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09 October 2004

Checking In and More Free Advertising 

Blogging at you from New Orleans this afternoon. I'm hitting the Saints game tomorrow and hopefully watching LSU get worked for the third week in a row tonight.

If you're in NOLA or its environs consider hitting my pal Mike Miley's film screening at Loyola tomorrow night at 7:30 on the third floor of Loyola University's Bobet Hall. It will be worth your time.

I'll be back at my home base Monday.

Impressions 

Not much to say tonight. I seem to be in a minority that I thought Bush looked much worse tonight than he did last week. His repetitions against Kerry's record grow more and more tiresome each time I hear them. He contrasted last week's "What me worry?" attitude with one that was angry and at times unhinged, at one point going after Charlie Gibson like--pardon the expression--a red-headed step child. His attempt at humor on the "I own a timber company?" line got a response from the audience, but it will really bite him when people realize that here you have a guy who is so rich that he doesn't even know what companies he has registered as small businesses in order to shelter his income. It will just reinforce the way he and his rich brethren have gamed the tax code for their own benefit.

Kerry was more negative than I would have liked, but he showed off the same calm but aggressive demeanor that apparently helped him so much in the last debate. I would have called him the big winner in this one, by a margin much greater than the last time around. I will give Bush credit for not taking Kerry's bait a few times. It seemed that John Kerry kept walking just out of Bush's personal space right in the middle of a dig at Bush's record, kind of hoping that he'd get one of those imperious responses we've all come to expect from the President.

And I still wonder what in the hell that bit about Dred Scott was. Bush was right in a sense about what was going on in Dred Scott, but it came off a lot like when a contestant on Jeopardy ends up giving extra information in a response and ends up getting it wrong and looking stupid. Like if a response for a clue about the NFL's all time sack leader could have sufficed with a simple "Who is Taylor", but Bush said "Who is Elizabeth Taylor". Simply put, Bush should never ever speak off the cuff about these kinds of things. He makes Andover Academy, Harvard, and Yale all look bad, not that I hold those places in all that high regard anyway, but you know what I'm saying.

08 October 2004

Oh Yeah 

Local comic Greg Peters, whose work local readers may know from The Independent and other publications, is up and blogging on his main site. I'll get him on the sidebar as soon as possible, but until then consider this a quick way to get over and see what he has to say.

At the very least know that he has nothing by contempt for the Gannett empire and what it has meant for local news coverage. This is reason enough to trust his judgment on other issues.

Check him out as Suspect-Device.com

He's also featured in a relatively new compilation of subversive cartoonists edited by Ted Rall, which you can buy here. Spare me the Ted Rall hates America comments and sides with the terrorists comments. I'm not interested in that argument, and it has no bearing on whether or not Greg Peters's opinions or his artwork is of any value. Hitler's love of Wagner doesn't invalidate the latter's contribution to the world.

However, thanks for all the contentious debate in the comments this week, it's been loads of fun keeping up with it.

TKGOTW 

You can never get enough stick figure carnage edition.

Read the instructions carefully. This is the only game this week, but I haven't been keeping up with all my regular game sites, so you'll have to deal with it. Feel free to use the comments for suggestions on what kinds of games you like to play.

Ha-Ha Hannity! 

I imagine lots of folks around the internet are pointing out Hannity's elite lifestyle, none of which should really come as a surprise to anyone. That he refused to come speak to a campus group after they couldn't get the right kind of private jet for his flight to St. Louis, he probably didn't have to lie about. Most people already know inherently that he's a big hypocrite anyway. One thing struck me from the Media Matters piece on the brouhaha though:
"He was very forceful on the phone," said Hollander. "It was hard to get a word in edgewise with him. He was interrupting me a lot."
Now it's possible that this is describing Ms. Hollander's conversation with Hannity's agent, but it's oh so appropriate that his agent has apparently picked up some of Sean's--shall we say--less-endearing qualities.

I love the Internet 

The American Street gang find a major mistake in the Kerry campaign.

Busy This Morning 

Read the links on the sidebar for your fill of fine commentary.

Some quick hits in the meantime...

Things aren't looking good for a new stadium in New Orleans.

Here's the account of Seventh District candidate forum in Abbeville, why wasn't I invited?

More fighting between LA-3 candidates Craig Romero and Billy Tauzin on coastal erosion and a Billy T. III profile from the Pic.

Get your reading done, I'll have a quiz on the material later this afternoon.

07 October 2004

WTF? 

Apparently George Bush already won? What in the hell is going on with this?

via Eschaton

Breakin' the law... 

Well, you'll have to pardon me for not seeing this story in the Houma Courier today (registration required, but you can give them a fake email address), but the newspaper isn't exactly on my reading list. The AP piggy backs, but the basics of the story is that current LA-3 representative sent out a letter to his supporters that his son had promised to maintain some of his top staffers should he be elected to succeed his father in the southeastern Louisiana Congressional district.

This is what the letter states:
Should he run and should he win, he has assured my staff, most importantly, my Chief of Operations, Martin Cancienne, and Garret Graves, our D.C. Appropriations and Project Director, that they could stay on to continue important initiatives, like the coastal erosion and energy-bill efforts
Promising to hire people once you reach office in exchange for support is a violation of federal election law.

The most distressing bit of this news is current Rep. Billy Tauzin's shameless exploitation of his own illness as an excuse for the letter:
A spokesman for the longtime congressman acknowledges the letter was a mistake but said Tauzin, R-Chackbay, wrote it under immense stress while preparing for cancer surgery.

...

"Billy wrote the letter to close friends and close campaign supporters while he was in the hospital awaiting a very difficult and dangerous surgery," Johnson said. "It was one of dozens and dozens of letters he wrote at the time."

...

Fearing the letter could be "misunderstood," Johnson said the paragraph was eventually omitted from future correspondence and was never intended to be included.
If Tauzin's illness is responsible for anything it's probably the error of admitting something he shouldn't have, not making up a promise that never occurred.

Unfortunately an election law expert explained that there probably wasn't much that could be done because actually determining whether or not any promises like these were ever made is a terribly difficult thing to do, so cases are rarely prosecuted.

At the very least this is an expression of the myriad of problems and questionable relationships that crop up when powerful elected officials anoint their children to take their seats over. It reeks of impropriety, something that Representative Billy Tauzin has been no stranger to over his years in Congress, and reminds us that the younger and older Tauzin have already been accused of improperly transferring campaign funds between one another. Do voters in Louisiana's Third District really want another twenty-five years of this questionable adherence to ethical standards and the law?

Unbelievable 

Your schools are in danger! Call Drudge for giant headlines! Alert the newspapers! Terror is in your town!
The safety advice is based on lessons learned from the Russia incident. But there is "no specific information indicating that there is a terrorist threat to any schools or universities in the United States," Hickok said.
We're just being safe. Nothing to see.[/whistling]

For the record, I don't think George Bush is above pulling some false terror alerts out of his ass in the next month in order to scare people into voting for him, but this particular episode looks like it could be the result of an over-eager media trumpeting sensible warnings made to schools on how to be vigilant as some great threat to our schools. Surely the Bush administration won't do anything to calm public's fears about these things, though.

Weird 

I don't know what to make of a French book that claims France was ready to go to war with the coalition until it became clear that Bush wasn't going to let weapons inspectors do their jobs.

To be sure, Chirac was also making political considerations, but the strangest thing--and perhaps most appropriate given what we know about Bush's personality--was our President's childish and arrogant disregard for Chirac because of the Frenchman's relationship with Bush's father. Okay, it was written for a French publisher, but I really am surprised we haven't heard more about this.
Chirac knew Bush's father, former president George H.W. Bush, well, but that relationship actually proved to be a distraction for the current president, according to the book, which says that Bush was annoyed that Chirac kept mentioning his father at every occasion. For months, French diplomats asked Chirac not to refer to Bush's father when he met the president, but he kept doing it.

During one of Bush's first European trips, when the new president impressed other European leaders at a summit, Chirac excitedly pulled out his cell phone to call Bush's father to report that the new president had done a great job, the authors said.

"The father reported this to his son," Cantaloube said. "It was not very well received in the White House."
So Bush was so insecure about being his own man that he froze out what could have meant 15,000 troops? Oh well, you're big boys and girls and can draw your own conclusions. Go read it.

Thanks to Stockton & Tweed at LB in '04 for the link on this one.

Wow 

Kerry's laying down the gauntlet right now. Can't wait to see the report...

Vandals in Shreveport 

B/C '04 yard signs vandalized with black spraypaint

Idiots. This is so counterproductive. That said, I'm not sure a bunch of signs being spraypainted is exactly front page news. Not like a Bush HQ being shot at, at least.

Tauzin Cancer Free 

After a long struggle with treatment and even having a priest administer his last rites, Billy Tauzin's people claim he's made a full recovery. These things are rarely so cut and dry, but whatever my feelings about the man's politics, this is good news for him and his family. Hopefully he has a ton of healthy and active years in front of him somewhere other than Washington.

Vitter Profile 

Nothing to say about this. Vitter's record as a Bush and Republican Party lap dog speaks for itself. Either you're down with that or you're not. I'm not, and while Louisiana will go to Bush in this Presidential election, I suspect that Louisiana voters aren't as enamored with the sum total of the President's politics as Vitter is. We'll see how that plays out in the runoff.

It will be strange how the Presidential race will effect this runoff though. I believe a Kerry victory would probably help Vitter while a Bush victory will actually help whoever ends up in the runoff against him quite a bit more. Voters want to believe--particularly in this state--that their candidate isn't someone else's tool, and Vitter will have a very hard time convincing people that he can maintain real independence from a Bush administration that he has never really shown any inclination to buck. The Democrats with a shot to make the runoff have both proven themselves to be conservatives in a supposedly liberal party, so it's harder to paint them as tools to anyone but the citizens of Louisiana.

3rd District News 

Every day another candidate from the Third jumps all over Billy Tauzin III. That's fine by me. I hate when guys are annointed for a political position as much as the next guy, but Tauzin really seems to be getting it from all quarters in this race. This time it's Damon Baldone's turn to trade shots on coastal restoration with the current LA-3 Representative's son and chosen successor. Baldone apparently released an ad ridiculing Tauzin's "plan" for reclaiming the Louisiana coast. Unfortunately it's not on his website, but the Advocate's Patrick Courreges describes it:
At one point in the commercial, the camera cuts to an older man, seated and telling Baldone, "Little Billy's got a coastal plan."

The actor is Baldone's uncle, and "Little Billy" has become a nickname some candidates in the 3rd District use for Billy Tauzin III.

"His plan is based on flawed assumptions and gimmicks, it's just not that simple," Baldone replies in the ad.

Baldone says in the ad that his plan is "hard-nosed and realistic."
This district has far and away the greatest stake in this issue, so it's integral that whichever candidate is elected takes it seriously. Baldone does go on to point out some particularly silly ideas Tauzin has suggested, but I haven't kept up with this district close enough to know what he offers as an alternative.

Meanwhile, Matthew Brown of the Pic runs an excellent profile of 3rd District Republican candidate Craig Romero. In fact, this is really the way it should be done. There's a healthy mix of what Romero has spent his life doing along with a good rundown on who his political allies and opponents are. Surely it's not perfect, and people who know the candidate better could probably point out some flaws, but if all profiles were this balanced we'd have a better grip on who to vote for.

Romero might be wise to avoid the wrath of the crawfish industry, though:
There are those, however, who wonder whether Romero hasn't been too friendly to oil at the expense of other interests. Some in Louisiana crawfish circles contend he has not been listening to their recent complaints about oil and gas pipelines blocking the flow of water in the Atchafalaya River Basin. Those barriers are blamed for decreasing the basin's water quality and putting a crimp on crawfish populations.

Mike Bienvenu, president of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, is careful not to blame his industry's problems directly on Romero. Still, he makes clear that crawfish producers have been frustrated in their attempts to fight damage done by pipelines.

"We can't do without oil and gas, but not at any cost," Bienvenu said. "Those people have a lot more money than us. They lobby these senators, and we don't have any money. It's not necessarily Romero's fault. Nobody's been looking out for us."

Romero said he has done all he can for the crawfish industry, including persuading state officials to put up more than $200,000 to back a federal investigation into foreign governments dumping underpriced crawfish on the U.S. market. But he also takes sides, bespeaking his 20 years of making tough political decisions.

Crawfishing, he said, "is a way of living in south Louisiana, but it's lagniappe, it's extra. The Atchafalaya Basin was not designed to be a place solely for fishing. You can't mail the oil, you have to flow it through pipelines."
The Atchafalaya Basin was not designed to be a place solely for fishing? What!? Can a serious candidate actually make this statement? Clearly he doesn't share the values of most south Louisianians...

In all seriousness, if the state and state pols were willing to pressure the oil industry there are alternatives to the environmental degradations that are attached to piping the oil across the state and through the basin in particular. The problem is that it requires a lot of money that oil industry execs feel would be better spent lobbying legislators to say things like "you can't mail oil, you have to flow it through pipelines."

Saints Stadium Update 

There's not really anything new included in this report, rather it's a notice that Gov. Blanco begins meeting with New Orleans political and business interests to discuss the future of whichever project will move forward.

So far the Saints performance on the field this year, though I don't believe it should make a difference, probably isn't helping their cause too much.

Jayzus 

Shorter Advocate Editorial: Even though John Kerry made a "reasonable point" when he spoke about a "global test" in Thursday's debate, we're going to attack his foreign policy as if he meant something completely different.

Considering last Thursday's pre-debate editorial, I think we can make "Thursday is Hack Day" a new Timshel feature. This should be fun. How long before Douglas Manship realizes that at least one person on his staff is making a mockery of his editorial page?

06 October 2004

Wow 

I think Wonkette is generally hilarious, though her schtick wears thin if I spend too much time over there, but I've been waiting all day to see if she'd respond to Somerby's smack down on her recent high-pro appearances talking about the debates:
Why was Cox on the air last night? For the same reason that she appeared on the cover of the September 26 New York Times Magazine. The Times put Cox on the cover because she plays The Vacuous Girl—even better, The Vacuous Girl Who’s Prepared To Talk Dirty. For the same reason, the Washington Post put Jessica Cutler on its August 15 magazine cover. (“Blog Interrupted,” the headline/summary said. “When Jessica Cutler put her dirty secrets on the Web, she lost her job, signed a book deal, posed for Playboy—and raised a ton of questions about where America is headed.”) If you don’t understand that this is why these attractive, potty-mouthed Girls were featured on those magazine covers, you really need to go back to school and repeat Life on Earth 101.

Last night, NBC’s coverage struck us as strange; we’ll study the transcripts before commenting further. But how low will your press corps’ cultural horizon go? Last night, Brokaw embarrassed himself when he put the vacuous Cox on the air. She was there because she’s young and attractive—and, of course, because she talks dirty. Given thirty minutes to discuss your nation’s future, Brokaw let you rub your thighs by putting this simpering clown on the air. But then, the nets still love The Dirty Girl. Everything changed on September 11. Everything changed except that.
So far there's been nothing, but Somerby's got a real point here. I love reading Wonkette, but she has no place on NBC's or anyone else's post debate coverage. She said something about the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man that I still can't quite make sense of. I don't know if Brokaw meant to include more time with her and the blogger from Powerline, but her completely pointless statement left him speechless. He thanked her, practically thinking out lout that she'd never be invited back on his show again. Or at least one hopes so.

The Times 

For a variety of reasons I've got a number of links to New York Times articles in my inbox today, but the one I haven't gotten from anyone yet was their Sunday exposee of squirrel hunting season in south Louisiana. In a story filled out of Ville Platte (the jewel of Evangeline Parish) Jere Longman straddles the line between condescension and appreciation so common each time New York Times reporters poke their heads into Louisiana culture.
Ville Platte High School shut down at noon on Friday. Sacred Heart High School did not open at all. Friday night schoolboy football - a consuming passion in this Cajun prairie town of 9,000 - was pushed to Thursday night this week.

Friday, instead, was a day for preparing, for loading pickup trucks with guns, pots, stoves, generators and all-terrain vehicles, and for heading into the woods.

While fathers and sons hunt this weekend, wives and daughters shop in Baton Rouge, 70 miles to the east, or in Lafayette, 45 miles to the south. But some women cannot resist the woods, including Alycia McDaniel, the homecoming queen at Pine Prairie High. "Excitement rushes through your body when you see a squirrel and you say, 'I've got to shoot it,' " she said.
For the record, most of my friends hunted deer and ducks. I didn't know many people who went wild for squirrels, but I am from the big city of Lafayette, so what the hell do I know? At any rate, go read the whole thing if you're interested in what those liberal elitist think of our tradition of sportsmanship in Louisiana.

Cheap Shot Alert 

LSU getting $9 million, 5-year grant for regional STD center

Nevermind, this one's not even worth it...

Oops... 

Just wanted to point out that I said this last night:
Cheney may want to be careful of sending people to FactCheck.org, because when I went there earlier there was the bit about Halliburton, an article that doesn't really address the specific criticisms that Edwards made about doing business with Iran and other nations under sanctions, but rather discusses the Cheney divestment from the company. The majority of fact check pieces deal with debunking loads of Bush/Cheney '04 flim-flam from the last three months. If people spend any time looking around there they're going to find a lot more debunking of charges against the Democratic ticket than they will supporting the GOP candidates.
Now FactCheck.com was apparently inundated with hits last night, and there's probably a good chance that people eventually found their way to FactCheck.org where this helpful new information about last night's debate appears:
"Cheney got our domain name wrong -- calling us FactCheck.com -- and wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton.

In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.
By means of a helpful reminder to the Vice President, when you're lying through your teeth it's best not to direct people to a website that specializes in exposing untruths, at least not when they aren't in your pocket.

Now it's possible that Cheney knew the FactCheck.org people wouldn't back him up, so he directed viewers to a safe site that sounded like the real thing, but was in fact a spam portal. This way the only people who figure out the dissembling are the folks with the presence of mind to check the statement and who might have been following politics closely enough to know that the ".com" should have been a ".org". It would give the appearance to most viewers that they didn't have to take the charges seriously, but in reality it's just another bit of misdirection from the Vice President. I don't put anything past these guys, but that kind of maneuvering strikes me as too clever by half. Who knows?

via nearly everyone on the sidebar...

Morrell Profile 

The theme seems to be, "did we mention he's black?"

Read it and get to know the guy who will hopefully bring a little partisan energy back to Louisiana Democrats even if he won't make much of a dent in the race for US Senate.

Shameful 

How can the The Times-Picayune write about church trials of accused priests being conducted in secret wihtout even mentioning Archbishop Alfred Hughes's connections to the tragedies uncovered in Boston a few years ago? Here's a taste of something the Pic doesn't tell you:
Bishop Alfred Hughes, now archbishop of New Orleans. In 1992, Hughes received a call from the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office regarding a Hingham pastor named Father John Hanlon, who had been indicted on child-rape charges. Hughes knew Hanlon had other victims. But he withheld the names of those who had complained to the Boston archdiocese.
In the case of these New Orleans events, AD spokesman, the Rev. William Maestri, says this:
[T]he public may never know the final disposition of the landmark proceedings.

Church trials are conducted in private, Maestri said. Archdiocesan officials have the final say on disclosing tribunal rulings to the public.

"I think that would be handled on a case-by-case basis depending upon the judgment of the Archdiocese on the need to know," Maestri said.
Does the Archbishop have any credibility to be involved in making this decision? I don't know, but the Picayune doesn't seem to care.

3rd District News 

Patrick Courreges redeems himself for normally just cutting and pasting from candidate press releases. If you want to get a look at the Tauzin III press release on his education plan just click here. The bit of the report you can find that strikes me is right here. It looks like an opposing campaign finally got a press aide who's on top of things:
Tauzin said the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, aimed at improving school performance and student education nationally, have not been fully funded, and though the state has seen more education dollars from the federal government, it's still an unfunded federal mandate.

In a news release earlier this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee blasted Democratic candidate Melancon for making statements in a similar vein -- that the federal government is not fully funding the No Child Left Behind requirements.
Republicans love to call Democrats flip-floppers for being for the NCLB and then against it. Cheney threw it in John Edwards face last night too, and Bush regularly uses it on the campaign trail, but how demanding that a program is actually fully funded is somehow being against it, I can't quite figure out. Apparently the NRCC knows something none of the rest of us do. At any rate, I'm glad that the reporting in the Advocate has finally moved beyond inserting words between press-releases. That's what bloggers do, not paid journalists.

Meanwhile, the Pic profiles Charlie Melancon, Sugar Cane League president and front-runner among the Democrats in LA-3. Get to know him because there's an extremely good chance he'll be the next Congressman from south-eastern coastal Louisiana.

Stating the Obvious 

As an infrequent but continuing Timshel feature I like to point out stories about "experts" and consultants getting paid to come in to Louisiana and tell us things we already know. This seems to be particularly important to educators. One reason is surely that things are so bad off for the state of education in Louisiana that state leaders feel it's good to bring in people for an outside perspective. Of course, the real problem may be that state officials are spending too much time with consultants looking to make a buck off of our problems and not enough time in real efforts to reform the system.

It's unclear who paid for this, but the Louisiana Board of Regents--who oversee the public college and university system--were in the middle of a two day retreat when the head of some private firm in Colorado that advises states on higher education issues spoke to them. This is what he told our distinguished board:
trim high school and college dropout rates -- dubbed holes in the education pipeline. Only 12 of 100 students who start high school earn a college diploma.

boost job skills for adults without high school diplomas, which is the aim of a new state commission that launched its effort last month.

find ways to diversify the state's economy, which Jones said is the only way to generate more state aid for colleges and universities.

try to narrow education and economic disparities even though the litany of social and other problems is a daunting task.
Now I imagine that our friend from Colorado is the only person around that actually knows the best ways to address these issues, and this whole retreat was nothing more than an interview for his firm to get paid by the state to help us with these things, but this is just getting ridiculous. For all I know, the consulting group may have actually paid for the retreat since it was hosted by some big time state lobbyist in Baton Rouge. God knows how much state officials are influenced by these things, but this cannot be good for us.

Hate Amendment Nullified... 

For now at least. The state papers cover the ruling in this morning's editions, but the whole story basically boils down to the fact that as the written the "Definition of Marriage" Amendment deals with separate issues, one of which is the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, the other being the prevention of the recognition of a legal status similar to marriage for any unmarried individuals.

From the sound of things, the judge liked the intent of the amendment, but couldn't justify it on constitutional grounds. So he gets some points for honesty:
"The issue here is whether the issue was properly put to the voters," he said, not one of gay or lesbian rights. "It is not about public support or public morality. It is about compliance with the Constitution. . . . Emotion has no impact and no effect on this case. This is a matter of law."

...

The judge said his ruling "in no way prohibits the state from introducing a same-sex marriage ban" and a ban on other unions -- as long as they are covered in separate constitutional amendments.
If this ruling holds up, which certainly isn't assured, this only means that we'll be facing this amendment again next year.

The fact of the matter is that this amendment would never have been struck down if the state legislature hadn't been so intent on stripping any ability whatsoever of gays and lesbians to ever have some kind of legal recognition of their relationships in the state of Louisiana. If they were really concerned about just marriage and not codified discrimination against homosexuals, the amendment would have passed just as easily and probably would not have been vulnerable to challenges on state constitutional grounds. Instead they overreached by placing language about the legal incidents of marriage, and now it's probably likely they'll have to go back next year and write two new amendments to send to the voters. Then Louisiana will have the chance to say one way or the other whether or not we choose to discriminate against gays and lesbians instead of hiding behind the need to "protect marriage".

More here, here, and here.

05 October 2004

Ha! 

I swear to you that less than an hour and a half ago I checked out Factcheck.com and it was one of those bothersome sites you get when you insert a URL that's a letter off from what you meant. In other words, it was nothing but one of those "search engine"/spam portals designed to link mostly to porn and other undesirable corners of the World Wide Web. Now it's directed to a message from George Soros. It helps to be rich! Take that Cheney! Good night, folks.

RIP Rodney Dangerfield 

At times like these we should all try to remember the joy brought to each and every one of us from classic films like "Back To School" and "Meet Wally Sparks"

Okay, so not all of his roles could be as good as Al Czervik in "Caddyshack", but if you ever run by a premium channel that's carrying any of his stand up bits--and it happens more than you might imagine--you should give it a look. It's one thing to occasionally use self-deprecating humor; it's another to build an entire act around it, and he made it look like comedic genius.

After a recent stint with a brain surgeon people probably started to realize the end was near for the old comic. He began to speak publicly about he and his wife's desire to have himself cloned. I can't remember who I recently saw interviewing the two of them, but it was a surreal affair. Dangerfield kept his sense of humor about the whole thing, but you could clearly see a man grappling with his undeniable mortality.

Oh well, maybe some lucky cable network will dedicate a weekend to his movies.

Following Up 

One thing I ought to note, though, is the endless dissembling by Dick Cheney, which, frankly, we've come to expect by now and is one of the disadvantages to anyone who has to prepare for a debate with him. The disadvantage is that you can have little to no idea of what he'll say if he's not bound by the facts, so you have to show some real innovation and quick thinking. Anyway, there are a ton of bloggers fact checking the Veep right now, and you can click on the sidebar for that, but I'll point to TalkLeft in particular (start at "Cheney Connected 9/11 and Iraq" and just scroll on down), but for sheer simplicty, TPM sums it up as well as anyone:
Another point that I believe will ripple over the next few days is that Vice President Cheney told a number of just straight-up falsehoods during the foreign policy portion of the debate. And that creates lots of grist for Democrats in the on-going debate spin war.
It better, but until very recently I haven't had much faith in the Dems to point these things out to the general public.

No clear winner 

I suspect the chattering classes will call this a win for Cheney, and they are probably more or less right, but the dynamics of the race will not be affected by this one. The debate itself was a snoozer once Ifill asked Cheney to openly discuss his gay daughter live on television in front of God knows how many millions of viewers. When John Edwards went on to explicitly congratulate and express his respect for the love Cheney has for his daughter the wheels fell off the whole thing. Edwards's reminder to the people watching the debate walked a fine line between the real respect one can have for an opponent and the deep cynicism it would take to tell the world not to forget that "this man has a daughter who is a lesbian." I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but I won't forget about it.

The attacks were as familiar as they've been throughout the race, though I'm not sure that John Edwards deflected them as efficiently as did Kerry last Thursday. He was good at turning some of Cheney's attacks back on the GOP with regard to the flip-flopping charges, medical malpractice, and the two or three jabs he took at Halliburton. And speaking of which, Cheney may want to be careful of sending people to FactCheck.org, because when I went there earlier there was the bit about Halliburton, an article that doesn't really address the specific criticisms that Edwards made about doing business with Iran and other nations under sanctions, but rather discusses the Cheney divestment from the company. The majority of fact check pieces deal with debunking loads of Bush/Cheney '04 flim-flam from the last three months. If people spend any time looking around there they're going to find a lot more debunking of charges against the Democratic ticket than they will supporting the GOP candidates.

Anyway, I haven't listened to the pundits yet and haven't really seen the instant polls, but in my mind Cheney probably came out slightly ahead, but certainly not decisively. The debate on Friday will be a bust because everyone and their mother will be out and about, so it all comes down to the one next week. I'm very confident with our chances in the debates. Unfortunately I'm not as confident in our chances of actually winning come November. I'll do my part.

NRCC runs ads in Seventh 

I just saw an ad attacking state Sen. Willie Mount that was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. I can't find any links to the ad itself, but it's the typical, "she's bad for Louisiana because she'll raise taxes" business that you could expect from the Republicans.

Republicans see LA-7 as a pickup opportunity, but they have to find a way to build support for Charles Boustany while also knocking off one of the two Democrats who are polling well enough to end up in an all Dem runoff. Any six year old could look at the district and figure the best bet is to knock off the white Democrat, so that's who the Republicans are targeting.

At any rate, I imagine most of the data is mined from Mount's support for the Stelly Plan, which amounts to an income tax hike on middle and upper income residents while eliminating state sales taxes on essential items like food and clothes, but it's hard to tell since I can't get a better look at the ad.

The NRCC blog links to a subscription only Roll Call item about the ad campaign here.

This signals one of two things to me. Either the campaign is desperate that Thibodaux's support is not as easy for Boustany to pick up as they once thought, so the only thing to do is to go after the votes of the more conservative Democrat, or they're confident that they'll be in the runoff anyway and are trying to pick their opponent. They have so much money that it really could be either one.

Senate Forum News 

The news is that they're having one on October 11, which isn't big news in and of itself, but KATC's Darla Montgomery wants to know what Acadiana residents are concerned about so she can consider posing our questions to the candidates.

Email her at darla.montgomery@katc.com.

Huzzah for Activist Judges (attempt 4) 

off the AP:
A state judge Tuesday threw out a Louisiana constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that was overwhelmingly approved by voters on Sept. 18.

Judge William Morvant said the amendment was flawed as drawn up by the Legislature because it had more than one purpose — banning not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions.
It doesn't take a legal scholar to know this one is going to be appealed, but for now we can enjoy a brief moment of contentment in a state that does not actively discriminate against its own citizens.

Man am I mad at blogger today. I have had a variety of different posts about this in the last thirty minutes, but if you're wondering how a constitutional amendment can be unconstitutional, I'm not quite sure. Hopefully we'll see a longer report about the decision in tomorrow's papers.

Get Your Debate On 

The folks from Get Your Act On are having another debate party tonight in the Bywater. If you went last time I guess they didn't have the big screen for the debate, but it's promised this week. Anyway, here's the relevant info:
WHEN: TUESDSAY, OCTOBER 5, 2004, 7PM
WHAT: THE ONLY VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE!
WHERE: 906 Mazant Street, New Orleans, LA 70117
(corner of Mazant and Burgundy in the Bywater - see http://www.GetYourActOn.com/directions for complete directions)
MORE INFO/CONTACT: http://www.GetYourActOn.com or call (504) 914-6860

Join Get Your Act On and watch the Vice Presidential showdown tuesday night between VP Dick Cheney and VP nominee John Edwards on our large screen (yes, we will have the large screen this time) in the yard. We've got plenty of room, so bring as many people as you like. No RSVP is necessary.

The party starts at 7pm and the debate starts at 8pm. Bring your jazzfest foldup chairs to sit on (we will also have plenty of blankets for sitting), snacks and refreshments to share - and the outdoor bar will be open serving cocktails and beer at 9th Ward prices.
Have fun. I hear Vice President Cheney's sneer is even more endearing when it's projected onto a giant screen.I will eat your children!

Disgusting 

This cannot be good for the beer industry, though I'm a little interested in the caffeine gimmick (some non-binding registration req.):
Anheuser-Busch Inc. is launching a new beer - infused with caffeine, ginseng and fruit flavors - that the nation's largest brewer hopes will attract some young adult drinkers who shun traditional beers.

...

B-to-the-E will certainly qualify as something different, Lachky and McGauley said.

It will be flavored with ginseng and guarana - a tropical berry that grows in the Amazon region of South America. It also will have aromas of blackberry, raspberry and cherry, with a taste that's both lightly sweet and tart, McGauley said.
"B-to-the-E" apparently means something like Bud-to-the-extra. I've been a pretty reliable Budweiser drinker since I was teenager, though lately I prefer the "High Life", but I don't know how I can abide by a company that would introduce this to the marketplace. I've always had trouble reconciling my love for all things Abita with their unyielding promotion of the poisonous Purple Haze, but considering the quality of the rest of their product I think it's okay to let them slide. Fortunately the A-B folks don't offer anything that's quality, so I can write them off permanently.

BTE 

Surely the Clinton Library can find a bigger headliner for their opening night bash?

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to be critical of the boys from Louisiana, though you wouldn't ever mistake me for their biggest fan, but what happened to the "Hollywood elite" and "decadent left" who are among Big Bill's biggest supporters? He couldn't get Madonna out there to open up his library, or Babs? I guess he's trying to ham up the down-home image.

I think the guys from Better Than Ezra are big libs. I've seen them perform before Al Gore spoke at some rally in Jackson Square in 2000, and I think I've read about them with other Democratic Party pols in the past. Congrats to them on their big gig.

By the way, these guys are overexposed and they're not even big.

Kennedy Profile 

John Kennedy is number two in the Advocate's multi-part series on the Senate candidates in this years elections. His candidacy can be boiled down in to a single statement at the end of the report:
"I also have the benefit of being a free man. I will not be beholden to the PACS (political action committees), Washington law firms who have supported my opponents," Kennedy said.
This is silly since we all know that should he enter the Senate the first thing he'll see are sixteen hundred lobbyists who can't wait to line his PACkets with campaign contributions.

I really wish these kinds of profiles tried harder to give us a sense of what these candidates believed in instead of just rehashing their records and their previous runs at public office. I think one of the reasons people love Barack Obama so much is that he offers some kind of abiding vision for where the nation is and our future. Voters get tired of candidates who simply rattle off talking points about their political positions. This is especially true in Louisiana where one candidate tries to out-moderate the next on everything from prescription drugs to economic development. The candidates all sound more or less the same, so how can we make decisions about these people with out knowing what informs the decisions they make? That's why that Pic profile of Kennedy which named his favorite authors as among the great existentialist philosophers was so strange and welcome. That's the kind of thing that you don't hear very often, but it's hardly trivial since it can say so much about a person.

None of this is meant to say that records aren't important, because they undoubtedly are, but these candidate profiles could be so much more than recitations of things that careful newspaper readers probably already knew about the candidates.

Weird 

The Democratic Party is pulling out all the heavy hitters around the state to endorse Kip Holden for East Baton Rouge Mayor-President.
Joining Blanco were U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Attorney General Charles Foti, Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley, Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, state Treasurer John Kennedy, and state Rep. William Daniel. Daniel ran third in the primary and endorsed Holden on election night.
Even Chris John sent a letter in to announce his endorsement. It really is quite a display of party-discipline among elected Democrats in Louisiana that is something of a refreshment, but it seems odd to pull out all these stops on a municipal race. I wonder if anything else is going on here...

Registration Problems 

There must have been some pretty nasty reports from would be New Orleans voters about problems with the DMV and voter registration. Apparently DMV employees were telling people who came to register that they might not get their forms mailed in time for them to vote in the Presidential election. Of course, it's not up to the person registering to mail in their form to the registrar when they go to the DMV, but that didn't matter much yesterday.

Things seem to have been cleared up by the afternoon, but not after countless voters probably questioned whether or not it will be worth it to even bother to show up on November 2. The DMV is usually the most-maligned of any state agency in any state in the country. People who registered there will be able to vote next month, but it probably won't be through the hard work or competence of the people who work there.

Then there's always the possibility that this was a suppression tactic, but I doubt that.

04 October 2004

Hmmm... 

Well, the McKenzie trade finally went down, but after the weekend's performance I'm tempted to ask what a fat lot of good it will do.

I'll miss J.T. O'Sullivan and his flowing locks on the sideline for the rest of the season, but the second round draft pick doesn't seem like a big deal since the Saints already had two to play around with for 2005. ESPN doesn't specify what the conditional draft pick is about, but I suspect the Packers may have to ante up a little bit more if J.T. O'Sullivan becomes ends up starting some games later on in the season or something.

I wish we could have traded coaching staffs too.

At least we know there's a suspect 

Vandalism against Bush supporters in Madison, WI.

Just the other day Matt proved he is clearly above nothing (scroll down to "I think I'm above this), not even the lowest of the low, and after he got his hands on those Bush administration playing cards surely it was only a matter of time before all the Bushistas in liberal Madison were branded Nazis.

You Forgot Poland 

How long before we hear that this is all John Kerry's fault for denigrating the coalition by forgetting about the beleaguered nation during the first debate?

via PoliticalWire.com

BookTV 

Murph loaned me Nicholson Baker's assassinate the President book, which I managed to burn through in a couple of free hours this weekend. If you want to comment on this post, be careful, because I'm worried that just linking to the Amazon entry for Checkpoint is like an invitation for the men in suits and sunglasses to start watching the goings on around here.

I'd never read Baker before, so this is an interesting introduction to his work. If you haven't heard about it, Checkpoint consists of a 115 page transcript of a conversation between two old friends, Jay and Ben. Jay more or less tricks Ben into meeting him at a hotel room where Jay wants to record his reasons for assassinating George Bush. Baker is often hilarious, and it's the conversation's diversions into paranoid conspiracies and fantasies about non-existent weapons where Baker is at his funniest. The two men are truly like-minded, though one is somewhat desperately trying to convince his friend that he's going to do the wrong thing.

I'm not really sure, but it seems like Baker wants to leave the reader questioning what would lead one of two men who basically agree that George Bush is evil and a murderer to plan out an attack on the President. The answers are more than hinted at with explicit statements from Jay about contributing to the world, and plenty of allusions to an unfortunate past of divorce and a string of lowly jobs. Below that there are more troubling questions that might arise in someone who speaks of the President with terms like "evil" and "murderer". As the President himself regularly points out, the only response to evil is to destroy it, so who is the sane one among the friends? The one who sees evil and wishes to end it or the one who sees evil and would prefer to avoid it by picking up the hobby of arbor photography?

Troubling as that question may be, it's also the weakness of the novel for setting up a situation where there are only two responses instead of the many that our republic offers. The result is a reactionary novel that falls a little short of its potential. It's worth your time, but as Murph says, don't get it from a library lest you get some unwanted knocks on your door. Borrow it from a friend if you have the chance.

Chris John 

Marsha Shuler pens the first in what will be a series of Advocate candidate profiles of the candidates looking to fill John Breaux's Senate seat in the next Congress. Today it's Chris John, and it's about as boring as you'd expect from his commercials, if you've seen them.

John has been a politician for most of his life, and his instincts reflect the kind of moderation that one expects from an Acadiana Democrat who came of age during the tumult of the era of Edwards. I'm not one to think these things really matter much, but I'm more than surprised that Shuler doesn't delve a little deeper into the connections between John, whose wife worked as a press aide for Edwards, and the incarcerated former Governor. Of course any Democrat from Crowley would have found it pretty difficult not to have a thousand connections in one way or another to Edwin Edwards, but the state media usually can't wait to make hay over these details.

I'm also glad I finally got something cleared up that's been bugging me since the day before the gubernatorial election when I spoke to a state Representative named John R. Smith, who I was sure at one point told me he was Chris John's father. I mentioned it then, but I couldn't make sense of the name. Shuler informs us that Smith is actually John's father-in-law. At the time I asked Rep. Smith if Chris John was going to be the next Senator from Louisiana, though it was a month or so before Breaux had made his retirement final, and obviously well before John announced his entry into the race. Smith was coy then, but now he's been all over the state selling his son-in-law's candidacy.

At any rate, consider this an official Timshel correction that's nearly a year in coming. What can I say, I'm only perfect most of the time.

Tomorrow is John Kennedy, I wonder if whoever wrote this one will follow up on Kennedy's philosophical foundations that were discussed in the Pic a couple of weeks ago.

Register Today 

If you haven't already, today is the last day you can register to vote if you expect to pull the lever in the Presidential election (as well as various other federal elections and local runoffs) on November 2. Get thee to one of the following places and register as a Democrat. You'll be part of something important. I swear.

Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicle offices
Louisiana Department of Social Services offices and WIC offices, Food Stamp offices, and Medicaid offices
Offices serving persons with disabilities, such as the Deaf Action Centers and Independent Living offices
Armed Forces Recruitment offices
or, of course, your local registrar of voters office.

Normally new Louisiana voters must be registered at least thirty days prior to the election they plan to vote in, but because that fell on a Saturday for this election the deadline is extended to include this Monday. If you've been involved in voter registration projects don't forget that you must turn in your cards or you will have done a whole lot of work for nothing.

03 October 2004

Pitiful 

Whoever runs the ball at tailback for the Saints scout team offense must have the easiest job in the entire NFL. If anybody played well in this game I don't know who it was. Steve Gleason was good, I guess.

At least my Cajuns have a winning record after five games for the first time in what feels like a thousand years.

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