Friday, March 30, 2007

Less than thrilled with life today

Probably just something I ate

Blight Bonds

One questionable avenue to funding for Ed Blakely's city plan referred to below is through the issuance of what are being called "Blight Bonds". As Karen explains here, the proposed process works like this.

1) The city places liens on homes it has determined are blighted or abandoned... largely flood damaged properties that have not been gutted or repaired by the owner. (Read Karen's post for allusions to the several problems the city has in making these determinations.)

2) The city then borrows money against these expropriated properties and uses it to fund... Blakely's poorly defined "investment incentives" for private businesses and developers.

If you're thinking (like I am) that that's a pretty nasty prospect, take heart. As the T-P reports this morning, the scheme may not be given legal clearance despite the mayor's claim that it has been done before.
Nagin said Thursday that he is "very comfortable" with the blight bonds "because Philadelphia has done them." He added that when city officials recently visited several New York investment houses, "they confirmed that that's a very viable option for us."

Philadelphia, which in 2001 issued the first of $296 million in blight bonds, is considered the pioneer of the concept. But that city's program was far different from the one envisioned in New Orleans.

Philadelphia's blight bonds closely resembled traditional general obligation bonds, according to Rob Dubow, executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which monitors Philadelphia's spending.

The city of Philadelphia "borrowed money to address blight," Dubow said, but did not use blighted properties as security, as is being suggested by Nagin. The $300 million was aimed at projects such as demolishing houses and removing abandoned cars. Under an agreement with the redevelopment authority, which issued the bonds, the city each year dedicates $20 million toward retiring the debt.

One of Karen's commenters offers this assessment
The blight bonds aren’t going to work. The City, even if they are able to change the LA Constitution to allow “quick take,” no insurance agency will grant title insurance to NORA until the Eminent Domain constitutional amendment is challenged. And without title insurance, no bank will issue bonds.

And there you have it; another bad.. potentially evil.. idea of questionable feasibility. Just another day in post-K happyland.

Oh.. did I mention that Karen and the Squandered Heritage crew will be on this week's NPR Weekend Edition with more on this? Well okay, then.

"Virtural Potemkin Village"

Da Po' Boy looks into a rather odd conspiracy theory that I didn't think had legs until I saw this quote.

"Why these images of pre-Katrina? Seems mighty curious."

Ohazama, the Google product manager, said he "personally" was not asked by city or state officials to change the imagery, but he added that Google gets lots of requests from users and governments to update and change its imagery.


"None of the items includes an explanation or a price tag"

The above is a line from today's T-P description of the "partial list of citywide capital projects" not quite enumerated in Ed Blakely's recovery plan. In fact the entirety of Blakely's plan.. despite yesterday's publicity event, remains a mysterious entity. So far we've learned that the city plans to "incentivize" (to borrow Donald Powell's non-word) investment in targeted zones through "$300 million going toward loans, grants and other incentives" but Blakely's plan for specifically how these funds are to be dispersed is either not publicly available.. or not made clear by this article.

It's not even entirely clear that the funding is in order.
Easily the biggest question mark hangs over the $324 million that the city suggests will come via a federal waiver of the requirement that local and state government provide a 10 percent match for federal rebuilding grants.

The source of that sum is $775 million that the Louisiana Recovery Authority has set aside to cover local matching funds for such projects. The hope among New Orleans officials is that most of that money will be filtered down to the various storm-damaged parishes, if and when the federal government approves the waiver.

Andy Kopplin, director of the LRA, said the authority's board is amenable to shifting the bulk of the $775 million toward parish recovery plans in the event of a waiver. But he said the board won't act on that until the federal government approves it.

'Not done yet'

Nagin on Thursday called the federal waiver "something that Congress is working on" that "we feel pretty good about. But it's not done yet."

While both chambers of Congress have approved a waiver as part of emergency supplemental spending bills, President Bush has all but promised a veto, in part because both bills contain language regarding withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Donald Powell, who leads the federal Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding, reiterated Thursday that "there are no current plans to waive the 10 percent match." Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for Powell's office, added that Louisiana officials could cover the cost of the 10 percent match by tapping an $875 million state budget surplus.

"The administration seems pretty dug in on this, no matter how many good arguments are brought to them and no matter how many times Congress makes clear this is Congress' intent," said Adam Sharp, an aide to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. "I'm not optimistic."
My heavens! Read the rest of that article so I don't have to post the whole thing here. Needless to say.. it gets worse.

I think the "zones" themselves are encouraging in that they imply an effort not to leave the badly flooded areas to rot. But without specifics about who gets what money to do what with, the publication of the target zones is just not very informative.

I call it Ed Blakely's plan despite his insistence that it is a "people's plan" because if it were indeed a "people's plan" then one would expect the "czar" to be more amenable to sharing details of the plan with the people. Instead we get this

Pressed by two reporters for further details about what the areas might look like, however, the recovery chief took offense.

"I have a very clear idea" of how the zones will develop, he said. "Developers make a lot of money by getting those clear ideas early and getting the jump in the game. And that shouldn't happen in the newspaper. You're a newspaper reporter, not a developer."

Nagin, meanwhile, demurred in the face of reporters' requests for a rough timeline and a rundown of the kinds of projects that might sprout in the zones.

"I don't want to get into specific dates and specific projects with you guys because I know what you do with that: You come back later and you talk about the things that we haven't done," the mayor said.
You know, newspaper reporters may or may not be in cahoots with "developers" but there is strong evidence to suggest that the short-on-specifics mayor is. But now, with his own credibility stretched to its extremity, the mayor gets to hide behind the bizarre cult of personality developing around the ever temperamental and condescending Blakely. Shouldn't we know better than to trust bristling secretive public officials by now? Apparently not.

"Surprisingly Rapid Changes"

A Texas-sized piece of the Antarctic ice sheet is thinning, possibly due to global warming, and could cause the world's oceans to rise significantly, polar ice experts said on Wednesday.

They said "surprisingly rapid changes" were occurring in Antarctica's Amundsen Sea Embayment, which faces the southern Pacific Ocean, but that more study was needed to know how fast it was melting and how much it could cause the sea level to rise.


Update: Aha! Problem solved!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

First Draft Krewe is on the Ground in NOLA

Posting photos and observations and whatnot.

There were tourists on the plane, necks wrapped with beads, drunk and silly and out for a good time. The plane was full, the Quarter crowded. A five minute drive away and it's a ghost town. Two men sitting on a blue porch on a street called Forstall (which makes me think fore·stall [fohr-stawl, fawr-] verb, to prevent, hinder, or thwart by action in advance; to act beforehand with or get ahead of; anticipate) wave at us as we drive past. They once lived on a block of houses. They're all alone now, other houses in the 9th having been torn down. Weeds creep up past the level of the stoops that still stand there, ivy reclaiming the debris.

Sounds like a typical flight into New Orleans. I wonder if they also visited Flood Street. Did anyone point out to them that City Hall is located on Perdido (lost) Street?

Breaux For Maryland

Yes, it's cute but I think, as Stephanie Grace says this morning, it's likely to be a net minus to the Jindal people if they focus on it too much. Plus... I get the feeling they're messing with the wrong guy here.
Told that a GOP activist had sent out an e-mail likening Foti to ex-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a George W. Bush state campaign chair who saw no reason not to certify the messy 2000 results, Breaux quipped: "I thought they liked Katherine Harris."

B for M link via nolablogger

Must Read

Go see Moldy City for a summary of the garbage collection... um.. mess.

If the local media paid more attention to the Sanitation Department, Lupin would have known to call White a crook rather than a bitch. More likely, we wouldn't have the sanitation contracts that led to the incident in the first place.

The frustrating aspect of stories like this is that the reporting has all been done.. for the most part. What is lacking in the T-P's presentation is the logical synthesis being provided by people like David... which is why we're lucky to have the internets even if they are overrun with MySpacism.

Update: Post-publication, I changed my mind on what I thought was the money quote from MC and adjusted it here. That's just my prerogative.

Who's killing New Orleans?


On Easter, Joe Henry and his friends would like to dance through the city in sky-blue and soft-yellow suits with matching alligator shoes, fans and streamers, as they do every year.

The only thing stopping them: the security bill for $7,560 from the New Orleans Police Department.

As president of the Original Pigeontown Steppers Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Henry started parading on Easter 14 years ago. In 2005, the last time the club paraded, the NOPD charged them just $1,200 to escort the parade -- which made Henry think this year's bill must have been a simple mistake.

Either let New Orleans be New Orleans or stop trying to sell a Disneyfied brand to your precious tourists.

In my haste to get this post up this morning, I neglected to include this fun nugget.
In another apparent inequity in the fee schedule, the department charged two vastly different fees to police two high-profile jazz funerals, those of Hot 8 Brass Band drummer Dinerral Shavers and filmmaker Helen Hill, whose murders in part launched January's march against crime on City Hall. The NOPD charged $3,610 for Shavers' Jan. 6 funeral march but just $1,175 for Hill's Feb. 24 jazz funeral.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And now for something completely..

Dorky! But in a good way.

Covers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows revealed

After spending a great deal of time snickering and generally being a prick about it, I finally started reading the Potter books in 2005. Here's my mea culpa when I realized they were actually pretty good.

For the past few days, the greatest obstacle to my beauty rest has been the fact that I have finally caved under the pressure (largely from Daisy) and actually taken up reading Harry Potter. It's taken me a while to get to these because 1) I'm not particularly big on fantasy/sci-fi and 2) I have a natural aversion to popular trends. It turns out that, as in most things, my instincts have steered me very very wrong. Just in case anyone needs to be told, the Harry Potter series (at least the bits I've read) turn out to be every bit the excellent children's/YA coming-of-age books they're advertised as. The characters here are growing up and coming to terms with a bewildering, imperfect, yet beautiful world. They seem to grow the most by learning not to blindly trust arbitrary convention or authority. There are few better things for a child to take away from a book than the value of thinking for one's self. Plus, I can't put the damn book down.... hence the lack of sleep.

So now I'm predictably just as excited as all the other geeks out there to see this artwork. Yeah... screw you too.

Douchey Dems Digest

War funding continuance passage edition

Larry Everest:
Instead of ending the war, this bill is an effort to pressure the Bush regime to adjust its strategy in Iraq and the region to better preserve U.S. imperialist hegemony and stamp out anti-U.S. resistance, Islamic fundamentalism in particular. It's also designed to rein in and paralyze the millions who are increasingly angry and disillusioned with the war and the Bush regime, and channel these feelings into support for a different (Democratic Party) strategy and tactics in waging that war. So while talking of ending the war , the Democrats offer a plan to continue the war in Iraq, expand the war in Afghanistan, and give Bush a green light to attack Iran!

Arthur Silber:
Of course, the national Democrats and the Bush crazies share the identical assumptions that drive our foreign policy, one dedicated to ensuring world hegemony by and for the United States. Hillary Clinton speaks of "'remaining vital national security interests in Iraq' that would require a continuing deployment of American troops" -- "continuing" as in indefinite or permanent, phrases that could have been lifted from one of Crazy Cheney's speeches -- or from one of Crazy McCain's. And all the prominent Democrats agree that a potentially nuclear-armed Iran -- lying at least five or even ten years in the future -- would be the greatest threat "we" face. For these unapologetic, murdering imperialists, this possible future danger necessitates that we leave "all options on the table" now -- which means only that we reserve the "right" to launch yet another unprovoked war of aggression against another non-existent threat.

Matt Taibbi:
My sense of this whole ballet from the start has been that with each passing season, as the antiwar rhetoric increases both among the public and in Washington, we'll see a corresponding increase in both financial and personnel commitment in the Iraq theater. The logic here is irresistible; Bush will not preside over what he perceives to be a surrender, and the Democrats will not cast a vote "against the troops" in an election season. So what we'll get is a lot of what we just saw -- non-binding antiwar votes hitched to troop increases and/or "short-term" funding boosts. It's worth noting that the same political logic that led the Bush White House to fund the war as an emergency long after it ceased to be an unexpected expenditure will now appeal to the Democrats, and for the same reason; so long as the money is in an "emergency" bill, they will be able to pretend, before voters, that the commitment is temporary.

What worries me about this state of affairs is that presidents don't like to see military losses land on their watch. If a Democrat wins in '08, bet on it, an excuse will be found to keep the troops there. The first day after her inauguration, when Hillary Clinton wakes up with a champagne hangover to hear Mark Daley (or whoever her chief of staff ends up being) tell her that 67 Marines have been slaughtered in a raid outside Ramadi, she is going to be powerfully tempted to prove that she has the stones to deal out the necessary payback. She'll ask for 10,000 extra troops and six months to "stabilize" the situation before initiating a withdrawal.

On to '08.. and the end of the world.

Holy crap! It's the greatest website ever!

Thanks to Varg in the comments below this post for pointing out MyDeathSpace.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Okay that's it then

They're just plain evil.. that's all it is. Eee vil.

Insurance companies want disaster loans to void court claims
By Rebecca Mowbray
Business writer

If State Farm and Travelers insurance companies have their way, taking out U.S. Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans would prevent policyholders from pursuing insurance claims in court, leaving home and business owners stuck with loans instead of insurance proceeds.

In motions to dismiss a class action lawsuit about what insurance companies pay for contractor overhead and profit, the state’s largest residential insurer and largest commercial property insurer each argue that policyholders lose their legal right to file suit against their insurer if they take out SBA loans.

More reasons to hate MySpace

I'd like to see them put this sign back up at the Rue but I guess it was a losing battle. Maybe this is the point in my life where I start running into walls of generational misunderstanding (I'll be Jesus's crucifixion age this summer) but I still find that MySpace smacks of... wait for it.... high douchebaggery. I understand that it works well as a communication tool for interest-specific communities in much the same way Livejournal does and that it is conducive to limited media sharing. But the format continues to leave the impression that one is dealing with a glorified interactive personal ad. Or as Oyster once put it in a comment thread here,
..These places are like interconnected vomitoriums of personal minutiae. Just about everything I hate about blogs only intensified with sound and graphics....
It just looks and feels incredibly stupid.

But it gets worse because, you see, MySpace has become the latest frontier for political campaigning via the internets. Now voters have a new place to go to learn that Hillary Clinton has a friend called "The Mangler" or that Bobby Jindal is straight or that David Vitter is.. okay that's not the same guy.. but you see what I mean. The Obama campaign website has an entire networking section built on the MySpace model. Look, if it wasn't douchey, could it be this popular with the pols? Maybe someday soon they'll start to "friend" one another's sites and new governing coalitions will arise based solely on tastes for or against cramming as much crappy discordant animation and sound onto one web page as possible.

In the meantime.. I guess there is some fun to be had with this.

It always could be worse

These are some excerpts from the diary of Saad Eskander, the Director of the Iraqi National Library and Archives. The rebuilding of the INLA was recently featured on the PBS news magazine NOW (which I have paid less attention to since Bill Moyers left).

Mr. Esaknder's diary is maintained online by the British Library.

13 November, 2006
I received bad news, as soon as I arrived to my office. In my absent, INLA was bombed twice and snipers' bullets broke several windows. Fortunately, no body was hurt. My staff withheld these information from me, when I contacted them. They claimed that they did not want me to be worried and to spoil my visit.

I spent the rest of the week trying to advise a number of my employees what to do, as they got death threats. The Sunnis, who lived in Shi'i dominated districtwere given an ultimatum to abandon their homes and the Shi'is, who lived in a Sunni dominated district, had to leave their homes. So far, two of my employees were murdered, the first worked in the Computer Department, and the second was a guard. Three of our drivers, who worked with us by contract, were murdered and three others were injured.

Sunday, November 19, 2006
It was a very tense and noisy day.

I heard several explosions; some of them were not too far from my office. Exchange of fires and siren of ambulances followed the explosions. My staff got used to these daily events and make some funny jokes.

We did not have electricity before 9.30 a.m. I have been trying in vain to persuade the Ministry of Electricity to give us uninterrupted electricity supply between 8.30 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 20, 2006
At 11.00 a.m. I received devastating news. I was informed that Ali Salih was assassinated in front of his younger sister. Ali was a bright young man. I sent him to Florence in Italy to be trained as a web-designer. Upon returning, he and Nadia began to construct and run our official web-site. He was the symbol of the modernization and reform process of the National Library and Archive. I employed him in January 2004, like many other young librarians and archivists. I hoped that the new generation could lead the way.

It was a very sad day. All the people who knew Ali were weeping that day. All were depressed and morale was at its lowest. Amal, the head of the Computer Department where Ali used to work, could not control her sad feelings. When staff evacuated the building and went home, Amal was still in her office weeping silently. I was the last one to leave. But I had a strong feeling at the time that Amal was still alone in her office. So I decided to go to her. After 15 minutes talking, I was able to persuade her to go home. I did not hide from her my true feelings that I was extremely worried about the safety of the rest of my young staff.

And it goes on and on like that. By comparison, I once was concerned that my physical well-being was imperiled by a library patron's insistence that she not be required to pay her 75 cent fine for returning Prayer of Jabez three days late. Oh and there was that time when I nearly contracted "The Plagues". In California, it appears that library staff are subject to random attack from rodents and/or prophylactics. But obviously, none of these experiences can compare to what these librarians in Iraq have been through.

There is one... hint of familiarity though. Here's a fun game. I'm going to link to a few pictures of destroyed libraries below. At first glance and without cheating.. as there are some obvious tells, Can you guess which are from Iraq and which are from New Orleans?







Monday, March 26, 2007


Longtime friend of the Yellow Blog, Chris Rose, has made it necessary to once again trot out the official disclaimer.

This is a personal website. What appears here are the inane, hastily tossed off, frequently misspelled ramblings of an exceedingly silly person. The opinions expressed here are those of that person alone and have no affiliation with any public or private institution such as the New Orleans Public Library or Major League Baseball.

Really, though... if you're here for the first time I'm sure you'll be disappointed to learn that there's not much worth viewing beyond the post Mr. Rose referenced yesterday (probably the most popular thing I've ever put up here... which isn't saying much) It isn't even the most effective critique of a Rose column I've seen. That distinction goes to Oyster, here.

Mostly what you'll find here, unfortunately can be reduced to:

Other than those things.. I can confidently inform you that there is indeed nothing of note to see here.... the football coverage isn't so bad, though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

For Breaux, it's a geaux... as long as Foti says seaux

Breaux to run if AG says he is qualified
By Ed Anderson
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE — Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux said Friday that he will run for governor this fall if an opinion from state Attorney General Charles Foti says he meets the legal qualifications to do so.

Adrastos offers some early handicapping

Supplemental Iraq bill includes imperial oil grap provision

Douchey Dems blow it again.

The war in Iraq was never “all about oil,” but the planners of the war obviously factored that Iraq sits atop huge amounts of petroleum into their equations; after all, one of their deeply held ambitions was to open up Iraq's nationalized energy sector to foreign investment after the fighting stopped. American energy companies held similar ambitions. “Iraq,” said Chevron's then-CEO Kenneth Derr all the way back in 1998, “possesses huge reserves of oil and gas—reserves I'd love Chevron to have access to.” Now the Democrats are about to help the Bush Administration and international oil companies achieve that access.

Of course.. this thing is headed for a veto... but that's not the point.


T-P staffers who file can't cover corps

"To ensure journalistic credibility, it's important that we avoid any appearance of bias," Amoss said. "The perception of fairness would be compromised if journalists were involved in corps coverage while they also pursued a legal case against the agency."

Amoss, whose home suffered minor flood damage, said he did not file the claim form. He said the newspaper is determining how many journalists filed the forms and how many will choose to withdraw. Because the corps is involved in so many aspects of the civic life of Louisiana, especially since the flooding, he said that some members of the staff may have to be reassigned if they continue to pursue the suit.

But given that everyone who lives in South Louisiana.. including the entire T-P staff has a material interest in the operations of this organization that is "..involved in so many aspects of the civic life of Louisiana, especially since the flooding" isn't this kind of like saying, T-P reporters who vote can't cover City Hall?


Clio has one that's been on my mind for a while.

Also I'm noticing around town that some of the cabs are sporting a bumper sticker which reads:

Please don't enforce the radio on us

Anybody have a clue what this means?

Update: SDF to Mr Clio:
mr. clio:

Taking a bit of a hiatus to regroup. Thats my excuse. I was getting negative in my thoughts there for a while and thats not a road I want to go down. Read the Lakeview yahoo groups for that. (Thats a joke.)

Besides the professional work-related distractions (damn job), my "down" time has been spent on some other projects that eventually will make it to TBNO in some fashion. Lets put it that way . . . .

The new interface of blogger hasn't exactly motivated me much either . . .

Thanks for the nudging . . .

posted by Seymour D. Fair : 10:20 AM

Now.. about those cab drivers.....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great moments in cinema

This is a.. um... Turkish... Kung Fu... Star Wars ripoff thingy.. I guess. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It's certainly better than at least Episodes I through III of the Lucas films.


Update: Full length film with explanatory notes available from Google Video.

Also.. more from imdb


It's fun when the book I'm currently reading happens to make the news... even better when it makes the Daily Show as evidence that John Bolton is a pinhead.

Goodwin's book is engrossing stuff, by the way. Particularly given the myriad ways the Bushies like to claim Lincoln as their model "war president"... but I've already read this story when a somewhat more compelling writer covered it.

James Glassman, Rob Couhig, and Ray Nagin's Night at the Improv

Oyster has stumbled upon a true gem.

Hey the Japanese have a Nagin too

Japan diplomat: Blonds 'no good' in Mideast talks

TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -- Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can't be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their "yellow faces," Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying on Wednesday.

"Japan is doing what Americans can't do," the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying in a speech.

"Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it's probably no good," he said.

"Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces."

Via Dangerblond

Hedge fund?

Blanco drops out, ICFI stock up 15% the next day.

Horst Pfeifer buys Middendorf’s

I was never too keen on driving all the way to Manchac just to eat fried catfish but this might change things. Of course I'm rarely keen on driving anywhere so maybe it won't.

Housing Bubble Bursts in New Orleans

Prices hit rock bottom... like $350.00 apparently.

Breaux Ad

Does this mean he's in?

Meanwhile... does this mean John Edwards is out?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Jindal working to block Hurricane Housing Relief

See First Draft

You are my friend, Bob Barr? *

Yup, that Bob Barr

Barr blasted the White House, saying “the integrity of the Department of Justice is being used as a political football by the administration to prove who’s the toughest hombre in all this.” Rather than fighting accountability, Barr said, “the administration really ought to be going out of its way to do what prior administrations have done, such as the Bush 1 administration and Reagan administrations, and that is take whatever steps are necessary to assure the American people that the integrity of our justice system has not been compromised.”

Barr added that members of Congress “have a pretty clear right to demand information” related to the U.S. Attorney purge. “These, after all, are all people, whether Karl Rove or a U.S. Attorney or an attorney general, who are paid by the taxpayers with funds appropriated by the Congress. And Congress has a right to assure itself that these funds are being used properly.”

* Title explained here

Breaking down the post-Meemaw scene

Nice work over at Yatpundit.

Won't have Meemaw to kick around

For now, I'm taking Adrastos's advice and "letting her up easy". The best thing I can say about Meemaw is that she meant well. And that is indeed high praise for a Louisiana pol. She wasn't my type but at least she wasn't flat out evil. But no one can honestly dispute that she was just the wrong person at the wrong time. I don't think it helped that the hostile Bushies were constantly stacking the deck against her but I think that the situation called for a stronger more articulate leader and Meemaw, God bless her, just wasn't up to it.

There is much good news coming out of this. We may have the first truly interesting Louisiana Governor's race since the Edwardian era on our hands. Somewhere phony Bobby Jindal is crying in his.. (does he even drink?) beverage over having his gimme coronation ripped away so suddenly. I am quite relieved to find that Oyster no longer has to consider voting for him anyway. More to come... should be fun.


Everybody knows that means it's on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photo Dump: St. Patrick's/St. Joseph's Weekend

Warning: Amateur photography ahead!

The feast days of St. Patrick and St. Joseph, falling as close together as they do allow for something of a mini-Carnival weekend in New Orleans.. kind of a halfway respit from the ahem lenten self-discipline I'm sure we're all practicing.

There are several Mardi Gras style parades during the two or three days nearest the weekend celebrating the city's considerable Irish and Italian heritage. For the uninitiated, New Orleans was a major port of entry for these immigrant groups during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The history of these groups in New Orleans is little known outside of the city. In fact there are innumerable Italian, Irish (and German) family names in the metro phone book. This heritage is thought largely responsible for the distinctive Y'at accent evident in much of the area.

At the turn of the century, the French Quarter was almost an exclusively Sicilian enclave. Italian families there gave rise to such New Orleans icons as the muffuletta sandwich and Angelo Brocato's bakery and ice cream shop (recently reopened in its flooded Mid-City location). Traditional New Orleans neighborhood restaurants such as Liuzza's or Frankie and Johnny's often feature Italian staples like eggplant parmesan or stuffed artichoke alongside the fried shrimp or gumbo on their menus. During St. Joseph's Day weekend, many St. Joseph's altars are on display throughout town and the surrounding parishes.

The Irish have played a similarly significant role in the city's development. Irish immigrants provided the more-expendable-than-slave labor that dug the New Basin Canal during the 1830s. A concentration of Irish settled the Uptown neighborhood still known as the Irish Channel where my father's (mostly German) family settled in the early 20th Century. The French Quarter, and many New Orleans neighborhoods feature numerous "Irish Pubs" including Parasol's (host of a popular annual St. Pat's block party) Finn McCool's, The Kerry, Ryan's, and.. of course.. Fahy's. (really that last one is not worth clicking on.. heh)

The Sunday nearest the feast of St. Joseph ("Super Sunday") is also a major gathering occasion for New Orleans's unique Mardi Gras Indian gangs. If you are reading this from outside of New Orleans and have not been introduced to this tradition, take a minute or two to read the Wikipedia entry and related links to familiarize yourself with it. Few things are as demonstrative of the remarkable cultural exceptionalism of New Orleans as this century-old street music and folk art experience. Editor B, himself a transplant to New Orleans, makes the following related comment.

When I moved to New Orleans, I noticed that there were McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chickens, and I thought to myself, this place is as homogenized as the rest of the country (and much of the planet). The culture here isn’t so unique and different, I said to myself.

Then some friends took me to see the Indians come out at Bayou St. John on Super Sunday, and I realized I was wrong. This was my “New Orleans moment,” if you will, the point at which I realized that New Orleans does retain unique cultural traditions. To a white boy from the suburban Midwest, these “unique cultural traditions” are strange and freaky and weird and otherworldly and wonderful. They are what makes this city worth fighting for.

Just like during Carnival season, my apartment is perfectly situated for someone who wants to see the main events of this weekend.. and who doesn't mind a little walking/biking. The Irish Channel St. Patrick's day parade passed within a block of my door. The Super Sunday events happen as close as six blocks away... but I ended up following them for most of their two or three mile route. Of course there are photos. (As always, click to enlarge the images)

St. Patrick's Day

St. Pat's parades typically feature a number of marching clubs full of tuxedoed drunken sods handing out beads and flowers to the lady spectators.. in exchange for a little attention.

And.. here comes one such character now. Dad finagled (Irish sounding word) his way into this year's procession somehow. I'm not exactly proud of this.

Bagpipes.. of course there are bagpipes.

Like I said, the parade itself is much like a Mardi Gras parade with the obligatory beads and floats and such. Riders in the St. Pat's parades also throw produce items to the crowd including cabbages, potatoes, carrots, onions.. the makings of a vegetable stew basically. Above we can see a rider on the left of this photo tossing a cabbage to the folks below.

It's not a parade without the infamous Pink Thing.

Super Sunday

Caught up with the Single Men's Club somewhere on Dryades street and followed their second line down to Phillip... I think. They had Rebirth with them. Here are some shots:

Caught the Indians on Simon Bolivar and followed them over to MLK, up to Galvez, and back to Washington Ave. The parade finished at Taylor Park. I always feel too weird to get up in these guys' faces with my camera so most of my pictures are of the rear ends of the rest of the paparazzi... but I did get a few decent ones.

Here's what I mean about not getting too close with the camera. I'm trying not to be this douchebag on the bike.

Some tribes come along with some unusual characters like this guy who called himself "Moss Man"

Or this bone man

A few more shots coming up MLK:

Obviously, these neighborhoods like much of the New Orleans that is largely invisible to tourists are nowhere near recovery from the Federal Flood. The back streets near Galvez were even worse. Below, this house on Washington still features its tell tale floodline.

Meanwhile, those of us who are able to be here in New Orleans are doing our best to be New Orleanians... hoping that maybe someone will be here doing the same when we are gone.

If you haven't had quite enough.. there are additional Super Sunday photos available here from the Morrises.

Also: Even more here from Hammhawk including bunches more photos.

Taking the last Road Home outta town

Adrastos is saying that WWL is saying that WAFB is saying that Meemaw is packing it in... or something like that. Now comes the interesting part....

More ways Nagin tends to behave like Bush

But keep reading for the shocking episode in which I actually defend Nagin.. somewhat

I'm just going to keep linking back to this post every time he does it from now on.

It's beginning to look like the latest Nagin political strategy is another maneuver right out of the old GOP playbook called, bully-the-media. Sunday, David posted a quote from the mayor's spokesperson in response to the increasingly slimy saga of Greg Meffert which basically accused the largely pro-Nagin T-P of "focusing on rumors".

And then today we have the following angry response from the mayor to reports of his latest flap.

Along with the Post, Nagin pointed a finger at The Times-Picayune for running a story Monday that he said compounded the problems with the Post account.

The Times-Picayune's story, most of which was attributed to the Post, said that Nagin "told" the newspaper group that a plot was afoot, whereas the Post story said that Nagin merely "suggested" such a plan.

"I'm really not happy about that because it went from the reporter saying that 'the mayor suggested' to The Times-Picayune this morning reporting that 'I said,' " Nagin said. "And that's just wrong. And it's not right."

At first glance, one gets the impression that the mayor is casting himself as besieged by a hostile media on purpose. That (phony) position worked well for him in his last political contest and I think he likes it. But there are two things I find interesting that need pointing out here.

First, Nagin's clarifications contain many statements that I wholeheartedly agree with and if they are indeed the meat of his speech then he is correct to say that the event was badly misreported. Examples:

As to why the city's recovery has been slow, Nagin flatly stated: "I did not say anything racial." He added, however, as he has said previously, that he believes if Katrina had occurred in a locale with higher incomes, such as Orange County, California, "it would have been a different response."

Because of race?

Not exactly. "I thought it was more of a class issue than a race issue," he said Monday, adding: "Now, racial aspects are obviously in everything we do."

Later, Nagin was asked to whom he was referring with the pronoun "they" in his Washington remarks, when he claimed that "they" are studying the Katrina model of dispersal.

"Who is 'they'? 'They' is a lot of people," Nagin said. "It's insurance companies that are not treating us correctly. It's the Road Home program that's not moving as fast as it should. It's our educational system that's still not educating our kids well."

When he told the audience in Washington that the dynamics of the mayoral election changed because "they dispersed all of our people across 44 states with one-way tickets," Nagin said he did not mean African-Americans when he referred to "our people."

"How is 'our' synonymous with black people?" he asked

I really can't argue with a single thing the mayor is saying here. In fact, the line of questioning seems to be a childish attempt to bait him into sounding like a "conspiracy theorist" but his definition of "they" I find quite satisfactory.. although I would add FEMA and the ACOE.. and the Bush Administration. Nagin has been fairly light in his criticism of the Feds preferring instead to attack Blanco at nearly every opportunity.. one of the many ways in which he has become a "useful idiot" for the State GOP.

But here is where I think the mayor's charge of biased reporting may be the most valid.

But Nagin also said that one of his white challengers acknowledged running for mayor because of the city's changed demographics.

"They basically said, 'Well, I ran because so many people were dispersed, and this was my best shot," he said. "Not necessarily that most of the black people were dispersed, but New Orleanians were dispersed. Now, disproportionately, more African-Americans were dispersed than anybody."

Point by point

Nagin also complained that the Washington Post mistakenly assumed he was referring to Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, his eventual runoff opponent, when he made reference to a "golden boy" supported by his detractors. Without naming names, Nagin implied Monday that Audubon Institute CEO Ron Forman was the intended target of that jab. "I didn't use anybody's name, and the guy they mentioned is not the one that got most of the gold initially," Nagin said.

Heading into the primary election, Forman led all fundraisers with more than $2 million in contributions, but finished third.

True.. absolutely true. The Forman candidacy was an attempted power grab orchestrated by this city's Uptown aristocracy based on the supposed "changed demographics" of the electorate. I refer you to Uptown resident and accomplished plutocrat Jimmy Reiss's comments shortly after the storm.. (and my take on them at the time if you're interested)

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."

I'm sure the Wa-Po got this wrong out of pure ignorance. From their perspective, Landrieu was a white guy in the race so that must be who Nagin was talking about. But notice how the T-P includes this in a line of other items from Nagin that it tonally derides as conspiracy theorizing. Remember Forman was the T-P's man. Our paper is still largely an aristocratic mouthpiece. The dire times just happen to force it to lapse into fits of actual journalism slightly more often these days.

So if Nagin is characterizing his own remarks correctly, I think he has a legitimate beef with the reportage. But that just brings us back to my second point point that though Nagin is right to decry these various "conspiracies" against recovery, he and the paper once again conveniently gloss over his willful complicity much of what he is describing. Nagin was originally elected with the full blessing of the plutocracy, he was reelected with the vigorous backing of the Louisiana Republican Party. His policies have not effectively facilitated the return of the poor and displaced. Instead he has backed a scheme to knock down public housing units and turn the land over to private developers. Education in New Orleans has devolved into a bizarre privatization experiment. The response of our criminal justice system to a skyrocketing murder rate has involved, military occupation, random detainment of citizens, and even de facto debtor's prisons. I could go on.. but you get the point.

Railing impotently against an injustice with which one is involved in perpetrating is cheap demagoguery. And to quote the mayor, "...that's just wrong. And it's not right."

Clarification: David points out in the comments below that the state Republican Party was "officially" neutral in the 2006 Mayor's election.
Anyone who says that the Louisiana Republican Party campaigned for Nagin could be made to look foolish in a barroom or family political discussion. The GNOR is not the state party. The GNOR campaigned vigorously for Nagin. Jeff Crouere even said that it did so with the blessing of the Bush White House. For that matter, Crouere kept reminding his conservative readers and listeners that Bush's appearances with Nagin amounted to a de facto endorsement, but the state Republican Party was officially neutral. Some prominent Republicans backed Landrieu, some backed Nagin.
While the GNOR is not the official state GOP, their campaign combined with the cheerleading of prominent Republicans like Couig and Crouere leaves little doubt where the unofficial rooting interests were.

Haloscan is wiggy

So save your breath if you want to yell at me. I'm sure there will be time later.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Adrastos said

This is more or less what I thought after seeing the latest C-Rayism over the weekend.

First, C Ray is the Mayor of New Orleans, the slow recovery is *partially* his responsibility. Of course, as the world's oldest teenager, he doesn't like the R word. Second, the Louisiana pols who C Ray dislikes so much-Governor Meemaw and the Landrieus-are heavily dependent on African American voters. That "they" has no interest whatsoever in bleaching, ethnically cleansing or, whatever you want to call it, the racial makeup of New Orleans. C Ray's buddy, Piyush (Bobby) Jindal is the likely beneficiary of any demographic changes in the voters of Orleans Parish. Finally, as we locals know, C Ray is opposed to re-opening public housing and hasn't lifted a finger to help poor folks return home except to vote for him last Spring. If there's a THEY, C Ray is one of THEM.

I'll only add that it's particularly insidious given that there is a grain of truth to the mayor's comments. There has indeed been a concerted effort to alter the electorate in Orleans Parish after the flood. As Adrastos points out, it has been orchestrated largely by C-Ray and his State Republican buddies. But there is also a palpable antagonism toward New Orleans and its recovery from the rest of the country that does muck up rebuilding efforts.. and yes a large part of that antagonism has to do with race. So once again we find C-Ray contributing to AND exploiting the delayed recovery process.

The clowning also allows the mayor to steal another page from the President's book and occlude one scandalous event with yet another scandalous event. It's too late to ask if he can continue to get away with it. He was reelected, after all. But, in the meantime, David has a cogent suggestion. Besides, there were much more important things to worry about this past weekend.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I think.. from now on.. my title will be "Papal Emissary"

I mean.. if Meffert can make up shit so can I.

WHAT'S THAT TITLE AGAIN? While former Nagin aide Greg Meffert held the title of "chief technology officer" at City Hall, his name also has been preceded by a variety of other courtesy titles in a slew of publications.

The one constant? The word "mayor."

For example, Previstar, a Virginia-based emergency management software company that provided software to the city after Katrina, last week identified Meffert as both "vice mayor" and "deputy mayor" -- positions that legally don't exist -- in a news release announcing that he had been named to its executive advisory board.

Furthermore, the company states, Meffert "was elevated to the No. 2 position in the mayor's office" within a year of being hired.

Large media outlets have likewise adorned Meffert with honorifics. An Associated Press article from a year ago calls him "one of two deputy mayors," and a December 2005 Washington Post story calls him "deputy mayor."

Then there's a Q-and-A session with Meffert that was posted on searchCIO.com, an online tech magazine, less than a month after Katrina. In it, Meffert says that he was named "acting mayor" for a total of nine days while his boss, Nagin, was out of town, during the month after the storm.

(The crisis du jour on his first stint as mayor, according to Meffert, was that "corpses (were) clogging up the sewer and water drains.")

Whether Nagin ever bestowed such titles or duties on Meffert unofficially is unclear. But as for the city's official response, Nagin spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett said the City Charter and city laws "do not provide for the title of deputy mayor or vice mayor. Therefore, this administration has not created such a position."

She likewise noted that the charter calls for one of the council's two at-large members to serve as acting mayor in the event the real mayor is absent for an extended period of time. The charter does not specify how long a mayor must be gone before a fill-in is named.

In appointing Meffert to its board, Previstar officials said he "knows first-hand how essential disaster planning is to a municipality confronted by, and recovering from, a devastating crisis." Meffert returned the compliment, saying Previstar had saved the city "literally tens of millions of dollars."

Company officials said Meffert will not receive a salary for his service.

Related: Here, as always.. and here. And also here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hillary was for teh gay before she was against it

Here Greg Sargent has a quote of from Hillary apologizing for being the equivocating douche-a-matic that she is.

"Well I've heard from a number of my friends and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral...let's not be eliminating people because of who they are or who they love."

For more background on this, we turn to the ever-quotable Matt Taibbi.

In the DLC mindset, "confronting" issues head on basically means surrendering. When they say that we need to "understand" that America is a very religious country and "show respect" for people who disagree, what they really mean is we need to waffle as much as is humanly possible in the hopes that the Okies won't guess what we really believe. In Hillary's case, that means trying to reassure gays in one sentence by telling them that homosexuality is "who you are," and stroking swing-vote Christians in the next by saying that you’ll "leave it to others" to conclude the issue of the morality of homosexuality.

That's called seeing the fork in the road and taking it, folks, and on other issues it wouldn't be such a bad thing. But in this case it's an outrageously cynical failure of leadership. She’d have done better keeping her mouth shut and just issuing the following press release:

"On the issue of gays in the military, Senator Clinton is sincere in her belief that voters on both sides of the matter are fucking morons and will vote for her no matter what she says ..."

Because that's basically what she did, in a nutshell. Hillary thinks we're all stupid and that if we're robo-stroked often enough by her poll-generated paeans, we’ll pull the lever for her. Amazingly enough, in modern American politics, that's how you win on the "morality" issue.


To Cursor.org (already my very favoritest source for news anywhere on the internets) for featuring the T-P's Last Chance series on the disappearing Louisiana coast at the top of its right hand sidebar. Nice to know somebody cares.

Pleasure of the President

Wonderfully astute Daily Show bit from last night about the above phrase. The apparent enthusiasm for this phrase among Bush Admin flacks offers but a single window into the current feudal order that governs our nation.

On Tuesday, Fred Kaplan published a somewhat more serious piece in Slate examining Bush's obsession with his own authority. This attitude colors matters foreign....

Just this past January, in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, President Bush returned to the theme, this time annoyed that the people he'd liberated seemed so unappreciative.

"I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude," he said. "I mean … we've endured great sacrifices to help them," and the American people "wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."

There's a skewed view of the world reflected in these remarks. Does Bush really fail to recognize that even the most pro-Western Iraqis might have mixed feelings, to say the least, about America's intervention in their affairs—that they might be, at once, thankful for the toppling of Saddam Hussein, resentful about the prolonged occupation, and full of hatred toward us for the violent chaos that we unleashed without a hint of a plan for restoring order?

Bush may have had a political motive in making these remarks. He may have calculated that Americans would be more likely to support the war if the people for whom we're fighting thanked us publicly for the effort. By the same token, their palpable lack of gratitude, and the war's deepening unpopularity at home, might have heightened his frustration and impelled such peevish outbursts.

But this peevish imperiousness is precisely what's most disturbing about Bush's incessant concern with the proper level of fealty. The word that he repeatedly uses when discussing what he wants from nations he thinks he's helping—"gratitude"—implies a supplicant's relationship to his lord.

As Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at the City University of New York Graduate Center (and generally a Bush supporter), puts it, "Gratitude is something you give to somebody who's superior. It's very different from, say, appreciation, which is something that equals give each other."

....as well as matters domestic.

Not to put the president on the couch, but personality probably plays some role here. I remember watching a White House press conference (looking it up, I see that it took place on April 5, 2004), where an Associated Press reporter started to ask Bush a question without first uttering "Mr. President," the customary preface when addressing the leader of the free world. Bush snapped at him: "Who are you talking to?" The reporter corrected his discourteousness, reciting the honorific, before restarting his question.

It was a startling display of a president who seemed insecure in his authority, bitter that some piddling reporter wasn't treating him (the president of the United States, damn it!) with the proper respect. The same complex may be triggered when piddling nations don't repay his good intentions with the proper "gratitude."

This administration's delusional obsession with its own majesty is more than just symbolically anti-democratic feudalism. It is in fact quite in line with the presumptions under which this White House conducts business. One would expect a President with such feudal pretensions to reserve for himself the right to wantonly purge the federal judiciary of those deemed too ungracious to be tolerated, or to ignore the constitution in pursuit of erecting a society-wide surveillance apparatus or to lie his way past the nominal authority of Congress to launch a stupid imperial war.. and the several secret illegal wars and black ops actions that come with it.

And certainly we wouldn't expect a President who stewards the republic as though it were a personal baronage bequeathed to him by birthright, to look upon the reconstruction and protection of a decimated city as anything other than a opportunity to split the spoils amongst the ducal family and its cronies.

It's become a familiar theme in the ongoing Hurricane Katrina saga: Businesses with close Bush administration ties get key contracts, only to flub the job they were paid handsomely to do.

Yet another example came to light this week, thanks to the Associated Press: Scrambling to meet President Bush's promise to protect New Orleans before the start of last year's hurricane season, the Army Corps of Engineers installed defective flood-control pumps despite warnings from its own engineer that the equipment would likely fail during a storm. And -- surprise, surprise -- the manufacturer who got the $26.6 million contract to install the problem pumps happened to have close ties to the Bush family.

Oyster has an outstanding post on the pump issue which he concludes thusly

....do you think Jane Taxpayer is getting her dollar's worth in the War in Iraq? Is she getting her dollar's worth in the rebuilding of New Orleans? Seriously, how many cents on the tax dollar are we getting in real value in our Iraq misadventure? How many cents on the dollar are we getting for our investment in a rebuilt New Orleans? Who is laughing all the way to the bank while our national "investments" in Iraq and New Orleans provide such pitiful returns? Who profits while others assume all the risk?

In an economic sense, Crony Capitalism is a bastard form of Fascism.

Fascism, feudalism, call it what you will. Either way, we currently live under a system where our rulers enrich and "pay gratitude" to one another while the world is left to burn and New Orleans is left to drown.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Seen this movie before

Another day, another sign that we're just reliving the Vietnam bullshit over and over and over.

Roberts recently wrote the right-wing historical revisionism tract entitled History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. The book, as Roberts himself described it in an interview with Front Page Magazine, "does not consider British imperialism to have been a Bad Thing, argues that the Versailles Treaty was not harsh enough on Germany, [and] defends the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki . . . . " A central theme is that "Intellectuals of the Left bear a heavy responsibility for the cruelties and savagery of the 20th century," and Roberts' world-view is filled with banalities like this:

I fear, in the light of Congress's recent nonbinding (and utterly self-contradictory) resolution opposing the surge, the gross bias of much of the Left-Liberal media, and the present poll ratings of Sen Hillary Clinton, that the US will lose the will to fight the War against Terror in any manner that might hold out the hope of ultimate victory.

Raise your hand if you're surprised

Douchey Dems blow it again.

Oh no... no no no no no.

Pray that this never sees the light of day.

Lombardi to coach Saints


People who live behind federal levees and yet continue throwing stones

Scout's must-read post of the morning.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bush + GSUS > Churchill

Must be seen to be believed

How are we doing?

He said:
President Bush’s top man in charge of the Gulf Coast recovery said that 18 months after Katrina, conditions in New Orleans are ‘better than he thought’ they would be.

In an interview with Eyewitness News’ Lee Zurik, Powell traversed a Gentilly neighborhood and praised the progress he said he saw and heard.

“You hear hammers. You see construction trucks,” he said. “That’s good.”

She said:
Out of the 1.3 million people who used live in the greater New Orleans area pre-Katrina, economists at the University of New Orleans said that 250,000 of them still have not returned to the seven parishes that make up greater New Orleans. And while that may sound promising, the UNO economists said they thought things would look better for the city at this point.

Janet Speyrer, a professor of economics at UNO, said Mardi Gras proved the city is recovering.

“New Orleans was still in the top ten as a place that people recognize as a good place to visit,” she said, adding that the tourism industry has fueled the city’s economy these days.

There are 31,000 hotel rooms in the city post-Katrina, almost 82% of the pre-Katrina total.

“Those 31,000 hotel rooms have had the same occupancy rate as we had in the 38,000 hotel rooms that were open pre-Katrina,” Speyrer said.

Still, she said it’s a double-edged sword: for those around the nation who haven't been here, they still think the city is in bad shape overall from old and overused footage of New Orleans during the storm.

“We do have this problem that people don't understand the difference between the pictures that they saw on the media that were really old pictures of when New Orleans was covered in water from Katrina and the pictures that they see now of New Orleans present day,” Speyrer said.

That’s why Speyrer believes a portion of the federal recovery money should go toward televised tourism campaign.

Actually they're both full of shit. Powell is just plain ol' Washington liar full of shit, but the UNO team's take is ultimately more damaging as it amounts to little more than the same As-Hilton-goes-so-goes-New Orleans line we've been hearing for decades.

It's amusing to me that the same folks who push the idea that we have a "blank slate" and need to completely rethink (read: eliminate) public housing, indigent health care, and public schools are quite happy to go right back to the plantation-tourist economy that insults and exploits the cultural heritage of the city in order to generate big profits off the backs of underpaid service workers.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Quote of the Day

Joe Horn:

"The coaching staff wanted me to come here, needed me here," Horn told the newspaper Wednesday night. "I felt loved. I felt wanted from the front office to the janitors. I knew I would be treated with dignity and respect."

Horn joins a long line of jilted ex-Saints who deserved better treatment from the team they gave the best years of their careers to and signed with the hated Falcons out of spite more than anything. Today's quote is reminiscent of Morten Andersen's who upon joining the Falcons after being dropped by the Saints claimed that the Falcons had "made me whole".

The 2007 Saints season is starting to feel like 2001 all over again when raised expectations and arrogant off-season moves led to all the fun of the previous season being wiped out.

I wish Joe well. I probably would have done the same thing.

Thought of the Day

Nathan Newman

So who was more corrupt? Jimmy Hoffa getting good returns for his members investing in real estate and profitable casinos or the Wall Street managers collecting big fat fees admidst the insider-deals of the dotcom boom and bust?

You usually get something worthwhile

..when Taibbi is writing about Friedman. This ends up being a pretty good look at the next propaganda war over why Iraq was such a debacle. The Friedmans of the world are already pointing the finger at American lack of commitment. I link to Taibbi's columns so frequently because (especially now that we've lost Molly Ivins) there simply isn't anyone out there who says it quite so well.

...In other words, both Vietnam and Iraq failed not because they were stupid, vicious occupations of culturally alien populations that despised our very presence and were willing to sacrifice scads of their own lives to send us home. No, the problem was that we didn't make an effort to "re-evaluate tax and spending policies" and "shift resources" into an "all-out" war effort.

The notion that our problem in Iraq is a resource deficit is pure, unadulterated madness. Our enemies don't have airplanes or armor. They are fighting us with garage-door openers and fifty year-old artillery shells, sneaking around barefoot in the middle of the night around to plant roadside bombs. Anytime anyone dares oppose us in the daylight, we vaporize them practically from space using weapons that cost more than the annual budgets of most Arab countries to design. We outnumber the active combatants on the other side by at least five to one. This year, we will spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined -- more than six hundred billion dollars. And yet Tom Friedman thinks the problem in Iraq is that we ordinary Americans didn't tighten our belts enough to support the war effort.

Friedman should be hung upside down and have holes drilled in his skull for even suggesting this, of course. We're talking about one of the richest men in media, a guy who in recent years got still richer beating the drum for this war from his $9.3 million, 11,400 square-foot mansion in suburban Maryland. He is married to a shopping mall heiress worth nearly $3 billion; the Washingtonian says he is part of one of the 100 richest families in America. And yet he has the balls to turn around and tell us that the pointless, asinine war he cheerleaded for failed because we didn't sacrifice enough for it. Are you reaching for the railroad spike yet?


But trust me, the myth is going to be that you didn't cough up enough for the war. It's your fault we failed, not Tom Friedman's. So put all three of your hands in your pockets and dig out that change you're holding back. We'll need it for his next great idea.