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31 July 2004

Home Sweet Home 

It's been a long day of travelling, and it's hot. Posting should go back to pre-Boston levels on Monday, and I have some plans in mind for the coming election season, so stay tuned to Timshel for what will hopefully be some new features.

I want to express a thousand thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for not only putting up with me for two weeks, but for showing me a grand time as well. If it wouldn't have been five in the morning, I probably would have put up a real fight about actually leaving. Alas, I got myself on a plane and now I'm back to my little Democratic shelter from the storm of Lafayette Republicans. I hope you guys found things to peak your interest in my postings from far-flung New England.

A Big Helping of Heart-Healthy Fiber 

Sorry about missing yesterday's Friday Fiber posting; been busy (with that which I mention below). As penance I present you with a double dose of fiber today. (Lucky you!)

As part of the runup to the BellSouthCox “Academic Broadband Forum” Monday company executives have been touring Lafayette’s citizens groups looking for a usable meme to shake what appears to be a pretty placid voter acceptance of fiber. I attended both the CODA and the Revitalize Lafayette North meetings and my impression was that people weren’t too impressed.

Louisianans don’t really “get” aimless fear and are not as distressed by uncertainty as most folk in this country. (Hey don’t look at me that way—I’ve lived in other places and believe me, folks are much more ready to be uptight almost anywhere you look.) As a consequence Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt don’t get as enthusiastic a response here as elsewhere. People don’t panic. Which isn’t to say that the tactic won’t work in a more mild-mannered way. Just that nobody is gonna get up and cheer when someone does stuff that is clearly meant to make them anxious.

The Revitalize Lafayette North meeting had the better speaker by far: Oliver, the BellSouth Louisiana president is a polished speaker with a well-honed speech structure: Start with a joke that implies your opponent is silly and stupid; tell a self-depreciating remark about your education and background leading to the presentation of local bona fides; move on to genially presented material casting doubt on every thing your opponents advocate and their motives; and end with a closing reference back to the joke played for laughs. Well-received. Sharp. But there was no applause in the 20-person room. Two moderately encouraging questions and the room moved on to the next speaker. There was more discussion after the guy from Crowley’s presentation on building business incubators in Kenya.

CODA was more interesting in that we got junior executives that were clearly a little nervous to be in each other’s presence and were much less polished. There is no real love lost between BellSouth and Cox regardless of their little alliance of convenience to oppose LUS. After all, BellSouth has announced a plan to test the provision of video on demand (take that Mr. Cable) and Cox is going to provide Voice Over Internet Protocol services (take that Madame Belle). There was an extra bit of spice lent to the occasion when the two laughed nervously about their mutual “competition.” The folks there seemed most concerned about the cost of cable and about its tiered pricing plan which forces them to buy into channels they don’t want. The questions weren’t always all that well phrased, and the company execs honestly struggled to be responsive. But the fact is that almost no one took up the bait that the execs tossed out by the handful. Maybe that has something to do with an intimate acquaintance with what happens to fish that snap up proffered bait down here in the swampy south. Discussion was spirited and the audience mostly asked questions about what concerned them rather than about what the speakers thought should concern them.

There were some sparks between the Cox representative and an LUS exec in the audience (of about 35) with the Cox exec insisting that LUS/Lafayette regulates Cox and the LUS exec insisting that they do not. LUS has the better of that one. Granted, Cox has to deal with LUS on right-of-way issues and Lafayette on its franchise but that is not “regulation.” Businesses deal with and have contracts with government and even competitors all the time. Regulation is something different. Regulators, like the Louisiana Public Service Commission, have the right—and obligation—to tell you how to run your business. They can say what prices are allowable and what sorts of services you must offer. That’s regulation. And Lafayette can do none of it; implying that they can is misleading.

An interesting question was asked near the end of the session played off the Cox representative’s listing of all the reasons cable pretty much always ended up being a monopoly in any one locale. (This was by way of explaining that it wasn’t their fault nobody competed with them; that’s just the way things are.) The questioner remarked that the same reasons that Cox’s coaxial cable and BellSouth’s twisted wires were monopoly networks would also apply to the inevitable fiber network. He (ok, yes, me) asked why the people of Lafayette should prefer that monopoly be owned by a large out-of-state corporation rather than by a local utility. Both execs objected that they wouldn’t put it that way and argued that they were good players locally and provided beaucoup local employment. But neither argued that they were not monopoly networks nor that fiber was not inevitable. A restatement of the question that asked why Lafayette should prefer BellSouth to Cox or LUS finally got a reply—sorta. Bristol, Virginia’s utility apparently advertises only 2 mbs of speed on its fiber-based network where BellSouth has just begun advertising 3 mbs. Interesting, but unfortunately the comparison that I asked for is not between Bristol and BellSouth but between LUS and BellSouth. When asked if that was the reason we should prefer BellSouth to LUS Williams could only say yes. (I am not so sure that the Bristol example works for them anyway. The local paper seems to think its working out pretty well after an initial bad year in which legal challenges prevented the utility from offering cable, its most lucrative service.)

Be all that as it may, the original question was the right one, and attempts to make people anxious function as distractions. We should ask, again and again and again:

Why should Lafayette prefer a large, out-of-state corporation own a local monopoly rather than a local utility?

That is the heart and soul of the real decision for Lafayette citizens.

In both forums the most effective fear-mongering points played off LUS’ inability to come forward with a concrete plan. That lack is used to make LUS appear to be hiding something bad from the public and provides a base from which to launch fear and uncertainty-based attacks. I’ve complained about this before but it rapidly becoming not an inconvenience but a real problem. The most effective tool in the BellSouthCox Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt campaign is the actual uncertainty about the LUS proposal. That needs to end quickly before it becomes fixed in citizens’ minds that LUS is avoiding talking about its plan. No matter how forthcoming you are later, initial impressions are disproportionaly important. Just like your momma told you.

Upcoming: BellSouthCox’s “academic” forum is Monday August the second at the Holidome on Evangeline Thruway from 6 to 8:00 pm. Really, I expect it to be mostly a media event with sparse presence by the actual public. The point will be to get scary “facts” published in local media and to translate company opinions into “facts” usable in the ensuing ad campaign.

Displaying the same savvy that has gotten local officials so far in this unequal battle, LUS has dispatched Huval to present before Concerned Citizens for Good Government at Don’s downtown at the same time and date as the “academic forum.” The morning newspapers will likely carry he said/she said stories and will have to dispatch at least one reporter to the Huval presentation. A very well-considered display of media savvy.

Tidbits: In a surprise move Verizon has announced Fiber To The Home plans for several locales including a 100,000 home rollout in Dallas. It will be increasingly hard for BellSouth and Cox to claim that FTTH is just not a responsible business proposition when a major national competitor is rolling out fiber in the next state. An overview of recent telecom fiber announcements injects some caution but makes clear the scope of possible change.

Lafayette’s battle is showing up on national websites devoted to broadband as a, perhaps the, central battle in the municipal broadband movement. In an interview on the site (which, with an earlier interview, is well worth reading in full for the succienct national background and recent history of the national fight we are actually in) Lafayette gets high marks for the quality of its battle and particularly for turning aside the threat of a legislative prohibition that has been effective in other states. Blanco is credited with forcing a compromise. SB 877 is judged a tolerable bill, especially when compared to the model bill BellSouth attempted to have adopted. A point by point comparison in a pdf of a powerpoint presentation linked to there between the “model’ and the final SB 877 makes for very sobering reading.

The Utopia fiber project, a regional consortium of Utah municipalities, which the telecos and cable companies have bitterly fought, completed a successful bond issue, overcoming their last barrier to beginning their initial construction phase in August. The companies pioneered many of the tactics being used in Lafayette; for instance, at least one member of the anti-fiber panel scheduled for Monday, Lenard, was used to challenge the plan in Utah.

Lagniappe: I am in the midst of putting together a local profiber website. We are hoping to get it live in time for Monday’s forum and the predictable ensuing fest of misinformation. Look for a first announcement on these pages. (Wanna help? Have ideas for what should be there? We could use the help. Use the comments function or email me.)


30 July 2004

George Bush's America 

I happened to be hanging out with a staff member over at Boston College, so I heard about this awful story last Sunday, but it was in the Globe this morning and it's worth passing along to show you what it's like to be brown and holding a camera when the Secret Service is in town.

Sahni was held and questioned for as many as seven hours because he wears a turban and had the gall to take pictures of where the secret service was being housed on the same campus where he was a student. My brother and I thought about going down to the campus to get a look at the hooplah there, but I bet you a thousand dollars we wouldn't have been detained if we had. When people talk about the erosion of civil liberties in post 9/11 America, this is what they mean. What good is safety without the freedom to enjoy it?

Missed One 

As Jeffrey pointed out, football season is upon us. Regular readers know my endless devotion to the Saints and their star running back Deuce McAllister. Because of this devotion, Ken wondered in comments the other day what I thought about former Saint Ricky Williams and his retirement from football.

Putting the two together, let's see what Deuce had to say about the former Saint/Dolphin when he called up Jim Haslett this week.

From Finney's column in the Pic this morning...

When Ricky Williams was a member of the Fleur de lis fraternity, a measure of anxiousness always existed, one reason Haslett could smile as he talked of a phone call he received the other day from Ricky's replacement in New Orleans, Deuce McAllister.

"Coach, I just wanted to let you know I'm quitting," Deuce said. "I've got this car dealership. From now on, I'll be spending my time in Alaska fishing with the polar bears."

Haslett played right along: "Deuce, if you're quitting, I'm quitting, too."

Swoon! Does this guy not have it all? Versatility and power from the backfield, dedication to team and family, an entrepreneurial spirit, and now a sense of humor too. In ten years Dulymus will be the most popular name for new-born boys in the entire city of New Orleans.

big thanks to my big bro for making me read Finney this morning.

7th District 

Republican physician Charles Boustany has been out on the campaign trail around my home district back in the "gret stet". By the looks of this artice he's moving away from traditional GOP free trade issues, sounding suspicious of CAFTA, but he talks about making the Bush tax-cuts permanent. I'm also not sure about the wisdom of opposing CAFTA because of the local sugar industry, but then talking about the importance of opening trade with Cuba, who almost certainly produce as much sugar as we do down in south Louisiana. I suppose this is a Louisiana issue, but I don't know much about it.

Any thoughts?

Cont'd 

...from previous post

Blanco's not scared to support the "liberal" ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards. Maybe this will have the effect of taking some of the pressure off of Chris John and John Kennedy and perhaps raise Kerry's Louisiana bona fides.

The fact is that the Democratic Party has just unveiled a campaign that is couched in the rhetoric of unity for Democrats and Republicans, and if they can't even get moderate Democrats in "red" states on board then they're going to have some trouble convincing the "soft Republicans".

Dumb 

This article starts off with some interesting information about the line of succession in Louisiana, but does anyone at all really believe that, in this day and age, no one is in charge of the shop because Blanco and Mitch Landrieu went to the DNC?

The last bit would have put Senate candidate John Kennedy at the head of the state government, but as Arthur Morrell (another Democratic Senate candidate) put it to some other reporters, Kennedy shouldn't have been in town either.

I said last week that these candidate's desperate attempt to avoid any connection to John Kerry probably hurts Kerry's chances more in Louisiana than it would hurt their own shot at the Senate. They don't have to go out and campaign with him or run ads with his picture behind their own, but how hard is it to go the convention and show a little party solidarity? No body pays any attention to this kind of nonsense except the Democratic base anyway.


It's all very disappointing, and it concedes an argument to their Republican opponent without at all trying counter it. You don't win races by giving in.

Twenty Battleground States 

Suddenly Louisiana is back in the swing of things no matter what the polling data says. Veep nominee Edwards will be in town next week, and Louisiana is included in a $100 million ad buy run by a completely independent arm of the Democratic Party. It's like the Dems have set up their own 527 within the organization, but separate from the campaign. This sounds vaguely illegal to me, but we have to do something with all that money...

Your Right Hand Thief had some interesting things to say about the convention as a whole. I'll second the notion that should things remain the same for the next week or so, then the entire campaign has been reframed. It was an outstanding convention scripted to perfection. Cross-party unity for a stronger America is the new theme of the day. Never again will George Bush be able to claim the mantle of unifier and still sound convincing to the public. All he has left is "resolve" which is now synonymous with "bluster". As the big dog said (see, RP, I still have some respect for him despite my recent harsh words), "Strength and wisdom aren't competing values".

Of course, the GOP and George Bush aren't the kind of people to underestimate in any campaign, but I think they'll have their work cut out for them.

29 July 2004

Send Me 

A homerun...I'm tired of the Saudi royal family too.
come get a piece of this, b*tch

Protests, Triumph, and a Hardass 

I'm going to keep this short, but we've just returned from the area around the Fleet with the possibility of a return trip later tonight. It was a fun day today.

It's good to see that the city of Boston is more or less allowing the protesters to stay out of the ye olde prison campe set up across the street from the convention site. There aren't that many of them and they aren't doing much other than forming drum circles and yelling about what it's like to live in a police state, so I don't think the thousands of cops in riot gear should have much to worry about.

While we were meandering our way through that crowd this afternoon, we came across everyone's favorite insult comic dog. He was interviewing a woman trying to raise awareness of Falun Dafa, a group I know absolutely nothing about, but who are apparently persecuted throughout China. They seemed a bit like a cult roaming around the street, but this woman appeared to have a legitimate gripe. Her story was apparently so convincing that Triumph held back from insulting her, instead calling on members of the crowd to discuss her story with. Eventually my bro got a good picture of his wife between Triumph and the mutt's puppeteer.

A few more blocks of serious walking landed us once again next to the MSNBC tent. We saw Chris Matthews--looking like absolute shit, if you ask me--smoking a giant stogey with a hardball hat on and trying to get his cell phone to work. My brother asked him if he could get a picture and Matthews muttered mostly under his breath, "not now buddy." We all decided that the stand-offish nature is probably something most people get from him when the camera isn't running.

That's about it for now. Looking forward to Kerry tonight...How do you guys think he'll do?

Madness 

I couldn't post this morning, which is probably appropriate since there wasn't a lot online in my Louisiana papers to talk about. I wanted more from John Edwards last night, but I suppose he got the job done. I understand that Democrats aren't trying to alienate moderates with this convention, but I thought he could have done more to draw out the distinctions between a Kerry/Edwards administration and four more years of Bush. He started to when he said "it won't take us three years to fund first responders" or something to that effect. He should have continued with that theme for a longer part of the speech.

Sigh, rumors are swirling around Boston right now that the Boss will be performing after Kerry's speech. It makes sense since they've already started selling "No Surrender" as the campaign song to play after his speech, otherwise they could have held on to that until the balloons actually dropped.

We're nearly ready to head downtown to experience the hooplah around the Fleet Center. It wasn't bad down that way on Monday, but apparently it's gotten more and more crowded every day. If only they allowed open containers on the street, this could be a real party.

Academic Broadband Forum  

Kevin Blanchard hits a home run again. I gotta quit saying that but my dark, cynical side is so surprised by consistently excellent reporting that I just can't help myself. Blanchard reports today on the recently announced BellSouthCox "academic broadband forum."

I promised you yesterday that I would review this (anti) fiber forum and the guys that Cox thinks are "experts" but Blanchard really does all the work. He neatly and accurately gives the reader the sort of information that allows one to see that these guys are funded by cable and teleco's and that they have been repeated, reliable producers of just the "research" that these businesses pay to hear. Expect to hear nothing different at the "forum."

I share with you the opening sentence:
BellSouth and Cox communications are hosting an "academic" forum on Monday, at which three experts will talk about why Lafayette Utilities System’s proposal to enter the telecommunications business is a bad idea.
Clean, accurate, perfectly framed to inform. Would that all reporting were so.

I will only add this to Blanchard's story that might be particularly interesting to Timshel readers: Two of these guys, Tuerck and Lenard (mispelled in the story) are associated with far right wing think tanks. Google up the Progress and Freedom Foundation and the Beacon Institute at Suffolk University and be prepared to be appalled. Tuerck has a particularly disturbing little scam going by which he produces "models" which "prove" that taxes have a negative effect on...everything...for a price. As a recovering academic I assure you that in such simulations the devil is in the assumptions. But the way this particular model operates is opaque. The assumptions are hidden in the underlying formula. Such models mystify, where a legitimate simulation enlightens. A real academic simulation exposes the way that factors interact and are tested, not by projecting fantasy futures, but by comparing its output against historical reality. (Recall the difference between a real poll and a push poll—legitimate academic methodology has been abused before by BellSouthCox.) I wouldn't trouble you with this but you should know that this is not the first time Tuerck has tried to educate Louisianans. He has partially ported his model, used to prove all sorts of evil things about taxes in Massachusetts and Texas to Louisiana and was apparently instrumental in "demonstrating" that a processing tax on oil production in Louisiana would actually cost the state money. Unfortunately I can't find much in the way of details on this particular little bit of influence but we should all beware fiscal analyses emanating from Beacon Hill’s STAMP projects. It ain't trustworthy from what I can tell.

The particulars on the BellSouthCox forum for those who might wish to go: Monday, August the 2nd at the Holidome (Holiday Inn) on Evangeline Thruway near Interstate 10. It will run from 6 to 8 In the evening and there ought to be plenty of seats. Free.


Oh yeah, I ought to mention that the Advertiser today covers the Chamber's milquetoast Broadband advocacy statement in an equally milquetoast article. It consists mostly of an interview with Chamber chairman Gary McGoffin. Regardless of yesterday’s disappointed outburst I actually have a lot of respect for him and for the tech types at the chamber; I know they hoped for more and this must have been a painful interview for McGoffin. I don’t expect to hear anymore from the Chamber; this is their way of vanishing from the conflict.

28 July 2004

Dulymus Nissan 

Now I can buy that Altima I've always wanted. I hear T,Ts&Ls aren't as bad over in Mississippi, too.

The greatest line from the story that Nissan approved a franchise owned by the best running back in the NFL:

McAllister's selection was based on several factors, Nissan said, including his strong financial position to support a new franchise.

Strong financial position! You better believe it, especially after this year's nearly impossible to deny contract extension.

btw, there's really no Nissan or anything else in my future without quite a bit more scratch, just one more reason to vote Kerry this November...

Silliness 

I thought this dumb controversy was dispensed with months ago.

...can't find it right now, but I'm looking. I expect one of the big dogs will take care of it soon enough.

Stadium proposal 

The Pic has a decent story up about obstacles the stadium proposal could face from the hotel industry. They are reasonable concerns about the necessity of Phase IV for the future expansion of their market in NOLA.

Tim Coulon still makes an argument that is very hard to deny w/r/t the silly situation where we're currently just throwing state money away by simply giving it to Benson. At least a new stadium would be a major investment with the potential for untold returns for the city and state in tourism and tax revenue. Here's a good quote from the article:

The $186 million in payments to Benson simply helps the Saints compete with other teams in richer markets; they do nothing to solve the Saints' stadium concerns, Coulon said. Historically, the hotel industry has borne the burden of financing big public projects through taxes, he said.

The way things are going now, the industry could face the possibility of a tax increase down the road, once it comes time to renovate the Dome or build a new stadium. Coulon said.

"In the long run it may cost us less than just keeping the status quo," he said. "Wouldn't you rather put the money to the bricks and mortar of a new stadium rather than just pay inducements to the Saints?"

This is the kicker for this observer. The future is not bright for the continued presence of the Saints in New Orleans without putting an end to the stadium concerns once and for all very soon. Without major changes to the deal constructed by Foster, the future is in default or wasted money paid out as inducements. The state can't afford to continue to pay out money that simply goes into Benson's pocket, because the stadium issue won't go away no matter how much the team gets from Louisiana. That only leaves two choices, a new stadium in the next ten years or so, or no more New Orleans Saints. The inducements guaranteed by Foster were always a temporary solution, and Governor Blanco clearly recognizes that she has to finish this issue one way or the other, and she seems to realize the importance of the professional franchise not just for the city of New Orleans, but to the whole state of Louisiana.

...sorry if this is sloppy, but I'm in a hurry.

Fiber is the Antidote to Mush 

As foretold, the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce has rendered its mush-mouthed endorsement of "broadband."

You should first read Blanchard's excellent story in the Advocate (can't find mention in the Advertiser, which is all too typical) and then take yourself over to the Chamber website (featuring "Chamber Golf") to look at the mush-mouth.

But I can save you some trouble: They favor broadband. Any kinda broadband. Including that which we already got. Hey whoop—that’s forward-thinking and incisive. They want to put Louisiana in "'Top 10' locations in the world" for information technology and seem to believe, with a formidable degree of fantasy, blindness, or both that there might exist a path to that goal through Cox or BellSouth.

They piously hope to bridge the digital divide separating information haves from have-nots. Oh, are they suggesting a universal service requirement, similar phone service, be imposed on private providers? Nah, no mention. Do they think that LUS is to be commended for its commitment in this area? Nah, no mention.

Sad. The only way to meet their laudable goals is to run with LUS. And they just can’t bring themselves to do it.

With this act the Chamber renders itself irrelevant to the needs of a 21st century community, and defines itself as a blindly ideological proponent of business profit regardless of the cost to the local community it once ably represented. Those of us who had counted on the Chamber to make a slow walk toward reason, who had hoped that they were preserving their ability to make a credible endorsement of real broadband after a lengthy and public consideration of the facts have been disappointed.

Apparently there was never any chance that they would do the right thing—the ideological rot had reached too deep. Consider: Durel is the Chamber's man, is a business owner himself (the sort of small, local business chambers actually exist to support), LUS is a solid municipal supplier with an outstanding bond rating, no one, repeat no one, but LUS is going to provide top-flight broadband to all of Lafayette, and no, repeat no one, but LUS will push Lafayette beyond the falling-further-behind ranks of a 1000 other small regional cities in an increasing cutthroat competition for clean development. Finally one would think that it was possible to insult the Chamber as BellSouth and Cox did in the contretemps over the "public fiber forum," but that is apparently not possible as well. With all these cards falling in favor of LUS fiber one has to ask what could possibly move the Chamber to endorse community control of its own technological infrastructure and future instead of ceding a monopoly on fiber to outsiders. If all that cannot move the Chamber to support the community apparently nothing can.

Fiber is the one chance to set Lafayette apart for this generation, to create a real, structural advantage for Lafayette business (not based on competitive race-to-the-bottom taxpayer giveaways) and the Chamber has passed. Remember that the next time the Chamber comes before the community to endorse a tax break, abatement, or outright grant to attract business or help out its membership. They are not even-handed stewards. They could have supported a basic change that would have made coming to the community for that type of sacrifice much less necessary.

Lagniappe: You might have seen ads for a BellSouthCox "academic forum on broadband." Be not fooled. Commentary coming to a blog near you (after I get the porch roof fixed).

Breaux on Tap 

The DNC will trot out the embodiment of Senate moderation tonight when they send John Breaux to the podium as one of the conventioneers set to nominate John Edwards for Vice Presidential candidate from the Democratic Party. I can't find a good schedule for it, but I suppose he'll be speaking just before Elizabeth Edwards introduces her husband. If that's correct it will be a prime-time moment for the Senator from Crowley.

The linked story also includes a lot of fawning over Bill Clinton, who was good Monday, but people need to just get over. He's as much as an embarrassment to the Party as he is fundraiser and communicator of Democratic values. His personality is a double-edged sword Dems would probably do well to sheath and retire, at least for a few more years.

John Hill tells us that Edwards will be stopping by the "gret stet" next week as part of a bus tour that will take him from Baton Rouge to Shreveport (but no stop in my hometown? There aren't a lot of Dems in Lafayette, but the rest of the Acadiana area would love to come to the Hub city to see the next Veep of the US).

...here's the convention speaker schedule for tonight, in no particular order (something else I don't get), John Breaux isn't up there, but it might be updated over the course of the day...

And I've been Googling and Yahooing desperately for any story about last night's swank party at the Aquariam, apparently one of the hottest tickets in town, thrown by Edison Electric to--er--thank John Breaux for his years of service to the energy industry American people, but no luck so far.

27 July 2004

Damn 

I should remember that it's always better to look for all the news on a subject before firing off posts about them. In this case you have Mary Landrieu promising KATC's Candace Gale that Kerry/Edwards hasn't forgotten about the state. I still don't believe it, but don't say I didn't present the other side.

A word about "Shove it" 

It's nice that Mrs. Heinz-Kerry isn't taking any crap from fanatic right-wing journalists employed by Richard Mellon Scaife whose only job in Pittsburgh over the last few months has been making wild accusations about the philanthropy done by the next First Lady of the United States.

My bro is convinced that she ought to walk out on stage tonight with a shovel in one hand, and I fully agree. The dumb media have been turning this story over for twenty-four hours, asking silly questions like, "is this going to be Kerry-diplomacy for the next four years?" and other blah, blah, blah.

Making a wild joke out of the confrontation could be a great way to end the stupid controversy once and for all before it becomes one of those defining things about her life that pundits love to tell the American people about every chance they get.

More writing Louisiana off 

The AP talks to disappointed delegates from Southern states where Kerry is reducing his ad buys.

If he can't win here, he can't win. Like I said in a post earlier this morning, minus a substantial post-convention bounce in LA, he may as well give up and spend the money where it can be more useful.

Blanco on NPR 

Kathleen Blanco was on NPR yesterday talking about women in politics and was asked if she had any Presidential ambitions of her own.

She said no, and I don't think a soul who watched the last gubernatorial election in Louisiana could believe Blanco would have even the smallest chance at running a campaign for President.

Whatever, I'm happy to have her in Louisiana until her retirement from politics.

The most effective politician of the country's woman governors is probably Jennifer Granholm, but she had the misfortune to be born in Canada, so we can rule her out.

The question is: what would happen first, a black President or a woman in the nation's highest office?

I'd go with a woman, what do you guys think?

If you want to listen to yesterday's broadcast, go here and click on the appropriate link.

And speaking of the convention... 

No luck getting in, but we walked around down by the Fleet in the afternoon yesterday and were surprised at how little Security actually had to do. Other bloggers are talking about the trouble they have at some hotels, but I'm at a house in Brighton where the only security is two deadbolts and a dog down the street.

My brother and I have decided that the state police have the easiest job in all of Boston this week. They seem to be doing a lot of standing around. After experiencing the master police work of Mardi Gras, where officers regularly subdue massive, drunken crowds who will fight each other over plastic thrown from a float, these men and women in Boston don't know the value of their overtime.

The Globe and Herald have included a lot of coverage over the last few days about all the trouble with traffic and parking that would turn up thanks to the DNC, but yesterday we had no trouble getting down towards Beacon Hill (we're convinced that we actually drove right by John Kerry's street, which was blocked off by about thirty men in riot gear and barricades, even though our next President was in Florida), and found parking all over the area. It was only about a ten minute walk to the Market, where many delegates were congregating for lunch and shopping before the opening gavel of the Convention. It was quite the scene with the MSNBC set up in the middle of the crowds, the peremptory college Republicans in their "Kerry is a flip-flopper" flip-flop costumes, and John Kerry shirts and buttons as far as the eye could see.


At any rate, the headline on the front page today read "Easy does it on day 1 for commuters", which is an understatement if you ask me. No trouble from security or traffic. No problem parking. Now if only I could get into the fleet for some live Democrat on Democrat action...

Btw, Rose talks about his Boston digs right above the bar we met him at on Sunday night. Why no mention of his biggest fans in Boston? My heart is broken.

Away too long 

The news for Kerry from Louisiana is not good. I go away to find Kerry falling behind by sixteen points in a state where recent political trends should find him competitive.

Verne Kennedy's polling was excellent during the last big race around these parts, so I'm not going to dispute the results. He ties the new lead to television advertising by the Bush campaign. I'd say that doesn't tell the whole story. There are still a lot of Democratic politicians in Louisiana who won't put themselves behind John Kerry. People like Chris John and Rodney Alexander, who have their own races to run, are afraid to stake their careers to Kerry's. This may be the response to the political realities in the state, but it also reinforces the Kerry as a Massachusetts alien to other Dem fence-setters around Louisiana. In the end you have a chicken and egg question where the only result is the further erosion of John Kerry's credibility in the state of Louisiana.

The Democrats may as well write off Louisiana if Kerry doesn't see a significant bump there in the days after the Convention.

26 July 2004

Craziness 

We ended up across the street from Fenway Park last night sharing beers with some friends at the Boston Beer Works, and who else would we meet besides New Orleans Pic columnist Chris Rose?

I'm almost certain we would have embarrassed ourselves if he didn't seem to be drinking almost as much as we were. He claims to have been sitting with Dave Barry before we got there, but I can't confirm that.

Former Pic cartoonist Walt Handelsman was there too. I guess it takes a trip to Boston to meet two hometowners. I'd like to post more, but I'm probably out for the afternoon.

25 July 2004

Freaking Drudge 

This is about the dumbest thing I've seen in weeks.

Thanks for nothing, Matt...

Ohhhhh... 

How great is it to be in Boston for this?

Let's face it, besides the whole open until they feel like closing call of New Orleans bars, Boston and NOLA dives aren't that different.

Every Boston bar-goer, just like most local bars in New Orleans, are dedicated to the home team. So when the Red Sox shocked the Yanks in the ninth tonight, I couldn't go anywhere without hearing chants not far removed from English futbol games. What a night...

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