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24 July 2004

Interesting 

It doesn't do much good to go gung-ho over a Governor's letter to study an idea for a new stadium in New Orleans, but this idea seems to have some merit, and the fact that Blanco has decided to look at it is a good first step.

After some very cursory looks at NOLA and other state media, I can't seem to find anything about this anywhere else. Saints VP of operations had the "no shit" quote of the month with this story:

Saints Vice-President of Administration Arnold Fielkow said the team was excited about the possibility.


"We were asked if we would like this and if it should be pursued," he said. "We gave our blessing. It's a very creative idea."


WWL also has a map up on their front page. This part of the city seems to be in the middle of a renewal era which a stadium would hopefully spur along. I don't even want to think about the traffic...

I hope this is more than just talk.


Don't ask me what that green line is directing people into the middle of the "mighty Missip'". Maybe there are plans for half a bridge to accommodate game-day traffic[/sarcasm]. Expect The Advocate to include an editorial tomorrow saying something along the lines of, "so long as the state doesn't cover any cost of this, New Orleans should do whatever they want." Bastards!

23 July 2004

Friday Fiber 

It's been a slow week for fiber news. Lots of stuff percolating in the background but nothing much has emerged.

The closest thing to news is that the City-Parish Council has scheduled a special meeting to consider the "utilities budget" on August 11th. While there are other substantial issues for the council to consider (like 184 million in bonds for 2 new power plants) the dominant topic is likely to be LUS' fiber to the home proposal and the "100 million dollars" Cox ads have been trumpeting.

Cox and BellSouth are out there on the hustings working for their interests. Last week I mentioned the Advocate story about Concerned Citizens for Good Government meeting that featured BellSouth manager Williams last week. This week we have announcements of a meeting of Citizens of Direct Action on Tuesday featuring the tag team of BellSouth's Williams and Cox's Gary Gaspard. Then on Thursday Rebuild Lafayette North will add BellSouth's Oliver to their lineup of speakers. The meetings would probably interesting to attend—especially the Rebuild Lafayette North meeting. Joey Durel has been a committee member and on top of that it is hard to imagine what Oliver could possibly say that would move an organization for which digital divide issues are likely to be key. Gotta give credit where credit is due; they are out there beating their drums.

I suspect that all this activity is in anticipation of the special utilities budget City-Parish Council meeting. We'll probably see a preview of the latest anti-fiber strategies to be used on August the 11th. I'd look for a new advertising ramp up as well—I know BellSouth and Cox have made ad buys ads for next week's print media.

Scoop of the Century! 

The Boston Globe learns, to the amazement of country fans everywhere, that Toby Keith is actually a Democrat. He fashions himself a Joe Lieberman who sometimes feels embarrassed for his party.

You may remember his imbroglio with the Dixie Chicks from a year or two ago, when supporters from the National Review to warbloggers everywhere couldn't wait to jump on board the Keith train. Funny how life works when you can't wait to seize on any celebrity who supports your point of view.

Quote of the Day 

The Pic sent one of their metro reporters to the Urban League Convention in Detroit this week, which is nice since it gives a different perspective on the events than we could expect from wire services. At any rate, John Kerry has a good response to all the criticism he's received for being soooo negative:

Kerry said Bush's administration looks at the challenges facing the nation "and says this is the best we can do. . . . They say what we have now is the best economy of our times. They have even called us pessimists for speaking the truth to power. Well, I say the most pessimistic thing you can say is that America can't do better than we are doing today."


I just heard bits and pieces of Bush's address to the Urban League, and it really is shocking how the world he lives in is in such fantastic shape. His reality is one radically divorced from the American public, where new polls show only about 35% of Americans believe this country is on the right track and more than half believe the economy is facing trouble.

Sigh. Nothing else on this now, but give me some time.

22 July 2004

Suckers 

It's sooooo hot here.

Humid to these guys means about 80% What a laugher?!

I'm headed out to Fenway soon to watch Boston hopefully pull one together after dropping the first two games to Baltimore in a makeup series...

I doubt I'll bring them any luck, but a guy can hope.

7th District News 

There's not a lot of new info here. Charles Boustany and Willie Mount continue to out raise their competitors by overwhelming margin. My hope for an all Democratic runoff will be dashed if Don Cravins doesn't get a move on to the money train. David Thibodaux continues to ignore the mounting Boustany threat to his once strong grip on the position of perennial losing candidate to a Democrat in my district.

He's trading on his name since he's run for the seat before and the fact that he's won elections within the district in the past (he sits on the Lafayette Parish School Board).

Thibodaux said he doesn't need as much money as the other candidates because he's got strong name recognition and a voter base in Lafayette and doesn't need to spend money getting his name out.

He said his past experience in running for the 7th District seat -- this is his fourth run -- means he doesn't have to spend money figuring out where his voters are in the district.

Thibodaux continues to dismiss Boustany's candidacy and claim that himself, Cravins and Mount are the only serious candidates in the race.

He said Boustany's money lead doesn't mean much because it won't be enough to beat the name Thibodaux has established.

He may want to be careful about overestimating any advantages his School Board seat will give him considering the results of a state House special election in March within the Seventh District. In that race, Lafayette Parish School Board member (and a neighbor of mine), Beverly Wilson, attempted to parlay her "name recognition" into a higher office, and ended up finishing dead last in a race with four other candidates, all of whom were political rookies.

Of the two Republicans in the race, I would much prefer to see Thibodaux in the runoff, but I have a lot of trouble seeing how he's got it in him right now. It will take a lot of money and committed campaigning, and I don't even know if he plans to take the fall semester off for the campaign or not (he's a professor at UL). I'm kind of rooting for him in this one, but he's got a tough row to hoe.

I challenge the Presidential candidates to a debate! 

It looks like anyone can do it if Marc Morial is.

In a speech opening the 94th annual Urban League convention, Marc Morial called the economic gap between black and white Americans the challenge of the 21st century, and demanded that the candidates address questions important to blacks and city-dwellers.

"We are the new swing voters and we want our issues not to be on the back burner or in the pantry, but on the front burner," he said. "It is now time for our issues to be discussed, not just at summer conferences, but to take their place in the forefront of national debate."

Morial said the Urban League will send a letter Friday to the Commission on Presidential Debates asking for the debate with the candidates. If the commission refuses, civil rights groups will organize the debate on their own, he said.

Okay, okay, I'm pretty sure Morial and the Urban League are only asking the candidates to debate at an Urban League forum, not actually engage in a debate with the League's President, but read the headline at the linked story over and over again and tell me what you think the report's about. I was joking around about it with my brother yesterday when I read it over the wire, and he said, "it looks like Morial will be getting that indictment a little sooner than he thought..." which pretty much summed up my thoughts about the former mayor's challenge to the candidates.

It won't happen, but I think a debate dedicated to urban and civil rights issues--in light of the Patriot Act, the continued enlargement of the disparity of wealth, and other important issues--could be a very productive one for this campaign. The candidates probably have extremely divergent views which would do well to be fleshed out by the voting public. Of course, the Urban League is too Kerry-friendly to host such an event, but I think it would be a great debate to have simply hosted in a city like Cincinnati or New Orleans, where racial strife has been at the center of politics for many years now and growing urban poverty threaten their city's health.

I guess it's too late to change the debate schedule, though. Morial and the Urban League should have thought of this before their convention.

Blogger not dead yet 

I woke up to some fairly serious blogger difficulties and missed a good window for posting. Don't give up hope, though, I'll be back in the next few hours.

21 July 2004

What is Crunk? 

Slate goes out of it's way to explain it, but there's a much simpler one.

Andre 3000 not long ago called it "high-energy hip-hop" (sorry, no link to that) If you've ever listened to rap and/or hip-hop you don't need some drawn out links to songs you've probably already heard to know what that means, as Slate offers up. Otherwise you probably aren't clicking on their links anyway.

Straight out of one of the best songs of the last five years, "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)", OutKast set the stage for the arrival of "Crunk" (which I admittedly thought was spelled with a "k") in pop music with this recurring line to close out the tune, "Power Music. Electric revival."

There's no need for all the extra shite Slate includes to cater to their elitist readers who want to slum it for a little while with the black music.

This man gets paid? 

In a column on the opinion page of this morning's "Advocate", staff writer Mike Dunn absolutely phones one in. I'll quote the extent of original content in the piece:

The political season in Louisiana is upon us, so get ready to be inundated with candidate commercials. BRNEXT, a new political action committee in Baton Rouge, recently held a "campaign school" for those interested in running for office or working in a campaign. Much of the day was spent listening to political consultants talk about their craft and how to get voters' attention.

[gigantic snip from quoted and paraphrased junk said and seen at the seminar]

So, as the political season gears up for this fall's election, maybe you'll have a better idea of what is going on in that political ad you see on television, hear on the radio or see in the newspaper.

It's like a blog in print and without the opinion, and this was on the "Opinion Page", mind you.

Update 2 10:22 EST: to be fair, "The Advocate" often includes analysis of local issues in the space where I believe this column was included, but there's not even any analysis in this piece. It should be a news story found somewhere in the A or B section, not in a column on the opinion page. If he really wanted to give us a better idea of political advertising he probably should have done a little more work than simply heading over to a BRNEXT seminar, or at least included some of his own observations as a reporter. I hope this was heavily edited from his original submission, otherwise I just don't see the point.

3rd district 

Speaking of Billy Tauzin, there's a new candidate in the race to unseat him.

He is Kevin Chaisson, a fifty-five year old physician from the serious bayou country of Lafourche Parish, home of the best annual crawfish boil for Ricky Prado and friends. Of course, that's about as much in common as I'll find with this guy.

All you need to know about the potential Congressman is this:

"He also would work to abolish the federal income tax and replace it with a 12 or 13 percent sales tax on nonfood items, he said"

Ummm, no thanks on that.

Update @ 11:22 EST: "Unseat" obviously isn't correct up there. It should say "succeed." In Boston for a few days and I'm already forgetting basic information about Louisiana politics.

Coastal Erosion and Presidential Hypocrisy: a case study 

Poor Billy Tauzin...

There's a great story in the Pic this morning that exemplifies the way conservatives have been snookered by the deceitful Bush administration nearly every step of the way during the last three and a half years.

Mary Landrieu and Lamar Alexander (a Repub. from Tennessee) introduced a perfectly reasonable bill into the Senate recently that would tap certain money generated from off-shore oil and natural gas drilling for conservation projects in the affected states. It would mean nearly $260 million for our fine state annually for restoration and conservation projects. I won't get into the argument of whether this is necessary or "American" (which it is in both cases), instead we'll look at what Bush sent his Interior underling to say, and what he has said on the campaign trail and to various Louisiana Republicans.

P. Lynn Scarlett, assistant secretary for policy management and budget for the Department of Interior, said the proposal represents an "ambitious vision" for financing key conservation programs.

But the Bush administration "cannot support moving funding for these programs off the discretionary spending ledger and converting it into nondiscretionary automatic spending," Scarlett told members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing Tuesday.

Obviously the Bush administration, and probably any administration, would prefer discretionary spending to the kind of automatic spending represented in this bill. It allows them to send good dollars where they want to and when the want to. It's the modern form of patronage, and it represents--in this case--billions of dollars at the administration's fingertips. Of course, this doesn't really matter, because the end result of the administration's pronouncements on this matter will scuttle the bill entirely.

Enter Billy Tauzin, who has been a "big supporter" of coastal restoration efforts on the federal level for Louisiana and other Gulf States. He should be, his district is among the most affected in the entire country by dwindling coastlands, marsh destruction, and coastal pollution. In this case he's either simply a tool who just doesn't get it, or a willing participant in the continued deception of Louisiana voters by the Bush administration.

Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay, suggested last month that any presidential candidate who doesn't support financing to restore Louisiana's coastline and wetlands ought not to visit Louisiana looking for support in the current election. He was alluding to Democrat John Kerry, whom he chided for opposing an energy bill that would have provided more than $1 billion to Louisiana over 10 years.

Ken Johnson, Tauzin's spokesman, said President Bush had said he would approve the energy bill, which passed the House twice, and chose not to read much into the testimony Tuesday by Scarlett, the assistant interior secretary, opposing mandatory financing for conservation programs.

"I would say that Ms. Scarlett might not have much of a political future in Louisiana, but as for President Bush, he made it clear that he would sign our energy bill into law, and it contains more than a billion dollars in mandatory funding for coastal Louisiana," Johnson said.

Considering Tauzin's choice of words, he's probably just doing the administration's bidding. Bush's support of said energy bill was support of a giveaway of billions in breaks and incentives to oil companies that happened to include money attached for coastal erosion. As soon as a bill comes up that would make energy companies pay for their contribution to the coast's continued destruction, they are doing their damnedest to derail the bill. Surely Billy Tauzin knows this, and hopefully most voters in our state can see through it.

Whatever the case, it's a classic example of Bush's say one thing do another approach to policy and politics. It's getting tired, and I know I can't wait to find a new man at the helm.

One more difference between New Orleans and Boston? Not a lot of air conditioning in the Beantown, and no one cares...

Update @ 10:07 EST: more on this story from "The Advocate" included this quote from a Lafourche Parish resident, "We're one storm away from not having to worry about it," Randolph said, "because we'll be gone."

20 July 2004

New Digs 

I'm kicking it in Boston this week thanks to the generosity of my brother and sister-in-law, who got a lot more than they bargained for when they asked me to drive a truck from New Orleans to their new hometown.

With luck I'll have all kinds of interesting posts about next week's Democratic National Convention; this weekend's series between the Yankees and the Red Sox at Fenway; and the regular diet of Louisiana news that I bother to gather online.

As always, a big thanks to John for trying to squeeze a few posts out about some non-fiber related news in the "gret stet". Blogging should resume to something not-quite-resembling-regularity by tomorrow afternoon. We still have a lot to do around the new house, but I think I'll be able to sneak on the computer when the family isn't looking.

And the bleg for a way into the Fleet Center during the Convention is still on the table, just click on the email address on the right if you know of any way in the doors there next week. We're not quite desperate yet, but we're getting there.

The biggest difference between Boston and New Orleans? About thirty thousand more John Kerry '04 bumper stickers. It's like my own little piece of liberal heaven...

Eroding Coasts and Sensibilities 

The Advertiser covers the emergence of Louisiana's coastal erosion as an issue in the Senatorial campaign. Vitter raised the issue in an apparent preemptive move. But everybody is against it.

There seems to be a lot of floundering among the punditry about why the candidates are trying to argue about an issue on which everyone agrees.

Wayne Parent comes closest to making sense—here is the relevant pull quote:
Landrieu won votes by accusing the Bush administration of trying to strike a secret deal with the Mexican government to import millions of tons of sugar — a move she said would hurt Louisiana sugar cane farmers. The deal never came to fruition.

“I think they’re running the last campaign,” Parent said. “David Vitter doesn’t want to get burned again by a local issue.”

Likewise, Parent said, Democratic strategists want voters to perceive the president — and by extension Vitter — as just as uncaring about the coast as he was about sugar imports.

That needs a little expansion. In the last campaign everyone, Democrat and Republican alike, agreed that no such secret deal should ever happen. But it still burned the Republicans. There was some complicated back and forth that effected perception but it all boiled down to the Democrats successfully implying that you shouldn't trust the Republicans on this issue—that they had things they wanted to trade for "our sugar" and were staunch free traders who would not hesitate to sacrifice Louisiana for a more open global market no matter what they said during the heat of a campaign.

The charges, true or not, rang true. Even if on other issues you were a loyal free trader and staunch free enterprise guy, on this issue, your issue, our issue you were sure you didn't want any secret deal. In fact, if you were such a loyal and staunch advocate you were more likely to believe that the Republicans had a natural inclination to such shenanigans. You trust the Republicans on this. Vitriolic protestations that seemed unnatural coming out of Republican mouths only served to add to the sense that something funny was going on here.

So..a parallel analysis leads me to conclude that Vitter is stepping into a deep mistake when he raises the profile of this issue. As a Republican in a state that buys into the anti-environmental definition of conservative (turn in your grave Mr. Goldwater) Louisianians believe that the Republicans are naturally against "evnironmentalism." Vitriolic, high-profile, insubstantial promises to be "different" on this issue, our issue, ring insincere. The Democrats only benefit themselves by pounding the drum on this. The more he protests, the more high profile "assurances" he projects, the more folks are likely to think that he doth protest too much.

Democrats might well chuckle and say: Oh Mr. Vitter, Mr. Vitter, pleeeassse, don't throw me in that briar patch. Or maybe the tar baby story would be the more appropriate cautionary folk tale.

Aside:
Note, if you will, the similarity to what has become standard Republican tactics. Republicans generally try to take a label like Democratic or Liberal and imply that it attaches to things the voters they are talking to find distasteful. Then when the actual person who carries the label of Democrat protests that this is not true of them the pretty much official response is to snicker, and wink, and imply that "of course he or she would say that." They have even tried to make a generalized meme out of the idea that anyone with a nuanced view of anything is "flip-flopping." After all it works so well with Gore. If an argument looks intelligently nuanced then it must be liberal and so must be a lie.

I am not particularly happy to see even a milder a specie of this argument emerge to tar Republicans. But once the voters are trained to think that declarations of policy position are dishonest based on the party affiliation of the candidate it was inevitable.

And Vitter might want to watch out: he appears to be preparing the soil to reap what his party has sowed.

19 July 2004

Mobsters, Drunks, & Gambling Fiends for Bush 

The Aladdin Casino, famous for its ties to mobsters and for almost dragging Wayne Newton down into the pit for which he is destined has banned Linda Ronstadt—for praising Michael Moore and recommending Fahrenheit 9/11 before her encore rendition of "Desperado." The crowd, an AP story reports, booed and "tossed cocktails."



18 July 2004

Be afraid: They might not look Arabic!! 

The New York Times informs us (at length) that the world is afraid that terrorists might not look like Arabs due to the fact that they might not be Arabs.

The choice is between a long rant and going to bed.

Night.

Remixing Popular Culture 

For those of you who have been following Ken Jennings' genial destruction of all who challenge his right to rule Michael brings you a contrasting taste treat. And who or what is the proper contrast to Ken's ability to bring the light to bear on obscure subjects. Who else but el presidente and his dark sidekick.

Worth the little aftertaste of bile.

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