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24 January 2004

Tauzin's future open to more speculation 

Gerard Shields and Bill Walsh report on the news that Congressman Billy Tauzin rejected the offer by the MPAA to act as their DC lobbyist. Apparently Tauzin is considering a "substantially more lucrative" offer by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Louisiana politicians are understandably worried that Tauzin could retire before he has a chance to steer Energy Bill monies down our way, though his spokesman put the kibash on any speculation that Tauzin would retire before he gets the work on that bill done.

Democrats see Tauzin's seat as possible pickup should he not run for reelection. Possible Democratic candidates are Sugar-grower leader Charlie Melancon and Rep. Gary Smith of Norco.

Failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Hunt Downer is also considering the seat if Tauzin isn't around to fill it any more.

Get out your hard hats 

The Fischer Projects are set to be demolished tomorrow morning. If you're unfamiliar with the high rise complex, it's located on the west bank of the river, to your right as you approach Algiers from the Crescent City Connection. It's been among the most dangerous, distressed places in the New Orleans metro area for a long time. Here's the T-P report on the history of the development.

Here's a web resource with links to information about what they plan to do with the area after the demolition.

23 January 2004

Imagine the possibilities 

I can't begin to describe how much fun it would be to watch a David Duke-Bobby Jindal runoff for the 1st Congressional District seat in the US Congress.

David Duke's secretary, Roy Armstrong, is floating the possibility that the imprisoned klansman is considering running for Congress next year. Though David Duke is in a minimum security prison (not one of those "federal pound-me-in-the-ass prisons") the AP reporter lets out a hint of comedy with this line:

Duke, whose telephone privileges are limited in prison, could not be reached for comment.

I'll make a prediction that Duke doesn't run for the seat, but I sure as hell wish he would for the sheer sake of discrediting Republicans with his very presence as a candidate. Guys like Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds love to use the least desirable elements of the Democratic Party to impugn the whole lot of us, so it's nice when we get turn things on their head.

Cain Burdeau, who wrote the report cited above, must be some kind of David Duke specialist for the AP or something. He's the reporter who initially broke the story that Duke was being investigated. If you're curious about the crime, here's the original AP report on the matter.

It's a pretty interesting story in retrospect. That's back when there was still speculation that the investigation could be related to the purchase of Duke mailing lists by then Governor Mike Foster, a legal, though entirely despicable act by our former governor.

Time killing game of the week 

While this isn't exactly a game, it's about the most fun I've had on the web during the week. Write your own lyrics in the field and then the words are generated from existing songs. It's as much fun figuring out what song each word comes from as it is to try and type up mean things to send to your friends.

One drawback, the program's vocabulary could stand to be a little bigger.

Requires sound. Have fun!

All my heroes are dead 

First Mr. Rogers, now Captain Kangaroo. It's a sad day for children's programming.

Here's a sweet webpage dedicated to the show.

Compassionate conservatism 

Mike Kinsley had a good column in Slate yesterday. Read the whole thing, but remember the conclusion:

So, to sum up: Talk loudly. Carry a big stick anyway. Spend money. Borrow to pay for it. Fiddle the books. I guess that's a governing philosophy of sorts.

Oh noooo! 

The T-P wisely comes out in favor of Mr. Bill.

More on the project here.

And at long last, the Estuarians. My favorite is Pierre the Pelican. He looks like he's rearing to repair the wetlands.

Beating a dead horse 

TFN defaults on debt of $630,000 to Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Still no word from the editors at The Advocate.

Caring for Grandpa Simpson 

There's a good report out of Baton Rouge this morning that explores new federal dollars dedicated to elderly care that will allow seniors in Louisiana greater availability of care outside of nursing homes. Regular readers of this blog know that I'm rarely fully versed on policy questions, but it doesn't take a wonk to know that nursing homes are the among the strongest rackets in the health care industry. Anything that loosens their stranglehold on the funding for senior health care is a good thing in my book.

Jindal comes to Lafayette 

Bobby J. was in Lafayette yesterday "thanking" supporters for helping him have so much fun running for Governor last year. There were about 50 folks at the local Cajun restaurant Prejean's who apparently begged him to run for Congress in the 7th district instead of the 1st. Jindal will announce that he is running for Congress out of that district sometime next week.

I wish I was on an email list that alerted me when local politicos I don't care for are in town so I can be there to heckle them. I especially would have loved to see Jindal at Prejean's, where I could get a fantastic meal too. Maybe I could ask him to help exorcise the demons from my possessed friends. After all, he did defeat Satan.

Dyer on Foti 

I really don't know what to think about Attorney General Charles Foti after reading this "inside report" by Advocate political reporter Scott Dyer. I can only begin to imagine sitting in on this interview that meanders around ever issue under the sun. Foti wants the AG's office to get involved with consumer protection because some careless sixteen year old couldn't save a proof of purchase from a computer box. He talks economic development. He talks about the "mystique" of Atlanta. The whole thing is just very weird. Maybe it's just me.

22 January 2004

"No shit?" award 

Headline off the AP newswire:

Cable news head says network underestimated competition

Jerry Solomon, the CEO of the Total Football Network, blames his network's utter failure on media conglomeration. I'm sure that's part of it, but for God's sake how dumb did you have to be to think this could be a viable enterprise? I made my first post about this in December, and the first impression I had was that the Total Football Network would not be able to compete with established sports networks. I've never seen an business plan in my entire life or taken a business class, but simple reasoning lets on that the market for football on television is expensive to enter and saturated on arrival. How could state leaders have been duped by these people?

I'll stop posting on this when the company finally folds or The Advocate writes an editorial explaining why the Saints aren't more worth state expenditures than a failed network with almost zero prospects for viability.

Water in trouble 

Jim Brown is all over the place in his latest column at politicsLa.com, but it's worth reading if you're interested in the state of water policy in Louisiana. That's an issue that is by no means at the top of anyone's list in state politics, but Brown suggest a few reasons why it should be.

NOLA politics 

The T-P is stuffed with interesting stories today, chief among them is a very flattering profile of Criminal Court Clerk Kimberly Butler. Since I moved back to Lafayette from New Orleans I've had the unfortunate problem of being fairly disengaged from the New Orleans political scene. I missed out on Mayor Nagin's early and optimistic days in office. There was a real sense that he was leading the charge for long-needed reform in the city. Butler was out in front of this process, and when the results stopped justifying the hype, for good or ill she became the scapegoat.

Now Butler is enjoying a renaissance in the political scene, and the T-P names her as a possible challenger to Nagin's suddenly waning popularity. This is a good story about her, though it could stand to be a little more tempered with the somewhat obvious flattery of the Buffalo native. If you're interested in the scene out there, though, you should give it a look.

Third-Party campaigning under the microscope 

In a move that we can only hope the state legislature will act on, the state ethics boards has suggested that third-party advertising in state elections should be made more transparent.

The biggest problem with the current system is that third-party contributions can't really be accounted for until elections are over. The state ethics board (and me too) believe that the public has a right to this information before they go to the polls. Anyone who was in Louisiana for the last two campaign cycles can easily remember the non-stop negative advertising by both sides. These are often paid and produced by third-party operatives employed outside of the state. Journalists and campaigns often have an interest in exposing the organizations behind these attacks, but the organizations themselves have no legal responsibility to report before the election.

Fortunately the chairpersons of both state parties are on the record agreeing that the current campaign laws should be reviewed. Unfortunately campaign-financing laws always have a way of turning out exactly the opposite from the way they are intended. However, you can bet that Attorney General Charles Foti, who was at the wrong end of some particularly dirty attacks this fall, will put the full force of his office into the institution of the proposed changes.

LA's DC delegation duck Patriot Act responsibilities 

Bruce Alpert reports on the Patriot Act for the T-P in this morning's paper. It's not much of a story except that it lays out the positions of our highest-profile elected officials.

Democrats Mary Landrieu, John Breaux, and Bill Jefferson take the easy way out by supporting a review of the provisions of the Patriot Act by House and Senate Judiciary committees. Meanwhile David Vitter uses his answer to Alpert's queries to further state his deference to President Bush on ever issue under the sun:

Rep. David Vitter, R-Metairie, said he agrees with President Bush that the "war on terrorism continues," and that law enforcement must be given appropriate tools.

And Billy Tauzin's spokesman makes the disingenuous claim that because there have been no terrorist attacks on US soil since the Patriot Act was passed, that means it's working. With that kind of logic I'm glad we've been sending him to Congress for so long.

So that's where they stand. Make your own judgments.

21 January 2004

Weak 

That's what I'd call this joker's defense for why he sent an email with offensive jokes to hundreds of people in the Louisiana government, including elected officials and their staff members.

Secretary Mike Baer said he hit a wrong button on his computer and forwarded the jokes by mistake to several hundred people instead of deleting them, adding that he hadn't even seen the jokes himself.

"It was just carelessness on my part. I didn't know what a button did and accidentally pushed it," Baer said Wednesday.

"I'm not real computer literate," he said.

The e-mail, sent Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, included a three-minute video attachment that focused entirely on female genitalia.

Baer is a Senate administrator (elected by elected officials to serve as the secretary for the chamber). I find it very hard to believe that a guy who probably spends all day behind a computer could accidentally send an email he meant to delete to hundreds of people. If he has so much trouble with computers how can he do his job? That's not really important, I guess, but this guy has some serious problems.

Now I need to get my hands on the joke..."three minutes focused entirely on female genitalia!"? What the hell kind of video is that? It doesn't exactly sound like Gallagher.

Mike Baer's legislative profile can be seen here.

Mike Baer makes a racist statement on television here.

Mike Baer proves he's on the cutting edge of technological innovation here. (that's a .pdf but it's worth the wait if you want to see how ridiculous it is that this guy could claim to be computer illiterate. Don't want to click over, here's the quote from the case study:

Baer knew that unified messaging-making voice, email, and fax messages accessible via desktop, wireless device or phone-was the answer. "We wanted to consolidate our communications, enabling employees to respond to constituents and receive information more quickly," relates Baer

Why don't you go ahead and send Mike Baer a joke of your own at baerm@legis.state.la.us

Mardi Gras intrigue 

This is an interesting story about the awarding of vendor permits to local capitalists interested in setting up shop on the NOLA parade routes during Mardi Gras. The themes are corruption and ineptitude, staples of New Orleans political history. The chaos at City Hall and the charges that followed don't speak well of Nagin's administration or previous ones. Go read it.

Why sports fans need to get lives 

Drudge is getting dumber by the day. I think I'm going to delete my post about Jake Delhomme because I don't want to be associated with this inanity any longer.

Laying the foundation for decline 

I never thought I'd see a reference to the "Chicken Dance" on the front page of a newspaper, but today it happened. In an otherwise dull story about privacy issues and cell phone cameras, Penny Brown Roberts gets an early nomination for the snark of the year award for local news gathering.

LSU students returned to campus Tuesday to discover that some faculty have taken to banning camera phones -- and even plain old cell phones -- from their classrooms.

Aside from the obvious disruption caused by a ringer set to belt out "The Chicken Dance," universities nationwide are discovering the text messaging and camera functions can be used to cheat on exams.

Roberts actually manages to put together a decent story about the real problems people are having with camera phones, so this story doesn't have anything to do with the decline I envision for The Advocate.

Rather, Chris Gautreau's report about changes at the Baton Rouge paper set off my alarm bells. Gautreau misses the lede when he begins his front page report with news that the paper is offering an early retirement deal to employees over sixty in an effort to downsize their labor force so the paper can afford a $65 million printing press. This is obviously a story, but the results of the changes aren't discussed until you get to the last few paragraphs.

The paper also will explore adding more area editions, among them the growing Ascension/Livingston area. Currently, The Advocate has one extra edition it prints for the Acadiana area.

The company is targeting the fourth quarter of 2006 for starting the new press, which means a possible relocation for the paper as well.

...

Readers will notice a different look to the paper once the new press is installed. The paper will be physically smaller, going from 55 inches across unfolded to 50 inches. The New Orleans Times-Picayune implemented a similar resizing several years ago.

In addition, The Advocate has begun finalizing a redesign of the newspaper's look and expects to organize its sections in a way that makes it easier for readers to find the information they regularly look for.

Less paper means less print. Less employees means less reporting. More bureaus means that existing reporting capabilities will be stretched thinner, which means more wire service reports. Sure they'll expand their market, but there is a big potential to damage the product with these changes. I really do believe that The Advocate is far and away the best paper in Louisiana. The T-P might have a better Washington bureau, but no one else covers Louisiana as well as the Baton Rouge paper. The changes won't be instituted until 2006 at the earliest, but I'm not optimistic about the future of the newspaper. I hope they do this right, but it's unlikely.

Blanco suckles LABI 

The Governor addressed members of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry yesterday to assuage their fears that she wasn't sufficiently pro-business (or economic development, as they like to say).

It was a short speech, but she laid out her agenda regarding the relationship between Louisiana businesses and the governor's office. Here's the T-P's summary of Blanco's proposals for economic development.

-- Create a business development group to promote corporate expansions in Louisiana from domestic and foreign companies.

-- Continue Foster's Vision 2020 long-range plan to retain and expand businesses in the state.

-- Launch a marketing and public relations campaign based on a theme of "building business in Louisiana," which would target people in and out of the state. "We have to sell ourselves on ourselves," Blanco said.

-- Increase efforts to spur small-business growth.

-- Assist Louisiana agriculture, especially in lobbying for U.S. trade policies that protect the state's shrimp and sugar industries.

-- Improve the state's highways, including instituting a "comprehensive legislative strategy" and assembling a task force to secure money to expand Interstate 49 from the Arkansas border to New Orleans.

Maybe it's just me, but this looks rather short on substance. She certainly seems considerably more engaged in the process than other legislators and the former governor, but I don't really know what to think about this plan as it's presented by Robert Travis Scott. I hope there's something more specific in mind about what "increase efforts," and "assist agriculture" mean. Also, all the promotional campaigns in the world aren't worth much without policy to support them. As always, time will tell.

Delegation response 

Mary Landrieu is using the early years in her second term in the Senate to take plenty of opportunities to tee off on President Bush. Yesterday she had a pre-address conference with the press delineating how President Bush has let down Louisiana residents.

[She said that] states are getting shortchanged in money needed to implement education reforms in Bush's own No Child Left Behind Act. Louisiana alone is underfunded by about $175 million, she charged.

She also criticized Bush for pushing a cut on tax dividends but not a tax break for small business owners who pay for the cost of employee health insurance; and for a health-care bill that did not provide enough prescription drug coverage for the elderly.

Good for Landrieu, there hasn't been a strong opposition voice out of Louisiana in a long time. That's not a knock on John Breaux or anything, who I respect for what he has delivered for Louisiana, but it wasn't his role to articulate opposition to the President. I'm glad Mary Landrieu is getting comfortable with it.

Chris John and David Vitter are quoted in this story as well, but both sound like candidates who haven't put together their strategy for winning the Senate seat next year, so they speak in very general terms about the address and what the state needs.

Another AP account quotes Congressman Bill Jefferson's suspicions about Bush's credibility on issues related to Iraq. Put the two together and you'll have all the local politico voices I can find about SOTU

20 January 2004

I swear this is it about SOTU 

Bush most definitely lost all his Acadiana support with the inclusion of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady to the exclusion of his Super Bowl opponent and Cajun hero Jake Delhomme.

TBogg calls it one more reason to root for the Carolina Panthers. My brother wondered why he isn't studying game film instead of partying it up Laura Bush.

One more observation 

Mary's real-time SOTU blogging is by far the funniest I've seen about this around the blogosphere tonight. I also wanted to mention that Dick Cheney looked particularly unhealthy today. When Bush first got to the podium Cheney's face looked so red and uncomfortable that I actually though he may have been in cardiac arrest again. I now wonder if the reason he's always locked up in the secure undisclosed location is to avoid public scrutiny of his terribly unhealthy appearance. Now, I'm off to sleep.

Thievery 

I didn't think much of Bush's address tonight. In the past he's used the State of the Union to make broad proposals that appeal across the aisle (Aids in Africa, Americorps to name a couple), but maybe the administration has learned that no one trusts his empty promises anymore. Tonight he seemed to be shoring up his base rather than trying to appeal to Democrats. He talked about the sanctity of marriage; he said his immigration proposal was most definitely not amnesty, he paid lip service to reducing spending, talked about making the tax cut permanent, issued another broadside against social security, etc. Perhaps that's not a bad idea considering the polarization of the country. It makes more sense to inspire his core constituents than to try and convince Democrats that don't believe a word he says anymore to vote for him.

The opposition response was weak, too. Who knows why they had Nancy Pelosi out there talking about national security issues? I saw Senator John Corzine on Matthews after the event and he didn't even know what the response was. So they didn't have their message organized. Daschle was okay, but not exactly inspiring. The opposition response always seems so anti-climactic after the event in front of both houses of Congress. They speak without emotion into a camera after the public has watched an hour of standing ovations for the president. No matter which party is in office, the response always makes the opposition look weak.

That's about all I have to say about the event, but there is some humor out of CNN headline news. Atrios has this up on his site too, but if you haven't seen it, make sure you read the caption at the bottom of the screen. I have no reason to believe this isn't real, but who really knows?


Jindal train on the way to 'da Parish 

Bobby Jindal all but announces his candidacy for David Vitter's First Congressional District seat with the news that he is moving to Kenner.

This might be the most conservative district in Louisiana, but the seat isn't free of competition just yet. Republicans Steve Scalise and Tom Schedler from the statehouse are both considering running. Jindal has an obvious advantage of name recognition, but his losing effort in the gubernatorial race may make it harder for him to raise the necessary dollars to run a winning campaign this time around.

The 108th 

The T-P has a good rundown on what the next Congressional session has in store for our fair state of Louisiana. This session will have a lot of bearing in how the state votes in the coming Senate election, so the fact that our Senators are lined up against some major issues that can be exploited for Democratic gain come election time is important. It will be hard for Rep. David Vitter, who has voted the President's endorsement something like 99% of the time since Bush took office, to paint himself as someone independent enough from the administration to look out for Louisiana's best interest.

Sinking ship 

The new Governor correctly realized that the Total Football Network is a worthless investment and is trying to pull out of the state's commitment to the project.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Monday the state will soon reevaluate its commitments to The Football Network, which has been shut down and off the air since December.

Calling the network a big disappointment, Blanco hinted that no more state money will be given to TFN until it can prove it's a viable operation.

I've obviously had a lot to say about this ridiculous enterprise that the state foolishly got involved in. I'm glad that the Gov. can see what anyone with a brain can see. Unfortunately this debacle is an expression of one of the problems associated with the "Economic development at any cost" mantra that troubled states are operating on these days. Without substantial investments in long-term necessities for development (education, infrastructure, health care, etc), economic development efforts can't go much farther than investments in risky ventures that aren't seen as profitable investments by states that have more options. I guess that every now and again something like this works, but this venture has seemed particularly stupid to me since the first time I read about it.

Shocker 

The New Orleans School Board is still screwed up.

Excitement 

The Iowa caucus was loads of fun last night. You could spend an hour over at Kos reading Tom Schaller's reporting from the field. He's got a good eye for what's a story and can really manage to take you into the process. The results should please all the folks that are worried about the viability of a Dean nomination. I've liked Edwards from the beginning, but haven't had much reason to be excited about him because he never seemed to be catching on with voters. It looks like rooting for him is okay now. As for Kerry, I'm sure my brother is happy with his performance. He's been talking up Kerry since last year around May. I like the Mass. Senator, but he's not my first choice.

It looks like the real loser is Wes Clark. Considering the way John Edwards and John Kerry surged in the last days of the Iowa campaign it seems that Clark missed out by not playing. It may not make him the loser, but it certainly looks like a missed opportunity. The whole dynamic of the race would have changed too, so who knows what would have happened if he were there? I'll leave it at that since the blogs have thoroughly mulled this issue over the last twelve hours. I think Clark is my man right now, but I've got a soft spot in my heart for that "son of a mill-worker." New Hampshire should be a gas.

19 January 2004

Idle speculation 

I'm back in Lafayette, so posting will go back to normal in the next twenty-four hours or so. For now I'll leave you with the speculation circulating around the Prado household. Reading this story about Blanco's Health Care Summit doesn't give a lot of insight to the future of care for the uninsured in this state, but I wonder if John Breaux's substantial involvement in the project won't give him and the Governor the cover they need for Breaux to resign his Senate seat in favor of an appointment of a particular Democrat who will be running for the Senate this year.

18 January 2004

Story of note 

This has no bearing on Louisiana politics or anything else, but there was an interesting story in my local paper about an attempt in 1922 to use the Louisiana Purchase Treaty to end prohibition in Louisiana. Needless to say, it didn't work.

Sorry for the harsh language... 

but fuck this asshole. There's nothing like denying hard data for emotions.

It's time to get the monkey off our backs and out of our wallets. Repeat after me: The New Orleans Saints are not worth it.

You can trot out all the economic reports claiming the team brings in more money than the millions us taxpayers dump into Tom Benson's velvet-lined pocket, but you will never, never, convince me that the Saints goose the Louisiana economy. That's because the economic models don't measure the compounded Saints' misery, delivered by Benson and his buffoons like a fattened offensive lineman jumping on us after 20 Popeye's meals downed with extra red beans and rice.

The economic models also don't account for more than 30 years of shame, for the money spent on brown paper bags, for the sheer despair each time the team pancake blocks our spirits.


Go to hell, Mukul Verma.

Link via politicsla.com

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