Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Credibility Gap Explained

In six easy panels. See if you can't follow the logic. I'm no fan of Pelosi, but even she appears to be a good guy when compared to Hannity, Rush, Beck et al.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nailed to the Wall

Now that the forces of law and order have drawn a resignation, confession (including the factual admission of an affair) and guilty plea out of the former President of St. John the Baptist Parish for Federal bribery charges, let us examine his campaign promises and find out what kind of man he marketed himself as. (Any of you with the ability to take screen shots, you may want to. I wouldn't expect the website to exist for much longer.)

Responsive, Responsible Government. Oh, look, he "will apply a businessman’s approach to governing" and "treat the citizens like customers" to "make the Parish more business and resident friendly." He brought big ideas to ease traffic congestion, making it easier for residents to "drive to the grocery store, pick up their children, and to get home before dinner."

His "Plan" is pretty big on ethics. He pledges that he "will take the “politics” out of crucial government decisions, true and factual priorities will be set based on need and will demand an honest government that puts the residents of our parish first and the special interests last." "Open bid laws will be fully carried out."

Heh. The best? "Transparency will be apparent in all aspects of my administration and will be key to building back public trust."

Way to go on that last one.

Luckily, he didn't engage in a lot of family values type hackery (at least not on the campaign website). Unfortunately, the rest of his plan looks like things St. John the Baptist Parish needs to develop effectively. So it is a shame to see such a plan go down with a flawed individual.

Though that plan may not have had much of an effect anyway, as Politics 1 had him listed as a potential candidate for US House District 3 from Louisiana.

On the GOP ticket. You know, the family values, small government/big contracts, run government like a business, deregulation party.

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Don't Believe the Hype

Y'all remember hearing about how much better Mississippi did with their disaster recovery than New Orleans? I thought so. Y'all remember hearing about how the ebil liberal media nationwide was ignoring Mississippi's advances to propogate New Orleans centered stories? I bet you did.

Like another infamous Florida State alum, Oyster responds with a well researched "Not So Fast, My Friend."

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Nothing But Static

Yet another New Orleans based education weblog calls it quits. Farewell Dorophoria. Thank you for the work you have done and the work you have yet to do.




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Laughing Out Loud

I had a shitty weekend. More on that later. I needed a laugh, which Cliff provided in droves.

On ACORN:

After years of fighting for the working poor it appears that a fake pimp and teenage prostitute are going to take them down. This would sit a lot better with me if the pimp wasn’t so fake looking. Shouldn’t he have stuck out like a sore thumb in those neighborhoods? It’s not like many guys of any color are walking around like that. I would have understood if that happened in the New Orleans ACORN office because in that neighborhood there are guys that walk their dogs dressed like that.


On James Perry (the candidate for mayor the media continues to ignore):

I have an idea for him out of the conservative talk show playbook. He needs to hold a press conference and accuse the local media of not covering his campaign because he’s white. That kind of stunt may confuse his family and friends as well as everyone in the city that knows him but I bet you people will want to know who he is after that. We live in an era of media stunts and twisted information so James might as well use it to his advantage.


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Perspectives of the ACORN "Scandal"

(HT: G Bitch)

Here is the alternate perspective:

That's why the comparison to Sasha Baron Cohen is so apt. When confronted by very unusual behavior or unusual situations, people have a tendency to be agreeable and to play along. Most people don't like confrontation and will instinctively go to great lengths to avoid it. If you doubt this, go watch Borat or Bruno or any episode of the Ali G Show. It is this same human tendency that serves as the basis for all of Cohen's comedy. He specializes in getting people (often famous people) to say things that they would not normally say.
Having been confronted by very unusual situations in my lifetime, I have absolutely played along, usually leaning on my wit to defuse uncomfortable situations and gently warn folks if they were crossing lines.

Another few things about the ACORN thing got me to thinking as well:

- I'm sure I will be called an ACORN apologist for this post, as not following the national pop-culture party line that OMG ACORN IS TEH SOCIALISM & BAD usually equates to a "defense" of the organization in our "with us or against us" mentality. I'm not defending this organization, or pimpin' 20 year old preachers' daughters while wearing a chincilla jacket. I want to examine the narrative explanations and motivations behind the story.

- ACORN recieves such small funding from the Federal government that right-wing hysteria over their influence is laughable and strains an already suspect credibility. That the ACORN story has been a narrative of right wingers for years, apparently, is one more reason I end up on the "left" side of the aisle.

- Straining that credibility further was the behavior of GOP politicians like Sonny Perdue of Georiga and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana for "defunding ACORN" and making a huge deal out of it. Neither of those states had funded ACORN for several years. Political theatre without result is what the GOP got kicked out of office for in 2006 and 2008. One only wonders why they continue to ride a derailed train.

- There are many, many other more influential and insidious organizations that recieve fat government grants and subsidies, with far less scandal.


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Friday, September 25, 2009

Culture & Food

Jeffrey at the Yello Blog experienced a bit of adversity the other day, as his right to discuss pizza was challenged because he is a New Orleanian. His response is here. I was due to comment, but I had too much to say, so I parked it here instead of in his comments section.

My roommate for three years back on Island City was from New Jersey, and boy, did we talk this issue to death.

The northeast coast pizza snobbery comes mainly from the perception of historical Southern eating habits.

Back in the day, Southern pizza was dominated by the fast food chains: Domino's, Pizza Hut, with a sprinkling of local places serving cheese-on-crust, cardboard tasting dough circles and calling it "pizza." Establishments that actually got the pie right were few and far between.

For northern transplants arriving in the Sun Belt, this was maddening. They were leaving a region that viewed pizza the same way New Orleanians view gumbo or roast beef po'boys, or the same way Georgians, Bamans and Carolinians view their barbecue. Their region boasted a culture of strong neighborhood pie joints, with traditional family sauces, some homemade toppings, and a particular crust style. Families would go to the same restaurants for generations, and children would take over the family restaurant from their mamas & papas. (Sound familiar?)

Once the transplants were in the south, the closest thing they could get was often Domino's, or pizza made by someone who learned how to cook pizza at Domino's. You know how when you visit another part of the country, there are all these "Cajun" or "Creole" or "New Orleans" themed restaurants run by someone who came to Mardi Gras once back in the 70's? Yeah. Like that but in reverse.

With a much higher level of integration today, that culture is changing. When I was but a lad, a place called Mama's Pizza opened down the street from my parent's house, run by some folks who knew how pie was supposed to be done. It was the first time I ever experiened crust that didn't taste like cardboard and pepperoni that didn't come from a jiffy store. The dough was luscious, the cheese was gooey and perfectly baked, the sauce was sweet and plentiful, and the toppings were prime stock. It was a culinary moment of clarity for me, one of those moments that let you in on the secret that there is a difference between "sustenance" and "food."

Such a place was too much for the mostly closed minded diners on the Island at that time, though, as they preferred their Domino's. Mama's wasn't able to sustain itself in such a location. I have never forgotten the lesson.

Over the years, there were a few places like that on St. Simons (CJ's/Moondoggy's unique fare and out-of-this-world sauce being a personal favorite), but my former rommate had tried them all over a decade, and hadn't found a pie that reminded him of home. Then, the last time I visited the Island, he demanded we share one of our meals at Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria for some real, Jersey style pie, and it was spectacular. I have rarely had pizza so delicious. (Small world, Sal's cousin ran the pizza joint my old roommate would frequent while skipping high school.) It was some of the most flavorful pie I've ever shoved in my mouth. There were fans, too. The place was packed and you could not move around inside.

New Orleans is getting that way in that there are options as for what kind of pizza you want. My favorites are Slice, Reginelli's and Angeli, because they all serve a strong slice of pie. Slice has a thinner crust than Reginelli's that I find crispier, and Angeli's sauce is bolder than both of the Uptown joints. I find myself sitting down at all three, based on what neighborhood I'm in and what atmosphere I want. (Disclaimer, I know some of the folks involved in the Slice operation.)

I have yet to find a CJ's/Moondoggy's or Sal's in New Orleans, however. We have yet to get that unique pie that just elevates itself over the pizza landscape, where you can't get in the door during dinner hour. Maybe I just haven't found it around the Crescent City as of yet. But I'm pretty perceptive when it comes to pizzerias, and no one can call me a coward when it comes to cuisine.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Say Hello To Heaven

Richard Thomas Kannady, 32, of Atlanta died Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at Emory University Hospital, ending his long battle against Burkitt's Lymphoma.

The last time I was on stage, Richard was there. That was a rock and roll bachelor/bachelorette party, and we played music all night in honor of some of my best friends. I'm glad I took in every moment of that show, and took nothing for granted in a room full of friends and family gathered for one of the biggest occasions I've ever been a part of.

Richard was one of the finest human beings I ever had the pleasure to meet. Memories of his life remind everyone who knew him to live their own lives to the fullest, to let the laughs come easy, to race the fastest, sing the loudest, and rock the hardest when the beat strikes the one.

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When Paperwork Attacks

Sometimes we have to wonder why it is so difficult to get things changed anywhere in this country of ours. Why are old ways of doing things so powerful in the local, state, and national levels of government; inside any organization without a dynamic manager; and most non-responsive buisiness practices?

It never seems to matter when a fantastic idea comes along that actually does something to solve a problem, instituting that idea can take decades.

For example, look at all the obstacles ignition-interlock devices for DWI drivers faced in California. Paperwork, process, "not punitive enough" philosophies and inside-the-box thinking all keep holding back an idea proven to reduce recidivism of drunk driving.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Revisionism

"Memories are meant to fade. They're designed that way for a reason." -Mace Mason

But let's not get memories confused with history. Thing is, we're still fighting over the history of the last 8 years, and I remember plenty of it.

Drifting through the Grift raises a similar point.

My gut has been telling me there is something different about what is happening with Obama and what happened with George Bush in his later years.

He points us to This reminder at the Daily Dish, and wonders if so much manufactured outrage by the right is disingenuous. While it is intellectual bankruptcy to say that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist, it is also intellectual bankruptcy to say that just because you disagree, the other side is going to think you are racist. The whole national dialouge becomes a "chicken or the egg" conversation where people try to define what level of racist people who disagree with each other are without actually having to examine legitimate disagreements.

The whole name calling misadventure leads us to an end where
We've reached the existential moment where fear of the unknown or ignorance of the known is not only seen as rational political thought but a reason to proudly thump one's chest and declare patriotism.

And that is a dangerous, dangerous place to be.

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Change I Believe In

Now, here's a policy change that I'm glad to see. Here is one of the concrete reasons I voted for Obama and continue to support his presidency. For those of you who've always been confused by my vote, the stop construction order of Ol' Dubya's ludicrous "missile sheild" in Eastern Eurpoe is a good demonstration of policies I support.

Now, I know a lot of right wing radio luncay will go on the air and say that this is just Obama leaving our nation defenseless, but these are the same knuckleheads who said we'd be be greeted as liberators in Iraq, that ACORN blew up New Orleans' levees to cover up government corruption and that we should return to segregated buses over what happened in St. Louis. I'm not putting a lot of credibility at their doorstep, is what I'm saying.

While the GOP likes to sell themselves as strong on defense, the continued visitation to the "missile sheild" demonstrates the greatest disconnect between spending money on defense and actually getting devices useful on defense.

First of all, there is the spin and framing of a missile "sheild," which not only intends to mislead the public on what the system is actually designed to do, but intends to mislead them further in regards to the technology's effectiveness.

Second of all, you only have to read so much Sun Tzu before you realize that mobility is a greater asset than immobility. On a related note, you only have to read so much history before you understand that Maginot Lines are ineffective boondoggles that may look really scary and play well with the public at home, but don't do what they are supposed to do when the battle is joined.

Thirdly is "realism" vs "neoconservative fantasy-land" worldviews of international relations. The "neoconservative" view that dominates the world of missile sheild proponents includes spending loads of our public treasure onto foreign soils with the intention of intimidating and isolating rival powers. While this works if we were a highly militarized society, we are, in reality, a primarily peaceful and trading society that generally looks to avoid protracted conflicts with other great powers. In reality, we'd like to work with other great powers towards mutual interests without having to resort to war. The "missile sheild" idea discourages other great powers from working with us and limits the options available to us on any international issue.

And we all know how Americans are currently feeling about their "options."

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Not Gaza, Not Lebanon

What is this? On anti-Israel day, tens of thousands of Iranians go into the streets of Tehran to protest their own current regime.

I mean, that doesn't mean opinions on Israel have changed in Iran, but using the day to continue protesting the government shows the spirit of the revolution has not yet yeilded to the crackdown.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Extracurricular

You know what I think about when I read that one of Ohio's biggest school districts has cut ALL extracurricular activities?

Something is terribly, terribly wrong with the way we Americans handle our public schools. Every reform in my lifetime seems to have made it worse.

Conservatives don't want taxes to fund public education that may include instruction on subjects they disagree with. People who disagree with them are socialists who hate America. Liberals can't figure out if they want to protect ineffective teachers' unions that defend ineffective teachers or advocate for students. People who disagree with them are racists. When they get together in the spirit of "bipartisanism" we end up with No Child Left Behind that focuses on test results at the expense of extracurriculars.

Add to this how much focus the media puts on national dramatics while ignoring local reporting and we get school boards and superintendents who can get away with whatever they want, administrators who don't know what they're doing and state budget monitors who get kickbacks to steer contracts towards whichever educational materials provider can pony up.

Everywhere, if parents knew what was going on inside schools, the situation would not be tolerated. This week's video of the St. Louis boy getting beaten was horrific, but more horrific is that the same kind of thing (and worse) happens every single day (if not more) on school buses, in school yards, and around schools in every region and demographic of this country. But what do we talk about when we talk about schools? Barack Obama's "stay in school" speech.

Tens of thousands march in protest to either the Bush or the Obama administrations, we can get cameras into ACORN's headquarters. But we can't get cameras into our schools. We can't get parents to show up for teacher-student conferences. And we can't seem to find people who can run the schools right.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Idiot Quiz

I can has adult beverage? Not until you pass this simple test.

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Fanning the Flames

At least there are plenty of folks out there calling shenanigans on the race baiters on all sides. Let us go over some things:

1. Acting like a jackass does not make you a racist. Rep. Joe Wilson is now a hero of the right wing because too many people have overreacted to his overreaction. MTV has never had a more talked about VMA show.

2. Kids beating up other kids on school busses happens All. The. Time. It sucks, let my nerdy ass tell you. This is what happens when you systematically neglect your school systems, and do not punish children appropriately for their behavior. Bullshit is the Drudge Report, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh all acting like this is some new thing in "Obama's America." Luckily, some conservatives are recognizing where the hyperbole train will take us, and aren't afraid to say so.

3. And to top it all off, while the nation's pundit class are busy chasing around all the innuendo and politically motivated cries of racism, an event that may turn out to be the real deal is getting the quiet treatment nationwide.

(Hat tips to Cynthia Tucker and Jay Bookman of the AJC. Those two are on the ball this week.)


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Hate the Game

So yesterday, the US Senate overwhelmingly decided to end several US contracts or grants with an organization under investigation for illegal activities that many citizens morally deplorable.

No, not Blackwater or whatever name they go by now, but ACORN.

Y'all know ACORN, they're the individuals who, according to Glenn Beck, blew up the levees in New Orleans to cover up their part in government corruption. Personally, I'm glad we're finally investigating and taking action against the organization responsible for the flooding of New Orleans.

But the vote to remove funding for ACORN was not unanimous, several Senators did not vote to remove funding, for one reason or another. I'd bet you'd be surprised to find out that one of those who DID NOT VOTE TO REMOVE MONEY FROM ACORN was Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter. Oyster at YRHT walks you through just a few of the reasons why.

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A Streetcar Named Bulldawg?

Streetcars? New Orleans has them. Other cities want them. Including Athens, Georgia.

About. Damn. Time.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The "R" Word

What a month it has been for racial harmony. Between people examining the secret racial overtones of the Kanye West and Rep. Joe Wilson outbursts, the far more overt racial overtones of the "Atlanta Needs a Black Mayor" memo, and the "People Who Look Like Me" congressional seat in Memphis, I didn't think it could get much worse.

Then we have today.

To start, a white student gets beaten by two black students on a St. Louis bus. It gets picked up by the Drudge Report, beginning the sensationalism.

Not a few hours later, news comes across the wire that an Army Reservist was beaten in front of her 7 year old daughter by a man who repeatedly used racial slurs as he kicked her.

Expect to hear more about these two incidents in the coming days, and all the cultural baggage that comes along with them. As all things in our society these days, there is video footage of both incidents. The school bus beating is violent and brutal, a parent's worst nightmare no matter what the race of the attackers. It will provoke quite an emotional reaction. The Cracker Barrell beating includes video yet to be released, but will show a man beating a woman of another race while her daugther looks on. I'm sure it, too, will provoke quite an emotional reaction.

As with most "discussions" on race that we have as a nation, I'm expecting the worst sort of sensationalism.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

People Who Look Like Me

There are so many things wrong with some people's behavior, that as soon as their shenanigans are exposed to a national audience, it elicits shock and dismay.

Right now, I'm talking about a guy trying to go to Washington, DC next year. This former mayor of a Southern city thinks he can get elected to Congress because "this seat was set aside for people who look like me". Those are the words of his campaign manager. The candidate himself goes on to say that "[this campaign] is going to be about race, representation and power." (Emphasis mine, these statements have to be read in italics and bold.)

Not only is the challenger making race the most important issue in this campaign, he's reminding everyone about the real motivations behind the way we draw our representative districts. Gerrymander, indeed.

This election will be difficult for the incumbent, due to his being a:
"liberal who considered joining the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote a national apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws, and received an “A” rating from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People."


How much of a chance does an incumbent like that have in the South, hunh? It doesn't even seem to matter that the challenger, like so many mayors of Southern cities, is facing a grand jury investigation over some questionable real-estate deals.

It just proves that far too much still rides on the color of your skin in Southern politics. Content of your character? Forget it.

Do you look like me? That's the question in Memphis, Tennessee.


(HT: Jay Bookman at the AJC)

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Pop Quiz

To what city during what time does this quote apply?

Our police force is undersized and underfunded. Our guardian of truth, the flagship newspaper, is struggling to survive and its cracks caused by cuts are starting to show (note how many times a crime story appears with the same byline). Our public transit routinely begs to any public agency who will listen. Our public hospital, once again, had to walk hat in hand to the [local government] to plead for a few more months survival.


Do you give up?

The author is the proprietor of Drifting Through the Grift and he's talking about Atlanta, Georgia, today.

I used to hear a lot of folks say they wanted to turn New Orleans into Atlanta. Sounds like folks in Atlanta had the opposite idea. In truth, this lament could be written about any number of our nation's great cities. We spend an awful lot of time playing up the differences, maybe because it is too heartbreaking to see that we are most similar in the problems that we share.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

This Weekend's Games

There's only one game preview that you should be reading, and it is the South Carolina vs. Georgia write up at Get the Picture. This one transcends to "instant classic," even if the game doesn't.

Best thing about it? You can enjoy it if you aren't even a football fan. Though football fans will get more enjoyment out of it. Individuals familiar with the history of the South Carolina - Georgia rivalry obviously enjoy it most of all, mainly due to its hyper-accurate description of what will happen on Saturday.

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Drop Dead Fred

Hurricane Fred is still out in the Atlantic, and though reports were that the storm would move north and disorganize, it is still worth watching. It has moved north, it will disorganize. But then it is forecast to begin traveling west as a tropical depression. Let us hope it stays disorganized.




If that wasn't enough, all the rain we've been getting in New Orleans is due, in part, to a stationary tropical low sitting off the coasts of Mexico and Texas, moving slowly northeast. While development is not expected, heavy rains are for the next several days.



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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is This a Change in Policy?

"Unless you are the violator or perpetrator - there is no threat of deportation or arrest, as it relates to the New Orleans Police Department."

In the short version, the NOPD is no longer enforcing Federal immigration laws. While folks will scream about this, it isn't really a change. The only real substantive change would come if they announced they were cracking down.

This is simply a play to encourage more witnesses to come forward in a city that is famously short on witnesses. I do not think it will have the effect desired. For one, the DA's office could still report illegal witnesses and victims of crime to ICE if the cases ever make it to court.

Two, illegals are the most important cog in the United States' underground economy. Bosses can screw them over in wages and benefits, and they have no legal recourse if they complain. If they get injured on the job, they have no workers' comp. Forget healthcare benefits, especially for their children. They are often paid in cash, so there are no pesky payroll, income tax or any other necessary paperwork to file for their employment. They often keep their money in cash, because they can't legally open bank accounts, making them easy prey for robbery everywhere they go. (The home invasions in Coastal Georgia counties were both legendary and underreported.) Moreover, the increase the profit margins and enrich the most unscrupulous American business owners, and provide a fertile ground for gangs to establish racketeering patterns.

So yeah, folks with fingers in the underground economy will want to keep things this way.

Lastly, there are a lot of comments one the NOLA.com article about Georgia's illegal immigration crackdown. The Georgia policies that have been the most effective have little to do with local police practices in any county, and far more to do with the state going after businesses who hire illegals, which is a far more effective way to address all the concerns listed above.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Patriot Day & Other WTF Items

I was getting ready to post another one of those "socialist zombie schoolchildren" or "death panel" reminders of hackery, but those have been momentarily obscured by even further lunacy.

News came across the Facey-space feed that the Obama administration is moving to downplay the events of September 11 by not highlighting Bush administration inspired rememberance events I've never heard of. Like "Patriot's Day."

WTF is Patriot's Day? I've never heard of it. The comments section is infected with absolute loons.

Surely, had the Obama administration made too much of the September 11 rememberances, he'd be accused of exploiting the tragedy for political gain.

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A Czar By Any Other Name

Now that the nation has not been overrun by mindless hordes of brainwashed primary school aged socialist revolutionaries, let us take a look at the narrative surrounding Obama's Czars.

Shadow government, indeed.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Confessions Burned Into the Floor

Pay attention, folks, because this article in the New Yorker is what real journalism looks like. If newspapers could do things like this, they wouldn't be out of business.

The article is an extremely long read, but it is also a very important examination of a certain aspect of the modern criminal justice system. If you're looking for the abridged versions, you want to check out sections I, IV and V. In that order.

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Streetcars We Desire

All three of these ideas are good ones. Streetcars to the Convention Center, the UPT and up to the Marigny and Bywater. Are these shovel ready projects?

The streetcar to the UPT allows me to get waay ahead of myself. First of all, that's the first step to expanding streetcars into Central City, which is very important if we are ever to get sustained investment and revitalization of that neighborhood.

Even further ahead, in the "Take I-10 down over N. Claiborne" stream-of-consciousness line of thinking, I'd like to see some ideas floated about a multi-modal transportation center (like the one they have in Athens) in the Amtrak staging area north of Claiborne and east of Calliope/Earhart. Any such structure could also incorporate deck parking near the Dome and greenspace for tailgating.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Revolution Overfloeth

I went to see US Representative Dr. Ron Paul (R-Texas) speak at Loyola University New Orleans this evening. I showed up half an hour before hand, and there were only 20 odd seats left in Nunemaker Hall. More than a half dozen overflow classrooms were set up around campus to display video feed and seat those folks who would not arrive in time for standing room only. Campus police had to good naturedly shoo more than a few people out of the aisles to keep on the legal side of fire codes, which provided an amusing backdrop in a room stocked with libertarians.

Introductions were made by the Economics Club President, the Business College Dean and the controversial Dr. Walter Block. The mood was enthusiastic and many in the crowd expressed unabashed admiration for both the college Economics department and Rep. Paul. He was welcomed with an roaring ovation as he entered. His words were respectful, sincere and provocative. His easy demeanor provided palpable chemistry with the crowd, and elicited much applause and laughter.

As for what he said, all I can say is "whoa." I had a difficult time keeping in mind that he represents a very conservative district in Texas. All in all, this man is one of a kind, and it speaks well to our political culture in the United States that he can hold so many principled positions outside the mainstream of his party and still be returned to the US House of Representatives election after election.

Some of his thoughts, in no particular order:

-Get out of Iraq
-Get out of Afganistan
-Stop provoking Pakistan
-Killing and displacing people in the Middle East only encourage them to want to attack us
-Stop provoking Iran
-Of course Iran wants nuclear weapons, look where they live
-Iran is not going to have nuclear weapons any time soon
-The CIA is very, very bad
-We do not spread democracy
-When we try to spread democracy, and our chosen clients don't win, we overthrow that democracy
-Americans have short memories, Middle Easterners have long memories
-We would be furious if they did to us what we do to them
-Bring US troops home from Japan, Korea, and Europe
-We should eliminate Selective Service (draft) legislation
-The only legal wars include Declarations of War
-The only way to conduct war is like WWII
-We accomplish more with peace, economy and trade than with war
-We should be trading with Iran
-We should be trading with Cuba
-Communism fails
-Former communist countries now own large portions of our debt
-All foreign aid should be ended
-Government should not legislate morality
-As long as you aren't hurting others or stealing from them, government should leave you alone
-Income taxes are stealing from you
-Income taxes are immoral because they are stealing
-Income taxes should be eliminated
-No one has a right to education
-No one has a right to health care
-No one has a right to housing
-Congress has taken the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution too far
-Government programs to help the poor and middle classes usually end up hurting the poor and middle classes
-The Federal Reserve keeps markets from self correcting
-The Federal Reserve has eroded the value of the dollar
-The Federal Reserve should be audited
-Partisan politics are not the answer
-Do not question motivations, only question ideas
-At some point in the past (about 70 years ago) the USA was a freer, more dynamic society
-The New Deal, Nixon, and the Cash for Clunkers program were all misguided
-They all did damage to free markets
-Our current policies follow the same ideas that got us into this mess
-Those ideas are borrow, spend, print money, accrue debt
-If we let the market correct things, it would be tough for about a year but we'd emerge stronger
-Compassion is important
-Compassion, free market, & individual liberty would let you donate more money to charity because you'd have more money to spend
-Even people who did not contribute to charity would be contributors by spending money that ended up in the hands of those who would
-These kinds of ideas weren't popular back in the 1970's but have much more relevance today
-He is optimistic that true change will come
-The revolution will happen in the young people currently in college
-Even if nothing happens politically, people will begin to ignore the Federal government
-Underground economies always form when a government is too opressive
-It should not come to that
-The revolution should be non-violent


Those ideas, and many, many more are what he talked about in only 50 or so minutes, in a style of speaking that never droned, sounded rushed or became dull. The crowd closed with a long standing ovation. As I left, he was preparing to shake hands, take pictures, sign autographs, and students from the overflow rooms were filling the hall anew just to see him in person.

One of a kind.

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All About The Gerrymander, Baby

Finally, a poll with some interesting numbers that might actually tell us something about citizen mood. I'm so tired of all the "Is (name) (verbing) the (issue) well?" polling that portends to tell us what the country actually thinks about the issue.

Try this one: "Would you like to replace the entire US Congress?"

My answer, as a liberal, Southern Democrat, is: Hell. To. The. Yes. And it appears I'm on the side of 57% of the country. Though I diverge from significant parts of the polling because I don't think there are many real conservatives or real liberals left in Congress (and think we'd be better off if there were), because I don't see the wack-job "bases" of each side as particularly "conservative" or "liberal". And since the wack-job representatives that play hardest to their respective bases are also the strongest incumbents, our shared definitions of conservative and liberal become distorted.

A bigger problem, both for hightening divisiveness and undermining legitimacy, is that 50% of respondents think election rules are rigged. Of course they are, knuckleheads. Have you seen what districts look like in each state? The lines are drawn to consolidate power, not encourage turnover, and "term limits," while important, are nothing but a band-aid.

(HT: Kyle Wingfield at the AJC).

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When "Get Off My Lawn" Goes Wrong

Some dude (who leads a real happy life from the look of him) got upset with a stranger's crying toddler in a store. Instead of walking away, he he hauled off and slapped the baby's face.

I'm surprised those store patrons who restrained him didn't return the favor.

Interesting side note: the article laments the fact that there was no video of the incident as it happened. Youtube really has taken over the world.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Government Contractors Gone Wild

It ain't about big government or small government, it is about effective and transparent government. Why should people trust the government when the people the government hires are robbing us blind? No matter what side of the aisle you are on, you could pay for all your tax breaks or health care plans by cleaning house.

You know New Orleans ain't the only place this happens.

And Jim Letten continues to kick ass and take names.

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Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study

This is a great read regarding health care and it's correlation to bankruptcy. It points out the large increase in bankruptcies attributed to medical reasons and has significant and well thought out data to back up that conclusion. I'm not really surprised by that conclusion. But what does surprise me is the correlation between health insurance and medical bankruptcies.

Less than one quarter of debtors—whether medical or nonmedical— were uninsured when they filed for bankruptcy; an additional 7% had uninsured family members (Table 3). Medically bankrupted families, however, had more often experienced a lapse in coverage during the 2 years before filing (40.0% vs 34.1%, P = .005).

In multivariate analysis, being uninsured at filing did not predict a medical cause of bankruptcy, while a gap in coverage did (odds ratio [OR] = 1.35, P = .002). Other predictors included: older age (OR = 1.016/year, P = .0001), married (OR=1.59, P=.0001), female (OR=1.34, P=.002), larger household (OR = 1.97/household member, P = .01), and lower income quartile (OR = 1.30, P = .0001).

Medical debtors’ court records identified more debt owed directly to doctors and hospitals than did nonmedical debtors’, a mean of $4988 vs $256, respectively (P = .0001). Medical debtors with coverage gaps owed providers a mean of $8338, vs $2740 (P = .0001) for medical debtors with continuous coverage. Nonmedical debtors had few medical debts, averaging under $300 regardless of insurance status. (Medical debts financed through credit cards or other borrowing, or owed to collection agencies are not included because they cannot be identified through court records.)

(emphasis mine)


Now that really surprises me. In my anecdotal experiences, medical bankruptcies happen because people without insurance get into a catastrophic health predicament. The instances I'm familiar with are two babies being born with serious medical complications to families without health insurance and a life-threatening injury to a family without health insurance. I stand corrected. Whether or not a person has medical coverage has no correlation to their bankruptcy filing. Beware anecdotal evidence.

It does however bolster my firm belief that whatever we want to do to improve health care in the United States, forking over money to insurance companies is NOT the answer.

EDIT: purely cosmetic change to post

Deny Healthcare to GOP

I put this link up on my Facebook feed a few days ago, but I'll post it here for those who have "hidden" my obnoxious social media feed (that, and I get more than 140 characters here).

Big HT to JMac at Beyond the Trestle, who has written about this issue twice.

Let me say this, and I'll be brief. I am a very lucky individual in my conservative friends because they tend to hold and write about their legitimate gripes with a range of issues, including the healthcare debate. Hell, I have legitimate gripes about the current bills as written, but there is rarely the need for hyperbole in honest discussion and debate.

If even I have legitimate concerns, and my conservate friends have no trouble voicing theirs, why does the RNC feel the need to traffic in bull?

GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health-care rationing system.
W. T. F?

Mr. Steele, your base is secure. They are fired up. People like my Mother will never, ever vote for the Democrats. They are not the people you need to keep appealing to. They appeal to themselves with their wacko email chain jokes.

Listen, this country needs a robust conservative party to keep folks on my side of the aisle in check. After the last 8 years of "we will be greeted as liberators" and "Heckuva job, Brownie," you guys have some credibility issues. That's why y'all didn't get a whole lot of positive, conservative work done between 1994 and 2008.

The way you win elections (and this is true for Democrats, too) should not be based on the other side screwing up so bad you get the nod by default. That's why most people consider themselves "independents." Please stop making things up and get back to legitimate policy differences.

Thank you.

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