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01 May 2004

Saturday Roundup 

I usually avoid these types of stories, but I may as well pass along the biggest news out of the Advocate. The editors have dedicated most of their front page for the last two days to the arrest of alleged serial killer Sean Vincent Gilles. He admitted to the slaying of two other women yesterday, and the Advocate explores the investigative missteps in the case going back to 1994. That will probably be about the extent of any linking to this story, but don't say I didn't keep you informed that it was out there.

...ugh, trouble. Have to go for now. Before I'm out read about the "Outhouse Gang" in the Louisiana House. For weeks Democratic legislators who felt slighted by the Blanco administration have been whining about how the Governor has too much power. It was tiresome before it started since legislators in Louisiana have considerably more independence than they are willing to use, but I'm glad to hear that they are finally going to actually get together to try to do something about it. An independent legislative branch is good for government, and if they have truly decided to stop whining and actually put together whatever political capital they may have to assert their independence, then we should be pleased.

More later.

30 April 2004

AGF 

Another great festival is being threatened by the bad weather this weekend. Hopefully it holds off and the thousand flocking to Breaux Bridge for the BB Crawfish Festival will find nice skies and better crawfish.

Happy Friday! 

Lagniappe Day is a tradition stretching back thirty years at the local university. It came about after the school's basketball program was given the "death penalty" by the NCAA for violations which included paying student-athletes and breaking all other manner of NCAA rules. With no basketball program to spend the money on, students pressured the University into using a portion of their student fees which would have been earmarked for the basketball program into an all day party in April for students. The party continues today.

I'm bothering with this post because one of the traditions associated with the party involves a nut-case alumnus jumping into Cypress Lake, an aligator filled swamp-like pit located behind the student union. KATC put up a picture of him in this very short report about the tradition. Keep in mind there are lots of aligators in here:
look at me, ma, I can swim
He normally dresses up in a white tuxedo for the jump, but apparently decided against it this year. Somehow the sweat-suit is a "retro" look. Frankly, I'm rooting for the aligators in this one.

Jazz Fest 

Shut down for today. It looks like the big corporate festival is enjoying the same fate our down home version got last weekend.

Time Killing Game of the Week 

Early Edition. The weather is absolutely terrible here today, and I'm going to be in and out of it for the next few hours, so I figured I may as well pass along "Panda Golf" before it gets too late. I've been having fun with this game all week. The directions are a little difficult to understand, but that's because they make them way more complicated than they need to. Just click in the semi-circle around the golf ball farther away from the ball for more power and around the axis for the degree of arc. It has the added bonus of passwords to make it easier to leave and return. Enjoy the soothing music and have fun! Posting will resume later.

weird... 

Nothing to say about this, but they're worth a listen.

The Beatles vs. Radiohead
same vs. the Monkees.

via The Talentshow

More thinking... 

I should stop it. Looking back this morning on my post about feeling a little troubled by Koppel's decision to read the names of the dead, nosey online posts an excerpt from this interview with the Nightline anchor.

In an interview ABC's "Good Morning America" Friday, Koppel said he expected the show to be controversial - "but not this controversial."
He denied complaints that the show is "anti-war."

"It is a way of saying...let me explain it this way, Charlie [Gibson]. I was born and grew up in England. I was a small child in London during the Second World War. We used to spend our nights during bombing raids in an air-raid shelter in the back. There was rationing. There were blackouts. There was an awareness of the war, which I think is somehow a little bit lacking in the United States at this time.

With a better idea of where he's coming from, it makes more sense even if it does feel a little political. Perhaps what I find troubling is that the left has rallied around the event as a way to say "I told you so, my opinions are vindicated by all these dead soldiers." It seems callous, but I'll lay off Koppel.

Been thinking... 

I've reconsidered yesterday's post about the proposed changes to our voting schedule. I still think that on balance it could be a good thing to overhaul our elections schedule and strange primary rules. In comments Brett made a good point as well that Presidential elections ought to be moved to Saturday in order to allow more people to vote. I've seen it written in other places that it could be just as effective to make election day a national holiday. Keeping it on a Tuesday means that most people wouldn't use it as a holiday to go on the road, and the government could promote it as one of the big civic holidays. Both of those are good ideas, and whatever the government might do to promote participation is fine by me.

However, is it possible that these bills are just a thinly disguised attempt to give a whole bunch of legislators facing term-limits an extra year (it would extend their terms by a year in order to coincide with the 2008 election because the current schedule has the next big legislature elections in 2007) so that they might have more time to repeal the term-limits amendment passed in the mid-nineties? I've said before that I'm against term-limits in most cases, but if this is a goal of this legislation then these lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever my feelings about term-limits, it was clearly the popular will of the state that they were implemented. Also, we very clearly elected our legislators for four years the last time around. If this legislation passes it would essentially mean that lawmakers voted themselves another year in office, contrary to what voters believed they were getting when they went to the polls last fall. The solution to all of this would be to start the new schedule in 2012. That way the next time the state votes they would know they were voting legislators into a five-year term, and it would shed any doubt that legislators were simply trying to find a way to extend their terms so as to keep prodding away at term-limits.

Of course I doubt this bill will become law anyway, but it's important to consider all the possibilities.

Good 

Posting will be slow to nonexistent this morning since I'll be pretty busy with some other responsibilities, but I couldn't get away without pointing out that the silly bill to extend daylight savings time year round in Louisiana failed miserably in a House vote yesterday, only managing twenty-five "yeas".

The T-P's editors came out against it in a wishy-washy editorial this morning, but they did note one more bit of confusion that would come from the change, and perhaps its the most important of all. It could confuse New Years eve revelers. The ball would drop in New Orleans at the same time as New York, but before Biloxy. The very fabric of time and space would rip from its seams. All manner of plagues would sweep the Earth, and we would be left in an post-apocalyptic nightmare world where Mel Gibson and Ahnold rule with iron fists.

29 April 2004

Kerrey & Hamilton walkout 

The way Drudge is making out on this, you'd think the two Democrats disrespected Don Corleone or something...

The Oval Office session began at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m., and two Democrat commission members -- Lee Hamilton, the vice chairman, and Bob Kerrey -- walked out! The departure has ignited talk throughout official Washington... In a written statement, Kerrey said he left an hour early to attend 'a previously scheduled meeting with Senator Pete Domenici on Capitol Hill'... Hamilton left Bush/Cheney more than an hour early to meet with the Canadian Prime Minister... Developing...

They better look under their hoods before starting their cars.

I'm pulling my link down... 

Because it's contrary to the public interest.

Seriously, I don't really know what to think about why Nightline has chosen to broadcast an entire show dedicated to the names of the Americans dead in the Iraq War. I agree that the public should understand the cost of war, but how this fits into a news program doesn't necessarily get through to me. It seems more like an overt political statement as much as a memorial or an instructive piece about the cost of war. That's not bad in and of itself--particularly since I agree with the message--but it has a somewhat tainted feel to it. It's as though they are using the hundreds of dead names for something underhanded.

However, the fact that some stations will pull Nightline off the air that night because it is somehow "contrary to the public interest" literally blows my mind. News orgs have a responsibility to serve the public, and there is little doubt that this broadcast will serve a need. It's contrary to the public interest when multi-affiliate owners decide what kind of information may and may not be available to the public. This is not the same thing as editorial decisions not to air the halftime show of the Super Bowl, or a particular episode of "Will and Grace." This is about stifling an uncomfortable message, and it's wrong. Cheers to Matt for making the list available on his own site. If people want to look at it, they should. Read nearly anyone else on my sidebar for something more thoughtful and/or insightful than what I've written.

Surprise! 

George Bush is a liar.

Did I tell you guys I was an all-conference receiver at Loyola? Oh yeah, that was a flag football team.

via Political Animal

I'm a Democrat. 

Where's mine?

Joey Durel Goes to Bat 

He comes out swinging in support of LUS and their proposal provide low-cost long-distance, cable, and high-speed Internet connections. Keep at it. Here's the heart of it, and then I imagine I'll lay off the heavy promotion on this for a while:

Durel said LUS is also looking at plans to use its telecommunications network to "solve the digital divide," by providing free low-cost computers for people signed up for high-speed Internet -- much the same way cell-phone companies provide free phones with a contract.

The program -- if implemented -- would be the first of its kind in the country.

"Every community that has done well has some big success story to set it apart," Durel said.

Durel said he's visited with Gov. Kathleen Blanco about LUS's plan -- which could meet opposition in the Legislature -- and came away pleased.

"We believe she is strongly on board," Durel said. "If we can pull this off -- and we will -- she'll deserve a lot of the credit."

Durel said if the study goes well -- it's scheduled to be finished in June -- Lafayette could secure bond money by winter and start wiring houses next spring.

That's enough of that for now.

Tax Assessment 

This is the kind of transparency that will make newspaper editors and the public feel good, but the result won't mean any change in the unfair property assessment for tax purposes.

Simply opening up the records won't make a difference unless the legislature can mandate some kind of uniformity in the process by which assessors do their jobs. There ought to be some kind of performance review by outside auditors so that the public can make sense of what the values mean. In fact there are probably a thousand reforms to the way property is assessed, and this is the least likely to bring significant change. Maybe opening up the books will allow people to see just how bad a problem it is around the state, and then they'll demand action, but by itself it means nothing.

Sensible Gun Control... 

not going anywhere in the state of Louisiana. A bill that would close the gun show loophole in Louisiana and another that would prevent carrying guns on parade routes were killed in committee yesterday. At least two more bills, one establishing a ballistic fingerprinting database, were withdrawn by sponsor Cedric Richmond--perhaps in order to keep them alive for another time in the session--after he realized that "gun's rights" advocates (read NRA) and a hostile committee wouldn't allow them to go anywhere.

The shame of it all was the almost total lack of debate on the issue, of which Richmond had this much to say,

"Their minds were already made up," Richmond said after the hearing.

The committee can devote an hour to debate a cockfighting ban or talk about dogs fighting hogs but could not give a fair hearing to bills aimed at reducing murder and gun violence, he said.

"We have real, live, human beings being killed every day," Richmond said.

Meanwhile, Errol Romero, who led the fight in the legislature against the bill, sounded like Bill O'Reilly with his surprising ability to make up facts and then completely miss the point of the bill:

The federal background check law did nothing but create a black market in guns and actually increase gun violence, said committee member Rep. Errol Romero, D-New Iberia.

It's the biggest piece of "feel-good legislation" ever passed, he said.

...

(and from the Pic here). "If you go outside to my car right now, there is a gun," Romero said. "If somebody messes with me, I'm going to use it." Romero said he would rather rely on his wits and his fists if it comes to that. "Since Pat Swilling is gone, I think I can whip all of you," he joked. Romero was referring to Swilling, a former All-Pro National Football League linebacker who served in the House for five years. "When I go throughout Louisiana, I carry a gun," Romero said. "When I go to New Orleans, I carry two guns."

That's what we're up against, folks.


Changing the way we vote 

I really am torn about what to think about the legislation in progress that would completely overhaul some tried-and-true anomalies of voting for public servants in Louisiana. Laura Maggi and Jan Moller from the Pic tell us that it would move the state to the party primary system, but Marsha Shuler doesn't inform us of that particular change in her reporting.

The benefits are pretty easy to consider. Putting an end to our crazy primary system would probably allow for candidates to gain some independence from state and national party collusion as they try to narrow down fields each time federal elections roll around so as not to risk a single party runoff in them. Hopefully this would give voters a larger voice in who our candidates are than the current backroom dealing between political insiders allows. It would also hopefully prevent candidates who have strong bases but little ability to build coalitions of voters from ending up in runoffs and getting creamed by their opponents. Both parties have an interest in putting their best candidates in runoffs.

Changing the election years might end up being the greater shock to voters. Off-year elections for our major statewide offices are part of the "charm of the 'gret stet'". National attention comes for no other reason than to witness our peculiar brand of politics. It makes stars out of the Louisiana political hacks running campaigns, and over the years it has turned political consulting into an honest-to-God multi-million dollar industry in the state. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Moving the election year to coincide with Presidential elections would probably help the state Democratic Party, though. Black voters tend to turn out in greater numbers for Presidential elections than statewide ones, and their traditional marriage to the Democrats would probably benefit our side should we make a change in the election schedule. However, the real question is what is the most (small "d") democratic? If turnout goes up across the board and it saves the state money, then it's probably better to move the elections, even if it does mean the loss of the national stage in our state-wide elections. Please discuss...

Let me at him! 

If anyone's going to be stalking Britney Spears around here, it's going to be me. Canadians should keep stick to their own like Celine Dion and Allanis Morrisette.

28 April 2004

Maximum Overdrive 

Since I'll be gracing fine Lockport, LA with my humble presence next weekend for an annual crawfish boil, I thought I might pass along this report about a road rage incident that occurred there. Let's just say it's not of the typical "give 'em the finger" variety. Despite Lockport's few residents, I don't think Faron Rodrigue will be at the boil. Also, no word on whether or not he's related to that Rodrigue.

Delays 

It's been too long since I updated my blogroll, so welcome new additions that I've long ago linked to in the main text of the site including

LSU Blog
Letters to W.
Nosey Online
Whopundit
and, the Congressional candidate blog by Baton Rouger Kyle Johnston

Give them your love with copious hits.

Ronald Reagan University 

There's a very good post about the proposed Ronald Reagan U. in Colorado up at Pandagon, but readers might have a question regarding this bit of information:

"We have worked with an architect, and we think we're looking at an $850 million construction budget," said Terry Walker, a former professor and administrator at the University of Louisiana who is serving as founding president of the proposed school

So who is Terry Walker? I can't find any extra information about him from the 'net, but he was brought in to completely overhaul the Computer Science department at then USL in the seventies are early eighties. By all measures he took a fledgling department and turned it into the pride of Louisiana for quite some time. Sources--snicker--tell me that he has always been an "operator", so that he would head up an unapologetic ideology training center shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who dealt with him.

He has not been at UL for at least a few years now, but it's unclear what he's been up to in the interim. Perhaps he has helped to push our Ronald Reagan Highway in the legislature, bearing the wrath of his nameship, Avon Honey. Maybe he's been involved in trying to get Ronald Reagan on the dime. Who knows? Feel free to use this thread to bash all things Reagan. It's expected of us. Also feel free to throw Terry Walker into the mix. He probably deserves it.

Very Nice 

I came across a reference to this newspaper through an LO post about Kerry's campaign messages, but I couldn't help but ask if anyone else thought this was the best newspaper name ever?

Read the Youngstown Vindicator

Bush at LSU 

Tickets are being scalped for the Bush address to the LSU commencement. I guess it's just another instance of Bush's Presidency causing a rise in the crime rate.

More LUS Fiberoptics 

As usual, the Advocate's coverage of a Lafayette story is leagues better than our local newspaper's. All indications suggest that this is fantastic effort that the community should support. John's impassioned comments about the situation in response to yesterday's post are right on. LUS plans to embark on the expensive but worthy goal of delivering previously unheard of levels of access of information to the public through public ownership.

The plan seems to have the enthusiastic support of our mayor-president Joey Durel, who like John said, I wouldn't have thought had it in him, but he ran on his record as a visionary businessman, and if truly puts his weight behind this proposal he will earn my respect and thanks. A public vote won't be necessary on this one, only the approval of some bond issues by the City Council. That's hardly set in stone, but it makes the obstacles much easier to breach.

Unsurprisingly Bellsouth doesn't want the competition from a public utility, but it's hard to envision what they can do besides lobbying the council or threatening to pull their services--and the taxes they pay, and the jobs they represent--out of the community. The likelihood of them actually following through with such a threat is ridiculous, of course, but it could be enough to scare the council from issuing the needed bonds for LUS to build the required infrastructure.

Should this go forward the long-term benefits to Lafayette as a center for growth in a suffering state are almost impossible to understate. At the very least there will be a much greater number of residents with access to information usually only reserved for those wealthy enough to own computers and pay for expensive services. LUS is including the prospect of actually renting out cheap computers with browsers attached much like a cable company leases a converter box to consumers. It's a progressive measure at it's most basic level, and it has the benefit of being an obvious engine for economic and social development. Lafayette readers would be wise to support this proposal with their loudest voices.

Blinded by the Light 

Republican Rep. Pete Schneider has introduced a bill that would make Louisiana the only state in the country that would observe daylight savings time year round. It was moved forward unanimously by a House committee yesterday, and will see a full House vote sometime in the next few days. Read here and here. Almost unbelievably, if it passes it would go into effect this fall, meaning Louisiana would be on Eastern time from late October until next April. And check out Schneider's reasoning:

"For those who get off at 5 p.m. or 5:15 p.m. in the winter months, we would be able to get home and do the things we would like to do -- whether it be working in the yard, doing things with our kids, or other things of that nature," Schneider said.

...

Schneider argued that a permanent shift to daylight saving would promote economic development in Louisiana.

"It will allow businesses and industries to work longer in the evenings and to utilize that time for transportation, deliveries and what-not. It should increase industry moving into Louisiana," Schneider said.

You read that right, it will allow people to simultaneously work later and get off earlier. Apparently making daylight savings time last the entire year would change the laws of the time-space continuum, no flux-capacitor necessary.

I can't express how much I don't want this to pass. The confusion this would cause by being on Eastern time half the year is too much. Even if the time doesn't change, everyone's schedules would shift an hour anyway when the rest of the civilized world adjusts their clocks. It would mean watching the Daily Show at 10 pm one Thursday, only to watch it at 11 the next Monday, meanwhile work schedules would probably remain the same, so that the whole balance between your leisure and work lives would be thrown off kilter. It's too much to fathom, and it seems pointless.

Too late for more debate 

I don't think I've posted a thing about the bills which recently tore through the House and Senate which would give certain Louisiana psychologists the right to prescribe drugs. They sit on Governor Blanco's desk now awaiting her signature. If she doesn't either sign the bill or veto it between now and May 6, it will become law in Louisiana. The T-P has a very good story about the problems facing the legislation, and the governor's measured response so far is very reasonable to this observer:

The Blanco administration has been tight-lipped on the issue so far, though the governor expressed skepticism last week about Louisiana's becoming a national trailblazer on an issue whose merits are far from settled.

...

For a governor famously inclined toward careful study and compromise, the prescription issue has quickly become the lightning rod of this session. In addition to the psychologists bill, Blanco has legislation on her desk that would grant prescription privileges to physician assistants under certain circumstances, and another bill is moving through the Legislature that would give optometrists the right to prescribe a greater variety of drugs.

Bottcher said the speed with which the psychologists bill passed is why the governor plans to deliberate carefully before making a decision.

"I don't think anyone would disagree that it went through the process rather quickly and got to her desk rather quickly," Bottcher said. "I don't know that it was on her radar screen at all (before last week)."

The fact is that there wasn't a whole lot of debate about these bills as they made their way through our legislature. Most of it was concerned with speeding up the process by which patients could get the prescriptions they needed. But it seems like this is as much about certain psychologists who have probably spent a lot of money at psychopharmacology school to be able to increase their fees for consultation and therapy.

What's at issue here is public safety and whether or not these psychologists actually have the proper training to prescribe drugs. I don't know enough about the issue to be sure of any opinion, but I'm inclined to support measures that would increase the amount of study required to prescribe medicine, not make it easier. This is especially true after drugs like Paxil have come under such fire lately for serious side effects like causing suicide. And one would imagine that these kind of drugs would be exactly what psychologists would get in the business of prescribing.

Sad 

Hunters found a black man hanging from a pecan tree in Mississippi with a hood over his head, and despite all evidence that it was a suicide the past has forced the police to consider the uglier possibilities that it could have been a lynching. The south's dirty history in this matter continues to enrage residents and family members, who suspect the worst. This is a good story about the incident, and it serves as a reminder that no matter how far we have come, there is a long way to go before the men and women of our region will ever really trust one another.

Dear Lord! 

Run for your lives!
retreat!
The things are all over Wisconsin, which makes me think this is part of a dirty Canadian plot cooked up by birthday boy Matt Lavine.

27 April 2004

Huzzah! 

Lafayette's Utilities Services (LUS) is trying to get aboard the fiber optic train by offering cable, internet, and long distance service. It's a government run utility, which means the city could begin making money off necessary services, but better yet, it could finally introduce some competition to Lafayette's virtual monopoly on cable and high speed internet services which is Cox Communications, and even better at a supposed discount to the electric customers. This is the best news I've heard in a while. Maybe I don't need to move to Metairie after all...

C. Ray Nagin 

At least the streets are getting better...

UNO's Susan Howell released her annual New Orleans quality of life survey and the results were not good. It was the first time since 1997 that more respondents thought the city was getting worse than getting better. Crime, safety, and employment are the biggest concerns. Read a little more about it here, or read the entire survey here (it's a slow loading .doc page, but it's worth the wait).

And get this, "4% of voters in Jefferson parish responded that there are no significant problems in the parish. No respondents in Orleans shared this belief". Four percent of Jeff Parish residents are perfectly content. Do you know anyone who could look around anywhere and believe, "well, I don't think there is anything wrong..."? Jeez, maybe I need to move to Metairie.

Not fit to be President 

This bullshit is so stupid it makes me sick.

She also does Hillary's hair...the horror!

Vitter at Dillard 

The Republican candidate to be our junior Senator sponsored a "conference on corruption" at Dillard University yesterday. You can read about it here, but notice the condescension dripping from this statement:

After the forum, which included an hourlong question-and-answer period involving guest panelists from the Metropolitan Crime Commission, New Orleans Police Department, Jefferson Parish district attorney's office and Victims and Citizens Against Crime, Vitter said he thought the meeting was a success.

"I was particularly encouraged by the almost universal consensus in the room that this is a problem that crosses all racial, ethnic and political lines," Vitter said.

He may as well have said, "I sure am glad the blacks don't think it's just white politicians who are corrupt." Imagine that. A black audience didn't jump at a chance to play identity politics or whine about "victimization". I'm sure talk radio hosts' and Republican politicians' heads are exploding all over the country right now.

Austin 6 

I don't even know why I continue to bother maligning the Baton Rouge Booster Club which is Austin 6, but it's just so easy, and it falls into my greater opinions about the silly and sorry state of Louisiana's capital city. Everything from the name to the stated goals of the group to "follow the Austin model" in a state that has so little in common with Texas is just a big joke to me.

Anyway, you can read about their latest hyjinks in an Advocate report about a school board meeting in which the elected officials in charge of the parish school system criticized the most decidedly unelected and unaccountable members of the "shadow school board" for attempting to insert themselves into the selection of a new superintendent.

In this case Austin 6 sought to interview a high-profile possible candidate for the position before the job was available and before the school board had a chance to speak with him. Make no mistake that Austin 6 is a lobbying group. Here they are trying to influence the selection of school official before the people elected to head up the effort could act. I have no doubt that Austin 6 has Baton Rouge's best interests at heart, but at some point they need to realize that they are nothing more than a group of people with money and a vision. No matter how much they want to be they are not city officials. By inserting themselves into public processes they muddy up the water and derail the public's elected representative's ability to make their own choices.

Arthur Morrell 

The candidate for Senate was at the Baton Rouge Press Club yesterday to talk about his candidacy and the problems facing the state and nation. John LaPlante, capitol editor for the Advocate, reports on the matter, and the results weren't pretty:

State Rep. Arthur Morrell, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, opposes waging war in Iraq but thinks the United States can't leave anytime soon.
Morrell criticizes the Patriot Act as an erosion of constitutional rights but offers no plans to change it.

Morrell chastises President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" saying the school-standards law should be "left behind." But he doesn't want to repeal the law.

The Democratic attorney from New Orleans did not push a specific agenda for his Senate campaign during a Monday address to the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

I'm usually not one to go on about press bias. It exists in all reporters, and readers should be careful to take the facts from whatever they may be reading, giving things a second look when they can. However, I couldn't post this story without noting LaPlante's barely hidden contempt for Arthur Morrell's address. Here's the way the AP handled the same event:

Morrell also was critical of the Bush administration for failing to provide the states with enough money to pay for mandates in the Bush-backed education initiative known as No Child Left Behind; and he said the Patriot Act, the federal legislation that expanded the government's surveillance and detention powers following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is a danger to personal freedoms.

I'm not trying to say here that candidates for public office don't have a responsibility to lay out an agenda for the electorate, but reporters shouldn't be chastising them in straight stories about a press event seven months before the election. LaPlante's piece may as well be on the opinion page for all the things he didn't hear.

26 April 2004

Sensationalism and Social Divisiveness... 

Must be parish politics. I haven't linked to any stories about the ongoing battle between the New Iberial mayor's office and the city council against the city's police department, which is being threatened with consolidation into the Parish Sheriff's department. It's local politics at its most boring, and frankly, I have no idea how much any reader would care about it. The link comes today because New Iberia mayor Ruth Fontenot had the gall to justify the consolidation by calling to mind a former police officer who claimed a year of sick leave to have a sex change operation. What's worse is that KLFY took the bait hook, line, and sinker and published before and after pictures of the officer in question for no reason other than to exploit the person's probably very troubling circumstances for their own benefit.

A backlash against the mayor's office occurred over the last two weeks as this consolidation effort has come to a head in the community. The final public hearing on the matter is tonight. If she believes the budget can't sustain separate police forces then she should say so, but by trying to gin up anti-gay hysterics about the police force she's nothing more than a demagogue. KLFY should be just as ashamed of themselves for facilitating her demeaning brand of politics.

Who knew? 

Despite what must be a disproportionately large gay population in New Orleans, I wouldn't have expected to see Louisiana among the top five states of percentage of gay couples raising children.

Interesting 

I heard this discussed very briefly on NPR yesterday, and I figured it's worth passing along. The gist of it is that Vladimir Nabokov at best "borrowed" the plot of a 1916 short story about an aging intellectual's obsession with a young girl named Lolita, and at worst plagiarized the main parts of what is recognized as one of his greatest novels.

Nabokov is unquestionably among the greatest authors of the twentieth century, and if one of his finest works is a hack job, then it would be quite the literary controversy, but even more interesting is how this could illuminate an entirely new vein of critical analysis with regard to Lolita itself. The whole book--especially the "nymphet" at the center of it--could become symbolic of Nabokov's own obsession with some third-rate German short story (Nabokov hated all things German) with a nugget of great appeal at the center of it. Humbert Humbert, the protagonist with the hot streak for young girls, becomes Nabokov with a dirty little obsession with the German story.

I'm going to need to reread the thing all over again, even if it's really not his best book.

What he said 

Josh Marshall on the jerks attacking Kerry's military record:

The president wants to challenge John Kerry's military service. So he gets Karen to do it for him. You can get tripped in the chutzpah of this because this not only throws light on an earlier period when the president couldn't fight his own fights, it repeats the pattern.

But here's some free advice for Kerry.

Don't get mixed up on the details. Take this directly to the president. Tell him to turn over a new leaf in life and stop being a coward. If the president wants to attack or question your war record or what you did after the war, tell him to do it himself. No special deals, no hidden help from family retainers, no hiding behind Karen Hughes. Tell him, for once, to fight his own fights.

umm, I concur.

Kerry at SUNO 

My two home delivery papers included this AP bit yesterday about John Kerry giving the commencement address to Southern University New Orleans early next month. John Kerry's continued interest in speaking to Louisiana's residents seems to indicate that he's not going to give up on the state in his bid for President, but as the Pic's Bruce Alpert reports, he did not include the state as part of a multi-state, multi-million dollar ad buy.

It's hardly surprising that some recent poll numbers might discourage Kerry from winning Louisiana. However, I wonder if he ever really believed he had a chance here at all. It's possible that his visits to Louisiana--much cheaper than targeting the state with expensive political advertising--are really meant to remind voters in other swing states that Kerry is competitive with a conservative stronghold like Louisiana. In the book Bush's Brain Karl Rove relates an anecdote that a Republican who supports a teacher's pay raise isn't meant to win the votes of the teachers union, rather it's meant to reassure suburban moms that they will fund their children's schools adequately. It seems that Kerry stopping by Louisiana might not signal any real belief that the state is up for grabs.

I sure hope I'm wrong about that.

Roemer out? 

link...

okay, so he was never in, but it's too bad that every day it's looking more and more like David Vitter will have no Republican challengers in the Senate campaign. There are about six hundred Republicans who at least don't make me sick to my stomach that I'd rather see in a runoff besides David Vitter.

And how much do I wish I could afford the Louisiana Political Fax Weekly?

Update @ 9:31 am: a story about it was in yesterday's Pic too, didn't read it, though so here you go.

Washed out 

By Friday night, the weekend showed every sign of being a great one. I had been spending it with close friends, good music, good food, and cheap beer. All that changed Saturday. I stuck around on Saturday afternoon to watch the Saints make their first round draft pick. I was happy despite all the local clamor for cornerback. The highest corner on the board was OSU's Chris Gamble, a converted wide receiver who I'm sure will be a fair d-back in the league, but not worth the eighteenth pick in the NFL draft. The Saints more pressing need is almost definitely a linebacker, and there weren't any of those worth picking at that point either. So when they drafted defensive end Will Smith I was probably more pleased than most. But that was about the last time I had a smile on my mug for the rest of the weekend.

After the Saints made their pick, some friends and I trudged downtown with the intent of riding out the rest of the day and night at the Festival. Rain was predicted, but we didn't think it would be too bad, so we didn't prepare ouselves as well as we should have. I was lucky enough to have a very good parking place, but that probably resulted in more trouble than it was worth. Not there for much more than an hour, the skies opened up as we watched Corey Harris play the guitar at the Festival's second stage. By four thirty we were soaked and miserable, but the rain showed signs that it might slack off, so I made the executive decision as a driver--with a good parking place that would still be available should I leave it--to bring myself and a friend back to our respective abodes to change. We could come back to see my brother-in-law's band play at a bar sometime between five and eight.

That's where everything went wrong. While on the way home a guy that lives not more than six blocks from me in the same neighborhood was driving too fast and ended up slamming into the back driver-side of the Prado mobile. Fortunately no one was hurt, but now I can expect a mess of insurance squabbling and repairs that his insurer had better cover. The car made it back home, and it seems fine to drive despite a lot of damage to some panels on the side and rear, but it's a mess that I don't want to deal with.

The rest of the weekend troubles are probably miniscule compared to the wreck, but it's worth noting that I was probably even more angry at the weather forecast for Sunday, which virtually guaranteed that organizers would cancel the festival--which it was, at roughly four yesterday afternoon--and to add insult to injury, when I went to a friend's house last night to watch "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood" an earlier power outage had scrambled his digital cable converter to the point where it wouldn't turn on and only read "E09," which apparrently means "completely FUBAR", because the cable people told him they would have to come out to fix it and bring a new box. Ugh.

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