Friday, January 30, 2009

Quote of the day

President Obama:
"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution," he said, to a round of applause. "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement."

Contrast with me a few days ago:
This President does not give a shit about labor.

Immediately, I draw two possible conclusions.

1) I don't know what the hell I'm talking about most much* of the time.

2) The pressure is working. Keep it up.

Note that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive conclusions.

*Some of me have complained that I was unnecessarily hard on myself there, hence this retraction of a word in what is itself a retraction post. And I'm right, you know. In these tough times, I should try to be a bit more charitable with me. The President, on the other hand, will have to continue to earn it.

Good luck, Grimey

New Orleans's Inspector General Robert Cerasoli has resigned his position and returned to Massachusetts in order to attend to what appears to be a serious health issue. I wish Mr. Cerasoli a speedy and full recovery.

I obviously haven't shared the popular enthusiasm for the office of Inspector General. I think it has the potential to create about as much if not more political and governmental mischief than it ends up rooting out.... particularly in this environment. And I certainly don't understand why its staff should feel the need to carry firearms. In fact, I found that request more than a little disconcerting. Mr. Cerasoli's departure only deepens these concerns.

Anywhoooo I figure now is as good a time as any to mention that when I first read this feature story on Cerasoli a few weeks ago in the The Gambit, I couldn't help but be reminded of the classic Simpson's episode, Homer's Enemy in which Frank Grimes, a humorless new employee at the power plant, becomes increasingly appalled at Homer's charmed but buffoonish life. Some points of comparisons between the article and the episode follow.

From the The Gambit:
CERASOLI grew up in Quincy, Mass., a New England seaside city that is part of the Boston metroplex, the birthplace of John Adams, John Quincy Adams and John Hancock. His father, a dockworker, died when Cerasoli was 10; his mother worked as a beautician. He grew up in a Catholic household but became a Baptist in 1995 and joined the Messiah Baptist Church, an African-American congregation in Brockton, Mass. "I pray a lot," he says. He is reticent on the subject of family, though he mentions a sister in Quincy. He matriculated from American University in Washington, D.C., and worked as a financial investor at Drexel Burnham Lambert.

From Kent Brockman's news bio of Grimes:
Tonight's inspiring story is about Frank Grimes, a thirty-five-year-old Springfieldite who has earned everything the hard way, but never let adversity get him down. Abandoned by his parents at age four, Frank never got to go to school. He spent his childhood years as a delivery boy, delivering toys to more fortunate children. Then, on his eighteenth birthday, he was blown up in a silo explosion. During his long recuperation he taught himself to hear and feel pain again. As the years passed, he used his few leisure moments each day to study science by mail. And, last week, Frank Grimes, the man who had to struggle for everything he ever got, received his correspondence school diploma in nuclear physics -- with a minor in determination.

From the The Gambit:
THE STRUGGLES OF CERASOLI'S first months in New Orleans were well-publicized: trouble getting computers, trouble getting telephones, trouble getting cooperation. As the months stretched into a year with no reports issued, some members of the public got restless, wondering what the inspector general was doing. The IG expressed his frustration with their dissatisfaction. "I don't need this job," he told The Gambit last March. "If I can't do it right, I won't do it."  

Grimes and Homer discuss their qualifications:
% Lenny and Carl look at Grimes' correspondence-school diploma.

Grimes: Oh, that's my degree in nuclear physics. I'm sure you all have one.

Lenny: Oh yeah, Carl and I each have a masters'. [chuckles] Of course, old Homer, he didn't need a degree. He just showed up the day they opened the plant.

Homer: I didn't even know what a nuclear panner plant was.

Grimes: Um, [forced laugh] yeah. Well, listen, I'm sure, you all have a lot of work to do.

Lenny + Carl: [shrug] Eh. [the two leave] [Grimes turns around, and is startled to see that Homer is still there]

Homer: Hey, you seem like a great guy, so I'll give you a little tip. If you turn that security camera around, you can sleep and no one will ever know.

Grimes: eh, I don't think we're being paid to sleep.

Homer: Oh yeah, they're always trying to screw ya. [leaves]

Grimes: [shudders in amazement]

The Gambit:
Cerasoli himself doesn't own much in New Orleans. After living at Le Pavillon hotel for a time when he first arrived in town, he upgraded to a small apartment in the CBD, where he sleeps on an air mattress. "I've got my luggage in the middle of the apartment, I've got my clothes on hangers, and that's it," he says. A few books. A few suits — black and baggy, more Ralph Nader than Ralph Lauren. "I had my car here, but I brought it home (to Massachusetts), and something happened with the catalytic converter, and I didn't bring it back," he says. "So I'm walking."

I live in a single room above a bowling alley and below another bowling alley.

Cersoli on the French Quarter:
"I don't even go down to the French Quarter. A friend of mine came into town with the National Conference of State Legislators, and we were walking down in the French Quarter at night. I felt so uncomfortable, because there's all the police, and they know me, and the people ... "To me, coming from Boston, it seems so decadent," he says softly. "Seeing all these people, doing all the things that they're doing."

Grimes on a visit to Homer's house:

Grimes: God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it? This briefcase and this haircut! And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?

Homer: What?

Grimes: Everything! A dream house! Two cars! A beautiful wife! A son who owns a factory! Fancy clothes and [sniffs air] lobsters for dinner. And do you deserve any of it? No!

Homer: [gasps] What are you saying?

Grimes: I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.

Bart: He's got you there, dad.

Grimes: You're a fraud. A total fraud.

But, of course, we all know Homer is really a sweet guy and Grimes' disapproval ultimately leads to a moment of introspection.

Marge: You're afraid to go to work because Frank Grimes will be there, aren't you?

Homer: That's crazy talk. You're crazy, Marge. Get off the road! [honks horn]

Marge: [gets in the car] You have to face him sometime, and when you do I'm sure he'll be just as anxious to make up as you are.

Homer: No he won't, he hates me.

Marge: He doesn't hate you. He just feels insecure because you're getting through life so easily, and it's been so difficult for him.

Homer: Yeah, yeah, that's his problem, he's a nut! It's not about me being lazy, it's about him being a crazy nut.

Marge: Well ... maybe. But I bet he would be less crazy if you were just a little more, mmm, professional in your work.

Homer: [gasps]

Marge: Just a little more. Then he won't have any reason to resent you.

Homer: I'll do it! [produces a bottle of that wonderful Duff] To professionalism! [drinks up]

In all seriousness, good luck and good health, Mr. Cersaoli. I promise to toast "professionalism" on your behalf this Carnival season.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'll tell you what's "shameful"

What's "shameful" is the President leaving us to wonder whether he's lying or stupid... especially when we're pretty sure he's not stupid.

President Obama was outraged by a story in the Wall Street Journal this morning that Wall Street employees collected $18.4 billion in bonuses for 2008, the sixth-largest total on record. So when he met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office this afternoon, he called in reporters to let the Street now what he thought of that behavior.

"When I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers had given themselves $20 billion worth of bonuses -- the same amount of bonuses as they gave themselves in 2004 -- at a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don't provide help that the entire system could come down on top of our heads -- that is the height of irresponsibility," he said. "It is shameful."

"When I saw an article today"? Oh that's rich. It's as if we're to believe the President is the last person on earth to learn that the bankers have been stealing our money since the day the TARP was created.

But it gets worse.

Warning that he and Geithner will be hammering the point further with "folks on Wall Street," Obama said they need to "start acting in a more responsible fashion if we are to together get this economy rolling again. There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses -- now is not that time. "

There should never again be an appropriate time for the people who have made their fortunes cheating and lying to make profits and bonuses doing more of the same. The President still doesn't get this. And that's what is shameful.

Holding the wrong people accountable

While projects like "Accountability Now" are a good start, I think they place blame on the wrong people. It's a bit beside the point to blame "Blue Dogs" or Democrats from conservative districts for more or less representing the point of view of their constituents.

The real problem is the failure of leadership on the part of the Dems in charge (Obama, Emmanuel etc.) who mistakenly believe themselves clever enough to please everybody. And make no mistake, proving themselves clever is what truly motivates these people.

St. Charles Parish sees reason

Ladder citadel

St. Charles adopts Carnival rules

The ordinance, which became law on Dec. 16, 2008, prohibits any person or group from obstructing, barricading or preventing access in any way to public property, including neutral grounds, rights of way, streets or sidewalks. This also includes connecting ladders or chairs to reserve space along a parade route. Parade-goers are further prohibited from placing barricades or trailers within 5 feet of the edge of the street or curb to allow passage of the general public along the route.

Note that similar rules ALREADY EXIST in Orleans Parish but have been poorly enforced in recent years. Mardi Gras is for everyone to share. Please do not hog the public space in 2009.

Simple Answers

Greg Sargent asks:

Put another way, at what point do you stop laying the groundwork for painting the opposition as partisan obstructionists, and start actually doing it?

Answer: You do it last week

Make it stop

Front page of this morning's T-P reads.


The T-P and City Business continue to play Pollyanna cheerleader for the local economy. We do not live on an island here. The massive nationwide economic shocks will negatively affect Louisiana and, in many ways, already have.

It's fine to report on the aberrant employment numbers for December and the reasons why we aren't the first to feel the pain of the recession. But it's another thing to pretend that some magic "trend-bucking" permanent phenomenon is in place... which is exactly what these headlines suggest.

Obama doesn't get it

After bending over backward to please irrelevant Republicans, he will now allow his tax-dodging Treasury Secretary to continue helping bank managers steal your money.

Update: Krugman writes:
As the Obama administration apparently prepares to launch Hankie Pankie II — buying troubled assets from banks at prices higher than they will fetch on the open market — it occurred to me that an updated version of an old Communist-era joke may be appropriate: under Bush, financial policy consisted of Wall Street types cutting sweet deals, at taxpayer expense, for Wall Street types. Under Obama, it’s precisely the reverse.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Funny how that works

They all vote No and the thing passes anyway.

Can we stop pretending to care what they think now?

Jesus, people

Greenwald (in his latest Update) writes.

Both Sen. Leahy and Sen. Whitehouse express serious doubts about the Bond/Washington Times report, noting (correctly) that it would be a highly improper act (to put it mildly) for a Senator to demand, and for a nominated Attorney General to agree, that no prosecutions will be pursued in a specific case in exchange for the Senator's support for the nomination.

Since when is "highly improper" any sort of barrier to anything? This is obviously the deal that has been cut. Republicans vote to confirm Holder. Holder lays off prosecuting Bush officials in torture cases. Why should we believe anything different?

Update: On the other hand, ("on the other hand" is becoming a trademark around here) please see this post on the decidedly anti-torture makeup of Obama's OLC hires. Note, however, that this still does not mean we'll see any prosecutions of Bush's pro-torture people.

15 dozen oysters

Whatever. I could do that.

Litmus test

Last week on Bill Moyers' Journal, Princeton professor, Melissa Harris-Lacewell offered the following statement in regard to expectations for the nascent Obama Administration.

...I have a couple things I think are the most important. I think the recovery of New Orleans continues to be the central democratic litmus test of our time, that what does and does not happen in the context of recovery for the Gulf Coast tells us whether or not we value community, what we're going to do about environmental injustice, whether or not we're going to provide affordable, quality housing, and whether or not we truly believe that we are a racial democracy, one in which people of all races get to contribute.

Today, the test begins.

WASHINGTON - Newly appointed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today issued an "active directive" to "require specific department offices and components to work with state and local partners to review and assess current plans to respond to significant medical emergencies and address Hurricane Katrina's lingering impacts."

The statement says: "More than three years have passed since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Many individuals and communities have moved forward to recover and rebuild. However, there are still individuals, neighborhoods, and institutions, where the recovery process is stalled because of disagreements about damages and indecision about next steps. We now have the opportunity to take a fresh look at rebuilding the communities impacted by Katrina so they will be safer and more economically and socially resistant to future disasters."

I am resisting the temptation to call it "Day Zero" but if that makes you happy....

Update: One more thing from that article about Napolitano's request

An oral report is due Feb. 10, with a final report due Feb. 24.

Feb 24 is Fat Tuesday

A bi-partisan ladder solution


Ladders are OK! If used properly, they are a safe way for small children to enjoy the parade. They're even good for not-so-small people. I have many fond memories of standing on ladders as a teenager ostensibly in charge of one or another small child seated in a ladder box. Ladders are useful and can be fun. Nobody is denying that.


Ladders should not be used as de-facto barricades with which one family or group of families cordon off their "private" section of public space. There is no private property on a parade route. Other people attending may need to pass through or (gasp!) even share space with you. It's a public event!

City ordinances require that ladders be set back away from the curb at a distance equal to their height. This makes sense, not only for safety's sake, but also for the sake of people who will occupy the ground-level space between the ladders and the floats. These folks need room to view the parade too.

City ordinances also require that no ladders or structures be allowed to block intersections along the route. This allows police and emergency vehicles easy access to and across parade routes... a purpose whose reasoning should be self-evident.

Unfortunately, enforcement of these laws has become inconsistent and lax in recent years to the detriment of everyone's safety and enjoyment. Can't we do something about this this year? Isn't it time to remind ourselves that Carnival is a time for mutual enjoyment and respect?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Get used to it. This President does not give a shit about labor. Is much more concerned with pleasing Republicans.

Update: On the other hand, there is this. Remember I said, "doesn't give a shit" not "is openly hostile towards"

Alright, who do I sue?

The creators of this popular Facebook app are using MY photo of "view blocking ladders" which I took and used in this post two years ago.

This is not over, Facebook persons. I demand remuneration.

Update: Speaking of parades and ladders, isn't it time to start agitating in favor of stricter enforcement this year? Nobody likes illegal obstruction of public parade viewing space by territorial assholes. (See this 56 comment discussion at Adrastos from 2007 for more bellyaching) Seriously. Now is the time to do something about this.

Too stupid. Even for us

I refuse to believe that this hissy fit is continuing over lemon-scented pressure washing. There must be something else at stake here. Whatever ends up getting cut INSTEAD of the lemon scent is probably what they were after in the first place.

Clinton II

FAILing our way toward "bi-partisan" Nirvana.

Thank you, Senators Feingold, Byrd, Sanders, and Harkin

For having the common sense to vote against a Treasury Secretary who doesn't pay his own freaking taxes.

I don't understand what the problem is

Stupid punditry:

Sked Stuff: President Obama descends on Capitol Hill today for separate meetings with House and Senate Republican leaders to discuss (what else?) his economic stimulus plan. He huddles with the House first at 12:15 p.m. and then the Senate an hour and ten minutes later. The first test for package comes Wednesday when the House will vote on (and almost certainly pass) it. The operative question is how many on-the-fence Republicans Obama can convince to support his main legislative priority. And, if the legislation winds up being approved on something close to a party line vote, how does the Obama team spin it?

The "party line" reflects the result of the last election. What's the problem? Here's how you spin it. Every time Mitch McConnell and John Boehner open their stupid mouths, Obama grabs the nearest microphone or the nearest YouTube, I guess. And says, "Can you believe what these assholes who you overwhelmingly rejected in November are bitching about now? They don't get it. They don't matter. They are so wrong that Americans actually elected a black President just to tell these assholes how wrong they are. They don't get to whine. They are wrong and need to shut the fuck up." It's called a bully pulpit. Obama needs to learn to use it before he loses it.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Clancy Dubos handicaps the likely 2010 Mayoral candidates from most to least serious.*

Clancy puts a satisfying twist on talk-radio stooge Rob Couhig's potential candidacy.

Rob Couhig: The attorney/entrepreneur who ran against Nagin in 2006 and then gave him his biggest runoff endorsement says he's "fairly close" to running again. Couhig, a Republican, says New Orleanians "need someone in the mayor's office who is willing to make the tough decisions — and when they see that person, I believe that they will be willing to look past the old hangups of race, gender and political affiliation." Couhig is itching to run, but the real question is whether voters will look past him giving us four more years of Ray Nagin.

Vote Couhig for four more years of Ray. Can we start printing those bumper stickers yet?

*Note that Clancy's format is the exact opposite of Eli's established template.... which he, of course, ripped off from Chris Cilliza. Everything is derivative!

I don't think those words mean what you think they mean

President Obama:

"I can say, without exception and without equivocation, that the United States will not torture"

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent highlights White House counsel Greg Craig (really? your folks decided to call you Gred Craig?) offering exceptions and equivocations:
Among the hard questions Obama left open, in fact, is whether the C.I.A. will have to follow the same interrogation rules as the military. While the President has clearly put an end to cruel tactics, Craig said that Obama “is somewhat sympathetic to the spies’ argument that their mission and circumstances are different.”

Now if you read through Sargent's post and the comments, you'll get some pretty good discussion about Obama's other appointments at OLC and how they signal a "clear break" with the Bush policy on torture as well as reference to a theory that it might pragmatically appropriate for Obama to appear deferential to the CIA in these matters. I'm not so convinced of this but there is a cogent, somewhat reassuring argument to be made there.


Despite this Sunday post promising an "afternoon delivery" I still do not find this week's The Gambit in any of the regular Uptown distribution points.

How am I supposed to horde hoard (I am a fricking idiot) extra copies for the library if the coffee shops aren't adequately supplied by Monday morning?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Simple answers

NOLA.com asks...


Lil' Bush

Every day, in every way, I am reminded again of this simple equation we drew up three years ago.

Nagin's New Orleans = George Bush's America. We even have our own shadow government.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wild guess

Eli asks,
It is NOPD policy to inform families about the (Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations) fund but apparently NOPD officers aren't doing that. So is it actually NOPD policy?

Why would Warren Riley not want to take advantage of a the Sheriff's program? It's not like there's any extra paperwork on the NOPD's end. Could it be residual resentment from Gusman's electoral victory over Riley in 2004?

Maybe it's because Riley and his trooper aretoo busy playing with their new torture devices.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It was fake enough to make them feel at home

CityBusiness: Film studio developer chooses Elmwood over Algiers

Meanwhile, the studio manager makes an excellent point:

“We thought it was easier to acquire an existing facility and retrofit it rather than build from the ground up,”

The guy could obviously never work for LSU

What "post-partisanship" means

Obama is obviously a failure if he doesn't do exactly what all the people who voted against him want.

Also, all the "O"s were mysteriously missing from their keyboards

Time calls out Obama staff for not all having computer logins on Day One.

It's SCANDALOUS, I tell you!

The most encouraging news for Mid-City so far

And it comes via a Jan Moller article of all things.

"It just doesn't make much sense to me to tear up this entire neighborhood, " said House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers. Tucker said the state already owns land along Tulane Avenue, west of Interstate 10, that could be put to a medical use without affecting private property owners.

Bobbi Rogers said she and her husband are among several neighborhood residents who received taxpayer-financed Road Home grants to rebuild properties that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, only to face the prospect of having them taken by the state.

"These are the people that make New Orleans work, " Rogers said.

But Pam Perkins, the general counsel for the state Division of Administration, said the vast majority of property owners in the area have indicated a willingness to sell their property. "They are very eager to get on with their lives, " Perkins said.

Tucker joined several legislators in questioning the financial underpinnings of the project.

State officials have $450 million committed, and are counting on FEMA recovery dollars and a future bond issue to cover the rest. But there is no guarantee that the federal dollars will be forthcoming, and the shaky credit markets have made it difficult for many large-scale projects to obtain financing.

"I am very leery about getting halfway pregnant in this process and not being able to complete it, " Tucker said.

Speaker Tucker is the first public official with any kind of pull to indicate that he has some grasp of what's at stake for both the neighborhood and the questionably financed LSU hospital.

Yesterday it was torture

Today, Obama says he's A-OK with telecom immunity too.

Link via Dambala who goes on to claim that this is somehow mitigated by the fact that it might now be possible to prosecute Bush for similar crimes.

I disagree. All this says is that violating the Constitution is fine as long as you're the President.

Update: Greg Sargent has more today on the so-called "loophole" in Obama's ostensibly anti-torture executive order.

Obama very strongly denounced torture yesterday as he signed the order outlawing it. But it’s nonetheless hard to avoid the conclusion that the administration does in fact want to preserve some kind of flexibility here, for reasons that are not yet entirely clear, at least to me. Perhaps it’s merely intended to take the steam out of CIA critics who say that Obama shouldn’t foreclose options for intel agents in extraordinary circumstances.

note: Haloscan has been wiggin out again over the past few days. Comments are getting delayed or are not getting posted publicly for some reason. If you really have to bitch at me, you can always just throw a shoe.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


New coinage: "Post-Partisan Depression"


Entitled Yuppie princess lives entitled Yuppie lifestyle.

Moving on now...

Update: And, of course, a Blue Dog idiot is no improvement... but if the choices are really that dismal then there's no foul in speaking out against one or both of them.

Tom Friedman

What a dweeb.

Change I can believe in

My last visit to Dick and Jenny's was positively awful. Let's HOPE the new chef can turn it around.

Known Unknowns

In light of the wholly unsurprising revelation that of course everyone's communications were being monitored, Tom Tomorrow compiles a list of other likely facts about the Bush Administration.

Continuity of torture

Obama wants to interrogate "by the book"... but will they put torture in the book?

(Obama's order) Required all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while interrogating detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics. However, a Capitol Hill aide says that the administration also is planning a study of more aggressive interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual — which would create a significant loophole to Obama's action Thursday.

Which is really useful seeing as how they don't have any draft choices

Headline: New Orleans Saints coaching staff one step ahead of competition at Senior Bowl

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Musicians become the suck we've been waiting for

Look, as funny as this comparison may appear at first glance, there's a simple rule of thumb that applies here.

Any musical act that agrees to perform at a Presidential inauguration and/or Super Bowl halftime pretty much sucks by definition.

Same story two headlines

NOLA.com. Sometimes I wonder what the plan is... or if there even is one. This morning, the home page features a box of inauguration-related material with a series of headlines in smallish print. One of them reads,
New Orleans and the Gulf South receive more than passing nod from new administration
The story behind that link is a cautiously optimistic report by Keith I. Marszalek on what we might infer of the Obama Administration's Katrina recovery policy from his inaugural address as well as from the two paragraphs plus one line that appear under the heading "Katrina" on the "Additional Issues" page of Whitehouse.gov.

Below that headline on the NOLA.com home page is the lead headline which says in large print,
New White House Web site slams Bush on Hurricane Katrina
The story behind that link, written by Andy Barr of Politico.com, is a report on the very same two paragraphs from Whitehouse.gov this time characterized as a "slam" against former President Bush.

Why has NOLA.com chosen to 1) publish two stories on essentially the same subject and 2) emphasize the story it culls from a national political website rather than the story written from an apolitical local perspective?


Battlestar fucking Galactica is not the political crisis of our time. And, frankly, the nerdy liberal outrage is more pathetic than the nerdy stupid sexist critique from which it was born.

Happy Green Dot Day

The Green Dots are dead

Long live the Green Dots

Note to self

Stop paying attention to Fletcher Mackel's idiotic sports blog Just because the rss feed says SAINTS TRADE! doesn't mean the Saints have made a trade. It means Fletcher is going off on some stupid fantasy about "What would happen if the Saints trade down in the draft" and various other poor substitutes for actual information.

Continuity of Bullshit

See Krugman

"Shared Responsibility" is pure red meat for competitive Yuppie types as well as the easily flattered who always imagine themselves to be the "responsible" individuals the President is addressing. What we're really being told here is that the ruling class will not be held responsible for its crimes and failures because... you know... we all "share" in that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Skookses are like hope

They both float



Anybody know what the current "threat level" is?

Quick observations

1) God I hate Bush

2) Are we sure Cheney didn't injure himself actually letting the door hit him in the ass on the way out?

3) Obama's speech is very much the sort of thing you might have liked to hear from your President on 9-11.

4) Although Obama mentioned the word levees, he did not say anything about New Orleans or the Gulf Coast in the infrastructure agenda portion of his speech. Kind of a bummer.

5) We set up a television in the library so that people could watch the inauguration with us. I *almost* teared up a bit when Roberts said, "Congratulations, Mr. President" but managed to keep it together.

6) At one point the camera fell on Ray Nagin in the audience. One of our patrons exclaimed, "Oh no!" and retreated to the other side of the room. "I can't watch that. It's bad enough they made me look at that other idiot (meaning Bush)" She came back to watch the rest of the speech when she felt safe from threatening images.

7) George W. Bush. God, I hate that guy.

8) Ladies and gentlemen, the new Whitehouse.gov. What does this mean for the future of Whitehouse.org?

Bush remembered to pack, right?

I sure hope Mike Brown wasn't in charge of calling U-Haul.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Free EWE!

Dude he's not even on the freaking list

Seriously, though. We should have known this wouldn't happen the day we learned that Dave Treen was taking responsibility for it.

Perhaps today is not the day

On this day of remembrance which happens to be the last day of an eight year national nightmare, which comes one day before a truly significant symbolic milestone day in our nation's history, perhaps today is not the day to hint that the people coming into office are spineless phony stooges for the corrupt banking industry.

Eh... Krugman didn't think so either.

What I suspect is that policy makers — possibly without realizing it — are gearing up to attempt a bait-and-switch: a policy that looks like the cleanup of the savings and loans, but in practice amounts to making huge gifts to bank shareholders at taxpayer expense, disguised as “fair value” purchases of toxic assets.

I think they realize it, though.

Some days the news is good

And some days it's just freaking awesome!

Hi, skooks (skooks).

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oh my

New Orleans political strategist Jim Carvin died Friday morning.

Mischief Accomplished

Tuesday night, Menckles and I had a short meeting at Johnny White's with the Right Reverend Evil Bob who is an acquaintance of ours we have hired to officiate a modest function we're planning in March. As is liable to happen this week, our conversation turned to the general relief we share with nearly 70% of the nation at the imminent conclusion of the Bush Administration.

As we left White's we walked by the bar next door which for a time in the late 90s and early 00s was called the Velvet Dog (now the Boondock Saint). Rudolph used to work there. This was where I came on the evening of (or was it the night after?) 9-11-2001 to bug Rudolph at work and to blow off steam imagining out loud all the horrible ways in which the Bush Administration would use the situation to make life miserable for Americans in the name of fighting terrorism. Mostly I was worried about increased surveillance, restriction of civil liberties, the sorts of things that eventually became the PATRIOT act and the Bush Administration's propensity for using the threat of terror as a cover for pushing an otherwise politically unpalatable right-wing economic agenda.

Now I'm a pessimistic guy with a fairly strong imagination. But even in my drunken grief over the terrorist attack and my utter lack of faith in the people who were charged with responding to the emergency, even I couldn't have predicted (nobody could have predicted) the scope of the arrogance, the stupidity, cruelty and corruption that would come to define the Bush II years in America. In that way, George W. Bush is something of a marvel. He and his people managed to fail even my dismal expectations. And that's about the best thing I can say about our outgoing President. Here are a few of my favorite retrospective comments published by others this week.

Juan Cole writes:
Bush was never more than a screw-up. He admitted when running for president that there were deficiencies in his knowledge and experience, but he said he would make up for that by appointing good people around him. It turns out that if someone doesn't have a lick of common sense, he won't even know which of his advisers is giving him wise counsel, and he sure as hell won't know how to appoint wise people to advise him in the first place. W. thought the trustworthy, competent people were Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. He doesn't seem to have taken Colin Powell seriously, and the way he used and discarded Powell is yet another stain on his disastrous presidency.

W. had the gall to exploit people of color at his stage-managed farewell, even though his party is overwhelmingly White and he has driven people of color into much deeper poverty in contrast to Clinton, who raised the standard of living for the poor and actually enforced civil and voting rights. W. brought a native of New Orleans before the cameras last night, as though this gesture could erase his maddening unconcern toward the damage done one of the country's great cities by his own lackadaisical attitude.

Bush lumbers off into his Dallas gated community (until recently whites-only), having dropped the pretense of being a rancher who liked to "clear brush." He has enriched his cronies in the military-industrial complex, and opened Iraq to investment by US petroleum firms. But the US economy was hollowed out by an administration that did not believe in auditing the books or actually regulating businesses as the law required. Bush was a socialist on military and security issues and an anarchist when it came to curbing the abuses of corporations or the white-tie superwealthy that he called his base.

Schroeder inveighs:
You have betrayed New Orleans, and you have betrayed the promise you made to the American people.

You are an ass, George, and no one should ever forget it. No cowboy hats, or belt buckles, or swagger will ever mask the truth of your utter incompetence, your profound dumbassery, and your brutal carelessness.

May people spit upon your grave, and dogs piss on your tombstone, for all eternity, because you are, and will forever be, the WORST PRESIDENT EVER!

Good fucking riddance! You are a pathetic excuse for a human being.

Matt Taibbi has a mock exit interview with Bush in the current Rolling Stone some of which is online here.

Harper's published a list of statistics from the Bush years which captures the zeitgeist quite well. A few examples:
  • Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98

  • Number of members of the rock band Anthrax who said they hoarded Cipro so as to avoid an “ironic death”: 1

  • Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

  • Number of all U.S. war veterans who have been denied Veterans Administration health care since 2003: 452,677

  • Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld’s vacation home: 25

  • Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10

  • Days after Hurricane Katrina hit that Cheney’s office ordered an electric company to restore power to two oil pipelines: 1

  • Days after the hurricane that the White House authorized sending federal troops into New Orleans: 4

And finally here is James Gill in yesterday's T-P:
Students of the debacle now drawing to a merciful close said the widely circulated picture of Bush looking down on the flood zone marked the point of no return. His administration's mishandling of the Katrina response finally convinced the public that this presidency was an absolute flop, they say.

Bush himself evidently can't see it and held his press conference as a part of a doomed campaign to burnish his legacy. If he believes he can justify torture and all the other evils of his administration, perhaps it is not surprising that he can delude himself over Katrina.

The "school system is improving dramatically" in the flood zone, he observed at his press conference, although what he believes that has to do with him is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, "people are beginning to move back into homes."

After three-and-a-half years, perhaps we can be forgiven if we aren't too impressed. Sure we feel bad about those nasty things we said. We were far too restrained.

Update: One more from David Rees

Friday, January 16, 2009

I can't decide

At first I thought I didn't like the "Crime Happened Here" signs because they were a bit heavy handed and sanctimonious. But then I read about how the neighbors are miffed that the signs are "bad for tourism" and "property values" and I started to feel better about them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Introducing: The guy everybody will blame at the end of next season

WWL is reporting that the Saints have hired Gregg Williams to be the new defensive coordinator. I promise more on this later, but I think the defensive coaching was probably something like 20th on the list of things that needed to be addressed during this offseason. But Gary Gibbs was a convenient enough scapegoat. So now the fans will get to kick this guy around.

But really, until Payton learns that you can't run a spread offense in the NFL and until the team finds some actual talent on defense, it won't matter who is getting overpaid to call coverages and blitzes.

Update: via the The Gambit blog, we learn the following about Williams' stint in Washington:

Williams, who'd been fired the previous year as the Bills' head coach, had a ton of adulation tossed his way, and his swagger at Redskin Park was unmatched. He liked to tell people that he'd only agreed to take the job if Snyder "didn't stick his nose" into personnel matters, and Snyder -- who wanted to win in the worst way -- had agreed. That gave Williams a feeling of invincibility, and considering the egg that the offense laid that year in comparison, he probably deserved to feel that way.

But it was a blind confidence, and when Pierce became a free agent after the 2004 season, and talks began to stall, Williams, according to Redskins sources, claimed Pierce was "replaceable." It was the first hint of arrogance under the new Gibbs regime, a sense that Williams felt it was his system, not the players, that dominated offenses. Cornerback Fred Smoot was also a free agent at the time, and again, Williams felt Smoot was expendable, even though losing a starting linebacker and a starting corner would necessitate an extensive defensive overhaul.

Wait... it gets worse..

The problem, according to a notable Redskins player, is a scheme, a staff and a play-calling regimen that is flawed and predictable, and a sense that Williams is on too much of a power trip to adjust.

"Why are we the 30th defense in the league? I think coaches got arrogant, I think Gregg got arrogant," the player said Tuesday, asking not to be identified. "They thought they figured it all out. They thought, 'We can win with scheme, we don't need players.' Don't be mistaken, this is a player-driven game, and so you need players. Any time in life when somebody thinks they've got it all figured out, it's going to come and get you. It's going to come and get you … the sentiment is a lot of guys are mad because the coaches think it's all about them. They think they're f------ geniuses, thinking they can just let guys go and get away with handling people badly."

One thing you don't want to throw into this mix is another over-paid coach who thinks it's "all about him"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stuff to do

The Beyond Jena event looks like a winner.

Check it out and register for free here.

We're going to (stay in) Disney World!

I continue to be amazed at the urgency with which the lemon-scent was treated by both sides in this dispute.

A year and a half ago, Nagin answered the charge that the city's recovery was stalled with, "But we got Disney-like garbage pick-up in the Quarter" It was a laughable insult at the time. Who cares what Bourbon Street smells like while people can't get their Road Home checks in time to stop their houses from being bulldozed? "Enhanced sanitation services" in the French Quarter were an obvious lemon-scented herring.

This year, while we should be focusing on the millions of dollars budgeted for the dubious clearance of Lower Mid-City and other so called "economic development" projects we're instead presented with an absurd scramble to rescue the lemon spray from the Mayor's budget ax. I don't get it.

Nagin held his own unnecessary gimmick... not two years ago his crowning achievement of the recovery... hostage and everybody jumped to save it. Speaking as a regular patron (and for some time employee) of French Quarter businesses over the past decade or so of my adulthood, I can tell you the place was okay before the introduction of the "enhanced sanitation" and would be okay without it. What, exactly, was the point of this circus?

On today's episode of beer something unusual in the bookdrop

Boss came in an hour early today and took care of this herself so I, unfortunately, don't have any pictures. What she found in the bookdrop this morning was one large empty Crown Royal box plus one Crown Royal bottle. The bottle contained a suspicious liquid which I am told was clearly not Crown Royal.

The kicker is, it was just yesterday morning that I repaired the sign which reads, "Please do not throw trash in the bookdrop"

Previous episodes of "Beer in the Bookdrop" here, here, here, and here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Vitty-Cent comeback tour is well underway

James Gill nailed this one yesterday David Vitter is a lock to win another term as US Senator from Louisiana in 2010. I don't always agree with Gill but I love to watch him write. Here are my two favorite bits from yesterday's column.

Let us admit that, for all that he is a hypocrite and a frothing right winger, it took a certain strength of character for Vitter to hang on long enough to gain readmission to the GOP fold.

The public humiliation and ridicule must have been all the harder to bear for Vitter as the father of children at a most impressionable age. But if he was ever tempted to slink into the shadows, he showed no sign. He refused to discuss his transgressions, once he had publicly admitted "a very serious sin, " and made a show of carrying out his Senate work regardless, sticking his oar in on issues ranging from the future of Big Charity to MR-GO to the Detroit bailout.

His manner after his outing was certainly somewhat subdued, but then Vitter never was the hail-fellow-well-met type. You couldn't say he became less gregarious, because that would be hard to tell. Regardless, he sure has clawed his way back.

And then the.. uh... money shot

An incumbent who has been attending to his constituents' needs, even one with a blot on the escutcheon, always has a head start anyway, and Vitter remains greatly respected among the conservative faithful. They'd always rather have a whoring Republican than a faithful Democrat.

Vitter's "very serious sin" is venial anyway by comparison with the thievery and corruption for which our politicians have long been famous. He is also unlike the general run of our elected officials in that he has a brain that works just fine.

Meanwhile at the The Gambit, Clancy Dubos is barking up the wrong tree trying to figure out who will be Vitter's challenger from the right. There won't be one. Or to put that another way, good God is there any room in Louisiana politics to the right of David Vitter? Actually, don't answer that.

Dollar Bill would not have cast such a horrendous vote

Episode 1

Not much to add

But if you're the sort of person who still watches and pays attention to President Bush's word choice, body language, etc., here is his parting, "I really don't give a shit" soundbite to the people of New Orleans.

Bizarre economic indicators

Yes, the premise is contrived and I would argue likely untrue. However this is probably my favorite Bay area local news segment I've ever viewed as far as the overall entertainment value is concerned (particularly the segment that begins around 1:55).

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, people use the library for the same varied reasons they've always used it.* Yes, some of them are job searching, some are doing homework or research, and some are taking advantage of the totally free entertainment. None of this is any different than it was prior to the "economic downturn". Maybe that's another way in which we're "bucking the trend". I don't know.

*We are leaving aside the obvious unique spikes in library usage due to flood recovery issues. People still avail themselves of library computers and fax machines in order to handle business with FEMA, insurance, etc. But non-flood-related usage seems pretty constant otherwise.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I have a new favorite person

And it is Rod Balgojevich.

This is not your run-of-the-mill pol in hot water. This guy is sharp.... maybe not as sharp as he thinks he is but pretty close. Best of all, he's enjoying this. And so am I.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nobody could have predicted

That the Clinton II Administration would behave.... exactly like the Clinton I Administation.

Okay so we're being a bit facetious here. Obviously Harkin is unhappy with something but it isn't exactly clear what in the above-linked story. Let's just put this down as a point of concern for now.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gambit's gambit

It's a banner week for New Orleans's formerly "needed alternative". (The annoying "Because New Orleans needs an alternative" tagline is thankfully no longer in use.) In addition to a laudable decision to honor Karen Gadbois as one of its New Orleanians of the Year, Gambit Weekly sorry The Gambit has undertaken a total redesign of its weekly print edition. There are several noteworthy changes most of which I like and some of which have me scratching my head a bit.

First of all, the look of the paper has been significantly scaled down from the high-production, oversized, near-magazine style format you see here on the left to the more understated pamphlet sort of thing on the right.

Gambit vs. Gambit

I like this change. In the past, I have often criticized the Gambit as a sort of glorified vehicle for targeted hipster boutique advertising. And since a smaller, lighter looking paper means smaller, lighter advertising pull-outs, the new format can be seen as a small symbolic step away from the dress shop abyss. The new Gambit has the look and feel of a grittier, simpler, but somehow more serious paper. It's very punk rock.

This is not to say that the alternative weekly has magically shed itself of the constraints within which it operates. The Gambit and its readership will always encapsulate the fears and yearnings of the so-called latte swilling, white, hip, pseudo-liberal hipster to one degree or another. But even on that limited playing surface, there's plenty of room available to run a decent newspaper. And, for what it is, Gambit manages to be a pretty decent paper... with some persistent flaws.

The new print format slightly reduces the space devoted to in-depth arts and entertainment coverage. However, this comes at a moment when Gambit has greatly improved the searchable online event listings on its website and has launched a companion blog that theoretically provides ample space for much of what gets left out of the print edition. I understand the print and online Gambits reach different and differently sized audiences. I guess deciding whether to relegate certain items to the blog is sort of the new above-or-below the fold. I, for one, appreciate the fact that the Gambit blog features sports coverage. And, of course, if you're looking for more arts and entertainment, there are excellent alternatives to the alternative available.

The food coverage does not appear to have suffered. And it would have been an unforgivable mistake if it had.

The new crossword is fun... but I still do the one in the T-P because it's usually easy enough to finish during my lunch coffee.

And, of course, there are few better ways to apprehend the je-ne-sais-'tard of Louisiana politics than through regular installments of Greg Peters' Suspect-Device cartoons.

The local affairs and political reporting is always useful in one way or another and at times is very very good.... even if we still have to put up with Clancy Dubos.

On the other hand, I find myself once again scratching my head at something Jeremy Alford has written. BSJD has already posted on this but it strikes me as peculiar that anyone who reports regularly about the politics of Louisiana hurricane recovery would have missed this Salon piece... or at least not be aware of its contents. Keep in mind, this isn't the first time Alford has baffled us in this fashion.

Finally, I can't help but notice that although the Gambit has retained its weekly "Bouquets and Brickbats" feature it has done away with the accompanying bouquet and brickbat clip-art replacing it with stylized plus and minus signs. Florists and masons everywhere demand an explanation.

Take all the time you want

Really... no hurry. We're serious.

Saints: Bush had left knee surgery, recovery could take months

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Clinton II Administration is looking crappier all the time

Obama wants CNN health correspondent and big Pharma apologist Sanjay Gupta to be surgeon general.

Reminds us of one of our all time favorite CNN moments.

Knockin on Heaven's Door

The police have broken down the 100 year-old door on Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in an attempt to remove the parishioners protesting against the church closure. If you are available and so-inclined, Eli suggests that you get over there and help voice your displeasure with the Archdiocese's heavy-handed actions.

Personally, I think that asking the Catholic Church to accept constructive criticism is like... well... praying for a miracle.. but have fun storming the castle anyway.

Update: And now we're hearing that the protesters may have all been removed. Should be fun to watch the news tonight.

Upperdate: Make that... fun to watch the news right now.

In this T-P video, an overenthusiastic protester has a "don't tase me, bro" moment attempting to obstruct the path of an NOPD squad car. Really, dude, just let it go.

Come on, man

After a multimillion dollar renovation and general spiffing up of the French Market and its environs, is it too much to ask that we spell the street names correctly?

Barrack(s) street

Monday, January 05, 2009

Half-read book review

It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium by John Ed Bradley

Various folks have recommended this to me since it was published in 2007 and I had been putting it off until someone finally went ahead and bought it for me this Christmas. I just picked it up this weekend and, my God, it is far far more compelling than I had imagined.

Bradley is not just some ex-jock waxing nostalgic about his playing days. Instead, he has written (in the first half of the book anyway) a dark memoir of an angst-ridden young writer struggling to distance himself from an athletic career which he appears to view with equal parts pride and shame. Bradley's examination of his (perhaps unnecessary... perhaps a bit selfish) identity crisis raises questions about one's expectations and their relationship with what is expected of one... as well as the concept of "humility" as a sort of false face for self-satisfaction.

And, of course, the book is also the sometimes harsh and sometimes reverent but realistic college football memoir it is advertised as. As a reader, it helps to be a) interested in football and b) from Louisiana. But it isn't necessary.

And that's all I got so far. Remember, it's a "half-read" book.

In a related matter, we see that Les Miles has hired a new defensive coordinator off of Phil Fulmer's now disbanded staff. Fitting as Fulmer was the only SEC football coach who was actually worse than Miles. (Not counting Spurrier, of course. No thing or no one is worse than Spurrier in any category)

Friday, January 02, 2009


Nahh. I'm suspicious of anyone who appears too resolved to accomplish something. Besides, I was too hungover yesterday to reflect very deeply on goals or resolutions and.. seriously, if you spend too much time planning and hoping then you're probably not living right in the first place.

So instead, here are a few half-assed expectations for 2009 that I just thought up (and will quickly forget):

  • I expect January 20 will be an emotional day for a lot of people in the same way November 4 was. It won't be very long, however, before the Clinton II Administration starts to feel as disappointing as Clinton I. So enjoy the moment while you can.

  • I expect Alabama to kick the crap out of Utah tonight in the Sugar Bowl. I still don't understand the misdirected hatred many LSU fans hold for Nick Saban. He's a prick. So are all football coaches. The unusual thing about Saban is that he's a fairly effective prick. Deal with it.

  • I expect Les Miles to be fired. I always expect Les Miles to be fired.

  • It's a bit early to get a read on this, but based solely on a gut feeling, I expect the Saints to improve on their 8-8 finish next season. Could be, however, that since I have correctly predicted the team's record for two consecutive seasons now, I might just expect it's time for that streak to end. In other words, don't go running to Vegas just yet.

  • This blog has gotten a bit extra-crappy in the past few months. I might expect that to change... but I won't try very hard to do anything about it.

  • I expect I'm about ready for Carnival season.

  • I expect Bobby Jindal to have a rougher time of things this year. He's already made some enemies in Baton Rouge and as stupid and incapable as those enemies may be, they are enemies nonetheless. Plus it's never much fun for a Governor of a state running such a huge budget deficit. Expect trouble. And, since it's Louisiana, expect it to be funny.

  • I expect at least one more major local political scandal to break this year. But the current Hayride era of one federal investigation after another has to come to an end at some point. This may be Jim Letten's last go-round as US attorney. Eli has been speculating about potential challengers to David Vitter in 2010. I'm surprised I haven't seen Letten's name mentioned yet.

  • I expect life in New Orleans to continue to be as sad and frustrating as it is beautiful and hilarious. I expect I would shrivel up and die if I ever had to leave.

And now that I've wasted yesterday being hungover and most of this morning on the internets, I'm going out to mess with the football fans in the quarter. I expect it to be mildly amusing.