14 January 2005


Classic Nintendo edition. Frankly, I was never very good at "Duck Hunt" as a kid. I found the aiming part terribly difficult. Using a mouse and having crosshairs makes this game almost comically easy though. Whatever, I can't help but love that happy-as-can-be dog who retrieves all the ducks I blast out of the sky. Unfortunately the clay pigeon option isn't available on this version. Maybe somewhere else?

...no luck on a good version, but here's a terrible clone that barely works if shooting clay is your thing. Also, "The Straight Dope" answers a question I've always had about console games requiring "light guns". In retrospect, I can't believe I never knew this.

Good Riddance to Breaux? 

That's what Jon Chait says in the LA Times today, and considering the way our state hero is planning on spending his retirement, he has something of a point. He goes on to call B.S. on Breaux's supposedly statesmanlike bipartisanship on the strength of only a few examples.

I'll say this for Breaux, I have very little doubt that he didn't genuinely have Louisiana in mind with most of his work in the Senate. The last few years of his Senate career were focused way too much on his own legacy, and I think he sold out Democratic and Louisiana interests in order to "broker" bills that will probably end up harming the country more than they help (think Ted Kennedy on NCLB). Breaux's legacy to Louisiana will be one in a long line of pork delivery vehicles. He was skilled in the workings of power, and he probably helped a lot of people who wouldn't have gotten any if he hadn't been around. That may sound like faint praise and I suppose in some sense it is, but he never really made any secret of his goals as a Senator. He was from Louisiana first, and if that meant protective tariffs for the sugar industry, well, so be it. Someone has to look out for Louisiana's farmers. My feelings for Breaux are as mixed up as probably just about any liberal from the state. We always want more, but there are realities we have to face.

Whatever the case, it is shocking that more people in the state haven't noted the obvious conflict of working with investment firms while simultaneously chairing a panel to rewrite the tax code. You don't have to be a liberal to see a problem with this. Hell, it was the first thing I noted about Breaux's retirement plans when I saw it in print for the first time. Where's the outrage on this?

For Chait's part, I think "repellant sleazeball" goes way over the line. Kevin Drum calls it "a way with words." I think these guys just don't respect that since states like Louisiana get little to no respect from either side of the aisle in Washington that men who get the slightest bit of power and hail from our state should have the audacity to use it to the favor of Louisiana. They should just STFU and deal with it.

via my Yahoo! Democrat group inbox...

The not-so-Midas touch 

Every thing Suzy Terrell touches turns to shit.

Suzy Terrell probably has a worse reputation than any other politician in Louisiana in the last ten years who hasn't been indicted (how's that for a category?). Whether this group was "connected" to her or not, it doesn't do your organization much good to get behind this embarrassment of a politician.

Running items 

Saints-state negotiations begin in earnest. I actually see some reasons for optimism for the Saints to stay in the area now, but not too many. I'm actually less worried about Benson and Blanco coming to terms acceptable to the both of them than I am that whatever agreement they should come to would ever be acceptable to the state legislature.

My reservations regarding Blanco is whether or not she has the political courage to stand up to the anti-New Orleans contingent in the state legislature (and the Advocate) who will bludgeon her at every opportunity with any Saints agreement for the rest of her career.

At any rate, the above story makes the two parties look like they're miles apart on what they expect from each other (and they are), but I have a lot of reason to believe that Blanco does not want to be the Governor who presides over the loss of the New Orleans Saints any more than she wanted to be the Governor who presided over the loss of that State Farm call center in Monroe. Obviously she's not going to break the bank to do it, but I'm sure she understands that they're a not insignificant economic force in this state.

More public opinion 

This may be the conclusion to the Advocate public opinion series, but I'm not really sure. The majority of voters in Louisiana believe that Bush has performed an above average job as President (52% score him either an "A" or a "B"). On the issues, just like nationally, Bush doesn't score as well as he does as an individual. He's like a student who doesn't hand in all his work and manages to fail a couple of tests, but still gets a "B" because he talks in class and to his professor, who likes him. Charlie Cook calls it the sum being greater than the parts. The force of George Bush's will seems to be sustaining public opinion of his Presidency. That and talk radio.

There is some interesting news in the survey:
Bush gained 57 percent of the vote in Louisiana in the Nov. 2 election. Of the survey respondents, 68 percent said they cast their vote mostly or somewhat on their candidate's position on moral issues. Among Republicans questioned, 52 percent said they mostly based their vote on moral issues as did 38 percent of Independents and 29 percent of Democrats.
The moral issues question has come under a lot of scrutiny since the election, but one of the best things about post-election polling is that you can get a little more specific about the things that you could only infer from exit polls whose questions are written prior to the actual voting. The problem, of course, is that some respondents may have been influence by post-election talk about the "importance" of moral issues to George Bush's reelection.

At any rate, this poll also includes some sort of bad news for Mary Landrieu. She only got an above average grade from about 45% of respondents. Meanwhile as many as 16% gave her a "D" or an "F". She's got four years to pull her numbers up for her next election, and she can do that, but she needs to get out in front as a leader for Louisiana. Sitting on the Senate Appropriations Comm. should allow her to do that, but she's been there for two years now and voters still aren't that jazzed about her performance. She'll probably never get the kind of respect John Breaux enjoyed, but she needs to find a way to be a leader in her own right.

There's a lot more in there, so by all means go read the whole thing.

Budget business 

Blanco says cut now so things aren't so bad later.

Make no mistake, things will be bad later, but there's always the great hope of money falling from the federal sky--as it seems to every year--to make the legislators' jobs a little easier when the time comes. At any rate the DHH situation is looking very bad. I don't know what Blanco is going to do in this session to try and improve on it, but considering that it's on the way and their hasn't been that much discussion on how to fix it, I suspect we could be in real trouble. Maybe she's playing things close to the vest so critics can't preempt anything, but I'm worried that there just aren't any cards to play at all.

The Advocate has more in the way of specific cuts to each agency.

13 January 2005

Post removed 

...decided I didn't like it; wasn't fair to its targets, blah, blah, blah. If you want to comment on it and it's gone, use this space.

Lindsay Lohan does New Orleans. 

Exclusive at Defamer. Anyone know what bar she's at?

Which leads me to wonder just what the hell has happened to Chris Rose? Is he going to Miami to take over for Dave Barry?

We miss you, Rose.

Cue Bigshot outrage 

This is interesting:
The campaign to retain the Navy support base on the westbank is moving into high gear.

Currently, the Department of Defense plans to close one-fourth of all military bases in the country for consolidation, security and budget purposes.


The Naval Support Activity in Algiers does basic office work for the U.S. Coast Guard, the Marine Corps and other military headquarters scattered around the city. Under Blanco's plan, the other headquarters would be closed and relocated to the Algiers base.


Blanco also is hoping a regional Homeland Security office will be located in Algiers.


The plan is to create a "federal city" at the Algiers base -- a series of buildings the state would build at a cost of $228 million to house the additional agencies locating there. They would be turned over to the Department of Defense at no cost to the government.

"No matter what happens to the military, it's something that could potentially be a great economic engine for New Orleans," said architect Lawrence Adams, who would be involved in the planning and construction. "Hopefully, we'll win big, keeping our military -- Marines, Navy, Army Reserve personnel -- in Algiers, because that would just make it a triple win."
I wonder if Blanco will demand to see Donald Rumsfeld's books before she makes this deal.

Support our troops, not our Saints![/snark]

Tabasco goes 'Bowling 

$2.4 million at least to run an ad sometime in the third quarter of the Superbowl called "Tan Lines." Has Tabasco brand pepper sauce decided sex sells?

You can see their first Superbowl production here. That was made way back in 1998. Personally, I've never liked Tabasco on pizza. I've always thought it was better when cooked into foods than just thrown on top as a condiment.

Advocate polling 

Well less than half of voters believe property tax assessment is fair in the state of Louisiana. Interesting tidbits?:
Forty-nine percent of the Acadiana respondents said they felt homes were fairly assessed, but only 31 percent of those in New Orleans were of that opinion. Forty-two percent of white voters said they believed assessors were assessing fairly compared to 31 percent of black voters responding to the poll.

In the New Orleans metro area, more than half, 54 percent, said assessors did not fairly assess homes. That area includes the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. Tammany.

"Homeowners were split -- 40 percent agreeing that houses are fairly assessed, to 42 percent disagreeing. Renters were more likely to believe assessors were not fairly assessing the values of houses than were homeowners," Renwick said.
Meanwhile, Covington Representative Mike Strain is leading the charge to set current assessments in stone by capping any increase in property tax bills from growing faster than the cost of inflation. Make no mistake that this is an attempt to head off at the pass any municipalities that would choose to level new taxes against property for things like schools or basic services, because they would be reigned by a state law preventing bills from rising faster than the CPI. It would also make it impossible for the state to look at readjusting the homestead exemption that has crippled the state from instituting any kind of truly progressive tax code. No surprise that it comes from pleasant Covington.

Blanco to Cuba 

On a trade mission, no less. Economic development doesn't stop for a dictator.

I wonder if this kind of initiative will receive the same praise of Blanco for her tireless efforts for economic growth that previous ones have. My, my, times do change.

More Shaw 

Blanco continues to get well-deserved criticism over her husband's trip on that Shaw jet. Fine by me, though it is starting to get a little old at this point. Either advance the story somehow or stop making news where there isn't any.

Good gracious 

I don't even know where to begin with this. I suspect dwelling on a meaningless party switch by even bothering to post on it gives this judge more credit than he deserves, but it's hard not to point out the sheer stupidity of the whole thing. Whaaadeva:
Lavergne said the way he looks at it, he did not leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left him.

"If you are labeled a Democrat you will be for more taxes, more spending by the federal government and more giveaways and you will continue to hold black people in poverty, and, as far as i'm concerned, enslavement economically," Lavergne said.


Lavergne called himself a "Colin Powell Republican," saying the outgoing Secretary of State is his hero.
It's as if someone turned Rush Limbaugh on in this judge's office and he's never turned it off since that first listen. Does anyone really believe that the Democratic Party is more tied to tax and spend politics and government handouts today than they were twelve years ago when this guy was first elected to office? And really, a "Colin Powell Republican?" The Republican Party is the bane of Powell's existence right now. The GOP and its President/savior has spit on him at every opportunity, and he's just taken it. Now he's this guy's hero. Good riddance to this rubbish as far as I'm concerned.

12 January 2005

Where's Elton John when you need him? 

Sorry to post silly bits from the "wacky" news desk on that last one, but I just couldn't pass it up.

Anyhoo, Bigshot alerted me to the latest tribute to Buddy D. It's no "Candle in the Wind," but the artist formerly known as Abdul D. Tentmaker pays tribute to the legend in the only way he knows how.

Worst. Hospital. Ever. 

Memo to world travelers: don't seek treatment in Costa Rica.

was driving around and heard this on the Don and Mike Show:
Professor Ronald Jurisch, 50, was on holiday in Costa Rica when his left foot became swollen. He went to see a doctor in San Jose, expecting to be given an aspirin to calm the swelling.

However, on arriving at hospital he was put in a bed and given drugs to knock him out. The next thing he knew he was in the airport without a leg and with £200 missing from his wallet.

"An aspirin usually did the trick. I have had the problem before - it was nothing serious - just something caused by my diabetes," the professor, from Dessau in Sachsen-Anhalt, explained.

"When I got to the hospital they put me on a bed and I heard the word amputate. I tried to protest, but before I knew it they had given me drugs to black me out and when I woke up I was at the departure lounge.

"My suitcases were by my side - and then I realised my leg was missing. I couldn't move, and when I checked my wallet I found that £200 had been taken out and replaced with a receipt for the amputation.
At least they gave him a receipt.


A coroner verified yesterday's story from the Kenner Police department. The death is no less tragic because she wasn't killed by the cops, but it's good that there was no funny business that may have caused it.

I'm still not sure this is the last we've heard from Jameela Arshad's family though.

Looks like the KPD is vindicated for now.


The Independent's website (Lafayette's local and independently owned weekly newspaper, not that rag from the UK) is finally up and running again. Will they update weekly this time around?

What does a search engine do again? 

Watch out folks, Murph finally reviews The Da Vinci Code for your reading pleasure.

Screwed again 

How long will the NFL HOF committee ignore Rickey Jackson? Derrick Thomas definitely belongs on the list, so the only other finalist we can really compare him to is former Giants linebacker Harry Carson.

Presumably, the Hall of Fame page listing his accomplishments would note the reasons for selecting him. This is what they say:
Giants’ fourth-round draft pick, 1976 draft. . .Became Giants’ starting middle linebacker halfway through rookie season. . .Earned All-Rookie honors. . .Led Giants defenders in tackles five seasons. . .Ferocious run stopper. . . 14 career fumble recoveries ranks second in Giants’ record book. . .Selected to nine Pro Bowls, including seven straight (1982-1988). . . All-Pro (first-team) 1981, 1984; Second-team All-Pro five times. . .All-NFC five times. . .Born November 26, 1953, in Florence, South Carolina.
Note the stats the NFL sees so favorably about Carson. Now let's see how Rickey compares. Six career Pro Bowls doesn't exactly stack up, but it's nothing to shake a stick at. His eight interceptions aren't quite up to par of Carson either, but after that Rickey's numbers speak for themselves. A staggering 227 games played. Second on the career opponents fumbles recovered list with twice as many recoverd as Carson. His 128 career sacks isn't near the NFL record for totals, but it accounts for more than one sack every two games he appeared in.

The guy was amazing but New York linebackers continue to overshadow him. And he's never been arrested for smoking crack (and then making light of it in a movie) like that other jerk from NYC. The New Orleans press hasn't been much help on this either...

Charity hospitals third rail in Louisiana 

The Advocate continues it's public opinion series with a few stories about health care in the state. The short version: Voters are very concerned about the costs of health care. All demographics share a major worry about access and costs. Numbers are up eleven percent from the same question last year. Consequently Louisiana voters overwhelmingly support drug reimportation from Canada, and David Vitter claims to be leading the charge in Washington. We'll see about that. Surprisingly Louisiana's poorest residents (those in N. Louisiana and Louisiana's black voters) are the groups who are the least supportive ("least" being a relative term here). A not completely unsurprising 85% of state voters believe the charity hospital system should remain in place. Politicians have long bemoaned the outstanding costs of this system, but this poll shows that closing them simply isn't a politically viable option. Efficiency will be the key to reducing the costs of health care delivery, not privatization. That's fine by me, but that doesn't mean major reform isn't still in order. The same article shows that about half of the state's voters would be willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for better health care.

Queen Bee revisited 

The Picayune has some worthwhile writing looking back at Kathleen Blanco's first year in office. Robert Travis Scott seems to come to the same conclusion most other observers have. She skillfully shepherded an unambitious agenda through the legislature and worked tirelessly at attracting new businesses to the state. As Maginnis notes this week, the goodwill she's engendered for her administration is somewhat marred by the latest news of Ray Blanco's trip on the Shaw jet, though the double standard on ethics issues Blanco created for herself versus past administrations says that we've come a long way.

In another article I think the aforementioned Scott really gets it all wrong with this lede. Or maybe it's wishful thinking. Headlined "Governor stands up for ailing party," he writes:
In addition to being governor, Kathleen Blanco is assuming a role as a leader in the Louisiana Democratic Party just as the political organization is facing some of the most serious challenges in its history.

Blanco helped Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard get elected state party chairman last week. And now all eyes are on her and the businessman to see whether they can turn back a Republican surge that already has conquered most of the South.
Her role in Bernhard's ascent is just about the only effort it seems Blanco has made over the last year to become the leader of the Democrats in this state. I've spent this time telling anyone who cares that Blanco hasn't done enough, and doesn't seem to care one way or the other about the fortunes of the Party in Louisiana. Don't get me wrong, I know that Blanco is capable and I'm relatively satisfied with what she's done as Governor, but any work she's done to lead the Party as a whole seems to have been relunctantly accepted when thrust upon her by outside forces. We'll see if this play is a signal for a growing role as the puppet mistress of state Democratic Party politics, but there hasn't been much reason to think it will be.

How do you spell lobbyist? 


Apparently John Breaux was just dissatisfied enough with the results of his work lobbying for the state of Louisiana as a Senator that he's decided to take money from Baton Rouge to privately lobby privately for the city. Here's an interesting note:
Holden said Breaux and Jones are already looking to tap 10 to 15 sources of federal money that have never gone to Baton Rouge previously.
Ummm, Breaux just spent more than two decades as a legislator and there is still untapped money out there. Why would he be able to get it now? Did he just find out about it or do lobbyists actually have more leverage than the people who actually write the bills and appropriate the funds?

11 January 2005


Scratch that header. It should read "suspicious." Woman strikes cop. Gets taken to a police car. Woman has seizures. Woman dies in Hospital. It seems like something's missing here, but I hope I'm wrong.

Add to this the long wait for the Kenner police to address the issue of just what happened, and I wonder if there aren't quite a few questions we still don't know the answer to.

Law and Order 

Looks like someone got the wrong idea about Hollywood South.[/rim shot]

From the inbox 

My brother plants his tongue in his cheek and asks the following:
Why doesn't this money go to schools? Why should people from North Louisiana pay for something that will only benefit the people of New Orleans. Isn't Bollinger a millionaire? Can't he afford this on his own?

He should just take his boats and go to some other state...
That's his response to the following news:
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Bollinger Shipyards will dedicate a new dry dock that will be used for vessel repair, maintenance and repair at Bollinger Gulf Repair along the Industrial Canal in New Orleans East. The dry dock represents the completion of the first phase of a two-phased cooperative endeavor agreement between the state and Bollinger Shipyards.

The state invested $10 million for the dry dock project. Bollinger has committed to adding 500 new jobs related to ship building and repair at their yards in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana in 2005. The company is currently hiring at two New Orleans-area facilities.
Of course, the question is whether or not it's worth it to invest $10 million for 500 jobs? I suspect most people would argue that we'd get a better payoff on our investment in Bollinger than the hundreds of millions it would cost to build a new football stadium (Not to mention the likelihood that proponents of the Bollinger deal could argue that the state can afford to spend ten million here and there but not to earmark a budget-busting $300 mill or more for a new stadium when we have direct pressing needs for things like education and health care). I don't know if that argument is right or not, but my bro's correct about making some of the biggest critics of state incentives to the Saints show at least a little more consistency on the appropriateness of corporate welfare.

Quote of the Day 

More Conflict?

"[Fmr. US Sen. John] Breaux also will work for two investment firms and co-chair a presidential panel to recommend ways to simplify the tax code."

Chew on that for a bit.

More on John Breaux's future employment from Gerard Shields at the Advocate. Meant to post on this in the morning but it slipped my mind. Busy lately...

Remember When? 

Remember those halcyon days of our youth when people once thought it might be a conflict of interest for the Chancellor of LSU to take money from the state and private booster foundations? In just a few short years since people made their initial objections about Mark Emmert's privately financed salary supplements, it is now the way things are done, worth only passing mention in the city's paper of record.
LSU's incoming leader will pocket $425,000 a year, not including benefits, according to a top university official, putting the new chancellor well ahead of his colleagues at other Southern universities.

...[countless paragraphs deeper into the story]...

Most of O'Keefe's pay will come out of university coffers with booster groups contributing $50,000, [LSU System President] Jenkins said.

"I think this is an appropriate balance," he said.

The university faced criticism when it allowed private foundations to pay about half of former chancellor Mark Emmert's $490,000 salary.
At least when they first supplemented Emmert's salary it came in response to rumors that he might part ways with LSU. Now they're just forking over money from the get go. Was this part of the negotiations with Jenkins? That speaks to an even more objectionable conflict.

Advocate Polling 

Voters like "accountability." Most notable of this bit of survey is that black voters have grown significantly more predisposed to the idea of "accountability." Renwick suggests that because a Democratic Governor has been a big proponent of "the plan" to promote accountability it gave black voters a reason to become more comfortable with it.

I can't find my post about it, but last year I noted that the people who were most resistant to the state's educations initiative (or at least those who didn't believe it was working) were the urban poor. I apparently had some reason to be able to make this judgment, though this year's story doesn't include specific demographic information besides race. It occurs to me that these people have the most to gain or lose from "accountability", and the parents weren't happy with the results so far. Presumably they're feeling better about it now, but I can't be sure about that. Whatever the case, I'm still not convinced. Entire high schools in New Orleans continue to fail to produce a single graduate who can qualify for TOPs, and until that changes I won't be sold on any education reforms.

More Guard 

Oyster directed me to this story from the Washington Post about the future of the Iraq war costs. More and more often we should expect whole little regions across the country to face the grief experienced by Southeast Louisiana families and friends over the weekend. As Guard units, staffed by companies determined by where you live, take the brunt of duty from regular military this particular misery will become more and more common. We here in Louisiana obviously just learned this yesterday. And it won't be the last time Louisiana loses a handful of soldiers at a time.

To her credit, Mary Landrieu places the blame squarely on Donald Rumsfeld's shoulders for trying to "do democracy on the cheap," though I'm not sure what reason she has to be optimistic at this point that anything could be salvageable, as the Pic suggests she is this morning.

Add to my own pessimism having just read William Langewiesche's "Letter from Baghdad," in this month's Atlantic (sub. only) where much of the 256th is operating. He describes at least some of the challenges they face in their duties, and this was before things have really started to go nuts over the last couple of weeks.
Beyond the checkpoint the war is immediately all around. Indeed, the divided highway into town, though merely five miles long, is notorious for the frequency of lethal attacks. Western journalists generally negotiate it in ordinary Iraqi sedans, which are less likely than the American-style armored SUVs to draw the insurgents' fire, but by the same token cannot easily be distinguished as innocuous by the U.S. troops who have been given the tricky job of patrolling the road in their Bradley fighting vehicles and armored Humvees. It is prudent for people in the sedans, including the drivers, to raise their hands when passing one of those patrols, to show that they are empty. Of course the floors of the sedans these days are probably littered with loaded weapons—Kalashnikovs, pistols, and even grenades at the ready—and the soldiers know that, too. The soldiers are increasingly nervous and ready to fire. Almost imperceptibly their discipline is fraying. One of the ironies for Westerners trying to reduce the dangers in Iraq by blending in, however partially, is that as the war worsens, they run an increased risk of attack from both sides. This is the danger that Iraqis face as well. If there is any relief in leaving the airport road and entering the deadly slow-moving traffic within the city, it is that at least the American patrols are less present.


Their mission amounts to driving around in armored vehicles from which visibility is poor, trying to protect themselves, and occasionally engaging in politically disastrous assaults on neighborhoods and towns. The American success in Fallujah amounts to little more than a measure of American frustration. Across large swaths of central Iraq the insurgents exploit the troops adroitly. They fire on passing patrols from ordinary houses and slip away, counting on the Americans perhaps to pull back at first, but then to return in force to shoot, make arrests, and generally retaliate. The residents of the targeted neighborhoods understand the insurgents' trick, but it is the Americans they blame, as they blame them for drawing the insurgents' fire in the first place.
This whole mess is such a damned shame. It's sad that any soldiers should have been sent, so I hate to treat Louisiana lives as if they're somehow worth more, but the fact is that we're going to be seeing more of this as our engagement continues. Louisiana will shoulder a terrible burden largely due to their assignments and their numbers. Once again, all I can do is pray that it's not in vain no matter how unfortunately I don't believe Bush is capable of providing the leadership to ensure that. Let me be wrong.

10 January 2005

Uh oh 

After my effusive praise for Senator Mary Landrieu last week, Josh Marshall now identifies her as a possible member of the "Fainthearted Faction." Her statement to Congressional Quarterly:

"I’m not saying absolutely, positively ‘no’ to private accounts."

Please politely let Louisiana's favorite daughter know that "no" is the only answer you'll accept from her on the possibility of private accounts. The red state Senators need to know that this isn't an issue that will help them look moderate to Republicans; it will only alienate them from one more core value of the Democratic base.

Feel free to tell her how much you love her too. If it suits you tell her Timshel sent you too.

Contact page here.

Second verse same as the first 

Another Bradley, another bomb, another LA. National Guardsman dead. One more dead and four wounded during the attack, though no information has been released as to the identity of the casualties. Hard to imagine the troops not being from the same company again...

The worst part? This will get worse before it gets better.


By the way, Oyster has been nominated for bestest new blog in Wampum's Best of the left "Koufax Awards." If you're not reading him, you should be ashamed, and if you are then you shouldn't need me to send you over there to vote for him.

And I just noticed that my sitemeter has climbed up over the 50,000 mark sometime over the course of the afternoon. Big thanks to all who continue to read my comments on the order of things around the 'gret stet. I'm flattered beyond description by the continued interest you've all shown.

I'll use this opportunity to remind everyone that any thoughts you have to make Timshel better are always welcome in my inbox. If there's a story you think needs to be addressed please don't be shy about sending me an email. I can't do this without your help, and I enjoy hearing from new people. I'll respect confidence at the request of any correspondents, otherwise emails will be considered fair game for publication.

I keep my mouth shut. 

You Decide

Jeffrey has a good post about a number of things that we'll blame on bad Black Eyed Peas. I suppose it's possible that the over-exposure of the band of the same name over the last year (and their relegation to Jock Rock status) probably ruined the lucky payoff once supposedly assured by consumption of the legume on New Year's Day for 2005.

Take particular note of his thoughts on the beating death of a potential Razoo's patron by boucners outside of the Bourbon Street club the other weekend. I haven't had much to say about this largely because I was too naive to really believe it was anything other than a senseless mistake. I can't say the same for the people at the major press outlets or the police department in New Orleans.


Let me just say I whole-heartedly agree with Seth Stevenson about those ridiculously suggestive Hardee's ads. This is much worse than anything I saw Randy Moss do in the end zone yesterday, and that was greeted by some of the most over the top football commentating I've ever heard. Joe Buck must have named himself protector of the franchise over there at Fox. That's pretty funny considering he gladly takes money from Budweiser to star in an advertising campaign which uses the pampered/selfish athlete stereotype to move product. I wonder if Budweiser pays him to find fault with football stars during game time in order to increase the relevance of their campaign. It's not too much of a stretch considering Buck interrupted a World Series game to interview "Leon" in the stands. Anyhoo, those commercials treat said athletes as if they're an amusing diversion, not a serious threat to the moral foundations of our society. Whatever. I'm probably just reaching to criticize Joe Buck anyway.

My point is that the football advertising is almost always worse than anything you'll see on the field. Until the players literally start sending checks to the networks, the idiots in the box will blame them for everything that's wrong with the broadcast. The NFL folks can yell all they want about on the field antics, but you'll never hear them chastise an advertiser like Smirnoff for that laundromat fellatio ad that was running non-stop a couple of years ago (Sorry can't find the actual ad online).

Sorry for the disjointed rant, but the hypocrisy of the sports commentariat bothers me so much. They complain about individuals dancing in the end zone. Then they don't have to show it. Fox directors could easily make a decision to cut to crowd shots or to a replay rather than show any endzone celebration ever. Same goes for all the other broadcasts. Lay blame where it's deserved or stop acting like you care.

Sigh, I'm all for adult humor, but there's a place for it, and I don't think it's daytime advertising. It makes me even more upset to listen to the facilitators of this disgusting crap blame the people they've spent God only knows how long enabling..

I should also add that this anger may be fueled in no small part by the fact that the three teams who conspired to keep the Saints out of the postseason during the final week of the regular season all advanced to the next round of the playoffs.

Blanco in her own words. 

The Gannett empire publishes excerpts from the transcript of an interview with the Governor. It's worthwhile for a few reasons. First is that she signals what might be a rather ambitious agenda for our mess of a health care system with her comments about possibly changing "how we deliver" health care. This may mean rather dire consequences for state charity hospitals. That's going to be a practical and political minefield since these hospitals are, for better or worse, the only game in town.

She addresses political issues as well, and I'm inclined to say that the Dems in this state are in serious trouble if our response to the 2004 debacle is to stick our heads in the sand:
Q: U.S. Sen. David Vitter said Republicans have looked at all the [state] legislative districts where the incumbent is term-limited and cannot run for re-election, identified those occupied by conservative Democrats in districts that voted by greater than 50 percent for President Bush and for Vitter and are actively recruiting candidates for those seats in 2007. What can you, as the Democratic Party leader, do to counter that?

A: I firmly believe that local seats are determined by the strength of the individual candidates rather than the party. Of course, the Democratic Party is definitely interested in nurturing strong candidates as well. The races for open seats will all be heated.

It doesn't always follow that after these national elections that people will repeat the same things in state elections. What you see happening in national elections is all this national money coming in. I mean, these national elections are not about the individuals, not at all, because the individuals who were running barely spoke to their platforms and what they stood for. It was just millions of dollars spent to bash - from both of the parties - bashing members of the opposite party.

The elections have taken such a nasty turn that I feel just as our citizens do: It makes me want to get away from politics. It actually ruins the idea of a good, wholesome election.

I feel better about legislative elections, city and parish-wide elections than I do about the federal elections. I think federal elections are worthless for creating a sense of citizenship.
Now the sky certainly isn't falling yet, but at some point the Democratic leadership in this state needs to understand that the GOP is poised to make a massive shift in Louisiana politics. While Blanco has something of a point that the strength of candidates can make a difference on the district level, I'm not sure that she really believes it. When she tapped Jerry Luke LeBlanc to run her administration, she pulled him from a district where the Democratic Party's fortunes were probably waning. Instead of recruiting a candidate to run and test her theory that individuals are more important than political parties, they left the 45th to be contested by three Republicans and two Independents. The Independent eventually took the race in a runoff with a member of the GOP. He'll probably run the district until he's forced out by term limits. At which time the GOP will be even stronger in the area, and Democrats almost completely faceless. They've essentially ceded the District until statewide trends in party registration undergo another massive shift, which probably won't happen any time soon.

Oh well, go read the whole thing.

Times, they are a' changin' 

Day two of the Advocate's series on Louisiana public opinion is today, and there are some interesting results. The polling published this morning focuses on what issues Louisiana voters are concerned about, and education and job creation are the two biggest things on voters minds. Last year it was health care, which was probably the result of a gubernatorial election which focused so heavily on the condition of the DHH in Louisiana. Whatever the case, that issue fell to third most important on the minds of "gret stet" voters this year.

I won't bore you with a run down of these results since you're all perfectly capable of clicking over and reading the story, but it is probably worth pointing out something I gleaned from the graphics in the print edition that they unfortunately don't include online. Their helpful pie charts showed that Louisiana voters are actually more optimistic about the state's direction (about fifty-five percent said Louisiana was moving in the "right direction") than they are about the USA's direction. Now it's been my experience that Louisianians are notoriously pessimistic about the state of things around here, so that we have more faith in our state government than the federal government ought to give some hope to Democrats who think the GOP national representatives are invulnerable to Dem challengers in Louisiana. But maybe I'm reading too much into that. Whatever the case, I'd say people must have a pretty poor perception of where our country is headed if more of them would put Louisiana on the right track.

09 January 2005

Sunday Papers 

First let's clarify a few things. I didn't expect the big response to yesterday's little lament for Buddy Diliberto. In retrospect I should have seen it coming. Make no mistake, I've got a deep respect for Buddy D.'s contributions to the city of New Orleans. I loved the show despite almost always despising the near constant nay-saying from the host and most of the callers. A certain generation of Saints fans seem to have given up all hope for my beloved team. These are the men and women who have been there from the beginning, and even more unfortunately have usually been correct in their prophecies of doom. "Calling it like he saw it," as some of you have praised Buddy D. for doing so well, in practice meant stomping all over the hope of fans who've kept their heads up despite so many reasons to turn them down in disgust. These are the two groups of fans I mentioned, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to tell me our passed host wasn't among them. Of course you're all correct that Buddy loved the Saints. That was unfair, and I don't think I meant it the way I wrote it. Maybe I did, but either way around it was simply wrong. At any rate, I was trying to put the loss of a New Orleans institution into the context of my grapples with so many fans who are all-too willing to call the first sign of a leak the proof that a ship has already sunk. Buddy D. is at the center of that, because he spent his years as a radio broadcaster for WWL (and this is what constitutes my only impressions of him) enabling that mentality.

Whatever the case, pros do it better, so you should read Peter Finney's eulogy to his colleague. Josh Peter's story about the all-day on air wake over at WWL will tug on your heart-strings too. Meanwhile, the editors at the Advocate should be ashamed of themselves. Buddy was one of most vibrant radio personalities in the state, and the best they could do was pick up a wire report and stuff it into the middle of their sports section. I can't help but wonder if they haven't slighted a man because of scores the paper has been trying to settle with Tom Benson for the last two decades.

With that out of the way, we should move on to the political news. I've been impatiently waiting for about two weeks now for the Advocate to begin it's public opinion series, and they kicked it off today. Considerably more than half of the state's voters believe that Kathleen Blanco has performed an above average job in her first year as Governor. Unsurprisingly her worst marks come from her stewardship of state health care. Despite lots of talk about reform and experienced responsibility during her campaign, voters have seen very little action on this front during the Gov's first year.

I'd probably give Blanco a "B" myself, but this latest business with her cozy relationship with the Shaw Group might edge me down to "C" territory. I find the whole story incredibly disappointing, and John LaPlante strikes just the right note in this column for the Baton Rouge rag:
It's far from fatal trouble. It's not illegal and it's early enough in her term so she can learn from it and keep it from bogging down her hopes of raising Louisiana out of its decades-long doldrums.

But will she learn? Or will she join the host of other politicians whose actions don't measure up to their self-righteous rhetoric?

This might seem a harsh judgment over a handful of airplane trips. But Blanco set the standard by which she is now being judged.

In the first months of her term, she declared improving the state's image her No. 1 job. She cited high ethical standards as the key to improving that image. She said those standards must start with the governor.


There's no evidence Blanco did anything wrong. But there doesn't have to be. The governor herself has stressed that perception is just as important as reality.

The perception is this: A close friend of the governor is making a lot of money following actions by the governor, and the governor's family is cozying up to big businesses that can benefit from the governor's actions.

Blanco said she fears the controversy over the flights might cost the state industries and the jobs they would create. She might be right. And she has no one else to blame if that happens. She could have avoided the controversy by not taking favors from someone who, coincidentally or not, is profiting hugely from her actions as governor.
Instead she has turned around and helped to engineer a situation where at least one of those same friends at the Shaw Group now runs the Democratic Party in the state of Louisiana. Don't these people understand that as long as this relationship exists, it's not only bad for economic development in Louisiana, but it will do irreparable damage to whatever credibility Louisiana Democrats might have articulating a message of economic hope to the Bayou State's poor or of responsibility to the state's middle class? What is going on here? Are these people blind to the most basic political realities?

Meanwhile, Mary Landrieu stopped by Baghdad on her way home from visiting tsunami-ravaged east Asia to speak with the Louisiana National Guardsmen who have just recently experienced their own tragedy.

Have a great Sunday.

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