Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What do we do now?

Matt Taibbi interviews Bernie Sanders in the new Rolling Stone. They talk about a lot of stuff but Bernie's most crucial message here is about doing politics in a way that connects with rather than manipulates people. What that means first and foremost is talking to voters instead of to donors.
President Obama talked after the election about winning Iowa by going into counties even if the demographics didn't "dictate" success there. This seemed to be a criticism that the party had decided to ignore big parts of the country.

I talked about that in the book. That's exactly what we did. We had 101 rallies in that small state. That's grassroots democracy. You speak to three-quarters of the people who end up voting for you. In New Hampshire, we had just a zillion meetings – far more people came out to our meetings. If you had the time to do that around the country, the world becomes different. The assessment has got to be that not only did we lose the White House to the least-popular candidate in perhaps the history of America, certainly in modern history, but we've lost the Senate, we've lost the House, we've lost two-thirds of the governors' chairs in this country. We've lost 900 seats in state legislatures throughout the country in the last eight years. Maybe it might be time to reassess?

Is there any way to read that except as a massive repudiation of Democrats?

No. I can't see how any objective person can. It speaks to what I just mentioned; we cannot spend our entire life – I didn't, but others do – raising money from wealthy people, listening to their needs. We've got to be out in union halls, we've got to be out in veterans' halls, and we've got to be talking to working people, and we've got to stand up and fight for them.
Go outside. Talk to people. Stop relying on corporate media infrastructure and Big Data to deliver a finely tailored message to a neatly carved out set of demographic cohorts. Do something real. Or, if you are Donald Trump, at least appear to do that which is the next best thing.
With Trump, was there a moment during the past year when you went from thinking "This is a joke" to "This is real!" Or did you realize right away that it was serious?

I didn't realize right away. I didn't know much about him. What I believed and he believed is that the central part of your campaign should be rallies. Why is that? Because it's not only the ability to communicate with large numbers of people and get media attention as a result of that, but when 20,000 people sit in an arena or stadium and they look around and they say, "We're all on the same team together," that creates a kind of energy.

He understood that. When I started seeing him bring these large turnouts of working-class people, I knew that that was real, you know? What politics passes for now is somebody goes on Meet the Press and they do well: "Oh, this guy is brilliant, wonderful." No one cares about Meet the Press. But that you can go out and bring out many, many thousands of people who are supporting your campaign – that is real stuff. When I began to see that, I said, "This guy is a real candidate." Who could do it? Jeb Bush couldn't do that. Marco Rubio couldn't do it. [Trump] was clearly striking a nerve and a chord that other candidates weren't.

So did you, though.

That is absolutely right. Surely did.
What is going on in your neighborhood?  What is going on in your city?  Are your concerns being met?  Are your problems being addressed?  If the answer is no, then what can you do about it?
Sharika Evans grew up working in fast food. But, she said, the minimum wages she's received — at $7.25 an hour — are not enough to support a family, her health care, utilities and her bills, Evans said she was fired from the McDonald's on Canal Street following a Fight For $15 protest at the restaurant earlier this year. She held the doors open to protesters.

Around 5 p.m. Nov. 29, more than 100 service workers and supporters marched, with a brass band, from Armstrong Park on Rampart Street to Canal Street near the McDonald's between Royal and Bourbon streets. Protesters blocked car and streetcar traffic in all directions for nearly an hour and linked arms, demanding $15 an hour and the ability to unionize. Six people sitting at the intersection were arrested but released with citations for obstructing street traffic.

"The pay we get doesn't reflect the work we put into it," Evans told Gambit.

Wanda, a Walmart employee, told a growing crowd at Armstrong Park that "people shouldn't have to be poor so other people can be rich."

Co-organized by Service Employees International Union, a national Fight For $15 movement launched in 2012 as dozens of fast food workers staged walk outs across New York City, and actions have spread throughout the U.S., with large protests and rallies (and arrests) on Nov. 29. The movement made significant strides helping service workers in hospitals and schools earn higher wages through collective bargaining. But in 2016, following the election of president-elect Donald Trump, the Fight For $15 prepares for the undoing of labor agreements that would likely prevent fast food workers from organizing.
Maybe that's an uphill battle. But it always is. And maybe the eventual result is ultimately as uninspiring as Atrios describes here.  I think it probably is.  But what else is there to do?  

One more shot to get STRs under control

Council is voting on this tomorrow.
The ordinance still has to come up for another key vote of approval on Dec. 1. The current recommendations are frightening — deeming that every house, apartment, condo and commercial building in the city, except the French Quarter, can become a STR — with no limits on density.

The council disregarded the public outcry over the proliferation of STRs. Citizens from neighborhoods throughout the city felt betrayed. There were cries of dismay when Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s amendment requiring a homestead exemption to operate an STR was narrowly voted down. We are puzzled by the council’s decision to press forward, tipping the scales in favor of the billion-dollar platforms that enable STRs.
There's still a chance to (sort of) tip the scales back (somewhat) toward residents tomorrow. Will councilmembers have the courage to even try?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's a marvel we haven't accidentally nuked ourselves or others yet

Just reading the description of this system and the confidence its keepers appear to have in it makes me nervous.
Those familiar with the nuclear briefings say they demand a sharp focus.

“It’s not something that someone even with vast experience can easily digest,” said Leon Panetta, a former secretary of defense intimately familiar with the briefings.

“He’s got to be ready from the get-go to respond if necessary,” Panetta said. “There really is a long process, a classified process, that involves a lot of checks in the system to make sure no mistakes are made. It involves a number of key people.”
Clearly this is the set up to an awful and inevitable punchline. And that's even before we add Trump to the equation. Now that he's there, though.  Well.. 
From the day Trump takes the oath of office, a military aide will shadow him everywhere, carrying a black satchel containing the system to convey a nuclear launch order. The satchel is popularly known as “the football.”

“His first briefing will be just about how the process works: ‘There will be a military aide with you at all times and he has the football,’ ” said P.J. Crowley, a retired Air Force officer and special assistant on national security affairs to former President Bill Clinton.

Trump will learn how a launch order would “send key people to underground bunkers,” Crowley said. “That’s a critical dimension of this. Even for the Strategic Command out in Nebraska, this would send an airborne command up in the air.”

The black satchel operates with a dual key system, and part of the system is for the president to take a card from his pocket to input the correct codes.

“The card itself is critical to begin the process that activates the system,” Panetta said.
Everyone in grown-up media world is lecturing everyone else about paying too much attention to random shit Trump tweets out. But I kind of think this is a perfect week to be watching. You never know what he might post.  

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article117054908.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article117054908.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article117054908.html#storylink=cpy

It only matters when the tourism money is perceived to be at risk

Billy Nungesser may not be very bright but he sure knows who his friends are
Lt. Billy Nungesser told the Monroe News Star that the mass shooting represented the type of violence that could "destroy" the state's tourism industry. "Something has to change," he said. "We have to do something now before we let thugs kill tourism."
As for me, I'm not so sure the real "thugs" aren't actually running our tourism industry in the first place. But that's a different topic.  In this article, we have  all the elements of our "leaders'" accustomed selfish, panicked overreaction to tragedy that can only lead to more pain and tragedy as it progresses. 

But such is the politics of all against all capitalism. No one here addresses the question of societal violence. Hell, no one in this article is even really concerned about gun violence in the city. They're just mad that it sometimes (although infrequently relative to the rest of town) happens in front of their amusement factory.

A crisis type news event has the potential to motivate political change. But none of these bar owners has the courage or empathy to apply that energy toward the fundamental problem.  Instead they focus only on the simplest and most brutal (not to mention profit generating for the right contractor) means of protecting their immediate interests.

Whether the problem is crime, housing, or  climate change and coastal erosion our corrupt political response is not equipped to address any of it so long as it retains a myopic focus on the interests of the individually wealthy at the expense of the collective.  In other words, get ready to pay more so they can stay rich.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bobby Jindal will be ok

Bobby had practically everything Donald Trump could have asked for in a Secretary of Health and Human Services. He knew how to privatize public benefits and position cronies such that they can profit from the sell off. He knew how to pander to Islamophobes. But it turns out he didn't quite make the cut.

If we had to guess at what Bobby's mistake was, we'd probably say it had something to do with having exhibited insufficient deference to Trump that one time way back when.  Then again, nobody paid much attention to Jindal during the campaign, even while he was calling Trump a "madman."  The rumor was Mitt Romney, whose criticism of Trump came with a higher profile and at a more important point in the calendar, could still have been Secretary of State if only he had apologized.  Jindal's truly unforgivable sin in Trump's eyes probably was publishing his remarks on CNN's website.

Anyway, Bobby will be fine.  He can go right back to accepting money from various think tanks and lobbying groups to produce.. well.. more CNN.com op-eds and such for the next few years until it's time to maybe run for some other office if he wants. So don't feel too bad for him.  Even if the Trump Administration does end up collapsing in a series of scandals, impeachments, and resignations, I don't think HHS is technically in line for the Presidential succession anyway. Although, if we were ever going to find out, this would be the time.

More route diversity

Twelfth Night is getting kind of crowded. We usually walk out and wave at the Phunny Phorty Phellows blow by on their streetcar.  We do that because we live uptown and it's convenient.  Otherwise I wouldn't mind seeing the Joan of Arc parade one of these years.  Now there's a third option in the somewhat pretentiously named Societe du Champs Elysees.
The krewe was inspired by the completion of the new streetcar line and the investment it has brought to nearby neighborhoods below Canal Street, said David Roe, the founder and captain of the krewe.

“Already the attitude in the neighborhood has changed,” said Roe, who said he can see the streetcar’s last stop from his porch on Elysian Fields.

Roe was inspired to form the krewe on the first day of the new line, when the streetcar he was riding in was joined by a flash mob of accordionists.
Tourist attraction masquerading as a transit line inspires a hipster happening which in turn inspires... well, this. 
The musicians were told they had to stop playing partway through the ride, but Roe said the experience made him think of the Phunny Phorty Phellows, the small but well-established krewe that has marked the beginning of Carnival with its yearly streetcar rides along St. Charles Avenue each Jan. 6 since the early 1980s.

That’s when, he said, he “had an epiphany about Epiphany” and decided to form a small group to bring the experience to the downriver neighborhoods.
Sounds good to me. The more stuff we can get happening at once in different places during Carnival the better, as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand, NOPD is always talking about how impossible it is for them to handle security for more than one thing at a time in this city.  Are they sure, they're ready? Or does Sidney Torres need to put some metal detectors on that streetcar?

Anyway, it's 38 more days til Carnival season. 

Hamburger in every pot

I don't have a real joke here. It's just that Foster Campbell is kind of a goofball.
“I’m Foster Campbell, and I live on a farm in north Louisiana,” the candidate said to the crowd in an accent that was gravy-thick, drawing unexpectedly raucous cheers as he championed Democratic presidents for pushing Medicare, Social Security and the G.I. Bill of Rights. He ended by telling the crowd to come visit him in Washington: “I’ll buy you a hamburger.
I should be upset that that NYT profile treats the Louisiana Senate race as an inconsequential curiosity. Unfortunately, that's pretty accurate. It's an opportunity for demoralized Democrats in state as well as activists and donors from out of state to channel a little impotent rage at the Trump result.  But it's not likely to come to much of anything.  Campbell isn't a strong enough candidate to overcome a statewide Republican base strong enough to sweep even a toad like John Kennedy in.

Also, the story does contain a pretty good dig at Elliot Stonecipher so it's not all for naught. 
“Look, I know them both,” said Elliott Stonecipher, a political consultant from Shreveport, La., who first met Mr. Campbell when they were both public schoolteachers in the 1970s. “The three of us could sit around in a living room and talk politics and as long as Foster Campbell doesn’t have a chance to attack oil and gas, there’s not going to be a smidgen of difference.”

That is a bit of an overstatement: Mr. Campbell was alone among the major Senate candidates here talking openly about human-caused climate change; he also supports an increase in the minimum wage and promises to vote against any repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

But Mr. Campbell’s fondness for bashing the oil and gas companies, along with the railroads, the tobacco companies, the payday loan companies and a long list of other corporate targets, makes him an interesting figure in a party suddenly trying to figure out how to regain support among the rural working class.
Also it's kind of weird for Stonecipher or anyone to minimize the significance of a fundamental difference between candidates in how they relate to oil and gas. In this state, that's pretty much everything. 

The end of the democratic social contract

The Trump years are gonna be fun. Which of these are we going to decide we're no longer going to even go through the motions of attempting to provide for people?

Health care?
If House Speaker Paul Ryan has his way, the 115th Congress won’t just repeal Obamacare, it will dramatically reform Medicare, turning the program into a form of private insurance.

Ryan has long supported the controversial idea and, immediately after the election, he suggested that any Obamacare reform should include Medicare reform. Another key player, House Budget Chairman Tom Price, said Medicare reform was a top priority for the unified Republican government.

President-elect Donald Trump has yet to commit to further privatization of Medicare—which could cause a tidal wave of unease among senior citizens—and a Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. At a minimum, though, Ryan’s Medicare plans are a topic of negotiation between the speaker and the president-elect.
It's hard to know if we should even count health care given the sorry state of what even our puny somewhat public programs actually provide. But it's clear we're not moving that ball in the right direction.

How about public education
Donald Trump’s choice to be secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is a woman who never went to public school, nor sent her children to public school, nor worked for public schools. She does, however, come from a wealthy family that has donated millions to the Republican Party. And she would be terrible for public education in this country.
As AlterNet explained in a 2011 profile on the DeVos family, the DeVos family is a prominent right-wing donor. Betsy Prince DeVos’ father-in-law co-founded Amway, while her brother, Erik Prince, founded the notorious private military contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater USA).

While many wealthy campaign donors have pet causes, the DeVoses have been particularly driven to promote school vouchers.

In 2000, the DeVoses launched one of their most ambitious campaigns, spending millions of dollars on an unsuccessful effort to convince Michigan voters to support a voucher initiative, which would have let parents steer tax dollars to private schools instead of public ones.

The 2000 ballot initiative was voted down by 68 percent of Michiganders.

After the loss, the DeVoses shifted gears, focusing instead on pushing voucher bills through state legislatures, which they have been doing ever since. They founded a group, All Children Matter, devoted to pushing vouchers. In 2013, the group, now known as the American Federation of Children, was fined $5.2 million in Ohio for breaking campaign finance laws, which it has not yet paid. The PAC was never registered in Wisconsin, where it was hammered by the press.

American Federation for Children has worked closely with Religious Right groups that can motivate voters from their homes and churches. It also coordinates its planning through the Council for National Policy, a secretive right-wing group that meets several times a year and gives members of the Christian right access to sympathetic donors.

Betsy also serves on the board of the Acton Institute, which merges corporate interests with dominion theology, or the belief that Christians should take control of political and social institutions. Earlier this month, the Acton Institute published a blog post titled, “Bring back child labor: Work is a gift our kids can handle.”
Not gonna spend our education dollar on your poor kids anymore unless they pray real good the way we tell them.  Failing that, it's send them down into the mines or whatever.  Doesn't matter anyway since we aren't expecting to develop an informed and educated citizenry anymore. Who needs that when we're not going to let anybody vote anyway? Which brings us to...

The basic right to vote
Bruce Ackerman, a constitutional law scholar at Yale University, tells me he worries it could all amount to the “beginning of the end of the Second Reconstruction.” This is the name some historians use to describe the sustained 20th Century effort to codify civil rights and full equality for African Americans after decades of voting and institutionalized discrimination, just as the original Reconstruction period tried to expand democracy after the end of slavery — an effort that was followed by the sort of retreat that could conceivably happen again.

“The rest of the Voting Rights Act will become a dead letter,” Ackerman suggested, adding that he expects nothing less than a wholesale rollback of “the fundamental achievements of the Second Reconstruction."
One memory I have from the (later) heyday of the Rush Limbaugh radio program comes from  Election Day 2004.  Those of you who were alive back then might remember some mid-day exit poll reports being circulated which seemed to suggest that John Kerry could maybe possibly have been in the process of ousting George W. Bush.  Turns out these must have been "fake news" or something.  It's a good thing everyone avoids these errors today by just using Facebook.

Anyway, Rush, under the impression that Kerry might win, was in full panic mode and launched into a long loud diatribe about the need to seriously consider bringing back the property requirement for voters.  It was funny at the time because 1) that's crazy and 2) I was as hopeful at that point in the day as Rush was despondent and was getting a kick out of listening to him whine.   But it's also an indicator of where the right wing mind goes when it decides the democratic process needs "fixing."

And when a radical right wing party controls the Presidency, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and very nearly enough state houses to amend the Constitution, this stuff gets less funny and more scary.

Letting the terrorists win

Federal City

Every tragic event must be met with an equally appalling assault on the civil liberties and basic values of our open society.  It's such a matter of course now that it's almost become boring.  But since Sidney kinda sorta thinks he might want to be the next mayor, we might as well make note of where his inclinations lie.
Torres, a vocal critic of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's approach to public safety in the city's prime tourism district, said he has sketched out a plan to set up nearly two dozen security checkpoints on streets leading into the Quarter for special events.

There, he said, private security would wave metal-detecting wands across incoming revelers, checking for guns and running the information on those who carry them through a database of licensed guns and permitted gun owners.

"This is an idea that I came up with within an hour," Torres said. "When you have national news out there that's showing one dead, somebody blazing guns in the middle of a crowded promenade, I think it's important for someone to call for action."
It only took him an hour to come up with that.  Except, not really.  He's actually been thinking about this for a while. He's even got a specific model in mind
Torres, creator of the French Quarter Task Force patrol and crime-reporting application for mobile devices, called for restricted access to Bourbon Street between Canal and St. Ann streets between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. during special events or special times of the year. Staffed security checkpoints with metal detectors and cameras would be erected at every entrance point along that eight-block stretch, Torres said.

Security personnel would check every visitor for guns. Verification would be needed before those licensed to carry firearms would be allowed to bring their weapons onto the street, Torres said.

Torres said a similar program is instituted in Memphis' famed Beale Street, one where visitors are charged a fee during some special events.
The "entrepreneur" (Sidney inherited his money and has spent his life leveraging that status into more and more money and political/social influence but ok) who weaseled his way into the semi-privatized police business now wants to be allowed to charge you a fee to walk down a street.  All it will take is an initial equipment investment and someone is bound to help him public-private partner his way into a nice cut of whatever that generates.

Or maybe he can just run for mayor and grant himself the contract.  It's Trump's America now. Nobody takes the rules about these things seriously anymore.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Not quite where we want to go with this yet

They've tweaked the STR rules a bit just a few days ahead of Thursday's vote. 
Copies of the latest amendments to the plans were not available this week, but Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni — who has been Landrieu’s point man on the issue — said the changes are aimed at ensuring the city can keep tabs on short-term rentals.

Under the proposed rules, short-term rental companies would have to provide the city with monthly reports on how often users are renting their New Orleans properties.

That’s three times as frequently as the quarterly reports the companies had been expected to provide under agreements that previously had been under discussion. Critics of short-term rentals warned that requiring reports only every three months could allow scofflaws to operate for months without being detected.

The new rules also would let the city subpoena information on those believed to be in violation of the rules.

This is not necessarily bad. People have been asking for stricter data sharing requirements.  But it's still not quite what we need the rules to do. The best change that could still be written into the ordinance would be a restriction of one STR per homestead exemption along the lines of the amendment Susan Guidry offered previously. If you're going to City Council next week, or if you're speaking with your council person, this is what you really want to ask for.

Nobody actually lives there

What can you do, though? It's a "destination city," right?
Venice is on many bucket lists. But that's a problem. Up to 90,000 tourists crowd its streets and canals every day — far outnumbering the 55,000 permanent residents.

The tourist influx is one key reason the city's population is down from 175,000 in the 1950s. The outnumbered Venetians have been steadily fleeing. And those who stick around are tired of living in a place where they can't even get to the market without wading through a sea of picture-snapping tourists.

Laura Chigi, a grandmother at the march, says the local and national governments have failed to do anything about the crowds for decades, because they're only interested in tourism — the primary industry in Venice, worth more than $3 billion in 2015.

It's the end of the century

Fidel might not have been the last true link back to the 20th C. But there aren't many left.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to win friends and influence people

Mitch Landrieu has a reputation for working well with others.
For all his accomplishments, though, Landrieu is wearing thin on political insiders. Since winning a resounding re-election in 2014, he has furthered his reputation for brooking little dissent or pushback, even from longtime friends and political allies, who privately say he will launch into tirades over the phone without even saying hello.

“If you’re not 100 percent with him on his agenda, then he’s 100 percent against you,” said Jeff Arnold, who represented Algiers in the state House for 14 years until 2015. “I call him a 100 percenter. I was probably with him on 95 percent of city matters. But I wasn’t with him on Algiers and on the firefighters, so I became his sworn enemy. My philosophy is that I didn’t burn bridges. Mitch is a burn-the-bridges guy.”

A range of black political leaders interviewed for this article said the mayor has lost their support because of his high-handed ways, but none would say this on the record.

In an interview two years ago, Landrieu invoked the cliché that you have to break eggs if you want to make an omelet. “There are entrenched political interests in this state that have strangled the progress of the state and city for a long time that I have now tangled with,” he said.

Landrieu acknowledged having sharp words with some of those who have disagreed with him. He blamed it on his “impatience” and “passion.”
The scenario where even the ostensible allies who exist within Mitch's tent call him an asshole ("productive" or othewise) is familiar by now.  I do hope that at some time in the future we turn our attentions to the question of for whom he has been productive.  Because the most prominent characteristic of his time as mayor has been the spike in inequality.  Circumstances for the most desperate have worsened even as great fortunes have been made among the few to truly benefit from the city’s "recovery."

Mitch's friends in the political/professional class (in New Orleans they are one and the same)  can only grumble under their breath,  though, because they are among the beneficiaries. If you produce for the folks who matter, you can be whatever kind of asshole you want. It's the sort of thing that has worked for Mitch's elitist mentors which is why they are the most proud of him.
Isaacson also said the mayor could have a place at the Aspen Institute — which brings experts together to try to solve complex policy questions — or with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative announced two weeks ago, funded through a foundation created by Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor.

The $32 million effort “equips mayors and their senior leaders with cutting-edge tools and techniques to more effectively tackle pressing management challenges faced in their cities,” according to its website.

“Michael Bloomberg is one of Mayor Landrieu’s biggest fans, and so is everybody at that foundation,” Isaacson said. “Mitch Landrieu is the only mayor that Michael Bloomberg speaks about with awe and excitement.”
The good news is, we may be at a point here in the wake of the rise of Trump style corruption where we're starting to realize that we will need a better kind of politics than mere Clinton-Landrieu style corruption in order to fight it. We're not quite there yet, but maybe we'll get there.

In the meantime this story about Mitch's diminished options may illustrate the end of an era. But only in a small way. Certainly there's plenty of money waiting for him on the cot at Aspen or whatever new think tank the donor class slaps together to churn out neoliberal bullshit for the next four of eight years. (The Calvin Fayard Center For Urban Resilience?)  Then again maybe we're missing a trick. Where else might Mitch go next?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Nobody actually lives here

A T-P letter to the editor:
I am outdone with the way that Saints fans are selling their tickets to visiting fans. At the last home game, there were almost as many Denver fans at the dome as Saints fans. The same thing happened at the Seattle game. This means that we are not showing support for our team.
Yeah we've noticed this too. It's been especially bad during the last two games, but it's also been a problem all year. It's part and parcel with the city's transition away from its former status as a place where people live, work, and participate in community events such as rooting for the home sports team and toward its new status as resort town full of transients, tourists, and part-time residents.

We typically take the streetcar to and from the games from Uptown.  It used to be the visiting fans would join in around Jackson Avenue when the route started picking up hotel guests.  But now the visitors outnumber you all the way there and back.  When they get off at your stop and walk right past your front door too, it becomes intrusive.  These are different people from us. They have more money, they are entitled and they act like they own the place. After the Seattle game, the ride home was literally nothing but Seahawks fans talking to each other about their Airbnbs.  On the way in to the Denver game, just a few days after the election, one of the Broncos fans made a point of antagonizing us over our obligation to stand for the national anthem. It got a little tense.

There used to be a time when we looked forward to meeting visiting fans at Saints games. It's fun to meet people from other places, talk about what to do in town, and such.  But now that these encounters are tinted with the existential threat to one's own neighborhood, it's not the same. They aren't just here to take in a game and go to dinner anymore. They are here to make your rent too damn high and kick you out of your apartment. That they're starting to outnumber us in our home stadium too just adds insult to the injury.

John Neely Kennedy is a turkey

As of a week ago, I was under the impression there were two debates scheduled. As of today there are zero.
Democrat Foster Campbell has accused his Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race of " ducking and dodging debates left and right" after a local television station opted to cancel its planned debate after it couldn't reach terms with both campaigns.

Republican John N. Kennedy's campaign cited a scheduling conflict.

Gary Wordlaw, WVLA News Director, told The Advocate that Kennedy's campaign did not want a live audience in attendance for the debate, while Campbell's did.

He said the station had no other option for moving foward "unless they could agree to it one way or the other."
It's a shame Kennedy is so afraid of crowds. Cancelling this debate deprives Louisiana voters of what would have been the folksiest public event this side of the Country Bear Jamboree. So for those of you who feel like you are missing out, here is a conceptual rendering of what such a debate might have looked like.

Feel better?  Foster doesn't.
"Mr. Kennedy is so weak he won't even debate me," Campbell said in a statement. "He's making time to talk to deep-pocketed, corporate lobbyists, but he won't make time to talk to the people of Louisiana. He's pitiful."
Anyway Kennedy clearly figures he can go run and hide at this point. Frankly, there's no reason to believe he can't

Monday, November 21, 2016

Heroes of 2016

Stuart Fisher

Though Fisher - a Florida developer who refers to himself on Facebook in part as an “anti-hero. Dealmaker. Fighter... Problematic King David character” - has vowed to appeal the dismissals, it’s unclear what success on that front he’ll have.
Pretty sure this is the end of the road for Fisher's action against the WTC redevelopment. It was fun while it lasted, though.

Call to service

I knew a lot of big money people were gonna be at Morrell's fundraiser. They met at sanitation contractor, Jimmie Woods' house, after all.  I didn't realize the Governor was going too.
With a disastrous election for national Democrats barely a week in the rear-view mirror and speculation about the upcoming New Orleans mayoral race already intensifying, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and other top local Democrats rallied Thursday night in support of state Sen. J.P. Morrell.

Edwards’ first 10 months in office have not been short on challenges, he noted — from the budget crisis left by former Gov. Bobby Jindal, the controversial police shooting of Alton Sterling and subsequent killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge, and the unexpected rainwater flooding that inundated the state in August. Edwards, however, said he remains optimistic about the state’s future — particularly because of leadership like Morrell’s.
Morrell played coy about whether or not he's definitely getting into the mayor's race, although it's difficult to imagine why he's holding this kind of a fundraiser if he isn't seriously considering it. He did have some pointed things to say about the responsiveness of local government, though. 
Locally, Morrell said, the short-term rental debate before the City Council showed a similar tendency. Residents across the city feared the effect of allowing whole-home rentals on neighborhood cohesion and housing prices, but city government largely barreled forward regardless without listening — exacerbating the sense that the recovery in New Orleans benefits only the wealthiest, at the expense of the long-term residents.

“In the short-term rental piece, for example, you had a room full of people with concerns, and rather than address them, they just ignored them,” Morrell said. “The city is kind of breaking down. We all identify with our neighborhoods and our individual smaller communities, but they’re becoming increasingly isolated. … Part of being a leader is, you’ve got to engage everybody. You got to make people who don’t want to talk to each other, talk to each other.”
That's quite a ding at our current city councilpersons some of whom may be thinking about running for mayor themselves. As a matter of fact, perhaps prompted by this event, one of them fired off a sort of pre-announcement announcement in an email over the weekend.
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell is formally dipping her toe into the 2017 New Orleans mayor’s race.

In an email to supporters Friday, Cantrell announced she is “considering” getting into the race. She said she hears “the call to serve and lead this wonderful city that is our home.”

The announcement came as little surprise. Cantrell has long been mentioned when speculation about the next mayor comes up.

In her email, Cantrell specifically tied the message to Donald Trump’s election as president this month, first mentioning that “we all feel burned out by the long and divisive presidential campaign."

“But for me, Tuesday’s results confirm that we need to build together from the grassroots without delay,” she wrote. “We need leadership — here and across the country — committed to the inclusive values on which our nation was founded.”

Cantrell, who was a community activist in Broadmoor before being elected to the council, stressed that she’s working on a grassroots campaign and asked her supporters to host meetings to aid her in a goal of meeting with people in every neighborhood.
One could argue a lot of that "grassroots" talk appears kind of hollow in light of Morrell's description of what went on during the STR meetings.  He suggests that even though LaToya hears a "call to serve" maybe she doesn't listen so well to renters being squeezed out of their neighborhoods by tourism profiteers. 

She does have another chance to change that perception.  City Council meets on December 1 to consider final passage of the STR regulations. One thing they could do at that meeting would be to reintroduce Susan Guidry's amendment limiting short term rental permits to one per homestead exemption.  This would have effectively prevented large companies from buying up several houses and operating them all as hotels. Last time, the amendment failed 3-4. Cantrell, to her credit, voted for it. But it's hard to understand why any councilmember voted to approve the regulations as they were after that. Jared Brossett was the only no vote at that point.

In any case, they have one more shot at adding something like this if they choose to do so.  They should know, other cities are starting to see some success when they take a harder line on this stuff. Now might be a good time to try.. depending of course on whether that "call to serve" is coming from developers or from residents.

I really wanted Coach O to make it

It seems like Orgeron would have enjoyed being the head coach at LSU more than any person on the planet.  He's also a proven recruiter which, I can't stress this enough, is about 90 percent of the job anyway. But even if he beats A&M he's probably not going to make it now.

So here we go with the long process of disappointments as Joe Alleva and the boosters learn that not everybody actually wants that job as much as Coach O did. Expect Jimbo to be the first of many to turn them down.  (Although... a lot of surprising things have happened this year.) 

What will your candidate do for us?

We hear so much about "voter apathy" and the need for people to recognize that elections have consequences in their actual lives. But too often we only hear about this in the form of tsk-tsk lecturing after the fact of another disappointing turnout. If your campaign isn't spending its time and energy telling voters what it will do for them, though, you shouldn't be surprised if they don't bother.
MILWAUKEE — Four barbers and a firefighter were pondering their future under a Trump presidency at the Upper Cutz barbershop last week.

“We got to figure this out,” said Cedric Fleming, one of the barbers. “We got a gangster in the chair now,” he said, referring to President-elect Donald J. Trump

They admitted that they could not complain too much: Only two of them had voted. But there were no regrets.

“I don’t feel bad,” Mr. Fleming said, trimming a mustache. “Milwaukee is tired. Both of them were terrible. They never do anything for us anyway.”

As Democrats pick through the wreckage of the campaign, one lesson is clear: The election was notable as much for the people who did not show up, as for those who did. Nationally, about half of registered voters did not cast ballots.
Even when you think the choice is or should be obvious. Even when it is obvious to people who think the other guy is "a gangster" or a deplorable or whatever, they aren't necessarily going to come out and vote for you unless you tell them what you are going to do for them.  People have concerns.  Your campaign ought to address them.
Mr. Fleming, 47, who has been trimming hair, beards and mustaches for 30 years, had hoped his small business would get easier to run. But it hasn’t.

“Give us loans, or a 401(k),” he said, trimming the mustache of Steve Stricklin, a firefighter from the neighborhood. His biggest issue was health insurance. Mr. Fleming lost his coverage after his divorce three years ago and has struggled to find a policy he could afford. He finally found one, which starts Monday but costs too much at $300 a month.

“Ain’t none of this been working,” he said. He did not vote.
 None of these people expect Donald Trump to solve their problems. But the Clinton campaign's theme was "America Is Already Great."  That probably didn't speak to these voters either. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Straight up Trump reaction

Pretty much eats up the whole of the fake radio show this time. It's a pretty good conversation. Some thoughts about what to do next.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Maybe we'll get lucky and Trump will lock up David Brooks

See, the thing is, whether you are for racism or against racism, the important thing to keep in mind is "both sides do it."
But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree. 
David Brooks is writing this the very same week that Trump is introducing us to a National Security Adviser who says "fear of Muslims is rational," an Attorney General who once referred to the NAACP and SCLC as "un-Amercian" and a CIA Director who believes every prominent Islamic leader in America is "potentially complicit" in acts of terrorism.   But, whoah, hey, David Brooks finds it unseemly that anyone would "mobilize people" to fight this stuff.

And so we're all set to turn the ratchet one more time. Far be it for me to minimalize the crisis here  with a bit of context. Unlike Brooks, I am horrified by the situation we find ourselves in. But it's worth thinking about how Trump is less an aberration than part of the longer continuum we've seen throughout the last half century.
Reagan was the first postmodern president; it was under his administration that all depth metaphors finally collapsed, and image and reality first became politically indistinguishable. In other words, he was a moron, brainless and bellicose, something barely sentient. He was fond of telling people—Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, for instance, or Simon Weisenthal—that he had personally been among the first group of U.S. soldiers to enter Buchenwald. He had not: he spent the war in Culver City, processing footage from the camps as part of the USAAF’s First motion Picture Unit. It didn’t matter; even the Holocaust couldn’t resist being blanketed in mediation. Giving testimony during the Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan read out the stage directions instructing him to lie, picking up his flash cards and announcing that “if the question comes up at the Tower Board meeting, you might want to say that you were surprised.”

When he first entered the White House, Reagan’s advisers presented him with lengthy policy documents. He simply couldn’t understand them, so they started getting him to make decisions (including the decision to procure new intercontinental ballistic missiles) by showing him four-panel cartoons. And it all made perfect sense. In a society where the President is experienced most often as a character on TV, why shouldn’t he be played by a TV personality? There are differences: Reagan was an actor, whose job was to read his lines, while Trump comes out of reality programs—he expects to improvise, and trusts that the editors will snip and splice everything together so that he comes out in the best possible light. The format changes, but the show’s the same.

This is not to say that everything will be fine. That’s another line that liberals are now taking to console themselves: yes, we raised a lot of panic during the election, but there was a similar panic back in 1980, and it wasn’t the end of the world. Maybe Trump will surprise us, maybe he’ll be like Reagan, maybe it’ll be okay. Except that for many people it wasn’t okay, and the world really did end.
You might recall the Democratic Convention this year was littered with Reagan hagiography in a calculated (and we now know failed) attempt by the Clinton campaign to appeal to suburban Republican voters. That's where we were in 2016.  Yesterday's unthinkable monster is today's paragon of nostalgic virtue. It's a familiar script to anyone who has been paying attention.

The pattern is this. A radical authoritarian Republican regime pushes the old "Overton window" rightward. A succeeding Democrat "reaches across the aisle" to adopt what we used to think of as "moderate" positions and that gets redefined as the leftmost boundary. Then the next Republican is even more radically right wing and the cycle continues.

All the while the mainstream political press adopts and "normalizes" the new reality. Which is why David Brooks is here to tell us all that the real problem with white supremacists ascending to the highest offices in the land is that your indignant reaction might upset the fragility of  The Discourse.

Sucks that this finally got as far as actual fascism but what are you gonna do? Reacting, or I guess, caring at all would be "not a good look."


Naomi Klein: "Trump Defeated Clinton, Not Women
Here is the biggest problem with elevating sexism to the defining explanation of Mrs. Clinton’s loss: It lets her machine and her failed policies off the hook. It erases the role played by the appetite for endless war and the comfort with market-friendly incremental change, no matter the urgency of the crisis (from climate change to police violence to raging inequality). It erases the disgust over Mrs. Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street and with the wreckage left behind by trade deals that benefited corporations at the expense of workers.

In this version, it’s all about sexism. And that is the surest way to ensure that the Democratic Party’s disastrous 2016 mistakes will be repeated — only next time, with a man at the top of the ticket.

Habenus Budgetum

City council approved most of the mayor's budget yesterday. The most important tweak introduced involved shifting another $600,000 over to the Public Defender's office. That's good news overall even though the revenue is expected to come from doubling the number of traffic cameras stationed around town. It's a very Mitch type of solution and it's something we'll have to try and beat back in the future. But for now, we prefer to revel in the DA's sour grapes.
At the same time, the District Attorney’s Office will see its $6.68 million budget from the city cut by $600,000. That will leave the office with a total budget of about $10 million when state funding is included.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said the cut would have “a dramatic impact on public safety.”

“I question the wisdom of a City Council that would slash the budget of a law enforcement agency that is not only systemically underfunded but is also the only agency not operating under threat of federal intervention,” Cannizarro said, referring to federally mandated reform agreements at the NOPD and the local jail.
Ha ha. As Cannizarro points out, most of our criminal justice apparatus is under mandatory federal supervision due to extended patterns of heinous civil rights abuses. But he "questions the wisdom" of providing even the bare minimum level of resources necessary to support constitutionally sound indigent defense.  That's great.

Whatever we think of the rest of the 2017 budget, we do know it pisses off Leon Cannizarro so let's consider it a step in the right direction. 

Why is Jed Horne normalizing the fascists?

LOL "middle of the road"
Defying the gutless GOP brass was one thing. To actually govern, Trump seems to realize that he’s going to have to yield to middle-of-the-road advisers (including Mike Pence, Reince Priebus and his own seemingly sensible children). Maybe start talking truth, even to himself. Maybe wean himself from Twitter. Snits and rages could unhinge him and upend the planet.
Also the "seemingly sensible children."  Both sides-ism is a deeply ingrained tic with some of these people. Even when they think they're taking a Very Serious stand against the bad guys, they just can't help themselves. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Even here in the post-apocalyptic wastes of Trumpland, what does it take to get one Democrat to stand with another in a race for the last available Senate seat?  Apparently it still takes a week or so.
Fayard endorsed Campbell on Tuesday (Nov. 15), a week after the public service commissioner advanced to a runoff against state Treasurer John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, to replace retiring Sen. David Vitter, R-La. Fayard, a lawyer from New Orleans, finished fourth.

 "After the setbacks suffered last week by the Democratic Party nationally,‎ it gives me great hope to know that Foster Campbell will protect President Obama's legacy and fight for the same Democratic Party values that Secretary Clinton, myself, and so many others have championed," she said in a statement.
That's nice of her to say. It would be nicer to have a statement that says something about what Senator Campbell would do for Louisiana other than just observe Obama's, Clinton's and Fayard's "values."  But I'm not advising either Fayard or Campbell so they can write whatever they think is proper.

What, by the way, should we imagine this was all about? 
But Fayard's support did appear to come with a price. Before the endorsement announcement, Campbell campaign spokeswoman Mary-Patricia Wray took to Twitter to apologize to Fayard and her family. The tweet was later deleted, but Fayard retweeted a screenshot of it:

"Ms. Fayard had some peculiar demands and we tried to meet them all," Wray said Tuesday.
Sure, we're in this situation where a fascistic con man has ascended to the Presidency and is surrounding himself with freaks and monsters. And the Republicans control all of Congress which they are about to use to roll us all back to the Nineteenth Century.  But, ok. Caroline Fayard, commander of 12 percent of the vote in the Louisiana Senate primary, has some demands.

Now, don't get me wrong. I could see why this might matter had some specific issue animated her campaign that she now wanted carried forward.  But the Fayard campaign wasn't about anything besides how great it is that Caroline Fayard is a young-ish lawyer from a wealthy family who founded "a friggin airline company."  Apparently their peculiar demand was that one of Campbell's spokespeople tweeted, "I'm sorry." Because we are all in the fifth grade now.

Worse, the Times-Pic article relaying all of this to us attempts to conflate whatever that apology was about to the independent activity of some "online blogs."
In an ad that ran in early October, Fayard accused Campbell of attacking her family, although she didn't provide details. Fayard is the daughter of Calvin Fayard, a successful Denham Springs trial lawyer and major political fundraiser with strong ties to the Clintons. As the race grew heated, online blogs began dredging up past news articles about Calvin Fayard, including a 2006 Vanity Fair piece where he is seen wearing a suit and holding a shotgun outside his mansion on St. Charles Avenue.

Fayard's campaign later ran an ad that tried to tie Campbell to David Duke, a white supremacist and former KKK leader who had entered the Senate race as a Republican.
Of course we aren't sure which "online blogs" are referred to here. We do have the Vanity Fair reference as a marker, though, which leads us to this AZ post dated October 28.  If Fayard's "early October" ad accusing the Campbell campaign of attacking her family was a reference to that post, the chronology is... well... challenging.

Further in that vein we find this text in the post itself.
Still....I had nothing to say.

Now...well...now...her campaign went and did this absurd, tasteless bullshit:

Caroline Fayard chooses to continue running David Duke-themed anti-Foster Campbell ad, loses Alliance for Good Government endorsement

After she accused Campbell's campaign of being focused on attacking her family
So there's Jason writing in the post where the Vanity Fair article appears about how the "attacking her family" controversy had already happened by this point.  More importantly, notice Jason's motivation for saying anything at all begins with Fayard's disgusting David Duke ad.  The Times-Pic article asserts that this attack ran "later" than any of this.  So, you know, nice job cracking that nut.

Thanks to the T-P's obsession with the "online blogs" (especially Jason's) we're no nearer to understanding what the Fayards are so upset about.   Did the Fayard camp point the reporter toward AZ? They're not the sort of people who see enemies arrayed against them in every direction... oh wait..  of course, they are probably that sort. In any case, the Fayards are petty bullies.

It's a shame the reporters get so distracted. I "dredged up" some articles about the Fayards and posted them my own self on election day.  That, of course, also had fuckall to do with Campbell's campaign.
People use the internet to talk to their friends, neighbors, and anybody else who might be interested about politics and the things they know about it. That's pretty dang healthy for democracy, right?

Not in the minds of these reporters and campaign operatives, apparently.  They have it in their heads that they're the only people with any interest in the elections in the first place. The arrogance and cynicism at work in the worlds of career PR people (whether they work for campaigns or for newspapers) is a disturbing obstruction to civic participation.  They just can't conceive of a universe where citizens have ideas and information to share with one another if they aren't being paid to do so. It's as if we aren't supposed to involve ourselves in the decisions that directly affect our lives.. such as, you know, these elections in which we are asked to vote.

If they are going to take that attitude, if they are going to make up some bullshit about a blogger being responsible for the ugliness of a campaign where one of the candidates blatantly lied her ass off about the other and then demanded that he apologize to her,  the least we can ask is that they get the chronology right.

Benson settlement do-over and over and over

They're gonna try again to keep from having to go to trial
Both sides in the lawsuit over the Benson's family trusts say they are close to finalizing a settlement, according to filings they made Wednesday (Nov. 16) in federal court. They're asking U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to give them more time to complete reports she has required.

After a family fallout that went public in early 2015, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson sought to remove ownership shares of the teams from the inheritance of his daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc. He instead wants to give control of the franchises to his wife, Gayle. Trustees for the heirs are challenging the asset swap Tom Benson has offered, suggesting it doesn't equal the value of the team shares.

Attorneys for Benson and the heirs executed a memorandum of understanding in June ahead of a scheduled court date, saying they were working on a settlement. Milazzo took the case off her calendar but two months later set a Feb. 6 trial date after deeming progress on the settlement was insufficient. Along with this she included deadlines for expert reports and depositions.
Still isn't clear what Benson can offer the trustees that approaches the value of the sports teams.  Also if you are a pro sports fan or just a resident of any city holding a high public investment in a major league franchise, you're still rooting for this to go to trial where the teams' confidential financial information would (possibly) be made public.

Meanwhile the Saints are getting ready to play Game 10 tonight in Carolina.  I wish I'd made more time to write about the games this year. There might be an opportunity to get caught up a bit soon now that the election is over.  Anyway, we've been going to the Dome as usual this season and it has been pretty good.  The team isn't tearing up the league or anything but the football is quite watchable. I think we picked 7-9 on the fake radio show a few months back. That's still what it looks like now. Chance to pull back to .500 tonight. Should be fun.

Looking more and more like they're selling off NOPBR

The GM resigned this week.
The general manager of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, a unique riverfront asset that includes 25 miles of tracks connecting the six major rail lines that service the city's port and nearby industry facilities, plans to step down next month amid ongoing public speculation over the city-owned railroad's potential sale.

Jeff Davis took the helm of the scandal-battered agency in 2013 after its previous general manager, Jim Bridger, was forced to resign amid charges of lavish spending. Bridger ultimately pleaded guilty to misappropriation of public funds and was sentenced to probation.

Davis, 44, this week submitted his resignation, effective at the end of the year, to become chief operating officer of a Dallas-based company that handles rail transportation logistics and short-line railroad operations.

The privately held company contacted him in recent months to gauge his interest in the new opportunity, apparently as it became clear in the industry that the New Orleans railroad's fate was uncertain.

Update:  Ahhh, sure, they're going with Option Number Three which is the one where you don't sell it but "partner" it out to someone because..... .Well, because there's arbitrage money to be made here and some middle man has to scoop it up. 
Instead, the city will continue to work with the consulting firm KPMG to explore entering into a public-private partnership that would allow it to retain ownership of the railroad while attracting private investment that could be used to improve the line's efficiency and safety.

The city plans to solicit proposals from potential private-sector partners. At the same time, officials will review whether potential capital investments in infrastructure and real estate development could generate revenue for the city, Berni said.

The process, which could last several months, will operate in two phases. At first, proposals will be non-binding, in order for the city to gauge initial interest. Assuming it attracts interest, the city can evaluate the responses before requesting final, binding proposals.

Already, the city has sought feedback from various companies to find out if private investment potential exists, Berni said.

Is our Donald learning?

Remember how much fun it used to be to laugh at Donald Trump's bizarre Presidential campaign? He couldn't possibly actually win. In fact we were pretty sure he didn't even want to be President. Just elect him and make him actually have to do the job, we smirked. That'll show him.  Yeah well...

Strange things happen all the time so here we all are. Still, it isn't exactly clear Trump wants the job even now.  Much was made this week of his seeming desire to live part time in the White House . Then, he took the afternoon off the other day to go eat steak or something. Also there's all sorts of speculation going over how soon he might resign or via which constitutional procedures he might be removed.  Shit is getting weird.

Of course it's also possible Trump went through this whole business just to meet new people and learn interesting things. He's getting the Presidential level briefings now so we'll be watching his Twitter feed to see if he learns the truth about Roswell or the Kennedy assassination.  Or maybe they don't actually tell the President about that stuff. In any case, we do know he is having certain conspiracy theories cleared up for him.
To President-elect Donald Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax created by and for the Chinese,” China offers this: Wrong!

As Bloomberg reports, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said Wednesday that it was Republican U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush ― not the Chinese ― who started the conversation about global warming.

“If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s,” Zhenmin reportedly told reporters gathered at United Nations talks in Morocco.
As it turns out, this revelation comes not a moment too soon. Because uh oh.
This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels. During 2015’s final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a massive storm that pumped warm air into the region.

So what’s going on here?

“It’s about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday.
I hope somebody tells Trump about this now. Otherwise, in another month or so we can expect him to tweet another round of "Global warming? But it’s cold outside!"
Francis has published research suggesting that the jet stream, which travels from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-latitudes, is becoming more wavy and elongated as the Arctic warms faster than the equator does.

“It will be fascinating to see if the stratospheric polar vortex continues to be as weak as it is now, which favors a negative Arctic Oscillation and probably a cold mid/late winter to continue over central and eastern Asia and eastern North America. The extreme behavior of the Arctic in 2016 seems to be in no hurry to quit,” Francis continued.


The editors of Jacobin write that Democratic party elites who have spent a week punching down and left in order to soothe their own anxiety are engaging in "the opposite of politics."
There are two ways to respond to this situation. One is to blame the people of the United States. The other is to blame the elite of the country.

In the coming days and weeks, many pundits will be doing the former. Frightened liberals have already written explainers on how to move to Canada; last night, the Canadian immigration website went down after a surge of traffic. The people who brought us to this precipice are now planning their escape.

But blaming the American public for Trump’s victory only deepens the elitism that rallied his voters in the first place. It’s unquestionable that racism and sexism played a crucial role in Trump’s rise. And it’s horrifying to contemplate the ways that his triumph will serve to strengthen the cruelest and most bigoted forces in American society.

Still, a response to Trump that begins and ends with horror is not a political response — it is a form of paralysis, a politics of hiding under the bed. And a response to American bigotry that begins and ends with moral denunciation is not a politics at all — it is the opposite of politics. It is surrender.

To believe that Trump’s appeal was entirely based on ethnic nationalism is to believe that a near majority of Americans are driven only by hate and a shared desire for a white supremacist political program.

We don’t believe that. And the facts don’t bear it out.

Bi-partisan can kicking

John Bel Edwards boots a Medicaid payment across with an assist from Bobby Jindal.
But the bulk of the $315 million midyear budget deficit will be dealt with by pushing off $152 million worth of financial payments to Medicaid providers into the next year. The payments will eventually have to made -- so the expense doesn't go away -- but delaying them will help the state avoid substantial cuts in the short term.

This is the second year in a row these Medicaid payments have been delayed to deal with a midyear budget deficit. Gov. Bobby Jindal also pushed off the payments a year ago to cope with a $500 million midyear budget shortfall last November.

Under Jindal, the state government made just 11 payments to Medicaid providers in 2015, instead of required 12. To make up for that, the Edwards administration was supposed to make an extra payment, 13 in total in 2016. But now, Edwards' administration will make just 12 payments -- leaving the extra payment that wasn't made during the Jindal administration still hanging.

"It's the Jindal payment that seems to be lingering," said House Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. "We are just pushing the payment so we are not really fixing the problem."
Maybe they can keep stiffing these Medicaid providers until Trump scraps the whole social safety net anyway. What will they win, then?

All the stars are out

J.P. Morrell has been a pretty okay State Legislator. He was a leader and frequent voice of reason during this year's budget crises. He hasn't been great on certain issues such as the Hollywood South boondoggle. He has been good on criminal justice reform and has at least tried on marijuana legalization.  Lately, he's been terrific on the short term rental issue.

Anyway, we're edging closer to next year's municipal elections and Morrell has his eyes on the Mayor's office. To that end, he's making the rounds.Check out the names a this fundraising event.
One of several individuals contemplating a run for mayor in 2017, Morrell expects a large turnout for tonight’s event at the home of New Orleans businessman Jimmy Woods. Woods just returned from a brief but much needed vacation after his wife Regina Bartholomew-Woods won an appeals court seat earlier this month.

In addition to the host, Morrell’s finance committee includes such heavy-hitters as Darryl Berger, John Cummings, Joe Jaeger, Rick Farrell, Chip Forstall, Bill Hammack, Janice Parmalee, Christian Rhodes, CJ Blache and Larry and Lane Sisung.

Among the co-hosts are former mayor Sidney Barthelemy, Constable Lambert Boissiere, former senator Ed Murray, Walter Baudier, Leslie Jacobs, Chris Coulon, Bill Hines, Nancy Marsiglia, George Kleinpeter, Julie Schwam Harris, Robert Lupo, Norma Jane Sabiston, Gary Solomon Jr., Mike Valentino, Alvin Richards, Blake Jones, Sundiata Haley, Brian Egana, Felicia Kahn, Darrel Saizan, Jim Ward, Billy Sizeler, Madalyn Schenk, Felicia Kahn, and future city council candidate Joe Giarrusso III, who happens to be Morrell’s cousin by marriage. Morrell is wed to Giarrusso’s first cousin Catherine whose grandfather was former police chief Clarence Giarrusso.

According to a source, Morrell has upped his interest in the race because he considers the current field weak. Morrell could receive fundraising assistance from his law partner, Ira Middleberg, who was former mayor Marc Morial’s go-to man during that administration.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Post-mortems: "We don't have time.."

This one is actually more of a sociological case study by Gary Younge. It's the tenth of a ten part series filed for The Guardian from and about Muncie, Indiana.  The entire series is great. Read the whole thing if you get some time.  This one is fine to start with for our purposes because it wraps up the election. Younge notes that what has been described elsewhere as a Trump "surge" implying some decisive expression of the voters' anger/racism/xenophobia whatever, is actually more about their apathy.
The link between economic anxiety and rightwing nationalism can be overdone. The easy narrative of a populist revolt has an appealing simplicity, but Clinton won votes from more than half of the people who earn less than $50,000; the rich voted for Trump. He won the electoral college and lost the popular vote. Thanks to the lowest turnout in 20 years, Trump won a lower percentage of the eligible vote than John Kerry, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Gerald Ford – and they all lost. He got the same proportion of the white vote as Romney in 2012 and Bush in 2004 and only a little more than McCain in 2008. He may have led the charge to the right but comparatively few marched with him.

Nor is such a link inevitable. In several countries across Europe – from Greece to Britaina populist left response has emerged to this same crisis. In the US Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who calls himself a democratic socialist, shocked everybody, including himself, by mounting a dynamic insurgent campaign that addressed these very economic issues.

Nonetheless, the link cannot be denied. The case for solidarity requires more effort and empathy than the case for scapegoating. It also flies against the prevailing headwinds of individualism, nationalism and a narrow understanding of self-preservation.
When people are abandoned, hopeless, and disconnected, it's easier for a politician, such as Trump, to use that to his advantage than to lead a movement that seeks to overcome it. Trump's appeal is strictly nihilistic. It expects that voters with no sense of purpose or future will either respond to the little bit of impotent rage you can sell them or (mostly, in fact) disengage from the process altogether.

Younge points out that the Sanders campaign tried the harder approach of motivating people to overcome their isolation and find the solidarity across racial and cultural divisions necessary to work for positive rather than destructive change.

But Trump didn't face Bernie in the runoff. Instead he faced a Clinton campaign whose theme "America is already great" merely reinforced the nihilism that favored Trump.  The campaign's job is to find out what people need help with and then, at least pretend as though, the candidate takes those challenges seriously.  Younge reports that Democrats haven't been selling themselves that way in Muncie.
But the issue was not simply about trade or globalisation: to many voters in Muncie, Clinton looked not only like an integral part of the establishment that had brought them to this place, but like a candidate advocating more of the same. “If you take a step back and look at all America has achieved over the past eight years, it’s remarkable to see how far we’ve come,” Clinton argued. For many of those who already had their backs against the wall, it was hard to see the progress. Trump, on the other hand, offered the near certainty that something would change. “At least he’ll shake things up,” was the phrase that kept coming up. One in five of those who voted for him thought he didn’t have the temperament to be president. For some who had little to lose, he was evidently a risk worth taking.

The Democrats keep making out like everything is OK,” says Todd Smekens, the publisher of the progressive online magazine Muncie Voice. “And it’s not. Nobody’s buying it.”
I don't like to get too far into the hypothetical "Could Bernie have won?" discussion.  Maybe he could have. It would have been a different race.  But regardless of the candidate, the election certainly called for a different strategy. If Bernie OR Hillary had gone to Muncie, Indiana and other such "Middletowns" telling voters, hello we want to give you guys free health care and send your kids to college tuition-free and tell the banks we bailed out to ease up on your mortgages, that might have reached these people. It might have brought those disconnected non-voters who showed up for Obama back to the polls. It might have even brought some of those "angry white working class" Trump voters we're supposed to hate so much back into the fold. (Not that you'd need very many of them. If the 2008 or 2012 electorate had shown up, that would have been enough to win.)

But Clinton, in keeping with the modern neoliberal tradition, just kept telling people none of their problems were actually problems. Or, when the desperate were acknowledged, they were told to be patient. 
People need something to change. “The [Democratic party says] ‘Let’s just do the things we’ve always done and have incremental change’.” says Dave Ring, who runs the Downtown Farm Stand, an organic food store and deli. “So they’re very, very happy with incremental change. And the rest of the public is out here like: ‘We don’t have time for incremental change.’”
Telling people who are running out of time they need to sit down and wait is not how you win an election like this one. But that's what the Hillary campaign did and that's why they blew it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The very important Baby Cakes take

Had to rescue this one from the Parallel Internet where thoughts and bookmarks and such go too often to vanish. Anyway, so there was this today.
METAIRIE - The new nickname of the New Orleans-based minor league baseball team was revealed Tuesday evening to be the 'Baby Cakes.'

The new name was announced at the minor league facility at the sports complex on Airline Drive.

Social media weighed in quickly with WWL's Facebook and Twitter accounts almost unanimously panning the decision.  
"Almost unanimously."  I don't know why people are upset. This was the best of the possible outcomes. I love Baby Cakes on so many levels.

First of all I love it because the fans basically made it happen as a protest vote against the appalling decision to rename the team and the general lameness of the choices. We picked the one that was not only stupid but so aggressively stupid that no one could deny the illegitimacy of the exercise..

Second, the name is the new to town ownership's tone deaf misinterpretation of either the Baby Doll or King Cake Baby tradition or both (they cited both of those things when they announced the finalists) But nobody uses the term Baby Cake for anything. It's a complete un-thing. But that's also great because, well, it is certainly a thing now! And it's a new thing. And it's kind of loveable because of and in spite of its own stupidity.

Third, minor league baseball is about fun and a little bit about off-beat weird Americana. This is right in the sweet spot of all that.

Fourth, the logo looks like a cartoon Mitch Landrieu in a diaper and it cracks me up and is great.

Yes, yes, of course they should have left the name alone, or at least updated it by changing it to MegaZephs as some of us have suggested.  But, as Donald Trump's favorite song goes... 

Next contestant on the Trump Show

Bobby Jindal, come on down!
Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal may be the top candidate to serve as President-elect Donald Trump's health secretary.

Politico.com reports that Jindal "is rumored to be the pick" to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration.
Jindal sure does know his way around dismantling health benefits and selling the carcass off to cronies.  Should win big on the Trump Show where that's certain to be the name of the game.

Oil spills are already great

Some of you may remember back about six years ago when one especially ugly offshore disaster briefly focused our attention on the environmental devastation* wrought by the rapacious practices of the oil and gas industry.  Thankfully the resultant political outrage focused our resolve to create and enforce new safety standards, invest more in moving away from reliance on destructive fossil fuel production and bring about a better world for ours and future generations to enjoy.

Just kidding! Actually we screamed at Obama for "killing our jobs" even as he worked to protect industry interests to the best of his ability. (Obama was eventually shamed into somewhat less bad behavior) We allowed a class of politically connected trial lawyers to steal much of the settlement fund meant for oil spill victims. And we failed to hold the industry accountable for its role in the destruction of the Louisiana coast.

Oh also we kept dumping oil into the Gulf.  It's actually something we do all the time.
Recent discoveries of illegal, unreported oil discharges and systematic dumping of chemicals from rigs and platforms have raised new fears about environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico, more than six years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Tracking of federal data by the environmental watchdog group SkyTruth shows more than 11,700 oil spills have been reported in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP oil spill ended in July 2010.

But the rate of spills also has slowed significantly, from 245 a month in 2012 to 80 in October 2016.

As a part of its series “Oil & Water,” WWL-TV is taking a fresh look at how these often-overlooked spills – and an unknown number that never get reported at all – might affect the Gulf environment.

The station aired shocking video last month from a whistleblower who recorded his supervisors on an oil rig in 2014 opening a valve on a deep sea oil pipe and brazenly letting pollutants flow into the Gulf for 90 minutes, then talking about how they could cover it up.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that America has always been great at spilling hydrocarbons and chemicals into the ocean, we're about to find out if we can make that even greater.
WASHINGTON ― President-elect Donald Trump is just starting to arrange the team that will advise him and implement his policy agenda. But the list of names that have been floated to fill the top job at the Interior Department includes many people who would slash environmental regulations.

David Bernhardt, who served as the Interior Department solicitor in the George W. Bush administration and is now a lobbyist in the natural resources sector, is leading Trump’s transition work for the department.

Those rumored to be on the list of potential picks for secretary of interior include: oil executive Forrest Lucas, venture capitalist Robert Grady, oil and natural gas magnate Harold Hamm, Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).
We have not yet begun to spill. 

*Also the loss of 11 lives on the Deepwater Horizon due to gross negligence.  I wonder what Trump's OSHA will look like.