right?

Of course it could also be the prohibitive cost of running thanks to the obscene influence of big money donors to even low level municipal candidates nowadays.
But Karran Harper Royal, an education activist who ran against Usdin and lost in 2012, said critics of Usdin, at least, might have been scared off by her fundraising muscle. Along with Jacobs, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Netflix founder Reed Hastings and former Time magazine editor and author Walter Isaacson were among a lengthy list of contributors to Usdin’s unprecedented $150,000 campaign haul four years ago.
But... nah... it's probably one of those other things.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The (T)rump Convention

Figured I'd go ahead and link Matt Taibbi's coverage of the Republican Convention for Rolling Stone even though most of y'all have probably read it already.  The other day, I tried to sum it up by saying it looked like an inside joke about nominating conventions designed by ironic hipsters.  Taibbi has a better way of putting it. 
The lineup for the 2016 Republican National Convention to nominate Trump felt like a fallback list of speakers for some ancient UHF telethon, on behalf of a cause like plantar-wart research.
Taibbi's point and mine are slightly different but not irreconcilable. Taibbi's article tells us the RNC was a two-bit sideshow parade of D-list celebrities appearing in place of conspicuously absent establishment figures. My point was, as pathetic as that is, it's also exactly what Trump wanted.

Trump is running an anti-campaign. With almost no national organization to speak of, he has taken the nomination on the strength of the free media and spectacle generated by his own anti-hero cult of personality. For something like that to have worked, "everything we know about politics had to be wrong."  I guess it was.  Having defeated and alienated much of the party's infrastructure, Trump now dominates a previously fringe rump.  The RNC, then, was the rump's convention.

This is why the bored press who descended on Cleveland in search of some authentic excitement didn't find what they were looking for. Everything was decided already. There were no open questions and nothing of any real substance left to determine. Apart from the darker Trump-branded tone, this could only be.. well.. just another nominating convention. Since I'm writing this mostly to just point you over to Taibbi's article, here is how he describes those.
The odd thing is that once upon a time, conventions were a site of fierce debates, not only over the content of the party platform but even the choice of candidates themselves. And this was regarded as the healthy exercise of democracy.

It wasn't until the television era, when conventions became intolerably dull pro-forma infomercials stage-managed for the networks to consume as fake shows of unity, that we started to measure the success of conventions by their lack of activity, debate and new ideas.
Essentially, the Trump Convention was no different.  It was maybe a trashier, cheaper,  and at times I was tempted to think self aware ironic version of that. But it was still very much that.

Maybe we should take the disappointingly.... conventional Trump Convention as a signal that as the 2016 general election begins, things are reverting back to form, generally.  For all the hype, and anxiety of this election not to mention the surprising turn the Republican primary took, it looks like we're headed for a rather anti climactic finish. That is, unless "everything we know about politics" turns out to be wrong again.

But, really,  what are the odds of thst happening?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Winter is coming

I have seen the White Walker.

Whoah, if true. But I'm still gonna sit here and refresh the Secretary of State's website to see if he actually qualifies. At first people expected Duke was just hanging around to troll Steve Scalise. But throwing him into the Senate mix really shakes things up.  There are eight Republicans and two Libertarians crowded into that field right now.  If they all stay in, it might only take something like 20 percent of the vote to get into the runoff.  If Duke does that (and he could do it!), the Democrats might be steal their second consecutive statewide election in as many years.  Stay tuned.

Nothing is real 2016

Capture the magic

Hey lookie there I did a "both sides" post.  Welp, it would be nice if we could slam dunk the hell out of these awful people this year.  Unfortunately our team decided it would be a good idea to meet Mussolinilite with a  heavily despised soulless avatar of global capitalism. And so here we are waiting around to just squeak by.

The speech Trump screamed at us last night will probably play well with voters who didn't actually watch it. It hit all of his favorite points.. especially with regard to trade and immigration. That and the "law and order" stuff will be effective enough when cut into small bites for people watching recaps on the news or TV ads later on.

For those who watched it all the way through it came across as a long, incoherent, shouty mess. Because, well, that is exactly what it was. But the audience who tunes in to these conventions has already made up its mind.  Most of the voters Trump is aiming at weren't even watching.

In response, Jon Stewart went on a show even fewer people were watching and delivered a re-hashed version of his already stale "Why can't we all just agree to be moderates!" speech he bored us all with at the infamous Rally To Restore Sanity. Oh but he added a line about how Hamilton is good. So, sure, that'll help.

Also this.

This is the way the world ends..

You want to know what the rest of this campaign looks like, here it is.

Windows 10 nag

When the clock is done ticking down, you're going to have to decide whether or not you want the scary thing that will probably crash your already sputtering obsolete system erasing all of your files and the work you've been struggling with for pretty much ever. Or you can choose to just keep on sputtering.  Probably what will happen is a sufficient number of us will vote for the sputtering.  I guess that's supposed to be a comfort.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Better not blow this

This sounds like they're flirting with blowing it.
Hillary Clinton’s rumored vice presidential pick Sen. Tim Kaine defended his vote for fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Thursday.

Kaine, who spoke to The Intercept after an event at a Northern Virginia mosque, praised the agreement as an improvement of the status quo, but maintained that he had not yet decided how to vote on final approval of the agreement. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has qualified her previous encouragement of the agreement, and now says she opposes it.

Kaine’s measured praise of the agreement could signal one of two things. Either he is out of the running for the vice presidential spot, as his position on this major issue stands in opposition to hers. Or, by picking him, Clinton is signaling that her newly declared opposition to the agreement is not sincere. The latter explanation would confirm the theory offered by U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, among others, who has said that Clinton is campaigning against the TPP for political reasons but would ultimately implement the deal.
They really do think they've got this figured out but...

Anyway if you missed any of the GOP convention here it is in condensed form.

The "smart" Dems had better not blow it.  They probably won't but it sometimes kind of seems like they could.

It's a put on

I've been reading a lot of C level sandbox punditry about the RNC this week. The general consensus there seems to be that we've been watching an unprecedented crazy fest. I think it's certainly been wacky. But I don't think it's too far outside of the mold from what we've seen every 4 years. Trump's WWE entrance on Monday didn't look too different than stunts previous conventions have pulled. Remember Bill Clinton's long walk in 2000? Al and Tipper's icky kiss? Rudy's scary shout-speech, meet 1992 Pat Buchanan.  Even Obama's 2008 appearance at on outdoor football stadium was a pretty Hollywood move. There are countless other examples. These conventions are terrible things.

Substantively, there is no difference between this and any nominating convention in recent memory. Which is to say, no actual news was made. This was not the mythical "open convention" the bored pundit class lusts for cycle after cycle. There was no real floor debate to speak of. The little dust up during the rules adoption was a big nothing. There was no revolt against the presumed nominee. Basically we've just watched another tightly scripted product launch.

And yeah I mean tightly scripted. Take Wednesday night's Ted Cruz speech, for instance. Even that  thing happened because the Trump people allowed it.. probably even encouraged it.. to happen
Mr. Trump had invited Mr. Cruz to speak even though he had doubts that peace was possible after their brutal race, during which Mr. Trump repeatedly called him “Lyin’ Ted” and suggested Mr. Cruz’s father had a role in President Kennedy’s assassination.

Mr. Trump called Mr. Cruz on Monday and asked for his endorsement, according to a senior aide to Mr. Cruz who requested anonymity to relay private conversations. Mr. Cruz indicated to Mr. Trump that he would not offer an endorsement, the aide said.

Trump advisers said on Wednesday night that Mr. Trump had been unhappy with the text of Mr. Cruz’s speech but held out for the remote possibility that Mr. Cruz would make a last-minute endorsement.
Whatever with that "last-minute endorsement" misdirect. The Trump people knew exactly what was going to happen. They saw and vetted Cruz's speech ahead of time and understood he had no plan to "endorse" Trump. Their plan for handling that was instructing their delegates to boo and cause a scene. The result was exactly the little drama they wanted people to see and talk about. It makes good copy as long as the reporters buy into the premise.

And on cue, most commentators are breathless in their description of the convention as an unprecedented, unhinged shit show. But I think there's far more intent behind what we're seeing than they're allowing for.  It looks absurd. But it's a controlled absurdity.

I've begun to think of it as a normal convention if it were put on by hipsters being ironic. For all practical purposes it's the same old crap but rebranded with just the right kind of wink in order to sell it to idiots for three times what it's actually worth.  Consider Melania's RickRoll for example.  Consider, again, the Cruz choreography.  Remember, faithful pro wrestling fans saw that whole thing coming well in advance. Or consider this more understated signal. Toward the end of the program Wednesday night, the house band played a rendition of The Who's "Eminence Front."  Maybe they chose that song for the line, "Come and join the party dressed to kill."  But it's just possible what they were really trying to tell us about this entire convention was.. "It's a put on!"

Calm down about NATO

Yes, of course, it's a little disconcerting to read Trump describe it as a sort of protection racket
CLEVELAND — Donald J. Trump, on the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, explicitly raised new questions on Wednesday about his commitment to automatically defending NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance.

Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“If they fulfill their obligations to us,” he added, “the answer is yes.”
And, yes, that's kind of a weird capitulation to Putin for a guy who is running on a platform of STRENGTH and WINNING and such.  At the same time, though, is it really all that out of bounds? In terms of radical things said by Republican Presidential nominees, I mean.  
In the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan claimed that:
  • SALT II was illegal, even though it had been ratified by Congress;
  • the United States had “no deterrent whatsoever” against Soviet medium-range missiles targeting Europe, even though it had submarines with 400 nuclear warheads patrolling the Mediterranean and the Northeast Atlantic, not to mention the thousands of other warheads that could easily be rained down on the Soviets in a retaliatory strike;
  • the United States had “unilaterally disarmed” throughout the 1970s, even though the US had built up its nuclear stockpile from four to ten thousand warheads during that decade (actually, he said that in March 1981, two months after his inauguration, though he repeated the charge during the 1984 campaign).
In other words, it should be possible to talk about the very real and undeniable dangers of Trump without ignoring or reinventing the insanity of American history.
The Trump campaign is an entertaining and unsettling (depending on how seriously one takes its prospects) event. But it's not a wholly new phenomenon on our often entertaining and unsettling political stage. We do the most damage to ourselves when we pretend that it is.


The fire millage is back. 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration is proposing to make a second attempt at convincing voters to approve a new tax to pay a $75 million settlement with firefighters.

The tax was shot down by voters in April, when it and a tax aimed at funding the New Orleans Police Department appeared as a single item on the ballot. This time, the tax for the fire department would be on its own, a move that officials hope will make it more palatable to the voters.
The coupling of the fire and police millages in the same measure was the most common source of objection last year. A lot of people indicated they would have voted for a standalone fire tax. Now they'll have a chance to do that.

Because "public" transit is so 20th Century

This bike share idea has everything your worst neoliberal nightmare is made of. 
A City Hall selection committee chose Social Bicycles, or SoBi, from seven competitors, giving it high marks for its use of technology and capacity to find sponsors to fill shortcomings in its operating budget. Committee members said SoBi's proposal came closest to achieving Mayor Mitch Landrieu's main objectives: that a bike share program be accessible to low-income residents and that the city not pay a dime for its operations.
It's all there. Some babble about the great apps or whatever, an opportunity for ad marketing to #brands, and, of course, some platitudes about serving the public although we aren't asking the public to fund and operate this service business.  I'm sure it will be a tremendous success. At least in terms of padding some resumes and scoring some PR.

Also.. "SoBi" because please shoot me. 

"Unambiguous success"

Interesting word choice as Uptownmessenger lays out Ben Kleban's resume here. Kleban, who is the founder of New Orleans College Prep charter network, qualified to run for Orleans Parsish School Board this week.
New Orleans College Prep received the charter for Sylvanie Williams Elementary School in 2009, followed by Walter L. Cohen High School in 2011 and then Lawrence Crocker Elementary in 2012, and now is expecting a total of more than 1,500 students this year across its Uptown campuses. Cohen has been the network’s most unambiguous success, rising from one of the lowest-rated failing schools in the city to a B school performance score last year and boasting a 100-percent college-acceptance rate for graduates three years in a row.
The article doesn't mention that just a couple years ago the "unambiguous success" was the site of a student protest against the controversial firings of teachers and staff during the transition to College Prep's management. Maybe that alone doesn't throw a whole lot of ambiguity into Cohen's performance score. But it is a sign that such metrics may not provide us with the only gauge on a school's "success." This was the topic of Andre Perry's address to the Rising Tide conference a few short years back.
Standardized test scores may be rising in the city’s public schools, but those gains on paper do not translate into any meaningful improvements in the lives of the city’s poorest students, said former New Orleans education official and activist Dr. Andre Perry. Challenging school reformers’ beliefs that a wholesale restructuring of the education system will create a better society, Perry added that all social conditions that plague New Orleans’ poor and African-American neighborhoods still persist even after 10 years of school reforms.

The best first step the city can take to real improvements for the African-American community, Perry said, is to begin searching for a way to reconcile with the thousands of teachers who were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina.
This fall's OPSB election is important. It happens just as the local school board prepares to accept control over the vast majority of the system back from the state run RSD. Here's who has qualified so far.  There are a lot of administrative voices in there. It would be nice to see more candidates who represent teachers and parents get involved too. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Anything is possible

Just prior to Ted Cruz's appearance on the convention stage tonight.

Cut to the chaotic end of Cruz's speech.
In this interaction, Cruz came into Trump's house, Trump's party and humiliated him. There's no other way to put it. The crowd booed; Trump literally came out into the hall to pull the cameras off Cruz and according to reporters on the scene security escorted Cruz's wife out of the hall for her own safety. 
America is already great.

Good Night, America!

Don't mind us. Just making it great again.

Lucifer's cameo

Tuesday night at the Trump Show wasn't quite as fun as Monday night.  Ben Carson said some very Ben Carson things.
Ben Carson got a prime speaking slot at the convention on Tuesday evening, and he took a different approach at questioning Mrs. Clinton’s integrity. Digging into her college thesis about Saul Alinksy, the left-wing community organizer and radical, Mr. Carson suggested that Mrs. Clinton admired him. Then he pointed out that Mr. Alinsky had acknowledged Lucifer on the dedication page of one of his books, suggesting that such an association was somehow damning for Mrs. Clinton.

“Are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?” Mr. Carson asked. “Think about that.”
Don't think too hard about it.  Carson also said last night that you have a brain but you only have one and you wouldn't want to hurt it. Anyway Lucifer is probably on Hillary's VP short list already. It says here she's looking for someone with national security bona fides.

Also on Tuesday, Chris Christie held some kind of mock trial of Hillary Clinton empaneling the delegates as his jury. Here's what that looked like, in case you missed it.

The highlight was supposed to be the Trump children delivering frightening quasi-fascist addresses.  And, sure, they did that. But it still wasn't as compelling as the central mystery of this convention. That mystery being, is this all some kind of joke or what? Tuesday's evidence is as follows.

1) A Nevada delegate was suspiciously bad at being from Nevada.
The Nevada Republican Party chair proudly proclaimed his state pride by misidentifying its capital city in front of thousands of attendees while casting the state's votes for the GOP nominee at the convention.

"We're very proud of our nation," Michael McDonald said. "From the great shores of Lake Tahoe to the most entertaining capital city, Las Vegas, Nevada, this time, what's said in Las Vegas will not stay in Las Vegas!"
2) They switched Chis Coxes on us
Tuesday evening, chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox appeared at the Republican National Convention to speak about guns, guns and guns, which was kind of strange, really, given the night’s official theme was “Make America Work Again.”

A paper schedule handed out by the party Tuesday morning may offer some insight: It, like the convention’s official app, lists an entirely different Chris Cox, the former congressman who once chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
3) For the second night in a row, they RickRolled everyone again.

Sajid Tarar

I'd say heads exploded but the arena, as has often been the case this week, was practically empty at that point.

Qualifying is closed for Day One

Here's the Advocate's run down.  So far no sign of David Duke. But the purpose of his name having been floated at all was to make Steve Scalise talk about him so that's mission accomplished already. Bonus points for making him talk about Duke and Trump at the same time.
One of those leaders, U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Jefferson Republican who ranks as third in the House leadership, said the reason is that voters are frustrated with the direction of the country. He said Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, if elected, would overturn regulations that has hampered economic growth.

Scalise also called David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who is flirting with a challenge to him, a racist with anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic views.
Also of note in this article, Kip Holden and Cedric Richmond don't like one another. 
Holden, who is term limited and must leave office in January, says he has been approached by a number of constituents who felt that Richmond was not doing his job, like attracting business to the district.

“If there wasn’t a problem, I wouldn’t be running,” Holden said, “The people of Baton Rouge have mostly been in the lost and found section” for Richmond.

Richmond suggested that Holden should resign as mayor of Baton Rouge if he planned to run for congress. The tensions that have grown from the police shooting of Alton Sterling followed by protests and the murder of three law enforcement officers requires the focus of a full-time mayor.

Richmond, whose district includes north Baton Rouge, said Gov. John Bel Edwards showed real leadership during the crisis this month “because the mayor was locked in his house.”
At the same time, though, we learned that both Richmond and Holden fully support abusive police tactics in Baton Rouge so what difference does any of this even make?

Other things happened. Joe Cao is running for some reason. Derrick Edwards qualified for Senate instantly negating his own declaration, "I am not a politician and I will never be a politician."

Also this libertarian flavored investment banker VP of the New Orleans Business Alliance is running.  
My name is Abhay Patel, and I’m a candidate for the United States Senate. I’m a proud Louisianan, and I have the ability, experience and vision to serve the people of this great state. If elected, I vow to stand for limited government, individual liberty and local empowerment.
Oh dear. Here is Patel at the Trump Convention this week talking about trickle-down economics and "job creators and such.  And here he is telling the Advocate about himself.
Abhay Patel, a New Orleans businessman, also qualified to run for the Senate as a Republican. “I’m the only candidate who never run for office before,” he said.
But this is already a lie because of the day's one true bombshell announcement. 
Kaitlin Marone, of New Orleans, qualified to run without party affiliation, saying nobody is paying attention to the race right now and she didn't want the Republican Party to appoint whoever they want to the post.
Marone is a local comedian who we're pretty sure has never run for office before. [UPDATE: Confirmed!]  Here is her first campaign ad (that we're aware of, anyway.)

It is very hot

Summer in New Orleans is always bad. When it's not raining, it's hot. Right after it rains, it immediately gets wet hot which is the worst kind of hot. Except for the times it occasionally rains fire. 

Anyway, if you think it's unusually hot even for us, even for now, you aren't imagining things.
According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, March April May June 2016 was the hottest March   April   May June on record, going back 136 years. It was a staggering 1.28°C 1.11°C 0.93°C 0.79°C above average across the planet.* The previous March April May June record, from 201020142015, was 0.92°0.87°0.86°0.78° above average. The good news, such as it is, is that unlike previous months, June 2016 didn’t shatter the previous record; it just edged it out in a statistical photo finish. But don’t let that distract you from the important issue: The Earth is way above average in temperature, and overall that temperature is increasing all the time.
Last night the Republican convention one of the featured speakers was West Virginia Senator Shelley Capito. Senator Capito spent her time on stage railing against President Obama's and Hillary Clinton's approach to regulating fossil fuels.
President Obama arrogantly proclaimed he would slow the rise of the oceans. He introduced and implemented sweeping environmental regulations without Congress' approval and without any consideration for the economy. These unilateral actions are ill-informed and frankly unconstitutional.
Actually it's not that at all. If anything, Obama and Hillary aren't doing nearly enough.   
But for some who study climate change the only shame is this: Obama’s plan does not go nearly far enough. It’s meek and dangerously self-congratulatory, sapping the movement of urgency while doing almost nothing to maintain the future habitability of the earth.

“The actions are practically worthless,” said James Hansen, a climate researcher who headed NASA’s Goddard’s Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years and first warned congress of global warming in 1988. “They do nothing to attack the fundamental problem.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” he wrote, when asked if the plan would make continued climate activism unnecessary. Obama’s plan, and for that matter the proposed plan Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, he continued, “is like the fellow who walks to work instead of driving, and thinks he is saving the world.

Hansen suggested a gradually rising fee for fossil fuel extraction, collected at the port of entry or, in domestic cases, the place where the material actually comes out of the ground. “As long as fossil fuels are allowed to (appear to be) the cheapest energy, someone will burn them,” he wrote in an email to msnbc. “It is not so much a matter of how far you go. It is a matter of whether you are going in the right direction.”
It sure would be nice if Hillary actually were the indomitable anti-carbon monster the coal and oil lobbyists writing RNC speeches make her out to be.  Maybe then we'd actually be doing something about the weather today instead of sitting here complaining about it.

Spokesmodel in chief

Obvious by now, but Trump doesn't actually want to be President. He wants to be on TV selling steaks and hats or whatever while his people "good people... the best people" do all the governmenting stuff.
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.
We've seen this all before, of course. It's the classic "running government like a business" model.

Finally, an election in the news

It's Qualifying Week for Senate candidates.I hope Charles Boustany Facebook Lives his filing.

We're also watching to see if that David Duke threat to run for Steve Scalise'so House seat is real. It isn't.  But we'll officially know that at 4:30 pm on Friday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ever get the feeling you're being cheated?

And then, the convention ERUPTED INTO CHAOS.

Actually, no. There wasn't any chaos
What's usually a routine vote on the Republican National Convention's rules slate descended into chaos on Monday afternoon as anti-Donald Trump delegates tried to force a state-by-state roll call vote.

The push for a roll call vote was viewed as a last stand for anti-Trump forces, who said they had a majority of signatures from at least nine delegations, more than necessary to force the vote. But the convention chair eventually ruled that the #NeverTrump crew's petition wasn't sufficient to force such a vote and the rules were adopted by voice vote.
All that happened was a brief moment during the rules adoption where the NeverTrumpers tried to get a chance to say NeverTrump one more time in an official roll call. They still would have lost but it didn't matter.  It made for a fun few minutes of shouting on CNN. But it did not and was never going to amount to anything.  The episode was a pale imitation of the actual fight the Republicans had at the convention in 1976, but none of the overly excitable CNN commentators seemed to have even that much perspective.

It's hard to blame them. They're as bored as we are. And, apart from the debates, the Republican Convention is the last chance to get any semi-unscripted entertainment out of this rapidly deflating election. So here we are.

It's a nice thought to consider that the Trump Convention might actually be an elaborate parody of the farcical product launch that is any other major party nominating convention. Unfortunately, it's probably not that. It's probably just a trainwreck.
Tuesday evening, chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox appeared at the Republican National Convention to speak about guns, guns and guns, which was kind of strange, really, given the night’s official theme was “Make America Work Again.”

A paper schedule handed out by the party Tuesday morning may offer some insight: It, like the convention’s official app, lists an entirely different Chris Cox, the former congressman who once chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
There's no way they'd actually be this weird on purpose, right?
We heard from Willie Robertson, a star of "Duck Dynasty," actor Scott Baio and model and soap opera star Antonio Sabato, Jr., who CNN helpfully noted once appeared in an underwear ad that hung from Trump Tower
There's no way they'd intentionally just have an old man yell and spit un-self-consciously.

Right?  I mean, it's true that this whole event looks like a performance art send-up of your typical political convention. But that's also been an apt description of this entire campaign.

Anyway it's been hard to say what's real and what's a joke for a very long time now.

Which is why, when the Trump people seem as though they have deliberately crossed that line...

CLEVELAND — The Republican Party woke up to a cascade of finger-pointing and confusion on Tuesday as the Trump campaign was rocked by accusations that parts of Melania Trump’s convention speech had been cribbed from the one that Michelle Obama delivered to Democrats in 2008.

....you have to wonder just who the joke is on here?

Nothing will do that

This is a very good Tom Frank article. Like everything Frank has put out this year, including his newest book, it calls necessary attention to the corrupt relationship between the Democratic political establishment and economic elites on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.
And so President Barack Obama did an interview with Business Week in which he was congratulated for his stewardship of the economy and asked “what industries” he might choose to join upon his retirement from the White House. The president replied as follows:
… what I will say is that – just to bring things full circle about innovation – the conversations I have with Silicon Valley and with venture capital pull together my interests in science and organization in a way I find really satisfying.
In relating this anecdote, I am not aiming to infuriate because the man we elected in 2008 to get tough with high finance and shut the revolving door was now talking about taking his own walk through that door and getting a job in finance. No. My object here is to describe the confident, complacent mood of the country’s ruling class in the middle of last month. So let us continue.

On the morning after British voters chose to leave the European Union, Obama was in California addressing an audience at Stanford University, a school often celebrated these days as the pre-eminent educational institution of Silicon Valley. The occasion of the president’s remarks was the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and the substance of his speech was the purest globaloney, flavored with a whiff of vintage dotcom ebullience. Obama marveled at the smart young creative people who start tech businesses. He deplored bigotry as an impediment that sometimes keeps these smart creative people from succeeding. He demanded that more power be given to the smart young creatives who are transforming the world. Keywords included “innovation”, “interconnection”, and of course “Zuckerberg”, the Facebook CEO, who has appeared with Obama on so many occasions and whose company is often used as shorthand by Democrats to signify everything that is wonderful about our era.
This is the key to understanding what's broken about American politics. It works only to promote the interests of the wealthiest class of elites to the greater detriment of just about everyone else.  But, as always, this core crisis of western democracy gets pushed further and further toward the back pages the closer we get to the election which is now at the part of the cycle where everything is about stagecraft criticism and Pokemon memes. At least Frank is still writing about things that matter.

At the same time, though, I find it strange that he hasn't yet figured out how the crisis ends.. or that he assumes it can end at all. 
It’s easy to see the problems presented by a cliquish elite when they happen elsewhere. In the countries of Old Europe, maybe, powerful politicians sell out grotesquely to Goldman Sachs; but when an idealistic American president announces that he wants to seek a career in venture capital, we have trouble saying much of anything. In Britain, maybe, they have an “establishment”; but what we have in America, we think, are talented people who deserve to be on top. One wonders what kind of a shock it will take to shake us out of this meritocratic complacency once and for all.
Frank has been writing about these issues for most of his career. So why is he still waiting for an event that will "shake us out of this meritocratic complacency once and for all"? One would think he'd figured out by now that nothing will do that.  Pundits like to impose long, well threaded narratives onto descriptions of news and politics but real life events don't fit together so neatly. The news isn't part of some grand novel. It's just a bunch of things that happen.

All of which is to say there is no "once and for all." There is only muddling through and trudging on according to whatever path best suits the people with the power to influence decisions. The Brexit vote may be, as Frank says, "a blunt and ugly rejection of some of (Hillary's) cohort’s most cherished ideas," but what does that matter? That fit has already begun to be put down.  Brexit may not even end up happening. And if and when it does, who will be hurt most? Probably not bankers and venture capitalists.

None of this is to say that Frank's analysis is wrong. It's spot on. Nor do we mean to say that it doesn't matter.  Quite the contrary.  Public policy implemented for and by elites has profound negative impacts on us all. But invariably the costs of every "shock" produced, be it a war, a financial collapse, or an ecological disaster are borne by the rest of us. The foundational power relationships that allow the ruling classes to go on ruling are never put right by any of it. So goes the history of pretty much everything.

Can that change? Who knows?  Does it mean there's nothing to be done at all? I hope it doesn't mean that. But as long as we keep lying to ourselves about an impending resolution via magical judgment "shock" imposed by the universe, we're probably barking up the wrong tree. Because what progress ever comes of fetishizing an apocalypse anyway? There are enough every day disasters to worry about as it is.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Obligation to the public

This is a new AZ post about the mayor's ongoing evaluation of a possible sale of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.  The issue came up again  last night at the District B community budget meeting but Mitch's response  (something along the lines of "we gotta think differently in the 21st century") wasn't very enlightening. Jason's story is more helpful.

One thing he tries to make clear,  for example,  is the NOPBR's function which is best understood as a regulatory agency for Port operations and not as a potential revenue generator for the city as the mayor's staff seem to suggest.

The key "stakeholders" then are shipping and warehousing concerns who have business with the port and who depend on a set, predictable cost of the publicly regulated rail facilities instead of whatever price may be set by a rent seeking private operator.
The main concern seems to be the market disruption that privatizing, or even partially privatizing, the NOPB would create.  As Jensen noted, it could give rise to a possible monopoly in the services industry surrounding the Port.  A future private owner of the NOPB could build their own warehouses along the line and undercut existing businesses like Kearney’s and Jensen’s, giving it an unfair advantage in the market.
So there's money at stake for the port businesses and potentially money to be made for whatever buyer potentially ends up running the railroad.  In other words, it's a big plum the mayor can still give away to someone before he leaves office. Predictably the commission doesn't want a sale. Just as predictably, the mayor's office wants to keep exploring the option.

Most predictably, though, and most disconcerting is the off-point public interest wording they use to describe their motivation.
Ryan Berni then stated that the City would move forward with the full evaluation, including the option for sale, in spite of any decision the Commission made to have it removed. I asked him about this after the meeting and he said the Mayor had “an obligation to the public” to assess the property’s value and consider a sale, irrespective of the Commission’s decision to exclude that option.
At the District B meeting last night, Mitch talked about the railroad in similar terms.  I'm paraphrasing here but what he told us was that he came into office immediately asking, "What does the city own?" and how much money do the things the city own make.  The railroad, he "learned," generates "zero revenue" or maybe he said, "zilch." Whatever. It was meant to impress us as a critical point. But public assets aren't held solely for either their revenue generating potential or for their sale value.

The city's "obligation to the public" here is to consider first the value of the service an public entity provides rather than simply its monetary worth in terms of recurring vs one time revenue. You'd think that public servants would understand their primary duty here. But, as Mitch told us last night, they think about these things differently in the 21st Century. And more often than not, what they're thinking is, "sell that sucker."

A very special episode

Baton Rouge protests, gun control, Nancy Reagan, theater production, the mayor's cousin Ken, Chris Isaak, as well as many many other events, persons, and surprises along the way.

Hunker down. Share it around.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Happy Bastille Day

Aire De Jeux
French Ronald McDonald- Paris 2009

Cahiers de doléances of the Third Estate Article 65:
The fees received by all officers of justice shall be fixed at. a moderate rate and clearly understood; and judges who extort fees in excess of the fixed rates shall be condemned to pay a fine of four times the amount they have received.

Such are the bans of a constitution founded upon the eternal principles of justice and reason, which alone ought to regulate henceforward the government of the realm. Once they are adopted, all false pretensions, all burdensome privileges, all abuses of all kinds will be seen to disappear. Already a considerable number of bailliages have expressed their desires concerning the reforms and abolitions to, be effected in all branches of the administration; the necessity for these drastic changes has been so evident that it is sufficient merely, to indicate them.
Gretna, Louisiana 2016
Louisiana is avid in collecting money from a great variety of criminal fines. There are traffic fines, of course, but there are also fines for not paying the fines, fines for missing court, payments for getting convicted, and payments for probation. If you are convicted you pay the cost of court and if you are lucky enough to avoid jail, you pay, as Graham Bosworth, a New Orleans lawyer and Jefferson County public defender puts it, “for the privilege of being supervised.” In Jefferson Parish, you even pay a $45 fee that goes to fund public defenders.

In this tedious process of collections, Jefferson Parish, the county that surrounds Gretna, is a pacesetter. In 2014, the state put out a report urging its court system to be more vigorous in collecting fees, pointing to the parish’s 24th judicial circuit court as a model, thanks to an increase in collections of 1,100% in 14 years. Unpaid fees yield more penalties, which yield the threat of more jail. The fees create ever more incentive for the state to issue more penalties to support its courts. “The criminal justice system exists mainly to make society safer, and it has lost sight of that goal,” Bosworth says. “Instead it has become a system that exists largely to fund itself.”
Les Cahiers Article 66:
The deputies of the prevolte and vicomte of Paris shall be instructed to unite themselves with the deputies of other provinces, in order to join with them in securing, as soon as able, the following abolitions:

Of the taille; Of the gabelle; Of the aides; Of the corvee; Of the ferme of tobacco; Of the registry-duties; Of the free-hold tax; Of the taxes on leather; Of the government stamp upon iron; Of the stamps upon gold and Silver; Of the interprovincial customs duties; Of the taxes upon fairs and markets

Finally, of all taxes that are burdensome and oppressive, whether on account of their nature or of the expense of collection, or because they have been paid almost wholly by agriculturists and by the poorer classes. They shall be replaced with other taxes, less complicated and easier of collection, which shall fall alike upon all classes and orders of the state without exception.
Tonight, the mayor of New Orleans is hosting a community budget meeting where he will field questions about such items as increased parking meter fees and parking fines, exorbitant fees on use of public parks,  the practice of funding public defense through court fees,  and a tax on the airspace above a sidewalk.

(Apocryphal) quote from Zhou Enlai 
During Richard Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972, the Chinese premier, Zhou Enlai, was asked about the impact of the French Revolution. Speaking of an event that took place nearly two centuries previously, Zhou famously commented that it was 'too early to say'. 

Spirit of the law

So Mitch's legislative end-run around the WTC lawsuit appears to have worked after all.
Charlene Gipson, an attorney with the Davillier Law Group representing Two Canal Street Investors, said via email that Chase dismissed their lawsuit without granting her clients the benefit of a hearing where they could present their case. They intend to "appeal to the highest level."

Earlier this year the city attempted to get the Louisiana Legislature to approve a law that would have required anyone challenging a lease awarded through a public benefit corporation, such as the New Orleans Building Corp., to post a security bond for millions of dollars in order for the court case to move forward. In the end, the bill from state Sen. Conrad Appel was scaled back to simply speed up the process for such legal challenges. Signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, it requires such cases to be heard within 60 days of a lawsuit being filed, and a ruling must come within 20 days after the conclusion of arguments.

"The defendants' failed attempt to change the law to require a multimillion dollar bond for plaintiffs to access the courts has apparently been converted to an unprecedented interpretation of a longstanding statute regarding security for court filing fees," Gipson said.

Chase judgment based on Two Canal Street Investors failing to post a $750,000 bond was made in error, Gipson said, because state law links such security to expenses associated with court services that unfold during the course of trial, "and not an illusory, inflated bond ... that bears no rational connection to the actual court fees contemplated by the cited statute..."
Ok well we'll see if they're really going to appeal to the "highest levels." But when the judge decides to enforce the intent of a law that didn't actually get passed, that does seem like grounds for a complaint. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Two more to go

The budget meetings resume tonight in District D with the grand finale tomorrow night in District B. I was kind of surprised to see that no one appeared to be tweeting from the District E meeting the other night. There's been less reporting on these meetings in general this year for whatever reason.  If the next mayor continues this process, maybe they should have them filmed and made accessible to the public that way.  It's really not very hard to do that these days.

Because we said so

You get the impression, BRPD might not be entirely on the up and up with all this stuff?
Police reports for three young men arrested in connection to a "credible threat" against officers publicized Tuesday show no mention of the comment one made to police about their intention to harm officers and show none of the defendants were booked on counts relating to making intimidating statements.
Also, we're still waiting for eyewitnesses or video evidence of concrete being thrown at police on Sunday. There were a lot of people with cameras out there. You'd think somebody would have caught that. Unless.... naw, couldn't be.... 

Here we go around again

The fun thing about the Six Flags process is the repetition. They keep going round and round with the same three or four development groups, rejecting their ideas, waiting a few months until the same people come back with slightly crazier ideas, and then rejecting them again.

Earlier this year, the IDB turned down TPC-NOLA's questionably financed proposal to open a new amusement park on the site.  Now TPC-NOLA is back with the same proposal except this time with wax figurines in it.
The wax figures that for years adorned the now-closed Musée Conti Historical Wax Museum in the French Quarter could turn up again in an unexpected place -- the old Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans East.

But only if the agency in charge of the site picks one particular developer to revamp it, which may be a long shot.

TPC-NOLA Inc., a company that wants to resurrect the old Jazzland Theme Park that used to occupy the 220-acre site, says it has reached a deal with the Musée Conti to incorporate the wax figures into its proposal.
So they've upped their ante.  Your move, skywriting Noah's Ark guy

The sky isn't falling

Chicken Little

The worst thing about 2016 so far is, for as much trauma and disaster as there's been, for some reason, it just hasn't been as funny as you'd think.

Take the Trump show, for example. Remember when Donald Trump running for President was funny? And then how when he actually beat the other Republicans it was hilarious? That was a long time ago. That show hasn't been funny in a while. It's really just recycling the same old material.

But the hardcore fans keep trying to make it a thing.  This season, we're supposed to be worried about what happens if "Dangerous Donald" actually becomes President. But that's stupid. For one thing it isn't credible. Nothing in the polls (not even in the Quinnipiac polls we're supposed to be frightened of today) indicates he has any sort of shot at winning. For another thing, he probably doesn't even want the job in the first place. In fact, it would almost be worth electing him President just to punish him, but no one is in the mood for that now. We're too bored. 

Finally, the prospect of a Trump Presidency isn't even all that scary. If he were elected, all it would mean is a buffoon would live in the White House while we get out the old Republican binder of bureaucrats to pick who runs the government for the next four years. That will be bad, of course. But it won't be unprecedented bad. We're just talking about the same people who were around when the last Republican was President.  That guy was a buffoon too. Remember?

Blocking the roadway

Where the roadways weren't actually blocked and the people arrested for blocking them weren't actually in the road.
I was charged with simple obstruction of a roadway. Which is what I think the majority of protesters got, and they got set the same bail as me, $250, for being in the road. Now, as my video I’m posting online clearly shows, I was never in the road.
It's a very serious crime, though, this un-permitted jaywalking thing. 


Garrett Graves and Cedric Richmond are working together on a "bi-partisan" solution to sell more surplus military equipment to local police departments.
The bill would establish a new office within the U.S. Department of Justice to review, develop and deploy nonlethal technology, Graves said in an interview with The Advocate late Tuesday. It would also provide funds for training police around the country on de-escalation techniques.

The new Justice Department office would look at technology being developed by the military and at the Office of Homeland Security, then try to refine those weapons for law enforcement. Additionally, it would look to developing new technologies, Graves said.

Richmond added, “Is there anything between a Taser and lethal force? We’re the country that put a man on the moon. If we put the incentives out there, someone will develop it.”

Graves said the bill would authorize $150 million of spending in the first year, then $100 million for the next three years and $125 million in the fifth year. The new spending is offset against existing funding so that it doesn’t create new taxpayer liabilities, he added.
Does he mean he wants to find something that hurts worse than a Taser? What would that be?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Well here we are at thoughtcrime

Watch what you say or do at any and all times.
Last weekend in Connecticut, police arrested Kurt Vanzuuk after a tip for posts on Facebook that identified Johnson as a hero and called for police to be killed. He was charged with inciting injury to persons or property.

An Illinois woman, Jenesis Reynolds, was arrested for writing in a Facebook post that she would shoot an officer who would pull her over. “I have no problem shooting a cop for simple traffic stop cuz they’d have no problem doing it to me,” she wrote, according to the police investigation. She was charged with disorderly conduct.

In New Jersey, Rolando Medina was arrested and charged with cyber harassment. He allegedly posted on an unidentified form of social media that he would destroy local police headquarters. In Louisiana, Kemonte Gilmore was arrested for an online video where he allegedly threatened a police officer. He was charged with public intimidation.

“Certainly, posting that kind of thing on social media is a bad thought,” professor Larry Dubin of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law told the Detroit News. “But having a bad thought isn’t necessarily a crime.”
Won't stop them from coming to get you, though. 

Storm(front)y Daniels

Remember back when the brainy pranksters got together and pushed a porn star to run against David Vitter? Yeah, this is pretty much the same thing but tailored for Steve Scalise's problem.
David Duke says he is getting ready to run for Congress.
The former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and ex-candidate for Louisiana governor told The Daily Beast he is heavily leaning towards challenging Rep. Steve Scalise. Scalise is the No. 3 Republican in the House who reportedly once called himself “David Duke without the baggage” and spoke at a white nationalist group that Duke founded.
“I’ve very seriously set up an exploratory committee to run for the United States Congress against Steve Scalise,” Duke said. “I expect to make a decision in a few days” ahead of the July 22 ballot deadline.
Don't worry. Much like Daniels before him, Duke won't actually run. The PR stunt is cute, though. 

Gonna keep unlearning the lesson

Ferguson was what? Two years ago now?  In addition to just the plain ugliness of racist police violence, the two "lessons" we were supposed to have learned from the matter were these.

First, government services in cities and towns across the country are so reliant on municipal violations fees that they create perverse incentives for law enforcement to systematically shake people down. So far our learning this "lesson" has produces one hilarious John Oliver bit and zero actual progress.

Secondly, we were supposed to have learned that a militarized police force has no place in a functioning democracy.  How'd we do on that account?
Displays of military-style equipment like armored cars, assault-style weapons, gas masks, riot shields, and ear-splitting sirens called LRADs — all of which have been deployed in the past few days during protests about Sterling’s killing in Baton Rouge — are some of the very practices the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services criticized in its definitive report analyzing what went wrong in Ferguson.

You would think Baton Rouge would watch Ferguson and learn a lesson. Apparently they didn’t,” said Peter B. Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University who’s studied police militarization for the past 25 years. A former probation officer, Kraska has worked with over 70 police departments on training and reforms.
So we're pretty slow to learn. Maybe in the coming years, you know with fresh leadership after the presidential election, we'll move away from this kind of  thinking that.... oh wait. 

Not just Mayfield

I know I sound like a broken record at this point. But I want to flag this month's Antigravity for what is, as far as I can tell, the first article written about this fiasco that really goes after the point.
While the conflict of interest between NOJO and the Library Foundation has particularly far-reaching implications, unfortunately Mayfield’s decisions were made within the context of increasingly common public-private funding structures, whose actions take place outside the public eye. Consider the Audubon Nature Institute. While public money funds the Audubon Commission, the Audubon Zoo and its associated parks, the Audubon Nature Institute is a private nonprofit which runs the Audubon Commission, and its financial records are not available to the public. Nonprofits are exempt from financial disclosure laws even if they run on public money. The Institute recently received scrutiny for attempting to enter an exclusive contract with the Sazerac Company, who would then be the only alcohol vendor permitted to sell in a new sports development intended for the Fly. The Sazerac Company is run by Paul Fine and Jeffrey Goldring, who are both on the board of the Audubon Nature Institute. The implications of this contract strengthened an already firm public stance against further developing this public green space. By the time The Advocate, NOLA.com, and WWL-TV had covered the backroom deal with the Sazerac Company, any remaining enthusiasm for the sports complex fizzled, and the project was derailed. However, public disclosure laws, which do not require board members to declare financial interests, remain unchanged.

The Audubon Nature Institute also uses public funds to pay the $500,000 plus salary of its Director, Ron Forman. Forman has been at the center of New Orleans business and politics for decades. In the past he headed the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District Board, and in 2006 ran for Mayor. Incidentally, he was also Chairman of NOJO’s board and on the board of the Library Foundation (along with his son, Dan Forman) when Hammer’s story broke last year. In a May 2016 WWL-TV interview, Forman emphasized the “complexity” of the issue, and insisted that any improperly spent money would be repaid, though he defended the use of library money for the Jazz Market. When he was asked about whether the board majority of he, his son, and Mayfield and Markham could have made some dubious decisions in handing over the reins to Mayfield, Forman became defensive and questioned the “values and ethics” of the accusation.
We want to point and shout at the one with the $1400 breakfast, but the problem is far more widespread and ingrained than that.