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23 October 2004

Friday Fiber on Saturday 

Trying to catch up from a trying week.... Good bulk this week, the fiber news was substantial.

The big news was that LUS set a firm plan for moving fiber through the council, a sequence which no longer requires the parish's premier politicians to be sit through an contentious debate, and cast a controversial vote on election night. That was crazy: it would have interfered with the party or wake the councilmen are sure to attend. (Incidently, here in Lousiana the two would look just the same to outsiders.) (Advertiser, Advocate, Advocate follow-up, LPF remarks)

There will be two presentations for public comment, one on the 9th of November and one on the 16th. The vote will also be on the 16th. If you have a taste for "I was there." stories make the 16th—it really will be a historic moment for Lafayette. Shoot, you might even want to pick up one of those cards and testify (in favor, of course) on the topic.

The run up to the vote has been interesting with Councilman Williams playing a little politics with a topic he really can't, and can't possibly want to, vote against—but his ploy raises the profile of digital divide issues which really should be discussed. At issue is the idea floated, which certainly served to solidify north Lafayette council votes, to make a major push on lowering the initial, entry, cost of computers (or something similar?) for consumers. This could involve everything from leasing, to financing, to giving them away with long-term contracts a la cell phones. Making sure this happens and doing it Right is a major public concern. The temptation, for instance may be to go with some version of Microsoft's failed internet appliance simply for reasons of cost. That sort of mistake which would lock poorer consumers into a failed technology that provides minimal access to advanced technology would be an unforgivable mistake that would defeat the purpose of the initiative. A case for concealing details of the marketing plan and perhaps even some technical details that bear on marketing can understandably (if not convincingly) be made. But not having a full bore public discussion on the digital divide issues simply makes no sense; and if there is no purpose then it really is a dereliction of duty not to get the public involved. This is, or should be, one of the major ways in which LUS is not like Cox or BellSouth.

More interesting perhaps, is the silence of the incumbents. Except for a foolish mail-merged letter to "opinion leaders" by Cox there has been no public outcry from the incumbents. And considering the history locally and the current story (see the continuing saga of the Tri-Cities whose referendum requirement has been thoroughly abused by a massive misinformation waged by the incumbents there. As far as I can see Cox is simply trying one last thing, having abandoned scaring the public and trying to enlist the public in stampeding the council it is now trying to get Lafayette's "leadership" layer to be afraid enough to contact their councilmen. That's not working either. Look for some certain-sounding but actually vague "plans" to roll out fiber by the incumbents in the coming week. The problem here is that the corporations been too slow to abandon their preferred strategy of fear which has done more to generate distrust of the incumbents than the intended fear of LUS' plan. They've poisoned the well of trust on which any credible "positive offer" can be based.

Really, the political part is over and LUS has won. Look for the next front: The incumbents will sue. Sue without hope of success, since there are no real grounds, but simply to delay and raise the costs of the project.


22 October 2004

They really like her 

In Ed Renwick's poll conducted over the weekend, Governor Kathleen Blanco has a 54% favorable rating, five points more than George Bush in the same poll. No word on what the Kerry number is.

The author of the report makes a point to say this is well behind what Mike Foster had back at this time during his first term, but to be fair, things were better for everyone back in the middle of the Clinton Presidency. Now Blanco has a whole host of problems that have finally caught up with our state.

Blanco popular 

In Ed Renwick's poll conducted over the weekend, Governor Kathleen Blanco has a 54% favorable rating, five points more than George Bush in the same poll. No word on what the Kerry number is.

The author of the report makes a point to say this is well behind what Mike Foster had back at this time during his first term, but to be fair, things were better for everyone back in the middle of the Clinton Presidency. Now Blanco has a whole host of problems that have finally caught up with our state.

Following Up 

Surprise, non-lethal weapons are frequently lethal.

A detainee in my home town recently had a little problem with non-lethal weapons as well.

Look, I understand the need to have some kind of means to subdue violent crowds or the incarcerated, but often the police rely on these things as if they are perfect, instead of attempting to find more civilized means by which to control a situation. The fact is that non-lethal weapons are regularly "faulty"--by which I mean they often kill people--but they are often becoming a first response for police officers who believe that the weapons are infallible. That doesn't mean these machines should be taken out of the hands of officers, but police forces around the country need to demonstrate that they are training their recruits with more appropriate means of conflict resolution than going straight to the rubber bullets, pepper bags, and electric shocks.

Time Killing Game of the Week 

A perfect storm of events prevented me from providing this feature last week, so I'll go with two games to make up for it this time around. The first is a memory game in which you're treated to a brief flash of stars in the sky, which you must quantify in a very short period of time. Points are based on whether or not you can correctly identify how many there are. It's a simple enough concept, but it gets difficult relatively quickly as the amount of stars begins to increase. A photographic memory would be a big help on this one. If 12many isn't your thing, it's good brain exercise at the very least.

Not like this (kind of) first person shooter in which you get to control George W. Bush and Q.E.II in order to protect the city of London from dirty Arab terrorists. It's easy, but fun. It's not the old one you've probably played that's set in the White House, but it's not much different from that one. Anyway, go play Bush Royale Rampage.

Top Ten Lists 35s 

Murph puts together a list of his top 35 films of all time, and, like the Constitution, it's something of a living document. Go tell him what's missing...

And on the reccommendation of Richard P., here's a website I've neglected from the sidebar. Lot's of libs around the b-sphere have been linking to BullMooseBlog.com lately; now Timshel follows suit.

My Girl Likes to Party All the Time! 

where's my brew?

by way of Drudge...obviously.

This may be posted twice due to slow blogger responses...

What no pictures? 

Stocton and Tweed link to the news of Ann Coulter's victimization by pie. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person.

Thibodaux 

The Advertiser's Marsha Sills "profiles" David Thibodaux, completing their look at the candidates in the 7th. Interesting things you may not have known about the candidate: he counts Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway as his favorite authors in a graphic not included in the online version of the story. I had never read Winesburg, Ohio before I took his class, but he really drives home an appreciation for the novel (don't call it a collection of short stories...). As he tells it, and I can't verify that this actually happened, he was accused of being a pornographer by local Democrats during his challenge of the '96 Congressional results which left him twelve votes shy of a runoff, because he wrote his dissertation on Sherwood Anderson and his most important work. You won't find that in the profile of Thibodaux either, but it's an interesting piece of his political history.

Democrats Shocked to Find David Vitter Owned House in Old Metairie 

That's the way this headline may as well have read, because I'd be willing to bet nearly everyone in David Vitter's old neighborhood in the whitest area of New Orleans had "covenants" against black ownership. To his credit, said covenant was removed when he sold the house, but it was in the deed when he bought it. I'm sure some of the people who have been living out there for a long time still have these agreements attached to their property, and a fair amount of them probably think they should still be allowed to keep them.

It's hardly surprising that David Vitter, who represented the same district as David Duke in the state legislature, and now represents the whitest and most conservative federal district in the state of Louisiana lived in a neighborhood that tried to bar black people from moving in. Now a commercial he approves runs over and over again on conservative radio outlets that demagogues on the old racially divisive issues so familiar to Louisiana like welfare and immigration policy. And he skips out on forums hosted by black groups across the state. I don't think David Vitter's a racist, but this is the guy from the 1st district of Louisiana, a district created to lump all the people who ran away from the ever-increasing hordes of black people who live in New Orleans into one voting bloc. I imagine the Democrats will rightly try to make this a theme of the Vitter candidacy as we move towards the runoff. It's probably fair, but I think they can do better than a decades old covenant that whoever helped sell Vitter's house did his part to remove.

However, it's interesting to see that our friend Andrew Koneschusky has finally left the voting record behind is moving on to the property deeds and business deals. Eventually he's going to have move on to the man's sex life, right?

Debate Coverage 

Unfortunately the Advocate's coverage is short on specifics of the night. In it you can barely tell there was anyone there other than David Vitter and Chris John. Go ahead and give it a look, but Bill Walsh's report on the affair for the Picayune is probably the best portrayal of what went down at Angelle Hall last night. Gannett's Beverly Corbell does a decent job as well.

One more note about the proceedings. I have to give Chris John some credit for referring to the host university as "UL" and not "ULL" or "Louisiana-Lafayette." If he knows one thing, it's how to remind his base that he's one of them. On the other hand, this won't help him in Monroe.

21 October 2004

Senate Forum and a World Series Matchup 

I have to say that I'm almost a little relieved that the Astros lost tonight. Don't get me wrong, I was definitely rooting for them, but I don't know how I could have explained to my loyal readers that I was rooting for them in the World Series after expressing not much more than contempt for the entire state of Texas over the last fourteen months. Add to that the fact that my brother in Boston recently sent me down a "WWJDD? The Passion of Johnny" shirt as a birthday present, and I would have had quite the conflict of interests going in to the Fall Classic. Now I can confidently root for the Red Sox without offending my other family members living over with our neighbors to the west.

As for the Senate forum, I was leaning towards John Kennedy up until tonight, but after seeing the entire field in action, I have no doubt he'll have my vote November 2. I won't bore you with a recap of the night's events since all the big papers in the state will cover it more or less extensively, but Chris John was singularly unimpressive in tonight's meeting. He can't articulate his positions well, and twice responding to a question by David Vitter said, "I support welfare." Now there's nothing wrong with supporting welfare, but he can't say it that way or he'll never win another election for the rest of his life. The correct answer to the question should have been, "I support welfare-reform [which he does], but not the version David Vitter and his bosses in the Republican Party tried to ram through the House. That bill tried to force single mothers to work longer hours but didn't provide them with adequate child care or work training to allow them to achieve those hours. The bill Mr. Vitter supported was just a back door trick to reduce the welfare rolls by making it impossible for many families to qualify for any kind of government assistance, and that's simply not fair to women who are trying to raise their children in today's world." See, that's not that hard, and I mostly just came up with it off the top of my head.

On the other hand, David Vitter is going to get stomped by John Kennedy. During one moment of brief hilarity that can happen in these multi-candidate meetings (when candidates who are friendly to one another are allowed to gang up on the foil by asking each other questions that may as well be stated, "what's wrong with that guy over there who can't respond to our attacks because of this stupid format?" John Kennedy mentioned that David Vitter in an earlier debate said something to the effect of "I think the backbone of the American economy are the millionaires who create jobs for the rest of the workers." Kennedy may as well have just stopped his answer right there to let it sink in, but he made the perfunctory statement that the men and women who go to work everyday to make ends meet and raise a family constitute the backbone of our economy. He also managed to find a hundred different ways to harp on the deficit and what it means for our economy, and since David Vitter and Chris John are just as responsible as anyone else in the Congress for creating that deficit, it could really resonate.

Anyway, The long and short of it is that I'm impressed by John Kennedy, and I'm not by Chris John. This isn't too surprising, but there it is. Anyone else watch this?

Dept. of Terrible Ideas 

via Drudge, we get this idea being floated by Boston Mayor Tom Menino:

Mayor Thomas Menino told the news media later this morning that he was considering banning the serving of liquor in bars in the Fenway Park area once any World Series game gets underway.

Next up, Mayor Ray Nagin bans throws during Mardi Gras...

Conflicting Data 

Missed this last night and this morning when I discussed Ed Renwick's latest poll, but he has Bush's lead in Louisiana down to nine points. Unfortunately the AP reporting doesn't say what the totals are, but I'd bet Bush is somewhere between 45 and 50%, with the Democrat nine points behind whatever he's got.

I saw on television last night--sorry, can't remember where--that Bush's lead in places like NC, Arkansas, and Tennessee has shrunk somewhat inexplicably in the last week or so. This seems to indicate that black voters--of whom there are obviously many in southern states--are finally making up their minds in the south and closing the large gaps that Bush opened up in the last months. Louisiana Democrats shouldn't get too excited about this, as Bush will end up carrying the state by at least six points on November 2.

Gore Heads to Florida 

Now that's one way to energize the base. Bypass Bill is expected to be down in the sunshine state too. No stops will be left unpulled in the Kerry/Edwards '04 campaign.

via PoliticalWire.com

Weird 

Two posts from earlier in the afternoon seem to have completely disappeared from the blog. I surely didn't delete them by accident, but they're now nowhere to be found. I think Michael managed to comment on one of them earlier, but it apparently went down the memory hole. Has this happened to anyone else?

Go after him, Mary 

Damfa links to a video of our soon-to-be-Senior Senator from Louisiana getting disrespected by major tool Sean Hannity on Fox last night. It cuts off just as he's saying, "well, you're not the Vice President, and I doubt you ever will be." If Mary Landrieu was in studio I suspect she would have thrown him the back of her hand. He sure as hell earned it.

Like our "grandmotherly" governor, Mary Landrieu is no "shrinking violet," as she made clear a couple of weeks ago as a bit of legislation trundled through the Senate. I didn't link to it when it happened, but it's appropriate now for us all to remember why we like her more than John Breaux (not that I don't like John Breaux or anything, I just prefer Sen. Landrieu). She stands up for things that matter:
"I'm not going anywhere," Landrieu exclaimed at one point, threatening to keep the Senate in all night -- and possibly through late in the week -- if she could not get a vote on the measure.

Hours before senators reached agreement on an arrangement by which Landrieu was to get that vote on Monday, she stoically warned colleagues that she had made arrangements for her two small children and was ready to lead all-night filibusters to stop a vote on a bill offering $136 billion in tax breaks for manufacturers.

Landrieu was incensed that the final version of the bill did not include a tax credit to encourage employers to make up for the pay lost by members of the Reserve and National Guard who are called to active duty.

"I'm going to use all the parliamentary procedures available to me as a senator to fight for the 5,000 men and women in the state of Louisiana who are currently activated," she said. "If I have to stay on the floor for next four days, I intend to do that."

But shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, lawmakers said an agreement had been reached that would avert the marathon session.
As I understand it, Mary Landrieu is a woman you don't cross without expecting repercussions. A great story during the last Senate race comes from the mid-November meeting with Suzy Terrell during which Terrell repeatedly questioned the Senator's faith, at one point going so far as to say Landrieu had "abandoned" it for her support for abortion rights. Landrieu was so upset that after the televised portion of the rumble had ended she said something to the effect of "this is your last debate." Now, appropriately, there's not much left of Terrell's political career, and Landrieu's friends were all over the Foti campaign during last year's drubbing of her former opponent. Meanwhile the Landrieu grip on state power seems to be getting stronger every year.

Absentee Voting Begins 

Absentee voting starts today in Louisiana and will end this Tuesday at 4:30 in the afternoon. You can see whether or not you qualify to file an absentee ballot here. I'm not among the people who advocate early voting or absentee voting for its own sake, though I know many who take advantage of the opportunity to vote even though they know they would be able to pull the lever on election day. The practice creates more opportunities and the incentive for voter fraud. Of course, that doesn't mean that plenty of people don't have legitimate reasons to vote early, so for those of you who do, go out take care of your civic duty.

You can see a sample ballot for every Parish in the state here.

Public Service Now Illegal 

Okay, that may be going a little too far, but I don't know what to make of this sign imbroglio that's erupted in the outskirts of Lafayette (we call it "the con-tray"). Here are the highlights, but you can read the whole thing here:
Pat Juneau said they found four double-edged razor blades sticking out of the bottom of the sign. The blades could injure anyone trying to remove it.

The couple removed the first sign, then woke Wednesday to find two more Vitter signs near their home. One sign was on the 12 acres of property they own adjacent to their home near the intersection of U.S. 90 and Andres Road in Scott. A second sign was in the public right of way in front of their house.

Pat Juneau removed both signs Wednesday and that's when the trouble began.

Juneau surmised that an elderly neighbor had been planting the signs and called the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department.

A sheriff's deputy arrived and admonished Juneau for removing the sign out of the right of way and at one point even read him his rights.

"I told him he was nuts," Pat Juneau said. "If you can't take signs off your piece of property, what can you do?"

Under state law, it is illegal to place campaign signs in the public right of way. But Lafayette sheriff's deputies said the Juneaus did not have the authority to remove the signs.
So you can remove someone else's property from your own yard, but not from public spaces where they're placed illegally? Does this also go for trash that finds its way from someone's garbage can to the street? It sounds like this guy wasn't doing much more than removing litter from in front of his property, and he was nearly arrested for it. I can't find the Daily Advertiser report on this, which was in the paper at least a couple of days ago--and now the print edition is on the way to some recycling center in Lafayette--but I'm pretty sure Gerard Shields files his stories out of Washington, so I don't know if there's more here that he doesn't report on. However, it seems ridiculous that a citizen shouldn't be able to keep the area in front of his own property free from any kind of trash, whether it be the kind most people send out in garbage cans or political advertising.

No New Stadium 

Apparently the Saints front office sees the handwriting on the wall...
The New Orleans Saints are working on a new proposal to present to the governor, one that may back off demands for a new stadium in favor of revamping the Superdome.
I was never particularly confident that the Saints or the Governor would manage to find a politically acceptable solution to this ongoing problem, but it strikes me as unbelievably wasteful to just dump a quarter of the cost of a brand new complex into a renovation of the Superdome that would probably only guarantee five or six more years of the Saints in New Orleans.

As for the above reporting, we're left to take AP reporter Mary Foster's word for it that Benson and his staff are working on this new proposal since Fielkow or anyone else certainly isn't quoted agreeing with it, but I suspect the information had to come from somewhere reliable to make it even newsworthy.

Speaking of that Urban League Forum... 

The Pic takes a look at the goings on there last night. Not much to say about this, but it looks like the whole thing was a bash Vitter-fest since he didn't bother to show up to defend himself. I suspect we'll see some more of that at tonight's more public episode.

Confusion Reigns at Timshel Home Office 

Well, it seems that candidate forum at the Urban League yesterday was not at all the big to be televised. David Vitter didn't even bother to show up because of the questionable relationship he has with the Morial family (Marc Morial is the President of the Urban League, and many believe Vitter was behind the rather high-profile federal investigation of the former mayor's brother earlier this year).

At any rate, John Hill informs Gannett rag readers today that UL's Angelle Hall and LPB are all set to host a seven p.m. candidate forum this evening including all the major candidates for the Senate in Louisiana. Hill also manages to publish the latest set of numbers from Verne Kennedy's tracking poll, which seem to confirm John Kennedy's gains that I mentioned last night. In this new data David Vitter is up to 45%. All the numbers fall within the margin of error of Ed Renwick's poll for WWL, so there's something of a consensus on where the candidates currently stand.

Unfortunately nowhere in the story does it mention how to get tickets to the debate; I'll have to check in to that sometime today.

20 October 2004

New Senate Numbers 

WWL commissioned a poll from Loyola Institute of Politics director Ed Renwick, a former professor of your humble blog host, and got some startling numbers for the Chris John campaign. These portray a starkly different picture from the numbers I linked to in the poll done by Southern Media's Bernie Pinsonat last week and cited by this morning's Times-Picayune. In the new poll Vitter is still hovering just over forty percent, but John Kennedy is pulling a strong 18 points to Chris John's 15 percent. With more than twenty percent undecided and the majority of those likely to break towards Democrats mostly because all three candidates are still more or less unknown quantities it leaves the two Dems actually fighting for the second spot in the runoff a lot of room to grow. This is one of those cases where advertising down the stretch will likely make the difference in the final tally. For money reasons that puts Chris John in the best position. I'd also be surprised if the NRSC didn't hop in to try and pick their candidate for the runoff with some late negative advertising against Chris John, who they are clearly most concerned about facing on December 4.

Unfortunately the Senate forum didn't run in this market today. Did anyone else see it?

Oh yeah, how 'bout them Sox?

Correction 

I'm informed that an article I linked to a few weeks ago in the New York Times about squirrel hunting was actually written by a Ville Platte native. Any assumptions I made about his native land are in err.

I regret each and every one of my errors, but none are as embarrassing as the ones that are so easy to check on, like when I spent the first month with this thing referring to a Pic political reporter as a "she" who is most definitely a "he". Now that was something I felt pretty bad about. However, consider this a reminder that any time I'm doing something so stupid that you're embarrassed for me, please send me an email instead of pointing it out in the comments. It will spare us all--okay, just me--a red face.

Afternoon Diversion II 

New Orleans man reenacts stock sitcom plot.
He wanted a bit of company, so he bought a pair of bunnies. He ended up with more company than he could handle.

Given the run of the house, the little furballs did what rabbits are known for.

In less than a year, the man, whose name the Louisiana SPCA withheld on grounds that he was embarrassed enough already, had 73 rabbits. They chewed the furniture. They burrowed into chairs, couches and mattresses. They processed food faster than their owner could clean up after them.

Finally, said SPCA Executive Director Laura Maloney, he passed out. Then he moved out and called his doctor for help.
Moving right along...

Afternoon Diversion 

The Cowbell Project, apparently inspired by one of the funnier SNL sketches over the last ten years, seems to be in development, but it definitely has quite a lot of potential.

Watch "Behind the Reaper" here.

Odd 

The Bush campaign continues to play "Rock and Roll Part 2" at rallies despite repeated warnings--over the course of two campaigns no less--that it's writer and performer is an admitted and convicted child pornography freak. And we're not talking about sixteen year olds with their shirts off here:
[T]hat song is the signature hit of British glam-rock star Gary Glitter – who in 1999 was convicted of possession of horrific kiddie porn – including over 4,000 graphic images of boys and girls as young as 2-years-old being brutally raped.

The use of Glitter’s music by Bush was publicly exposed by top political columnist Lloyd Grove (sic. [/snark]) following a tip from me. It was the lead story in Grove’s “Lowdown” column in the New York Daily News on Thursday (October 14th) – an item headlined “Glitter bugs Bush rallies.”

...

A deeply embarrassed Bush campaign spokesman informed the newspaper that the music had now been dropped and would never be used again. Asked why they had been playing the music of a notorious pedophile rock star whose arrest, courtroom admission and conviction for possession of staggering quantities of child-rape pornography had received worldwide media coverage - the spokesman claimed “we didn’t know.” This statement appeared in the UK Mirror on Friday October 15th.

Unfortunately for the Bush campaign – which is legendary for its micro-management and precision planning – the claim directly contradicts a definitive statement that Team Bush made 4 years ago – by chance on virtually the same date - October 13th 2000.

That is because the entire situation is a blow-by-blow replay of a scandal that erupted in October of 2000. Same song by the same convicted pedophile rock star. Used by the same presidential candidate. Exposed by the same political commentator (that would be me!) Same challenge to the campaign by the same British newspaper. Same dumping of the song by the Bush team. And same claim of ignorance of Gary Glitter’s pedophile conviction by the campaign.
I don't think this is a particularly big deal, but it's strange that the campaign would go on with it knowing what they know about it. I understand that stadiums around the country have been banning this music after boycott threats and all kinds of other manner of recrimination from paying customers who don't feel that they should support the music of a criminal pornographer.

At any rate, this whole controversy is news to me, but it's something to think about the next time you're about to chant "hey" at the appropriate time at the next sporting event you attend.

Tip of the hat to The Talent Show...

Too Many Choice; No TiVo 

Thankfully the Astros game begins at 3:15 this afternoon, so in all likelihood it won't run over into the primetime hours, but I'm still left with a hell of a decision. In tonight's television lineup beginning at seven p.m. there's a possibility of two baseball LCS matchups, a Senate forum hosted by the Urban League in New Orleans, and, of course, the WB's Smallville, where teen heartthrob Clark Kent locks horns with the teener version of the Flash. I don't know what to do. Time to call Cox for their new DVR deal...

More Tauzin Impropriety 

How long will Louisiana's 3rd District voters put up with the Tauzin family's contempt for federal election law and ethics guidelines? It seems that Billy Tauzin the elder transferred $40,000 to the state GOP in the week before they began a spending spree to the tune of $100,000 in favor of B.T. III. Of course the FEC won't be able to prove--and probably won't bother to even try--any coordination between the campaigns, but hopefully voters in the southeastern Louisiana parishes will reject the sense of entitlement it takes to treat a seat in the House of Representatives like a birth right to be passed along from generation to generation.

Charmaine Caccioppi (does anyone know how to pronounce this woman's name?) is also rightly pissed that the DCCC has decided to funnel dollars into the race in favor of Charlie Melancon. I understand that they're desperate to get a single candidate into the runoff, but I'm critical of the Republicans for doing the same thing for a reason. National groups winnowing down the field of candidates on their own creates too many situations where the winner ends up without an independent voice. Like redistricting efforts designed to protect incumbency, this creates a divided and extremist chamber that can't build bipartisan consensus and rarely represents the interests of the people who end up electing them. It's an ugly consequence of the two-party stranglehold on American politics. Unfortunately, it's also self-reinforcing and the national parties have little reason to cut it out.

The Rich Get Richer 

David Vitter, despite $3.25 million in cash on hand and a money advantage of a factor of three to his nearest opponent is sending dollar bills to supporters and asking them to add a couple of hundred bucks to it to send back to the campaign as an "emergency donation" to fight off "liberal Democratic attacks."

Marsha Shuler rounds up the latest developments in the Senate campaign for the Advocate in this morning's edition.

Whoever the Democratic candidate is in the runoff will have a very tough row to hoe in the fundraising department. Both national parties will pour money in to the race, but the advantage Vitter is developing for his own campaign will make a huge difference come December 4. I'm growing more discouraged at the Democrats chance in this race by the day.

New Voters and the Bush Lock 

The Advocate's Marsha Shuler inks a piece on the 2.9 million voters in Louisiana right now, an all time high for the number of registered voters in this state.

More than a third of the 133,000+ voters added since last year's gubernatorial election have registered since September of this year and Fox McKeithen's office isn't finished with the job yet.

Republicans have registered more voters in the last year, but they still have a major gap to close to meet the number of registered Democrats, of whom there are roughly 1.45 million in the state.

There's a lot more interesting data included here, but I'll let you read it and make your own conclusions since I'm no demographics expert here.

Meanwhile all the polling done inside the state continues to show Bush with a commanding lead in the race for Louisiana's electors. I found Southern Media and Opinion Research, Inc. to have something of a favor for the Republicans in the last election, and that could account for a piece of the eighteen percent lead they give George Bush, but it's hard not to take every thing into account and still hold out much hope for John Kerry's chances in this state. One somewhat unbelievable piece of information Bernie Pinsonat reached in that poll shows that seventeen percent of likely Louisiana voters are either undecided or "unwilling to state" a preference. I find this very difficult to believe considering how much the number of undecideds has shrunk in so many other polls around the nation. That hardly invalidates the results, but it is something cast a little doubt on it.

Meanwhile, yesterday's Pic included a report on some Dems around the state who refuse to give up. Good for them. I wish the men and women running in federal elections this time around wouldn't have given up on John Kerry so early. When all the major Dems in the state running for office spend half their time running as far away from the guy on the national ticket as they can manage instead of standing up for their choice to vote for him, it looks terrible. In the end both candidates look weak. They deserve everything they get from David Vitter's and Charles Boustany's silly but constant refrains about the local Democratic candidates' connections to "liberal Democrats from Washington."

19 October 2004

More seamy, please 

Your Right Hand Thief highlights an article from The Gambit--for a minute I thought "Louisiana's largest weekly newspaper" meant "Where Y'at"-- about the glorified web-surfer doing opposition research for the Louisiana Democratic Party this election cycle. So far the dirt on Vitter has been pretty thin, but I suspect that either the campaigns or the Democratic Party has someone else they hire to actually dig up honest-to-God dirt that can't be found in a legislative record or campaign finance disclosure. At least I hope so.

That said, I was also intrigued by the connection ARMPAC has to all these Republicans in this state, and I'm just as disappointed as our friend from Vermont that it hasn't quite caught on yet.

Beat the Hogs Indians! 

I don't mean to harp on the long decline of Lafayette's local rag, the Daily Advertiser, and I especially don't mean to nitpick relatively minor factual errors, which some blogs tend to make a big deal out of.

However, if you're going to make the biggest story on the front page of the newspaper about the Homecoming activities taking place on the UL campus this week, then maybe you could at least avoid a completely idiotic mistake about the home team's opponent that occurs in the first few paragraphs:
The Ragin’ Cajuns take on Arkansas State at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The team is 3-4, but hasn’t lost a game at home. Fans hope they’ll come back from back-to-back losses to defeat the Razorbacks at homecoming.
Now Marsha Sills is probably pretty busy over at the Jefferson Street offices of the Daily Advertiser seeing as how she's only one of what must be a total of like five or so full-time non-sports staff writers, but didn't someone somewhere in the editorial process wonder how on Earth the Cajuns would have even managed to schedule the Arkansas Razorbacks--one of the leading teams in the SEC West Division--for homecoming? I often joke that the editors of this paper rarely read what they okay for press, but sometimes it's hard to simply call it a joke and leave it at that.

At any rate, if you're confused about what I'm talking about here's the home page for Arkansas State athletics, and here's the one for the University of Arkansas. If you don't know much about sports or higher education, this is almost the same thing as mistaking UL or UNO with LSU.

Birthday Wishes 

No, not to Kevin Drum, but to my brother Jim in Houston, who's in a fantastic mood after waking up to find the front page of the Houston Chronicle with headlines proclaiming not just the Astros last inning heroics, but that the Texas redistricting case is to get a second look in the lower court.

At any rate, I won't wish him a happy birthday with that ugly song about a Yellow Rose that Kevin Drum is supposed to love so much, but instead to remind him of his native land you all can ">listen to the state song of Louisiana written by the long-deceased country/western star and inveterate racist of a former Governor, Jimmie Davis.

The Dukes of Houma 

The long-awaited silver-screen version of the "The Dukes of Hazzard" is scheduled to begin filming soon in south Louisiana, and after a couple of slow weeks from his always entertaining column Chris Rose is absolutely on fire this morning.

Incidentally, I thought "Super Troopers" was hilarious.

The Money Trail 

The Pic reports on the fundraising numbers in the 1st and 3rd Districts in this morning's edition. It's hardly surprising that the Jindal juggernaut has raised over two million dollars and counting so far. He's spreading the wealth around to candidates in other races around the country, which could mean he'll have some serious potential to be a major player in Congress once the new one convenes this January. Whether or not it's a good thing for a Congressional candidate who doesn't need it to continue raising hundreds of thousands of dollars is a good thing I'll leave to my trusted readers.

Surprisingly, 3rd District Republican Craig Romero leads the money race despite the support of National Republicans and the state GOP for Billy Tauzin III. This explains why he's polling so well, and it's also troubling for any Democrats who might be hoping to break in to the runoff. Unfortunately, every day it looks like the chances of seeing a Dem in this race come November are shrinking. I'm all for Craig Romero showing the powers that be in the GOP the shaft, but it's too bad it will probably come at the expense of someone who would cast a vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

Meanwhile, in the Senate race David Vitter has more than three times the cash on hand ($3.25 million) looking towards the stretch run and the runoff than his nearest competitor, Chris John (he's looking at just over a million bucks).

And speaking of the Senate, the fight over just where the candidates stand on reimportation of drugs from Canada rages on. To sort this out in the press is an exercise in futility for reporters, especially considering that the Advocate doesn't seem to run "fact check" pieces, but Chris John really does have a problem on this issue. He's probably successfully confused the public enough to obscure his sorry record on it, but that doesn't mean that David Vitter is a champion of reimportation. The fact is, if you really want a candidate who you can trust to vote for and work for this, you ought to vote for John Kennedy or Arthur Morrell.

Boustany could always run in the House of Lords 

It's too bad campaigns these days aren't really won on the stump anymore, because this new controversy suggesting that the Boustanys were defrauded by a couple of Brits selling phony nobility titles is absolutely perfect for one-liners and the kind of derision most politicians only open themselves up to once in a lifetime.

Boustany attempts to blame it on his wife and claim that the titles were only papers and books of some historical significance related to his being named king of the Krewe of Troubadors during that year's Mardi Gras, but it looks like it's pretty clear from the Advocate's reporting that more or less the only thing hucksters Martin Lewis and Stefanos Kollakis were in the business of selling were phony titles of nobility. Now it's possible that the Boustanys really were simply on the kind of whim only the nouveau riche can experience and thought it would be a gas to spend thousands of dollars on nobility titles in order to impress their friends during Mardi Gras, but does that make it any better.

I guess those DNCC ads claiming his near-lordship Charles Boustany is out of touch really aren't so far off the mark.

When I was in New Orleans the other weekend I met Oyster, and listened in to a conversation he and Murph had about the fine film "Barry Lyndon". That one's about another commoner with "great expectations" who is brought down by his own ambition. In the end of that one Redmond Barry is shot in a duel with his petulant--but nobly so--step son, who Barry didn't exactly endear himself to. Now I'm not looking for any harm to come to our friend Charles Boustany, but it sure would be nice for this to put the brakes on his Congressional campaign.

Consequently, the Advocate also runs a profile of the other Republican in the race, David Thibodaux, who is quoted expressing his dismay that, ""Washington has become a retirement home for rich people," Thibodaux said. "I don't have a million dollars, I don't have access to a million dollars, and the people who do don't have any idea what my life is like."

So here you have a guy who is rich enough to throw thousands of dollars down the tube on nobility in another country, who can't practice surgery any more because of his arthritis, and probably figures, "Well, I couldn't secure my entrance to the Queen's court, so I may as well go for the next best thing and run for the American version of nobility, where a seat in the House of Representatives is more or less yours for life barring redistricting or an open Senate seat."

If television screens in the Seventh aren't pasted with ads about this by the end of the week I will have lost all faith in the Democratic Party.

This is the only thing on the web I could find about Lewis and Kollakis.

18 October 2004

Nuts! 

The ALCS game five began at roughly 4:00 pm CST and ended with a David Ortiz base knock at just about the strike of Ten. Twenty minutes later Jeff Kent hits a three run jack against the leftfield window of Minute Maid Park to get the Astros a win in the bottom of the ninth of game five of the NLCS. That game started more than three hours after the first one. They were both well-worth every minute--not to mention a welcome respite from three straight weeks of Saints losses.

I'm waiting patiently for the Monday Evening Sports Pages and my weekly reminder of Aaron Brooks's literacy advocacy.

Weird 

I've lived in Louisiana my entire life and I never knew that this was the worst time of year for avoiding mosquitoes.

Is it wrong that I'm inclined to trust my experience over the experts on this one?

Doggone It 

I finally have more or less un-fettered access to the Internet again and I just don't even know what to post on.

I guess I'll post links to a couple of things I've missed over the last couple of days. First, former President Bush was in NOLA this weekend as the guest of honor for a $5,000/ticket fundraiser for none other than David Vitter. Vitter can count another $300,000 to his campaign purse. For some reason or another the event was closed to the media.

Also, my oldest brother, who has something of an insider perspective on the energy industry seeing as how he's worked in it for something like fifteen years now, sent out an email with this story from yesterday's Pic. He mentioned his native Lafayette at the center of a problem with the electrical grid spurred on by the continued deregulation of the energy market (and he works for one of the big daddies--the shock of it all!). Anyway, this article is something of an involved reconstruction of a problem Lafayette residents noticed this summer when we were asked to keep our thermostats set to 72 degrees in order to relieve pressure on the power facilities. If you've been wondering why we could have such a problem, give it a read.

Senate Polling 

I saw some terrifying independent poll numbers on the Senate race yesterday on a national show that put David Vitter at 47% and still with 10% undecided, which would suggest that he's in a hell of a position to win the race outright on election day in November. Fortunately I managed to take a look at a story that puts the entire poll in perspective and I'm feeling a little bit better about the likelihood of a runoff.

First a bit of thanks for reader Rand, who reminded me about the poll in the first place, but Verne Kennedy recently released the latest snapshot of his generally excellent tracking poll (fondly known as the "rolling 600"--two hundred likelies polled everyday with something akin to an average of each three day snapshot) that showed the following:
The same MRI poll shows Vitter, the congressman from Metairie, with 47 percent, his closest challenger Chris John, the Democratic congressman from Acadiana, with 20, state treasurer John Kennedy with 14, and state Rep. Arthur Morrell with 3 percent.

Vitter has increased his share by 4 percent since the last survey, probably because of an offbeat, family-oriented advertising campaign that has won praise from political professionals.

Vitter's latest total puts him within the margin of error of an outright victory — over 50 percent. Pollster Kennedy puts the Republican's chances of such a win at 30-40 percent, since the Republican is now getting some 58 percent of the white vote.
Jeebs, us Democrats are in for a hell of a kick in the seat if this is right, and it probably is.

But not so fast, buried down towards the end of the story is this bit of optimism for the forces of all that is good:
an overnight poll Thursday evening shows him dropping a few points, perhaps because of a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee television ad — part of a $1.5 million anti-Vitter thrust — that criticizes him on health care and Social Security positions.
Besides the DSCC advertising, you can expect some new spots by candidate John Kennedy which are more or less equally critical of Vitter and Chris John to start appearing on your television screens pretty frequently. Verne Kennedy also freely admits that pegging the right sample of black voters is no easy task and could drastically reduce Vitter's share of the total.

So now we've hopefully got Vitter trending back down to earth for a normal candidate in a four way race--even if he is the lone Republican--and more anti-Vitter advertising, and a President, despite the fact that he will carry Louisiana, whose support will hopefully be tepid enough to be seen as the lesser of two evils and not someone on whose coattails you would want to be attached. If John Kerry hammers away at Bush on social security, jobs, and Iraq for the stretch run, maybe some of that will rub off on David Vitter by association. But who can be sure about these things?

Casino Gambling 

Alan Sayre writes an interesting, if unsurprising, analysis of the gambling industry in Louisiana and wonders whether or not it's reached it's saturation point yet. These pieces are notoriously short on conclusions, which is a limitation of the design, but it's pretty clear what the answer is.

One thing worth noting is that despite all the talk of gambling as an engine of tourism, it's impossible to deny the numbers showing that the people doing the overwhelming majority of the gaming are from Louisiana. This is underscored by the fact that a Lake Charles riverboat is in the process of moving to New Orleans, where they intend to set up shop in Jefferson Parish at the foot of the Huey P. Long bridge. With a talent for litotes, Sayre says this of the Mississippi crossing, "the Isle's proposed location in Jefferson Parish is not a tourist destination point." That's like saying the Magnolia St. Housing Development is not a luxury condominium complex.

I don't agree with two-thirds of what C.B. Forgotston says, and his passion for all things anti-gaming sometimes verges on the unhinged, but that doesn't necessarily make him off the mark on it. He addresses Sayre's column at his place today (no permalinks, scroll down to "Commentary").

I'm sending mine in tomorrow 

Apparently LSU only has two applications in from people seeking the post left by Mark Emmert. The AP reports that LSU officials involved in the hiring expect to be flooded with apps before the "soft deadline" of November 1.

Frankly I'm a little surprised there's not more interest. It's a lucrative position with plenty of private payoffs and the full support of the state Legislature, and if you're at all personable it can develop into something of a proving ground for your "cult of personality."

Perhaps Nick Saban should throw his hat in. It could be like one of those NFL head coaches who's also general manager except with even more power.

Time will tell, I suppose.

The day after 

Ohh, my poor Saints finally got their offense somewhat on track against one of the worst defensive teams in the league, but they couldn't manage to force a single punt in the entire game. They managed to surrender more yards than any other Saints team in the entire heartbreaking history of the franchise, and may as well have been playing with eight players on third downs for all the good the defensive line did in those situations.

But I digress...

Nola.com appears to be in a state of temporary lay-off, which puts a bit of a crimp in my blogging style, so I turn my eyes on the hometown rag, the jewel of the Gannett empire. The Monday edition's Acadiana section is a whopping one page long. An interview with the Governor accounts for more or less the entire section, but is short enough--or edited down to so little--as to be entirely contained on the front page of the section. The interview covers Presidential politics, the Senate, and the Iraq war in seven questions. You can find the classifieds on page 2-C if you're interested.

A front page Charles Boustany "profile" consists of not much more than an interview with the candidate, completely devoid of any context or apparent reporting outside of filling words in between the candidate talking about himself. That's the way it's done around these parts now. The biggest paper actually based in the Seventh District can't be bothered to do much more than take dictation for one of the men who hopes to represent us in Congress.

Do you think I'm in a bad mood this morning?

17 October 2004

Bold Leadership in the War on Terror 

"To be Provided"

Thanks, Mr. President.

Add this to what Brent Scowcroft--partisan hack!--said about President Bush in England the other day and you're left with a pretty unflattering portrait of the man with the farmer's tan.

Sigh, it's too bad all anyone wants to talk about is whether it's okay to call Mary Cheney a lesbian on national television. I'm off to spend the day in New Orleans, capping it off with a night in the Superdome. Hopefully the boys will pull a win out here. It certainly would fit in with the pattern that's developed over the last few years.

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