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14 August 2004

Quick Hits 

Legal edition.

Two things to point out this morning before I get to some other parts of my weekend routine. First, the case to disqualify Rodney Alexander from the ballot has been moved to a Federal court. After all is said and done with this, maybe the party-switching stunt will cost Alexander and his new masters in the GOP more money in legal fees than they bargained for when they initially recruited the conservative representative.

Next a state judge ruled to block the Sept. 18 vote on the state hate amendment because of Louisiana constitutional preventions against putting amendments on ballots that aren't statewide election days. The judge suspended his own sentence based on state attorney's immediate appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court. It's obviously still developing, but it's a small victory for those concerned with civil rights.

13 August 2004

One more thing 

Okay, two things...

How could I forget this? My beloved Saints kickoff their preseason schedule against the Jets. If you're in the viewing area you can look forward to seeing a few passes lobbed around the field tonight, as I suspect they won't want to be running the ball very often in the fake games.

And more importantly (though he may not agree) sometime commenter and old Prado friend Mark is currently hunkered down in Tampa (agh!) awaiting the storm that may strike the Florida coast with category four force winds. Send your thoughts in prayers his way as he tries to protect his health and property.

Busy 

Sorry about the absence today, but it's been one thing after another around here. Anyway, I don't if I'll be able to squeeze a few out or not before the end of the day, so until then I may as well throw the TKGOTW at you right now.

Today I'll give you two adventure games, one with awful background music by the Polyphonic Spree, but kind of neat anyway, and another that's just all around awful. I have been playing the latter quite frequently though, and am currently sitting on about sixty of the total 150 points. I may never bother to play it again, though, so you never where these things will go.

12 August 2004

Hah! 

The laughs continue to come out of the new Rodney Alexander staff. Apparently after his initial flirtation with the GOP he wrote a letter to one of the teacher's unions and told them why he couldn't ever become a member of the Republican Party. Recently his new staff denied that he ever wrote such a letter. Now his former C. of S. says Alexander definitely stood by the letter then, and he should be in a position to know because he was in on the drafting. Finally his new staff is willing to account for pieces of it. What's in the letter that's so distressing to the newly minted Republican?

The letter, sent to labor groups in Louisiana, castigates Republicans as anti-worker and says it would be "impossible" for him to join their party.

...

"After discussions with members of the Republican Party who understand the need to support our nation's workers, I have come to the conclusion that it would be impossible to join a party that not only ignores the people that make this country great, but also pressures their members to vote against any and all bills that are supported by unions," says Alexander's letter, released Wednesday by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.

"At the same time, the GOP pressures its members to give free reign to corporations at the expense of union and non-union workers," the letter continues. "I have learned during my first term in the U.S. Congress that there is a Republican-led attack on the most fundamental rights that labor unions have worked decades to establish."

I wonder if Jeff Sadow still thinks it's the upset Democrats who are the hypocrites.

Oops! 

When in doubt post crap from "The Corner"

Kathryn Lopez--affectionately known as K-Lo to her dozens of fans--just can't get any appreciation from all those Iraqis she did her part in liberating. I'll post in full her glorious play-by-play of Iraqi soccer glory:

[begin transmission]
IRAQ TO UPSET PORTUGAL? [KJL]
My Olympic soccer guy e-mails:
On MSNBC right now.

They are 25 minutes away from upsetting Portugal in the Olympics! The Iraqi fans with Iraqi flags jumping up and down, sensing victory, is inspiring!

You can’t help but pull for them!
I (I'm all confessional today) didn't even realize the games had started. But now I've got MSNBC on and am cheering Iraq.

I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS [KJL]
An e-mail re: the soccer game: "What's with the old, Ba'athist flag next to the IRQ in the score box? Is that NBC or the Olympics being retrograde? Oh, hey, the Iraqis have it on their jerseys, too. My bad. What happened to that blue-and-white job?"

THEY DID IT! CONGRATS TO IRAQI SOCCER TEAM! [KJL]
4-2. Let's hope for many more. I'm with Jennifer Graham on this.

AMERICA DESTROYED MY COUNTRY" [KJL]
Sigh. I guess the Iraqi soccer coach might not appreciate my cheering.
[end transmission]

I can't imagine why these Iraqis don't just cowboy up and accept the fact that we Americans are doing them a world of good. Dead innocents be damned, at least they can be buried in freedom. Don't they understand blood is a fair price to pay to get an Olympic soccer team on the pitch. Why didn't newspapers put news of this match all over their front pages today? Oh yeah...

News travels fast 

If you listen to the radio or get email, you may already have heard about the ridiculous claim that the giant blast over Siberia in 1908 was the result of some alien spaceship blowing up and that Russian scientists have proof.

I've already heard this repeated on two crappy sports talk radio programs and gotten an email just in the last five hours, so I guess news moves pretty quick in the information age.

Anyway, when news travels that fast, so do debunkings. This is a good one.

For more on the explosion itself, see this site, but don't pay attention to the last half which tries to sell you that no satisfactory information exists for how a natural object could explode in mid-air.

Your call 

I'm kind of in the beginning stages of getting some email interviews set up with the candidates for the 7th Congressional district (that's the one that starts in Lafayette and stretches to Lake Charles), and I'd like to have a good list of questions before I proceed any farther. I've got quite a lot already, but I thought I'd turn this over to the Timshel readers for any ideas you guys may have as well. These questions can be collective ones for all the candidates or tailored to a specific one. So if you have suggestions feel free to either use the comments field or shoot me an email (subject heading "LA-7 questions"). If you don't know the candidates scroll down the sidebar until you see the elections section.

Quandary 

I don't really know how to approach this, because I don't really know a lot about this stuff, and I'm usually highly critical of media coverage of settled criminal issues. However, that a judge didn't even order mandated psychiatric screening for Baton Rouge's "serial snuggler" seems very, very bad to this observer.

If you're not familiar with the young man, he was arrested for walking into womens' apartments while they were sleeping, hanging out and eating their food, occasionally waking them up to ask them a question, and once actually climbing into bed with a woman. None of the women were hurt.

Here's where I get into wild speculation that I really have no authority to make, but if decades of cop dramas have led me to any knowledge, it's that serial criminal actions usually develop over time with said criminal starting small and working up to some of the more heinous actions. The judge seemed to blame it all on drugs and alcohol, so now the serial snuggler is being ordered to AA meetings and drug-screening, but the story mentions nothing about professional counseling. I'm not saying the guy ought to be in jail--though perhaps he should--just that the state may be letting him off a little too easy. Am I crazy here? Should I not bother with this stuff at all?

Who knew? 

I had no idea that Tulane was hosting a Senate candidate forum last night. The Pic has the coverage. Much like yesterday's link to the LA-7 congressional interviews, there's not much in here that wouldn't already suspect about the candidates' positions, but it's an interesting read anyway.

I'm very much starting to like John Kennedy's plan to sue for coastal erosion money, saying, "If this was going on in Florida, New Jersey or California, they would not put up with it, and we shouldn't either." Even if he's not elected this is a possibility Louisiana should consider. Unfortunately, I don't see how even a lawsuit could secure the literally billions the state needs to start reclaiming the land, but it's a good way to start.

Good things happen here 

As damfacrats suggested in comments a couple of days ago, Bonnie and Charlie may be visiting Florida as God's wrath for John McCain celebrating a craven image in the Sunshine state. Meanwhile in Louisiana, some Democratic muscle w/r/t the "party-switcher" is having us rewarded with a cold front. If you've been outside already this morning, you don't need to read this, but I'm feeling good about it anyway:

"A strong cold front arriving over New Orleans today is acting as a buffer, pushing Bonnie to the northeast."

It's already arrived in my fine hometown. I don't remember the last time an August day felt so good. Sorry about the delay on posting this morning.

11 August 2004

Ho-hum 

Slow-posting today as a result of some things beyond my control.

If you read the big dogs, you've probably already seen the news that a voter has a pretty good challenge to have Rodney Alexander's name disqualified from contention in the 5th district ballot because of some strange laws preventing you from filing twice for the same office. Atrios helpfully posts the actual text of the law. Considering Louisiana civil code, the statute itself should be sufficient to have Alexander kicked off the ballot and thus off into obscurity at least for a couple of years, but I'm neither a lawyer nor a courts expert, so take my say for the extremely amateur analysis that it is. It would be nice, though.

Unsurprisingly, the DCCC--who have been all over the turncoat since about six o'clock on the closing day of filing--broke the goods on the story. Credit Steve Olson and the crew for some fine work over there.

Jim Brown has something of a blog at his official website, and promises to explore this issue in greater depth in his column tomorrow at PoliticsLA.com.

Unfortunately, there still won't be a credible Democrat in the race, but karma can be a real entertaining bitch sometimes.

3rd District news 

Patrick Courreges gets the candidates to go on record on how best to combat terrorism. I won't quote anything in particular here as their positions are pretty predictable along their party lines, but if you're voting in that district this is a helpful introduction to where they stand.

Getting it right... 

Yesterday I lamented that a Shreveport Times editorial wasn't harsh enough in their criticism of Rodney Alexander, but today the Advocate more than makes up for their Shreveport colleague's half-criticisms:

Louisiana's two U.S. senators are hopping mad at Rodney Alexander, with good reason.

They have a right to be furious not because Alexander switched parties, from Democrat to Republican. He has a perfect right to do so. But that he did so in an underhanded way -- at the last minute of qualifying for re-election -- is outrageous.

...

There is simply no way that this deliberate deceit can be disguised as some heartfelt matter of conviction. If, as Alexander said, his "personal philosophy didn't jibe with the national party," he certainly didn't come to that conclusion between Wednesday and Friday. He should have had the courage to debate the issues with a Democratic challenger.

...

No one can argue with a politician changing parties, if there is some ideological or even practical reason for doing so.

...

But to file in writing as a Democrat, then to switch parties when it is practically impossible for another challenger to get in the race, is a rotten political gimmick reminiscent of old-time Louisiana politics when fathers passed offices to their sons through the last-minute-qualifier ploy.

No wonder so many Americans are disgusted with politics.

Can I get an Amen?

The Advocate's editorial voice continues to surprise me. They rarely use such strong language, but it certainly is welcome here.

Wow 

It's not everyday you get to read the paper for an extended description of a trip to the bathroom, but that's just what the News-Star publishes today by letting Tommy Wright have his say in the matter of yesterday's arrest for obscenity. Here he is in his own words:

"I was in Baton Rouge over the weekend. I drove Monday morning from Baton Rouge to Alexandria, where I had three meetings.

"After the third meeting, I crossed over the O.K. Allen Bridge and needed to go to the restroom. The closest one I could think of was at the Buhlow park area. I went inside the restroom and someone was sitting there, so I just used the urinal. The commode flushed and this guy walked behind me. I couldn't tell you whether he was 25 or 75.

"As he walked past me, behind me, I headed into the stall. As I was dropping my pants down to use the bathroom, the ranger came in. The guy was between me and the ranger.

"The ranger came in and said, 'you guys are under arrest.' I said, 'Arrest?' I proceeded to leave.

"I was stopped by a Rapides Parish sheriff's deputy there near the park. They interviewed us and asked us to come back today. I went back to the Courthouse at 9 a.m. this morning (Tuesday), without an attorney, because I thought it would be resolved.

"As of today, I understand they have had some problems out there, which probably contributed to the ranger's interpretation of what was going on. I think he had a conclusion drawn before he opened the door," Wright said.

"My question is, where would you drop your pants if not in a restroom?

"My attorney told me I should tell the public the same thing I told the Sheriff's Office.

"I regret any embarrassment this misunderstanding may have caused my family, friends or constituents. I look forward to having this matter resolved as soon as possible.

"That which doesn't kill us only tends to make us stronger."

That story seems a little far-fetched, but stranger things have happened in this crazy world of ours.

Meanwhile, the Advocate does everything they can to say Tommy Wright is gay without actually writing, "he's gay."--shit, it's not online, but you can find it on page A-15 in this morning's edition. Looking at it right now, I can't quote anything in particular, it's just a general impression that you're left with.

10 August 2004

Oops... 

This won't be good for his future political career...

State Rep. Tommy Wright, D-Jena, was arrested on an obscenity charge Tuesday and released on $1,500 bond.

Rapides Parish deputies arrested Wright, 48, and Charles Locker II, 32, of Deville after a Buhlow Lake Recreation employee filed a complaint saying he found them having sex Monday in a public restroom at the park.

In the most recent session, Wright was notable for sponsoring legislation that would open up public records access to minors and opposing the motorcycle helmet law, stating "I own a moped, a mini-bike, and a Honda motorcycle. I've fallen off of all of them, has it done any harm to me?"

In 2002 he flirted with a run for the seat currently held by Rodney Alexander, but the state Democratic organization didn't support him because he signed a letter in 1999 or 2000 asking George Bush to run for President. He seemed to put that behind him when gay marriage was on the line in the legislature, though:

Rep. Tommy Wright, D-Jena, attempted unsuccessfully to amend the House bill to move the election to Sept. 18. A Democrat, Wright argued that holding it concurrent with the presidential election was a Republican ploy to help Bush win.

"It is being used as a political issue," Wright said. "It is an indirect way to help Bush."


He eventually was one of only eleven representatives to vote against HB 61, the House version of the bill to "define marriage" as between a man and a woman. At least he's not hypocrite.

More Fear 

Or as Jeffrey says, "We're all gonna die, Vol. 4"
Get the f*ck out of Dodge!
One question, couldn't they have at least named it Clyde?

Not that he needs it 

Saying he was "hurt" by attacks from former fellow Democrats, party-switching congressman Rodney Alexander said Tuesday he will return campaign money given to him by members of his old party.

Pressure pays off, now people will just have to ask for it.

Things I didn't know 

In apparently one of about two or three things total from this month's Atlantic that wasn't posted online, the "Nation in Numbers" section featured this tidbit regarding the God vote and my hometown:

The Pious Dakotas

Along with Utah and the District of Columbia, the Dakotas have the highest percentage of residents affiliated with a religious denomination--around 70 percent. By this measure Bismarck, North Dakota, is the third most religious metropolitan area in the country, trailing only Provo, Utah, and Lafayette, Louisiana.

This certainly explains a lot about the conservatism in this town, but I'm shocked that by percentage it has more people who self-identify with a denomination than any other city in the country short of Provo, Utah. Interesting, indeed.

Funny 

This is what people with too much time on their hands and too much computer knowledge can accomplish when so inspired.

via PoliticalWire.com
Update @ 10:29: I should note that simply photoshopping a picture is not too much computer knowledge. Rather it's the part where you photoshop a picture and then hack into Barnes and Noble's website and alter said picture so that when people looking for the book find it, they see "Fit for Command". You know the routine, read the links.

Tears of Clown 

According to Chris Rose, pop giant Prince is terrified of clowns in general and Ronald McDonald in particular. Hilarious. Rose helpfully points out other celebrities with clown problems:

But in his defense, it should be noted that Prince is not the only major music star said to be suffering from coulrophobia. P. Diddy (who, like Prince, has changed his name on several occasions -- what does this tell you?) reportedly also is afflicted with this condition. However, he has denied the rumor that his performance contracts include a "no-clown" clause.

Alas, even the great Johnny Depp reportedly won't work with clowns, which is weird considering the way everyone was dressed on the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean," but who am I to judge?

On Thursday he'll be going the risque route, pointing out celebs with clown fetishes.

Good Riddance 

As long as no one was hurt, you want find me shedding any tears for plantation homes burning to the ground. If it were up to me all the symbols of the old South would be gone with the wind. People spend too much time romantacizing the moonlight and magnolias trash they try to sell at these places instead of taking into full account the horror perpetrated on the men and women in bondage who built these homes. I'd be willing to bet that most readers who have ever visited these sites can tell similar stories about how no matter which one you go to, the tour directors spend at least twenty minutes trying to sell you how good this particular plantation was to its slaves. How they were taught read and write or some other bull shit meant to make you enamored of the people that originally owned the place.

I say this with the full knowledge that it doesn't necessarily jive with my general reverence for the importance of history, but I also have a healthy respect for the power of symbolism, and as long as these kinds of places stand people find it harder and harder to move on from the past.

See William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"

Following up 

The more I read about those damn monkeys, the more they disappoint me. What a bunch of lazy future pharmaceutical test-subjects?

About 75 Rhesus monkeys walked out of a cage left open Monday morning, said Dr. Thomas J. Rowell. The majority stuck close, walking back in when the mood struck them, but one young monkey got a little lost, Rowell said.

...

Within four hours of the monkeys’ escape, all but 10 had walked back into the cage, Rowell said.

That's not exactly showing a lot of initiative. These guys deserve each and every side-effect resulting from new botox experiments and erectile dysfunction treatments they're going to get when they get shipped off to the pharma companies. If you can't help yourselves...

More Alexander Fallout 

As Kos reported yesterday, Rodney Alexander's staff resigned en masse after learning of his switch to the Republican party. The DCCC is calling on him to return campaign contributions, but apparently Alexander isn't planning that any time soon:

Alexander said no contributor has asked him to return any contributions.

"I never asked anyone to help me financially because I was a Democrat; I asked them to help me because of who I am," Alexander said. "My fund-raisers have all been Rodney Alexander fund-raisers, not Democratic fund raisers."

Is that really true, though? If you want to know why the DCCC is so damn mad at him, get a load of how much money they've donated to his candidacy and spent on his behalf over the last couple of years, and that doesn't count the access to Democratic fundraising orgs that he has used for the last six months since he said he wasn't going to switch parties after all. Of course none of that even accounts for the fact that nearly a third of his PAC donations come from labor interests who might be pretty upset by his party switch. Of course, PAC's operate in a manner akin to carpet bombing with the way they donate funds, so the likelihood of them asking for their money back is pretty slim, but now he'll start getting all that PAC money from corporate interests too, which would put the two at odds with each other.

Lying beneath the surface of that News-Star story linked to above is the assumption that Alexander was in fact promised a seat on the Appropriations Committee in exchange for his switch, but that's the kind of thing we're likely never to know for sure.

If he had any body working for him he might consider asking them to fix the bio on his campaign website:

Rodney, a pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment Democrat, is an active member of the Blue Dog Coalition, and serves as a conservative voice in the Democratic Party in Congress.

The Monroe News-Star and the Shreveport Times both editorialize on this matter in today's editions, coming to competing conclusions. In Alexander's hometown paper, they shrug off the switch, saying that the district's voters still have plenty of choices and will probably be better off in the long run. They barely mention that Alexander's eleventh-hour switch prevented the Democratic Party from finding a challenger to his candidacy, thus depriving voters of a meaningful opposition candidate. For another voice at their paper, take a gander at this opinion piece.

Meanwhile over in Shreveport they go with some softer criticism than I would have written, saying the switch isn't terrible, but it leaves a bad taste in voters' mouths.

Oh well, you guys know more or less where I stand, so I'll go ahead and link to the Punish the Turncoat campaign again...

09 August 2004

Ahh, disillusionment 

Great expectations breed greater heartbreak, so imagine when I read this headline:

UL Lafayette Monkeys Escape

see a caption to a photo reading:

"75 Monkeys Escape from New Iberia Research Center"

and then an opening paragraph with this information:

A group of monkeys escaped today from their cages at a New Iberia research center in New Iberia.


to find that only one actually managed to make it outside of the center's grounds, and was caught before it could manage to begin wreaking havoc on the Acadiana area.

KLFY has more on the great escape. Apparently it's being attributed to human error, but that sounds like a coverup of the fact that they're probably really breeding super-smart rhesus monkeys in order to make up for our troop strength problem. It will be like a primate version of "Universal Soldier". It's a good thing they haven't trained them on weapons yet.

Can you imagine the terror of finding one of these wielding an M-16 in your backyard?
Do you feel lucky, punk?
Here's what a random nature website tells us is the cause of the monkey's incorrigibleness:

Undoubtedly there is no more mischievous monkey than the Rhesus, but, after all, he is not altogether to blame, for the blame may belong to the Hindoos. Some tell us that the Rhesus Monkey is sacred; others think not. But, however that may be, it is a fact that the Hindoos protect the monkeys in every possible way, willingly sharing their food with the bands which are found almost everywhere, and permitting no one to kill them.

This fosters every mischievous trait in these monkeys, and they fear nothing from man. They will devastate every Plantation and garden near them. They belong to that genus of the ape family called Macaque, and as this variety, with their near relations, the other macaques, are found all over Southeastern Asia, besides one branch in Western Africa, one call readily see that their mischievousness becomes a serious drawback.

Apparently our friends in New Iberia are learning that tonight. I can't tell you much I would love to have had these little buggers spreading across south Louisiana. The rhesus monkeys could overtake the great nutria story and Kudzu as terrible foreign scourges on our somewhat native land. At the very least the McIlhenny family's part in the great nutria story* could finally be overshadowed by something putting our very lives at risk. The real question is why do these things start in New Iberia?

*Shane Bernard, who is the employed as the company's and family's resident historian has been doing yeoman's work to dispel this as a myth. Take his employment by the company for what it is, but does anyone honestly believe that a single importer could be responsible for the more than 20 million nutria in North America today? And don't just hate the nutria because they're ugly and are everywhere, hate them because they're trying to destroy our state:

In Louisiana, one acre of land disappears underwater every 24 minutes. Nutria, those large, dimwitted “swamp rats” that have plagued the canals of Jefferson Parish also bear much of the blame for the state’s disappearing wetlands. Nutria are voracious eaters of roots of the plants that would otherwise hold the soil together and prevent erosion.

This leads me to another theory behind the near-escape of the monkeys in N.I....Maybe the McIlhenny family is trying to make amends for the nutria fiasco by funding research to find a breed of animal that they can send out across Louisiana to eradicate the nutria. I see conspiracies everywhere.

Alexander 

The DCCC is rightly pissed off about Rodney Alexander's betrayal of the Democratic Party--and small "d" democratic principles themselves--last week and is organizing a "Punish the Turncoat" campaign. I'm broke, but that doesn't mean I won't do my part to pass along the link to people who aren't.

Anyway, instead of contributing money to Jock Scott out of spite, contribute to help take back the House by helping out Dems in other races.

Here's what they said about it on their blog.

Be Afraid 


I'm going to predict Tropical Storm Bonnie ain't going anywhere, but after the debacle for my area that was Hurricane Lily in 2002, I don't really take these storms as lightly as I did when I was younger, when I used to love the time off they would nearly always give us from school.

Bad PR 

Regular readers are probably well aware of my full-throated support for increased funding for defenders at all levels of the criminal justice system. In the case of indigent defense this is especially important, because it can help to ensure the integrity of the justice system, keep innocent men and women out of jail, and--perhaps most importantly in the grand scheme--facilitate greater confidence in government among the people who feel the most disaffected. This would have all kinds of indirect benefits for the health of governments in the smallest municipalities and up to the federal level. Just imagine how much safer inner city streets would be if the community leaders there saw law enforcement officials as partners instead of adversaries.

However, I think the men and women who are working to correct these wrongs could be better served if one of the major public faces of their movement wasn't Barry Scheck. There is little doubt that he's been the driving force behind a lot of major reform efforts in this area, but he will always be remembered as one of the team of undesirables who helped keep O.J. Simpson out of jail. The last thing you want people considering when they think about the importance of providing the poor with adequate defense is what's possible when the accused have so much money that it's no object at all.

Maybe he feels like he owes some of his help to the people who really need it.

update @ 1:26 pm: synchronicity from the AP wire today. This is what can happen when defenders have the resources to conduct their own DNA testing.

More than a year ago, Matthews' defense team found that DNA on a ski mask believed to be worn by Vanhoose's killer matches another man serving a prison sentence for manslaughter in an unrelated killing.

He was once on death row.

Quote of the Day 

Republican Senate Candidate David Vitter is sounding a lot like John Kerry in his moment of clarity on the Iraq war (does anyone have be reminded of the "I voted for it, but then I voted agin' it"). At any rate, it doesn't take a Democrat to flip-flop.

State party leaders noted that Vitter voted against extending unemployment benefits to nearly 2 million Americans, including 20,000 Louisiana residents.

"David Vitter abandoned Louisiana's workers when they needed him the most, cutting their lifeline during a time of economic distress," Mike Skinner, party chairman, said in a statement."

In response, Vitter said he has supported previous unemployment extensions, including the most generous in the nation's history.

"I voted for and helped pass previous unemployment benefits and aid packages," Vitter said. "I simply didn't support that going on forever."

The point of this is only to show how ridiculous it is to point out "flip-flopping" as some kind of candidate character flaw. It's easy to look at any Congressperson's record and see a hundred different positions on any issue; it's not necessarily purely political. John Kerry's statement about the war makes sense should anyone ever bother to take Bob Somerby's advice and explain it to the general public. Unfortunately, cynical politicians and their handlers on both sides of the political divide look at a candidate's honest statements about policy and see political fodder instead of an opportunity for public debate.

Quick Hit 

Adam Nossiter is pretty good today despite over-emphasizing a couple of anecdotes from some voters at the recent round of John Edwards campaign rallies that swung through Louisiana. Anyway, he concludes that all is not lost for the Democrats in Louisiana just yet. Pollsters still haven't found a way to make good models for the way the black vote will turnout during a given election, and there's a lot of reason to suggest that the vote is very dissatisfied with President Bush this time around. Whatever the case, it's enough to have the campaign chairman coming to Louisiana to pimp a video describing John Kerry as a flip-flopper.

Much Ado 

You'd think a story like this will only result in more kids clamoring for "Angel's Trumpet".

Young people who have drunk a tea made from angel's trumpet in search of a cheap and, until now, legal high reportedly have engaged in bizarre behavior. One teenager supposedly tried to eat his arm, thinking it was a roast beef sandwich. And two teens showed up naked in a neighbor's back yard, explaining they were looking for spark plugs.

Police and other authorities fear misuse of the plant could become more widespread.

And thanks to the Picayune, now it will be. Really, to believe your arm is a roast beef sandwich? This must be some pretty powerful stuff. It's even driving non-users crazy:

On June 4 in Destrehan, three boys, ages 15 and 16, drank a concoction of angel's trumpet parts boiled with an unknown liquid. All three boys suffered severe hallucinations; two were hospitalized. The father of one of the teens was so angry that he shot and wounded a man he thought had given the drink to the boys, authorities said.

It looks like there's new meaning to the words "contact buzz".

Health.org had a story about it way back in 1998.

Over the past several years, clusters of jimson weed (Datura stramonium) poisonings have occurred among adolescents who are unaware of its potential toxicity. These poisonings occur in multiples because the teenagers experiment together or are exposed to the plant at "jimson weed parties." The most recent of these clusters was in New Jersey; others have been reported in Texas, New York, and California. These incidents often occur after an increased number of cases are broadcasted in the press, heightening interest in this weed.

D'oh! Maybe I'm doing my part, too.

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