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19 November 2004

TKGOTW 

Two games this week. The first is a simple one that requires only that you jump over the little gaps in the bridge. Jump by holding the left mouse button until you reach your desired power, then let go. That's all you need to know. Don't bother downloading the foreign characters. After playing a bit I'm averaging around "1600m," but my best score was just under "2000m" Beat me and you get my undying admiration.

The next game is the extremely Mario Bros.-like "Save the Sheriff." You're the pig. Your object is to find the sheriff while collecting coins and killing enemies along the side-scrolling way. You have five lives and four hearts per life. As far as I can tell extra pigs are impossible to come by, so don't go "hog"-wild with the expectation that you can just continue where your game ended. It's not particularly hard. Use the arrow keys to move around and the shift key to move a little slower.

Free Advertising 

One of the many hats Cajun Ken wears is thoughtful essayist. Watch him don that cap while you help a publication that has the good sense to give the wider world access to his writing. As Ken says, where else will you get to read about someone as humble as he crying in public?

Just click on this link to the Subway Chronicles. What could go wrong? That is, what could go wrong besides the depression that follows from reading a man's tale of thanks for not ever having to see the woman he loved ever again? Okay, so it's not the most triumphant or uplifting piece in the world, but it's about survival through the small things, and you should go check it out along with everything else you can get your paws on over there.

My boy don't play no foozball 

Charles Grant started this season on fire, but he's dropped off a little in the last four weeks or so. Despite that I wouldn't want to read this about him if I had to line up at right tackle and keep him away from my quarterback:
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Saints defensive end Charles Grant has a unique way of preparing for games.

He imagines the players that line up across from him are the men who beat his mother her over the years, the employers who took advantage of her or the people who ran out on her.

"Then I just go out and do to them what I wanted to do to all those other people," said Grant, who is tied for fourth in the NFL with 7 1/2 sacks.
I wonder if the people across from him sometimes apologize for even being nose to nose with him.

...Don't worry, this isn't any signal of Timshel optimism for the Saints to salvage this season, I just really like Charles Grant.
don't you touch my momma!

Ugh 

Just when I thought he had disappeared forever, Jeff Sadow is back. His column is largely a "fisking" of Jim Brown's latest, but I'll only respond to this bit
Translated, [Jim Brown's argument about the low turnout in New Orleans] means blame blacks, a perfectly consistent statement since the Louisiana Democrat Party never has really cared for the plight of blacks in general (as opposed to black political elites) in the state other than using them for their votes. Orleans blacks did not turn out in larger numbers because they finally are beginning to realize just how much for granted state Democrats take them. They’re beginning to wake up in significant numbers to the fact that, as opposed to the GOP, the Democrats have not championed policies of economic and educational empowerment for blacks, and have stood for a number of social values alien to their own, and have provided, at most, lukewarm support for any minority politician for statewide office. So for some, rather than vote Republican, they stayed home because they were fed up with the choices the Democrats presented them.
I don't need to defend another author from this lunatic, but Brown pretty clearly says the candidates and the Party weren't unified enough to GOTV effectively. His argument specifically takes the Party and the candidates to task, not the voters who didn't make it to the polls. And while there may be the more than a little truth to the fact that black Democrats are regularly taken for granted by the Louisiana Democratic Party, that's not because the party hasn't "stood for economic and educational empowerment," a phrase with drips with so much Orwellian goodness coming from a movement conservative like Sadow, it's because they're legitimately concerned that a black politician can't win those offices. Pushing them out of these races doesn't help matters one bit and is probably going to hurt the Party in the long run, but Sadow won't acknowledge the massive Party support that went to Kip Holden, who won a battle many thought impossible considering Baton Rouge's history and its large white and Republican electorate.

And if Sadow wants to know the commitment to the Democratic Party that black voters expressed in New Orleans, he need only read the experience of those heroes who waited for hours at Xavier University just to vote on November 2. Kerry's abandonment of Louisiana, an extremely weak field of Senate candidates, ugly weather, and shameful voting irregularities in Orleans Parish all conspired to keep turnout down in New Orleans. If black voters are so fed up with the supposedly racist and "elite" Democratic Party, why did Bush perform worse among blacks in this state than he did around the rest of the country (see the Pic's exit polling for confirmation of this)?

I certainly don't want to understate the challenges that Democrats face in this state given the rightward shift over the last few years, but Jeff Sadow continues to make the most unbelievable assertions about the relationship between the Louisiana Democratic Party and black voters. I can't take it anymore.

Mister Cleo 

There's absolutely nothing more amusing than reading about Cleo Fields's accusations of corruption against a political opponent. The sad thing is that he appears to have been right about Lambert Boissiere all along. Fields appears to have something of the opposite of the "Midas Touch", where everything he gets involved in goes all to hell.

The little engine that can't 

I'm not exactly optimistic that Baton Rouge could implement a light rail system that would be particularly effective or even address the problems with the traffic there. However, any time cities realistically explore alternatives to the "car culture" it's probably a good thing.

I'll note a couple of problems, the first being that any light rail system would have to be very extensive in order to account for sprawl that's developed there. You have people working in Baton Rouge who live in Baker, Zachary, Denham Springs, and all over the damn place. The other problem is that while many work downtown, even the business "district" is spread all over the city proper. While you've got a ton of people driving into Baton Rouge, their destinations are usually spread far and wide across the map of the city. An effective light rail system would have to account for this. Another problem is that while sprawl and traffic are obviously pretty terrible in Baton Rouge, it's not at the point where people are sitting in their car for an hour and a half to get to work. If a train only shaves ten or fifteen minutes off of a thirty or forty-five minute commute, how many people would really be willing to give up their car?

The editors mention Houston as a possible case-study since they've seen their ridership steadily increase since their system was built, but I don't know if the two cities could really compare. How many people are using the Houston rail to commute from the suburbs? I thought it's been more of a vehicle for intra-Houston movement (Houstonites please correct me here, I'm not sure about this, it's only the perception I have) between the large business centers and more or less completely confined within the 610 loop.

Whatever the case, a rail system has to significantly reduce the burden placed on driving commuters before they'll use it. It also has to very well-tailored to the city, and the sprawl of Baton Rouge and its environs doesn't suggest an easy fit for any rail system. I'm all for the wider use of rail all over the place, but I don't have much confidence in something like this being successful.

Of course, this is about mass transit, and Michael has something of a passion for this, so I'll turn it over to him now...

18 November 2004

Don't Drink the Water 

I've always preferred my water straight from the faucet--here in Lafayette it's always seemed to actually taste good--so I'm very pleased to learn that Brita filters aren't totally useless.

This is science at its most magnificent.

Interesting Read 

Anthony Lane considers Jim Barrie and Peter Pan in light of the new film starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet about the same subject.

I managed to see the movie just around Halloween with my sister and our sister-in-law (don't ask me what this movie was doing in Lafayette as a sneak preview...Testing the small market I suppose, but who knows?), and while the story is an almost unbelievably sentimental and cliched mess, I couldn't help enjoying myself. Whatever the case, some writers always manage to put into words things that are only hints in my mind, and Anthony Lane manages that task and provides quite a bit more noteworthy information about Barrie and his creation in this piece.

For the record, people will tell you how good Johnny Depp and Kate Winslett are in this film, but I wished Radha Mitchell, who portrayed Barrie's affection-starved wife, would have had more screen time. On the other hand, she was terrible in this movie ("kill every one of them..." [/weeping]), so maybe they weren't expecting much.

Must-See TV 

Is there anything on television more useless than local news sweeps week productions?

That said, South Park could have done a whole lot more with this theme last night outside of their descent into Robotussin abuse.

Little Billy Tauzin 

I love derisive ads that serve no other purpose than to belittle your opponent's personal characteristics. All things considered, they're probably about the most honest ads in politics these day. That's why I'm distressed that the ad in heavy rotation portraying a pre-adolescent Billy Tauzin III dressed in Daddy's suit trying to decide what he wants to with his life isn't up on the Melancon campaign's multi-media page yet. What are they waiting for? This is the kind of ad that should get as wide a distribution as possible. It's fantastic.

Let me at him... 

A mid-pair before the flop with no one raising leaves the card-holder in a position of strength. Considering his position and despite the odds against the set, seeing the flop with sevens in your hand is almost never a questionable move. By not raising you increase your chances of losing the hand because you allow weaker players to stick around waiting to get their hands made by the draw. Apparently Harvard doesn't teach poker very well.

"Ceasefire" test screening 

John Breaux hosted Mary Landrieu and David Vitter for breakfast yesterday. Both sides were amicable and pledged to work together for the sake of Louisiana. But Vitter has something of a reputation of a loner/self-promoter, and Landrieu supposedly holds grudges. The level of cooperation between Mary Landrieu and David Vitter really should be an interesting story over the next few years. Most interesting will be how the state seems to trend politically as Mary Landrieu's second term moves closer to its expiration. If Republicans make a forceful move in the 2007 statewide elections Mary Landrieu may find herself making major conciliations to David Vitter in order to secure her own reelection the following year. I don't even want to imagine her prostrating herself before the Vitter altar. She's so much better than that.

Good Jim Brown today 

He's not so discouraged by the prospects for Democrats in the South. He makes a lot of good points, though his "conversations with North Louisiana ministers" seems almost farcical. However, he has a couple of good suggestions that are worth quoting:
Another option would be for Louisiana Democrats to hold a major Democratic convention six or eight months before the election. The State Party has come under severe criticism for giving last-minute support to the “leading” candidate in the final weeks of the election. If you’re going to get behind one Democrat, do it way in advance with a formal apparatus that brings several thousand key Democrats together. Let these candidates lobby all of these delegates with the hope of a “consensus” candidate emerging from the convention. If one candidate can garner sixty percent of the delegates, then he or she should receive the blessing from the Party apparatus come election time. It’s an idea that ought to be explored.

On the national level, the south needs to get much more involved in the Party primary apparatus. This part of the county is being left out in the cold by a primary election process that allows the Democratic nominee to be selected by a handful of more liberal states. Kerry was effectively selected by the 135,000 who voted for him in Iowa and New Hampshire. Why on earth would Democrats in the South allow Iowa and New Hampshire to dominate the whole process? Southern states should seriously consider the option of a “southern primary.” And do it early so that the ripple effect can allow either a candidate from the South or a national candidate who offer more of a comfort level to our part of the country.
The national primary system really is broken. While it was good that the Party got to choose a nominee relatively early, which allowed Kerry to benefit from heavy fundraising, it doesn't help that most of the country was essentially left with no other option but to fall in line with a choice that other voters made for them. This doesn't inspire a lot of faith in a national consensus on a pick, which leaves more Democratic voters open to poaching from the other side (read, white Democrats in Louisiana, who voted in big numbers for Bush). Whatever the case, there are plenty of things the Democrats in general and John Kerry in particular could have done better, but they either failed to consider them or simply rejected it out of faith in a now-clearly flawed strategy.

The bit about the state Party having a convention is a particularly good idea. That way it doesn't make candidates feel excluded from the process, as Don Cravins clearly was. It also removes the perception that power-brokers in the state Party leadership are making decisions for an excluded base of Democratic Party supporters and volunteers. It could go a very long way towards renewing Democratic Party unity that has escaped us in Louisiana for some time now.

GPA 

The ACLU is talking about suing the "Governor's Program on Abstinence" because it promotes religion.

To be sure, any abstinence program is more or less a way to promote religion. The website regularly refers to spiritual and moral appeals to promote abstinence until marriage which simply don't make sense unless they're directly inspired by religious concerns. I've just spent the last twenty minutes wading through the program's website, and while it's clear that they've taken care not to overtly suggest any talk about sinfulness and God's will, there's the occasional link to Christian organizations that aren't constrained by that little document we call the Constitution.

The funniest thing about these programs is that they feel so compelled to prove that abstinence is "cool." Half their time is spent dealing with peer pressure instead of providing helpful information about contraception and protection from STDs for thousands of kids who will eventually ignore their advice to stay chaste. That's my real problem with these websites. Their not-so-hidden religious agendas don't seem particularly threatening to church-state separation, but they do untold harm to adolescents' abilities to protect themselves when they inevitably see through the "love waits" cheeriness. The unfortunate problem with the biggest advocates of these programs is their real agenda seems to be indifferent to the kids who actually do choose sex over waiting. The idea being that if those kids get an STD or get pregnant, they deserve it for violating God's will. What they seem to want is a way to separate the good from the bad and to create a little army of crusaders for their cause.

At any rate, the report in the Advocate seems to suggest that this is actually part of a larger agenda for the ACLU to go after all types of "faith-based" initiatives:
The ACLU challenge in Louisiana is the only one filed to date anywhere in the U.S. against a sexual-abstinence program funded with federal welfare-reform dollars, ACLU lawyer Louise Melling said.

"The case in general clearly has implications nationwide," said Melling, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project of the ACLU in New York City.

Melling said the federal judge's ruling that found violations in Louisiana's program should have sent a signal to other states that they should monitor programs so taxpayer dollars are not used to unconstitutionally promote religion.

Melling said programs in other states are being investigated for constitutional violations. She declined to name the states.

...

Cook said the abstinence program not only hasn't done what it promised to do in the settlement, "but over the last two years layered religious content on religious content."

"I think this raises questions about the use of these so-called faith-based initiative funds all over the country," Cook said.
If this is supposed to be a warm-up for a larger ACLU broadside against these programs around the country, then it should be interesting, but I'm not sure if it's right. I guess the ACLU sees going after this on church/state grounds is the correct way because it would have immediate implications in other states, but politically it seems unwise. It strikes me that the best thing to do with these programs is to demonstrate how they're actually failing the nation's children, not arguing that they are indoctrinating them with religion, which a lot of parents would probably be fine with anyway.

17 November 2004

Free Advertising 

Casting Call in Houma for All The Kings Men. No speaking roles, but extras cast will get $50 for eight hours and free food. Go to 212 Ventura Blvd. from noon to 6 pm if you're interested and over 18 (it's some place called the Krewe of Aphrodite float den).

I know a couple of people who drove an hour and then waited in line for four more at the casting call in Baton Rouge for the Dukes of Hazzard, and at least this is one that you don't have to be embarrassed to tell your friends that you waited in line to be a part of. Besides, Kate Winslet is much better looking than Jessica Simpson.

Worst. Show. Ever. 

In a very good story that considers the once and future Breaux, John Hill presents a new scoop as to what the soon-to-be-retired Senator has up his sleeve:
In addition, Breaux is pitching to FOX News Network a new television public affairs program, which he refers to as Ceasefire. He hasn't yet talked to owner Rupert Murdoch, but he says Murdoch will likely go for the idea because the media mogul is sensitive to criticism that FOX is not truly "fair and balanced" as it claims, but a Republican biased media outlet only pretending to be balanced, a claim most recently voiced in the documentary film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdock's War on Journalism.

CNN's Crossfire, which stars fellow Louisianian Jim Carville, has become far too argumentative, Breaux said. "It isn't quite the Jerry Springer Show, but it's close," Breaux said. "My father used to watch it all the time, but he quit because it's become a shouting match."

The senator's concept is that he would bring together a Republican leader and a Democratic leader and talk about common ground to solve the nation's big problems: A Social Security system Breaux believes will be out of money in 2018 unless something is done soon, real Medicare reform and the growing national debt.
Now you won't ever find me singing the praises of Crossfire or any of the shout shows on Fox or MSNBC. And I'm the first to admit that the networks would do well to talk about public affairs in a more serious manner, but I don't know if I would ever watch a show that featured, say, John Breaux and Don Nickels talking about Social Security. You may as well beat me with a baseball bat than force me to watch two guys who have six decades in the House and Senate between them explain why they the things they couldn't actually accomplish as legislators can be solved now that they have access to the Fox media empire.

Of course, I could always be wrong and this isn't just another narcicisstic adventure that all politicians consider during their "retirement," but somehow I doubt it.

Cravins 

Well, endorsing no one is better than endorsing Boustany.

I'm done with the man from St. Landry, so I'll just refer you to what I wrote yesterday.

Saints Give Up on Stadium 

Someone else will have to explain to me why it's better for the state to pay more than $300 million in Dome renovations and inducements to the Saints for a shorter agreement than to just pony up another $40-50 million for a new stadium that would likely guarantee a longer commitment from the franchise to remain in New Orleans and renew our rotation in the yearly Superbowl host-city sweepstakes.

I don't know what Benson is going to present this afternoon, but from the early reporting it looks like he's going to want something similar to what I've described above. If that's the case the state will never go for it. It simply doesn't make any sense to spend that much money and not go the distance on a new stadium. We're still dealing with public bargaining between the state and the Saints so what either party really wants is difficult to speculate about, but this really looks like a raw deal. Blanco already said she wants the ridiculous inducement package brokered by Mike Foster to go the way of the dodo, and if Benson isn't willing to back off of it then I think we Saints fans are going to be weeping about the team's future before too long.

Rolling out the big boys 

I'm surprised the Pic is the only big paper in the state that bothered to report that Charles Boustany and Billy Tauzin III were in Washington yesterday to get their pictures taken with his Highness George Bush.

Even more surprising is that neither candidate has updated their website to include news of the meeting. What are they waiting for?

According to the report "big" Dick Cheney is expected to come to town to support the candidates sometime before the runoff, but Jefe Bush isn't committed to anything just yet.

The Hill reports that BT III's daddy got some of his colleagues together and withdrew some money out of their coffers to move into the race in the 3rd.

Meanwhile, Charles Boustany is living in fantasy-land with his comments about social security to Patrick Courreges:
Boustany said he has four requirements of any legislative package to salvage Social Security -- no privatization, no raising retirement age, no cuts in benefits and no raising payroll taxes.

"It has to stick to the four principles," he said.
Keep in mind that the Republican Party refuses to call their reform package privatization despite the fact that they want to set up private personal accounts for younger workers. As for the other requirements Boustany suggests, one is left to wonder how in the whole wide world you could reform the system without considering any of those options. He either doesn't understand what's wrong with the program or will say anything under the sun to get elected. I suspect it's a little bit of both. It's shocking that these kinds of statements aren't followed up with more direct questions about their efficacy, but I've come to expect very little besides dictation in the coverage of the candidates in this particular race. Earlier in the piece Courreges explicitly states that the President is proposing at least a partial privatization plan, so from Boustany's statement the reader should assume that he would oppose such a plan, but does Courreges clarify this? Of course not. I'll bet a thousand dollars to any takers that Boustany won't oppose a Social Security package put together by the GOP in the 108th and another thousand that such a plan would include some form or another of privatization. Why is Boustany allowed to simply get away with such a blatant falsehood? What good is reporting on their positions if it leaves readers more confused about them than they would be without it?

Step One Complete 

Lafayette Council approves the LUS Fiber to the Home Proposal with only one vote shy of unanimity.

Regular readers from outside Lafayette may be a little frustrated with the constant posting about this, but for those of us in the Hub City this is an issue that has the potential to breach all kinds of barriers between the haves and the have nots, create an explosion of economic development, and simply make the quality of life a little better around here.

The council's vote isn't too surprising, but that doesn't make it any less important or meaningful for the city's future.

Your new freshman class pres. 

For someone who ran his gubernatorial campaign as something of the "anti-politician," Bobby Jindal certainly does play the game as well as anyone else.
Records show that through mid-October, his campaign committee made donations of $71,750, including $25,000 to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which assists GOP candidates across the country. Jindal said Tuesday that ultimately, he donated or helped raise "at least" $150,000 for his fellow Republicans.

Jindal said that before Nov. 2, he never explicitly told his future colleagues that he wanted to run for freshman class president. But those who won their own races that day got the message soon enough.

On Nov. 3, they each had a Federal Express letter waiting for them. It was from Jindal announcing his candidacy.
Jindal's ambition never ceases to amaze me, and it's not as though there's anything necessarily wrong with it, but he's a guy that you'll want to keep your eyes on in every statewide race that comes this way down the pike during his political career. As it happens it's better that he goes in to Congress with favors owed him rather than the other way around.

The other odd thing about the Jindal phenomenon is that judging by the interest in the Republican in India, you'd figure he could go there and challenge Gandhi in a popularity contest.

16 November 2004

Amen 

Digby's been fantastic lately. It's terribly frustrating--especially in the South where you can start to believe all the talk is true--to hear the media and even Democrats themselves call the Party out of touch with "Real Americans" even though Kerry garnered 48% of the electorate and 55 million real Americans to vote for him on November 2.
This entire critique of the liberal elites who allegedly don't understand Real America, and the 55 million of us Unreal Americans who agree with them is another example of this frustrating epistemological relativism to which the press corpse seems consciously oblivious. Up is down and black is white. Entertainers shouldn't get political unless they agree with Republicans, in which case they can have radio shows that are beamed to more than 25 million people a day in which they can viciously insult Democrats all day long. The contempt with which Rush Limbaugh holds the entire Democratic party day after day after day is down to earth and real. The contempt with which Hollywood Democrats held George Bush at a fundraiser is unamerican.

Rush Limbaugh is the voice of the Republican Party --- the allegedly "Real" Americans we liberal elitists don't understand. His swill is endorsed by the highest reaches of the GOP.

...

There are 55 million of us freakish, irregular, unReal Americans who refuse to accept that it is a-ok for this asshole (and all of his clones) to infect this country with his hateful bile uncontested and unrebutted anymore. If that means we have to use harsh language, then fine. Real Americans are just going to have to get used to it coming from our side.

Maintenance 

I'm getting hits like crazy for having the good fortune to link to the original source for the great beaver dam/looted cash building effort, so I figure if anybody comes by here and is looking for it, click here, and don't forget to read about the neo-Confederates running the Civil War museum in Franklin.

A Ballsy Move 

This is exactly the reason Democrats need to reclaim the language of politics. It doesn't matter if John Kerry or David Duke were the Democrat running for President of the United States, there will always be some liberal boogeyman to hang on the necks of Democrats running for office. In this case it's Nancy Pelosi:
On the eve of a fundraiser for Democrat [sic] Congressional candidate Charlie Melancon hosted by liberal Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco), Republican Party Chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr. called on Melancon to commit to the people of South Louisiana that if elected to Congress he will not support Pelosi for a leadership position in the House of Representatives.

“Nancy Pelosi is without question one of the most liberal members of Congress. She embodies everything that is wrong with Washington and the left-wing Democratic leadership and certainly does not represent the views of Louisiana voters,” Villere said.
The Melancon campaign should respond with an agreement not to support Pelosi if Tauzin agrees not to support the soon-to-be-indicted Tom Delay for the same position in the majority party.

Here's the press release Mike Skinner should issue:
In the wake of a fundraiser for Republican Congressional candidate Billy Tauzin III hosted by extremist Tom Delay (R-Sugarland, TX), Democratic Party Chairman Mike Skinner called on Tauzin to commit to the people of South Louisiana that if elected to Congress he will not support DeLay for a leadership position in the House of Representatives.

“Tom Delay is without question one of the most corrupt members of Congress. He embodies everything that is wrong with Washington and the right-wing and power-hungry Republican leadership and certainly does not represent the views of Louisiana voters,” Villere said.

Timshel Gourmet Corner 

If you lived in New Orleans and heard about a burger that boasted 1,400 calories and 107 grams of fat your first guess would probably be that Tucker's Tavern decided to put a second patty on the famed stuffed and deep-fried monsters they serve up just around the corner from the Superdome.

Well, you'd be wrong.

Someday never comes 

The AP is ginning up the disaffected black Democrats meme in the Louisiana press today. Adam Nossiter quotes half a dozen black Acadiana elected officials and gets them on the record expressing their disappointment with the Democratic Party for they way the leadership treated Don Cravins.

After an email exchange about this very issue with a reader I'll add that I don't think Cravins being left off the Unity ballot in the days leading up to the election caused him to lose his chance at a runoff. That doesn't excuse Bob Odom and whatever other Democratic officials approved of the ballot, but it's not like a mailout like this really causes any significant number of votes to move one way or the other. A flyer doesn't make up for the outstanding fundraising disadvantage he had or the lack of significant support outside of the black community in Acadiana. However, I really do think Cravins is justified in his anger. It's too bad he's acting like a sixteen year old whose boyfriend stood her up at the prom, but the source of that anger is very real, and the Democrats need to do something to reach out to the black community here who rightfully feel like they've been left out of the process by the state Party.

Apparently Willie Mount has been trying to do this, but Don Cravins won't take her calls or send her any signal as to what he wants in exchange for his support. I don't know the ins and outs of what's going on between the two politicians at this very moment, but it stands to reason that if Cravins won't even give Mount or the state Party the chance to plead their case, then he's already made his decision and it won't be favorable for the Democrats.

If Cravins wants to punish the Democratic Party as his swan song in state politics, then no one is going to stop him. He's been complaining about the Party for quite some time now but to little effect. This time could be different, but there probably isn't very much anyone can do to convince him otherwise.

...some other notes, a lot of Democrats (possibly fueled by some of my own angry posts about Mount's advertising strategy?) are upset and wondering just how Mount's votes in a 108th Congress would be any different from Republican Charles Boustany's. Don't get me wrong, Mount leaves a whole lot to be desired as a candidate who represents my own values, but make no mistake that she's at least slightly to the left of the last two Democrats we've sent to Congress from the Seventh. One vote I can think of off the top of my head would be against the restructuring of Social Security to include private accounts that will no doubt leave a large portion of people in my generation begging our children for a place to live and the money to feed ourselves. She's also expressed at least an understanding that our current budget policy is unsustainable and has correctly explained that at least a part of the responsibility for these problems is President Bush's tax policy. Boustany says the only answer is more tax cuts (I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cow bell). These are two off the top of my head, and are reason enough for me to vote for Willie Mount in December. I'll add to this list as the race progresses, if only to make up for all my Mount-bashing over the last couple of weeks. I'm taking out my anger at the entire Democratic Party on her. That doesn't mean I think she's even close to ideal, but Boustany doesn't have a shot at my vote, and this blog should reflect that.

Fiber Rant 

Greetings Timshel readers,

Ricky has graciously pointed you to our LafayetteProFiber site earlier today and that awakened me to my responsibilities here. Its true, as he says, that we've got plenty on it over there. (The number of words approaches appalling.) But Timshel is a different community and your support here has certainly earned you a something directed a little more precisely at the political and social concerns that fund a lot of the interest here.

Like most observers I think the fiber to the home initiative is about to go through. It's not the point of no return, though today likely will be seen as the real date of approval. We still will have to endure some votes on issuing bonds and some hearings at the public service commission. But after today the presumption will be that project is going to be built and each day will cement that further until finally it solidifies into fact.

It is hard, I think, to underestimate the importance of this project for the future of Lafayette. In our history the decision to build an electricity-generating utility is a key to understanding what led to Lafayette (and not New Iberia, for instance) becoming Acadiana's central city. Being able to handle the sorts of bandwidth that a fiber-to-the home build will bring will cement that position and make Lafayette as the nations largest fiber to the home city a national player. That is all well and good, and a nice source for pride but handled right it will also noticeably increase the quality of life here. Exciting new technologies will be available here first and more of our children will be able to stay and get good jobs locally. Companies will come, others will grow, and a generation from now the children of Lafayette will be the first kids in the nation to have grown up with that much bandwidth as a natural part of their life. When they begin to build their world and business based on that substantially earlier than most of the rest of the country is when Lafayette will see the full benefit of what they do today. All telecom will be cheaper than elsewhere for the foreseeable future and completely universal. The gap between them as has and those that do not will be narrower on that score at least. Its a good thing that is about to happen.

Turning this corner looks like the end of the fight right now. But really the sorts of political machinations and community concerns that, aside from the Saints :-), drive the Timshel community are just beginning.

The first show will be played out over the coming six months with some political maneuvering over digital divide issues in the council and behind the scenes. A successful or even credible engagement with digital divide issues could have as profound an effect on the way Lafayette is viewed by itself and others as will the fiber build itself. To be in both the technical and the social forefront is now a real possibility. And it will all depend on how we play it through.

That show has already started and tonight we will see Councilman Wiliams play out his string in hopes of getting explicit support built into the vote tonight. (I talked in a bit more depth with Ricky about this over in a comments area on our site. You can get it here.) LUS has already promised to develop a plan within six months for council approval. That would be quickly enough for folks like Williams to try and derail bonding votes if they were dissatisfied with the proposal. This is real, consequential politics that looks a little petty now but will have enormous impact on the future.

And you can watch it tonight on Acadiana Open Channel or drive down to the Council meeting at the City-Parish Council Auditorium on 705 W. University Ave. If you'd like to support it you can even fill out a little blue card and stand before the Council. I recommend watching or even participating. Hey, you own this government. It acts in your name. You ought to have a little influence.

Big Day for Fiber 

The newspapers give us a lot of reason for optimism that the Council will make the right decision on this tonight. As usual, the boys at LafayetteProFiber.com have a lot to say about this.

Litotes Award 

In an otherwise boring story about whether or not J. Bennett Johnston is interested in pursuing a possible position in the Bush cabinet (short list for Sec. of Energy), Bill Walsh drops this in:
Johnston refused to say whether he would be more receptive to a Cabinet post offer this time around. People close to the former senator say that after eight years as a lobbyist he now is financially secure enough that he no longer worries about meeting the long-term monetary needs of his family.
Ya' think?

Runoff News 

Charles Boustany was at the Council of Concerned Citizens for Good Government meeting in Lafayette last night to discuss "the issues." Willie Mount couldn't make it but sent an aide as a stand in. The reports focus mostly on their health care ideas. Mount's going to have to do better than this:
Privat said that Mount favors bringing health-care professionals together to talk about problems and possible solutions. He compared the idea to the statewide health-care summit Gov. Kathleen Blanco held earlier this year to address Louisiana's health-care problems.
If you're not going to offer a serious plan or mention specific proposals that you are inclined to vote for, it's important to discuss why your opponent's plan is unworkable. With Boustany hanging his entire health care platform on the tax-free health savings accounts favored by the Bush administration, this shouldn't be particularly hard to do. It's possible that Privat offered a critique and it didn't make it into the report, but I doubt it.

Whatever the case, I suspect this is exactly the kind of talk that I heard Ernie Alexander lambast the last time I went to one of this conservative group's meetings.

The Daily Advertiser has more.

Weird 

Massive internet difficulties today. For once I don't think it's on my end.

15 November 2004

Expectations 

I've only read a few Alice Munro short stories that have appeared in one of the periodicals that I regularly read (I don't know if you can count how often the New Yorker has published her fiction), but I have no idea how on Earth her latest collection could live up to the review Jonathan Franzen gave it for the NY Times Review this weekend.

...on the opposite end of the spectrum, one of my favorite authors had his latest book trashed. I haven't read this one, but The Commitments; Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha; and A Star Called Henry have been among my favorite reads in the last five years or so.

Pass the tonic water 

What can you say about this?
The winner of a New Iberia City Council election claims the loser bought votes -- paying any where from two-to-five dollars or extra-dry gin -- during the absentee voting period in October.

Councilman-elect Raymond "Shoe Do" Lewis says he has recorded statements from people who were given money.

His opponent, Georgianna Brown, denied the allegation. She says she used her own money for the campaign and isn't rich enough to do as the allegation suggests.

Days Late and a Dollar Short 

Alan Sayre, nearly two weeks after the state elected "anti-gambling advocate" David Vitter to the US Senate, on the Republican's questionable ties to the Coushatta Indian gaming operations.

This story was public knowledge well before the election, but the Democrats failed to push it, and the press apparently didn't care to explore it until now.

TOPS 

This story in the T-P about the disparity among the people earning TOPS scholarships is very discouraging but hardly surprising.
The study points to gulfs between nonpublic and public schools in preparation for TOPS, shorthand for the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students. For example, 63 percent of 2003 graduates at the Academy of the Sacred Heart qualified for TOPS, as did 68 percent of Jesuit High School graduates. But not one student was eligible at Cohen, Fortier and a handful of other public high schools in New Orleans. In a category showing college attendance with help from TOPS, the report has blanks by the names of most of New Orleans' non-magnet public high schools.
The story suggests that students at these public high schools simply aren't given adequate counseling in order to meet the credit requirements to receive TOPS. It takes more than just a certain GPA and ACT score to get the awards, and graduates of these schools don't seem to be taking the classes necessary to capitalize on the program.

I suspect there's a lot more to this than the story lets on. I say this because I find it hard to believe that not one single student even at public school hell like Fortier could have taken it on themselves to find the requirements and attempt to meet them. How many of these students are left out because inadequate course offerings and a general neglect by their schools to even provide the most basic information about TOPS to their students? An industrious student should still have been able to come by this kind of information without a guidance counselor. The question is why they haven't.

Diversions 

Monday papers around the state are always thin, so I'm left linking you to random stories of oddities and the confused that I pick up in my morning reading. In today's case, they're both from the Advocate.

First things first, I couldn't stop laughing at the thought of beavers using stolen casino cash to fortify a dam in E. Feliciana Parish:
Busy beavers found a use for thousands of dollars stolen from a Greensburg casino and thrown into a creek, authorities said Sunday night.

Beavers building a dam on the creek apparently tore open one of three money bags and wove many of the bills into the sticks and brush of their dam, said Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office.

...

No charges have been filed against the beavers, though their home was ransacked by the search. [Har-dee-har!]

...

They found one of the bags right away and found the second downstream, against the beaver dam.

After trying unsuccessfully to find the third bag in the deep water adjacent to the dam, deputies began to break down the dam to release some of the water, allowing them to search in a shallower pool, Martin said.

It was then that investigators found the beavers' handiwork, he said.

"They hadn't torn the bills up," Martin said. "They were still whole."

He said they eventually found the third sack, which still had some money left in it.
Apparently the beavers don't have the same homestead exemption most of the rest of the state is privy to.

And something that bothered me from the moment I read it was this story about a Civil War library supposedly committed to "accuracy" about the history of the "War Between the States" as it specifically related to Louisiana. From the story you'd think the Morgan City library was merely a local history resource sincere about giving an historical account of the goings on in the state during the great conflict, but a quick look at their website reveals at least some hints of something else.

Robert Jones, special to the Advocate, inks the piece about the library, and some clues to where the men running the center stand are littered throughout the piece (emphasis mine):
Franklin has more than the Diana to remember the Civil War -- the city also is home to the Young-Sanders Center for the Study of the War Between the States in Louisiana.

The center is dedicated to the historically accurate examination of the Civil War, focusing on Louisiana's role in the struggle for Southern independence.

...

As the nature of the extensive research library suggests, the center also pays attention to all major historical, political, social and economic causes of the war in a balanced manner representing both the Union and Confederacy as well as the Antebellum and Reconstruction periods.
The foundation website gives you a little more information about the people running the center:
The Center was, and is, committed to a traditionalist and historically accurate examination of the antebellum period, the War Between the States, and the “Reconstruction Era” in all parts of Louisiana...In February, 2000, the Center, which was, unfortunately, located in a city-owned building, closed in Morgan City because of seemingly anti-traditionalist “political correctness” on the part of Mayor Timothy Matte and certain individuals associated with his administration.

For three years, the Young-Sanders Center continued to promote and defend its traditionalist perspective through seminars, presentations, publications, and, most of all, through its “unreconstructed” website.
Uh oh, it looks like Robert Jones really dropped the ball on the real story about the Young-Sanders Center. Jesus, either he shares these guys views or he ate up everything they told him about "balanced and accurate" hook, line, and sinker.

When one of the featured essays on their website begins this way, I think you know absolutely every thing you need to figure out where these jokers stand:
On January 26, 1861, the State of Louisiana asserted her sovereignty in accordance with the philosophical teachings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison by choosing to sever the ties that bound her to the Federal Union.
I doubt the Advocate will follow this story up with another examination of just what these losers mean by "balanced", but this certainly has earned the paper a fine place among the Confederate apologists that usually have the decency to stay just out of the public eye. Now they're doing a pretty good job of promoting themselves.

Values 

Your next Democratic Congresswoman from the 7th District?

This is the ad that's been running around the clock in the local markets. I can't take this.

14 November 2004

The "Gret Stet" 

I'm not sure this is what A.J. Liebling had in mind with that monniker, but you had to figure the best looking penitent in our great election day trauma would be from Louisiana...

She even threw in a "y'all." I'm seriously in love.

Get started with the rest of the gallery here...

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