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04 September 2004

Day off 

I'm taking it easy today, but I should point out the good news that New Orleans didn't put Big Bill in the hospital. This is a relief to all of us who take weekend jaunts to the Crescent City.

Gerry 

Just made the mistake of watching this snoozer on the recommendation of a friend...

A reviewer on IMDB sums it up with non sequiters that could only make sense if you've watched the film, because you're brain is probably firing synapses at a clip faster than any you've ever experienced in order to make up for the lack of any stimulation from the movie:
I used the skip feature on the DVD player to make this movie into a short. Even the death scene was boring! This movie definitely could have been better, rather than nearly putting me to sleep. Many books with this kind of situation are interesting. Matt Damon was OK in The Bourne Identity.
It was like the Blair Witch Project without the "excitement" or the blubbering woman. The acting is good, if you consider talent staring off into space for minutes at time, walking alternately fast and slow, and pretending to be dead.

...just to give you a sense of how boring this movie is, the film opens without a title screen or anything. It's just a shot of a car driving in the desert with a lethargic piano composition as the soundtrack. No talking, just a car driving in the desert. Director Gus Van Zant follows the car for a solid six minutes before it parks and releases Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, who proceed to walk for two or three minutes before two words or spoken. Then we get a shot of Damon's back as he's taking a whiz on desert foliage. Eventually one of them dies in the desert. Close on Damon in a car with a man and a little boy, who have picked him up to bring Damon back to safety. Now you know how it ends. Do not rent it, do not watch it if it comes on television. The best part of the movie is when Casey Affleck sits on a rock doing nothing for about ten minutes and you keep waiting for him to jump off and break his ankle. When his ankle comes out unscathed, you are truly disappointed. The fact that he's dead by the time the movie ends does not redeem it.

03 September 2004

He's a uniter... 

Republican crowds booed when President Bush said "He is in our thoughts and prayers" w/r/t President Clinton's quadruple bypass. According to the AP, "[he] did nothing to stop them."

Hopefully he'll get well soon, but it's too bad we probably won't get him back on the campaign trail for John Kerry during this campaign. At least I can't imagine it would be healthy to be out campaigning after a surgery like that.

via Atrios

Update @ 5:06 pm: from Ken in comments:
BC-Bush-Clinton, 1st Ld-Writethru,150 Bush offers best wishes for Clinton's recovery Eds: SUBS lead to include reference to surgery. DELETES 3rd graf previous, Bush's audience, because of uncertainty about crowd reaction.
TPM also noted the redaction. CNN conveniently cuts away the moment Bush finished up his "thoughtful statement" and before I could judge the crowd myself...

TKGOTW 

Spy Test... There's no theme to the games this week, just a couple of random, somewhat quick ones. The first is bit of a play on the spy theme, except with very easy games to test your "coolness" for spydom. It's fun, and make sure you have a good mouse for the part where you have to "evacuate" the embassy.

Samorost is a bit like the Polyphonic Spree game I linked to a couple of weeks ago, which wasn't the big hit for the fans of this particular Timshel feature. I understand that games like this seem confusing since there's not much direction to them when you begin, but the object is to get your little white-clad dude to the part of the screen the arrow points to. To do this you have to click on different objects on the screen which causes them to make some action or another. Do this in the correct sequence, and your white-clad dude moves. It does have a long intro, though, so stick it out and try and give it the benefit of the doubt. I have fun with them, and after you figure out the logic of the games, they can be worth the little bit of time you put into them.

Here's a hints page for it.

Game off moved 

I'm not sure why moving the Saints game ahead by thirty minutes will give the Dolphin players all this extra time to gather and/or secure their belongings, but if that's what it takes to get the game played, so be it. I'd prefer they just cancel, but I'm a devout hater of preseason. It's just a way to injure an investment. I suspect Saints officials don't want the headache of refunding game tickets.

Anyway, make the requisite adjustments to your viewing schedule for the night.

We hardly knew ya' 

Ken takes a break from politics.

Now he says it's because he's got a new gig at the publication that actually pays him to write, but we all know that the mighty force of reason has finally made him reevaluate his support for George Bush's destructive policies, and he's worried about alienating his readership by writing a two thousand word post singing the praises of John Kerry, and why we'd all have been better off if Al Gore was the current President. I know this because he emailed me all about it this morning. It was a long missive about feeling like he's been betrayed after all these years of full-throated support for the President's foreign policy and leadership in the War on Terra'. Now since he can't talk about partisan politics on his website anymore, he won't be able to confirm or deny this, but you'll just have to take my word for it. As the CIA says, it's a slam dunk.

We'll keep checking in to see what he's got up his sleeve for the new direction As I Please will take, but I can't say I'm not disappointed that we'll no longer have his political musings to ponder any more.

edited for clarity re: that last line with all the negatives...read it as "We'll miss pondering his political musings." It means the same thing up there, but it takes a few minutes to figure out that way.

More Boustany 

This is silly. Everyone in the whole Acadiana area is connected to Edwin Edwards in some way or another. That Charles Boustany is married to his niece is hardly a big deal to anyone. In the end it will probably just endear him to some Cajuns who can't get a handle on what the ethnicity of his name is.

Quote of the Day 

Rose really knows how to get it done in a pinch...
While her sister, Barbara, graduated from the Ivy League and dresses demurely and is elegant and brainy and public-service-minded -- and I'm sure some guys go for that -- Jenna in Blue Jeans clearly has the party soul and spirit of a Loyola Tri Phi on a weekend pass at Pat O's with daddy's MasterCard.

Read the whole thing, but try and figure out how the Bush girls could possibly host a party where the drinks aren't free.

Confused why the Tri Phi line is funny, read this...

Kerry is Coming 

He's coming to New Orleans, at least, and he's hitting his base hard to energize the black vote in the city that loves to decide whether or not Louisiana sends its nine electoral votes to a Democrat. The visit is in response to an invitation to meet with the National Baptist Convention USA, inc., apparently the largest organization of black Baptists in the country.

With the ad buy and a prompt visit to the Crescent City--even if only to address a convention that he probably would have gone to Georgia to meet with--it's clear that the campaign sees at least some values in spending resources in Louisiana. If only to take the fight to the Bush campaign on more fronts, I'd say this is a good thing. Hopefully he'll use the stop in New Orleans as part of a larger tour of the state, but we'll have to wait and see on that.

Weird 

I really don't know what to make of the "Bottles of hoodoo taken from the Vermilion River." My first thought was that a group of confused teenagers were making like "The Craft" and casting spells and playing with Ouija boards and more than likely than not stoned out of their minds most of the time.

However, digging into the story it appears that the "spells" have been turning up in the river for years, where the man who oversees debris collection gets his hands on them, dries them out, and reads them. But pardon my skepticism when I read something like this:
LaHaye -- who's degree is in anthropology -- sees the hoodoo bottles as one more aspect of the Vermilion River's unique personality.

He said he'll keep the bottles at the office so that the unique practice can be studied and appreciated -- despite the nagging feeling that maybe the bottles are better left undisturbed, like King Tut's Tomb.

"It makes you suspicious" anytime something strange happens at work, LaHaye said. "Maybe it's more than coincidence."
The only part of the Vermilion River's unique personality embodied by the appearance of dozens of prescription pill bottles floating to the surface is the part where the watershed district workers are required to pull tons of trash out every year. And come on, King Tut's tomb? Even if this is for real and not the product of a bunch of high school kids with a book and too much time and weed on their hands, it really isn't much different than finding the diary of someone who's most likely still alive; not something to sit in awe over, even for a cultural anthropologist.

Silly 

Bobby Jindal's campaign website found wanting...

Memo to the chumps remaining in the 1st District race opposing Bobby Jindal: You don't want to give voters more reasons to go look at your opponent's website. And really, who cares about his issues page when he could have left the entire screen blank and still have no problem in that district? The less he puts up there the better at this point, otherwise he could end up alienating someone.

02 September 2004

RNC, it's finally over 

Well, after Gov. George Pataki's forty minute stage whisper anything was going to sound good, but even George Bush has to have his day every now and then. I didn't think much of the first forty-five minutes of Bush's speech one way or the other, but the last fifteen minutes was the President at his absolute best. He started on with a page from Murph's "Eight Mile" theory of the political universe and then went on to note the finest qualities of the American character. He once again invoked the central American foreign policy duty to sow the seeds of liberty across the globe.

I've spent enough time this week showing why I don't think George Bush's foreign policy actually does that, so I won't bother with it again tonight. But I couldn't hit the sack without noting that President Bush certainly has the rhetoric down.

In fact, watching the video before the address and then listening to Bush's speech I can see why Bush would be better off at just being a revered ex-President like Jimmy Carter. No one distrusted Jimmy Carter's commitment to doing the right thing, he just couldn't manage to get the job done during his Presidency. In his retirement he is a source of comfort, a huminatarian, and a lookout for peace across the Earth. Bush would be well served to provide a similar role of national empathizer; our go-to-guy for showing all us Americans the importance of resolve and the hope of liberty. Liberals should just stop denying the man's ability to connect with the American public, because between his speech-writers and his delivery, he's just the master Clinton was. Unfortunately, he's so good at it that it obscures his almost complete lack of real leadership or skilled management.

With that out of the way, I'll say that his policy agenda doesn't really sound at all different from the plan he layed out at the Convention in 2000. Except now the "I will cut your taxes" has become "I will make those tax cuts permanent, and maybe cut your taxes some more" all the while spending tens of billions of dollars and further deregulating the various industries give my Party a whole lot of money. I won't talk about the half-trillion dollar defecit that I created or the fact that there are more than a million more people without jobs than when I started.

And I won't say a thing about this line, "Some people say I have a swagger, well in Texas we call that walking." I'll only post this picture...

get yours here...

Philly's Wireless and the Quituple Play 

Ricky passed me the URL the other day for the AP story "Philly Considers Wireless Internet for All" and it caught my imagination. I used to live up in Delaware (don't ask) and Philly was the "big city." It had a tradition of masking and a strangely vibrant local politics that made a Louisiana boy think wistfully of New Orleans. Mayor Street, a street fighter who didn't bother to project a sophisticated air when fighting for his city also has a whiff of those old-time, mildly corrupt southern politicians about him. I've got a soft spot for Philly.

So I was interested in Philly's attempt to get cheap broadband access for all. For most of the country the next hot thing is not our local passion, "fiber" but is instead "wireless." Their hope for cheap, communal connectivity lies in clouds of WiFi hotspots tied through "mesh networks" into the internet. Its a nice vision, if not nearly so grand as our own, and I wish them the best with it. Apparently, if backtalk on the net is any indication, they'll need luck: both Verizion and Comcast, their local duopoly incumbents, are widely predicted to oppose it.

But a tidbit from the story touched off a little fantasy I though I'd share with the folks here.

The tidbit:
One part of the 15-year deal is cheap Wi-Fi phones for neighborhoods where less than 95 percent of residents have home phones. IDT, which has agreed to market the cheaper phone service in those neighborhoods, would pay lower rates for poles there than other companies would in wealthier areas.
Sounds righteous, right? It is. But aside from simple justice there is a little secret being revealed in that innocent line. The city is going for a double play: wireless internet and wireless phone service. Whoever wins the phone contract to use the new wireless network will have a major leg up in the Philly metro area quite aside from having to give a little discount in the poorer areas that are Street's stomping grounds. (Alert: this is where my "mildly corrupt Southern politican"-trained instincts are activated. I smell a little something here but will leave worrying about that to friends in Philly.)

Still a double play is even more fun that the nice fantasy of a cheap WiFi cloud over Philly.

' Course it doesn't hold a candle to our own "Triple Play." The talk in Lafayette has been about the fabled "Triple Play" the grail of recent telecom quests. Providing fixed phone, cable TV, and Internet is supposed to be the key to market dominance. Everyone in the game is struggling to achieve the necessary bandwidth—the quickest way to dismissed as dead in the water is for it to be obvious that you don't have a viable plan to get there.

No Philly's plan doesn't hold a candle to our own triple play. But it is still interesting when you realize how easy it would be to turn a triple play in Lafayette in a quintuple play by adopting Philly's plan. Imagine: superfast internet in the home, a WiFi blanket that covers the city with more speed than you can currently buy from the incumbents for home use, a phone in the home that has the same number as the one that you carry out to the mall, and gobs of digital HD TV. All for one low, low utility price.

It could happen; neither startup cost nor technology would be much, if any, barrier.

The incremental costs of adding a WiFi net to the fiber net would be small. Five percent of the fiber? I haven't done the numbers but I'd bet no more and probably less. The costs of adding voice (VOIP) to that would be nil. All that needs is software which is already available—some of it is already there in free form on Linux. The monster bandwidth of fiber makes the additional cost of bandwith barely visible. Lay a few extra strands if you're worried about it. Ok, some significant maintanence. So?

Possibilities roll pretty fast outta that imagined cloud: why couldn't "push to talk" a la Nextel be free for "in network" users? Shoot, partner with Nextel or one of the others and make that a part of the contract that would probably net the cell carrier 75% or more of the local mobile market.

Another possibility: Suppose you hear about a really hot speech at the convention (ok, or an interview with the Saints coach on the new stadium issue) while at work that is supposed to occur that afternoon. Pick up your CityCell (registered trademark) and punch in the code for your home, inform you settop box/DVR of the time and channel and log off—though it would be easier to do over you laptop, the folks at work are more impressed when you do it on the phone.

I could go on. But the message is simple: if LUS wants to kick the excitement up another notch: BAM!, they could do it. And having pissed off Cox and BellSouth what would it harm things to add Sprint and Cingular?

And wouldn't that be a grand way to blindside whatever new program of disinformation the incumbents have planned for when you announce the full business plan?

It's all just a fantasy....But recall, you heard it first on Timshel. Quintuple Play. CityCell.

Sigh 

Two headlines over at the Nola newswire, one after the other...

• La. Supreme Court refuses to hear Alexander case 5:03 p.m. CT

• Supreme Court won't stop Sept. 18 gay marriage vote 4:39 p.m. CT

That more or less seals the deal on both issues. Hopefully some day before too long the US Supremes will strike down our state's inevitable decision to solidify it's fear of gay people in the constitution. As for Alexander, I'm a little disappointed, but it's hardly a big deal.

More, more, more 

Now the state and Tom Benson begin the process of some very public haggling. Unsurprisingly Blanco wants the team to offer a little more to sweeten the pot...

Ho-hum 

Not much to post about today, but KATC has an interesting slide show that is a series of cam shots taken all day long at key points along the potential path of Hurricane Frances. It doesn't mean much right now, but you may want to check in tomorrow to see what's happening out there. Scroll about a third of the way down their home page and wait for the pictures to fade in and out...

Spamming the convention 

The funniest thing about the keynote address at the RNC harvesting a large part of its attack on John Kerry (almost word for word) directly from emails exchanged ad nauseum between World Net Daily members--and then to their entire address books, because selecting all and hitting forward is something so easy that they never even have to think about what they've read (eventually finding their way into my inbox from friends who know I enjoy reading that trash)--is that the speech itself will probably end up among the chain emails sent out ad nauseum between World Net Daily members. Eventually it will likely be stripped down to its component parts and be sent out into the ether again, being reproduced and forwarded millions of times until another Republican--or another fake Democrat, like Susan Estrich--luminary uses it in a speech or in an appearance on a Fox News program, and then the process can start all over again. It's kind of like what happens when you stand directly between two mirrors and look at the infinite reproductions of the same image. It's enough to drive a man crazy with the metaphysical observations entailed.

Evidence at Pandagon and Martini Republic (MR by way of Digby)

Big Bill Graces NOLA 

There are a couple of worthwhile reports on Bill Clinton's visit to the Metairie Barnes and Noble to sign copies of his memoir, but you should read just read Oyster's, which includes memories of a 1992 campaign stop in San Antonio, before he was the big Dawg.

Following up 

I didn't want to burden you with two posts about the Saints this early in the day, but I forgot to include a link to Sheldon Mickles's report on tomorrow's preseason game with the Dolphins and what it means to Saints Safety Mel Mitchell, which I thought was pretty funny. Last year during the Saints last preseason game quarterback Sage Rosenfels landed an illegal block on the safety which tore Mitchell's ACL. It kept him out for the year and has hampered his ability to get off to a good start in this year's camp. At any rate, Mel's going to be playing in tomorrow's game, and so is Sage. Mickles reports:
Rosenfels insisted there was no intent on his part to injure Mitchell when he tried to throw a block for wide receiver Sam Simmons, who had picked up a fumble by running back Travis Minor and was trying to make something out of a botched play. But Mitchell never got an explanation from Rosenfels.

"He tried to call me Monday night, but I didn't think the time was right," Mitchell said. "I saw the area code on the phone and figured that it was him. I just thought it was kind of curious he waited until now to do it. It's been a year, so I'll talk to him at the right time."

Here's an idea, if you hurt a guy from a dirty block it probably doesn't do much good to only bother to call and apologize a year later and three days before you face each other. It just doesn't seem very sincere. I wonder if Venturi will make the call on a safety blitz?

Quote of the Day 

"This case raises fundamental questions about whether our courts will vindicate the rule of law and require high-profile political figures to comply with the same rules that apply to everybody else," an attorney for Republican John "Jock" Scott said.

Quoted by the Pic's Ed Anderson as part of the continuing saga to have Rodney Alexander removed from the ballot, as Louisiana election law clearly states he should be, for filing for the 5th District Congressional election twice in August.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear the case.

Let me at him... 

A while back I linked you to a letter in my local rag from a woman upset about the magnetic "support our troops" yellow ribbons being stolen from off of her car.

Well, the ribbon bandits are still at it, and now someone is upset enough to pray to God that he might be able to beat them up. Quoted in full:
I’ve placed at least 10 Magnetic Ribbons on my car in the last two months because of thieves. For someone to take a Magnetic Ribbon off a vehicle that belongs to a relative or friend of someone deployed overseas is despicable.

You have to be the lowest form of life on this planet.

I only pray that God will let me catch one of these creeps in the act. I guarantee they won’t steal anything else ever.

For those of you who support our troops by buying these ribbons, keep up the good work and keep your eyes open.

Proud parents of two deployed soldiers.
Now I'm not going to defend the folks running around stealing these off of cars. It is a little funny to see people get so worked up about them, especially if the result is that the thieves are actually causing people to buy more ribbons then they're providing something of a service, since the proceeds supposedly go to buying items for our troops deployed overseas. And isn't it more important to actually support the troops than to show support for the troops? I mean, I'm just sayin.

At any rate, if these men and women really wanted to show their support for the troops they'd risk the damage to the paint job and put stickers on their cars instead of magnets, which are easily stolen, but you can take on and off any time you want to.

Update re-reading that letter, it's possible that he's using the Advertiser to make death threats against potential ribbon thieves. Wow.

Stadium talks 

Well, the result is slightly discouraging, but hopefully Benson is just in bargaining mode right now. If I had to guess at what a major sticking point will be in the negotiations, it would be this:
Benson said he would consider waiving any remaining portion of the incentive money only after stadium is built. But by the time the stadium is built, the 10-year agreement with the state likely would be close to its end.

Benson said he could not surrender the cash payments now because he has a $103 million annual payroll, including football players' salaries and pension benefits and other costs. "We have an obligation out there that we've got to take care of," he said.
I find it difficult to believe that Tom Benson couldn't meet his own payroll obligations without the inducements from the state of Louisiana, but I'll accept that he can't simply cede to all the demands of the state right out of the gate. However, the fact that he can claim about $100 million between the franchise in the NFL is a good start. If the state agrees to build a new stadium and continues to hand checks to Tom Benson at a clip of more than $15 million a year, can you imagine the outrage around the rest of Louisiana? It was hard enough to find room in the budget to make this year's payment, and that was without a three or four hundred million dollar investment into a new stadium. Ideally Benson could agree to relinquish the state's obligation as soon as a deal is made, but in all likelihood even that wouldn't be feasible, because a deal does not a stadium make. The best scenario for both sides would probably include Benson allowing the state to end its payments the minute ground is broken on a project. Of course, all that is still way off in the future...

And surprise, surprise! The Advocate includes snarky comments inside their report about the Saints not-so-storied history as if it has anything to do with whether or not the state can benefit from their continued presence in Louisiana:
In the meantime, Benson expects the state to continue paying annual subsidies -- roughly $23 million per year -- to keep him from moving the team, which went 8-8 last year and has gone to the NFL playoffs five times in 37 years.
There's no mention inside this story about a report published in their own paper in 1997 which pegged the Superdome at generating more than six billion dollars in its first twenty years in operation (Not online, but I found it recently while scouring their archives at the local library). That's what you call a return on your investment. Building football stadiums shouldn't be a reward for a well-played season, and if anyone believes that the Advocate would support a new stadium even if the Saints won five Superbowls in a row, they're crazy. These monoliths are built because there's money to be made off them. The people think the team's record matters, but despite their 8-8 record the team has already outsold last year's number of season-ticket holders. That number may go down with a new stadium, but that would only be because their are fewer season tickets to sell.

01 September 2004

Wow 

Well it looks like I picked the wrong night not to pay attention to the Republican National Convention. All negative all the time according to the right and left side of the folks I read tonight.

Instead I elected to play cards with some friends with the Convention playing in the background. I'll tell you how my night went.

My friends and I play "tournament style" hold-em. It's essentially the same way you've probably seen it on television, except we never play limits. The buy-in is five dollars, and winner takes all. It gives an even advantage since most of the people I play with are broke as a joke and coming in with ten bucks over the five would give players an incredible chip advantage from the start. I was playing with two very liberal non-Party types and two "hardcore Republicans" (self-described). Our political discussion didn't go on for very long because we could only hear smatterings of Zel's and Uncle Dick's speeches.

At any rate, I've been on quite the winning streak lately. In the last three weeks, we've played six games (usually two a night, but sometimes only one) and the first one we played this evening marked my fifth victory in a row. Considering we play with five at the table, that's a cool hundred bucks for me. Not a bad haul for the time. It was game two that my luck finally ran out. First hand of the game I pulled a small pot down on a mild enough bluff. I had a decent hand, but bet against a couple of other players limping in. Then disaster struck.

I was to the immediate left of the big blind and was dealt the following hand:

It was a good hand, no doubt, but nothing to write home about. I was first to call the blind and made a moderate raise. This was followed by the three players to my left folding in succession. The player to my right, the big blind, called my bet.

This was the flop:

A full boat; on the flop! Now I've got a great hand. The player to my left has the first crack at betting and he checks to me. He's got the set and two non-matching cards, and surely doesn't know what to do, right? Checking to the next position would be a standard play there. Me--confident at my past play and a little cocky in the face of one of the Republicans at the table--I decide I better just go all in and get him out before he matches a higher pair than my tens and beats me with his own full house. Uhh, big freaking mistake. Here's the only card he needed to turn over:

Needless to say, I didn't get my running tens and ended up going home early. Now I'm writing about cards instead of Dick Cheney. Oh well, it was fun, and I had a good run for the last few weeks.

Also, we don't actually play with the chickenhawk cards, but if you want to you can buy them here.

Well, I would hope so... 

The Saints agreed to make a "significant contribution" to the proposed new stadium/convention center construction, but suggested that the existing deal with the state must stay in place until a stadium deal is finalized and a lease agreement could be reached. I'll be interested to read more about this in tomorrow's Pic.

It sounds like both sides are willing to work together to make this thing move forward, which leads me to post a picture of another Saints special moment, and if you can't guess why, then you're not the Saints fan you should be...
Hakim drops the ball! Hakim drops the ball!Update @ 5:05 pm: you can read the statement released by the New Orleans Saints here.

more updates @ 5:11 pm: jeebs, remember this fantasy?not in a million years, or maybe?

Good News 

Louisiana is part of the $45 million ad buy set to kick off this Friday once Bush finishes dolling himself up to the American people.

The folks at the Lafayette Democratic coordinated campaign office assure us that the Democratic National Committee believes Louisiana is in play, and there is also some talk of a big rally here in Lafayette some time before the Sept. 18 election to decide if we're going to to write discrimination into our Constitution. The rally supposedly will contain at least one of the men on the ticket.

I will never forget the happy days so long ago when Bill Clinton held a rally in Girard Park. It was 1992 and I probably hadn't turned thirteen yet, but I managed to shake the future President's hand not once but twice while he maneuvered the rope line. In my memory there were thousands there--including a not insignificant number of pro-Bush rabble rousers as well--but who really knows how well memory serves us?

Ha! 

You have to love Liberal Oasis:
the second-term "big ideas" on the domestic front will be revealed before the convention is out. We wait with baited breath.

If they were drafted by the same people who thought up Mission to Mars, or who wrote Jenna and Barbara's remarks for last night, then there's definitely nothing to worry about.

Those softball players 

Absent real reporting on this stuff, I also thought it was pretty suspicious the way the President could be addressing a live audience while the guys in the back just went about their softball game as if nothing was happening. Also, it was pretty clear that the first batter went to first and then came right back again to hit the ball. Personally I kept hoping for a screaming foul ball to come Bush's way and then watch him make a dramatic bare handed grab of it, but I guess there's only so much management you can expect from a campaign.

Bush, complete phony.

via Atrios

Benson-Blanco 

The Governor and the owner of the Saints have their meet and greet today. Surprisingly there's nothing at all in the papers about it (or at least I can't find anything) other than this column by John Maginnis.

Richard sent it to me by email yesterday, and there's not much new there other than the ballpark figure of $750 million for the cost of the combined construction effort. Or at least that's new to me, since I don't remember seeing it quoted anywhere else. Anyway, Maginnis discusses the difficulties involved for the project to move forward, and his is a typically good read every week, so go give him a look.

Timshel turns one 

Just thought I'd note that today is Timshel's first birthday. Here's a link to the things I was talking about on Sept. 1, 2003. Thanks to all the folks who keep coming by here to read my ramblings. I would especially like to thank the few and the proud who keep dropping in to the comments and sending me emails. I started this as a way to better develop my thoughts about Louisiana politics in particular, and the only way that can really happen is through discussion with other points of view. I'm still shocked and flattered by the fact that the blog has received over thirty-thousand hits in its first year. Hopefully we'll get another thirty-thousand by next September.

The Land of Dixie 

Chris Rose is pretty funny today. I love his effort to publish the remarks of people in elevators. It's kind of like the way certain bloggers use conversations they "hear" in cabs in order to give legitimacy to the things they've been writing or blathering on about on the radio for months.

At any rate, here's Rose confirming something we already knew about conservatives:
Three 20-something guys in golf shirts and one 50-something guy. One of the younger men is saying to the older guy, ". . . I've always said South Carolina is one of the places I could live. They started the war!"

Older guy: "Yup. Still fighting it, in fact." Pause. "Just taking a little break right now."
I can't find it right now, but someone noted that South Carolina, first state to secede from the union, claimed to be the most patriotic state in the Union when they delivered their votes to nominate George Bush for the Republican party on Tuesday.

Boustany 

He's been demonstrating the importance of having a campaign staff that can send out press releases in order to get a lot of free media lately.

Today The Advocate's Patrick Courreges explains that Boustany is touring the Seventh District to talk about security and the war on terrorism without discussing where or when. There are no direct quotes of the candidate, but his message is delivered almost completely unfiltered to the masses for our consumption. There doesn't appear to have been any effort to contact opposition or a critical examination of the statements Boustany is releasing.

Seriously, this is pretty unbelievable. Here's a comparison:

Advocate:
He said he wants to see recommendations of the recent 9-11 Commission report implemented -- specifically those referring to a unified strategic intelligence plan and a national intelligence director.

Boustany said he wants strong congressional oversight over intelligence operations, but wants to streamline the multiple-committee structure that oversees intelligence needs and operations.
Boustany's issue page on his website:
Improve Intelligence Community
-Implement recommendations from the 9-11 Commission
-Unify strategic intelligence and operational planning
-Establish a National Intelligence Director
-Strengthen congressional oversight and streamline system to improve quality and accountability
I don't mean to be too critical here, because I understand the importance of publishing this stuff in the newspapers in order for the district to simply know what the candidate's positions are, but if all a reporter does is republish exactly what a candidate has on his website, why not do that for all the candidates? These other candidates would be wise to get more competent press managers that can capitalize on the free media simply writing a press release can get you.

Truly Shocking 

I haven't posted at all on the Great School Bus Crisis of 2004 going on in Lafayette Parish yet. I figure most of it is probably beyond boring for the people who come here to read my other less-boring ramblings, but this story in the local paper couldn't go un-linked this morning.

For a little background you should know that there was a reorganization of the bus routes before the school year started in August. The school board got some new software that allowed them to create more efficient routes for the drivers. Now we all know that more efficient routes mean the drivers would have shorter routes, meaning less money for them considering they're generally paid a fee/mile over the flat rate they get for driving. Many drivers were unhappy about this. There have been a lot of other problems including overloaded buses, forgotten routes, and all manner of trouble. The school board SI blamed it all on driver sabotage, which really didn't take in to account the massive screw-ups the board had actually putting together a schedule that provided reliable transportation for every student in the parish. That's not to say that many drivers have been exercising some very disruptive practices, like driving miles out of their way only to drop off some kids as late six o'clock in the evening and saying they have to pick kids up sometimes before seven in the morning.

All that leads to today's story about a six year old child from Ernest Gallet Elementary (in the Broussard-Youngsville area) who mistakenly got on to the wrong bus to go home this week, ended up five miles away from his house, and when he told the driver that his home was nowhere near the area he was told to get out. The bus-driver then left the child stranded, where he apparently wandered around for roughly twenty minutes before a teacher from his school thankfully recognized him, picked him up, and brought him back to school so they could contact his parents.

Imagine a six year old stranded five miles from his home with no idea how to get back or who to turn to for help? There's a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach just thinking about it.

Now there's no reason to think this is related to the other problems going on with the school buses in Lafayette Parish, rather this could just be the result of a truly callous man or woman with no regard for a child's well-being. It sure does seem appropriate after the weeks of reading about the problems with the buses around here though.

31 August 2004

RNC day 2 

What the hell does it even mean to be an "economic girlie man?"

Laura was typically charming while continuing to throw out lies about the Bush record. These weren't limited to, but included meaningless tripe about President Bush treating all men and women with dignity. If she weren't dead, you could ask Carla Faye Tucker, mocked by George Bush before he pulled the switch on her execution, about George Bush and dignity. Or you could ask the families of the thirteen men and women in Israel who perished in a day of horror on August 4, 2002 when President Bush responded to the situation with the kind of dignity one can only manage on a golf course. And that doesn't even account for the cynical reassurances about all the freedom reigning in Afghanistan and Iraq for the women there, which I discussed last night.

Sigh, Slate explains why liberals should get over their amour for the first lady. Sure, she's no Bar, but she's no friend to the cause either.

Update @ 11:07 another great line from another piece at Slate on Bush's supposed heroism:
That Bush went to Baghdad to "be with" the troops in the same way he went to New York to "be with" the firefighters? That waiting for a safe time and place to "be with" people who have braved unsafe places at unsafe times is the difference between heroism and a photo op?

Maybe Bush's courage is moral rather than physical. Maybe it lies in the conviction Giuliani extolled last night: "President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is."

Calling terrorism evil? Answering a deed with a word? This is courage?
Remember when courage was "landing" a Navy Jet on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit? I wonder why no one brought that up last night...

Fire in the Hole 

My dear friend Murph beats Drudge on the developing World Exclusive about the attack attempt on Chris Matthews during Hardball earlier tonight. Murph mentions hearing the word grenade quite distinctly during the scuffle, though Drudge hasn't gone that far yet. Who will be the first blogger with the clip? Who will be the first blogger to wish Chris Matthews life hadn't been spared?

And if you want to see something that will shake your trust of the government to its core, take a look at this flash video produced exclusively for the tin-foil hat crowd. I really don't know what to make of this, and I usually avoid these things like the plague because I don't want to come off as some nut. However, it leaves you with a sick feeling in your stomach about how little time we've really spent in the public examining everything that went on the day the suiciders struck. Seriously watch it and tell me why it's a bunch of bunk. I'm begging to be reassured that paranoid conspiracies like this can't be true.

it's via Photon Theory by way of Damfacrats.

watched it yet?

okay then, here's a decent enough simulation that can explain what happened to the aircraft and why there's not much left. At least I'll trust the author's authority on that, as I know nothing about physics nor do I know how they made their study other than that it was done.

For all I know this could be part of a plane

fuselage?

Whatever, I'm not ready to strap on my hat yet, but these 9/11 conspiracy theories are much more fun to consider than the '63 assassination theories. You know the routine, go see them for yourselves...

Watch your backs 

More reasons not to go north of I-10 if you're in Louisiana.

In this case it could be dangerous:

The Army apparently has an unwanted guest at Fort Polk -- a Bengal tiger that has been reported wandering around the huge military installation.

...

The weekend passed without any other reports, but there were five sightings yesterday, including one by a military police station that reported seeing the tiger cross a road. Craft says authorities have no idea how a tiger wound up loose in western Louisiana.

I wonder if it escaped from the Tiger Truck Stop.

Convention Blogging 

Umm, this is just flat-out creepy.

I'll note that when I do my field reporting for my dear Timshel readers at Louisiana GOP events, I find it all but impossible not to mention the attractive women I see, however I can tell you honestly I've never had any dreams about rescuing young Republican women from screaming protesters or fantasies of beating Young Republican frat-boy types.

I usually enjoy what Yglesias writes over at his personal blog, but I'd much rather read the convention musings he offers for consumption at Tapped this week. I feel a little dirty after this one.

Precious 

From the annals of great poll questions:

Did the first night of the RNC merely reaffirm your love for all things Bush or spark it?

via LO by way of Atrios.

State Hate Amendment 

Judges on Louisiana's Court of Appeals had this to say:

"As a matter of law, we know of no authority whatsoever that prohibits the Louisiana Legislature from proposing a constitutional amendment to the electors of Louisiana on any topic whatsoever that would amend the constitution in any way or fashion," the panel said.
I support whatever legal means the Forum for Equality or any other group would go to to stop this amendment from reaching the ballot on Sept. 18, but this seems like some pretty cut and dry legal reasoning to me. The Forum's charge that Sept. 18 is not truly a statewide election day was probably their best bet to get it off the ballot, but that one unfortunately failed as well.

It seems likely that Louisiana will become the fifth state in the country to deny homosexuals their right to make their own decisions about their own lives. What a shame...

Lafayette stuff 

We're having quite the budget debate in my fair city this year, and while I haven't posted much about Lafayette lately except as it relates to state politics, it's probably worth pointing this story out from the local rag this morning. I fully support the city's commitment to things like the symphony and Festival International, but Joey Durel's reasons for cutting funding for external social service agencies in their favor just doesn't make sense:

“This is going to come down to priorities,” Durel said Monday. “We have very, very few choices now, and fewer choices in the next two to three years.”

So the administration's priority is on a symphony orchestra? To be sure, these external social service agencies can find other sources of funding when pressed, but can't the Festival and Symphony ask their donors and the people who enjoy their continued presence in Lafayette--a group with considerably more money than the men and women supporting things like Meals on Wheels--to dig deeper while the city deals with a budget crisis? I just don't quite get this.

A continuing series 

I love pointing out the way the GOP is trying to alienate its supporters in Louisiana by picking who gets to be the man in any given race. A lot of this is rehash if you read this site regularly, but today Patrick Courreges discusses the Tauzin endorsement in the Third and finally makes the connection in print that the same thing is happening--minus the explicit endorsement--in the Seventh District with Dr. Charles Boustany clearly being favored over David Thibodaux.

Meanwhile in the First District, GOP boy blunder Bobby Jindal has had the full support of the men in Washington since the day he quit working on George Bush's policy team in order to come back down to Louisiana. It's hardly surprising what they've already done for him in the white-bread suburbs of New Orleans, but the only remaining Republican in the race after him has decided he's not happy about it either. This was a case for Scalise to make back when he was in the race, but he sold out, so now a candidate even less viable is made to pick up the slack.

Interesting blogger note, something I haven't noticed despite continued use of his name is that the blogger spell-checker prefers "towboats" to "Thibodaux".

Quote of the Day 

In an otherwise boring story about the GOP's efforts to woo black voters in Louisiana, Bill Walsh quotes one of the African-American delegates in NYC this week:

At the state Republican Party convention in Lafayette this month, he said, he found himself at a table with fellow members of the GOP who were white.

"They were talking about fishing and oil and things," Guillemet said. "When they got to me they said, 'What about the crime in the streets?'"

Guillemet said he took no offense. "I'm used to it," he said with a shrug.

It's hard to blame guys for simply trying to relate, but if this is the way the GOP is approaching outreach lately, I don't think the Democratic Party has to worry about losing their strongest constituency any time soon.

30 August 2004

Freeeeedom! 

Well, I have to say that Rudy Giuliani was much more impressive on the stage in front of the GOP convention than when I observed him speaking to the Vitter faithful in Lafayette a month and a half ago.

I know that Oyster has observed, quite rightly, that the most effective Bush has been during his Presidency was when he articulated the importance of the American commitment to freedom around the globe. When Rudy Giuliani wasn't slamming Kerry for making like "Flipper" or telling the tried and true anecdotes about Bush with the crews cleaning up the horror left in the wake of the attacks, he was at his best explaining the Bush vision for freedom for the people oppressed in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe. It was moving oratory. Unfortunately it wasn't much more than oratory. I

f the Dems on the truth squad are at all worth their salt, they're already putting together a list of Bush's commitment to freedom around the globe. I suspect it should look something like this:

Afghanistan? BBC:
Voter registration has been slow because of the insecurity and the difficulties posed by a country with almost no infrastructure.

There are also huge problems in ensuring millions of refugees who have returned to Afghanistan are on the voter rolls.

All this is taking place in a country where tribal loyalties and religious conservatism reign supreme. Many oppose women voting, for example, and there have been a number of attacks on women voters and reports of intimidation.
Has anyone in the administration addressed the continuing concerns of ensuring democratic elections in this country in the last six months? Is America still committed to a democratic Afghanistan? Do we have a policy?

Iraq? Umm, how about it's a complete clusterf*ck right now. However, the job isn't done, so I'll give a pass to Bush on this for now. However, I think we're all learning about the prospects of promoting democracy anywhere by using completely inaccurate targeted bombing raids which kill more civilians than they do actual targets, making empty threats at popular insurgents, backing nakedly ambitious carpetbaggers, and torturing innocents who got in the way during roundups. Once again, though, do we have a plan? I don't know, maybe Bush will tell us how intends to ensure democracy in Iraq during his speech, but I bet we'll just hear more empty platitudes, this time to the importance of democracy.

And let's not forget about our allies in the War on Terror. To name a few:

Pakistan:
following a military takeover on 12 October 1999, Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Pervez MUSHARRAF, suspended Pakistan's constitution and assumed the additional title of Chief Executive; on 12 May 2000, Pakistan's Supreme Court unanimously validated the October 1999 coup and granted MUSHARRAF executive and legislative authority for three years from the coup date; on 20 June 2001, MUSHARRAF named himself as president and was sworn in, replacing Mohammad Rafiq TARAR

He "won" another five years in a referendum against no one in 2002.

Saudi Arabia:
All US agencies reporting on Saudi human rights and religious freedom have under represented the human rights abuses in the country. Although we are the only human rights organizations in Saudi Arabia and we operate from Washington area we have not been allowed to meet with any official in the State Departments, Office of Human Rights, Democracy, and Labor despite repeated attempts, the last was yesterday.

We believe that the state department is undermining human right sin Saudi Arabia by under representing and minimizing abuses.

Unfortunately the report o the US Commission of International Religious Freedom also under represented the case of religious freedom in the country. Our rights shouldn’t be a political tool.

We do not need the US help to get our rights. We realize, it’s not the mandate of US elected officials and administration to guarantee Saudis their human rights. It’s our job as Saudis.

--testimony by Ali Al-Hamed in front of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, June 2004
And let's not forget Uzbekistan:
Thankfully we cut them off the federal dole in July, but a quick scan of the HRW site will give you a pretty ugly picture of just what it takes for the Bush administration to apply their commitment to democracy consistently.

Hell, Bush has looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes, and saw what he a "good man", meanwhile:
In advance of the December 2003 parliamentary elections and March 2004 presidential elections, the Kremlin tightened its legal and bureaucratic controls over the domestic press. Russian press groups criticized the Central Election Commission for failing to sanction the state-run national television channels for improperly promoting Putin and pro-Kremlin parties during the campaigns.


This is hardly exhausting. It takes about five minutes with Google. The invocation of Reagan during tonight's speeches and his administration's paeons to democracy--denoting the Soviets as an evil empire and so forth--are great soundbites, but they only remind me of the tenuous grasp that the party's ideological standard-bearers actually have for true freedom. A quick tour through Central and South America can tell you all you need to know in that regard. I only mean to point out that the Bush campaign for democracy around the globe sounds great in a speech to the American people, but if he wants to sell it to me, he better practice what he's preaching, because from here it looks like he and his entire party are full of shit.

Ugh 

I don't know what to think about the prospect of a "Clerks" sequel, but my visceral reaction is not a healthy one. I had the occasion to rewatch the original with some friends not too long ago and I remembered it being better the first time I saw it.

I figured Smith--no matter how small his actual role was in the production--would have learned his lesson from the disaster that was the animated series.

Alexander conclusion 

Not much to post on today...

At any rate, Rodney Alexander will be allowed to run for reelection as a Republican, and qualifying won't be reopened. I don't think there's a big prospect for appeal on this, but I can't tell from this story one way or the other.

What a disappointment?

On another note, I just had the distinct displeasure to watch about fifteen minutes of Crossfire and probably could only make out about a fifth of what was said in the entire program thanks to incessant cross-talk. What I did understand was typical pablum that are party talking-points. I can understand that people watch these shows for a variety of reasons, but does anyone on Earth think they have any political value whatsoever anymore? Also, David Dreier (a Republican Congressman from California guesting on the show) couldn't keep his hands off his Democratic adversary Charlie Rangel, peppering every incantation of the phrase "strong, unwavering leadership" with a rub of Rangel's thigh or an arm around his shoulders. I could only infer from this that he was as drunk as a teenage prom-queen waiting for a little attention from her date.

Not going to happen 

Instapundit is passing along a rumor that George W. is going to dump Dick Cheney in favor of John McCain. I don't believe it will happen, but there's some interesting circumstantial evidence to support it.

I've never been McCain's biggest fan, and have had some pretty heated arguments with family members who were among his supporters in the last election, but if he does this the tiny shred of respect I might have had for him would be thrown into the same trash heap currently filled with the remains of whatever good will I once had for Colin Powell.

More Alexander 

The appeals court begins hearing arguments on whether or not qualifying should have been reopened by Plaquemines judge Allen Edwards today. Adam Nossiter inks one of his usually fine insider reports on the issues raised by the initial decision and notes the legal loops Edwards had to jump through to justify opening the ballot.

The irony is that despite reopening qualifying--and whether or not it actually happens--no new Democrats are yet willing to get in the race only to lose to the incumbent.

I still think Alexander should be punished for his democracy subverting ways by being thrown off the ballot entirely, but that's just me. It would be funny to have him speaking at the GOP convention as a lame duck Congressman who switched to the GOP for naught.

Help Elect John Kerry 

If you're from Acadiana and are tired of sitting around being upset about the Bush Presidency, you can do something about it by attending a meeting at the local Democratic Party coordinated campaign office.

There's an organizational meeting for volunteers at 310 S. Buchannan Street this evening at 6:00. I was at the headquarter's opening last week and the crowd was repeatedly assured that the Kerry campaign believes they can win Louisiana. Of course, they won't be able to do it without help from the great unwashed, and that's people like us.

3rd District 

The ongoing saga of Louisiana Republicans upset at the state powers that be--and their masters in the national GOP establishment--for endorsing Billy Tauzin III continues with a handful of GOP state Senators calling for the party to revoke its endorsement of the crown prince of the LA-3.

Meanwhile, in my home district, the national GOP is sending Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to Lake Charles to stump for Charles Boustany. So far they haven't formally endorsed him, but it's a real slap in the face to the other Republican in the race, David Thibodaux, who continues to outpoll Boustany despite a terrible financial disadvantage. I don't see how this kind of approach can help their candidates once they get in runoffs.

Of course in LA-7 the vote could split in a way that only Democrats end up in the runoff. It really probably depends on how well Boustany can raise his profile. He certainly has the money to do it at this point.

Pic Convention Coverage 

There's not much to it today, but Bill Walsh reports on the naked politicization of the September 11 terrorist attacks that is the RNC and lets the readers decide whether or not they think it's appropriate. The funny thing is how the GOP is now claiming they don't want to politicize the event without discussing how the entire convention and its late start was all an attempt to capitalize on the those thousands of dead men and women in the first place. Whatever, I don't care that much about it one way or the other. If George Bush wants to remind people that he presided over the worst security failure in American history, he should go ahead and do it.

Meanwhile Chris Rose, who seems to have the hottest job in New Orleans, is also being paid to work the crowds in New York, so he took in the protests yesterday. No word on whether he's drinking as heavily this time around as he managed in Boston, but he did meet up with Walt Handelsman again...

29 August 2004

Still Alive 

Taking the weekend off...

I should point out that Jeffrey notes the confluence of events that will surely lead to the Saints first Superbowl appearance this year, and yes, you do have to love Joe Horn.

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