06 December 2003

Moral dilemmas 

In an ideal world Oklahoma, USC, and LSU all would have lost today. It would have thrown the BCS into such chaos that the computers may have exploded and it would have been impossible for the powers that be in Division I-A college football not to institute a playoff system next year. Instead we still have quite a logjam, but it's not quite the tempest necessary to completely ruin the system.

But I can take solace in today's results. It looks like no matter what Oklahoma will have the computer rankings to at least hold on to the no. 2 spot in the final regular season BCS ranking. Combine that with the news that USC will most probably receive lots of human votes for no. 1 and LSU will still get shut out of the national championship game at the Sugar Bowl. I may get the best of both worlds where there is a controversy over who is the real "champion" after bowl week, and all because LSU gets left out of the big game. Do I think it's fair that a team that not only loses it's conference but gets blown out in the process and still plays for a national championship? Hell no I don't think that's justice, but I'll take it because of my bone-deep animosity towards LSU football.

At this point, the best possible outcome for me is an LSU blowout of Michigan in the Rose Bowl, with a tight game between USC and Oklahoma in New Orleans on Jan. 4. That would mean a year of whining by LSU fans combined with a reevaluation of the entire Bowl Championship Series. We'll see what happens, but things aren't shaping up so badly right now.

Update @ 5:53 pm, 12/7/03: LSU in sugar bowl, USC out. It's just as much an injustice to have a game that excludes USC. Now I can only root for a totally screwed system. The best way for that to happen is for USC to destroy Michigan and just about any outcome in the Sugar Bowl. Of course I would prefer an Oklahoma victory, but LSU really is playing good football lately. It should be a long month.

Time-killing game of the week 

You can find these for yourself if you just check into b3ta.com on Fridays when their newsletter comes out, but I don't mind linking to this game especially.

It's an all text-adventure game based on Hamlet, and I've already spent too much time with it. I was incredibly bored by the time I had inched my way up to about forty percent and then learned that you can save your progress if you have cookies, which I do, so it's break time. Go enjoy it yourselves.

Picayune lacks subtlety 

If you read the T-P online you saw these two headlines right next to each other:

Hines minimizes anti-business remark
Three firms consider La. for plants

Sen. President hopeful Don Hines has taken a lot of flak for this comment he made to a reporter earlier this week: "Business never wants to pay anything. They are like a bunch of damn farmers. . . . They all want government subsidies and always gripe about having to pay taxes."

Now with two "double-secret" negotiations in the works to draw big business projects into the state and the high-profile negotiations to come with State Farm the "anti-business" criticism of the Senator threatens his chances of finding the votes to lead the Senate. The Hines story also looks at whether or not LABI has been lobbying against the Senator, which they deny, but almost certainly have been doing anyway.

What bugs me about this story is the copious use of the descriptions pro- and anti-business. States all over the nation--particularly in the south--have engaged during the last twenty or thirty years in an absolute race to the bottom in their efforts to bring jobs into their states. When lobbying groups like LABI call someone anti-business it usually means that they don't sufficiently support "tort reform," tax-breaks and/or outright subsidies for business, and lax environmental standards, because that's the only way to get businesses to come your way nowadays.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the necessity for sufficient breaks and even the occasional subsidy to bring a company or plant into your borders, but the only way to be pro-business in the eyes of lots of people is to support a sixty hour work week, restrict worker's right to organize, turn your back on environmental protections, and remove employers from any responsibility for the safety of their employees and the consumer.

I don't know what Don Hines record looks like, so I can't speak one way or the other to his relationship with business and what it may mean for the future of Louisiana, but the last thing I'll do is take LABI's word for it if they say he's bad for Louisiana.

Acadiana legislators line up at the trough 

The Advocate has a silly story about Lafayette area special interests, businessmen, and politicians hoping for increased "attention" paid to the Lafayette area now that a Cajun with deep ties to the city is in charge of things in the state's highest office. There's not much said in this story, so I'm not even sure why I've linked to it. I guess it's habit.

In other news regarding state politics the governor-elect has appointed new members of her advisory panels on Social Services and the DEQ (not to be confused with DQ, where you can get Blizzards and Dilly Bars) and there's a very good story about what the transition office looks like over at LSU. Here's a hint: it's pretty busy. One thing of note from that article is that the Dr. Jimmy Clarke is heading the transition office in Baton Rouge. This isn't really a big deal, but he has been the chief political analyst over at KLFY-TV10 in Lafayette for as long as I can remember, and he could barely contain his glee on both election nights as Kathleen Blanco shocked political observers first to even get into the runoff and then to win the race. The whole station over there didn't really bother to hide their pro-Blanco bias, which is fine with me, but when it comes to local politics and news I guess objectivity really is dead.

05 December 2003

Does this new video from the RNC remind anyone else of Catholicism: Wow!?

via Nico Pitney, who is not a genius.

Put on your tinfoil hats 

Josh Marshall says it's time to get paranoid.

Budget woes 

Informed voters knew well going into the gubernatorial election that the state would be facing some serious budget problems with the coming fiscal year. It looks like things could be getting even worse than initially expected. Federal officials are questioning the appropriation of certain moneys earmarked for hospitals that were instead used to pay for Medicare and Medicaid subsidies and reimbursements. Apparently many other states mismanaged these monies due to lots of confusion about the appropriate way to spend the federal dollars.

This news is very discouraging coming on the heels of Blanco's announcement of her health care summit and the appointment of six officials to organize the meeting. Every new problem that develops in our current health-care system makes the task of reforming it at once more difficult and more necessary. The challenges facing the new Governor look more daunting every day. Blanco still has a lot to prove since voters like myself went to the polls holding our noses due to her generally conservative politics, but I still believe in her commitment to make this system work, and not by slashing services to the most needy around the state.

Fortunately almost all accounts show that she's got the right man handling her budget. In today's Advertiser (sorry not online) Mike Hasten writes a glowing endorsement of C. of A. Jerry Luke LeBlanc's abilities to put together a budget that works and reflects new priorities for a state that has been among the bottom dwellers in terms of health care, education, and general quality of life issues. So there are reasons to be optimistic. Of course everything can't be taken care of at once, and Gov.-elect Blanco is already signaling to higher education interests that they will have to engage in some belt-tightening with the next fiscal year that's approaching.

That's the life in Louisiana though. At the very least the next four years will be interesting.

District 45 

My state house district looks to be shaping up as a battle royale as candidates are coming out of the woodwork to succeed Jerry Luke Leblanc. No fewer than three Republicans say they are definitely running, one Independent on the school board, and possibly two Democrats. The district has more registered Democrats than Republicans, and is probably a little less conservative than parts of Lafayette farther south, despite what Republican candidate Denice Skinner says in this article out of The Advocate.

Other notable possibilities (to me at least) are school board member Beverly Wilson who represents my district in that position. She lives just a few blocks away, and is nice enough, but I wouldn't vote for over Lafayette High School teacher and DSCC member Melinda Mangham. I understand from a fairly knowledgeable source that good ole boys in the Party aren't exactly lining up behind her candidacy. So I'm not too confident that she'll run, but that won't stop me from turning this site into the unofficial website dedicated to drafting Melinda Mangham into the District 45 race. It will remain with that title until she decides one way or another to run.

News no one cares about 

I don't link to stories about Chechnya ever, because who am I kidding, most people just don't give a damn. I've been fascinated with the goings on there since I took a Russian History course and read this book (it doesn't appear to be on the syllabus anymore, but August 1914 wasn't there when I took the class and that's a great book too, but damn long for a semester long class with more reading material. Oh well, one for another I guess.). There's a very good blog by an interested party at Chechnya.blogspot that seems to produce a lot of news directly from regional sources, though the proprieter appears to be a student at Dartmouth.

The reason I link to it tonight is that CNN.com has a breaking news box (sorry no full story yet, update in the morning) about an attack on a train in southern Russia near Chechnya, and it looks to be a result of Chechen terrorism. It looks like about fifteen are dead. I won't say much more except that the situation in that region is as bad as any other terrorism hot spot on the globe at this time. Russia rules the land with a hand so heavy that no one trusts their supposedly democratic elections to the point where they don't bother to vote anymore. The Chechen leaders were told in the early nineties to go ahead and start their own country, and when they did Yeltsin retaliated with the full force of the Russian military. At the time it was nothing, but now the Chechens have learned that a war of attrition could only result in their extermination, so more ruthless parties have resorted to terrorism. Our government tacitly approves of the Russian strategy against the Chechen rebels/terrorists because of our own war on terror; ensuring that this conflict will be drawn out indefinitely. It's a shite state of affairs there and this is just another expression of it. I just hope that our nation's future doesn't rest in the current state of southern Russia.

Update @ 1:25 am: here's the reuters story on the attack. It's good to get the news wire before I hit the sack. Goodnight moon.

04 December 2003

Atrios has some fun. . . 

with our little situation and the President's turkey day photo op (click here for original.)

Okay, if you missed it I had the image from Eschaton posted directly on the site. I took it down because I didn't feel right about stealing Atrios' work so shamelessly. Also I really just wanted to see if I could figure out how to post images. Now that I know how expect plenty of pictures yanked off other sites and displayed on Timshel. Notice the picture of the league's best running back on the sidebar. It should be a permanent link to a fansite dedicated to his football skills. I won't go too crazy with the pictures, but I feel a lot better for knowing how now.

Deserting the Desert 

God knows what the validity of this story is, but if there's any truth to it there are about 1,700 people one step closer to qualifying for the presidency.

Link via drudge

More football 

Two posts in a row; looks like I'm skewing male. . .

Also from the T-P: now I don't have to feel so bad about rooting for USC to go to the Sugar Bowl. Why, you ask? It's good for the Louisiana economy.

Also Deuce will be on Jim Rome's radio show tomorrow. Be still my beating heart. I feel like getting some beers and tailgating all day.

The real problem with Fox 

It's not their news coverage if you thought that's what I was getting at.

Okay, the news division stinks too, but this post is about their absolutely awful color commentary during football games. It doesn't matter what team they have covering games, they are universally terrible. In the Prado household we'll turn on the radio and mute the television about half the time during Saints games. I usually do so in disgust after about a half-hour of listening to inanities from people like Tim Ryan, Brian Baldinger, or Bill Maas. That's why I was excited to get an email with a link to this editorial in the T-P from my bro:

According to Mr. Baldinger, New Orleans is a "lost city." It's a place you've heard of, he said, but you don't know where to find it on a map. Like Bucharest, he said.

Maybe Mr. Baldinger skipped his geography lessons. Or maybe he doesn't get out much.

Millions of people the world over seem to have no trouble finding New Orleans. It probably helps that it's at the mouth of one of the world's great rivers -- and that it's been a cultural treasure trove for almost three centuries.

As for Bucharest, perhaps he was confusing Vlad the Impaler with the Vampire Lestat. Or mistaking the Dimbovita River for the Mississippi. Or remembering that the Romanian capital was once known as the "Paris of the East."

Whatever he was thinking, he'd be better off sticking to the game next time. That's a subject he should know something about.

There's a little bit more to kick that editorial off, but anyone who watches football on Fox already knows how useless these guys are. It's like affirmative action for supposedly "well-spoken" former football players over there. None of them are any good at what they do, but they keep coming back year after year. I'd rather listen to Brent Musberger and John Madden (two guys I detest) cover figure skating than have to listen any more of the vapid commentary provided by the Fox broadcast lineup.

Because it clearly works for Sharon 

The US tactics against Iraqi resistance continue to look more and more like Israel on the West Bank.

I don't talk much about Iraq in this space for a variety of reasons, but it's hard to see the news and think things are actually improving or that we are doing the right things to build goodwill between the Iraqi people and our soldiers on the ground. I'll leave it at that.

Louisiana news that matters 

Sorry about the delay in getting to important statewide news, but I've had some trouble with the old modem. Anyway Blanco didn't surprise anyone yesterday when she formally announced that Representative Jerry Luke Leblanc will be her commissioner of administration. The T-P and Advocate give Leblanc mostly uncritical reports and use their inches to discuss the nature of the job and the challenges that he will face when he takes over the administration's budget work. Here's a taste from New Orleans:

By law, the executive budget must be presented to the Legislature at least 30 days before the March 29 start of the regular legislative session. After that, it becomes the Legislature's job to comb through the details and shuffle money among various agencies and programs.

Because of the projected shortfall, LeBlanc warned that the budget is likely to include significant belt-tightening, but said any proposed cuts will be spread across several state agencies. In recent years, many lawmakers and interest groups have complained of health-care programs being singled out for cuts while other agencies remain intact.

In other political news Blanco has announced a tentative time for her health care summit. She has decided to make it her first priority when entering office and suggested that the meeting of state health-providers, insurers, and business owners will take place sometime in January after she is sworn in on Jan. 12. Blanco sold her candidacy on the idea that she could bring together the competing groups from around the state to solve our health care crisis, so she had to come through with this summit at some point. However it strikes me as a very risky political move to try and deliver what is perhaps the most important issue of her governorship within weeks of the inauguration.

A newly elected official has to wield some power and build some political capital before embarking on such an ambitious project, otherwise she's likely to have her agenda hijacked by interests outside of her administration. A spectacular failure so early in her first term would define her governorship and weaken her position for a budget fight that is almost certainly coming in March. There's no question that the state's health care system is a problem that needs to be tackled sooner rather than later, but it doesn't do any good to try and solve the issues that surround the system when you don't have the influence to implement or shape the solutions. Also the health care summit could be overshadowed by a burgeoning fight over the Senate presidency between Blanco's choice, Hines, and the current pres. Sen. Hainkel. Combine this with putting together a budget and the newly elected governor has plenty to do without embarking on some grand project to save the Louisiana health care system in the first month of her governorship.

We'll see how this all works out, but it looks like a bad move to me. Of course I'm just a guy with a computer, so what the hell do I know?

Mini-scandal grips Lafayette 

The Advocate and The Advertiser revisit the ACLU/lesbian mother case in their editions this morning but offer very little news that hasn't been reported on the matter. The only development being that the school board has decided to meet in a special closed-door session to discuss the case next week.

The Lafayette paper is really milking this for all it's worth. They included two more stories other than the one above on their front page related to the flap; the editors weighed in on the subject (supportive of the boy); a contributor to the Accent section (it would be the "living section" in any other paper) wrote an op-ed; and the likes of Kathleen Parker and Bob Novak were bumped to include more room for reader letters.

Also I managed to catch the tail end of the Good Morning America session with the two mothers, the boy, and the superintendent. They didn't say anything that anyone who read the news didn't already know, and having the seven year old on national television seemed vaguely exploitative. I'm already bored with this insanity.

03 December 2003

This is fun 

Don't you love the backdrop photo-control of the Bush administration? This is a great generator that allows you to create your own background. Here are some of mine. Go make your own.

via Yat Pundit

Update @ 8:30 pm: oops Michael had it via Atrios a couple of hours ago too. It's fun for the whole family.

Death Pool 

From Begging to Differ (guys I don't link to enough) comes a link to the Amish Tech Support 2004 Dead Pool.

The proprietors of the site invite bloggers to send in a fifteen person roster of famous people they think will die in 2004. There's a nifty point system in place to determine the winner, although it looks like the winner doesn't seem to get any prize, just the pride of knowing you could foretell the deaths of many celebrities.

This vaguely reminds me of the Sports Junkies (who were syndicated very briefly on Lafayette radio) and their bad boys fantasy bit, where sports fans pick players from all over the sports world and get points for various legal trouble they may find themselves in. What I mean to say is that it always feels a little shameful to root for death and criminal activity, but that's what is probably so fun about it too. Feel free to make your suggestions for the dead pool in comments.

Bribery in da House 

Via Josh Marshall

It looks like Republicans on the floor of the US House of Representatives may have bribed one of their own in order to get his vote on Bush's medicare bill. Marshall has the whole letter that Terry McAuliffe wrote to the Attorney General in his documents collection (pdf. for slower modem users) but here are the highlights:

We are not optimistic that you will pursue this, as you have ignored past examples of potentially criminal activity by top Republican officeholders, but we would be remiss if we failed to bring this to your attention.

. . .

Conservative columinst Robert Novak wrote in a November 27 column, "On the House floor, Nick Smith was told business interests would give his son $100,000 in return for his father's vote. When he still declined, fellow Republican House members told him they would make sure Brad Smith never came to Congress. After Nick Smith voted no and the bill passed, Duke Cunningham of California and other Republicans taunted him that his son was dead meat."

This is a clear violation of USC Title 18, Section 201 which addresses the bribery of public officials and witnesses. The law states, a person commits bribery if he or she "directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official. . .with intent to influence any official act. . .

That sounds pretty cut and dry to me. I'm sure Ashcroft will jump right on that investigation lickety split.

I hate Drudge. . . 

but it's hard not wonder just what the hell this is all about.

Essentially it's a link to an NRO article suggesting that Bush will commit to putting new astronauts on the moon with the speculation that it will be the seeding of a permanent presence there.

Let me be the first to predict that when this speech is made it will be greeted by the resounding silence of apathy.

It needs a blog 

There is a new "official website of the state of Louisiana" up at Louisiana.gov. It's easily navigable and has all kinds of great features. My favorite area is the "official geospatial portal for Louisiana" where with a little bit of work and patience I managed to get a 1995 Satellite photo of my neighborhood. If you get a chance go have some fun over there.

Leadership Blanco style 

This is pretty much exactly the way Governor-elect Kathleen Blanco said she would handle things when she was on the campaign trail. We'll see if it works out for her. Some quick background: there has been lots of talk that State Farm Insurance would pull it's operations center (and with it lots of jobs) out of Monroe. Now Blanco has convinced the State Farm Chairmen to meet a "delegation" of local and state officials who will try to convince the insurer not to pick up stakes and leave next year:

"We don't just want to save the jobs; we want to be the location for a State Farm expansion," Blanco said Tuesday. "We're going to work hard to put together the best presentation possible."

Blanco said the meeting will likely be held in Louisiana, perhaps even in Monroe. A date hasn't been set, "but it will be sometime after Dec. 15," Blanco said.

Good luck governor.

following up 

Mary directs us to this report on Marcus Huff, the scolded child of gay mother Sharon Huff, in Wednesday's Washington Post.

This is a better story than any others I've seen regarding this unfortunate situation, but one quote stuck out when I read it, and I'll get to why below.

Other school district officials, in comments during the day to Advertiser reporter Sebreana Dominigue, appeared to support the school, with one exception. "An apology is not due," Superintendent James Easton said. "The child was not singled out because his parent is gay. There are some other issues here."

School Board President David Thibodaux said, "I feel like any discussion by a child of a parent's sexual orientation is inappropriate."

No one knows what the "other issues" are, but as I said earlier, it looks like Easton is trying his damndest to avoid any judgment until all the facts of this incident are available. That seems like a reasonable way to handle things to me.

What strikes me about the quoted material is School Board President David Thibodeaux's remark. Thibodeaux is an English Professor at the University of Louisiana, and I took his Modern Fiction class just a couple of semesters ago. I have nothing but respect for him as a professor. I learned a lot and was exposed to a lot of fiction that I never would have read outside of his class. I have very little to agree with regarding his politics though.

He seems to take the Bill O'Reilly position on this. It's this fake idea that "we don't have any problems with homosexuality, we just don't want anyone to talk about any kind of sex ever." I assume that means that if a little boy or girl who has been raised by a single mother were to ask a child with married parents what "married" means that David Thibodeaux would be equally upset when the "normal" boy said that married is when a man and woman sleep in the same bed. This position is such a complete load of shit I can't even think about it without laughing. If the people who used this horseshit belief conceived exclusively to discriminate against homosexuals seriously they would never be allowed even to mention even married heterosexual couples. It would always be wrong to talk about having even married heterosexual parents. The very mention of a "mom" or "dad" would be off limits, and thus subject to line-writing and behavior contracts.

Taken to the Bill O'Reilly extreme (he doesn't want anyone to ever express their sexuality) even straight couples wouldn't be allowed to hold hands because they are "throwing their sexuality in our faces." It's such a crock of shit it makes me sick. I know Thibodeaux is smarter than this because I've sat in his classroom. I'm sorry and disappointed that he's given the Post this quote.

Sorry if this post is convoluted and profane, but I've had a few beers and was quite upset after being disappointed in a man I respect.

Update @ 8:55 am: Cool sobriety wins the day. Local papers (Advocate too, but not online) report that S.I. Easton doesn't believe any apology is owed to the student or his mother. He has some strong language about "other disciplinary issues" that aren't explored by the storys' reporters.

02 December 2003

Life in Baptist country 

The AP is reporting that Louisiana College, who bill themselves as a private, Christian, liberal arts college, has decided to censor a textbook and pull Ernest Gaines' classic novel, A Lesson Before Dying, off the shelves of their bookstore. Also all instructors will have to submit proposed class materiels to school's Vice President of Student Affairs. The two books are part of a junior-level philosophy class called "Introduction to Value Study."

I guess one of the values they'll be studying in the class next year is "academic freedom."

Seriously, can you really bill yourself as a liberal arts institution if you won't allow a professor to use certain books to teach his class? Why have professors at all if they aren't allowed to choose their own teaching materiel? I hope this instructor quits and pursues work somewhere else.

This can't be good news 

We here in the south already have plenty of problems with the perception that we're a bunch of backwoods hicks without news like this popping up:

Georgia's feral hog population is exploding, state scientists say, warning that the nonnative hogs damage crops and other animals.

. . .

Although efforts to control feral hogs are in full swing, the likelihood is great that their spread will continue, said wildlife biologist Kent Kammermeyer, coordinator of the hog study.

"I hate to be negative, but I'm afraid it's going to get worse," he told The Augusta Chronicle. "It might double again in 20 years, and it would be very easy for that to happen."

. . .

Today, hunters are still the main reason feral hogs are spreading. State wildlife officials say hogs are shuffled around the state for hunting purposes, which is legal as long as the hogs are inoculated for some livestock-ravaging diseases. But experts fear most aren't being vaccinated.

Maybe they should call Jeff Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, he surely knows how to handle problems with wild animals.

More LAGOP self-hatred 

Today we learn that Republican activist and Central Committee member Michael Bayham is demanding that GOP chairman Pat Brister resign from her position in the state Party. The main reason is of course the failure of GOP candidates in major elections under Brister's chairmanship, but it looks like Bayham is upset over the district map for the Party's Central Committee. He submitted a plan that Brister hasn't filed with the Sec. of State's office, and he's pissed.

Bayham and other members want smaller districts which "would allow people with less money to run for seats," while Brister supports a plan which would have much fewer seats of larger districts. I'll admit to not quite understanding the mechanics of this fight, but judging from one quote of Brister in the story it looks like this fight is about the same old problems the GOP has had all over the country over the last twenty years: Christian conservatives versus moderates who tend to be economic conservatives and social libertarians (""That group has been out of power for four years, and they want it back," Brister said./ She came into power with the ouster of chairman Mike Francis, who had been close to the religious right wing of the party.")

The national GOP has managed to put aside these differences in order to win elections, but it looks like Louisiana is in the mood for a nasty fight between the two factions.

For more on Michael Bayham you can read one of his columns for GOPUSA here. He manages to spin caricatures of liberals out of thin air (somehow "4:20" is liberal-speak, not stoner-speak), but it's worth a read if only because it's funny, and you should know just who the man is that's trying to get Pat Brister tossed out on her behind.

There's a big Central Committee meeting on Dec. 13 when all this infighting should culminate in a final knockdown. I'm rooting for the social-conservatives since they always seem to implode when they control the party.

I was definitely wrong 

This is what I get for giving the people from my hometown the benefit of the doubt. The Advertiser has a much better story on what happened at Ernest Gallet Elementary regarding a student's use of the word "gay". The Advocate's had one too in their print edition, but it's composed from wire reports, so it's not much more enlightening than yesterday's AP report. The kicker from my hometown paper which helped me see the light:

That paperwork states: “(name withheld) decided to explain to another child in his group that his mom is gay. He told the other child that gay is when a girl likes a girl.

“This kind of discussion is not acceptable in my room. I feel that parents should explain things of this nature to their own children in their own way.”

The child was also made to sign a “Student Behavior Contract,” where he wrote, “I sed bad wurds.”

Superintendent James Easton said that the child wasn’t disciplined for using the word “gay.” Ernest Gallet Principal Virginia Bonvillian and Thomas, the assistant principal, could not be reached for comment Monday.

“It was an inappropriate description of personal activity,” Easton said. “I don’t know exactly what was said, but that is what was reported to me.”

Also included in the print edition is a picture of the behavior contract Marcus was made to sign. In the paperwork the teacher writes, "He explained to another child that you are gay [gay underscored twice in teacher's handwriting] and what being gay means."

This is the best story on what happened, and you should definitely read the whole thing. I almost can't believe how dumb this teacher is. It's as if some people have never heard of the ACLU or have any notion that they are acting unjustly. Yesterday Michael wrote that the seven year old student seemed to display more maturity regarding the sexuality of his mother than his own teacher or the school's administrators could muster. I'd say he's got it about right. This looks awful.

01 December 2003

There are gay people in Lafayette? 

Since my hometown is hitting it big I figured I had to link to this story. It's funny that I have to go through Atrios to find an AP story about something that happened in my own backyard, but that's life I guess. It looks like a lot is left out of this story; from what I can tell a boy was scolded for using the word "gay" in school, and then forced to write lines declaring he would never use "gay" again.

Atrios calls this "life in Bush's America," but I think he misses what the problem was here. It looks like a kind of p.c. attitude on the principal's part run amok. It appears that the boy wasn't being punished because his parents are gay, but because Marcus' teacher didn't realize that "gay" is an appropriate term to use when discussing homosexuals. It wasn't very long ago that "gay" was offensive to lots of gay folks, now it seems like the preferred term. I wonder if this wasn't the case here in Lafayette. At the very least teachers are notoriously deficient when it comes to cultural awareness.

Of course, the ACLU is involved, and I don't know if they would take up a cause like this if there wasn't a good reason, so I could be off the mark here. And conservative heavy Lafayette isn't exactly the most gay-friendly place in the world (although Lafayette-chic Jefferson street has it's share of gay clubs) Unfortunately the story provided by Salon doesn't go into too much detail. I suspect this will be in at least one of my papers tomorrow; maybe I'll have more then.

He should start wearing tiny orange shorts to the chamber 

The man behind the proposed development that became the symbol at the center of the energy debate is given the once over by Advocate correspondent Gerard Shields.

You may remember a certain Shreveport strip mall plan that included a commitment by Hooter's to open it's first location in the north Louisiana city which was going to be subsidized by an amendment attached to last week's failed energy bill. It looks like the US Congressman from Shreveport, Jim McCrery, was a principal factor in the bill's crafting, all the while raising a boatload of money for Republican candidates for office:

The energy work of the 54-year-old legislator in his eighth term has supporters talking about McCrery as a possible successor to Thomas on the powerful Ways and Means Committee when Thomas is forced to step down by term limits in 2007.

If his energy work consists of crafting bills so pork-laden they can't get past a filibuster gives hope to the GOP then the Republican party has a serious deficiency w/r/t policy expertise. I don't have any problem with legislators who work overtime to steer federal dollars into their district, but this bill was nothing more than that. It has been roundly criticized by members of both parties as a joke. Is this the best the GOP has to offer?

A quick one 

I'm on my way out the door for a doctor's appointment, but until I can get back with more posts check out Adam Nossiter's AP analysis of the governor's election. He's two weeks late with the analysis to tell us that, oh yeah, maybe race did affect people's votes. Nossiter turned out some good work for the Associated Press in this race, so I'm glad to link to him here even if did get to this race party a little after the fact.

Before I go I'll leave you with this bit of information. Every passing week it gets harder and harder not to thank God for this man's impact on my life.

30 November 2003

Save our Lake 

The Advocate has a great story today on the efforts to reduce pollution caused by sewage from the parishes adjoining Lake Ponchartrain. It's not very optimistic. It will obvious require loads of cash and the commitment of multiple parish administrators from a large area. The story leaves a lot out, and I'll admit to knowing very little about the efforts that have been made around the state to help clean up the lake, but this looks like a good progress report of what's happened over the last few years and what's to come.

I have some black friends 

I understand that it's an historic event for a governor of Louisiana to support two black women for the second-highest slots in both chambers of the legislature, but isn't there anything else about these lawmakers besides their race and gender that newspaper reports can add to shed some light on their legislative records. The Associated Press, The Advocate, and The Picayune all note the Blanco announcement and present very little discussion of the women slotted for the posts other than what anyone could see by looking at a photo. Among the three stories only the T-P manages to give any kind of background at all on the women who will likely take charge of these positions, and then it doesn't shed too much light on where they stand politically or who they are personally beyond their race and gender:

Bajoie, who represents parts of the Central Business District, the Warehouse District, the Garden District and Central City, was the first African-American woman to be elected to the state Senate, taking office in 1992. She also is one of the longest-serving members in the Legislature, first elected to the state House in 1976.

Broome, who has held her seat since 1992, is a public affairs manager and communications consultant who formerly served on the Baton Rouge City Council. She has known Blanco since the early 1990s, when they were both in Leadership Louisiana, an education program for influential people.

I'm sure with a minimal amount of work the reporters and staffers who put together these stories for their editors could have found at least a little more newsworthy items to shed even a little light on who these women are and what they may bring to their positions. I guess minimal effort is too much to ask though.

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