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10 September 2004

Ummmm... 

I'm desperately looking for anything to post on, but all anyone can talk about is possibly forged documents, and I don't really care much to broach that subject. Whether they're real or not I don't think there's much doubt that Bush didn't serve all the days he was supposed to in the TANG. Nobody much cares about it, and in the end the Kerry campaign is going to come out looking worse on this than George Bush.

At any rate I'll stick by the computer for a little while, but don't be surprised if you don't hear from me until Sunday sometime after 3:00 pm CST. I'm hitting fun Monroe tomorrow to see a friend who moved up that way not too long ago, and we're going to watch the Cajuns take on Louisiana Tech. I'm actually quite excited about this seeing as how I've never seen the Cajuns play anywhere other than Cajun Field. Also, I've heard through the grapevine that David Vitter has some kind of tailgate party event going on at the game, so if anyone has any questions they'd like me to address to the future loser to the Democratic candidate for the junior Senator from the state of Louisiana, feel free to pose them in comments, because I plan to find him and shake his hand tomorrow. Bonus blog "rumor and innuendo-peddling" item: if you can name the prostitute Vitter supposedly had the long-term affair with, I'll tell him that she says "hello"--maybe.

TKGOTW 

Been gone a while this afternoon, more posting to come, but until then you can either whoop ass on some helicopters or try and make the sheep walk into the bullseye. The first one doesn't seem to have much point to it, and the second one takes a while before it actually starts to get tough. Have fun...

How much is too much? 

Despite Bobby Jindal's $1.2 million war chest and his virtual guarantee to win his seat in Congress without a runoff, he continues to solicit donations from special interest groups. Take a look at the OpenSecrets.org page on the Louisiana 1st and ask yourself whether it's healthy for our democracy when a candidate takes in this much money when he doesn't need it.

Of course I don't believe this is limited to Bobby Jindal or a particular political party, but this is the way our system works. When there's a clear winner in a particular race, it only makes it easier for advocacy groups to focus their bribes on a single candidate instead of spreading them out among competing groups. Sigh...

Quote of the Day 

“It’s like killing a gnat with a sledgehammer. How much heavyweight armor and ammunition do you need to blow little Jock Scott out of the water? It’s absolutely absurd.

“The Speaker of the House (Dennis Hastert) is appearing for (Alexander) in Alexandria on Sept. 16, and the (RNCC) chairman is coming into Monroe for Alexander (today)," Scott said. "What are they going to do next? Get President Bush to come to Jena?”

How many ways can I say that the National GOP doesn't give half-a-damn about the voters in Louisiana? All they care about is maintaining their stranglehold on the neck of the federal government. In the 5th District Republicans spent a couple of months trying to recruit a candidate who could mount a challenge against Rodney Alexander. In the end they settled on state Rep. Jock Scott. Today the GOP opens its Bush campaign headquarters in Monroe, where Jock Scott was scheduled to be on the podium. When Republican leaders found out, they threatened to withhold the Chairman of the Republican Party's appearance at the event, which probably would have more or less killed the festivities. So as not to put a damper on the opening, Jock Scott did the honorable thing and bowed out, though the Party continues to treat him and the voters of Louisiana like children who can't make decisions for themselves.

7th District Forum 

The candidates for LA-7 met at a forum at LSU-Eunice last night to introduce themselves to the public. Patrick Courreges reports. It's disappointing that all the candidates more or less asserted pre-emption as a reasonable foreign-policy doctrine. I have trouble really evaluating their responses to the question because it apparently dealt with whether or not the US has "the right" to engage with another nation as an act of pre-emption. This isn't really valid to me when I'm choosing a candidate, rather I want to know whether the US "should" act preemptively, to which I would like to hear a resounding "no" from any candidate who I'd support. I'm also a little troubled by Don Cravin's remarks:
Cravins said he believes in taking pre-emptive action, if backed by sound intelligence.

He said, speaking specifically of the Iraq war and continuing U.S. presence in the area, that the troops should be supported.

"I would certainly support trying to get them out of Iraq as soon as possible," Cravins said.
When I saw Cravins at a local Progressive Democrats Meeting at a Lafayette restaurant, I thought I more or less asked him the exact question of whether or not he would support preemptive action against any other nations, and he responded that he wouldn't. I took some notes from that event, but whatever bit about that which was said isn't in them, so it's possible I just created this memory in my own head, but I don't think so. At any rate, I hope his standards for "sound intelligence" is extremely high.

Charles Boustany says something particularly ridiculous too:
Boustany, in response to a question on whether the U.S. has the right to make pre-emptive military strikes, said "a strong offense is a good defense."

He said the days of international institutions and multilateral treaties passed with the Cold War era, and those tactics no longer work on the "rogue nations" that are active today.
In a world where terrorist operate under the radar of national institutions and individual intelligence services, multilateral treaties and international institutions are more important than ever. If 9/11 taught us anything at all it's that the US doesn't have the capabilities to police the entire world on its own without shared intelligence or the military personnel necessary to take down terror cells operating outside of US borders. I guess Boustany was talking about things like missile treaties and the UN or NATO, but it's crazy to say that the response to 9/11 should be a withdrawal from these institutions when at the same time you pretty much guarantee that the US also needs to go on the offense against terrorists around the globe. We don't have enough troops to send to Iraq right now, where will we find the troops to go somewhere else?

Kerry in NOLA 

For Ken...I can't believe a Presidential candidate could be so political in a speech to a convention of Baptists. How awful, yadda, yadda, yadda...

But seriously, Kerry slammed the Bush administration and laid out his agenda for a domestic policy that represents all Americans instead of just the filthy rich. And he used biblical language, shocking because we all know Democratic candidates don't know how to talk about faith or the Bible. At least that's what we're all told, right?
"Our cities and communities are being torn apart by forces just as divisive and destructive as Jim Crow: crumbling schools robbing our children of their potential, rising poverty, rising crime, drugs and violence," Kerry said. "I say again, where are the deeds? Where is the substance in our faith?"

...

Kerry said he will commit to providing health insurance to 97 percent of Americans in three years, as well as fully financing special-needs education and the No Child Left Behind Act. He also vowed to create jobs, to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy and to build an international force to disarm militia and provide humanitarian aid in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

"The United States should not treat Africa as a second-class continent," he said.

There probably aren't a lot of places in the country where Kerry will find a more receptive audience to his campaign message, so it's good this one was a success. More from the Advocate, if you're interested.

09 September 2004

Blackout 

4,000 tickets remain unsold for the Saints home opener against the Seahawks this Sunday. Sometimes it's good to live outside the New Orleans television market. If they don't sell all the tickets by game time the Saints streak of thirty consecutive home sellouts will come to an end. For those of you who can't watch the game, hopefully you won't be missing lots of this:
Just catch the ball!?ouch!

Surprise! 

The nation's largest black church group interrupted President Bush's housing secretary with sustained boos when he said Thursday that the Republican Party is committed to helping blacks.
The lengths to which the White House officials will go to politicize even a convention of Baptists is astounding. The boos were in response to Alphonso Jackson's statement that "Kerry's not going to say anything about what's better about his party — he's going to make an emotional speech and blame the Republican Party." Can't wait to read what Kerry has to say...

Good for Morrell 

Blogger ate a post I thought I wrote about Senate candidate Arthur Morrell on the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban, so here's a wildly truncated version.

Arthur Morrell is good because he's the loudest liberal voice in the state right now. Too bad he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of even making it to the runoff. This is how the Picayune quotes him in a report on the bill's probable expiration:
[H]e called their "irresponsible failure to act" as a 10-year-old ban on assault weapons expires next week.

...

"My opponents apparently have not fired these assault weapons as I have when I was with Special Forces and saw the devastation that they can cause," said Morrell, D-New Orleans, who served in the Army between 1963 and 1966.

The end of the ban, he said, would put "our police forces under much more danger."

Morrell said he is a former member of the National Rifle Association, and strongly supports the right of Americans to own guns, and hunt.

"But these are not weapons you use for hunting," Morrell said. "Their only purpose is to kill human beings. It is irresponsible to let this law lapse when it's been proven effective in reducing gun deaths."
Matt Lavine expounds on the political expediency of calling Bush and stated opponents in Congress to the ban as cop killers in his typically funny manner. The Pic editors also weigh in:
Polls show that the ban still enjoys support from voters, Mrs. Brady said, and that support cuts across party lines; three-quarters of the Democrats polled and two-thirds of the Republicans want to see the ban renewed, she said.

Unfortunately, lawmakers seem more willing to risk their disappointment than the wrath of the NRA. That organization is promising to make the 10-year ban "nothing more than a sad footnote in America's history."

The assault weapons ban shouldn't be history, though. It's a reasonable measure to protect the public, and it did decrease the use of assault weapons in crime. What's really sad is that Congress didn't find that worth supporting.
[end transmission]

Run for your lives... 

This is absolutely unbelievable. I don't much care about the race for Mayor in Baton Rouge, but this ad by BRNext hating on Bobby Simpson really is a piece of work. Apparently it just went up and running on Tuesday evening, but you have to see it to believe it.

It's about homeland security and addresses that Advocate article regarding the waste in the BR homeland security budget. In the background there are a bunch of explosions and what may or may not be a building falling to pieces. I guess it's one thing to make an ad that uses images from previous terrorist attacks, but it's a whole new level of political fear-mongering to actually simulate one as the main image in a commercial. These guys deserve props for the most crass piece of campaigning I've ever seen.

I addressed the article referenced in the ad Sunday. I don't know necessarily why Bobby Simpson is at fault for all this, and I think he probably isn't. You be the judge.

Yes, they are a registered 527(c) Political Action Committee.

via PoliticsLA.com

Welcome Home 

Rodney Alexander gets a party with cake and ice cream from his fellow GOP Congress members in Washington DC. It's not exactly a seat on the House Appropriations Committee, but he can't move over there until the new class arrives next January anyway. You'd think the GOP could do better than a cake. I'm sure they've organized a big fundraiser with all his new corporate friends at some swank DC ballroom or restaurant. I doubt Bruce Alpert would be invited to that though...

Missing out... 

The Daily Advertiser included three stories looking back at the fifty years since UL, then SLI (Southwestern Louisiana Institute) formally integrated by admitting 80 black students. Two of them are online here and here.

Though the legal ruling was alluded to in the first story--the one not online--it's worth pointing out and explaining a little further that the integration predated Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education because courts quietly ruled that forcing black students in the Acadiana to commute to either Southern or Grambling did not qualify as separate facilities. Also, something that's not mentioned anywhere or even hinted at in any of the stories is that SLI, at least as I understand it, was the first public university in the south to admit black students to their undergraduate programs. That they did it without riots and/or launching a full-scale rebellion against the federal government (Ole Miss, Oxford--I'm looking at you here) is no small piece of the history that is the University of Louisiana. I don't know why this was left out, but I thought I would make sure to inform my dedicated readers of--as Paul Hardy would say--the rest of the story.

08 September 2004

Damn 

Nothing to say about this other than that it's truly awful that this kind of crime exists in New Orleans. I love the city, but it hurts me to read these things.

Don't Forget 

I don't know how one gets in to a convention one isn't attending, but remember that John Kerry is scheduled to speak to the National Baptist Convention at the Morial Convention center tomorrow. His campaign also plans to hold a press conference call in the morning to discuss Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Now I find it difficult to believe his campaign would hold a conference call meant to discuss those states only to say they're writing them off because they can't be won, so hopefully they'll lay out some internal polling numbers that shows them with stronger support than has otherwise been reported. Or maybe they're going to announce a series of campaign rallies. Who knows? But I don't expect it to be bad news.

There are 30,000 people attending the Convention. Kerry will speaking at four o'clock in the afternoon.

Truly Poignant 

Via Taegan Goddard's Political Wire comes this fantastic remix of George Bush vocalizing U2's smash hit "Sunday Bloody Sunday." It's done well enough that it at least sounds like most of the phrases didn't have to be constructed from the parts of a hundred different speeches. I don't know if this means Bush is deeper than we give him credit for or if Bono's lyrics are more superficial than U2's fans would believe. It really is very well done, if Blogger publishes this you should click on the link and give it a listen...

More LAGOP infighting 

You have to love this...
Roger Hamilton Jr. of New Iberia has asked that the Federal Election Commission launch an investigation into the activities of the state party and the congressional campaigns of the elder and younger Tauzins.

Several members of the party's state central committee, and the entire Republican state Senate delegation, have decried the party's endorsement of the younger Tauzin in a race with two other Republican candidates still in the running.

...

In an interview and in his letter, Hamilton said that the call for an investigation is based heavily on a published account of U.S. Rep. Tauzin's spokesman, Ken Johnson, having said, "There may be some winking and nodding but no deals," allegedly in reference to such a shift of money.

"This public pronouncement of the intent to violate the law has led me to register this formal complaint and ask for your immediate intervention," Hamilton wrote in his complaint. "I believe a violation of FEC law is about to occur."
There's little question that politicians and political parties regularly throw the law and long-standing traditions out the window when it comes to simply winning a given race, but rarely do they broadcast it to the public as the Louisiana GOP has done with regards to their endorsement of Billy Tauzin III. I'm glad some members of the GOP in this state still have some principles and are willing to fight their own leadership to ensure that the voters of the 3rd District get to make their own choices rather than having the national party and certain very powerful Congressmen calling the shots for them. The FEC isn't formally investigating, but they plan to question the men and women at the center of this controversy.

Oh yeah, and I love it when the GOP fights with their rank and file.

7th District News 

Willie Mount unveils her campaign's major platforms at a press conference. The same thing I said about Charles Boustany when he did this applies here. Unfortunately I can't link to an issues page, because Mount's website doesn't provide one. I bet it wouldn't look much different from this report though.

Publishing problems 

Blogger is having trouble. Sorry if posts are coming later than normal...

New Stadium Business 

The Pic's Rebecca Mowbray reports that the stadium proposal would all but destroy the future of a mega-hotel on the convention site that would include more meeting and exhibit space and thousands of rooms for the larger conventions that would come to New Orleans.
Convention, Sports & Leisure has begun work on a new study to examine whether the convention center still needs the full Phase IV expansion as planned. The study should be completed by the end of October. At the same time, the Superdome Commission is studying designs for a new stadium.

Convention, Sports & Leisure International could come back with a study that says the Convention Center still needs the full 524,000-square-foot expansion. If that's the case, Brennan said, it's not clear who makes the decision on which project should go forward.
Now I don't know if the group overseeing the Convention Center is exactly a disinterested party, but of course the Superdome Commission isn't either, so it'd be nice to have a little more reporting on this to find out just who gets to make the final decisions regarding all this. Presumably it will rest with the Governor and the Mayor of New Orleans after they see the surely conflicting reports on the matter. Feasibility studies and revenue projections will surely abound.

Whatever the case, I'm sure the reports will be more measured than the off-the-top-of-his-head blatherings of Clancy DuBos in this week's Gambit (thanks to Richard P. for the link on this one). To date, this is the most ill-conceived bit of editorializing I've seen about the proposal, though bits and pieces of it make sense. I can't quote it in full, but here's the gist:
Nothing about it makes sense, unless your priority is to help the Governess reward some of her top contributors with huge legal, architectural, engineering and construction contracts.

But let's stick to the thing itself. Right now the Saints play in the Superdome, which is still one of the best arenas in the world (despite what the Saints say).

...

But the best reason not to build a new stadium on the riverfront is money. Not the cost of the new stadium, but rather the return on the state's (and the city's) investment there. The state has already approved bonds for Phase IV of the Morial Convention Center, which is used several hundred days each year and brings many millions more into the local and regional economy than do the Saints, who play 10 local games a year.

So why cut back on land that's wildly productive in order to build something that will be less productive? It just doesn't make sense, unless your agenda is something other than economic development.

...

If we need a new stadium, tear down the Dome and build a better one right where it is. Like the Chicago Bears did during the renovation of Soldier Field, the Saints could play in LSU Stadium while the Dome is either renovated or rebuilt. In the meantime, Blanco should drop the insane talk of cutting back on Phase IV.
This man either hasn't been inside the Dome in ten years or he doesn't turn on his television every if he believes the Dome is one of the best arenas in the world. No person on Earth believes this, and if it is then maybe DuBos knows of another reason why the city of New Orleans has been passed over by both the NFL and the NCAA Final Four to host their championships in the last four years. He does make a good point that I had to clip about the Superdome being the absolute ideal location for a stadium in New Orleans. It's centrally located, and considering its position off the Interstate, it's easily accessible and doesn't cause a major headache when events are going on within its walls. However, without any data he simply assumes that building a new stadium in conjunction with Phase IV would cost the city millions in lost revenue. We don't know if this is true or not because no one's looked at that yet, and for some reason I doubt Clancy has the economics background to make those kinds of projections with any measure of accuracy.

Also, like a lot of other columns I've read, he assumes it's only a matter of saying "I do" and the Saints will be able to set up shop for a year or two in Tiger Stadium. The reason this isn't really a viable option for the Saints like it was for the Bears is that the Saints are already under pressure from the NFL to increase their revenue contribution to the league. The Bears are an eminently profitable team who could afford to take the millions in revenue losses that occur when playing in a stadium with a temporary agreement, especially since there return to Soldier Field would guarantee an immediate return on the temporary loss. As I understood it, the ownership was never happy about the prospect in the first place but did it out of necessity. In the case of the Saints, playing in Tiger stadium for a year, they may as well just move out of the city permanently, because their meager contribution to the league is already in question without having to wait a year while a new stadium is reconstructed. They could be profitable immediately if they moved to Los Angeles or San Antonio. And of course all that assumes that they won't have a problem from LSU, the Tiger Athletic Fund, or the powerful LSU allies in the state Legislature when they come begging for an agreement to use Tiger Stadium for a year.

DuBos knee-jerk reaction that this is somehow a giveaway to Blanco's highly-placed contributors can only be a fantasy, and an irresponsible one for a "respected journalist." The fact is that Kathleen Blanco is sticking her neck way out on the line here. The Saints are not a popular interest group around this state. Finding ways to keep them in Louisiana is a great political liability for Governors. There are a thousand other ways she could find to reward contributors without the threat of alienating a large portion of the state's electorate. No sane person would use a new stadium proposal as a political payoff to friends, and Kathleen Blanco's no nut.

Odd 

A Metairie woman is burglarized five times in a month and keeps getting most of her stuff back.

07 September 2004

Correspondence 

Josh Marshall managed to get his hands on a letter from a true statesmen to the crazy old codger who smeared Senator John Kerry during the keynote of the RNC. You should really read the whole letter, but here's how former President Jimmy Carter wrapped it up:
Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.

No telling who leaked this to TPM, but the former President's staff wouldn't comment on it except to say it was a private letter. Read the whole thing to see how effectively righteous anger can be to get a point across.

Tiger still loose 

...and the Captain obvious award

Soldiers based out of Fort Polk have been searching for a young Bengal tiger in the woods around the military base for about two weeks now. With no success thus far, federal agriculture officials decided to get in on the action. I alerted you to this when I first read about and I wouldn't care about this update, but the AP notes this bit of information in their story:
The Army is unsure where it came from, but officials said they suspect it is a pet that escaped or was set free.
And all this time I thought Bengal tigers aren't native to Louisiana, like alligators and bears?

I'm a believer 

I've always thought of Len Pasquarelli as something of an overrated hack, so I'm worried this is more than likely the kiss of death for the Saints this year, but I'll link to it anyway.

Meanwhile, TMQ predicts (scroll wayyyyy down) a 6-10 season for the Saints, which matches up to the Football Outsider's prediction. On the FO blog, Aaron has a roundabout way of answering Pasquarelli's math with what essentially comes down to "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics" (no permalink on that but it's on the front page in the second middle window).

And don't forget the memorable South Park episode when Cartman, in disguise as robot Awesom-O, predicted a Saints Superbowl victory. Jokes meant to deride have a way of coming back and biting you on the backside. Hopefully that'll be the case here...

Happy Trails 

Evangeline Downs Race Track in Carencro ran its last thoroughbred last night. It's the end of an era as the name and the racing moves to St. Landry Parish, where voters elected to allow slot machines to operate inside the parish line. As I understand it, eventually the land will be the new home of Westminster Christian Academy, an irony too obvious to note.

The Advocate looks at the final day and talks to some of the regulars...

I don't know much about horse racing, but I've been lucky enough to sit up in the clubhouse a few times with the owner of a few horses that regularly raced there. There's nothing like the feeling of even betting a couple of bucks on a horse and watching it barrel down the homestretch with a chance to bring home the purse. Not that one is more dignified than the other, but slot machines seem to be the antithesis of horse racing. It's a machine designed to exploit weaknesses in the human condition whose only payoff are bells, whistles, and the occasional thrill of coins pinging against a metal dish. There's no drama or motivation to learn about the intricacies of the game. Now they'll be side by side. Oh well...

Interesting 

Norris Henderson, a convicted murderer out of jail after serving 28 years at Angola for his crime, is helping to empower current inmates by registering them to vote and encouraging them to participate in elections by filing absentee. Louisiana law allows inmates not serving time for a felony to vote even when they're behind bars. And Henderson's giving them a reason to be engaged without relying on the old saws about how one vote can make a difference.
Once Henderson got his message across, his group of 20 volunteers walked away with 700 completed applications, the most successful jailhouse voter-registration drive in modern New Orleans history, according to Louis Keller, Orleans Parish registrar of voters.

...

VOTE members don't anticipate anything close to a full voter turnout among the eligible inmates, but they do believe interest is high because of the opportunity to cast a ballot in the race for Orleans Parish criminal sheriff, the official whose main responsibility is running the prison. Interest in the race is so strong, in fact, the group is sponsoring a forum for sheriff's candidates Tuesday to be held at the prison and broadcast to most of the inmates.
Now that's a debate I'd love to see. Politicians will pander to just about any interest group if it means they'll pick up a few votes. In local elections this can reach comedic proportions since press coverage generally can't be at every civic group a candidate speaks with, therefore contradictory statements aren't always sniffed out and exposed to the electorate. Whatever the case, it would be interesting to see how sheriff candidates sell themselves to the men whose lives they exercise so much control over.

I'm a little skeptical of the preaching that many make about the transformational power of voting. I believe full participation in democracy is empowering, but simply exercising your right to vote isn't really a full engagement in the process. In this case though, where these men's lives are so divorced from the right side of the legal system, every effort should be made to develop a healthy sense of civic responsibility. Voting could be a interesting first-step in the rehabilitation process.

Playing it down the middle 

No one should be surprised that I'll complain about Advocate editorials even when I generally agree with what they're saying...
We recommend voting no on Amendment 1, lest the law of unintended consequences wreak havoc in Louisiana courts for some Louisiana families
To the Advocate, the legal chaos that could befall heterosexual couples in common-law marriage is more important than the fact that Amendment 1 "could call in question wills and estates, legal guardianship of children, or benefits private employers choose to provide to unmarried partners of whatever sex." This legal chaos is the primary concern; there is no mention of the blatant discrimination inherent in the amendment's language or the motivations of the men and women who went to Baton Rouge to argue on its behalf. Shame.

Jesus 

Ian shared some memories of a fallen soldier from Lafayette on Saturday, so when I saw this headline on the AP wire tonight, I thought it was just a late run of another story about Joe Thibodeaux.

Sadly David Paul Burridge was among the seven marines who were killed by a suicide bomber outside of Fallujah yesterday. He graduated from Lafayette High School in 2003 and had only joined the marines in January of this year. By April he was in Iraq.
U.S. forces have not patrolled inside Fallujah since April, when U.S. Marines ended a three-week siege. The city has since fallen into the hands of insurgents who have used it as a base to manufacture car bombs and launch attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces.

Surely no one on Earth could have predicted that our war would devolve into this[/sarcasm]...The question is how many more will die to justify a failed policy?

Timshel prayers are extended to the Burridge family for relief from their bereavement. No family deserves this grief.

05 September 2004

Happy Trails 

Blogger was a mess of troubles for quite some time there, but before I shut down Prado central for the afternoon I figured I should pass on the sad news that seven year New Orleans center Jerry Fontenot was cut yesterday.

Hopefully he'll turn up in a uniform somewhere else this season, but the Saints love him enough to dangle the possibility of a coaching job when he decides to give up his days on the field as a player.

I care because Jerry Fontenot is a fellow Lafayette High School graduate, and by all accounts a class act in the NFL. The Saints will miss his talent and leadership, but he just didn't fit in to the squad's scheme this year. Come back soon, old friend.

Sunday news 

The Advocate has an exposee on homeland security agencies that are squandering the federal dollars they're supposed to use for different security needs around the state. In the end it's a muddled report that buries the lede, which isn't the waste--which is surprisingly very small considering the millions of dollars floating around--but it's the fact that somewhere down the chain of allocated dollars to the authorization to actually spend them, the money is being held up by the process.

You have to read thirty-four paragraphs into the story and through a mess of citations of waste regarding fake Christmas trees, skittles, and catered meals--all of which doesn't even account for a tenth of a percent of the $86 million allocated to Louisiana for Homeland Security--before you get to the part of story that actually deals with the real problem. Here's the part that matters:
While money was spent for those things, anti-terrorism equipment that the Police Department, Sheriff's Office and other agencies have requested still hasn't made it into their hands.

As an example, OEP -- citing a deadline -- gave the Sheriff's Office just three days in January to provide detailed specifications for ballistic helmets, gloves, a headset system and bullet-proof vests for its SWAT officers, according to a timeline provided by the Sheriff's Office.

OEP didn't submit the list to the Louisiana State Police for approval until more than two months later, the timeline shows, and took another month to make clarifications. State Police approved the purchase in May, but the Sheriff's Office still hasn't gotten the equipment.

Frustrated by the delays, the Sheriff's Office spent its own money for gas masks, and the U.S. Attorney's Office provided money to buy bullet-proof vests.

By contrast, sheriff's officials said, the vests were ordered and delivered in weeks and already have saved one deputy in a shootout a few months ago on Siegen Lane from fatal or serious injury.
The fact is, the less than $35,000 in waste the Advocate describes is pretty natural when you're dealing with millions of dollars. That it's actually so small is pretty reassuring to me. Ms. Roberts misses the story about the impossibility agencies are having actually getting their hands on the money that's been allocated to them, because stories about purchasing fake Christmas trees and catering a couple of receptions with federal dollars makes better copy.

No big deal...John LaPlante has a decent column about the Blanco-Benson negotiations and suggests that Blanco is trying to play hardball with the Saints owner. At the very least she's treating the organization as something the state doesn't want to live without, but can. She also doesn't seem to think Benson has it in him to leave. I think she better keep her eye on that granddaughter of his, though. The important quote from that piece, "Blanco's new twist to Saints-state relations is that Benson must make a strong financial commitment, not just another promise to stay where he is." Foster's deal stunk for the state. Within another two years Benson will already have gotten the money in incentives from the state that it would cost him in penalties to pick up the team and leave Louisiana. Essentially that means the state would be paying the cost of his penalty to move the team, not exactly a situation you want to be in. Blanco understands that it's important to get more than a gentleman's agreement to keep Benson in Louisiana, and the best way to do that is to have further Benson invested in the future of his team's presence here than he is now. I can't speak for LaPlante, but I don't want to reduce what Benson does have invested in keeping the team here, but the state needs better guarantees to ensure that the team won't pick up and leave anyway five or six years after a stadium is built. Getting the Saints to shoulder a piece of that burden is probably the only way to get that guarantee without imposing massive moving penalties (we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars here), which no owner would agree to anyway. There's a long way to go here...

Freaking LSU 

...nothing more to say really.

How hard is it to hit an extra point?

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