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14 February 2004

slow saturday 

There's just not a whole lot to pass on to you guys today. One article of note is about LA Agricultural Commissioner Bob Odom trying to pressure the federal government to open the Iraqi market to Louisiana rice. Surprisingly, Louisiana was the leading importer of rice to Iraq before sanctions were levied after the first Gulf War. The reasoning behind the folks leading the charge is solid:

John Denison, a southwest Louisiana rice farmer and former USA Rice Federation chairman, said that's something rice farmers have been trying to get done for months.

"The president has been very supportive of U.S. corporations in all their military contracts," Denison said. "We just want the precedence and priorities that Halliburton has in running things over there."

That looks like perfect logic to me. I'm sure the Bush administration will be right on top of that.

In news completely unrelated to rice, the editors at the T-P came out in favor of the ethics proposals I discussed yesterday. Good for them.

And of course the papers discussed the Governor's meeting to "debrief" President Bush on her sojourn in Iraq. She avoided taking a position one way or the other on the Iraq war, preferring to say that only if the principles of freedom and law are established in Iraq can the US invasion be deemed justified. That sounds like about as honest an answer that you could get from anybody, but reporters wanted her to come back saying something a little less nuanced about her feelings, which is a pretty hopeless desire if you're waiting for that kind of clarity in a politician.

13 February 2004

Where's that Canadian wit? 

Maybe the Canadians just don't get Triumph?

At one point in the show, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog -- a hand puppet that is a regular on the show -- said to a Quebecer: "You're French, you're obnoxious and you no speekay English." It told another: "I can smell your crotch from here."

O'Brien's team were also shown replacing street signs in the province with those that read "Quebecqueer Street" and "Rue des Pussies."

That's certainly over the top--even by Triumph's standards--and I suppose I can understand the Canadian government not wanting to subsidize such "filth", but c'mon, it's Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. He's not supposed to be taken seriously. For God's sake, his catch phrase is "for me to poop on!"

I bet the guys from Kids in the Hall would have laughed.

It only took five years 

CNN is reporting in a breaking news box that GWB will realease all his Vietnam era files. I wonder why he would do that on a Friday at 5:00 pm...

Update @ 5:26 pm: here's the link to the updated story, and a minor miracle, it finally knocks off the banner Kerry headlines from the last forty hours at Drudge

Thanks, but no thanks. 

I love to get comments and all, but I don't have any use for blog whores spamming my comments to promote this kind of tripe.

Frankly, I don't know if that site is supposed be an even stupider penthouse forum or what.

Time-killing game of the week 

This one was up at b3ta.com weeks ago, but I think I linked to something else instead.

If you have epilepsy, you should definitely avoid this schizophrenic game at all costs. The object is simple. Collect all the coins and eat the pills. It only takes about a minute to play, but it's well worth it.

Bush is coming 

He'll be in Louisiana at Fort Polk next week.

The 4,000-strong 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, in Iraq since last March, is due to return sometime in March or April. It is to be replaced by a brigade from the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, as part of a larger troop rotation announced earlier by the Pentagon.

The administration has been promising to bring this particular group home for months, and now they say it will be sometime in "March or April." I wonder if the men and women at Fort Polk will believe him when he announces the rotation.

Possible ethics legislation 

Marsha Shuler has a good report on the effort of a panel of the Louisiana Board of Ethics urging legislators to give up some of the gifts they can receive from lobbyists. The report doesn't give a good gauge of how lawmakers in general are reacting to the panel's findings, but if this guy is an indicator, it doesn't look good.

During an Board of Ethics committee meeting Thursday, House Clerk Alfred "Butch" Speer defended free tickets to sporting or cultural events.

"In the private business world, the provision of tickets to cultural events, golf green fees, tickets to basketball and football games is an accepted mode of doing business," Speer said

"If you want access to a decision-maker, it's through an invitation to a social event," he said, particularly if it's an official "whose time is not easy to gain."

The law is "just a recognition that the business of government can be operated, and ethically, the same way private business is," Speer said.

Some people just don't freaking get it. While there's certainly an argument to be made that government could be run more like a business to increase efficiency and eliminate waste, this jerk doesn't understand that public servants have a responsibility to the public interest that private businesses have no reason to consider. If businessmen enrich themselves at the expense of their company the fallout can sometimes extend to employees and consumers, but when a public official does the same the results can be detrimental to countless lives. Elected officials are entrusted with a much greater responsibility to the common good then the narrow self-interests of a man or woman running a company. For this reason alone all appearances of impropriety should be avoided. And besides, a smart businessman would be wise to avoid the trappings that come with mostly under the table gift-giving that accompanies doing business in today's world, but that's a post for another day.

Duke begs off Congressional bid 

It's too bad, but it looks like we won't be able to tie Republicans to imprisoned racist David Duke this year after all. Actually, it really is too bad he won't run, because I believe Louisiana voters would have sent a clear message that his racist musings are no longer welcome in this state. Now we won't have the chance.

Unfavorable Bush coverage 

Bush's veto threat on the Senate highway bill produced this headline in this morning's Advocate:

Road bill benefits La.; Bush threatens veto

Louisiana delegation members also spoke out on the issue:

The Bush threat has angered Democrats such as Landrieu, who has called the legislation a great way to both improve the state highway infrastructure and increase jobs in Louisiana.

"It's just absolutely imperative," Landrieu said of the funding. "We're going to keep fighting and keep asking until we get it

...

U.S. Rep. Chris John, D-Crowley, said he would be open to raising gas taxes if it means more money for Louisiana. John, who has been pushing for more money to extend Interstate 49, blamed the Bush administration for a $521 billion deficit that's causing the highway logjam.

"It's a fiscal situation we're in because the president put us here," said John, who is also running for Breaux's seat.

Like Landrieu, John called the bill a jobs measure.

"Infrastructure means jobs," John said. "Louisiana has tremendous needs when it comes to transportation and I'm open to funding this thing at the highest level we can."

Tracy Horne, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said numerous state projects could benefit from the additional highway funding, including widening U.S. 190, improving the stretch from Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to U.S. 111 and the extension of Interstate 49.

"We have specific projects on the books that we would definitely be able to move on," Horne said.


John's chief Republican opponent in the upcoming Senate race had another take:

Vitter, who is running for the open Senate seat of the retiring Breaux, said his chief concern is that the gasoline tax is not increased, as some House members want to do to hike the highway money to $375 billion.

"Certainly we have a lot of infrastructure needs and we need those met," Vitter said. "It makes it a nonstarter for me to raising that tax on Louisiana taxpayers."


Presumably, Vitter would vote for the bill if there wasn't a tax increase attached to it. He's probably hoping to be able to call John a tax hiker even though this article makes it fairly clear that Louisiana would benefit in a much higher return on their tax contribution if the bill passes. As it stands Louisiana--unlike plenty of other red states--hasn't benefited from highway taxes. Vitter is hopelessly lost in that he doesn't recognize that the public sees highway funding as a necessity in Louisiana.

Today two front page stories in state papers report that state lawmakers are considering the needs for increased highway funding, and are even considering raising the state gasoline tax. Even Republican's are signaling that they aren't necessarily opposed to the tax increase:

If legislators can't come up with new ways to use the money available, they might have to fall back on the idea of raising taxes, he said.

"That's something I very much disagree with, but sometimes in the modern needs we have, that needs to be addressed," Smiley told the Joint Transportation Committee on Thursday at the State Capitol at the final meeting of its statewide public-hearing tour.

Infrastructure is one of the many perennial problems facing the state, and our more forward thinking lawmakers understand that it's up to the government to deal with them. Vitter can't understand that representing the 1st district, but when he tries to bring his message to the entire state and they reject it, he'll be left out in the cold.

Blanco's Iraq fallout 

If posting is fairly light today, it's because I'm feeling sick as a dog. My dedication to Timshel is generally undaunted, but in this case a slight fever and a stuffy head may be too much to overcome.

With that said, there are some final questions about Blanco's trip to Iraq this week. First members of the Louisiana media were pissed that they weren't further included in the adventure. It appears that a combination of jealousy and a real grievance about John Hill not acting as a pool reporter for the event caused them to address concerns to Blanco's chief of staff.

The Associated Press was especially mad that their reporter wasn't selected to accompany Kathleen Blanco to Iraq, and the would-be correspondent Adam Nossiter puts his differences with the Blanco administration aside with this odd report about the political motivations of the trip.

But why did Blanco go to the guns, bombs and palm trees in the first place, courtesy of the Bush White House? On one level, there’s not much reason to doubt the governor: she wanted to bring comfort and Mardi Gras beads to Louisiana troops.

She herself doesn’t need whatever political boost might be derived from her presence in Iraq. Judging from the grumbling of (male) callers to local talk radio shows about how she should have just stayed home, local political negatives might have balanced positives.

On another hand, though, it’s hard to wholly credit Blanco’s bland observation that “the pursuit of visiting here is to see the complexities of it all, and I guess that was the motivation of the administration.”

The report goes on to say that if Bush expected Blanco to come home a war advocate, he probably chose the wrong Cajun:

But if the inspiration for this trip was largely political — and equally, there’s little reason to doubt it wasn’t — questions immediately arise. Whose interests were served by Blanco’s presence in Iraq? And was President Bush hoping she would return to this swing state a convinced advocate for the Iraq venture?

That’s also difficult to believe. Bush personally knows that Blanco is no pushover — no “shrinking violet,” as he put it in New Orleans, after spending 15 minutes in a car listening to the governor plead Louisiana’s various causes.

In any case, he probably won’t be getting his money’s worth, judging by the governor’s calm but pointed remarks about the war, delivered to reporters from Amman on Tuesday: “I like wars that are quickly done and this does not promise to be quickly done.”

As always, you should read the whole thing. The results of today's meeting with President Bush should give Louisiana readers a better understanding of what the trip meant for Blanco and for the President who sent her there, but until then we're stuck with Nossiter's account.

12 February 2004

New Polling on Senate race 

David Vitter released some of his own polling data to the press today. You can see the release here (though I haven't been able to get the link to work for me just yet), or read Jeff Crouere's analysis here. Apparently the data tells us that eight months before the election Vitter has about 33% support, which is about where it should be considering he's the only Republican in the race, but doesn't quite have the statewide name recognition that other candidates might.

The "news" is that they believe John Kennedy has the best chance at the moment to be their runoff opponent. Crouere bases this on Kennedy's name recognition and his base of support among black voters. These polls don't really mean jack this early in the race, but it does represent quite a surge from some earlier polling done by Kennedy himself just a couple of weeks ago. Besides a probably dramatically different methodology between the pollsters for the two campaigns, a big reason is that since then Kennedy has made a formal announcement and gotten himself lots of favorable coverage because as LA Secretary of the Treasury, he's started a big blitz to return money that is owed to LA residents by the IRS in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, John supporters need not fret over this information. Months away, and the Congressman has all the money, which is the best way to increase his name recognition. I still haven't quite decided myself in this race, but I'm leaning heavily towards Chris John. I just don't know a thing about John Kennedy. Plus, I wasn't on that list of 31,000 people who were owed money by the IRS, and I'm holding that against him.

And speaking of distractions 

Feds charge four in steroids scheme.

Is there any doubt now why George Bush included his statement about steroids in the SOTU? What a profile in courage for him to come out in front of this issue? I'm shocked, professional athletes use 'roids.

What he can do is to push legislation that would reclassify androstenedione and similar steroid precursors as controlled substances and curtail the slapdash sale of over-the-counter supplements.

Or better yet, he can pressure the justice department into an investigation on an almost completely unimportant issue that does very little harm to this country because it's politically advantageous. It's not like the justice department has more pressing matters.

Update @ 1:31 pm: Guess who this column is about:

The term "politicization" fails to capture the true nature and gravity of what really is going wrong down at the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where I was employed as a special agent for more than 26 years.

The FBI's problems are a combination of micromanagement and abuse by politicians who believe the agency exists for the purpose of punishing political enemies or scoring political victories in the media. Most troubling is the fact that some in the FBI's senior management who were brought to the FBI by Director Louis Freeh cannot seem to bring themselves to say "no" to clearly improper and possibly illegal requests by the Bush Clinton White House.

Keep in mind that the FBI is an agency housed within the Department of Justice, or DOJ, and therefore reports to the president's attorney general. Amazingly, many people think that somehow the FBI has "independence" when in fact it does not - except to the extent to which each FBI director can demand it. (J. Edgar Hoover did and got it.) But should citizens be concerned about the way the White House is using the FBI?

That's Gary Aldrich talking about Clinton's justice department under Janet Reno written in 1997 (before the Elian debacle). I remember lots of complaints like this then. Do you suppose anyone will talk about Bush using the FBI to score a political victory? I doubt it too.

btw, for more tune in to same damfa time, same damfa channel on this one.

D'oh 

I seriously doubt there's much truth to the story being peddled by drudge right now, but if there's a way to take Kerry down in favor of southern fella John Edwards, I won't cry about it. I think Kerry would make a fine president, but I'm very worried about his ability to win. He's saddled with all kinds of baggage, and if there's a way for the Repubs to recall the Clinton scandals of the nineties then we have a real problem. I bet Kerry will go on a big time offensive after this smear, though. It could start to get very ugly, which is bad for the country but a whole lot of fun for the press to cover. Meanwhile the world gets screwed with the fat end.

Update @ 1:00 pm: Wonkette has a few tips of her own for the press when covering this story, but I think they already figured it out.

Advocate editors are anti-democracy 

That's all I can gather from this doozy. The newspaper takes the position that Al Sharpton shouldn't be allowed to appear on the Louisiana presidential preference ballot, because "the rules are the rules, particularly in this case [...] To reward the Sharpton campaign's incompetence with a place on the ballot would be wrong."

To be sure, the editorial doesn't clear up why this case is any different from any other case where a candidate doesn't get filed in time or appropriately. The wording certainly suggests that there would be times where filing trouble would be overlooked and a candidate placed on the ballot anyway. That leads me to presume that "this case" means the editors over there in Baton Rouge just don't like Sharpton.

The fact is that Sharpton's campaign made a good faith effort to file with the Secretary of State's office. When McKeithen's office finally got in touch with a representative of the Sharpton campaign in Louisiana to let him know there was a problem, he told the man to get here by five pm or don't get on the ballot. By the accounts I've seen, that gave Fields about twenty or thirty minutes to get to the steps of the capital building.

If it's more important to close an office on time than to get a candidate on the ballot and another choice to voters, then so be it, but the Advocate will have to do better than "the rules are the rules." It's condescending to the paper's readers and to Sharpton himself. We have court challenges for the very reason that the rules aren't meant to stifle democracy. Competence shouldn't be a factor in who gets on the ballot. Voters should decide that anyway, not a few editors at a newspaper with a grudge against a "vicious but sometimes eloquent race-baiter."

Melancon still mulling 

In what could shape up to be a very crowded Democratic field for the 3rd Congressional district, Charlie Melancon is still deciding whether or not to run. You know Charlie as a former Democratic rep in Baton Rouge and current president of the American Sugar Cane League.

The news in this story is that he's raised around $75,000 already and will make a final decision in the next few weeks. I suspect he's trying to make sure he'll have a substantially larger base from which to fundraise if he plans to make a go of it, and with all these Democrats scurrying around for the same pool of money, he could find trouble.

Blanco in Iraq 

You can read the last installment of Kathleen Blanco's incredible journey to Iraq as told by John Hill. I would link to other stories, but Hill's are the only one's worth it because he is the only one on the ground with our fair governor. They made a good choice in him.

11 February 2004

Here we go again 

Didn't we already go through this goddamn argument in 2000?

via political wire:

Democratic strategist Harold Ickes criticizes Kerry consultant Bob Shrum in the New York Observer: "Even as Mr. Kerry’s rhetoric brings in liberal refugees from the sinking Dean campaign, the Shrum-style populism is raising concerns among some moderate Democrats."

I'm a big fan of moderate Democrats. They're the very life blood of the party down here in conservative Louisiana, but for God's sake, stop trying to kill off "populist" rhetoric. This whole election should be about one thing: George Bush cares more about filling his cronies pocket books while regular working folks around the country are getting stiffed with higher health-care and education costs, layoffs, reduced retirement benefits, a weakening value for the dollar, lower wages, higher gasoline prices, etc. Anytime anybody talks about that they're labeled scary populists engaging in "class warfare." Generally it's the Republicans saying these things to distract the very people they claim to help out with phony tax plans. We don't need Dems piling on with the b.s. "class warfare" canard too. So lay off until the election is over, then say whatever the hell you want. Until then, suck it.

Jindal needs a new schtick 

The 1st isn't my district, and it's probably fruitless to care much about the area since it's hopelessly lost to the GOP for the foreseeable future, but this race will be a comedy of "who's the most conservative." Glean this press release from the Jindal camp:

Bobby Jindal today became the first candidate running for the First Congressional seat to sign the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which states that Jindal will oppose any and all efforts to increase income tax rates for individuals and businesses. Jindal signed the pledge in Washington, D.C. in front of Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Jindal, who is in Washington as part of the annual Mardi Gras celebration, said, “Voters have a right to know that when I am elected to Congress that I will work hard to make sure that their taxes aren’t raised. I support President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, and will work to ensure any efforts to repeal giving taxpayers their money back is defeated.”

Jindal joins President George W. Bush, more than 250 members of Congress and numerous Governors in signing the pledge.

Remember how much Iraq is costing us? Of course Jindal only opposes taxes on individual income and businesses. I'm sure like Norquist, he'd love to see the lucky duckies at the bottom of society see their share increased.

Scalia proves he's a dick duck 

If Antonin Scalia can't take the very charge that he should recuse himself seriously, I don't have much hope for the Supreme Court. Of course, I haven't had much hope for them anyway, but this doesn't help.

"It did not involve a lawsuit against Dick Cheney as a private individual," Scalia said in response to a question from the audience of about 600 people. "This was a government issue. It's acceptable practice to socialize with executive branch officials when there are not personal claims against them. That's all I'm going to say for now. Quack, quack."

...

Supreme Court justices, unlike judges on other courts, decide for themselves if they have conflicts, and their decisions are final.

Scalia had not publicly addressed the issue before his Tuesday speech in Amherst, Mass., where about a dozen people wearing black armbands protested. One held a sign that said "Let's go hunting."

Keep making jokes about your corruption, it's really quite endearing.

Happy Mardi Gras 

Gerard Shields talks about the hottest ticket in Washington DC in today's Advocate.

By week's end, an estimated 2,500 Louisianians -- or those who wish they were -- will pile into the city's largest hotel for the three-day festival. In addition to Louisiana music, culture and cuisine, there will be floats, a parade and wild costumes donned by some members of Congress.

"It's wild and crazy," said Lynne Breaux, a New Orleans native who heads the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. "Louisiana comes to Washington and takes over."

The Louisiana folks are smart because they've tricked DC residents into throwing the party in the second weekend before Fat Tuesday. That way they can have a huge party in the District one weekend and then fly back to Louisiana for the real thing the next weekend.

Good for them 

Regular readers here will note that I've been quite a critic of the state's $30 million deal with The Football Network. The network so far has been plagued with troubles including bad choices with programming, the inability to pay its workers, and defaulting on debt across the state. However, today there's some good news for the failing network. They managed to sign a deal with Time Warner Cable.

The network's officers say this will help them pick up new investors, and hopefully they're right, but I'm still not confident in the business plan. But don't say I only post the bad news about them.

Federal budget woes 

Posting about Louisiana being short on money for all the state's various needs is becoming pretty boring, but the news that the state is about to lose over a billion dollars in coastal restoration funding is hard to swallow.

Louisiana could lose $1.1 billion set aside for coastal restoration under a slimmed-down federal energy bill unveiled Tuesday.

The original $31 billion bill, which guaranteed the Louisiana money for a 10-year period, would be cut to $14 billion. Under the new bill, Louisiana legislators would have to fight for the coastal restoration funding each year through the appropriations process.

...

The original earmarked money would have to come from oil and gas revenue. Louisiana is losing 25 to 35 square miles of coast per year, a problem that former Gov. Mike Foster said would cost the state $14 billion to halt.

I don't post too much about environmental issues for a variety of reasons. I don't understand the science (except in a very general sense) behind a lot of the issues, and environmental issues just aren't at the top of my radar screen. However the issue of coastal depletion is a dire one for the state (and the entire gulf coast really). These problems will not only be felt in the loss of land, but they mean trouble for the oil and gas industry, shipping, south LA farming, fishing, etc.,etc. You could make a list a mile long of industries and groups who will be harmed if this problem isn't addressed very soon. The state is slowly starting to realize it; now it's time the federal government realizes it too.

T-P editors channeling Timshel 

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this was strange. Yesterday I mentioned that Mike Baer's punishment didn't seem like much if he was getting the same amount of money to do less work. Today the T-P editors wonder the same thing:

The decision somewhat diminishes the power and prestige of Mr. Baer's position. Nevertheless, Mr. Baer will be doing less work but receiving the same $123,000 salary -- substantially more than even the governor makes.

In short, this so-called punishment looks more like a reward.

...

The secretary can't be removed unless 20 members of the Senate vote to remove him. Sen. Hines says he won't introduce the resolution. But it's hard to see why he is being so deferential to Mr. Baer, who increasingly is becoming a liability to the chamber. Senators should be confident that their secretary will exercise good judgment, and that can't be said of Mr. Baer.

Maybe I'm getting too predictable.

Talk about burying the lede! 

Here's a seemingly innocuous report about new Blanco appointments for the boards that oversee horse racing and New Orleans Exposition and Arena facilities (the Superdome, NO Arena, Zephyr Stadium, and the Saints Training facility). The headline and initial graf focus on the shakeup of all the board's members, but way down in the last three paragraphs of the report (probably stuffed on A-10 in the print edition) we get this news:

But Conroy, the former chairman, said the biggest challenge will be coming up with a way to fill a $6 million to $7 million shortfall in the $15 million owed to the New Orleans Saints this year under an incentive agreement with the state designed to help keep the team in New Orleans. "That's the big gorilla," Conroy said.

State Senate budget analyst Craig Gannuch said the shortfall may be as high as $7.5 million. The $15 million incentive payment for the fiscal year that ends June 30 is due by July 5, Gannuch said.

Conroy and Gannuch said relatively flat hotel-motel tax receipts and higher insurance costs and claims are largely responsible for the shortfall.

Now don't get me wrong, if the Saints hit the state up for $50 million and sexual favors from every mother's first born child, I'd say that I was for it, but this is big news that no one is talking about. The T-P does its readers a disservice by stuffing the information.

10 February 2004

UL's own 

Ernest Gaines has been nominated for Nobel Prize in literature (just heard it on KATC though it's not on the website yet). One of about sixty writers nominated. Suggested reading: A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying.

He was pissed he wasn't invited to the SOTU 

This is not an attempt to generate even more traffic from searches for "pictures of Jake Delhomme with wife Keri," though I'll take the hits any day of the week. Instead by way of Slate new BTD contributor Hei Lun posts an intriguing formula for predicting a presidential election based on the Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics.

In short, Carolina's four touchdowns (three from our boy in Breaux Bridge) in the losing effort virtually ensure that whichever Democrat faces George Bush in November will handily defeat him. I am absolutely faithful in this formula's predictive ability.

Brace yourselves 

I hope Damfacrats continue to fight the good fight even if the general has decided he's had enough. There was so much hope for Wes Clark, and the media and the GOP destroyed him. They decided to take a respected man and question his sanity, regularly referring to him as a whacko spinner of conspiracy theories. When the history books are written on the the first decade of the twenty-first century, they will bear no resemblance to the world that our media currently portrays.

It's been a long time since I read it, 

but wasn't this story called The Crucible?

Off the AP wire:

Last spring, the girls, then 11, told police they were stalked and attacked by Eric Nordmark, a 36-year-old hitchhiker, at a park in the Garden Grove region of Los Angeles. Nordmark was jailed on seven counts of assault and child molestation.

One of the girls later admitted she and her friends made up the story to cover for her tardiness at school. The charges were dropped, and Nordmark was released.

The girls are twelve and now they're under arrest.

Why do sports makes people stupid? 

This Yglesias post about anti-Semitic slurs being thrown around by angry fans at a NYC prep school basketball game reminded me of the only high school football game I managed to get to while I was living in New Orleans. We went down the street from Loyola to watch Newman (an uptown, largely Jewish prep school) host St. Paul's (a northshore Catholic school). It was Eli Manning's senior year at Newman, and a friend's uncle was the defensive coordinator at St. Paul's. I wanted to see what Eli had, and we had an excuse for going because of the connection to the uncle.

It was impressive. Newman routed St. Paul's. Eli had a great game. We sat in the visitor's section with the St. Paul's fans and cheered on the underdog, which was unfortunate, because once the score got ugly the slurs started flying from the stands behind us like plastic beer bottles at a Browns game. It was "jew this" and "jew that" for most of the fourth quarter. That's pretty uncomfortable. Matt makes light of it in his post, but this is something that I see all the time. I'm a regular attendant of all kinds of sporting events, and it's unbelievable how otherwise regular guys who wouldn't even hint at racism in regular conversation can be reduced to making racial slurs against opposing teams players the minute they get into an arena.

Sigh, I guess I don't have an answer to the question raised in my title, but I was bothered by the story and wanted to get it off my chest.

More on Blanco in Iraq 

First hand reporting by John Hill here.

Learning something new 

I've lived in this area most of my life, but I always thought the term "Acadiana" was a regionalism derived from either Acadia or Acadians. Who knew that the name that has come to define a region of the state is the result of a typo from some secretary in New York?

The term Acadiana started with a typo, Roy said.

“When the Acadian (Television) Corporation started, some gal in New York at the ABC office sent a letter back,” Roy said. “She typed ‘Acadiana,’ and Bill immediately seized on the typo and said that was a fantastic word.”

The Acadian Television Corporation might be more familiar to Acadiana residents as KATC. Bill is the former news director there, and this story is an obituary of sorts by the local paper. Ed Roy is the "Roy" mentioned above. I don't know the validity of this story, but it strikes me as far-fetched. It will certainly require a little more research on my part that can't be done over the Internet, but I intend to get to the bottom of this one.

Get involved 

But only if you want to. Kathleen Blanco has called for nine regional "pre-summit" meetings around the state to gather input about the problems facing the public and the hospitals across the state. It looks like the public is welcome. Here's the info for the Nola area:

A presummit regional meeting will be in New Orleans on Feb. 19 at the Lindy Boggs Center and is being hosted by Greater New Orleans Inc. To attend, call Lena Hoskins at (504) 527-6942.

On the north shore, Southeastern Louisiana University will host a presummit meeting Feb. 18 at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts Conference Center in Hammond. To attend, call Dr. Donnie Booth at (985) 549-3772 or send e-mail to dbooth@selu.edu.

More regions from The Advocate (not online):

In BR, the host will be the Baton Rouge Area Foundation...contact John Spain at 225-387-6126
...
In Lafayette, the host is the Chamber of Commerce...contact Rob Guidry at 337-233-2705. The event will be from 8:30 to noon on Feb. 18 at the Cajundome.
...
Houma/Thibodeaux: contact Dr. Sue Westbrook at 985-448-4686

It's a bit of a fixer-upper 

If you've got a few hundred million in the bank The Mall of Louisiana can be your very own. It hit the market recently, but you'll have to act fast. Only players welcome.

WTF? 

From bayoubuzz.com (twice in one day, that's more than in the last two months, oh well.):

Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco arrived this morning in Baghdad for a surprise visit with Louisiana men and women serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This mission marks the first time a state elected official has visited Iraq since the war began last year. Blanco joins five other Governors in greeting troops from their respective home states.

Blanco will also inspect the U.S. reconstruction program and consult with national and regional Iraqi leaders about building democratic governments. Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld invited Blanco and her fellow governors to make the trip to Iraq.

The governors accompanying Blanco are: Ted Kulongoski (D-Ore.), George E. Pataki (R-NY), Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho), Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), and Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii).

Blanco carried several hundred letters from Louisiana school children to give out to the troops as a way of showing support and appreciation for their service. Approximately 670 Louisiana men and women from the 1083rd Transportation Company, the 1087th Transportation Company, Det 1, Co A, 415th MI BN, and 1-244th Command Aviation Battalion serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. 630 Louisiana men and women serve in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

During her two-day visit to Iraq, Blanco is expected to meet with Ambassador Paul Bremer and Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq; meet with members of Iraq’s national Governing Council; meet with governors from some of Iraq’s 18 regions; visit a university and speak with students; and, visit a women’s center to discuss women’s rights in a democratic society.

Blanco will return to Washington, D. C., Thursday, February 12, where she will brief U.S. President George W. Bush in the Oval Office the following day.

Because of the danger involved in the mission, the Pentagon demanded complete secrecy about the trip before the governors entered the country this morning. The governors were told that should news of the trip be disclosed to the media prior to their landing in Iraq, the Pentagon would cancel the visit.

On Saturday afternoon, Blanco left Baton Rouge for Washington aboard a Louisiana Guard aircraft, accompanied by her husband, Raymond, and Louisiana’s adjutant general, Bennett Landreneau. Mr. Blanco and Landreneau did not accompany the governor to Iraq.

After a classified briefing at the Pentagon, Blanco and the other governors departed Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Monday. Because of security concerns, Blanco and her colleagues will not overnight in Iraq, but will be flown into the country today and tomorrow from Amman. Blanco and her colleagues will return to Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening.

One member of the news media from each of the governors’ respective states was invited to accompany the governors. Accompanying Blanco is John Hill, Capitol Bureau chief for Gannett News Service and dean of the Capitol press corps. Gannett has newspapers in Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, and Lafayette.


Umm, be careful.



He should get a blog 

Then Mike Baer could anonymously post these lewd links and just tell his friends and colleagues to check in every now and then. At least he wouldn't have to worry about losing his job.

Senate President Don Hines investigated the matter of the dirty emails sent to the entire legislative branch of the government and their staffers and found Mike Baer's supposed explanation wanting. Hines scaled back the secretaries duties, but can't suspend his pay or fire him, because that would take legislative approval. It doesn't look like anyone in the legislature is preparing to push for his removal. Of course that begs the question, if he's not doing his work, what in the hell does he need to make over $100,000 a year for?

Some have said that Hines deserves credit for acting swiftly on this investigation, but if the result is simply that Baer still gets paid for doing less, then I'm not sure what the point was.

Where is this? 

This looks like a great way to celebrate your faith. And while I imagine a good percentage of the folks there may well be missing the point, who cares? People who sit in--er--more "traditional" congregations all over the world miss the point, so why not liven things up with beer?

I should note that I only came across this site by way of the "10 most recently published blogs" list over at Blogger.com, which I stalk every now and then late at night to see what strange people are lurking out there. So random bloggage that interests me from this list will henceforth be a not quite regular feature of my little website.

Update @ 12:46 am: damned permalinks there don't seem to work quite right. scroll down to "bible and a brew" if you're really interested.

09 February 2004

BTCF 

That stands for big time college football. The following is the saga of Parade All-American Willie Williams. He's a Miami native who allowed the Herald to follow him around to the various schools he visited on his recruiting trips this winter. I'll condense it into the very short version, but you really should go read all the links.

Willie visits Florida State, and calls it a perfect 10. He eats steak and lobster, and FSU is slated at the top of his list.

Willie goes to Auburn. He complains because he actually has to share a jet with other recruits flown into the event. Scratches them off the list.

Willie goes to Miami, where they put him up in a hotel room with a jacuzzi for the weekend (he already lived in Miami) and take him to the finest restaurants in the city. Leans towards signing his letter.

Willie goes to the University of Florida. He doesn't like the fact that they ate at the stadium twice. Scratches them from the list.

And the kicker headline: from yesterday Arrest warrant issued for UM recruit

Thanks to jj shabbado for the links.

Update @ 6:04 pm: link fixed. edited minimally.


Read this 

Scoobie posted a transcript of an interview with Peter Beinart that will make you optimistic considering he (Beinart, not Scoobie) is an editor at The New Republic.

Here's a highlight:

BEINART: No one is attacking Bush for being in the National Guard. They're attacking him for not going to his National Guard service. You know, if I were in Iraq in the National Guard now, I would be pretty pissed off if someone in the National Guard didn't show up.

LARSON: I don't think you can say "off" on family radio. But that's okay. It seems to me that MacAuliffe is doing a lot of ballroom dancing now to kind of soften that comment and maybe not go the way of Michael Moore. Does that mean they realize they don't have anything?

BEINART: Let me tell you: we have called for Terry MacAuliffe to resign. We are not his fans. I think he's a terrible spokesman for the Democratic Party. The best thing he ever did [was] to throw this story out, because this is an absolutely legitimate story. And you know what? The Republicans need to be told in a very, very explicit way about this election: No more Mister Nice Guy. We are going to be as tough, if not tougher, than you are because we have seen the kind of scorched earth tactics that the Republican Party has used. This is an absolutely legitimate story--no question about it. And what is amazing is Republicans don't go after the substance because they know they don't actually have a strong case and so they try to mau-mau people

This was from Hugh Hewitt's radio show.

Monday inanities 

I can't find much to post on today, so here are some links to stupid things that might help you get over a "case of the Mondays". The first is via Cajun Ken, who links to this Hey Ya video as performed by the Peanuts gang. Frankly, I could watch Snoopy dancing with the sound on mute, but who the hell would want to mute OutKast?

And I got this email from a friend this morning:

I know most of you are about to immerse yourselves in Schaeffer light and plastic beads, but when you need a break from parading, I strongly recommend taking a look at this hilarious piece of cinema: Motocross Kids. It’s got everything: motocross, thrills, Lorenzo Lamas, laughs, Gary Busey and a fucking monkey that rides a motorcycle!

Motorcross Kids

see it after a parade and lots of drinking. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

He neglects to mention that Joe Millionaire star Evan Marriot also has a major role. The website itself is pretty funny, but I wouldn't suggest anyone actually seeing this movie considering the cost of these things today.

Update @ 10:39 am: links added/fixed.

Last day to register 

If you want to vote in the March 9 primary (which is looking less important by the day) today is the final day you can register. That means folks in my neck of the woods who want to vote in our special election for our rep in the state House need to get the courthouse and register, too.

NOLA news 

The Levee Board wants to build a new facility, but Governor Blanco hasn't made her appointments yet. The project would cost millions, but current members who may lose their jobs soon don't want to hold future board members "hostage" with the commitment. I found it interesting for reasons I can't describe, but as always, you can read it at your own risk.

Also from the T-P, Lolis Eric Elie considers the cost of war and compares it to our current health care woes, which could be solved with a mere fraction of the money being diverted to pay for Iraq. Elie even endorses CostofWar.com" which I wouldn't have expected to read about in a state newspaper. Here's the conclusion:

Louisiana is spending more than $10 per second. So far, our state has contributed roughly $1.1 billion to the overall cost of the war.

If we had kept that money in Baton Rouge and not sent it to Baghdad, we could have provided health care to more than 333,000 children per year. Or we could have hired roughly 15,000 additional teachers.

These are urgent needs in our state.

By contrast, the latest revelations about Iraq's lack of weapons of mass destruction make it seem less and less likely that our nation was threatened by Saddam Hussein.

What is clear is that our health is threatened by the budget cuts at Charity and University Hospitals.

More columns like this one please.

Landrieu continues attacks 

In Gerard Shield's otherwise dull report on our delegation in DC, we learn that Sen. Mary Landrieu seems to be decrying Bush's budget to anyone and everyone she gets in a room with. Good for her. Here's what she told Shields (or a room full of people, it's unclear from the story who she was addressing).

Landrieu criticized the budget deficit, which she said would result in a shortchanging of programs such as education.

"The budget proposal this administration has presented is full of accounting gimmicks and distortions," she said.

"It looks more like a page out of an Enron annual report than a federal budget."

...

Gov. Kathleen Blanco had asked the president for $50 million [for coastal restoration efforts]. Louisiana's best bet, Landrieu said, is the $1.1 billion dedicated in the Energy Bill, which is stalled in the Senate.

"It doesn't amount to diddley squat," Landrieu said of Bush's proposal.

That's twice in as many days reading about Landrieu chipping away at the Bush "legacy" for the folks back home. She's becoming a reliable attack dog, and I like it.

08 February 2004

Quiet Sunday 

There's not much in the papers today, though if you want a preview of the Congressional races that's short on new information you can take a look at this.

Also, Kathleen Blanco and Mary Landrieu managed to pander to religious groups and criticize President Bush all at once when they discussed the President's highly touted faith based initiative with Louisiana Interfaith Together (LIFT). They both talked about supporting the program (ugh!) but Mary Landrieu hit Bush for screwing up the federal budget so bad that they can't fund it.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., offered stiffer criticism of President Bush's administration.

Bush spends a lot of time talking about faith-based initiatives but hasn't "committed the federal resources to solve these problems," she said. "There is no shortage of creativity, commitment and God's strength. The only shortage is financial resources."

Federal spending and the end of budget surpluses under the Bush administration hurt the poor, Landrieu said.

"When the federal government's deficit goes sky high, the people who pay for that are the people who need the services the state provides," she said.

I'm starting to really like Mary Landrieu now that she doesn't have an election on the horizon forcing her to hold in her anger at the Bush administration. I'm not sure about supporting this ill-conceived faith-based initiative mess, but as long as she's using it as a bludgeon against the Bush White House, I'm fine with that.

Speaking of Bush, I caught the second half of the Russert interview this morning. I wasn't disappointed by Russert because I didn't expect him to really go after a sitting president, but he still could have done a lot more. He often let Bush off the hook when he answered questions with meaningless talking points. I don't think this event really helped Bush though. I also thought that Bush looked very troubled when he was supposed to answer questions about his military background. He kept trumpeting "I was honorable discharged," which doesn't really satisfy any of the questions that surround this service. I also really doubt he's going to release his full records, but time will tell. Oh well, it looks like a quiet news day, but I may be posting more later.

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