Saturday, December 30, 2006

Red Clay Krewe

One thing about New Orleans - I can't go a week without running into another Georgia graduate, student or fan. There are a bunch of folks in the Crescent City who bleed red and black on Saturdays, if you know what I mean, and wear Charles Grant and Stinchcomb jerseys to the Saints games. Couple the fandom (and the hat I wear round town) with the graciously outgoing character of New Orleanians, and I get stopped in the grocery store or coffeeshop with "when did you graduate, baby?"

I got a more important question, though: "Where we watchin' the game, y'all?" 'Cause every one of the Crescent City Dawgs I've run into has talked football with me. Every. One.

So, I'll keep checking the internet till kickoff, but unless I find something good, I'm going to roll the dice and scoot down Magazine Street to - The Bulldog - of all places, and hope some other Georgia fans can be found round the pitchers of Abita Amber.

And for the google searchers... Georgia Bulldog fans New Orleans watch Peach Bowl tonight.

Sic 'em.

WARNING!

Extremely graphical awesomeness inside...

That is, if you like seeing genocidal maniacs get their due...

(actually, it's not graphic at all. But we know the end result...and no, you don't get to see the actual event...this isn't a snuff film site.)

But these folks seem fairly happy that he's gone...

The Mania

So, instead of do the smart thing and roll around Georgia for another few days, get tickets to the Peach Bowl and make the long haul back to New Orleans on New Year's Eve, I decided to come back on Thursday with Bandit riding shotgun. Because the Grocery Getter II (a silver 1996 Ford Taurus named in honor of the Grocery Getter, a white 1994 Ford Taurus) doesn't have a very advanced technology stereo, the CD's don't play out of all the speakers, so there was a lot of time catching up on interstate radio.

Most especially Florida interstate radio.

You learn, while listening to Florida interstate radio, how much you really miss New Orleans city radio - that can pick up the Rajun Cajun and 90.7FM. But that's a whole other post on geographic culture as affected by radio...

Anyway, the drive from Island City to New Orleans will get you a lot of country stations, some gospel, a pinch of sports and some heavy metal (thankyouthankyouthankyou Tallahassee) so the Bandit and I discussed country livin', appraised songwriting skill, debated religion, examined the wisdome of the individuals behind Crimson Tide college football, and rocked out. We also came across a patch of drive where the Rush Limbaugh show rang clearly into the vehicle.

You want entertainment? Hear the conversation between a guy whose full nickname is "The Brantley County Bandit" who is the Republican Who Doesn't Know Why and me, the Southern Liberal who represents the Party Wing of the Democratic Party.

The really funny thing was the topic matter of the angryadio show. It wasn't Rush, he was passed out in some other room of the studio because he shoulda took the blue pill or something, and someone who wasn't as good as Rush was on the air. He was discussing how shady Barak Obama is.

Here's his example: There was some expensive land in Illinois. The land was split up into two properties. In 2005 Obama bought part of it for $1.6M approx., and a shady political insider bought the other part for $600K. That makes them neighbors.

Ready for the scandal? (We had to wait for the commercial break and buildup...)

Here's the big dog: after a year, the smaller property that the shady political insider bought hasn't been developed. The $600K land still sits next to Obama's estate, unused by the owner. BUT! The owner has been indicted for being a shady political guy.

Isn't that awful? That makes Obama absolutely unfit to be President!!! What's worse, and this is an example of ridiculous media bias, there have only been TWO stories about this in Illinois papers. ONLY TWO!!! If Obama was a Republican, it would be on CNN that he has a shady neighbor!!! WE'RE SO OPPRESSED!

I would put forth that maybe only two stories have run about this because it isn't a very interesting story. Obama has a neighbor with shady finances, he has a shady neighbor!! Wow. I guess that's just waay outside the mainstream, hunh? I don't know any Americans who have shady neighbors! I don't know any Americans whose neighbors have been indicted for something! I mean, what's next from this "Obama" guy? Does he have a MySpace friend who was a meanie pants in high school? [ / sarcasm ]

Are you kidding me? As much money as the right wing attack machine spends to dig stuff up and "he has a shady neighbor" is the best they can get Obama on?

Who are the hand wringing, whiny overreactors now?

Funniest thing about this was, when hearing my laughter, Bandit asked me why I didn't think that was shady on Obama's part!!! He said that Obama should have known better than to occupy a house next to a guy who was going to get indicted, what with him (presumed) to be running for President and all.

I told Bandit that if I was ever blessed enough to be able to afford a $1.6M home, you can bet your cowboy boots I'm gonna occupy it, shady neighbor or not. If said neighbor developed said land next to Armstrong Hall, then I'd get the band back together to assail shady ears with rock n roll goodness at high decibels during the wee hours. And yes, if said neighbor did not develop said land nextdoor, my stable of purebred English bulldawgs would know the shady land affectionately as "the throne..."

I was reminded to write this post after reading Jmac's post on Obama, and how, in total agreement with Jmac, I love to hear someone (possibly) running for President saying such things.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bad Day for the Bad Guys

Saddam Hussien executed. I guess that's Texas justice aptly applied. "You don't wait on Death Row for fifteen years, Jack, you move right to the front of the line. Other states are trying to ban the death penalty, mine's puttin' in an express lane." -Ron White

Mighty, Mighty Ethiopia backing the UN supported Somali government in exile, has driven the asshole brigade out of Mogadishu in five days. Tired of UN fruitlessness and Western neglect, Ethiopia, usually associated in Western media with famine and starving children, is apparently not the best nation to declare a Holy War against because it appears they have acquired Soviet era tanks, artillery and jet fighters. But, being the good sports that they are, they refused to enter the Somali capitol and left that honor to the Somali troops they had fought alongside. UN Humanitarian shipments began landing at Mogadishu's airport today.

(Hey, isn't Ethiopia near Darfur? I hear boot-to-ass redeaux...)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Yuletide Thunder

(and I ain't talkin' bout the eggnog...)

Merry Christmas from Island City, Georgia. I had some pictures from this morning, but blogger keeps eating them. One is of me sneaking out of New Orleans before dawn on Saturday to a fantastic sunrise (90.7 FM played Georgia On My Mind the moment I got on the twin spans heading east...) The other pictures are of oak trees and the marsh and the rain.

'Cause we got rain, and how. I woke up this morning to thunder (on Christmas!?!) and we're under a Tornado watch currently, as is half the Eastern Seaboard. Any kids who got bikes or skateboards should be truly terrorizing their parents today, and everyone in the airports...at least the bars are open.

I've also got a dozen or so people to call back, as somewhere around 10:30 AM, hungover friends began a steady stream of text messages to my phone. It is good to be technologically blessed. So I'll be doing that today, and hoping the rain moves off so I can get that big Christmas bonfire started before folks start coming over this evening to drink all the beverage making materials I recieved as presents.

You cats up north keep warm, and we'll keep the Southern lights burnin' for ya!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Insider Trading

The situation (and you know this was going to happen sooner or later): a former officer of the law, a drug enforcement agent - and a good one, is apparently making a video that will detail the ways to effectively hide contraband, most notably that contraband that falls under the 'controlled substances' label.

His reasoning? The criminalization of marijuana has led to thousands of non-violent offenders' incarceration.

Law enforcement officials reaction? Not happy. Shocker there.

What do I think of this? Well, this is to be expected. I know many, many, many fine officers of the law, who do their jobs the right way and who are the very best examples of public service and protection. But I also know many, many, many ne'erdowells who have ended up afoul of the law for one reason or another.

One thing that is resoundingly apparent, or so I gather from tales of either side running into the other, is that, if people know their rights, or fight for them, they are much less likely to run afoul of the law than those who do not know their rights. Besides Miranda (you have the right to remain silent, etc, etc) officers of the law are not really obligated to explain to a great deal about your rights to you (and even Miranda explanations, I think, are only an obligation once an individual is under arrest - Sprout, is that right?).

In fact, many officers of the law are highly trained and highly encouraged to highly encourage a suspect to talk themselves into far more trouble, or invite the officer of the law to find evidence against them. That American society is so politely masochistic that so many of us invite officers of the law to find evidence against us is both a testament to our greatness as a culture and a terribly effective law enforcement tool.

But, some officers of the law have been known to take 'highly encourage' a step close to 'intimidate,' and this of course leaves a bad taste in the mouth of someone on the recieving end. I'm also sure that there is a tinge of bitterness after one spents a night in jail and has paid the applicable and considerable fines to the State for a DUI or minor possession offense when one later discovers that the traffic stop or search that caught them was conducted improperly or was the product of one's own ignorance of the law.

This means that a lack of information in the brain of the suspect exponentially
increases the "effectiveness" of law enforcement. One could surmise as well that more information in the brain of the suspect decreases the "effectiveness" of law enforcement.

What, did you think Johnny Cochran got paid about $500 an hour because he was a good cook?

Enter the information superhighway. Now, with the mere click of a computer key, wayward ne'erdowells can find out a treasure trove of information from sites like FlexYourRights.org (HT: Corwyn), and now, soon apparently, the video mentioned in the headline article that will show folks how to evade narcotics detection.

Is this a good thing, or an illegal thing?

Well, I think they'd both be legal, because there are many ways for police work to catch people, and no system is failsafe. Also, many narcotics make you forget important stuff, and act in ways hardly considered intelligent, so the overall effect on actual police work, I think, will be negligible. I think, in reality, that the most likely effect this video will have is a bunch of folks sitting in jail cells saying "shoulda paid closer attention to that video."

I personally have no problem whatsoever with the public knowing their rights in regards to officers of the law, especially such traditionally effective tools as the "stupid crook traffic stop." I also know that the information superhighway cuts both ways, and that many officers of the law (and citizens) have ready access to information they may not have gone over as well, such as that available on my Dad's website.

Tech savvy ne'erdowells may not talk themselves into too much trouble after the internet, but tech savvy cops can find new ways to gather evidence and make their case for conviction.

A really tech savvy cop, responding to tech savvy ne'erdowells, may even go so far as to make a video promising an end to 'ever getting busted' for drug possession again, and make all the tech savvy ne'erdowells start hiding their stashes in the same place in every tech savvy car they drive. If this tech savvy cop was really smart, he'd have law enforcement officials contact the national news and denounce him as going over to the 'dark side,' so all the tech savvy ne'erdowells would read about it, believe it authentic and post his video on youtube to all their myspace pages and 'stick it to the man.'

A super duper tech savvy cop would make the video downloadable on his website for a fee, and use the money to buy his local police department nicer cruisers and what not.

But that would have to be a really tech savvy cop, definitely the best in the state, probably the best in the country.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jackasses of the Year

So, yeah. Remember when we used to run the Jackass of the Month award, way back in January and Februgly? Yeah, that sort of fell by the wayside. However, I have located this year's winners of the JotY award. Ladies and Germs, Allow me to present to you, Charlie Taylor Douglas and Richard Alexander Perry.

Yes, boys and girls, while fat, drunk, and stupid may not be any way to go through life, according to Dean Wormer, it apparently didn't stop these two morans.

Let the mockery commence...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This Can't Be True

Remember earlier in the year when the illegal immigration debate was at a fever pitch? Remember some of the political cartoons that had illegal immigrants as the ones who would be building any fence we put on the border?

If you told me it actually happened, I would say you had to be kidding me. I'd say, "no one could be stupid enough, considering that business, to do that." Oh well.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Identity Crisis

While the Democratic Party is busy making ourselves giddy over the ascendancy of either Clinton or Obama, which, in and of itself may garner enough ink to nominate one of them by Memorial Day, the Republican Party is undergoing a continuation of their needed identity crisis.

And I ask, yet again, is the current state of affairs in the GOP a precursor to the dissolution of the Libertarian/Republican/Neo-Con alliance that has dominated American politics since 1994? (And in many ways, since Reagan won in 1980?) Or is this just a needed conversation that the various wings of the Republican Party have been ignoring for a while so they could make fun of us Democrats?

I wonder which side ends up on top and controlls the direction of the 2008 GOP...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Must Read

Yeah, the Dollar Bill Jefferson Election thing. IN addition to the stuff you've already read about it, this piece over at YRHT still rates as a must read.

For those of you not interested in Louisiana politics, this one is still important because it goes over such related topics as national perception of local elections and how the decision not to vote affects the overall schematic.

This is especially true for followers of Georgia politics, as we were the ones who were associated for so long with one Cynthia McKinney, and we just saw how the Democratic Party of Georgia got hammered in part because of the way the big names on the ticket ran their campaigns.

(HT: Ashley.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Walter E Williams vs. The Fair Tax

So I'm talking to a friend the other day and he asks me who my favorite economist is. I say Milton Friedman. He then asks for favorite living economist (ouch, didn't Friedman just pass away?). That one was easy: Walter E Williams. I don't know if he's the "best" economist. I don't even know how you would measure such a thing. I do know that he's entertaining and I've learned a lot from reading his works and listening to him when he occasionally fills in for radio talk show hosts.

There's been some talk about the Fair Tax during the recent elections. For those who don't know, the Fair Tax is a national sales tax on items not neccessary to day-to-day life. The Fair Tax is meant to replace out current Federal income tax system. Radio talk show host Neal Boortz is probably the Fair Tax's biggest supporter but the idea had gained some limited traction in the House of Representatives. Williams is in thoery a fan of the idea but has serious concerns about any possible real life implementation. I happen to share many of his concerns.

The linked article is his most recent on the subject. It's largely a rehash of an earlier piece from Capitalism Magazine. I also include the Capitalism Magazine link because it contains some background info the Town Hall piece only glosses over:

Before we look at whether a national sales tax is a good idea, how about a little Economics 101 just to convince you that government spending, not government taxation, is the true measure of governmental impact on our lives?

Keeping the numbers small, suppose the annual value of what Americans produce, our gross domestic product, is $100. If government spends $40 of it, of necessity the government must force us to spend $40 less. There are several ways this can be done. Government could tax us $40. Government could borrow, thereby driving up interest rates and reducing private spending. Government could simply print money, which would cause inflation and reduce our purchasing power. Finally, government could employ some combination of the three.


He did a piece as a guest host on Limbaugh one time that greatly expounded on this concept. He went on to argue that our current inconme taxation system is really just a thinly veiled income redistribution scheme. I wish I could find a transcript of that.

Back to the main point, Williams argues that the Fair Tax could be as good as any revenue-neutral tax system but has some serious conditions that would need to be met before he would endorse it. But most importantly, Willaims points out the irrelevancy of the tax system and provides a real permanent solution to the government's financial situation:

My solution is an amendment limiting federal spending to a fixed percentage, say, 10 percent of the gross domestic product.


Taxation is important but spending is more important.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Perfect

I would like everyone to read the following quote and stop and think for a moment.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) -- Sen. Barack Obama says he may have to overcome questions about his inexperience, stereotypes about his race and even a middle name that reminds Americans of Iraq's former dictator.

Now, tell me what's wrong with this sentence.

Whatever one thinks about comma rules, I bet your eye was drawn instead to both the last three words. Ditto. How in the hell could they get Osama mixed up with Hussein? I believe they're talking about the other guy.

Oh, but then I read the sentence again, which refers to Sen. Obama's middle name. So I read on.

That's right: Barack Hussein Obama.

Can someone tell me what cosmic joke that is? How, in the realm of all things possible, can someone with a Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother get that name? And how, cosmically, can it work out that, at the time he is elected to the Senate and only the second African American to be so elected since Reconstruction, his name resembles or replicates both of the dasterdly boogey men haunting American foreign policy? What, are we going to find out about his other middle name next election, and the other other middle name the election after that? Are we really going to end up with Sen. Barack Hussein Chavez "The Beard" Jong Il Obama?? Really.

I mean come on.

Team New Orleans: Quotes

As one might imagine, the recent elections in Louisiana Congressional District 2 are still roiling commentary around New Orleans. I was driving around town with my cousin’s husband today and we listened to talk radio the whole time. The atmosphere and conversations about this have been aggravated, frustrated and defensive. Can't imagine why.

To paraphrase one quote I heard today from talk show host – he was discussing with his callers how New Orleans is perceived by the rest of the country and how that affects the recovery – was ‘they re-elected Nagin and re-elected Jefferson. Wow, they’re really turning it around down there, we should send them more money.’

Remember that huge post I wrote earlier that Dante eviscerated? Yeah, well, that was just one facet of a very, very complicated election in a very, very complicated place.

So, in the spirit of quotes, here’s a roundup:

"It's not the end of the world. We've already been through that in August 2005." Library Chronicles. (This guy accurately picked the outcome of the election, btw.) More here.

Some numbers breakdown:
After “objectively” “hacking” the voter returns for the 2nd Congressional District race, I found that majority white precincts in Jefferson Parish voted about 4 to 1 for Jefferson. By contrast, white precincts in Orleans Parish voted about 20 to 1 for Karen Carter. Majority black precincts in Jefferson Parish voted about 40 to 1 for Bill Jefferson, and in Orleans parish, the ratio was about 8 to 1 for Jefferson. Since I’m missing about a half dozen precincts that were redistricted after the 2000 US Census, I may revise these numbers later if I have more time to “hack” (but it’s very time-consuming).
-Schroder
There’s even a map involved, for those who want a visual.
More here, and here.

Also, folks, New Orleans ain't the first place that's elected or re-elected someone with a gynormous dark cloud hanging over their head. And we won't be the last. My personal favorite was how Boston political icon (at various times Mayor, Congressman and Governor) James Michael Curley kept winning elections in spite of two pesky felony convictions. The Boston Rascal King makes Dollar Bill look like a piker, y'all. Louisiana is NOT the only place in the US with a rich history of exuberant corruption (New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Illinois and New York also come to mind) we're just more fixated on it. We're also way too fixated on our IMAGE and how others see us. Do you think Italians give a shit if the Swedes disapprove of past papal/wise guy dominated right wing governments? Hell no, they drink some red wine, say 10 Hail Marys and flip-off the Swedes.
-Adastros
I'm also NOT surprised that West Bank voters voted in their local self-interest and didn't care what outsiders thought. This is how this community has *always* been. In the unflooded parts of the city post-K, neighborhood leaders have had a very hard time getting their people interested in anything that doesn't affect their own blocks. To quote or paraphrase Jeffrey: "All politics is local and New Orleans politics is local-er."
-Adastros,again.
Read more here, and here.

What happens now?
Clancy DuBos made one good point: if Jefferson survives the indictment, the party primary system will make it almost impossible to unseat him in two years. That's something for all the clever strategic voters who voted for Jefferson in hopes of getting a better choice after the indictment to think about.
-Moldy City


-World Class New Orleans (I had a quote, but Word must have eaten it on the clip and paste. Please read whole article.)

How did some folks on the left react?
If you're in the mood for a little self-flagellation, hop on over to Kos or MyDD. The brain trusts there are saying that, since Jefferson Parish voted for Jefferson, then we don't deserve rebuilding.
-Ashley
Read more here.

"Now cross your fingers and lets hope he gets indicted...Call it an overtime" -The American Zombie.

"I want Run Oliver Run! yard signs printed in advance so they can be put out, en masse, the day after Jefferson gets indicted." - Your Right Hand Thief

Perhaps a more permanent remedy is in order?
The political class in Louisiana, both Democrats and Republicans, have used their power to create permanent jobs for themselves. They will go out of office when they are damned good and ready, money in the freezer or whatever. I’m just as bewildered as everyone else about why we are putting up with this, but am I the only one who now has a greater understanding of why the French chopped off their king’s head? What do we have to do to get rid of this embarassing, entitled royalty of ours?
-Dangerblond


"Quibble, yes. Not as serious as levees/federal government v. hurricane/personal failure but worth noting." -GBitch

And finally:
[The Saints] are a better team than we deserve. If you voted for Dollar Bill or stayed home and let him be re-elected; if you voted Republican in the past and acquiesce in (if not endorse) the sort of politics that left him unindicted on the odd chance he might be re-elected to provide some future political advantage or a West Banker who helped send a future felon back in our name on the odd chance you might do better next time, don't be putting on your Bush jersey tomorrow. You don't deserve to wear it. If you want to be part of team New Orleans, then you damned well better start acting like it.
...
We need to shake off Saturday and remember the levee and assessor vote, the election of a new city council in all the repopulated districts.
...
We need to get up tomorrow and get back to work at being a city worthy of what we saw, of what the nation saw on television tonight. We need to figure out how to be a team that models itself on the 53 men who did honor Sunday to the names New Orleans and Louisiana. All right, now shower up and get on the damned bus so we can start over tomorrow on doing it right.
-Wet Bank Guide.


New Orleans: home of jazz, spectacular writers and a winning NFL team. Our ass-tastic government officials get on TV so yours don't have to.

Real Funny

There's more where this came from, and you will not regret clicking over.

Hat tip: GBitch

Hangover Day


Yeah. First New Orleans hangover. I haven't seen a reaction to a sports game like that since Georgia beat Auburn in 2002.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Crooks Keeps Winnin Blues

Woke up this mornin'
Lookin' round for the news
Wonderin' if what I'd read
online was true.

Said I
Woke up the mornin'
Tryin' to hear the news.

Happenin' again, Lord
I got them
Crooks Keep Winnin' Blues.


Yeah. I got home from work last night, tired and covered in salsa fonda. Popped online for a minute. Wrote a few things, then remembered to check and see the election results. You see, Disgraced US Representative William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson (D-Leavenworth) was running for reelection against one LA Rep. Karen Carter (D-New Orleans), who was favored to win against the incumbent who was found, comically, with $90,000 of marked FBI money in his freezer. In the recent 'sweep the House' election atmosphere, I, along with many others (and SAWB can attest to my long held opinion on this) thought Mr. Dollar would be swept from office by a population tired of shenanigans and ready to get down to business.

*

Unfortunately - and in this part of the world, good news too often seems asterisked by an 'unfortunately' - Louisiana District 2 also includes parts of a suburb on the West Bank called Jefferson Parish. A bit more conservative and developer friendly, a bit more caucasian, Jefferson Parish is your usual, run of the mill suburb. They even have a sherrif who talks 'no nonsense' about crime and defends profiling.

You would think these cats, who also are a part of LA - 2, would show even more desire to get rid of the local, soon-to-be-under indictment Congressional Democrat with a power base in the City Across the River. Coupled with the 49% vote** of the Orleans' voter's expressions of 'enough'-ism, Jefferson Parish votes might be expected - assumed even - to pad the anti-incumbent, the non-under-federal-investigation one, the outsider looking to give LA - 2 a fresh start in the 110th Congress.

Unfortunately - (there's that word again) - there was a little misunderstanding that occured during the Katrina unpleasantness between some residents of the City of New Orleans and the police of the City of Gretna (located in the Jefferson Parish side of LA - 2). From what I've heard and read, without water or power or vehicles, and with craziness going on inside the city, some New Orleanians attempted to evacuate post-storm across the Crescent City Connection, a bridge over the Mississippi River that connects New Orleans to the West Bank, and that runs through Gretna and Jefferson Parish.

After walking for several hours in the 100 degree weather across this bridge, without water, food and vehicles, the evacuees were confronted by some peace officers from the City of Gretna and/or Jefferson Parish. Some of the assembled peace officers apparently chose not to look upon this group of dehydrated evacuees as people in need of help and instead saw them as potential looters and troublemakers. Upon being told to turn around, without water or food or vehicles, and walk back across the bridge some of the evacuees perhaps uttered a few expletives. Emotions, one might imagine, running high.

Upon hearing the objections of this dehydrated group, some of the assembled peace officered decided that the best means of communicating their message was to fire their weapons over the heads of the evacuees so that said evacuees might become highly encouraged to turn around, without water or food or vehicles, and go back across the bridge into New Orleans. Which they did.

Nothing says 'you will take me seriously,' it seems, like the sound of gunfire from weapons pointed ominously close.

That's a pretty serious misunderstanding, one that might have been handled better by one side or the other. I have my own opinions, and I'll let you, gentle reader, guess where those opinions fall.

There was one person, however, who gave her opinion loudly and clearly about the misunderstanding on the bridge: LA Rep Karen Carter (D-New Orleans). In Spike Lee's Katrina documentary, Rep. Carter told the cameras quite openly that she did not think such behavior was befitting officers of the law, and that such activity by law enforcement ran counter to her expectations of how American citizens, especially law enforcement officers, behave in the face of crisis.

(For all y'all still wondering where my opinion falls, its pretty close to hers...)

There are some folks in Jefferson Parish who took exception to this opinion, it would seem. One prominent individual was the Jefferson Parish Sherrif, who made it his personal mission recently to make sure Ms Carter did not get elected, even taking money out of his own reelection campaign fund to defeat her.

Because she said police should not threaten with guns the helpless, dehydrated, unarmed evacuees. That was her crime. That was the statement that made her unelectable and unpalatable to Jefferson Parish. Some folks have written to the paper defending this postion.

That was what voters in Jefferson Parish could not overlook. The other guy being what he is, the choice being what it was, Jefferson Parish voters look with such disdain on criticism of people who threaten helpless people with guns that they overlooked national embarassment, the daunting recovery in front of us, corruption and the way things are to vote against someone for being critical of an act many Americans might consider reprehensible. And they did so by a 71% margin.

Karen Carter lost the election for multiple reasons, but on the West Bank side of LA - 2, she lost*** because some people can't take criticism, even when criticism is warranted and deserved.

Unfortunate.

Hey, you folks who got upset by the 'law officers with guns shouldn't threaten dehydrated, exhausted evacuees' critique: I know it ain't no comparison (cause it would never happen), but if the Brunswick Police force (who wouldn't do such a thing) ever blockaded the FJ Torras Causeway during an emergency to keep on-foot, dehydrated, and exhausted evacuees from St Simons and Sea Islands (even though said people would never be in such a situation) and had the gall to fire weapons in order to scare the people off, every single officer and public offical involved would currently be under indictment themselves, sued for everything they ever hope to own or buried. Criticism would be the least worry among such mistake makers.

More on this from NOLA bloggers People Get Ready and Your Right Hand Thief.

* This statement
Matter of fact, it did happen. Amid dismal turnout percentages, in Orleans Parish, where the City of New Orleans is located, Karen Carter defeated long time incumbent Bill Jefferson by a close margin. This signals to me that a majority of people in New Orleans are absolutely ready to end some shenanigans that plauges government.
was part of the original post and was made because the author didn't check his facts. This statment is wrong, pointed out by Dante in the comments section. Jefferson won Orleans Parish with 51% of the vote. Patrick Armstrong is a media sensationalist who will be ritually flogged with clumps of Georgia red clay upon his next visit to Athens in order to remind him why we have facts in the first place.

**In the original piece, the term was "majority," and I have now replaced it with the 49% of the vote in order to properly reflect reality.

***Added the phrase "for multiple reasons, but on the West Bank side of LA - 2, she lost" in order to properly reflect reality.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blockquotes

Ashley puts together a roundup of NOLA bloggers and things that were said recently. All the links are good ones, but the following really caught my eye as to the state of opinions down in this part of the world.

From NOLA Slate:
These ideas sound seditious, eh? Hey you, up in Dubuque, not liking this? Think we're all a bunch of wild eyed radicals? WRONG, although we could be, soon. As Ashley said, in post-WW2 Europe people rebuilt their city themselves, in some cases brick by brick. Okay, is that what it will take? Tell us and we'll do it. Quit dicking around. We'll get the voter registration rolls and put everyone to work in shifts. Most of us would willingly tote wheelbarrows and trowels if it meant that we'd be safe, a term used often and with great effect in the "War on Terror."
Being in New Orleans for lo, these many weeks has been like a doctoral course on duality. While there is a great feeling of gratitude to the individuals and organizations that have come down to the Gulf Coast to pitch in, there is a seething discontent and frustration at the way government, at all levels, is 'handling' the rebuilding. Not the least of which is the 'oh, we'll take care of those levees...when we get around to it.' Then of course, there is the punditry from elsewhere (like the North Dakota email) that claim New Orleanian and Gulf Coast residents' demands for redress of greivances are nothing but 'howling' and 'blame' and 'do-nothingism.' If the USA no longer wants to take care of the levees in New Orleans, New Orleans would build the levees, restore the coastline and protect herself. NOLA and the Gulf would just need some of that money the Federal government recieves in oil and natural gas drilling revenue, and the right to redress the grievance against the ACoE in a Court of Law. I can only imagine that The City of New Orleans vs. the United States of America would be a compelling Supreme Court case to follow for the nation as a whole. (Because, though you may not be able to sue the US Army Corps of Engineers, you can sue the United States of America.)

Then there's this one from the Wet Bank Guide regarding the spirit of hope:
We have to recognize that we are in the position of Lincoln in the depths of the civil war. We are in a battle for our very existence as we conceive ourselves, and the old generals are failing us, are leading us through timidity and incompetence to defeat. We need new generals, who will treat the rest of the nation as Grant and Sherman treated the south, as ruthlessly as necessary to get the job done.
...
I believe the people of New Orleans haven't given up hope because we had so little of it to begin with. The venality of politicians, the inefficiency of government, the vicissitudes of weather and termites, of social and economic decay, all of these breed a certain sense of fatalism, an "if Allah wills it" quality that is alien to most Americans. We have a sense that New Orleans, without those burdens, would no longer be the place we love. We cherish a notion of ourselves as the equivalent of a nineteenth century sailor's Shanghai, a colonial outpost of sensuality and corruption and decay. We don't want to be 21st century Singapore, a model of totalitarian efficiency and cleanliness. It just ain't who we are.

And yet, the insha'Allah and the ennui are a mask, one we wear not just on a certain winter Tuesday, but most days of the year. Behind that mask are the people who get up five days a week and haul their kids to school, then go to work. They get up on a sweltering Saturday and overcome their tropical torpor to mow the grass. Later that night, they go out to try that new restaurant.

They get up on Sunday and hope that, this time, the Saints might win. Somewhere today in New Orleans (or Houston or Baton Rouge or Atlanta), someone will put down their beer, and talk about how wild it will be in the Quarter the year the Saints win the Super Bowl. At some level, and as much as we might not want to admit it, we are a hopeful people. Hedged in by levees that may or may not hold, beset Formosan termites and feckless politicians at every level, it would be impossible to live here without it.

Its a funny kind of hope, as old as Abraham. When you expect the worst around every corner, as often as not you will turn that corner and find some small thing that gives you a tremendous lift. That's where we find hope, like a glinting half dollar on the broken sidewalk as you walk from a bad day at the track to Liuzza's, the little mystical sign that maybe today or at least tomorrow is going to turn out all right.
And finally, the whole body of Moldy City's John Barry Katrina Anniversary Op Ed. John Barry is the author of Rising Tide, which I am currently reading, which is quickly rising in my personal list of 'most important American history books you should have but didn't hear about in high school.'

The N.S.O. (New Senate Order)

I think Pat's a bit busy responding to chain mail at the moment so here's a Friday story for you all:

It appears that Hollywood Barrack Obama is gearing up to square off against Hillary 'Macho Man' Clinton in Presidentmania 08. Teddy 'The Brain' Kennedy and many other Senate Democrats are trying to be as neutral as possible in order to avoid helping out the losing side. Some Senators like Dick 'The Iron Sheik' Durbin are already taking sides though helping Hollywood form the New Senate Order (or NSO). Allegedly, Macho Man most recently tried to sabotage Hollywood's bid for the Presidency by spreading rumors that Captain Lou Algore would be also be seeking the 08 nomination. Hollywood responded by stealing away Macho Man's girlfriend and manager George 'Miss Elizabeth' Soros and tearing apart his Obamamania shirt for the audience. Fortunately, the Macho Man did not respond with any shirt tearing.

(I originally decided to use a Dawson's Creek motif for this story until I realized I knew very little about the show and that I'd have to spend a considerable amount of time fact checking the references. I at least watched wrestling for a brief while in the 80's so I grabbed some elements from there. One the one hand, those fake wrestling plot lines aren't nearly as absurd as all this tabloid-level political posturing in the Senate. On the other, at least this round of Senate posturing will be over in two years which is a lot shorter time than you'd have to wait after tuning into a wrestling show to see an actual wrestling match.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

North Dakota

vs New Orleans

I can't remember if I'd seen this before. It appears it has made the rounds several times, but it popped into my inbox (again?) yesterday. I'm filing this under the same place we put the "Germany didn't attack the US for WWII" stuff.

Weather Bulletin - North Dakota

Priceless

THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A MOMENT.

North Dakota News

This text is from a county emergency manager out in the western part of North Dakota state after a snowstorm.

WEATHER BULLETIN
Up here, in the Northern Plains, we just recovered from a Historic event--- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 44" inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.

FYI:

George Bush did not come.

FEMA did nothing.

No one howled for the government.

No one blamed the government.

No one even uttered an expletive on TV.

Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit.

Our Mayor did not blame Bush or anyone else.

Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else,
either.

CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC did not visit - or report on this category 5 snowstorm. Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.

No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.

No one looted.

Nobody - I mean Nobody demanded the government do something.

Nobody expected the government to do anything, either.

No Larry King, No Bill O'Rielly, No Oprah, No Chris Mathews and No Geraldo Rivera.

No Shaun Penn, No Barbara Striesand, No Hollywood types to be found.

Nope, we just melted the snow for water.

Sent out caravans of SUV's to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars.

The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn't ask for a penny.

Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families. Families took in the stranded people - total strangers.

We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns.

We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die".

We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sit-in at home' checks.

Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves. "In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world's social problems evaporate."

It does seem that way, at least to me.

I hope this gets passed on.

Maybe SOME people will get the message. The world does Not owe you a living.
Y'all know I can't let this go. Luckily, there already was a rebuttal up on Snopes.com. But I'll add my own to the mix. Tell me what you think.

Now, I’m not going to get baited into the “New Orleans v North Dakota Strategic & Economic Importance” debate. I’m not going to get into the fact that, before the storm, Orleans Parish had roughly 2/3 the population of the entire state of North Dakota 2000 Census, and the population of the Greater New Orleans area, including Jefferson & St Bernard Parishes outweighed the entire state of North Dakota almost 2 to 1 in an area much, much smaller.

Why will I not get into these things? Because they don’t really have to be part of a rebuttal to this particular email. Both New Orleans and North Dakota are important parts of the United States of America and I will treat them as such here.

The blizzard, as described, dumped 44 inches of snow and was accompanied by winds of up to 90 miles an hour. Katrina dumped a lot of rain, was accompanied by sustained 130 mph winds and knocked out power to over 2 million. Katrina also brought with her a storm surge of up to 28 feet to parts of Mississippi and Southeast Louisiana.

The blizzard sounds like a terrible, terrible storm. But it is a scientific fact that wind power increases exponentially as mph increase. Plus, 44 inches is just short of 4 feet. That much snow is terrifying. But I’m taller than 4 feet. A 28 foot mountain of water, on the other hand, contains significant tonnage to outweigh the snow somewhat. Other similarities could include that both storms were predicted by the National Weather Service, that state agencies and National Guard units were readied to respond, and the power that people depended on were carried on infrastructure subsidized by both the state and federal governments.

But it snows every year in North Dakota, oftentimes up to 4 feet in places and accompanied by winds of up to 90 miles an hour. There are snowplows, and salt trucks and snowshoes. There are wood stoves in houses. There are no US Army Corps of Engineers built domes over the State of North Dakota with the intention of keeping snow out.

While it rains every year in New Orleans, and while localized flooding of three feet can occur in low lying neighborhoods, 20 foot walls of water are, shall we say, something of a rare quality. There are giant pumping stations to keep flooding under control, and many people have boats for recreation that turned into rescue craft during the flood. However, people don’t generally keep scuba gear in their homes so that they might breathe underwater in case 20 some odd feet come along unexpectedly. Why would a 20 foot wall of water be unexpected, even in a place like New Orleans? Because, one, it doesn’t usually happen and, two, unlike North Dakota, New Orleans does have a US Army Corps of Engineers wall around the whole city that was built with the intention of keeping water out.

George Bush didn’t come to New Orleans, either. He flew over the Gulf Coast in a nice airplane. Public outcry and PR later forced his hand.

FEMA did nothing in North Dakota? Hmmm.

I find it very hard to believe that under 4 feet of snow and 90 mile an hour winds, no one called 911, that government owned snowplows and salt trucks were not on duty, that firemen and police were taking the day off, and that government contracted infrastructure maintenance folks weren’t being asked for by name. But I reckon only people in our part of the world ‘howl’ for the government, folks in North Dakota ask nicely.

No one in New Orleans blamed the government for the hurricane, either. However, as I pointed out before, New Orleans does have a government built and maintained wall around the place with the intention of keeping water out. So, when water ended up inside, and someone asks, “What’s all this water doing here?” What are you going to say? The government has a big agency that is supposed to help people in disasters. They do it in Florida and the Carolinas every year. When there are tons of water and supplies sitting in warehouses and a bureaucrat egghead is waiting on paperwork to deliver it to hungry babies, sick grandmothers and dehydrating people in the 110 degree sun, what are you going to say?

I find it very hard to believe that under 4 feet of snow and 90 mile an hour winds, no one in North Dakota said an expletive. Had there been as many TV cameras in North Dakota as there were in New Orleans, I betcha woulda heard one or two.

The Revs. Sharpton and Jackson can tell where the TV cameras are. So can the Hollywood types.

I find it hard to believe that in any federal disaster zone, someone somewhere did not apply for disaster benefits or aid. Perhaps North Dakota has better insurance companies…

No one looted in North Dakota? Again, I find it hard to believe there wasn’t someone who shoplifted something from a hardware store. I find it hard to believe that not one car left in a snowdrift wasn’t stolen when the owners got back. Then again, considering the 4 feet of snow, maybe I can.

I find it hard to believe that not one “caravan of SUV’s” was sent out without some form of government organization in North Dakota. As for New Orleans, boat owners from all over the country showed up to help pull people out of the flood. They did this completely volunteer. We even had boaters showing up to help pull pets out of the flood.

Melting snow for water must be the most convenient disaster response ever. In New Orleans, the temperature was over 100 degrees for long enough to kill naked people in the shade, and the water was filled with industrial waste, oil, fecal matter, household chemicals, debris and decomposing corpses. If only Katrina had been nice enough to leave 4 feet of snow behind.

Shame we have an affirmative action government that tries to save American and foreign lives in the face of great disaster. Thank the Lord for all those ‘affirmative action’ firefighters and police who charged the WTC towers on 9/11; thank the Lord for all those ‘affirmative action’ Coast Guard pilots who threw out the rules to rescue people from rooftops during Katrina; thank the Lord for all those ‘affirmative action’ volunteers; thank the Lord for all those ‘affirmative action’ civil workers who know that sometimes projects are so big and disasters so catastrophic that the government is the only organization strong enough to put the right resources in the right places at the right times.

Where I come from, that’s part of the social contract and the reason we keep government around in the first damn place. Where I come from, we ain’t afraid to call a spade a spade and point out problems and demand better service for our tax dollars. That’s not blame, that’s asking someone to do their damn jobs we pay them for the right damn way.

And one last thing: the reason you have 90% less social problems north of the 48th parallel is that 90% of the world’s population lives below the 48th parallel.

Never Forget

65 Years Ago. I'm writing this at 10:40am, Central Time. This part of the country wouldn't have known what happened for another few hours, and even then, they'd have to listen to reports on the radio.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Culture shock?!

Let me start off by saying that I really don't care which politicians claim to be in touch and which ones don't bother to pretend. I don't care that politicians are sometimes crooked as long as they're not crooked at the expense of policymaking (when they are, I try to speak out and vote accordingly). And I really don't care that politicians tend to be on a buddy system that rewards their friends to positions they're not always qualified for since the folks who don't know what they're doing typically hire enough compotent people around them that things don't completely break down. But the news article I linked to is just too much. Members of the House are complaining that they'll have to work a 5 day week!

House leadership makes the rules as far as work schedule and they have to show up to work, too. There's nothing wrong with scheduling a 5 day work week (that doesn't start until 6:30PM on Monday and ends at 2PM on Friday) as long as everyone is expected to attend. The response that really put me on the warpath is this one by Jack Kingston (R-GA): "Keeping us up here eats away at families. Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

Jack, if your marriage and family life will suffer so much from your job, then maybe you should find another line of work. That's what most people in that situation do. Instead you went out of your way to secure a job that will certainly keep you away from your family for extended periods even with the shorter work week. I think Pat knows some reverend who is willing to take your spot if it's too much a burden.

I doubt everyone is taking the same stance as Kingston, Gallegy (R-CA), Schultz (D-FL), and others. That these folks would publicly complain about it seems a bit odd to me. Even if they do have an issue with the work week, crying about it to the media is hardly the answer. It just makes them come off as looking lazy. I know they sure look lazy to me. And I don't even really care that they're lazy. I kind of expect it and given the current situation, kind of welcome it. But if they're going to pout about being expected to work a full week, they should cry to their mothers. I'm not interested in hearing about it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Out of Touch - ism

"Bush administration defenders see good news in the drop [of applicants for Federal aid]. Those still receiving aid were most dependent before Katrina, mostly single mothers on welfare, while the rest are back on their feet, said Ronald D. Utt, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank.

"From a human suffering point of view, I think it's good news," Utt said. Even for lower-income people who would struggle to pay higher rents in New Orleans while looking for work, he said, "a lot of people have simply found it easier to stay where they are, which are probably places of greater opportunity than New Orleans."

Emphasis mine - HR
Read that one again, and let it sink in reeaal good.

Before Dante can point it out, the press may have misquoted ol' boy. Let's hope so. The Heritage Foundation ain't small beans in the realm of policymaking, and I would hate to think someone like this was influencing the appointees who run the bureaucracy.

This sort of distortion isn't new to folks down in the New Orleans 'part of the world,' but for those of you who ain't around, we'll just say "the rest are back on their feet" quote isn't something an in-touch person, familiar with the situation, would say.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do's and Don'ts

Are you kidding me? Ambassador John "Milk Mustache" Bolton is out, getting yet another one of the toddlers out of positions of influence and hopefully replacing "smack talk" with "diplomacy" as far as the United States' foreign policy is concerned.

We should have elected all these Democrats years ago!! I would also like to go on record as saying, again, they haven't even been sworn in yet and the mere thought of them coming to Washington City is enough to get needed changes out of this Administration.

Speaking of the fact that they haven't even been sworn in yet, tell me how reasonable Howard Dean sounds when he tells fellow Democrats they're gonna have to govern effectively if they want to win again in 2008?

"George Bush made a huge mistake by representing half of America, while treating the rest of us with contempt," Dean said. "We need to reach out to everybody whether they agree with us or not."
That's a long way from "Yeeeaahhhhggghhhhh!!"

Compare that to how out of touch this clown sounds like:

We have already learned the Democrat agenda of raising taxes and surrendering key fronts in the war on terror," said Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz. "Republicans over the next two years will focus on holding Democrats accountable and recommitting to reforms that deliver for hardworking families."
Uhhh, line one on the cluephone, Mr. Reform: you had 14 years to deliver for hardworking families, and you violated that most basic tenet of conservative values - y'all failed. Miserably. And I don't recall a 'surrender' of anything not called 'Donald Rumsfeld' and 'John Bolton' and 'GOP Congress,' so I reckon, Mr. Reform, that you're kinda confused.

Even more trouble for Mr. 'Reform' is that their most reasonable and recognizable candidates for President in 2008 have to run the guantlet that is the GOP Primaries, something that's looking like a difficult road. I mean, are we gonna get your best shot in the form of Giuliani or are you going to hand Clinton the Presidency by nominating Brownback? Newt is probably y'all's only hope, but we might see the Libertarian - Republican Coalition Split in 08, depending on who shows up for the Primaries.

It may hand the Democrats the Presidency till 2012, but think of how truly important a viable Libertarian Party would be that year?

In the realm of how not to act: leftists and faux-liberals around the world took an ideological hit this week with the reelection/coronation of President/Emperor Chavez of Venezuela. Uhh, y'all, there is no place in liberalism for despots. If he does end up amending the Venezuelan Constitution so that he can stay in power indefinitely, he is nothing more than a tyrant, and all our 'intellectual' defenses of him will be worthless in the face of stark and bleeding reality.

Also, Univertsity of Michigan fans are showing a lot of class at their invitation to play in the Rose Bowl instead of the BCS National Championship, for these 10 reasons. Thanks, guys. It is better than throwing flaming paper bags of poo.

(Yeah, that's a must read article for sports fans, btw.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

End Runnings

Thankfully, blessedly and mercifully, hurricane season is over, and it was far quieter than last year's Atlantic atmospheric riot. El Nino and West African duststorms will be our friends until Category 5 levees are in place, it seems.

I think we still had more named storms than the University of Miami Hurricanes football team had wins, though. Something tells me the climate in Boise in December isn't conducive to tropical storm development, so expect to see the "Hurricane Season Over" signs figuring prominently alonside the smurf turf.

Speaking of lead balloons, did anyone read the Iranian President's letter to America yesterday? I did. I have to admit, the idea of our nations at least speaking to one another appeals to me, but you'd think, with the international situation being what it is and all, we'd have a little less tolerance on all sides for fluff pieces. The only thing that would make this more sterotypical is if President Bush responded to this letter with his own, written in crayon, complete with many refrences to "nukyalar" technology and with all the "s" and "e" letters written backwards. And, of course, the Beard's name misspelled.

Though I checked, and it seems the Beard's letter had a profound effect on the twin tools of US policymaking: right wing websites and MySpace blogs.

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki took the "hunh?" moment of repose everyone had after looking at the Beard's letter to upstage his regional rival and announce that Iraq will take over Iraqi security on or around June 7. Let us one and all pray that this is the case, so many of our folks can come home and stay home, and someone over there gets their hands on the steering wheel.

I'm sure there will be a host of pundits on the right wing who sing praises to the 'stay the course' policy working, and I'm sure there will be a host of pundits on the left who say this is the result of the Democratic takeover of the Legislature (they still haven't been sworn in) and the aforethreatened timetables of withdrawal. I'm sure that in reality this has far more to do with Iraqis being uncomfortable with the continuation of Iraqis getting blown up by Iraqis. Whoever is responsible, let us hope that by June 7th, 500,000 Iraqis take over security for their own country, bid us a hearty thank you and farewell, and that there are 100,000 Americans on their way back to America, ready for the July 4th Victory Parade for the Ages Days that will undoubtedly follow.

In local news, I'm wondering what, if any, good can come out of this. Double edged swords all around. Open public housing: give folks a place to stay vs. concentrating populations in areas the governments have proven they can't maintain. Redevelop public housing: keep folks homeless or in exile vs. mixed use development & possible sell off to monied interests. So I'm opening the thread for debate, specifically, on the topic of public housing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgivinin'

Sorry to leave that last post up for so long, the things I have to be thankful for took me away from the internet for several days, and I hardly realized how many days that actually was. We were blessed with a beautiful day on Thanksgiving Thursday in New Orleans, that my cousins and I spent circling Audobon Park. Then there was Turkeydaydinner, spent close enough to the track to see the suited men and hatted ladies making their way to and from the races. I haven't spent a Turkey day around that many people I was related to in years.

Then there was the long drive on Friday from NOLA to the ATL to pick up, of all things, Turducken. Coffee with friends in Marietta and then onward to Athens to help set up for Thanksgiving Saturday. There was more cooking, the glory of the Chick-fil-a Chicken Biscuit hangover breakfast, and a Georgia - Georgia Tech game for the ages.

So much fun, in fact, that the drive back had to wait till Monday. So I was right last Monday, when I said it was gonna be a good week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Face of Courage

Tell me again why we were supposed to fear Democratic Committee leaders? Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY and Korean War Veteran, says that next year, he will propose a bill calling for a draft to national service. He says that such a thing would deter politicians from engaging in wars of choice, and I think he is right on target with that. He also discusses the possibility that military service would not be the only beneficiary, but also things like airport security.

With politicians like the President and GA District 1 Representative Jack Kingston sounding the 'War on Terror' = 'Our Society's Survival & Our Generations's Great Challenge' frame, isn't it about time we take them to task on their terminology? If this is our great challenge, isn't it time, as John Stewart said, to "WWII this thing?" Isn't it time to put the burden on the whole society and not just the military and their families?

That means a draft, putting hundreds of thousands upon hundreds of thousands if not millions more boots on the ground, backed by the arsenal of democracy that is the American industrial machine. That means Ford stops making SUV's that don't sell and starts making tanks, that means the Gulf Coast will become an industrial hub building troop transports and landing craft, that means oil rationing. It means going all in when you say "all in."

And if America isn't ready for that sort of thing, what does that say about this war?

Monday Commutes

First of all, got two things accomplished yesterday that I’m down here on the Gulf Coast to do. Primero, help get the greedy lion’s share of my cousin’s stuff moved out of Alabama and back to New Orleans. Segunda, play music in front of people in the Central Time Zone, specifically the Knock Knock Lounge in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The first involved a Penske truck and a blown out tire. The second involved a very small crowd who still danced, a drummer who hadn’t played on a kit since 48 hours before Katrina, and two Georgia transients on the Gulf Coast – one we call Bandit.

Then, first thing I read on the internet this morning is Dante’s post here, which made me laugh out loud. It’s gonna be a good week, bubba.

Here’s your commute for Monday:

It always feels like election time in New Orleans. Earlier this year was the Mayor’s race. This fall was the national, statewides, and local elections (which still aren’t over), and next year is the battle royale for Governor of Louisiana (which I’ll handicap right now as a big win for Bobby Jindal, 57 – 43).

But before we really get into all that, there is the matter of Karen Carter v. “Dollar” Bill Jefferson for Congress. Tim Tegaris is down in New Orleans, covering the LA – 2 campaign for MyDD. NOLA bloggers Ashley Morris, Matiri, Adastros, and Oyster spent some time showing him around.

I’ll tell you why this is very important. One reason the Democrats won the national Congressional elections has to do with the aftermath of Katrina. Not a primary reason, I’ll grant you, but a reason nonetheless. Pelosi and the Democrats made some awful big promises to do better helping the recovery of the Gulf Coast than the current crop of congressmen, and the NOLA bloggers (generally a pretty left of center bunch) are watching very, very closely to make sure those promises are delivered on. MyDD is one of the big liberal/Democratic blogs that reaches a great many individuals in the national liberal/Democratic “plugged in” base. So, having some NOLA bloggers who lived the storm and the recovery interacting with the national blogosphere is very important when it comes to dispelling myths and going over the hard on-the-ground truths that the national media tends to sensationalize or generalize.

Speaking of the current crop of congressmen, and perhaps the main reason the Democrats were successful, A La Gauche points us to this opinion piece about the derailing of the 1994 Republican Revolution because of the individuals involved. (And the "chess club on steroids" refrence also plays in the week running up to the Georgia - Georgia Tech game which plays heavily on my mind...)

Though I would disagree with the contention that the Senators cut a finer figure (please see: Santorum, Cornyn, Allen, Vitter & Frist’s shenanigans on the right, and – not to be forgotten – John “Foot in Mouth” Kerry on the left), and that we have seen the last of the Gingrich (2008 campaign for President is gearing up). The examples of moral lapses v moral language to win elections is one of the reasons this congressional cul de sac has met its current end, its corruption of actual conservatism and its notorious distinction as Worst Congress Ever (or awfully close).

On a more local note along the same lines G-Bitch points to the ‘disaster profiteering’ being allowed by some state and federal agencies in the cleanup of the Gulf Coast. You want to know why it costs so much to Defend New Orleans? “Flood prone” ain’t the half of it.

And one post script I kinda forgot to add last week. DADvocate
links us to GMRoper’s groupthink analysis of Democrats and ‘their allies.’

If anyone was wondering what my last week’s references to groupthink were about, here’s the origin. Though I am glad to see GM point out that such groupthink affects the other side as well, I found many of his examples of Democratic allies' shenanigans to be extreme. To reiterate: groupthink affects every subgroup ever, from Frat Boys and Townies to Southerners and Yankees to Red State and Blue State, Left Coast and Flyover Territory. As we’ve seen already with this group of Democrats (who, having yet to be sworn in, have gotten a great deal done already) are anything but a lockstep group of ideologues afraid to disagree with one another.

Return of the Return of the Dragon

I knew President Bush was displeased about the most recent election results but I didn't think he'd resort to Kung Fu action to avenge his party's losses. Alas, it looks as both the President and Russian President Putin are both training to be bad@$$ kung fu warriors. Bush could not be reacheed for comment but Putin did release a statement: "Anyone who opposes us will be destroyed!"












Before Training
After Training

Bonus intrasite circular reference

Friday, November 17, 2006

More Groupthink

'Cause us Southern Liberals and Democrats never disagree on anything important...

< / sarcasm>

Thursday, November 16, 2006

149-86

Oh yeah, "intraparty warfare."

Hoyer beats Murtha for Majority Leader in the House. RESOUNDINGLY. Going away. No matter how much the radio screamers or the shrill machines on the right wanted Democrats to, no matter how big this relatively small procedural vote overshadowed any other really real news for the past three days, no matter how much the naysayers and detractors want to make mountains out of this molehill, the Party isn't jumping off a cliff anytime soon.

Sorry, fellas.

I mean, what a difference a year makes. Wasn't DeLay making headlines as Majority Leader just this time last year? It sure feels like it. How long was DeLay Majority leader? How long did the Hammer rule the house, making the rules up as he went along? How many headlines did he get hold of? How much embarassment did he bring to real conservatives and Texans everywhere? When was the last time he was challenged, within his party, for leadership, without a Federal or State subpoena being involved?

And they tried to make Hoyer v Murtha some dynasty sounding stuff. I was waiting to see Don King describing the build up on the O'Really Factor.

That's what you get from the Party of realism, however: A Speaker from California balanced with a centrist Majority Leader from Maryland. No groupthink to see here. This is what a big tent looks like, y'all: variety.

And Trent Lott got the Minority Whip position for the Senate Republicans, reemerging as a leader despite Karl Rove & Tennessee's leadership takeover with Dr. Frist. Though the left wing shrill machine may make a lot of hay over Lott's affable comments to an ailing old man on his retirement day, at least he knows how to be a Senator and a leader. Perhaps we will go down fewer Schaivo Roads with him near the top of the Republican Reinvention*.

(*As they struggle to remember what this "conservatism" thing that they talk about all the time really is....)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Democratic Congress So Far

Oh yeah, the really cool thing is, they haven't even been sworn in as the majority yet. Think the country was ready for a change?

So, we all know that, the day after the elections, Rumsfeld was out as Secretary of Defense, and hopefully the soon to be confirmed Mr. Gates is a conservative member of the reality based community, a huge step in the right direction for this country. As I've said before, I think this is going to be a very good thing.

Second, I submit a hearty Thank You to ultra-Northern Progressive Sen. Feingold, for announcing that he will not run for President in 2008. I don't like Senators running for President, and this has nothing to do with their success rates. They have a huge responsibility to their posts in the legislature, and Presidential campaigns destroy their Senatorial credibility (IMHO). Also, Feingold as an almost undefeatable progressive Senator is far more valuable to the nation, even on issues where I disagree with him, in the legislature than mounting a distracting fight for the Presidential nomination. (Now, if only She would announce that she will not run for the Presidency in 2008...)

Third, I'd rather Maryland Representative Hoyer become Majority leader than Jack Murtha. Only part of this is that the dude is from Maryland, and that's almost considered a Southern state. But Rep. Murtha is not the dude I want to publicly speak for the party from an actual position, because even when he makes good points, I don't like the way he makes them. I'm very tired of lightning rods filling every leadership role. I saw what our side was able to do with Tom DeLay (and, truthfully, what Tom DeLay was able to do to himself), and I don't want that going on. I mean, who's the current Republican Majority Leader until January? When's the last time you saw him on the news actin' up? I want someone who's going to organize and pass legislation, not someone who likes to go on TV and yell, is what I'm sayin.

Fourth, Pelosi is being awful shrewd, and is talking an excellent game so far. The right wing shrill machines will howl about how liberal she is all they want, if Americans see her holding out a hand to the other side to get stuff done, it is the shrill machines who will get egg on their faces. I hope she walks the walk she's talkin about.

This also sounds like a really smart divide and conquer plan, as the schism war between the really real conservatives and the big government Bushitistas has already opened up cracks. If the door to get legislation amended and passed remains open, especially with a Democratic focus primarily on effective government and Congressional oversight instead of partisan retribution for the past decade, some real work may get done - and quickly - without falling into the same holes of hackery that led to the Republican Congressional maturity issues (that consequently led to the GOP's electoral defeat last Tuesday). I think that's one thing the real conservatives and the variety of Democrats are really looking to achieve at this point.

This is some pretty cool stuff to hear about, and like I said up front, they haven't even been sworn in yet...

The Insanity Defense

A few words on this.

Y'all know me, and y'all know that I believe that the only acceptable number of prisoner executions is zero. But that is a perfect world number, and we do not live in a perfect world. Unfortunately, I do believe it is sometimes required of society to take the lives of the incarcerated.

I know it sounds heartless, but I believe it is necessary, despite all my religious belief to the contrary. But religion is a utopian philosophy, religion is the compass light that tells us how things could be better. Civil government, however, must take a far more pragmatic approach.

Here is a tragic case of a mother who killed her three young children, but is certifiably crazy. I mean, she knowingly killed them in order for them to get into heaven and be raised by God instead of her. Because of the insanity defense, she will most likley be looked after for the rest of her life in a state mental institution - undergoing incarceration indefinitely.

Let me say that I am proud of our society for trying to temper vengeful and emotional justice with compassion. The existence of the insanity defense at all, as problematic as it has turned out to be, is a testament that our nation strives to uncover the natures of our better angels.

However, and again - I may sound heartless, but I do not believe that represents justice for those children. There comes a time, I believe, that your crimes outweigh the compassion society employs in order to take care of the infirm of mind. I believe there is a barrier that can be crossed where society and civil government are not acting draconian to demand a prisoner execution, when the action isn't to be used as a deterrent but as a means to its own end, that society and civil government are responsible for persuing such action.

I think such action should be persued in this case, despite the woman's mental instability. That is one of the reasons I believe in keeping the death penalty, though rarely to be employed, as a legal punishment to certain crimes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hard Hitting Post Game

There are a lot of right wing editorials trying to round up the election analysis these days. Contrary to the shrill "country is going over a cliff-ism" emerging from some blogs and talk radio concerning the election returns, many of us who are on the left and Democratic side of this maintain that this election wasn't a mandate for any particular ideology, it was because the Republican Congress was one of the worst ever.

But while the 'blame the Democrats machine' is already working, before any new members can even be sworn in, predicting future doom for the nation, many of us are continuing the calls of BS against the machine.

Excellent post by Your Right Hand Theif.

Some highlights:

"I love these conservatives who are now saying that the past six years of total GOP rule didn't represent "true conservatism". Yeah, no freakin' kidding. Thanks for the belated "head's up", though!"

"Why? Because power corrupts conservatives, too, and liberals should always be able to out-promise them on the campaign trail. (Which explains why conservatives are susceptible to bewitchment by pretty fantasies like supply-side voodoo and neocon foreign policy. Always beware when a so-called conservative is telling you about economic free lunches and easy/cheap nation-building.)"

"And now they are starting to say, "what you saw over the past 6 years wasn't really our 'true' selves."

"Oh, OK. Well, let us know when you stop snorting political faerie dust and return to your "core" principles. In the meantime we'll try to clean up the mess after your binge."
Damn. Just. Damn.

Luckily, many conservatives also mirror this thinking, and to be fair, were fed up with the Repbulcian Party's ineptitude for a while. Though they may be unduly frightened witless by the prospect of a Democratic legislature being as bad as this one, they need to keep that in mind the next time they win the majority when keeping their own folks in line. (Here's a hint, spend less time worrying what inconsequential 'liberals' think, and spend more time worrying about what how your own folks are doing/not doing their jobs....) DADvocate has a short round up here.

Victimology

Yup.

This guy is good. You're not paranoid if they're really out to get you. Then again, sometimes bureaucracy attacks, and makes it seem like they're out to get everyone.

The best part, however, is the rationalization. An example:

Well, they can't very well make it look obvious, the man explained. They've got to treat some white folks poorly, too, so officials can say with some plausibility that their pace doesn't have anything to do with race.
Fair and balanced red tape?

Whiskey is a Hell of a Drug

And the award for "Best Performance Combining Litigation and MouthBreathing" goes to these two winners in California. I can't stop laughing at this one. I don't know what's funnier, the fact that they showed up with their faces 'plastered' across the big screens of America and then asked for their names not to be mentioned on the lawsuit, or the fact that their instinct to get on camera as drunken exhibitionists outweighed their prior knowledge that frat boys aren't usually portrayed as nice guys in comedies. (Cause you know they've seen Animal House at least once...)

For those folks out there that may think the media and feminism are the co-conspirators in making American men look like the biggest toolboxes on the planet, I'll now refer you all to Beavis and Butt-head here as exhibits A & B that, we don't appear to need any help in that department.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

That Didn't Take Long

Wow. Talk about an immediate effect. Democrats take the the House just before midnight, and just after noon the next day, Rumsfeld Resigns. They haven't even been sworn in, and already they're doing a better job!

Thank You

Rev. Nelson,

I know this might not be the best morning, but I would like to personally thank you for running for Congress this election. Because of you we had a choice that we wouldn't have had otherwise. Good folks like you, who stand up and run for office with all the mud and frustration and work that entails, win or lose, make Democracy work and keep this country the shining light to the world.

Again, thank you.

Patrick Armstrong

What I Get From this Election

First of all, I don't see this as a mandate, I see this as an absolute repudiation of the child-like behavior of this Congress. Pelosi & Co. didn't have to represent a really good hand to take this electoral pot, they just had to beat the awful hand the Republicans were bluffing on. I mean, Georgia beats Florida every once in a while, its doing it two times in a row that seems to be the kicker. But enough analogies, I see these elections as a distinct victory in the War Against Ass Clownery, but the Democrats are going to have to prove in big ways that they aren't the same neandertals they just unseated.

I think they will, considering I thought this was one of the worst Congresses. Ever. They left a pretty low bar to jump over to gain control.

Thing is, I don't think America will be satisfied, in two years, of just being better than the other guy. Maybe they will, two years is a long time electorally speaking.

What I found more interesting was this news. It may be buried in all the huffing and puffing going on the airwaves today (you talk show callers stay classy in defeat, y'hear?), but South Dakota rejecting the Roe v Wade challenge law, Missouri's Stem Cell research referendum, and traditionally libertarian/conservative Arizona's defeat of a gay-marriage ban are some of the most important referendum level voting guages I've seen in a while.

That for me was the heart stopper. You don't get more Middle America than Missouri, and though the margin was tiny, that demonstrates how even conservative, family based, middle class Americans are willing to support medical science in the face of a blistering culture war battle. Arizona's result should have been expected from the 'outta my wallet and my bedroom' West. Thanks, Wildcats, for remaining ideologically consistent yet again. But wholesome, dyed in the wool Republican, wind swept American prairie South Dakota rejecting - in direct democracy fashion - the ban on reproductive choice?

I almost fell out of my chair.

I think the winds of change that affected these referenda, and played into the national debate, is the most important aspect, politically speaking, of yesterday's election. First and foremost, the culture war backlash may be beginning, as voters grow weary of being told they are under constant assault. Think about it, one of the mainstays and most effective tools of the Republican Party Machine over the last 20 years has been the "values under attack" frame that they hit constantly and reliably, reaching crescendo in 2004. But you can only cry wolf so many times, and end up doing nothing about it, and expect the gambit to be effective. I also think that there is a growing part of the middle class that will begin to tire of feeling under cultural assault all the time - the assault as described by Republicans and talk show shills and their most ardent and obnoxious base supporters - before the broken record starts to be overplayed.

They may also be losing their fire because they're running into real liberals (like me) at work and play and while watching Georgia games at the bar, and we're eating red beans and rice as a side to our medium rare steak, drinking Abita or Sweetwater while watching the game on TV, and we're volunteering to work for Catholic School fundraisers. They see these things, and then they hear from the talking head in a shrill voice, with a psychotic lilt, that godless liberals (like me?) will encourage terrorist takeover, pre-natal genocide, and bring a gay dance hall to their town. I think folks are hearing that nonsense more and more these days, and I think folks are calling "bulls**t."

They'd rather hang with us and discuss Sean Payton's probable elevation to Coach of the Year, than keep listening to 'how under attack' they are all the time. Because football is fun, being under attack all the time sucks.

But anyway, that's what I got out of it. Maybe I'm reading waay to much into it, though.

If you thought the politicians were bad sports...

...check this out. This is a sports-related story but it deserves all the coverage I can possibly give it. Here's a teaser quote: "He is my son, I own the league, and he plays every snap on defense."

Random election thoughts....

First, a not so random thought. Thank you, Georgia voters for re-electing Sonny Perdue. Not so much for any Republican leanings I may have. I wouldn't have been all that upset with Governor Taylor. Thank you though for putting the flag issue to rest. The "flag" vote doesn't matter. It never did. We don't care about the stars and bars. This was not the issue that got Sonny elected and it's sure not an issue in his reeclection.

When did Republicans become red and Democrats become blue? When I was a kid, it was the opposite. I remember the big blue map with the little red dots from the 1984 Presidential election.

It was good to see the more conservative candidate win in Rhode Island. In fact, in most of the tight Senate races, the more conservative candidate won. Then again, "more conservative" doesn't mean much. I'm pretty sure Leon Trotsky was "more conservative" than Lincoln Chafee.

All the blame being laid at Bush's feet is on issues that Congress ultimately controls. It seems like with their jobs on the line, Republicans could've tried a bit harder and maybe stood up to the President more than once or twice.

I watched about three hours of election coverage from two different networks (Fox and CBS) and I never once heard anything about the issues of the Democratic Party, only the inadequacies of the Republican Party. If Democrats want to keep control for any length of time, they need to find a way to capitalize on this victory. "I oppose Bush" isn't a sustainable election platform.

There are people without eyeliner in India and Ethiopia because Katie Couric used it all up. That was a cheap shot but on a more serious note, I can see why absolutely nobody watches the CBS Evening News anymore. If CBS weren't my only source for Athens area election results, I would've changed channel a few minutes into coverage. Couric is an abysmal anchor.

And finally, where is Newt when conservatives need him? Oh that's right, House Republicans sold him up the river after the gov't lockdown.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Endorsements

Instead of the usual editorial focus on 'who you should vote for tomorrow,' here's some items I'd like to see dealt with at the polls, or more specifically, the voters' feet.

1. Redistricting must make sense. I looked the other day at the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Congressional Districts of Louisiana. Wibbiduwabbida. I don't even want to see State House districts. This comes after a long stint of examining the Georgia Congressionals and the absolutely incomprehensible mess of State Rep districts. I know a desire to make districting not suck is like asking to win the lottery, but c'mon folks, aren't we a little embarassed by this mockery? I think if we can get them fixed, somehow, to geographic sense or even 50% - 50% patterns, our Congressmen and State Houses would become an order of magnitude more reasonable, and maybe incumbency wouldn't be so much of a problem. Maybe I'm just a utopian liberal idealist, though.

Oh yeah, and you gotta live in the district you represent for at least a year before you represent it.

2. Term. Damn. Limits. I don't care if it was ever a Republican idea back in 1994, it was a good one. If you serve in Congress, you may serve four two year terms for that district, max. If you are a Senator, you get one, yes, one six year term, ever (I am open to negotiation for a second term possibility, but that is all). If you are President, two four year terms, ever. A Supreme Court appointment lasts ten years.

And: sitting Senators may not run for the Presidency.

Yes, I know this will require Constitutional change. I think that such change, however, would overcome an 8/9ths requirment of the voting population. The only people voting against this would be the 500 some odd people it directly affects, and their staffs who can't find real jobs.

3. Libertarians must get their S*** together and become a viable third party.

4. Paper reciepts for voting.

5. A national holiday for voting in Congressional & Presidential elections.

6. National. Damn. Service. For the military, police, education, public safety or infrastructure maintenance. Yes, that means a draft, and yes I expect to be drafted first.

7. National Consumption/Fair Tax must be directly linked to Universal Health Care. We either make both work, or we get neither. Yes, this will take a great deal of work, but politics is about negotiation.

8. Get involved with your local political infrastructure. I don't care if it is Republican, Democrat or Libertarian, normal folks need to go to meetings to balance the activists in all three.

9. We need a better way to fund education than property taxes alone.

10. Ethics laws must be simple, and Ethics committes must be made up of people the same way we select folks for jury duty. That'll get the folks running the inquiry in the absolutely right frame of mind for the task we will set them to.