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30 October 2004

Worst Newspaper Ever Censors Doonesbury 

More from the inbox, and this time I'm not threatening me with legal action...

John writes in with the news that the Advertiser declined to run today's Doonesbury strip without divulging this to the readers or offering any kind of explanation. Instead they just ran a reprint of a strip from earlier this year. It's a particularly disgusting form of censorship when the censor tries to get by on the hope that no one will notice it, but this time the Advertiser has been caught red handed.

At any rate, if you get the print edition of the newspaper, you'll notice pretty quickly that this isn't the Doonesbury that's running on its editorial page.

Write their editors angry letters here. I guess I'm not too surprised if the comics are the only thing the chumps who decide what goes in that newspaper actually read.

Ricky gets threats! 

Hey, hey! I got my first threat for a libel suit tonight. I can't tell you how excited I am about this...

Here's the text of Lafayette music mogul Dave Hubbell's email to yours truly:
I hope you can prove the stuff you wrote in this blog...if it is still there in 72 hours, I'll call Billy and we will have out [sic] attorney review this for a libel suit...

Since neither Billy or I have been convicted, or even charged, four
years after this investigation began, it will be difficult for you to prove
anything, and that is the sole defense for libel or slander...

of course, you can just leave it there if you want. I don't know who you are, but I'm sure some of your stuff would look cool in my house.

You know, stating your opinion is one thing, but an unprovable derog comment like "our town's own ripoff artist" is just stupid on your part.

Thanks,
Dave Hubbell
My apologies to using unproven assertions like "our town's ripoff artist" for Toys Music owner Dave Hubbell, but if anyone has ever been there, then, well, you know what I'm talking about.

At any rate, he writes this email in response to this post I wrote months ago. Here's a slight correction to what I wrote: "Hubbell has been doing this for years" may not be accurate. It would probably be more appropriate to state that "Hubbell has been associated with people who have allegedly done this for years". Timshel regrets the error.

I just called to say I love you... 

First I should note that I'm normally with Damfacrats in the contention that those of us on the non-Harvard side of the blogosphere should just avoid Matt Yglesias as often as possible. I also think that taking a divining rod to every action Osama bin Laden makes is a pretty fruitless exercise. However, this is a pretty good post considering all the things I've been reading on my sidebar as I'm getting ready to hit the sack late on a Friday...
I think liberals trying to argue that this bin Laden tape won't help Bush are probably fooling themselves. Bush will be helped, it's pretty obvious that Bush will be helped, and OBL is certainly aware that this stunt will help Bush. This is because, of course, OBL likes Bush in office just fine. Not especially because of anything relating to Tora Bora, but because the Bush administration's policies have, at every turn, served bin Laden's agenda of increasingly unifying disaffected folks throughout the Islamic world around jihadist ideology while fragmenting the western powers. OBL is not an idiot. On the contrary, he's long ago emerged as the greatest propagandist and opinion-manipulator of the 21st century and he's trying to get what he wants.
I'm out...


29 October 2004

The Bush Pledge 

Really, what is there to say about this? I always thought it was strange to hear old tales about people with Kennedy portraits in their living rooms, but how long before Bush on black velvet becomes a staple of his supporter's interior decoration?

TKGOTW 

Rotation is just the type of game I'm usually not very good at, and this one is no exception, but it's pretty fun nonetheless. It also has the added difficulty of not offering passwords or attaching any of the baked goods which would allow you to come back and start from where you left off. Give it a try anyway, but this is the only game this week. Unless, of course, I find something better over the course of the afternoon, which I doubt.

Quick Hits 

I wanted to lay a couple of quick links on you to the Advocate, where there are some complaints with the EVMs used for absentee voters in this state. Some voters complained that the machines switched their votes to candidates and positions on the amendments that they hadn't chosen. McKeithen predictably blamed it on human error. I'm inclined to agree with him, but it would be nice for some enterprising reporter to explore this in a little more depth.

Also, students at New Iberia's (Michael's native place) Anderson Middle School had an interesting Presidential election this week, complete with a mock electoral college. Unsurprisingly (if I'm correct, Anderson is a public middle school that's largely populated by New Iberians from "the other side of the tracks"--feel free to correct me here.) Kerry won in a landslide. This surely means he's cruising to victory in the real thing on Tuesday.

Worst. Newspaper. Ever. 

There's more evidence today that the editors at the Advertiser don't read the things they publish in their own newspaper.

Yesterday I linked you to this article about Verne Kennedy's Congressional race polling written by John Hill. It appeared in the middle of the Acadiana section.

Today they ran this AP article on the 3rd District based on the exact same polling data. For arguments sake, there's slightly more information about the ins and outs of the race, but in the end there's nothing new or particularly noteworthy about the longer article published by the AP, it's just the same author piggy-backing off his own story.

Now this doesn't even compete with the time they published the exact same syndicated column on a Friday and again on the following Monday, but it really does suggest that who ever is in charge of putting together the newspaper there on a daily basis is either completely dense or just doesn't care about the task of informing the public.

Senate Roundup 

The good news is that Verne Kennedy has David Vitter falling back below fifty percent in the latest release of tracking poll, though just barely. (I can't find this anywhere online, but it's from some John Hill reporting for the Gannett papers) This thing is the cause of a lot of heartburn for this partisan, but I can't help waiting for each new installment.

Meanwhile Chris John is introducing a puppet to his campaign trail appearances in order to remind the voters just who controls David Vitter. He's also complaining that Kennedy is trying to capitalize on his name in mailouts targeted at African-Americans, by using terms like "the Kennedy Commitment" and the "Kennedy tradition." He sounds like he has something of a point seeing as how the Treasurer has no connection to the famed Kennedy political clan (though Seventh District candidate Charles Boustany does).

The last bit of notes included in that story is perhaps the most interesting though:
John Miller, 60, said he signed up to work two weeks ago for a Shreveport phone bank operation called McRei Inc., which was placing calls around the state touting Vitter's record on economic development and anticorruption. On Oct. 20, he said he was told by McRei employees that the script had changed slightly.

Instead of using his real name and saying he was calling on behalf of the Vitter campaign, which had paid for the phone bank, Miller said he was instructed to use a fake name and say he was calling for a company called PCI Media Research.

Miller said he resigned on the spot. "It just irritated me," said Miller, a registered Democrat. "I was being asked to lie for him."

His complaint alleges the Vitter campaign violated a regulation requiring candidates to identify the source of their public communications, including phone banks.

McRei officials did not return phone calls for comment, and the FEC does not comment on pending complaints.

"It appears to be a disgruntled employee who has filed a complaint with the FEC," Vitter spokesman Mac Abrams said. "Our vendor is in full compliance."
I don't quite know what to make of this, but considering Vitter's connections to the Coushatta's and his history of playing federal elections rules a little loose, this could be something of a big deal one day. To be sure, any candidate's going to have a group or two doing phone-banking that tries to subvert the process, but it's rare that the details ever see the light of day. Unfortunately this will probably just sit under the radar for at least a few more weeks, if not a lot longer. The question is why would this group try to change the way they identify themselves. What's wrong with McRei? Google, here I come...

One charge that really does look desperate from the Democrats is this stupidity about Vitter traffic tickets. It seems that he's racked up as many as fourteen in Jefferson Parish since the late eighties. Media and voters will be so tired of publishing the kind of tripe that the DSCC is peddling that if anything really damaging ever comes out it probably won't be as effective. Really, traffic tickets. This is awful. If it comes down to traffic tickets we may as well just elect the first time around so we don't have to get another month of these inept attempts at opposition from the Democratic Party.

Finally, Lanny Keller has a thoughtful column about the Senate race. He considers the probability that who ever ends up getting elected will be anything but a puppet of an increasingly polarized Senate that values party loyalty over anything else. He also wonders how effective anyone will be as a deal maker of Breaux's example. I'm not sure I agree with him, but surely one way to find out would be to actually elect someone who has shown a propensity for independence rather than the guy who has been a Republican hack for his entire career in Congress.

Vitter profile out 

Salon--er--goes to press with their Vitter story. You'll need to watch the longest day pass commercial in Salon history in order to get a look at it, but it's almost worth it. There's some interesting speculation about a Vitter-Duke alignment during Vitter's first US Congressional run, but the stuff about his alleged affair with Wendy Cortez is nothing more than what the Louisiana Weekly published months ago.

28 October 2004

Dicks 



From Sierra Club blogger John Barry and courtesy of Kos

Oyster's been all over this in the last few months.

Here's a longish post I had about this back when Bobby Jindal was bitching and moaning about Blanco's radio spots on black stations during the elections last year. There are a few links in the middle of it that you might find of interest.

...not just dicks, but bitches too it seems, and Atrios asks a very good question
When will our media wake up to the fact that there is a national well-orchestrated and well funded Republican attempt to suppress voter?

No Surrender 

Bruuuuuuce!
A clip of some inspirational music for the final leg of our little electoral journey...

That Damn Liberal Justice Department 

Halliburton is one of those names I'm a little disappointed I haven't heard John Kerry use more frequently on the campaign trail.

A note on the Sox 

I haven't looked around for any information about this, but I was wondering if anyone else saw Jimmy Fallon on the field at Busch Stadium last night after the Sox swept up the Cardinals? Fox very briefly ran a shot of him making out with a random blonde who I didn't recognize, but my first thought was, "what in the hell is Jimmy Fallon doing out there? He's not even famous anymore, he's just a former SNL cast member. Were Ben Affleck and Matt Damon busy or something? Who let him on the field?"

Anybody have any ideas about this?

answers, that was quick enough:
Major League Baseball decided months ago to grant the Farrelly Brothers access to the field seconds after the final out of this World Series so the directors could film the ending to a movie called "Fever Pitch." It stars Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. So, while the Red Sox were hugging and enjoying an authentic moment, here were Fallon and Barrymore sharing a long, sloppy, wet, phony Hollywood kiss near the pitcher's mound.

Yuck. And I'm not just saying that just because they used tongue.

Fallon and Barrymore filmed a scene from a movie about a huge Red Sox fan (Fallon) having to choose between his girl (Barrymore) and his team (the Red Sox). So the camera rolled. And the rest of the stadium pretended it didn't matter, because, this is baseball, our national pastime, and the Red Sox.
Umm, damn good thing the Red Sox won, I guess. This really makes that whole flap about Spiderman bases earlier in the season seem like a real joke, too, doesn't it.

It's funny because it's true 

An old friend dropped this little diversion into my inbox this afternoon. Help the President find his brain, and you're rewarded with some of your favorite Bushisms.

A lot of you have probably seen it already, but I hadn't so lay off me if it's really old.

Oh Yeah... 

Keep your browsers tuned to Salon.com over the next couple of days. A birdie--or a mussel--keeps hinting that there could be some big news over there.

LA Congressional Polling 

The Third and Seventh are shaping up to be very interesting races come election day. Melancon is fighting for his runoff life over in the southeast, while Mount and Cravins running neck and neck for the second spot in my home district.

The best news is that Billy Tauzin III is literally bleeding support. I guess voters are finally starting to figure he's not his father. Oddly, Verne Kennedy still says he'll definitely be in the runoff, and Melancon and Romero are fighting not to be the odd man out. Apparently that's due to Romero's strong polling among black voters, which he will most likely not be able to sustain on election day.

And speaking of BT III's dad, here's some more evidence that he's a tool of big time special interest groups. In this case it's the telecommunications industry. In the past four years the industry lobby has spent just over $700,000 on sponsored trips for lawmakers on two committees which regulate and oversee the industry. Billy Tauzin and his family have been the direct beneficiary of around 15% of the total dollars spent on these trips. Considering Tauzin's cozy relationship with the industry, can you guess who his son and the current candidate worked for as a lobbyist over the last few years? Just click the link...

...darn it. forgot the link the polling story I referred to in that first bit, here you go.

Forum Coverage 

I didn't get a chance to watch last night, but the T-P has what looks like a very good account of the event. John Kennedy made harsh attacks against the records of both Chris John and David Vitter, which they deserve. Vitter calls the deficit a spending problem, but doesn't take responsibility for his Party and his President's contribution to the spending spree going on in Congress. This could be a very effective line of attack in a runoff that Chris John simply will not be able to capitalize on, and it's the primary reason I'll be casting my vote for the State Treasurer next week.

In the last debate Kennedy looked like a very disciplined and effective promoter of his campaign's message, this seems to come through in this article. Chris John still sounds like he's constantly on the defensive and incapable of justifying his own record. David Vitter was clearly trying to play the moderate, but his voting record belies that role. Poor Arthur Morrell, the conscience of the Democratic candidates in this field, just doesn't seem to have a solid grasp of the issues. The one part I saw last night showed a befuddled Morrell disparaging John's record on abortion--who says he's pro-life but wants exceptions for cases of rape and incest and the health of the mother--but said something like "if you're pro-life, be pro-life, but you can't have it both ways." The implication was that Morrell is pro-death and proud of it, and John should be too. My only point is that Morrell is somewhat tone-deaf about the way he makes the case for liberalism in Louisiana. In the end he'll probably do more to turn voters off the liberal cause than to draw new converts. It's too bad, really, because Louisiana needs more men in political office willing to try to sell those values to the state.

More from the Advocate.

Big Time 

Secretary of State Fox McKeithen predicts turnout at a clip higher than 70% based on the unbelievable number of absentee ballot cast over the last week.

The only problem with comparing this year's absentee numbers with previous election years in order to predict election day turnout is that this is the first time both parties have made sustained and concerted efforts to get out the early votes. In 1992 Bill Clinton carried Louisiana with more than 78% of eligibles participating. The highest ever for a Presidential election in Louisiana. In last year's gubernatorial election barely 50% of eligible voters participated.

In the tank 

The Republican National Committee itself couldn't have written a more glowing endorsement of George W. Bush than the editors at my Daily Advertiser managed this morning.

This is another endorsement I'm not exactly surprised about, but they couldn't even find room for a single criticism of anything the President's done in his four years in office. That they would support his handling of the war was something of a given, they even go out of their way to sing his praises on things like energy policy, the environment, and the great shape our economy is in:
His agenda for a second term includes more bold steps in education reform; the building of a skilled workforce, and establishing a fair and simpler tax system. He is committed to promoting research and development in both the public and private sectors and opening markets for American goods around the globe.

He has a workable plan for meeting our energy needs and lessening our energy dependence.

In the area of health care, Bush’s strategy involves attacking the root causes of rising costs. His opponent would shift the costs to taxpayers or force Americans into restrictive government-controlled programs.

Contrary to the claims of opponents, the environment has improved during the Bush administration. We have cleaner air, more pure water, and of great importance to our area, the net loss of wetlands has been reversed.

And even more strangely, the same paper that just a month and a half ago came out against a state amendment banning gay marriage, says George Bush will promote judges to the Supreme Court who share the editors' values. I've always had a suspicion that the editors of this paper rarely read the articles that appear in their pages, but I never thought they didn't remember the very things they wrote as the position of the newspaper.

27 October 2004

Damn 

Another brilliant David Vitter ad...

The number of children exploited in David Vitter's election strategy now totals three.

...however, his record indicates that whatever "real" patient's bill of rights he supposedly broke with his party to support wouldn't give victims of malpractice the right to pursue punitive damages exceeding $250,000 or make their own decisions about where to file their cases. Can't find much more about this one, and on his fact check page this business about the Patients Bill of Rights is the only thing that doesn't have "roll call" citation. Take that to mean what you will.

Advertiser Endorses Boustany 

This isn't terribly surprising, but I don't buy their contention that he'll be an independent or particularly effective voice in the Congress, nor do I buy their baloney about his "prescription for prosperity" being anything other than typical Republican pablum for any of their candidates' campaigns.

Runoff Stuff 

Speaking of the Senate election, this bit of news from the AP wire this morning could have bigger implications than any stories about prostitutes should some Democrat manage to trundle in to a runoff with the Congressman from Metairie.
U.S. Senate investigators looking into lobbying for Indian reservation casinos have asked the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana for audio tapes of tribal council meetings spanning five years.

Council member David Sickey said Tuesday some of the tapes requested include appearances by the tribe's lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, and public relations consultant Michael Scanlon, a former aide to House Majority leader Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

"They discussed their grassroots lobbying effort against Texas gaming and wanted money without showing us a plan or anything," Sickey said.

Abramoff and Scanlon received more than $66 million from several Indian tribes for lobbying efforts over three years. Those payments are being investigated by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

...

[In a previous hearing] Abramoff refused to answer questions, asserting his Fifth Amendment right. Scanlon did not testify because federal marshals could not find him to serve him with a subpoena.

The committee is scheduled to resume hearings Nov. 19.
Make no mistake, as recently as 2002 Vitter has taken money from the Coushattas through the tireless efforts of men like Abramoff and Scanlon, whose actions probably fall somewhere between extortion, racketeering, or soliciting bribes, or hell, why not all three? This is one of those big stories I'm very surprised state Dems and Vitter's opponents haven't pursued more doggedly. I really think they're holding off on these things, but maybe they just think they're too complex for voters to understand. From my perspective, it doesn't make any sense not to be shouting to the rooftops about it.

Don't forget to watch the last Senate forum before the November 2 election tonight at seven.

Finally 

I haven't been able to get in to Blogger all day; sorry about my absence.

I guess I'm better off not having to talk about this startling news in the Senate race.

26 October 2004

Quietly weeping 

[tear]How upset am I that Timshel gets three referrals on the first page of responses from this Yahoo! query?[/tear]

I really love this state, and occasionally I think I'd be a lot better off moving far, far away, but this truly hurts.

Oh my... 

This is the funniest thing I'v seen in a while.

Make sure you read the title and the picture's caption...

Follow Up 

Lot's more on that UNO poll here from the AP. Weighted for "likely voters" Bush has a twelve point edge, which puts Bush back at the Verne Kennedy territory I mentioned in the last entry, but God only knows what they consider to be a likely voter.

This doesn't really change my thoughts expressed in the last entry. Bush just reaches fifty percent with their sample of likelies, and there are only eight percent undecided, the large majority of which are surely black voters (remember, at least twenty-one percent of them haven't made up their minds yet according to these numbers), who only support Bush at a clip of eight percent in this poll. Too little too late, I guess.

Other interesting data included shows that fifty percent of likely voters in Louisiana believe it was right to go to war in Iraq, while forty-five percent think it was wrong.

Coastal Politics 

This link found its way into my inbox today, and it's certainly worth passing along to concerned Louisianians.

Withenoughinnertubes.com sorts out the Bush administration's supposed commitments to coastal erosion and explains why voters who recognize this threat to our way of life in Louisiana (and across the nation) would be wise to vote Kerry on November 2.

If anything's missing, it's the link to America's Wetland or (This is what I get for not reading linked material closely enough) our pals, Mr. Bill and the Estuarians.

Bush Leads Louisiana 

A UNO poll conducted by their resident pollster and forty students showed Bush leading by eight points, but not yet making it to 50%.

I don't know jack about that fifty percent rule, and I have little doubt that Bush will carry Louisiana on election day, but it has to be frustrating to the campaign if he's truly not yet at fifty percent of the supposedly strong Bush state of Louisiana. For all the talk in the state press about Bush's unending popularity in our neck of the woods, he sure doesn't look particularly popular to this amateur.

Here's something that needs to be considered as well, according to this poll, only seventy-one percent of black voters in Louisiana are supporting Kerry. It doesn't say what the percentages of black undecideds and black Bush voters are. I can guarantee you this much though, come election day there's no way in hell Kerry gets less than eighty-eight percent of the black vote in the state of Louisiana. If this poll is at all to be trusted (and on the surface it seems to match more or less what Renwick's poll found last week), then Louisiana is going to look pretty close on election day. I still call it a Bush victory that the campaign won't even sweat about, but that's not because their was never an opportunity for Democrats to get it done down here. And it certainly won't be some overwhelming show of support or demonstration of the President's popularity that the state political press has been singing about since Verne Kennedy released his first major batch of poll numbers in the days leading up to the Democratic National Convention.

This also upsets me even more about the failure of elected Democrats and Democratic candidates to stand up for the national Democratic ticket during this campaign. They've been doing everything they can to run and hide, and despite them Kerry remains shockingly viable. One wonders what better coordination, a little political courage, and the reasonable men and women of Louisiana could have accomplished with another batch of Democrats running the state political structure.

Bush Hatred Pays Off 

One of the questions I've come across on a couple of sites recently (this is one of those things that I don't have the slightest clue where I read it, because all the blogs I read start to morph into one big blog casserole where individual posts are remembered but not who wrote them...) was why Bush hadn't been in Ohio for so long. It stands to reason that this was Jesse, but who ever knows with these things?

Anyhoo, it looks like Bush appearances in certain swing states motivate angry Democrats more than or at least as much as they do Bush's own supporters. As TMQ frequently points out, this is surely a leading indicator of something of great significance, though I'm not quite sure what that might be.

via PoliticalWire.com

Meanwhile, in the Seventh district 

Our Congressional candidates met in a forum yesterday. They discussed things like the long-delayed I-49 connector and the minimum wage. Anything else? Maybe or maybe not, but that's all the papers focus on.

More from the Advertiser...

Also, Patrick Courreges takes a look at the way the race in my home district has shaken out and gets off the line of the day:
In the early going, the race stayed friendly, with candidates' messages mainly about their own platforms and qualifications, except for Thibodaux saying that, because he missed the runoff for the seat by a whisker in 1996 and had solid name recognition, Boustany probably should just go ahead and back out.

An early poll seemed to bear that out somewhat, until Boustany's campaign started pulling money by the fistful, got up on the airwaves at a pace rivaling that of commercials for vaguely defined pharmaceuticals with disturbing side effects, and got air-dropped a couple of national Republican figures, such as Vice President Dick Cheney.
Three cheers for snark on the Advocate's opinion page...

Senate Roundup 

The "Pic's" Bill Walsh writes a story about the Democrats who are going to vote for either Chris John or John Kennedy despite their opposition to abortion, support for the expiration of the assault weapons ban, and support for a federal hate amendment. The piece is tempered with the main groups affected who have decided that the only candidate they can support in good conscience is Arthur Morrell. This is hardly anything new to any socially liberal voter in Louisiana. The question that's rarely discussed when Democrats go racing towards the middle in Louisiana political campaigns is whether the support someone like Chris John or John Kennedy won't get in the general election will withhold their vote from the Democratic Party during the runoff. The liberal base has a lot of reasons to be depressed around here, but in the end the kind of divisive social issues that most of the offending Democrats support rarely come to pass due to other circumstances. That's not the case this year considering our state passed an amendment meant to discriminate against homosexuals, so it would be very hard to blame any of the libs against this effort for simply dropping their support for the people who enabled it.

Over in Baton Rouge Will Sentell Marsha Shuler--updated...sorry about that mishap--and some political scientists around the state lay odds on what it will take for Vitter to win. The consensus is that the best chance he has is to take it home without the runoff, where he would be in a much weaker position. Vitter continues to pooh-pooh his chances of winning on November 2, a strategy Karl Rove probably wouldn't like very much. Now there was another story in the BR rag about Vitter's latest advertisement with actors wearing UN military uniforms piling out of a truck to "monitor our elections", but it's not online. The ad is particularly disgusting in it's racist undertones about brown men from terrorist and communist hot spots supposedly running our election, and it's very misleading about the nature of John's voting record. The Advocate gets this across to the reader, but I can't link to it, because it's not there. If you have the print edition go ahead and check it out on page 5-A.

Finally my local paper, and presumably the rest of the Louisiana Gannett colonies, run Mike Hasten's profile of John Kennedy. He's a family man who says he can do without politics. He always comes across as painfully genuine in these soft profiles. I like him a little more every time I read about him. One kind of weird thing about him, considering his name you might think he was tired of the likely ceaseless allusions to the assassinated President, but his family went so far as to name their dog Jackie. At least they left the experimenting to their dog and not their son, though, who is named after his grandfather.

...nearly forgot about the almost-endorsement of Chris John for the Senate race by the Advertiser's editors who spent most of their time decrying the end of bipartisan spirit cultivated by John Breaux during his tenure in the Senate, but tack on this qualifier:
This area may benefit from Chris John’s knowledge of our problems and needs, and it would seem practical for area residents to consider favorably his bid for the Senate seat. Other areas will undoubtedly support the candidates closest to them and most familiar with their needs and wants.

Whatever the outcome of the race, however, we earnestly hope that when the winner takes his place in the U.S. Senate, he abandons the harsh-spirited partisanship that has dominated the campaign.
Taking a page from Oyster's playbook, I suspect the editors wanted to endorse John, but are terrified of offending a disctinctly Republican subscriber pool. So, as they so often do, they took the easy way out and called it a war of partisan attrition that they'd rather stay out of.

Misleading Headlines Dept. 

Blanco is winding down effort for Kerry

Umm, what effort? After the convention the Democratic officials in this state looked like they couldn't wait to be as far away from John Kerry as humanly possible. It's the primary reason the state has been out of play for the last month.

Depressing News of the Day 

Jesus Christ, this is awful...
A New Orleans teen who clutched a toddler as he fired a gun into a crowd of bystanders to kill a man Sunday was arrested Monday, police said.

Police said Robert Hart, 18, disregarded the toddler's safety as he aimed at Dwight Williams and opened fire in a downstairs breezeway filled with people at the Frenchman's Wharf apartment complex in eastern New Orleans on Sunday about 5:30 p.m., police and witnesses said. The toddler was unharmed, and it was unclear what relation the child had to Hart. Police said Hart and another unidentified gunman killed Williams because they said he had stolen a motorcycle, though Williams denied the accusation, witnesses and police said.
I love the city of New Orleans, but given the fact that you can read stories like this two or three times a week it's a wonder there's anyone left there.

25 October 2004

I've been called out... 

Or at least I think I have...

Ken wrote this post shortly after I made some comments to his previous entry.

Now, Ken begins rattling off a number of hopes that Kerry voters may or may not have, but I can't say that they accurately describe the way I see the world, so I won't respond to them. However, the reason he's voting for Bush is because he believes the President will carry through on this promise he made nine days after the attacks of September 11.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
Now I agree with every single word in that statement, and I suspect a whole hell of a lot of other people who are going to vote against George Bush agree with that too. Tomorrow I may or may not make a lengthier post hashing out the reasons why I believe George Bush has failed to make good on what he promised us three years ago, but now it's late and I'm going to bed.

I'll only say this. There are plenty of Democrats (and big liberal ones at that) who gave George Bush the chance to prove himself capable of managing this war on terror. He had more or less universal support from respectable corners of the political world for the war against Afghanistan because it was easily demonstrated just what the threat of a regime like the Taliban operating in any corner of the globe could have for American security. Unfortunately, despite the recent elections in Afghanistan, the job there still isn't complete, and the new democratic regime's ability to negotiate the security of their own country or even reign in the terrorists doubtlessly roaming on their border with Pakistan remains in doubt.

Before the job was completed there, and with an already stretched American military, George Bush made a decision that no matter what, Iraq had to be dealt with immediately, despite their at best tenuous connections to any possible terrorist allies who threatened US security. Despite the fact that more dangerous rogue states across the globe were developing just the kinds of weapons that could be passed on to terrorists who mean to kill us in our own cities. And he did this without preparing for the consequences any eleventh grade world history student could have envisioned for a foreign power occupying a state that had suffered under a brutal dictatorship for decades.

In the midst of all this, they continue to mislead the public about the threats we face, their methods, and the future of the war. The only thing they say with any consistency is that the power of democracy will be the driving force behind the eradication of terrorism. Yet the administration continues to exercise realpolitik with brutal regimes all over the globe, in some cases assisting in the coverup of nations who bear at least some of the responsibility for the very attack that set this whole chain of events in motion. Add to this the President's endorsement of the soul of a man who continues to signal his contempt for democracy, and I'm left with about a thousand more questions about the supposedly resolute leader of the free world than I am about the man who is challenging him for his job.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Artificial Confluence Alert 

The AP on Ashlee Simpson's lip synch malfunction during this week's SNL:
Simpson's walk-off joins the lore of other unexpected music moments on "SNL": Elvis Costello stopping and changing songs on live TV, and Sinead O'Connor tearing up a picture of the pope.
Forgive me if I don't think a pop-star getting caught lip synching on national television belongs in quite the same category as other ones making controversial political statements--no matter how inane--on the same show.

Damn 

Now I know why Kos was so discouraged about our Senate race this morning...

I thought the latest poll numbers only had the man from Met'ry at 46%, butVitter is at 49% in the most recent Verne Kennedy tracking poll numbers with Friday as the last day in the sample. Weekend numbers are useless, so consider that before anyone jumps off any cliffs. The sample from today, tomorrow, and Wednesday will give a good idea of how it's trending, but it appears that Vitter is finishing strong despite quite a bit of negative press and a pretty harsh round of attack ads from the DSCC. I'm sticking to my prediction that this thing is going to the runoff, but I thought Vitter would have peaked by now, so take that prediction for what it's worth. As Kos said, GOTV is critical, because the only answer for the Dems is for turnout to render Kennedy's sample meaningless.

In the same poll Dems John Kennedy and Chris John are in a virtual tie at around 16 points and the moe is +/-4 points.

Recapturing the Spirit of 2000 

Not politics, but the Saints people. If there's one side of the football that desperately needs help it's the defense, and now there's a former member of the Saints family available, I wouldn't care if he lost to Mississippi State by four hundred points.

The guys at FireRonZook.com are so busy now their server appears to have crashed. For the record, they started this website the day the man was hired, now they've helped to finally bring his career with the Gators to a grinding halt.

Nuts and Bolts... 

He. Got. Screwed

To date, Atrios has raised over $137,000 for the DNC, $289,000 for the Kerry Campaign, $32,000 for the DSCC, and $60,000 to the DCCC, so I don't know if it's a joke that he's got the little red line and circle drawn down to where he's supposedly located amidst the hundred thousand Pennsylvanians at today's Kerry rally, but I really hope it is, or else this talk about the power of blogs really is just big a joke.

If that's love... 

I don't want to know what hate is, or even indifference for that matter.

I'm not among the people who really get worked up about the cock-fighting issue, but every time one of the rare defenders of this particular brutality surfaces I inch a little farther into the category of men and women who are outraged by the practice. This piece over at BayouBuzz.com is so far off the reservation I don't know where to begin:
Under their turned-up noses, Purcelle and his pollsters would’ve seen roosters sedulously cared for, if not loved. Their little triangular cement homes provide cool shelter from the sun and rain, make an evening roosting place, and don’t overturn in tornadoes and hurricanes. During floods, the roosters just jump up on top. Tiny anklet tethers, like what Martha Stewart might wear under house arrest, keep the roosters out of fighting distance. Most cock farmers serve their roosters high-quality, vitamin enhanced feed, and vaccinate them against West Nile virus regularly. Their grassy surrounds are manicured and cleared of rooster poo daily. Rooster varieties facing extinction today are preserved through careful breeding, enhancing the species’ survivability. And when they’re not fighting, these super-duper roosters cuddle carefully selected hens, producing superior eggs and stock.

Funny thing is Bush, who’s supposedly a great outdoorsman and rancher, agrees with Purcelle and wants cockfighting banned in Louisiana.

...

[C]ocks naturally fight one another for territory, dominance, and all the hens. The sport simply exploits their true nature.

...

Is Bush’s assault on cock fighting personal? Is Bush a rancher or prancer? Hard to tell. Bush falls off his mountain bike and jumps from his golf cart, but we’ve yet to see him astride a horse or herding cattle. But not to pick on him. The bike-pedaling, golf cart-tooling president’s just another victim of a curious and very destructive feminism driving animal rights movements and steadily emasculating American men.

...

Cockfighting. What’s next on feminism’s never-ending agenda? Hunting, fishing, leather mini-skirt wearing, biker’s jackets, Ruth’s Chris Steak House? In short, our Louisiana way of life.
Game-cock breeders do all those things for their roosters because they love them. Sure it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that they're raising little killing machines whose deaths they only care about because it's one less rooster that might make some money, and anyone who doesn't think so is a fag or a feminist, or probably both. Jeebus, these people should just shut up and stick to giving preferred Congressmen thousands of dollars instead of trying to actually make a case for the practice.

Money Race 

Melinda Deslatte peeks in on the influence of outside interests in the federal races going on in Louisiana this year. It's a good roundup, though I don't think regular readers of this site will find anything new in it. She does make an interesting observation in the piece's conclusion:
It's doubtful the infusion of national party ads is contributing much substance to the congressional debates. But for those looking for positive spin, perhaps the national parties' involvement could be touted as a type of economic development, pouring tons of cash into local television stations.
"Positive spin" is a bit of an understated characterization of that depiction, but what I'd like to see is a column taking the television stations to task for what is essentially profiteering on democracy. These stations make millions off of the electoral system because the parties and interest groups are willing to pony up the dough, but if people don't see this for what it is, namely getting rich off the destruction of our political discourse over the supposedly public airwaves, then it will never get any better.

Okay, there's my righteous indignation for the day...

Chris John Profile 

Gannett's John Hill inks a pretty decent, though short, look at the candidate from Crowley. There aren't any surprises in this. He's a very conservative Democrat, but he is a Democrat. There are some who worry Chris John would eventually pull something akin to a Rodney Alexander if we elect him to the Senate, but I think those concerns are probably unfounded. He's a Party man and owes a lot of his success from Democrats like John Breaux. He's simply too conservative for me, and he's generally unimpressive as a candidate despite his fundraising and geographical advantages.

Give me liberty (to hunt) or give me death 

Will Sentell looks at the impetus behind the proposed amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish and provides some shocking news. Apparently seven states already have these silly amendments in their constitutions and eight more states other than Louisiana are considering.

Keep in mind that this amendment passed the state legislature without a single nay vote from either chamber.

It seems that the scary people at PETA are the cause of the whole thing, which basically fits into my theory that amendment proposals in this day and age that deal with "rights" or "protection" or more or less always reactionary responses to liberal strawmen. As if PETA is threatening the ability of anyone in this state to pick up their shotgun and knock off a few ducks or take their boat down to Henderson for a few hours on the water. Groups like PETA and the ACLU are the new Masons, threatening to subvert all the things we hold dear to further their own goals. They pull all the strings and help New England liberals get elevated to the office of the Presidency. And they hate America too. What dicks?

T-P makes Vitter endorsement 

This isn't particularly surprising considering their endorsement of Jindal last year and Bush three years before that (although I believe they endorsed Mary Landrieu in her reelection campaign a couple of years ago). Their argument is that we need a Senator who will have the know-how and clout to make up for the loss of all the experience in the retirements of John Breaux and Billy Tauzin. It's a powerful case, but considering the very real possibility that we could have a Democratic Senate in 2005, the editor's reasoning may be irrelevant by the time the runoff rolls around in December.

And at one point they publish pure fantasy:
[W]e hope that Mr. Vitter, who now represents an affluent, very conservative district, would as a senator reach beyond his base and recognize the need to represent everyone in a diverse state. It is also essential for him to build coalitions with members of both parties, something the most successful Louisiana lawmakers have done.
Considering Vitter's legislative record and the now tens of thousands of dollars that have flown in to his campaign from Republican-friendly PACs, DeLay's dirty money operation, and the RSCC I don't know why anyone would hold on to the notion that Vitter will be anything but a rubber stamp for the GOP leaders in Congress. That's what he's spent his career to this point doing, and his seat on the appropriations committee is more or less the only thing he has to show for Louisiana (admittedly not something to be taken lightly). That he got some money for Lake Pontchartrain is the least he could have done for the state considering his perch on that mighty committee.

In the end, these newspaper endorsements are pretty useless, but it's always good to see where the paper's sentiments lie.

And as Richard P. pointed out in comments yesterday, the T-P made a very revealing non-endorsement in the Presidential election yesterday. It basically rested on the fact that we know how terrible George Bush is, but we can only guess about Kerry's abilities. That seems pretty cowardly to me. Like the concert says, just "vote for change." If you think Bush has been that bad, can you honestly not reflexively support his opponent, especially since their concerns are the tired old "inconsistent" and "lack of legislative accomplishment" canards?

In the Third district, the Pic endorses Charlie Melancon. Two front-running Republicans couldn't get the endorsement, and the Pic basically came out for CAFTA--of which opposing Melancon has used to build most of his base of support--recently, so this is a little surprising. They say it's because he promises to be a consensus builder. Fine by me...

24 October 2004

Sunday Quick Hits 

Considering we're only a week and a half away from election day, your Sunday papers in the state are surprisingly thin on political news. That's life, I guess.

Anyway, The T-P informs us that Louisiana will be one of seventeen states in the country to offer provisional ballots to any voter not on the rolls who shows up at any precinct inside their parish. After the votes are cast, election officials will determine if the provisional voters are actually registered voters and whether or not their votes can be counted. Officials expect relative widespread use of the provisional ballot in Louisiana thanks to all the first time voters they are expecting.

If you're still undecided about the Senate candidates, Bill Walsh gives you a rundown of their foreign policy/national security views. Surprise! Vitter and John are relatively conservative, Kennedy is moderate, and Morrell is liberal. The shock!

Over in Baton Rouge, the Advocate takes another step towards news on the cheap tomorrow. They're instituting a redesign of the paper which will include:
[T]he increased use of highlight boxes with stories, will provide readers with more information at a glance and increase the efficiency of news presentations.

The Advocate will introduce a new feature called "Today's Neighbors" with the Monday redesigned edition.

Each day, The Advocate will print the pictures of four south Louisiana residents as part of the front page nameplate. The residents will be identified on Page 2A.

The objective of the "Today's Neighbors" feature is two-fold: It offers a way to highlight the many different faces of south Louisiana, and it serves as a reminder that the newspaper is here to serve the interests of ordinary people in this community.
The Advocate has been one of the best papers in the state over the last few years exactly because they've avoided the kinds of stupidity and complete irrelevancies that local chain papers like the hated Daily Advertiser have come to specialize in. The featured news boxes discussed as the first item are just another way to take up space repeating information already found in the articles should people choose to read them. They amount to nothing more than space fillers. I don't think I even need to mention what I think about something as frivolous as "Today's Neighbors." It's not surprising that this finally happened to the Advocate, but that does make it any easier to take.

Meanwhile Gerard Shields takes a look at the Presidential race and what it will mean for Louisiana residents on all those issues that are important to us. He misstates both of the candidate's positions at times, but on balance it's not as bas as other reports of this nature have been.

Finally, the Advertiser carries a Gannett report by John Hill on the proposed Amendment to expand the homestead exemption to people who assessors are giving it to anyway. Then the editors come out for the proposed Amendment. I'm voting against this one, but that's because I think we should be reducing the amount of property owners who can claim the exemption not expand it. The inability to tax property to any meaningful extent is the primary reason for Louisiana's mostly regressive tax code. The Stelly Plan was the first step towards a more progressive code, but the homestead exemption continues to force municipalities and the state to turn to other more regressive means to raise revenue for needed services.

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