31 October 2003

Creeping optimism from Blanco 

Kathleen Blanco went to the press today with news that the Kennedy tracking poll conducted over the first half of this week and released yesterday actually showed her gaining on Bobby Jindal. This seems technically true because of the nature of the poll which showed a bump for Blanco on the last night it was conducted, and should give them some kind of optimism, but that hardly means everything is going the way they've pictured it over at team Blanco this month. They need to do something to stop the Jindal momentum that has been growing nonstop since August.

However maybe I need to leave you with some good news before I sign off for what will probably be until after the Saints game on Sunday. So there you go, Blanco had a bump on the last day of the poll. Happy times are here again.

Tonight I'm doing the Halloween party type thing followed by an early bedtime, because I am doing my duties as Godfather at the baptism of my absolutely adorable niece in New Orleans in the late morning. After that a baptism party-slash-get together at my bro's house (not his daughter for those who might know me). And all this will be followed by a family reunion-slash-birthday party for my uncle who turns eighty this week. To recap it will be a long and busy weekend and I don't know what posting opportunities I'll have. Until then check in with the links on the right, where there's always interesting information for the curious.

Do not piss this man off! 

via Wyethwire by way of Atrios.

Former chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party writes an open letter to barely Democratic Georgia Senator Zel Miller. Here's the conclusion, but you should check out the whole thing.

You once wrote a country song with a great line: “Every place I’ve ever been was on my way back home.” Looks like you’re on you’re way back home, Zell, back to the hateful rhetoric of the Lester Maddox days, with frequent well-paid stops along the way in corporate boardrooms. Too bad that’s the final legacy you’re leaving.

In your finest hour as Governor, you said “You cannot lead with a finger to the wind and an ear to the ground. It is an undignified position.” Only now, as you teeter with your hindquarters in the air, do I fully understand how right you were.

Amateur Polling Analysis 

Bayoubuzz.com has all their regular contributors give their assessment of the polling data released yesterday, and it's worth a look even though there doesn't seem to be much there that you or I couldn't figure out on our own.

Pinsonat's analysis does stand out though. The "no shit?" headline on his column, "Blanco needs a message," probably obscures the fact that he actually has something interesting and germane to say, but headlines are misleading. C'est la vie!

Anyway, he suggests that Blanco's constant harping on Jindal's "youthful inexperience" is actually hurting her in the public opinion polls. Pinsonat says this as if everyone in the state who follows politics should know it. Maybe I'm not as smart as I thought I was, but talking about your experience didn't seem like it would hurt Blanco to me. Alas, Pinsonat reminds us that if just reinforces the Foster attacks that she's connected to the politics of the good ol' boys. Personally I thought Blanco's reputation of good government would shield her from this association, but the plummeting favorability ratings seem to belie that bit of optimism. This seems like a reasonable comment to me, and hell, Pinsonat gets paid for this kind of stuff, so I'll trust him. Anyway, that one's worth a look, so click on over to it.

Update @ 10:55 am: corrected "could" to "couldn't" which basically changes the tone of the entire post. Sorry about my poor proofreading. . .

Election news roundup 

There's really not too much in the papers this morning about the governor's race. If you missed the link to the disturbing new poll numbers for Kathleen Blanco, they're here.

If you want to read more about New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's near endorsement of Bobby Jindal, go here and here.

The T-P "election notes" (same link as above) section also has a good rundown of the recent uptick in inter-campaign jabs being thrown around over negative advertising. I'll just quote it in full.

The bickering between Democrat Kathleen Blanco and Republican Bobby Jindal escalated Thursday, when both candidates in the race for governor accused the other of making unfair negative attacks. Democrats were upset by a Jindal radio spot that accuses Blanco of "laying the groundwork for a tax hike." Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Skinner said the advertisement is a gross distortion of Blanco's position. "She said (that) only in a doomsday scenario would she consider raising taxes," Skinner said. "It's curious to me that when either I or Kathleen or anybody else talks about his (Jindal's) record, it's negative campaigning, but when he distorts someone else's record it's fair game." Jindal's spokesman, Trey Williams, said the radio ad is not negative because it is based on comments Blanco made in a televised debate last week.

Meanwhile, Jindal's campaign accused Blanco of reaching a "new low" with a television ad that portrays the former state health secretary as a numbers cruncher and issued a five-page packet of newspaper clips purporting to show that Blanco has been the most negative candidate in the race. "Every ad we have had has used either her words or the press's words to point to the fact that she's been running a negative campaign," Williams said.

Sigh. At this point it doesn't really matter who ever went negative in this race first and who is doing the worse negative advertising. The fact of the matter is that the public perception is that Blanco started this thing. I don't think that's the way it really happened, but it doesn't matter. Blanco's campaign should cut their losses and do whatever the can to move on. I don't know if it will be possible with Jindal and his spokespersons constantly whining about Blanco being on the attack, but they must do something.

It looks like the Jindal campaign strategists learned the lessons of Suzy Terrell very well over her Senate and Lt. Governor race. I imagine that it wouldn't have mattered if Blanco never opened her mouth in the campaign; the Jindal people would have started running ads and firing off press-releases accusing her of going negative anyway.

Meanwhile Mike Foster sits on the sidelines talking about Blanco's tenuous connections to old Edwards fundraisers that he himself shares. This is ugly. Let's hope some news that there are new people inside the Blanco campaign will shake things up in this race and turn it around for the Lt. Governor.

30 October 2003

Voting machines, monopolies, and the GOP 

People who frequent websites on the left are surely well aware of Diebold's evil plan to steal elections for the GOP with their snazzy new electronic voting machines that happen to be ripe for the hacking.

A run down of the very basic problems with Diebold's machines from a very nontechnical perspective:

No paper trail available for independent auditing
Notoriously easy to hack into and change the results
A history of shitty technical support for electronic and programming troubles related with Diebold's other operations

These problems have been mulled over by bloggers from here to eternity, so I'll defer to their judgment.

Anyway, I come into this after my bro sends me an email with the text of a piece from the latest edition of the Chronicle of Higher Ed Here's the link to the article but you have to be a subscriber to read it. You may have already seen it elsewhere, but it's essentially about Diebold demanding that universities shut down student run websites that link to some allegedly stolen Diebold internal memos that supposedly prove Diebold knew all about the security problems regarding their voting machines but marketed them to states anyway. Here's the lede and some other key grafs:

Diebold Inc., which makes electronic voting machines, sent letters to at least three more colleges this week demanding that they take down student-run Web sites that publicize the company's internal memos.

The students -- at Amherst College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Missouri at Rolla -- are following in the footsteps of two Swarthmore College students who started a campaign last week among college students to disseminate the documents over the Web. The students say the memos show that Diebold knew about security lapses in its electronic voting machines but sold them to states anyway.

Diebold argues that the memos were stolen from the company, and that distributing them over the Internet is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

. . .

Students at as many as 16 more colleges have posted the documents or linked to them from their Web sites, according to the Swarthmore students. The institutions are Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, Grinnell College, Hampshire College, Harvard University, Indiana University, North Carolina State University, Purdue University, Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Evansville, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas-Pan American.

Anyway, I'm not the first one to bring even this story up, since other people I read have mentioned it on their sites, but I wonder if Diebold isn't using their leverage as the industry leader in campus security products to pressure these institutions into suppressing the speech of their students. I can't think of a single college that I've visited over the last four of five years that didn't have Diebold card swipers at half the doors on campus. I don't have the resources to track this kind of stuff down, but it's something for the tinfoil hat crowd among us to consider.

We will never forget. . . Beirut 

Conservatives have been shocked and awed at the way a new CBS miniseries will portray St. Ronald Reagan. There has been a rash of letters from prominent GOP circles demanding satisfaction for the terrible treatment of the gipper. Well conservatives need not fear any longer, because John Dingell, Democratic Representative from Michigan, has taken up the cause for an accurate portrayal of America's most beloved president. Tapped directs us to this open letter to CBS:

I write to you with regard to your upcoming mini-series "The Reagans." I share the concerns expressed by others that it may not present an accurate depiction of the Reagan administration and America during the 1980s. I trust that CBS will not be a party to a distorted presentation of American history, and that the mini-series will present a fair and balanced portrayal of the Reagans, the 1980s and their legacy.
As someone who served with President Reagan, and in the interest of historical accuracy, please allow me to share with you some of my recollections of the Reagan years that I hope will make it into the final cut of the mini-series: $640 Pentagon toilets seats; ketchup as a vegetable; union busting; firing striking air traffic controllers; Iran-Contra; selling arms to terrorist nations; trading arms for hostages; retreating from terrorists in Beirut; lying to Congress; financing an illegal war in Nicaragua; visiting Bitburg cemetery; a cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein; shredding documents; Ed Meese; Fawn Hall; Oliver North; James Watt; apartheid apologia; the savings and loan scandal; voodoo economics; record budget deficits; double digit unemployment; farm bankruptcies; trade deficits; astrologers in the White House; Star Wars; and influence peddling.

I hope you find these facts useful in accurately depicting President Reagan's time in office.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Bad numbers for Blanco 

Verne Kennedy released the results of his tracking poll today to news media and we find Jindal leading 49% to Blanco's 38%, with about 13% undecided. Kennedy believes Jindal took advantage of the airwaves to get his message out, and puts up some numbers showing Blanco's favorability rating dropping from 66% a little more than a week after the primary to 47% as of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week.

Kennedy predicts that if the race were held today it would be Jindal 54%, Blanco 46%.

Nubers provided by Gannett's John Hill at www.acadiananow.com.

I'll just say that I thought Jindal had pulled ahead, but I never thought it would be that bad. This is pretty amazing, and it speaks to the power of television in a political campaign as much as anything I've ever seen before (except maybe Governor Arnold in California). It's hard to call the race anything else but Jindal's to lose at this point.

What would Nagin do? 

Stephen Sabludowski of bayoubuzz.com says that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin "all but endorsed" Bobby Jindal at a press conference this morning in New Orleans.

The press conference was to announce Nagin’s endorsement of Johnny Jackson Jr. for Clerk of Criminal Court—not to lead us out of the wilderness on the governor’s election issue.

. . .

Mayor Nagin did answer questions from the anxious media about the big issue. Most political observers later questioned by Bayoubuzz agreed that Nagin’s comments sounded, looked and quacked like a political lean towards Jindal.

The mayor made no bones about his taking his time and deliberating on this very important decision. He’s questioned focus groups, interested individuals, taking polls and spent many hours on the subject.

However, there were some few choice words that just stood out like a sore thumb. The mayor said the people of the city appear to be looking for someone new and that they were not aligned to party politics as they were in the past.

This jibes with the T-P's election notes section from today's edition that suggested the mayor was leaning towards a Jindal endorsement. However, it most certainly isn't an endorsement. He can lean all he wants to, but without going over the top and saying "vote Bobby Jindal for Gov. November 15," his words are essentially meaningless except to keep his name in the papers.

The Blanco camp is surely hopeful that Nagin will end up just keeping out of the endorsement game for this election. However, I would imagine that if new independent polls to be released over the next two days show Jindal clearly pulling ahead of Blanco, Nagin could see it as a chance to play kingmaker and deliver a significant percentage of Orleans Parish's coveted black vote to the Republican candidate, giving New Orleans a strong hand to play with the new executive of Louisiana.

I would hope Kathleen Blanco and the state Democratic Party are doing a lot of back room dealing with Nagin right now to prevent the mayor from endorsing Bobby Jindal, but I haven't followed Nagin's short term in office close enough to know if he'll play ball with them. He's always given me the impression that he's independent almost to a fault, so I wouldn't be surprised if he puts his weight behind Jindal. What's almost certain though, is that he won't endorse the Lt. Governor, and that's pretty bad in itself.

What's wrong with the Blanco campaign? 

I can appreciate that sometimes a candidate doesn't want to let a newspaper set the agenda for a particular election, but when a spokesmen can't pick up the phone and issue a statement to the press about an issue that will appear on the front page of the newspaper, it doesn't look good.

Here are the first two grafs from a story about high speed Internet in rural areas. Tell me if you see anything that might look bad to the Blanco campaign.

State economic development officials said Wednesday that getting high-speed Internet access in rural areas isn't a matter of convenience; it's a business need as basic as roads.

At least one of the two gubernatorial candidates in the Nov. 15 runoff election agrees with that, but he also wants high-speed Internet in the homes of Louisiana residents.

Later on the story explains why Blanco didn't weigh in on the issue:

Republican candidate Bobby Jindal said later Wednesday that is a key to rural economic development.

"I think we need to start considering it the same way we consider public utilities," he said.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic candidate for governor in the Nov. 15 runoff, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the issue Wednesday.

How hard is it to pick up the phone? This seems to happen too often to her campaign. There's an issue that's on the front page of a major state newspaper. Bobby Jindal talks about how we need this or that, and says what he plans to do. And Blanco "did not return phone calls seeking comment on the issue." The Jindal campaign has been a well-oiled machine in this race. They stick to their issues and get out in the front of new ones created by the press. Meanwhile crickets chirp and phones go unanswered by team Blanco.

As I posted earlier this morning, it seems like the campaign is making moves to turn this thing around, but for gawd's sake it's not that hard to make a comment about high-speed Internet and rural areas. A simple "I'm for that," surely would have been better than "couldn't be reached for comment."

Polls and the polling pollsters who poll them 

Two polls were released with much fanfare from separate Republican commissioned pollsters this week. They showed Bobby Jindal inching overtaking Kathleen Blanco and inching closer to the coveted fifty percent necessary to win the runoff. It seems that politicsLA.com was the only online source I could find for the data at the time (if you want to see it you have to hit their homepage and scroll quite a ways down the page).

I didn't mention them because I don't think there's much percentage in internal polling numbers that are released to the public. It's hard to tell whether or not they are a smokescreen to build momentum or buzz for a candidate, and they are notoriously skewed towards desire of the people who commission them.

Gannett's Mike Hasten runs a story that calls them into question and tells us about the polls that really matter in today's report on the gubernatorial race. The experts quoted in the story are wary of the numbers because the race feels closer than the Jindal numbers let on.

there’s a natural inclination to discount the results, said Pearson Cross, political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and Wayne Parent, head of the political science department at LSU.

“My sense is that it’s a dead heat right now,” Cross said. “I’m distrusting some of the polls. I trust the ones that say it’s very close.”

“One is always suspicious of polls coming out of campaigns,” Parent said, “but these might be correct.”

I hope those two are right, but my sense is that the polls released today will show the full effect of Jindal's advertising advantage and his constant refrain that Blanco is on the attack. The difference probably won't be as pronounced as 48 to 43, but he'll surely have chipped away some of Blanco's support and gained his own ground on previously undecideds. I think Blanco's campaign has begun to turn it around over the last few days, but I don't know what days these new polls were conducted, so they probably won't reflect that.

I guess we'll know before the end of the day.

"Dogs on Hogs" just got a lot more interesting 

In an effort to defend his shepherding of the helmet law repeal, Mike Foster challenged a study that claims a causal relationship between the repeal of the law and more than 100% increase in motorcycle fatalities in the two years since the law was repealed.

It probably seems hypocritical of me to support a helmet law while at the same time saying I should have the right to kill myself by smoking, but there you go, so I guess I am. I think misunderstanding come when non-smokers (or non-motorcyclists) can't understand the pleasure that comes with the offending activity. Non-smokers constantly question why I would do that to my lungs, put my health at risk, etc. The answer is simply that I enjoy it. I assume the same goes for motorcyclists even if I can't imagine why riding with a helmet is less enjoyable than riding without one. With that said, I don't have any problem with taxing cigarettes out the wazoo and charging more for a special license for motorcyclists who prefer helmetless riding. There is no question that states all across the country have to absorb the increased health care costs that come with people so brazenly putting their life at risk, and the people who should overwhelmingly be burdened with these costs are those who participate.

Foster is still a wacko though. He's as bad as the cigarette companies who tried for years to claim that cigarette smoke wasn't actually bad for you. Common sense will tell anyone it's less safe to get on a motorcycle without a helmet, Foster trying to pretend it's not just makes him look loonier than normal.

More on health care woes 

On the heels of yesterday's stories about the problems with health care in our fair state, The Advocate decides to get in the mix. Despite cuts across the board, the state system is still expected to bust it's budget goals for the current fiscal year. That means more cuts, less doctors, longer waits, and deteriorated care for the citizen who depend on charity hospitals for their care.

The best quote that manages to leave out the whole story comes from a hospital official in Baton Rouge. "Wilson and Holman both reminded consumers that nonemergency issues are best handled by primary care physicians and clinics."

Of course they are best handled outside of the emergency room and that would be great, but the majority of the men and women who use Charity Hospitals don't have primary care physicians and the clinics that they would generally use tend to shut down because of budget cuts and send them to the emergency room for care. Witness the shut down of the diabetes clinics at "Big Charity" in NOLA for more on that front.

The Advertiser included a followup to yesterday's story about what entails for patients who have to wait for hours to see a doctor. Here's a great quote from that story that story:

Kristi Breaux, 24, of St. Martinville, who stood outside the family clinic Wednesday waiting for an appointment, said that she worries about the 84 UMC employees who are being laid off this year.

“I hope the employees get good jobs with good insurance,” Breaux said. “Otherwise, they’ll have to come here and just add more people and add more time to the wait.”


My congratulations to the reporters who have decided to get into the muck on these issues. I'm sure it's unforgiving work, but it's important for everyone voting in the next election to understand how these issues affect our lives.

29 October 2003

Are you a boy or a girl? 

Via Andrew Sullivan we find a neat toy for those who are confused about their gender.

It's a program that predicts the gender of a writer by analyzing the incidences of certain words and/or phrases used in the writing. I am most assuredly male according to The Gender Genie's reckoning of a couple of blog entries.

Go have fun with some of your own writing (or perhaps someone else's).

There's only so much moonshine to talk about 

Building on the theme of linking to stories about homemade liquor, I found a story about a meth-lab right here in our very own state. Okay, so that's a bit of a stretch, but it's got to be good news when a clandestine drug lab blows up in the faces of their amateur lab operators.

Don't worry, the manufacturer wasn't hurt too bad, and his crystal meth lab is out of commission.

Narcotics detectives said they had been to the house twice before on searches for methamphetamine, but none was present either time.

After Thursday's fire, investigators found methamphetamine, marijuana and the raw materials used in manufacturing methamphetamine, detective Vic Marler said. They also found a 9-mm pistol, he said

Update @ 9:26 pm: It looks like I was wrong. John Vittey, the alleged manufacturer actually sustained third-degree burns over forty percent of his body. My apologies for making light of the injuries. There's a lesson in there somewhere about playing with drugs and fire.

Reading is bad for children 

At least reading Harry Potter novels is, if this story from The Washington Post is to be believed.

After numerous children came into a doctor's office complaining of headaches, the doctor discovered that they had all been reading Rowling's latest novel. This is what he told them:

Bennett told her that her daughter's headache was in all likelihood brought on by the size of the book, and suggested Lainoff take 20-minute breaks periodically to keep the headaches at bay, just as exclaiming "expecto patronum" protects Potter and his friends against the evil Dementors. Reluctantly, Lainoff complied.

I guess we'll just have to wait for the movie next time.

"Stalker" threatens Atrios 

Donald Luskin's lawyers are threatening to sue Atrios over at Eschaton for calling him a Krugman stalker. Now he wants the post removed or he will reveal Atrios' secret identity to the world by subpoenaing (sp?) blogger.

The middle "c" in the mighty Casio is in trouble, so go show him your support.

Rarely a kind word for Kit 

Bob Somerby doesn't like Kit Seelye very much. If you want to know why, go check out today's Daily Howler, it's worth it. Here's a little taste of what Bob is cookin':

We’ve told you the script about General Clark: Clark (a big fake) can’t explain his positions. This morning, Katharine “Kit” Seelye of the New York Times cut-and-pastes the key script once again.

Seelye has followed Clark to New Hampshire, scene of so much past clowning clownistry. She’s programmed to type the key scripts about Clark. So this morning, she offers us this:

SEELYE: Right after [Clark’s] health care speech, the general introduced some new confusion into his stance on the administration's request for $87 billion in emergency spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. He has said that he opposes the request, and he repeated that position on Tuesday. But he told one woman who asked him what he would do about Iraq, “We broke the dishes, we’re going to pay for them.”

Asked later by reporters to reconcile his opposition to the $87 billion request with his assertion that the United States should pay for the damage, he said, “Eventually we’re going to have to do our part in the reconstruction of Iraq.” But, he added, he will not support any appropriation until Mr. Bush has a strategy for getting out.

More “confusion” from General Clark! Readers, the god of scripts is an angry god, and Seelye paid her god this great tribute.

But readers, let us ask a simple question. Is there anyone on earth—except a paid journalist—who would be “confused” by what Clark said? We’re relying on Seelye’s account of his comments, generally a risky thing to do (see below). But who on earth—except “Kit” Seelye—would find Clark’s statements on this matter “confusing? Clark said he won’t approve new money for Iraq until Bush has a plan for getting out. There are plenty of questions you could ask about that. But who would find this construction “confusing?”

The answer, of course, is perfectly clear. Katharine Seelye would find it confusing, because that’s one of the scripts about Clark. She clowned her way through Campaign 2000, making a joke of your White House election. According to the Financial Times, Katharine Seelye was one of three scribes who “did little to hide their contempt for [Gore].” As her clowning continues today, she shows her contempt for you too.

There's a whole lot more there for anyone who is mildly interested in presidential politics and the way they are covered by a "deeply dysfunctional press corps." There is something about The Howler's hyperbole that just makes you feel all warm inside about the Washington D.C. press.

Commentary roundup 

This week John Maginnis wonders where New Orleans maverick mayor Ray Nagin will throw his weight with the runoff. Maginnis thinks it could go either way, but contends that Nagin's 2006 reelection could be at stake. Personally, I don't think the long-term ramifications of Nagin's endorsement are really that significant, but I'm just a lowly blogger so go read what he has to say.

Also The Advocate's Scott Dyer reminds us that the gloves are off in this race now. Oh really? I hadn't noticed. If you want a good column on the flap between Blanco and Jindal that has developed over the last week or so, go take a look at it. If that's not enough for you Stephen Sabludowsky at bayoubuzz.com is saying the same thing.

Finally, it's a shame that The Advocate doesn't post it's letters to the editor online, because Governor Mike Foster wrote a real whiner this morning about the paper's unfair treatment of his criticisms regarding Kathleen Blanco. He says that "she went after him first," and that he just never starts anything. He only calls people names when they criticize him first. The letter gives the impression of a twelve year old justifying his bullying in the principal's office. It's pretty funny, so go get a print copy of the paper to see it.

Health care in crisis 

Blanco stood on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday to declare that state health care is in crisis and she's the woman to lead us out of the wilderness.

Blanco discussed the state's health-care problems at a rally and press conference on the State Capitol steps Tuesday afternoon.

Louisiana ranks next to last in the nation in health indicators, she said, and "We have to fix those problems."

Sen. Don Hines, D-Bunkie, a physician, praised Blanco at the rally for her "bold and unique idea to get people in health care and the people who provide health care together" to find solutions.

I put up a post yesterday that I thought it was smart politics for Blanco to start approaching all health care questions with reference to the idea that it is in crisis right now, because Bobby Jindal has inextricably linked himself to the supposed well-being of the state system. If voters make the link between Jindal and the state's health care problems he will have a very difficult time getting himself into office. Blanco needs to be careful to avoid slipping into the role of a demagogue, making the state's troubles out to be more than they are, but it seems to me that any objective look at the way LA provides health to its citizens right now is woefully short of even the southern average.

With that said I have a request for state newspaper editors. Please assign your reporters to do some kind of reporting on how our health care system stacks up against our neighbors and what has happened to it over the last half decade. Jindal is claiming all kinds of successes in his role in the DHH, and Blanco is saying that things are worse now. Stop covering process and start covering substance. It's up to you to help the public understand the truth behind the claims, so get to it.

For a taste of these health care woes, look at this story about the charity hospital here in Lafayette from today's Advertiser. Here's the lede:

Because of state budget cuts, there will be 84 fewer people working at University Medical Center by the end of the year, and that means patients are going to be spending a lot more time in waiting rooms, a hospital official said Wednesday.

Jerry Romig, director of public relations and marketing for Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, which oversees the state’s nine charity hospitals, said patients will still get the care they need — it will just take longer. He said jobs have been cut across the board, including nurses, clerical workers and technicians. Since July, 56 jobs have been eliminated.

It appears that cuts are so bad in other parts of the state that people in need of care in cities as far away as Lake Charles will be "sent to Lafayette for care." No word on how they'll get here.

Romig said he did not have the exact dollar amount of cuts to UMC, but that layoffs at charity hospitals across the state will mean that some patients will be sent to other hospitals in the system. In addition to Lafayette, there are state-run charity hospitals in Bogalusa, Lake Charles, Monroe, Baton Rouge, Pineville, Independence, Houma and New Orleans.

"Lafayette may be the place for transfers," he said. "They'll probably come here from Lake Charles and Alexandria. This will probably add to the waiting time for patients," he said.

And if that wasn't bad enough, it appears that as many as three-fourths of the women in supposedly upscale Lafayette don't have health insurance. The Advertiser reports on a SELF magazine study that ranks Lafayette 194 out of 200 for the healthiest cities for women to live. The idea that 75% of women in this city seems unbelievable to me, but until I can find some other statistics I'll take their word for it. I hope all those people don't need to go to University Medical Center or they'll be waiting for hours.

Clouds of smoke in Lafayette City-Parish President race 

I understand that most people probably aren't all that interested in the Lafayette Parish-wide elections, but I'll say I was a little shocked to see this story in The Advocate's Acadiana section this morning.

The headline states "Lafayette candidates favor smoking ban." Glenn Weber and Joey Durel affirmed their support for a ban on smoking in Lafayette buildings. Not mentioned in the headline is that they would both exclude bars and restaurants where alcohol is served. Let me say that I have been a dedicated smoker for about six years now, so when I read the story my heart skipped a beat (maybe that's because of health problems caused by my addiction, but I think it was probably in surprise). Reading the story I tried to imagine places where smoking is actually allowed that isn't a bar or restaurant. Frankly I can't think of many, so I don't know what a big deal this ban would really be.

I generally don't like the idea of completely banning smoking from public spaces, but I am sensitive to the health concerns of second-hand smoke. Who I detest are the people who want to ban smoking simply because it's an annoyance. These are the people who will loudly cough on purpose when they walk behind you on an open street just to remind you that your smoking is a vile, disgusting habit. They give you dirty looks when you stand outside a movie theater getting your last fix in before you go in, and just generally try to make you feel bad for taking pleasure in something that is unhealthy. The shame they impose is almost religious in nature, like Southern Baptists who leer at drinkers for committing a sin.

Anyway, this shouldn't matter much anymore to me, because I'm quitting after this last pack. I was shamed into it when my six year old niece caught me smoking and told me it was bad. She's right, and instead of justifying what I already know is a terrible habit to her, I promised to quit by the time she learned to ride her bike without training wheels. That day is approaching so it's time for me to stop. I don't support these kinds of city-wide bans, and God help me if I ever give people dirty looks for lighting up, but sometimes we need to stand up for the rights of people control their own lives.

28 October 2003

Following up 

I probably don't promote the Kos powered Political State Report often enough. It's an invaluabe resource for political news in states all across our country. For most states there are multiple posters who update the site when the mood strikes them, and there is a commitment to cross ideological lines, so dissenting opinions generally aren't stifled. There is only one Louisiana poster, a Republican who signs his posts R. Godwyn. I don't know much about his politics, but from his earlier postings going back to the beginning of the primary season he seemed to be leaning to Blanco because he felt that Jindal would be a tool of Foster if he were elected.

That all changed today. If you go check out the comment thread on the last post about the LA election you'll find out why.

If you're lazy I'll sum it up for you.

Earlier I posted a link to a T-P story that informed us that Blanco wouldn't pledge not to raise taxes. On the polstate comment board Godwyn, who I believe would have voted for the Lt. Governor, says only this in the last comment on the thread, "Blanco has said she will consider raising taxes. There goes my potential vote for her."

What are you supposed to say to that?

He was just so good at UNO 

Speaking for a lot of Hornets fans, Slate's sports nut wonders why the New Orleans NBA franchise hired the worst coach in league history in a column celebrating (?) tonight's return of regular season NBA basketball.

In the spirit of full disclosure I should say that I haven't allowed the Hornets to really grow on me during their first full year in New Orleans. I've never been much of an NBA fan, and while I follow what the sports pages write about the Hornets, I just can't bring myself to be die-hard fan of the team. Also, I have a general antipathy for Tim Floyd because he coached the UNO Privateers basketball team during a period in my youth when there was little better or more exciting than watching then USL's Ragin' Cajuns play basketball, and UNO was a bitter rival.

But that won't stop me from being a critic of what looks from any angle like a terrible move to hire a guy's whose career NBA winning percentage is less than Michael Jordan's career minor league batting average. But don't take my word for it, here's what Sam Eifling has to say:

While flailing with the Bulls, Floyd did earn respect, at least initially, for acting as a human shield, when possible, to protect meddling team management. Such loyalty no doubt helped his standing with Shinn, widely loathed since pulling the team out from under Charlotte, N.C., when he couldn't get a stadium deal.

. . .

[Because the Hornets move to the much more talented Western Conference next year] This season will be the best chance the Hornets have to make the finals in the foreseeable future—so, naturally, in rides Floyd. Granted, he can take heavy blame for piloting the Bulls to two of the three lowest-scoring seasons in league history, and his younger players in Chicago developed only after he left. But at least when someone absolutely, positively has to lose 79 percent of his games without ripping management, he's a proven quantity. Really, now, what a find!

. . .

As for Floyd, if he finishes at least 24-58 he'll no longer have the worst 150-plus-game winning percentage ever, which in the event of his departure will make his next job just that much easier to land.

I guess I'll leave it at that.

Update @ 9:08 pm: Salty in comments refers TMQ fanatics like myself to this bit of news regarding our favorite anti-semite. Also Richard P. exposes Tim Floyd for the fraud he is.

More homemade liquor stories 

In my continuing effort to present stories of moonshining and bathtub gin to the readers of this little blog, I meant to link to this bit of reporting this morning. I saw it in my newspaper earlier, but in my haste to talk about statewide politics I forgot all about it.

The long and short of it is that a deceased former conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra left some bottles of his home made stuff in a closet in a rehearsal hall at the Peabody Institute.

Workers remodeling a 19th-century rehearsal hall at the Peabody Institute have found 10 dusty jugs of moonshine in an unlocked closet, where they apparently sat for nearly 60 years. Faded labels on the bottles suggest that the hooch was the handiwork of Gustav Strube, the first conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

. . .

Strube was "a fearsome brewmeister," said Peabody archivist Elizabeth Schaaf, who recognized Strube's handwriting on several labeled vintages, such as "Wild Cherry 1934" and "Big Blue Grape 1946."

All told, there are about 8 1/2 gallons of colorless liquid sealed in eight one-gallon glass jugs and a pair of quart bottles.

The bottles haven't been opened. But Peabody Institute spokeswoman Anne Garside hopes to have a tasting of the Peabody private label.

"We must find out if the stuff is drinkable," Garside said.

I'll volunteer for that tasting.


In other Louisiana news unrelated to this election, it appears that the chances of having French leader Jacques Chirac and President George Bush together in New Orleans to celebrate the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial are slim to none. Bill Walsh from the T-P's Washington bureau has the story.

I won't say much about this other than that our international tiff with the French sure is ridiculous, and it's too bad that it has to disturb what could have been a very special celebration of Louisiana history and international cooperation. There is still a small chance that the White House could extend an invitation to Chirac, but it's unlikely since the French hatred is playing so well with the masses right now. Oh well . . .

But we passed those coastal erosion amendments. 

There's an excellent AP story run in The Advocate this morning about the approaching environmental problems that we face in this state. It presents a pretty bleak picture that the candidates aren't addressing the real issues that could bust our budget and threaten the economic future of the state:

Perhaps the most immediate environmental challenge for the next governor will be tackling the air pollution problem in Baton Rouge, which has put East Baton Rouge Parish and four surrounding parishes in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

Consumers next summer will have to begin buying reformulated gasoline that burns cleaner and costs more per gallon.

If the area does not meet federal air standards by November 2005, local companies could be on the hook for $100 million in fees for the following year's emissions, said Richard Metcalf with the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

Neither Jindal nor Blanco had immediate steps in mind to rapidly remove the area from non-attainment status.

These stories make me fear for Louisiana's future, and they are among the complex reasons for the state's debilitating out-migration that the candidate's have spent so much energy talking about. Baton Rougers can talk and plan endlessly to make their city more like Austin, Texas, but we are constantly reminded why that day is still just a fantasy in the Chamber of Commerce member's deepest repose. Louisiana has so many troubles and there appear to be so few answers.

The mysterious politics of homosexuality in Louisiana 

In a state as conservative as Louisiana it's hard to predict how stories like these in the Pic and Advocate will influence voters' perceptions of the candidates. The headline from Baton Rouge reads "Gay-rights group says Jindal discriminates," and the NOLA headline says "Gay-rights group lauds Blanco."

To be fair, Jindal hasn't actually done anything to discriminate against homosexuals, rather he doesn't want to meet with a gay group during his campaign lest he offend his prime constituency. I don't really think that's discrimination, just shameless. I think this kind of story could actually help both candidates. Jindal looks all the more conservative to his Bubba contingency and Blanco comes off as reassuringly liberal to people in the Democratic base who have had their doubts about her since the election began. Who really knows though?

The surprising thing in this story is the fact that Blanco met with a relatively obscure gay-rights group and got their unqualified support without actually promising much of anything in the area of advancing their cause, but couldn't pick up the phone and call the folks at BOLD.

Much to discuss today 

I don't really know where to start this morning. After a week or two with slow news on the gubernatorial candidates, this morning is a veritable cornucopia of column inches devoted to them.

Robert Travis Scott has the best story up about Blanco's appearance at the Baton Rouge Press Club yesterday, which covered a broad range of issues in the campaign, and where it appears Blanco was gearing up to really get out in front of the issues instead of endlessly reacting to Jindal's campaign moves.

The story headlines the news that Blanco might support a tax increase as a last resort if faced with a budget crisis that threatened to kill health care and education programs. Unsurprisingly Bobby Jindal signed a pledge to never raise taxes during his governorship. I'm sure we'll see press releases from the Jindal campaign quoting Blanco and calling her just another tax and spend liberal (maybe Jindal will tape another radio ad for that one. . .) Sigh, this is the kind of honesty that sometimes kills a campaign, but ultimately reminds Democrats that at heart she's still one of us.

The other stories about the Press Club event in The Advocate and The Shreveport Times focus on Blanco's attacks against Jindal on health care and Foster's role in his campaign.

Of course it's not new that Blanco is upset with Foster's attacks on her ability to govern the state without her husband, and this National Guard Lt. General flare up is probably a whole lot of nothing, but these stories indicate that Blanco has finally gotten together her campaign and decided to be the candidate who creates the issues, not the other way around. It makes her seem considerably more engaged in the race, which is a stark contrast to the last couple of weeks where she hasn't seemed to pull herself out of the wake of Bobby Jindal's ship.

One thing I found particularly interesting in the T-P story was this side note:

On health care, Blanco said she would release a five-page plan today and repeated her intention of calling an "emergency 'health care in crisis summit,' " which she revealed Monday would be chaired by U.S. Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat who supports her candidacy. Breaux has been a leading force in Washington on health-care legislation.

This doesn't sound like much but it's a reassuring signal to me that someone in the Blanco campaign is very adept at political gamesmanship. If Blanco can make the characterization of health care in this state as "in crisis" (which it is) a mainstream opinion going into election day, Bobby Jindal will have some trouble. He has tied himself to health care in a state where cuts are continuing endlessly, he has to answer for them. If Blanco can get voters to tie him to the problem rather than the solution, it's over for him.

Goodnight Moon 

It's great to read Paul Krugman's op-eds just before hitting the sack the night before they appear in the NY Times print edition. They're like bedtime stories for liberals. They give you a certain sense of peace that only comes when you know someone out there is looking out for you. It's probably the same feeling Fox News devotees have who watch the Bill O'Reilly 10:00 pm rebroadcast as the slip under the covers.

Today's column spends what is probably a little too much time unnecessarily defending himself from cries of anti-semitism by the National Review(yes Krugman is Jewish), but he gets his point across anyway. Here are the best parts:

According to The New York Times, President Bush was genuinely surprised to learn from moderate Islamic leaders that they had become deeply distrustful of American intentions. The report on the "perception gap" suggests that the leader of the war on terror has no idea how badly that war — which must, ultimately, be a war for hearts and minds — is going.

Mr. Bush's ignorance may reflect his lack of curiosity: "The best way to get the news," he says, "is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff." Two words: emperor, clothes.

But there's something broader going on: a sort of willful ignorance, supposedly driven by moral concerns but actually reflecting domestic politics . . . Any American who tries to go beyond "America good, terrorists evil," who tries to understand — not condone — the growing world backlash against the United States, faces furious attacks delivered in a tone of high moral indignation. The attackers claim to be standing up for moral clarity, and some of them may even believe it. But they are really being used in a domestic political struggle.

. . .

Muslims are completely wrong to think that the U.S. is engaged in a war against Islam. But that misperception flourishes in part because the domestic political strategy of the Bush administration — no longer able to claim the Iraq war was a triumph, and with little but red ink to show for its economic plans — looks more and more like a crusade. "Election Boils Down to a Culture War" was the title of Mr. Fineman's column.

. . .

Which brings me back to my starting point: we'll lose the fight against terror if we don't make an effort to understand how others think. Yet because of a domestic political struggle that seems ever more centered on religion, such attempts at understanding are shouted down.

Sweet dreams. . .

Just do it on television via satellite 

Before I promote this by linking to it, I should say that I hate online chats with candidates or celebrities or anyone. You have slowly scrolling pontifications that inordinately feature an extended discussion of the technology itself. Most people who really stand to benefit from a particular candidate's positions don't have access to the forum because they generally aren't online to witness it.

I'm sure that when Chris Rose conducts his interview with LA's gubernatorial candidates tomorrow at three pm central time the first thing they will all mention is how great and historic it is that this is the first time two candidates for governor of Louisiana have ever met in an online chat, then they will proceed to talk about health care and pre-k education, and the people who need these services the most will have very little opportunity to see the discussion. Anyway, it could be interesting, but even though I'm writing this website and am probably severely addicted to Internet use, I'm just a technophobe at heart.

27 October 2003

Some changes for your benefit 

Okay, today I checked out Michael's new weblog, the aptly titled 2millionthweblog; another user of the fantastic template that is all the rage of blogspot users with Louisiana ties, and I was inspired to change my comments provider to the much maligned, but friendlier Haloscan.

First I'd like to say sorry to all the people whose posts were lost in the switch from blogspeak to the new provider, but frankly there haven't been too many, so I don't think it's a big deal. The switch is an effort to provide a more welcoming and user-friendly format for people who wish to participate in the discussions I would like to see develop on Timshel as the site grows (if the site grows. . .).

Remember, feedback is always welcome, so don't be shy if you have a disagreement or anything to add. That's what these weblogs are all about. And if you're interested, don't forget to check out Michael and give him some support. He's started over the weekend and is still trying to get his sea legs, but I know from his participation on the old boards here that he'll have some first-rate commentary up and running in no time.

Tapped on Jindal 

Matthew Yglesias wonders in the American Prospect weblog why Republicans are still pretending to have a "big tent" party when their poster-boy wunderkind Bobby Jindal has to whitewash himself to appeal to racist Louisiana conservatives. Yglesias notes the way this LA Times story (pdf. file, dialup users beware) describes talking points at a Jindal phone bank stressing his native-born status, Christianity, and commitment to conservative values. He also reminds the Tapped community that the Republican race problems are with blacks. But he gets this jab in first:

So Indian-Americans are welcome in the Republican big tent as long as they're native-born citizens who are Christian. How open-minded.

This is interesting, especially since reader wp directed your fair blogger to this AP report on Jindal by Adam Nossiter about some of the trouble Jindal has gotten from Indian-Americans upset with the candidate's embrace of the social conservatism of the right-wing evangelical types. A key quote from the piece:

Jindal regularly celebrates his parents' coming to America from the Punjab over 30 years ago. A fervent Roman Catholic convert, he has embraced the views of Louisiana's largest voting bloc, white conservatives: opposition to abortion, with no exceptions; rejection of gun control; promotion of religion in public life; hostility to affirmative action; and questioning of evolution and tolerance for creationism.

"Part of my astonishment and frustration is what he's doing with this ability," said Vijay Prashad, a scholar at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. "He's decidedly out of step with the broad Indian American community."

According to the 1996 study, 42 percent of Indian Americans identified themselves as Democrats, 13 percent as Republicans.

First of all, let me say that I am very uncomfortable discussing the sincerity of political and spiritual beliefs of candidates for public office. I think it is unfair and depressingly cynical to criticize someone for what they say they believe simply because they belong to an ethnic group that is generally opposed to those beliefs. Is he using his conversion to Catholicism in a cynical attempt to prove to conservatives that he's "one of them?" Definitely, but white candidates for office just as often use all kinds of coded language to appeal to ethnic groups all the time. Just look at how often politicians are speaking Spanish now in attempt to "connect" to the Hispanic voters who make up an increasingly large part of the electorate.

The substance of Yglesias' post is mostly correct. The GOP is no big tent, but Jindal shouldn't take heat for being Christian or taking socially conservative positions by virtue of the fact that he's of Indian heritage. Rather these socially conservative positions should be attacked because for the most part they are backwards attempts by the GOP to inspire fear of liberalism and divide the electorate against itself.

Suppressing the black vote 

After my earlier post about Sadow and his fantasy where black voters move en masse to the Republican Party, we get information like this which reminds us all why African-Americans tend to avoid the GOP like the plague. The fact of the matter is that the GOP would rather disenfranchise blacks rather than try to win their vote. Someone tried it in our last Senate race, and now they're trying it in the Kentucky gubernatorial election. Should we expect stories like this out of Louisiana on November 15, even though Jindal received the endorsement of BOLD? I don't see why not. BOLD endorsed Terrell last year, and that didn't stop the flyers and canvassers from hitting black neighborhoods encouraging people to "wait until next week" to vote.

If you don't want to click on over to TPM, the story is simple. Either the Kentucky state GOP or their candidate for governor, Fletcher, is organizing "poll-watchers" to go to black precincts to ensure "the integrity" of the election. Josh Marshall writes:

What do a series of close-fought races in Kentucky and Louisiana in recent years have in common, the flyer asks? It then answers the question …

All were adversely impacted by the presence and influence of the Democratic National Committee and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute (the black militant division of the AFL-CIO and funded in part by the DNC), and the NAACP and their efforts to marshal the Get Out To Vote (sic) efforts targeted toward the black, poor voters in selected communities and selected targeted races of national impact.

More, I suspect much more, to come on this …

I don't think the goal of having mobs of GOoPers at largely black precincts is really intended to make sure these people bring their voter registration cards to the polls with them. This is the kind of on-the-ground voter suppression that reeks of anti-democratic values and old-style racism, and it's also the main reason that lots of blacks will never vote GOP for a generation.

You are welcome here anytime 

Cheers to the person who found this site after searching for "louisianians against jindal". I hope you'll keep stopping in for the rest of the election. The first site provided by google is the LA Democratic Party website, but I'd be proud to get enough hits off that search to get Timshel up top.

Stick to the classroom, Prof. 

Poitics LA columnist Jeff Sadow, who could be my arch-nemesis if he had any idea who I was, continues to write thoughtless and insulting columns over at the political website. He's like Louisiana's own Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh wrapped up into one and with an advanced degree. Today he writes what could be a thoughtful (though I still wouldn't agree with it) column about the wild-card nature of Jindal's candidacy and the possible electoral shift that he envisions for Louisiana's black voters.

I'll only mention in passing Sadow's insulting and constant use of "Democrat Party" instead of "Democratic", because it's a minor thing, but his egregious and insulting language tells me something about his intellectual honesty and his ability to see things outside of his own apparently very narrow worldview. Also, it's hard to believe that he can really imagine what the majority of black voters really want in this election when he writes about African-American elected official's "slavish allegiance to the Democrat Party." Yes, he really phrased it that way (This man has apparently been president of the Louisiana Political Science Association!?). Anyway, when he writes that way, it's hard to take his arguments seriously, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and do that.

Then they swing to Jindal for one of two reasons. Of this group, many live at the street level, so to speak. The black community operates at a lower socioeconomic level typically than do whites; more poverty, more crime, less opportunity. They’re getting tired of hearing the same things from the “establishment� made up of old-time politicians like Blanco (and some of their leaders) because things don’t really get much better.

Jindal comes from the outside and he articulates an agenda that has yet to be tried and promises to improve things. Some blacks feel there is nowhere to go but up and there needs to be radically new ideas introduced to do this. Jindal becomes their man, promising immediate action while Blanco fumbles around talking about convening task forces, demonstrating to this segment of the black community that she really has no idea how serious their problems are.

Admittedly this is a strong point, and could answer a question as to why a couple of fairly significant black organizations have endorsed Jindal. But Jindal's ideas aren't really new to the GOP. In fact the rush to lower taxes, privatize services, and preach conservative social values has been a staple of Republican Party politics in the south for at least two decades. So has the condition of blacks in LA gotten so much worse during the last twenty years? Has it gotten so bad that black voters and political leaders are finally ready to break the chains of bondage that the "Democrat Pary" has held them in since the civil rights movement and cut off their masters' heads?

I don't really think so. The fact of the matter is that African-Americans tend to be pretty smart voters who understand how to vote in their own economic interest. The Democratic Party wants to protect entitlements for all kinds of social programs that benefit the middle class. Pie-in-the-sky conservatives who promise to somehow make health care and education better while lowering taxes (we'll all be rich enough to go to private schools if we just didn't have so many darned taxes) have fooled middle-class whites into supporting them for years. Meanwhile these middle class whites see the tax-burden shifted in their direction on the federal level, while states run massive deficits and are forced to cut back on spending across the boards and can't figure out why it's happening. Maybe the middle-class whites (who Sadow ostensibly represents) should end their servile allegiance to their corporate lieges in the GOP (I just can't find a way to make a reference to serfdom as offensive as one to slavery).

The jewels of Louisiana politics 

AP Baton Rouge watcher Melinda Deslatte notes the curious hypocrisy of Mike Foster complaining about negative campaigning while engaging in the most disgusting kind of ad hominem attacks that have unfortunately defined Louisiana politics since campaigners first got access to the airwaves. Her column isn't really anything new unless you haven't been following the election, in which case it's a pretty good refresher on Foster's role in this whole game.

Meanwhile Gerard Shields, who covers the Louisiana congressional delegation for The Advocate lets us know about Billy Tauzin's newly purchased $1.5 million ranch and hunting club, which he intends to pay the mortgage on through the fees of his club members. And surprise, most of those club members are, you guessed it, big time Washington D.C. lobbyists. Tauzin is widely recognized around D.C. as one of the most shameless Congressmen in regards to collecting lobbying monies and gifts, so it's not like this kind of thing is new for him, but apparently even this act was so brazen that it "raised eyebrows" in our nation's capitol.

Jindal money continues to roll in 

Republican candidate for governor Bobby Jindal has raised over one million dollars for his campaign since the primary, and every indication suggests that there is more to come. This is the news attached to a story about Jindal's decision to open up the contribution books every forty-eight hours. Blanco has not agreed to this, asserting that she is following the law and suggesting that Jindal is making a campaign ploy. She responded that she will run her own campaign, not Bobby Jindal.

Since we don't know how much Blanco has raised I don't want to speculate too much, but I can't imagine her doing nearly as well as Jindal, but I've been surprised before. This money probably doesn't really mean that much in the long run, but we can probably expect a whole new round of television and radio advertising from Bobby Jindal in the very near future. If Blanco is smart she's been hoarding money for a real ad blitz for the last two weeks of the campaign, but who can know at this point? Her campaign seems fairly stagnant to me. She appears to have performed better than expected in her debates, but the state has been inundated by Jindal campaign advertising since before the primary election. Will Blanco's advertising be too little to late?

For those interested in Jindal's donor lists you can check it out at his website. It's another very long pdf. file, so be aware of that if you have a slow Internet connection. It's organized in alphabetical order, so it's pretty easy to search. I found some people I know and was surprised to find on the donor lists, though I won't name them because they're not public people and who they support for governor is mostly their business. Curiously I couldn't find Saints owner Tom Benson and his family members on the updated list; I guess it's not complete.

But things are getting better 

Coordinated attacks in Baghdad today kill at least thirty people, two of which are American soldiers. That's some major action by a group that is supposedly desperate and on the run. Anyway, I'm sure we opened another school and turned the lights on somewhere, so surely things are getting better. This makes me feel a little sick.

26 October 2003

Cox stinks 

I'm having all kinds of Internet troubles tonight, so no more posting until I can get it worked out, which will probably be tomorrow morning. Readers from the Kos LA politics thread should feel free to scroll on down through my less than remarkable (or supremely enlightening if you like it that way) coverage of the LA election. Comments are always welcome if only rarely posted.

Also, bad moods abound at the Prado household tonight as the Saints lost a heartbreaker to the Carolina Panthers and hometown hero/Ragin' Cajun savior Jake Delhomme, so don't rub it in if you're not a Saints fan.

GOP values 

This morning's AP report of the gubernatorial election informs us that "black voters will decide the race." Thanks for that savvy analysis guys. (It's actually a fairly decent story about the politics of picking up the black vote for those of you who are interested)

The big story in The Advocate examines the candidates' positions on social issues and finds that they really aren't that different (is a theme emerging here?). Bobby Jindal out pro-lifes pro-life Democrat Kathleen Blanco by saying that only when abortion is the indirect effect of saving the mother's life should it ever occur. Blanco favors an outright exception to any anti-abortion measures that would ensure the ability to have an ability in the case of rape or incest and mortal danger to the mother. And with the kind of rhetoric that is sure to have NOW members running to the polls for Blanco, she says, "The way I look at it, the mother's life should be respected, too."

We also learn that both candidates want to protect the rights of gun owners (are gun rights more important than the right of a woman over her own body? It appears they are. . .), but in what must be the funniest unintentionally comic lines in all the print on this election Scott Dyer reports:

Jindal and Blanco both consider themselves to be defenders of the right to bear firearms, and are highly rated by the National Rifle Association.

But there is a major difference between the candidates that goes beyond philosophy -- Blanco has a hunting license, while Jindal does not.

Neither candidate wants to make any special laws protecting gays from discrimination which makes one wonder if they think the thirteenth amendment was a special law to protect blacks from discrimination.

All in all the story is an expression of the triumph of conservatism in the south. Liberals have to vote with their noses held when we go to the polls for candidates like this. And I'm saying this as someone who very much likes Kathleen Blanco as a person and politician. She has a record of integrity and dedication to the state, but jeez I feel out of the mainstream when I look at the positions of these candidates.

Now with that last comment about conservative values in the state I also wonder why the rhetoric of Bobby Jindal in his radio commercials about the encroaching "Hollywood liberalism" that more people aren't turned off by the false piety. South Louisiana is the heart of the type of indulgence typified by Hollywood values. Throughout the fall and spring south Louisiana is the home of one festival after another, where people spend all weekend eating, drinking, and carousing. I don't really need to mention Mardi Gras which is literally the celebration of indulgence, or consider New Orleans and why it is attractive to most of the people who end up there. Every LSU home game has ninety thousand people in Tiger Stadium and about a quarter of those people spent hours in the parking lot before the game consuming thousands of gallons of beer and liquor. The fact of the matter is that ours is an indulgent culture, and there is nothing wrong with that (it's part of what I love about my state). So why does the rhetoric of the type of Christian conservatism that shuns these activities play so well to Louisiana voters? I could suggest hypocrisy, but that's way to over simplified. I guess the fact of the matter is that people want to know that whoever they are voting for is "one of them," and these platitudes to values is the only language that they understand, even if they do live lives remarkably divorced from the rhetoric.

The Red Baron strikes again. . . 

Scoobie Davis has an interesting post up tonight about Bill O'Reilly, secularism, and a James Madison quote you may have seen bandied about by theocrats trying to prove that the United States is a Christian nation which should reflect the Ten Commandments in our laws (my first new constitutional amendment would be about idolatry and the Sabbath [SARCASM]). I won't quote any piece of it; instead I suggest that you read it and follow his links.

I will say that I don't understand why a lot more Christians (particularly Catholics since we are a minority in this country) can't figure out that the secularism that is at the heart of our constitution was a founding principle of this great country expressly envisioned to preserve religious freedoms, and that every new law or bill passed regarding religion actually hinders most devotees ability to practice their faith. I can't imagine the dirty looks I would have received at a high school in central Kansas if I demanded a daily "Hail Mary" just after the Pledge of allegiance, so why should Hindus be subjected to silence while the rest of their classmates recite an "Our Father?"

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