Thursday, February 25, 2010

Admiral Smackbar

Dadgummit.

We interrupt this rendition of "Hotty Toddy, Mon Calamari" to remind everyone that knowledge of the actual rules makes everything less fun.

(Sigh)

Lawyers don't even see the matrix anymore, all they see is torts, liability, and contract infringement.

One of those commentors is right, though. With the Ackbar thing, Ole Miss has absolutely turned the usual teeth-pulling excercise of changing mascots into something awesome. The amount of good press they've gotten for this is outstanding.

Luckily, since the law hain't never stopped Georgia Tech students from running around Atlanta in Stormtrooper outfits, I can't wait to see if anyone at Ole Miss takes up the new "unofficial" mascot mantle and runs with it. This could be the start of one of the greatest collegiate inside-jokes in history.

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The Business of Schools

In Atlanta.

In New Orleans.

I'll note that both instances involve paying non-public contractors with public money, so these problems would continue to exist within a "big government" or "small government" purview.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not "Terrorism" with a Capital "T"

I had my faith in the media shaken some time ago. So, what credibility I do extend to any news sources, I try to do so with a grain of salt. Anything these clowns write, any narratives they discuss can turn out to be nothing more than lazy, unresearched rumor mongering. It can be a parrot of a falsehood, told so many times people just believe it is true, and that those attempting to correct them are viewed as noisome shrews and nitpickers.

(I'm reminded of this every time someone refers to New Orleans as a "city built below sea level" or that the 2005 flood was the greatest natural disaster in American history. I don't go a month without hearing one of those from respected news organization, so my cynicism is often renewed.)

Into that mindset is now injected the staggering and public commission of credibility suicide by Newsweek. While I'm glad to know some members of their staff pushed back against this colossal and fundamental misunderstanding of the term "terrorism," I just cannot countenance the scope of this debate.

"Terrorism" is not a nebulous term. It is not a fluid definition.

But ever since 2001, the overpoliticization of the term, and the connotations that were associated with it, have eroded its meaning in just 9 years. That erosion is so bad that a panel of news experts in a recognized national publication think that it is a good idea to publicly air their ignorance in favor of catering to a population they percieve as ignorant.

Staggering.

(HT: The Daily Dish.)

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Rebel Leader

Ole Miss is going to get rid of their decades-long mascot, Colonel Reb. It is all the "get rid of the symbols of the Old Confederacy thing."

But it is tough to come up with a new symbol for a school in the South known as the Rebels. You might say there isn't any symbol on the planet they could co-opt without it either being a let down or fraught with some other controversey.

That's not a problem, though, since some Ole Miss students are going intergalactic in their quest for a mascot.

Who better to represent the Rebels than the Leader of the REBEL ALLIANCE?

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Tragedy Upon Tragedy

I don't even know what to say about this. I fear what comes after this, and after that.

A shooting. An admitted police coverup. Discovery only when federal investigators are involved. A plea deal. A lot of good cops will be smeared by the actions of a few. Faith in our system is shaken, again, at the system's very foundations.

But justice must always be served and injustice must not be tolerated. Especially when those who enforce the laws are involved. Faith must be restored, and doing so will be very, very messy.

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The "Nice" Terrorist

The views of a white, anti-tax terrorist who flew his plane into an American building with the intent to maim and kill Americans are still being celebrated. His motives are still being rationalized. Neither the media nor the politicians will call him a terrorist. No one defending him or rationalizing his behavior is being called anti-American.

But make no mistake, the Austin attack was as terrorist an activity as anything that has happened to us in New York City or Oklahoma City. The only difference is the scale. This attacker is as dispicable as any McVeigh or Atta. His actions place his name among theirs.

A two-tour Vietnam veteran died in Austin, Texas, when a terrorist attacked the building he worked in with a plane. The silence of so many Americans is shocking to the core.


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Ugly Truth About Torture & Terrorism

I don't agree with all of it, but there is an awful lot of truth to be found in this post.

Hell, the media and politicians aren't even calling the Austin attack terrorism, and some Republican members of Congress have gone so far as to rationalize flying planes into buildings with the intent to maim and kill government workers.

I don't even care that this news came to me through the Huffington Post and the Daily Dish. If you don't think this is an accurate portrayal of what is going on, tell me why.

Because what I'm seeing is tacit defense of and explicit justification of domestic terrorism by politicians - especially on the right - but ALSO in the current administration, who refuses to call this what it is for fear of being "divisive," and the media as a whole who are not reporting this story for what it is.

Because flying planes into buildings with the intent to maim and kill Americans for a political motive is not "inappropriate behavior."

IT IS TERRORISM.

This is disgusting. This is obscene. This is more dangerous to the health of the Republic than any threat from without.

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Dispatch from the Front

Several of my high school buddies are "over there." While I haven't heard from them in quite some time (I reckon that is to be expected), I haven't heard any bad news. I pray that I recieve none. I pray they return safely to their wives and families.

Today Peach Pundit publishes a dispatch from Afganistan, reminding us that we are still at war.

I pray that they all come safely home.

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Well Played, Pat...

In the comments to this post, Pat asks:
How long until Brown goes from conservative hero to right wing target as "too-liberal?"


Answer: 34 days. Well played, sir.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The GOP, Tea Parties, and You...

I don't usually review hit pieces but I get what the author is trying to do here and agree with it in a somewhat less hyperbolic way. There's a lot of Ron Paul love going on right now and that alone has piqued my interest. I threw my vote away in the 08 primaries by voting Romney over Paul and have regretted that decision ever since. And these days, I look around and see an awful lot of right-leaning pundits praising Ron Paul when they wouldn't give the time of day to him two years ago.

Greenwald is trying to point this newfound love out but in a rather silly way. He's trying to set up these "A-Ha!" moments by point out Pundit X can't POSSIBLY support Ron Paul because of [insert single issue here]. People can disagree with candidates even on large issues yet still support them. You couldn't really stick to two political parties without that give and take. What's far more interesting is why they haven't supported Ron Paul until now.

I suspect Greenwald is right about motive in many cases. There are plenty of people in the GOP who have no interest in actually trying to push a conservative agenda. A lot of them just campaign on conservatism and hope we look the other way when they're in office. I imagine that a lot of this posturing for Ron Paul is based on GOP me-toos trying to ride the coattails of a real conservative into office.

But Greenwald has ignored our shifting attention from foreign policy to domestic policy since 2008 (well, really since 2006). For all our wailing and gnashing of teeth on spending increases under Bush, it only took Obama a year to make Bush look like Scrooge McDuck. Compound that with an Obama foreign policy that looks awfully similar to Bush's and a lot of people just aren't worried about the one topic with which they disagree with Ron Paul the most. Yeah, foreign policy is very important but if Obama can't make significant changes, how will Ron Paul?

Still "Not Terrorism"

Remember, folks, it isn't terrorism when white people do it. Especially not when their "justification" is anti-tax and anti-government.

Then, it is called merely "inappropriate."

Flying planes into buildings with the intent to main and kill to make a political point is: inappropriate.

With a belief system labeled "heroic."

The disingenuity here is astounding.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Unringing a Bell

JMac at Beyond the Trestle directs us to read this Red and Black article detailing one UGA professor's journey to clear his name of sexual harassment charges.

As we see time and time again, this situation got out of control during the process, once the system had a hold of it.

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Credibility Gap: Dick Cheney

Most politicians piss on your leg and tell you its raining.

Dick Cheney waterboards you, gets you involved in one 9 year war with a fourth rate power, one 7 year war with a fourth rate power, subjects your legal system to enhanced interrogation, muddies up the already confused definition of "terrorist" and then later tells you he's pissed on your leg, too.

He expects you to appreciate all the battles he fought and the "shoot outs" he had with pesky government agents in his own administration. He worked really hard to piss on your leg.

He says the current administration is threatening your safety by not pissing on your leg enough. He's mad that the current administration does not want to piss on your leg. Their lack of urinary desire makes America less safe, in his loudly stated opinion.

He wants you to know all about this pissing contest but at the same time forget how things actually happened.


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Crazy College Football Offseason Idea Time!

We are currently experiencing the post-coaching change/National Signing Day, pre-Spring practice lull in the college football season.

That means it is time to entertain Crazy College Football Offseason Ideas! What the hell else are we gonna do, watch the Winter Olympics? Please.

I'm late to this party, but I'm excused. This was the longest college/pro football season I've ever experienced - from August 14 to February 16 - and yes, a week and a half of victory celebrations do count.

However, I know from years of experience that all CCFOIs begin and end with conference realignment.

I only post the SI link because that was the first one I read, not because of any inherent agreement to the premise (though moving to a 64 team Division-I is something I wouldn't mind seeing). But everyone in 16-team conferences?

Nope. Well, not unless the Senator could run it.

Just leave the SEC at 12 and make the rest take whoever. As a matter of fact, let's just say the SEC Champion automatically qualifies for the National Championship game. I mean, as long as we're throwing out ideas...

But the big news (and actions more likely to actually occur) is that the Pac - 10 and the Big 10(11) are (allegedly) hunting Big XII schools to join their conferences.

While some nutcases think Texas might go somewhere, the most reality-based road-maps to Pac-10 expansion run through Utah and Colorado.

The Big 10(11) is apparently after either Texas, Nebraska or Missouri. Again, good luck getting Texas to go anywhere. The Huskers are a bit of a stretch, but Mizzou would fit right in to fill out the Midwestern dozen. If the Tigers jump ship, there is hope that Arkansas would bail on several million SEC dollars a year, allowing the SEC to add Clemson. Then, of course, the ACC has to go looking for a member somewhere.

The mental excercises are fun, but what this assumes is that major schools are going to jump ship from their conferences, and the conference at the bottom of this ladder appears to be the Big XII. I wonder why that is.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Apparently Not Terrorism

Let me get this straight:

Some dude gets angry at government tax policy, burns his own house, puts a bomb in his car, and flies his plane into a building housing government agencies, causing a big explosion and a fire. Lengthy statements on the internet appear to indicate that this behavior was politically motivated and pre-meditated.

HOWEVER, the White House spokesman says the case does not appear to be terrorism.

I hope this is just a media faux pas and that someone in the White House or Homeland Security actually does think this is terrorism. Because, if all the supposed facts of this case are found to be true, then this is EXACTLY terrorism.

And everyone, EVERYONE knows why this story is being treated as NOT-terrorism.

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Dat's Just Wierd

M. Styborski has an exhaustive list of where the Saints' Super Bowl performance falls as far as NFL records are concerned.

What got me was the strangeness at the end of the post:

Then there’s the freaking Twilight Zone of history… As Super Bowl XLIV got underway, there was an e-mail detailing some oddities circulating. Super Bowl 44 played while the 44th President of the United States sat in office. There were 44 days from Christmas 2009 to the 2010 Super Bowl. The Saints organization is technically 44 years old. It has been 4 years and 4 months since Hurricane Katrina and the Saints won the NFC Championship game against Minnesota 4 minutes and 44 seconds into overtime.

A few other things I noticed after getting that e-mail: Hartley’s winning FG was a 40-yarder and he made 4 extra points that day, Tom Benson graduated from St Aloyisius in the class of ‘44, Garrett Hartley’s second FG was a 44-yarder, and wouldn’t you know it, when the Saints knelt down on the last play of Super Bowl XLIV… there were :44 seconds left on the clock!


Thus begins the cottage industry of looking for "45" symbolism in and around New Orleans.

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"Uninformed Decision-Making"

A lot of hay was made over this when the New Orleans City Coucil voted to tear down most of New Orleans' public housing, so this must be examined.

We have a problem with affordable housing in this town, as do most cities nationwide. The choice presented (more like distorted) by the media and by professional activists was between keeping/protecting the old way of doing things (that wasn't really assisting economically troubled demographics) or tearing stuff down and rebuilding from scratch (which did not address systemic problems).

The teardown happened because government organizations in management capacities and public housing advocates lacked the credibility to fix the problems with the system before the moment of decision. Teardown and rebuild became public policy because that plan was veiwed by decision makers as the most likely to affect positive change.

This same kind of thing happened to New Orleans' public schools, and the ramifications are felt nationwide. They are primary examples of how politics affect culture. (Warning: Wonky public policy & narrative examination to follow)

How does this change occur?

On a micro scale, if localities cannot manage their government organizations and duties, it erodes credibility of all associated government officials. Progress-resistant behaviors emerge in the population.

Individual citizens either engage (a minority) or disengage (the majority) with local civil matters. This disengagement manifests itself in powerful ways, either driving population away to areas percieved to have more effective governments and services or cynically limiting mechanisms to hold local government officials accountable.

The minority of citizens who choose to engage in changing things have their work cut out for them. If they are unable to affect positive change in local government organizations over the long term, the credibility of the advocacy group is questionable at moments of decision. Some advocacy groups become progress-resistant themselves, opting to expand their prestige and power within the scope of the failing government organization that they have been unable to change. This further erodes the credibility of all advocacy groups associated with the failing government organization.

It does not matter if the advocates were lobbying for change before the moment of decision, they must be seen doing so in highly publicized ways. Such groups can no longer afford to host sign-holding gatherings or sign petitions or write letters to the editors at the moment of decision. This two-pronged assignment makes things difficult on advocacy groups, for they must now attempt to affect change, actually affect change, and publicize every move in order to bolster their credibility with the public and decision-makers - and they have to do all of this on tight budgets and usually with volunteer labor.

On a macro level, these factors are used in the narratives of progress-resistant politics. These interests increase power and capital by keeping things the way they are or proposing "reforms" that only solidify their position. Usually, such reforms inadequately address systemic problems they were created to address.

Advocacy groups that have attempted to change failing government organizations are cast as allies of the failure due mainly to their opposition to these inadequate or unproven "reforms."

Right now, these specific issues are feeding the "big government vs. small government" false choice that the Republican Party and the TEA Party are using as a policy brand. This is an easy narrative to get behind when witnessing government organization failure coupled with lack of credibility on the part of advocacy groups. Unfortunately, "reforms" proposed in GOP & TP policy and practice have not addressed the systemic problems they are meant to address.

Notice that the criticisms of HANO include "understaffed" and "uses too many contractors for day-to-day operations." This is the practice of small-government "conservatism" that is being exposed as inefficient in states and localities run by GOP majorities. Unfortunately, as the most recent "reformers" and by far the best marketers, they are able to successfully place the blame for these inefficiencies on their predecessors and against "big government" as a whole based on government organizational failures from across the nation.

But this is "pox on both your houses" stuff. It happens on both sides in cyclical nature. The GOP was turned out of the White House and Congress between 2006 and 2008 precisely because they had failed to deliver on reforms they had promised since 1994. The only reason the GOP and TP maintain the prestige they do on a national stage is the other side's lack of credibility when it comes to administering government organizations on the local level. That, and the ability to point out such shortcomings with such constancy it overshadows their own political shortcomings.

If "liberals" want to start rebuilding credibility within the progressive movement, they will turn their primary focus away from national politics and begin to engage more meaningfully in local administrations - where they can apply the greatest pressure and affect the greatest change.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

45 Million in Change I Still Believe In

I hate that we needed a stimulus. It would have been cheaper and more effective to keep our infrastructure current over the last 20 years.

I hate the way the stimulus was legislated as one big bill. I think smaller, more specific and directed bills would have been more effective and less political.

I hate the oversimplification and hyperbole that infects the narratives concerning the stimulus. "Money from our kids and grandkids" being the most obnoxious. (Act like a deficit hawk or fiscal conservative before the other party is elected to power and I'll extend you more credibility.) "Forced to spend this money because of the recession" is the best the other side offers, and it is weak sauce.

All that being said, Federal stimulus grants to build more streetcar lines in NOLA - $45 million in said grants - is the kind of thing the stimulus was supposed to do. I also know (though this is rarely publicized) that many stimulus dollars have gone into modernizing emergency response systems and tools.

These are not projects that recession kneecapped states and localities can do for themselves. They are not projects that many private enterprises could capitalize or invest in.

They ARE, however, projects that states, localities and private enterprise will benefit from. It all adds up to good investment, and I am glad to see it happen.

UPDATE: Sorry to hear that Atlanta missed out on their own TIGER grant for a Peachtree Street Streetcar line. I don't think this has a lot to do with politics, either, as the ATL Streetcar would go through John Lewis' district, and plenty of "red state" areas got cash. No, with Atlanta this has to do with them asking for nearly 3 times the amount of the highest award recipient, and putting exactly zero local dollars into the project. The lack of local and state credibility on alternative transportation models does not help Peachtree's grant application, either.

That is government competency - funding projects with local support that will put the developments in many areas where the projects have the highest chance of completion and local impact.

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Quick Hits

I believe a certain Carnival season is keeping Pat from the computer (and likely most of our New Orleans readership with him). In his absence, I'm going to take a moment to put together a quick list of important happenings:

1. Bayh just wants out. He's done. He's just tired of Washington. He can either comfortably retire or make a fat paycheck lobbying at this point. If he feels he's in a grind where he's at now, why not take those other options? There's a lot of talk that this will hurt Democrats in the Senate, but as long as they put a strong candidate out there, they'll be fine. The only real disadvantage is that the Republicans can point out that the Democratic candidate was anointed by the Party instead of chosen by the people. With a good candidate, that won't matter.

Warning! We're going to slant right for a moment...

2. I was talking to a liberal friend of mine the other day about why you don't hear anything about Iraq anymore in the news. The simple answer is that things are working so there's nothing of shock value to report. But beyond that, the two troop surges worked. Dick Cheney thinks Obama owes Bush a thank you for things working out. And that's sorta fair in my book. This is yet another moment where Dick Cheney shows us why I love him so much. He doesn't give a @#*$ what you think. He's going to say and do what he thinks is right.

3. Q:
A: A little.

...We now return you to your original political orientation. Please place your seats back in their upright position.

4. Are we getting a little too fancy for our own good? Some whack-a-doo magic throttle gizmo is failing on Toyotas left and right. I'm wondering as a society if we're not making things more complicated than they need to be. Is there any reason we really need a throttle by wire? What happens when it's steering by wire that goes awry? Toyota is in a world of trouble here. The best thing that can happen is a class action lawsuit at this point. They really don't want to spend years and tons of money on legal fees battling each and every case they'll be up against.

5. You ever notice that Wal-Mart just doesn't have as much stuff as it used to? Well, it's going to get worse. Why are we still shopping there? They don't have everything anymore. (Almost a month ago I tried to find a coat for my daughter there and they didn't have any because coats were "out of season.") They're prices aren't particularly competitive. I still have to wait FOREVER to check out. Given their prevalence I'd prefer they just turn into a store with a decent shopping experience, but I'd sure not cry myself to sleep if they fell of the face of the earth, and I don't even care about all that evil corporation globalization evil evil evil stuff.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Your Haterade Pleases Cousin Pat

But I can't hear you over the sound of 800,000 people screaming at the Lombardi Trophy as it rolls down Canal Street in New Orleans.

No, really. I still hear the Who Dat Nation screaming. From my office. Three and four days later. Parades are still rolling, and some folks haven't even gone home yet.

I will have a post up later about the victory. It will have pictures from the parade. The amount of smack talk I plan to include varies minute by minute. Will it be "Classy Pat," or "Drunk, Obnoxious Georgia Pat?" While I can match neither Dante's volume or vitriol, regulars at Carrollton Station fondly remember my behavior during the SEC Championship.

But this post isn't about that. It is about the Saints haters.

I will not focus on the mainstream sports media, who went down on bended knee for Bret Favre before the NFC Championship and followed that accurate prediction up by coronating Peyton Manning for two full weeks before the Super Bowl was actually played on a football field.

Add to that the wholly inexplicable media hype that continues to surround Tim Tebow. Tebow? Really? Didn't Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy silence this tyrrany back in December? (And no, I will never get tired of that link.) Incredible.

But, as a longtime UGA fan, I was prepared for all of that. One thing that I have found endearing and frustrating are the similarities of Mark Richt's Bulldawgs and Sean Payton's Saints, when it comes to football.

I can even understand the division hate from Falcons fans that the Saints were poised to capture a Lombardi before the Birds. But the Birds have had their chances before.

Maybe it is just because my NFL (and especially Super Bowl) rooting interests were determined for so long by teams I hated (Patriots, Rams, Ravens, Cowboys, Vikings) than the teams I root for (Saints, Falcons, Jaguars, Raiders).

Add to that my admittedly ridiculous and irrational SEC-patented "Conference Loyalty Fanaticism" (now experiencing dedicated blowback from certain local Notre Dame partisans). After leading Ms. Mae's in "ENN-EFF-SEE" and "MANN - INNG" chants during the Patriots-Giants Super Bowl, I guess I inferred that everyone kinda made up their minds like I did. Some of the comments from Falcons/Dawgs fans tell me this isn't just a "Patrick is crazy as hell" thing.

And I have to admit, I thought a lot of the home-state partisans would be vicarious Saints fans throughout the playoffs for several reasons. First of all, Warner was QB'ing the Cardinals. And he terrorized Saints and Falcons fans alike when he helmed the St. Loius Rams. His original Cindarella story came at our shared expense, as did his second glass slipper. I thought plenty of NFC partisans would have the Saints' back come pumpkin time.

And I could understand some sympathies for Favre if he had led the Pack into the Superdome, because Green Bay is a team that is hard to hate. But the Vikings? It seems that, no matter what year it is, they are standing in the way of some team getting to the Super Bowl or the Playoffs. In years they aren't, they have boats full of strippers and blow.

Then the Colts. I was absolutely expecting every die-hard Georgia Bulldawgs fan to leap into the Saints' rooting category. Peyton Manning literally annihilated the Dawgs' dreams for four years. We even beat Tebow once, but we never beat Manning. He even embarassed us in 1997, a win that would keep us out of the SEC Championship Game that year.

So, color me surprised when I read this post, from one of the most respected names in the UGA blogosphere. Despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of the criticisms, I think my heart broke a little, reading that, since I read King's opinions every single day.

Let us break down his points of contention:

1. Drew Brees was named MVP of the 2000 Outback Bowl while losing to Georgia. Yes, there were 85 scholarship athletes on a roster full of NFL talent for the Dawg's winning squad that year. Perdue had...Drew Brees. 85 guys beat one guy by 3 points, and had to play catch-up to do it. I watched that game the whole way through, when many a Dawg fan was changing the channel when the score hit 25-0. I can truthfully say that if any player in Red and Black wanted that MVP trophy, they had their chances.

2. Florida fans are rooting for the Saints. I can name a Georiga fan or three who went to Saints games this year. Woof Dat.

3. Sean Payton is gutless. Refrences here and here. Gutless? Gutless? For calling plays that have a high probability of success? I thought that was called good coaching. And what the hell was the percentage on that reverse play that never works? Why the hell don't they run the ball more?

This is the point that sticks in my craw the most, and this goes back to the point way above about Mark Richt and Sean Payton sharing certain football tendencies. Both:

A. Are offense first coaches
B. Chronically underutilize the running game/running back talent
C. Build offesnive schemes based on a precision passing game
D. Use the pass to open up the run
E. Engage in inexplicable playcalling during crucial moments of games
E1. Sean Payton & the Reverse that Stalls Drives
E2. Mark Richt & the QB Sneak on 3rd & Long
E3. These plays never, ever work against division rivals from Florida
F. Famously utilize onside kicks at surprising times
G. Have had to resort to drastic measures to improve defensive coaching
H. Have employed highly unconventional methods to motivate players
I. Are already local legends because of the success each has brought their respective long-suffering programs

Differences?

A. Sideline emotion
B. Media savvy

Seriously. Since I moved to NOLA in 2006, it has been like watching the same team in different uniforms on football weekends. I can barely imagine the reaction at Dawgsports if some NFL blogger called CMR gutless. Especially for focusing on plays that have a high percentage of success.

Most especially after an offseason where the Georgia special teams coach, who did not play percentages, defended his percentage-ignoring directional kicking philosophy because it provided a bigger challenge. I guess he had guts, but he is no longer coaching at the University of Georgia, is he?

Luckily, what all this really means is that both of these teams have successful, classy, championship coaches. The Saints winning the silver football shouldn't feel like an aluminum bat to the Mayor's face, but should provide further validation that Coach Mark Richt is indeed the right coach for Georgia, and he will one day bring home a crystal football for the Dawgs.

Woof. Dat.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Stuff You'd Rather Not Talk About

Two such articles in one day.

You may have heard about New Orleans in the news this past weekend. Our local professional sports franchise participated in a fairly important sporting event.

But we also elected a new mayor of the city, along with several important local offices. If you had read any news reported about these elections, you would have thought they were less about actual issues facing the city and more about the skin color of the candidates.

In some ways, they were. Cliff points out why:

All we have is a lifetime of living here under declining conditions and difficult circumstances. We have been here looking at opportunity and people leave us behind for greener pastures. It just so happens that the whole time we couldn’t find a good job, the school system was failing us, and we were all scared of the NOPD black people were running these entities.

I wanted to add a few words of analysis, but that quote is so defining that anything I offer will be subtraction by addition. Just read it again and roll the ramifications around in your head for a while.

On to the next one:

First of all, I've been saying this for a while, but it is good to see it in a nationally read online magazine. Illegal immigration hurts black America. A lot of folks may chafe at some of the truths in this post, but I watched such things happen first hand back in Coastal Georgia. One of my friends in New Orleans is in her 15th year of residency and legal citizenship application, and has to hold fundraisers in order to pay the fees and complete the process.

The immigration debate is about more and is more complicated than the talking heads on TV want you to believe. They want you to hold this issue up as one pitting racist xenophobes vs. American dreamers, and that is just not the case. It is the only issue so turned around that I have witnessed honest, idealistic progressives attempt to defend oligarchic, inhumane business practices and wage slavery.

I'm still waiting for a rationally worded, national discussion on this issue.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Welcome to my world...

Oh noes! We help put these people in power and they are doing absolutely NOTHING to further our agenda. Are we talking about Republican leadership and fiscal conservatives? No, we talking Democratic leadership and union bosses. Yeah, the teamsters are pissed at the White House and Congress in general. I still think that with all this upheaval and ignoring the bases for the center, those poles are going to slip sooner or later. I doubt it will lead to the Conservative Teamster Party but loyalty works both ways. If Obama wants to keep the union vote, he's going to have to at least throw them a bone somewhere. If not, they WILL vote elsewhere. For now, they may just stay home, but if they're ignored enough someone will swoop in and take their votes.

Now don't get me wrong. If someone is going to get completely ignored in this country the labor unions would be my vote. But despite decreasing numbers, there are still a heck of a lot of unionized workers out there and they all get a vote (sometimes two or three).

Try KSM In Detroit

Still in recovery mode of a kind, so writing has been slow this week.

However, since New York City does not want to host the trials of criminals who killed their people, Slate asked readers to propose alternate sites. I don't know which is better, the idea of US populations bidding their respective hometowns as locations for this trial, or the selection of the winner.

Detroit? Hells yes.

Now, Slate did this in a very tongue-in-cheek way. But I'm dead serious. This needs to happen.

If NYC takes a pass, let's do this in Detroit. I've recently and personally witnessed what a dose of civic pride can do for a town and a population, and Detroit -of all places- could use such an injection. The $200 million NYC turned down would go much further in the Motor City than it would in Manhattan, anyway.

Oh, and the Ruston, Georgia comment down at the end of the article? Yeah. If this trial was held in the South, security for the trial would cost $400 million.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Congratulations, Saints.

I figured Pat would be on here by now, but I guess the Super Bowl has incapacitated him to an extent. So your good pal Dante is here to do the honors of congratulating the New Orleans Saints for winning the Super Bowl (and costing me $20 in the process). There was a lot of Indy love before this game and now that it's over I'm hearing a lot of backtracking and excuse-making for my fellow Colts-pickers. You can blame what you want but the fact of the matter is that the Saints went to Miami and absolutely outplayed the Colts. And they brought New Orleans a Super Bowl victory in the process.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Microchip-Free Georgia

Because when your state is in the middle of an economic collapse, with more failed banks than anywhere else in the nation, with your largest city's water supply threated by legal action, with no regional transportation plans of note, and with over 10% unemployment, what your state legislature needs to focus on is the X-Files.

Priorities rule!

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Class

Clemson University has it.

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Ben Dukes Talks UGA Football

My first reaction to this? Ben Dukes has a blog?? My second reaction? Is this the Ben Dukes who lived in Creswell Hall the same years I was there? Sounds like it.

My third reaction? I find his take on yesterday's recruiting class entirely reasonable, and agree wholeheartedly with what he said.

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"We are not afraid..."

This nation tried shoe-bomber Richard Reid in our federal courts. Add that to all of our prior history successfully prosecuting terrorists.

And yet, still we let fear control our decisions. We let fear control our policies. We have certain national "leaders" who go on television and tell us we have reason and justification to fear so deeply and irrationally that we should throw away the way we have risen to challenges for over 200 years.

I remain deeply disappointed by the fear that has been sown and displayed by my fellow countrymen regarding the prosecution of terrorists within our own system.

How far we have fallen from "liberty or death." How distant is the warning "don't tread on me." One can only hope that this too, shall pass.

We are afraid for security? We are afraid our own laws will fail to find justice and truth when faced with these scoundrels? We are afraid for the "platform" it will give the criminals?

Why do we not demand the platform it gives to us? Maybe our patriotism has truly been eroded so deeply that only the largest display of our flag is acceptable to demonstrate what makes us American.

I will find my demonstrations in less overt places, the same places where I find my hope.

I will find them in the words of the judge who handed Richard Reid his sentence, once our laws, dutifully applied, demonstrated their own refutation of fear.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.


HT to The Daily Dish for that gem of a quote.

Update: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick has a brilliant piece about "Terrorsim Derangement Syndrome," and it takes on the exact kind of fear to which I referred. Some highlights:

We're terrified when a terror attack happens, and we're also terrified when it's thwarted. We're terrified when we give terrorists trials, and we're terrified when we warehouse them at Guantanamo without trials. If a terrorist cooperates without being tortured we complain about how much more he would have cooperated if he hadn't been read his rights. No matter how tough we've been on terror, we will never feel safe enough to ask for fewer safeguards.

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It's not a terrorist's time bomb that's ticking. It's us. Since 9/11, we have become ever more willing to suspend basic protections and more contemptuous of American traditions and institutions. The failed Christmas bombing and its political aftermath have revealed that the terrorists have changed very little in the eight-plus years since the World Trade Center fell. What's changing—what's slowly ticking its way down to zero—is our own certainty that we can never be safe enough and our own confidence in the rule of law.



While it might seem that the very winds that "carried freedom" in our society are starting to carry fear, from what we hear in our popular culture, that sea-change has already happened. That changes my position from warning what will come to pushing back against that which has already arrived.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Washington Street Liberation Army

Actually waging a War on Christmas? By giving blankets, food and firewood to homeless people? Brilliant!

The WSLA might be one of the greatest ideas I've ever heard out of Athens.

Who does the rest of the WSLA want to see in office? While neither Lewis nor Rusk would ever speak for the group, Rusk has some general ideas for what the Washington Street Liberation Army wants for Athens: they want to see Star Wars on a big screen again; they want a return to the dollar PBR; they probably don’t want people sleeping in tents because they don’t have any other place to go; and they don’t want children spending Christmas in homeless shelters on Barber Street.


Super Secret Liberal Takeover Headquarters loudly applauds the WSLA.

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Six Easy Panels

The difference between Repbulicans and Democrats, at least the most recent incarnations, can be found here.

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Never Settle

I might get in a wee bit of trouble for posting this, but I'm glad Jessica Grose at Double X deconstructs Lori Gottlieb's "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough."

This kind of thinking is defeatist. We don't need any extra pressure on American culture to give up where we want to be and start settling only for where we are. That wasn't the kind of thinking that made America great, it isn't the kind of thinking that will give you a great marriage.

And if you think that only women are subjected to pressures to settle down, get married and start havin' babies, you ain't met my family, Jack. Hell, my pops recently backed off his demands for the first two, and just wants me to knock some lady up.

Something tells me that wouldn't be a situation that ends well.

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Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Speechless doesn't begin to describe my reaction to this bomb dropped on the New Orleans' mayoral election. And on fraternity life. And Tulane University. And livestock.

Yes, really. It goes there.

It is a long post, but stick with it. It won't disappoint.

HT: Jeffery, who has the best quote:

NOLA politics: We may not be able to compete with Saints-in-the Superbowl, but don't say we aren't trying our damnedest.


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World's Largest Model Rocket

Launched by Iran.

No word yet on the survival of the mouse, turtles and worms the highly credible "we-counted-all-the-votes" Iranian government claimed were on board.

We should have our shuttle go rescue the animals and set an even bigger, more impressive record.

Not that this news won't send highly credible, "they-will-treat-us-as-liberators" neoconservative talk radio hosts, pundits and bloggers into a "bomb Iran" frenzy this week. Because the best thing you can do when bogged down in two wars is start another one. I'm just saying.

I've got a better idea. You know what our best response to this would be?


(Image NASA)

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Monday, February 01, 2010

You can get a good look at a school district by sticking your head up a hurricane's... No, wait. It's gotta be your bull.

I try to stay out of post-Katrina rebuilding posts. That's Pat's department. But I picked up this little gem from the Washington Post that was too good to pass up:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan called Hurricane Katrina "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" because it forced the community to take steps to improve low-performing public schools, according to excerpts from a television interview made public Friday.


Look, I get the point Arne Duncan is trying to make. But wow that was a bad way to put it. And given some of the problems the RSD is having, I'm not so sure it's even an accurate statement if delivered in a sane manner.

Krewe du Vieux 2010



That was Saturday night. I'm still in recovery, as a week of cold medicine reduced my tolerance to that of a mewling newborn kitten. As far as transportation was concerned, I walked from my house to the Canal Street Streetcar line; from there to the French Quarter; and across the Quarter to the Marigny. Getting home was just as easy, though it involved a bit more dancing.

Though I wish we had a streetcar on Esplanade, I'm not complaining. Walking is good for you, and the streetcar back echoed with "Who Dat!?!" chants.

Krewe du Vieux is the first big parade of Carnival Season in New Orleans. Next weekend we have parades, the city elections and the Super Bowl to watch. A week later is the weekend before Mardi Gras. So by the time Ash Wednesday arrives, New Orleanians will have been dancing at the center of the universe for five weeks.

Yeah, I know you wish you were here. I'll try to keep the pictures coming.

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