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04 February 2005

*Snort* 

Okay, okay, one last thing before I hit the road...

When your city has the third highest concentration of self-identified religious in the nation (permalinks sort of nuts right now, so if you're not linked directly to the post, scroll down to "Things I didn't know" roughly halfway down), I guess this is what you get for investigative reporting. At least it's a debunking, sort of...

TKGOTW 

As promised. This one is incredibly hard after just a few levels, but thankfully there are passwords for when you inevitably forget within about fifteen seconds how you solved the previous puzzle.

And as a bonus since I probably won't be around for the rest of the day, Addictinggames.com features "Centrifuge" right now. It's difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it it's pretty fun. Click the mouse to release your pellets and destroy the evil balls coming after your centrifuge.

It's about time 

Let's just say that I've never been a big fan of Rex. Making it to any parades on Tuesday was always something of a problem for me considering the hard celebrating that usually accompanied the week leading up to it. With all that said, it's nice to know that one of the "most important" krewes has finally gotten with the program.

So, take note that I'll be hitting New Orleans this weekend. I'm leaving in a couple of hours, so there probably won't be regular posting for the rest of the day. I suppose I may get the urge when I get settled in to JBoo's apartment this afternoon, but I'm not making any guarantees. I'll try and get you linked to your weekly game in the next hour or so, so make sure you check back in. Unfortunately, I have to be back in Lafayette on Sunday, so I'll miss my favorite superkrewe parade this year. That's probably okay, because the only thing I remember about Bacchus last year was our giant sign reading "The Fellowship of the Beer" in honor of the krewe's Monarch, Elijah Wood. The rest of the parade is a blur, which is appropriate given the theme.

Things I'd never expect to read 

A spokeswoman for the governor said no meetings were planned with President Fidel Castro during her visit, which was announced previously with no firm date.
Obviously that's from a report about a trade delegation set to visit Cuba this spring.

At any rate, while the Governor seems to be organizing somewhat ambitious and occassionally successful development efforts, you really just have to feel bad for Mitch Landrieu. I like him, but he's found himself with the most boring job in state government and desperate for a way to justify his paycheck. He's off to L.A. for the Grammys to "sound out executives on how to persuade the music business to embrace Louisiana." The poor guy at least understands the futility of his job, but he's kept his head up about it. Consider this statement to the Advocate's Mark Ballard:
"In Louisiana," Landrieu said, "lieutenant governor is not seen as an important job. But when you travel to other states, and internationally, they see the lieutenant governor as an important job.
Hopefully he'll raise his profile for the Governorship after Blanco completes her eight years, and considering the QB's rise, that's not out of the question, but by then the state may be too red for a Democratic Governor from New Orleans. And the Senate's completely out of the question for him, so it's either Governor or bust. Of course, whatever he does can't be worse than running around the country trying to act important when he's really impotent.

Glowing coverage... 

Don't get me wrong, the news that Blanco pledged money from the Rural Development fund to build water lines in Cow Island and Forked Island is absolutely fantastic. You may remember some stories I linked to a month or so ago about the problems they've had in these tiny towns with dangerously high arsenic levels in their drinking water. But given the headline and the way this story reads, you'd think Blanco rode in on a white horse wearing a suit of armor:
At a meeting in Baton Rouge with public officials at local, state and federal levels, Blanco promised $100,000 from her Office of Rural Development to pay for starting the project, said state Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Meaux.

"We were very excited," Gautreaux said. "I think everybody in the room, from the (state Department of Environmental Quality) all the way up to the Governor's Office, were excited to get something started."

Denise Bottcher, press secretary for Blanco, confirmed Thursday that the gathering took place but would not discuss details, calling it a "private meeting."

The money is only a fraction of the more than $3.7 million engineers estimate it will cost to run water lines to Cow Island and parts of Forked Island that don't yet have it. But, Gautreaux said it will help the project get started sooner.
Since Bush took over the federal government, I'm wary of giving them credit for much or trusting them to follow through on promises made to fund things that people who vote in large numbers care about, but despite all that it still seems like the people deserving the effusive praise from Cow Island's residents and representatives are whoever was in Baton Rouge representing the US Department of Agriculture:
On Thursday, officials worked out a plan for all $7 million of the remaining money; the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant program pledged $600,000, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to fund the rest in loans and grants.
So Blanco puts together $100,000 and she's the savior, the federal government agrees to fund the project to the tune of upwards of $6 million and the best they get is a single sentence in the report and not a word of thanks from any one in the report. I know the local coverage of the Queen Bee has been pretty favorable, but this is just ridiculous.

03 February 2005

Landrieu, "Yes" to torture 

There's really no excuse. I guess she can't be perfect all the time.

Pierre C. Shadeaux 

Linked with only a plead to watch the video and a note that this must be one of those Acadiana "traditions" that I never had any idea about. It's really quite sad.

Simply put, yes 

Murphy Jenkins and I saw this movie together this fall, and the easiest answer to K-Drum's question is a resounding yes. It was bad enough to make Murph's list of ten worst films of the year, and it marks the absolute last time I'll ever go to a movie on the strength of incredibly weird dreams I've had about the first-billed actress, no matter how many times she's been nominated for an Oscar.

...and from their comments, a reader summarizes the end of the film quite accurately. It's a spoiler, so--er--hopefully this will prevent anyone who hasn't wasted their time with "Forgotten" already from doing so in the future:

Fiendish alien: "Forget!"
Heroic Julianne Moore: "Ummm...no!"
Fiendish Alien: "Okay, you win, and I am destroyed!"



More SS 

With our Senators now sitting across the aisle from each other it ought to be interesting to watch how the coverage shakes out on the many issues where they'll disagree. This ought to be the case with Landrieu's recently found conscience w/r/t Social Security. Here's Vitter talking about "personalization" to a "Monroe" reporter last night:
Vitter and Alexander said they will support some kind of Social Security reform, which the president said is essential to the future of the program, though Alexander is more cautious in his enthusiasm.

"I don't think, until (Wednesday night), that my constituents in Louisiana or in America have been focused yet on what's at stake with Social Security," Vitter said. "But I think that the president's speech will help us begin what will be a serious debate."

Vitter said he supports the president's call for allowing younger taxpayers to personalize investments of a portion of their Social Security taxes. He also praised Bush's pledge not to raise withholdings to keep the program solvent.
Hopefully Landrieu can use this to strike a blow to whatever personal popularity Vitter developed during his campaign over the last few months. It's time to expose him for what he is to Louisiana's voters.

Silver Linings 

Jeez, all the rain around here has been awful the last couple of weeks. Parades all across Louisiana are literally being rained on. Add to that the news of the high river and the rising water in the Atchafalaya, and lots of people stand to be adversely affected by the weather around here lately, but we can all take solace in the fact that this should be great for the crawfish.

Charles Boustany is a liar 

In the same article where Mary Landrieu appears to walk right out of Josh Marshall's Fainthearted Faction, we learn that my district's Freshman and first elected Republican Congressman is a big stinking liar. It took him less than three months to break his first promise to Seventh District voters. What the hell am I talking about? Well, I reminded you a few weeks ago that Boustany listed four criteria on November 16 for any Social Security reform he might support. Here's what he said then:
Boustany said he doesn't see a need to rush into anything on Social Security reform, that the federal government has enough time to come up with a "straight-forward" approach to solving problems.

"It's talked about all the time, but I don't pick up on a sense of urgency at this time," he said.

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.
And here's what he said about the President's appeal yesterday:
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, said allowing people to become owners in the Social Security system by controlling where some of their taxes go "appeals greatly to me."
Don't put up with this.

02 February 2005

Mo' better than I can manage 

Kriston gets it about right regarding that Bobby Jindal business I referred you to this morning:
What, in fact, is indicated by a gesture like a flag bumpersticker, or lapel pin, or stained finger, when the sentiment being symbolized is universally shared?

...

The thing that bugs liberals so much about the conservative penchant for wholly meaningless symbols—meaningless, that is, unless you have some doubt as to whether your congressman (or the driver in front of you) likes America, families, elections, etc.—is that these gestures do not indicate who does or does not believe but who does or does not participate in meaningless gestures. While I don't see anything all that brave or noble in flying an American flag today in America, I don't see anything wrong with or bad about it, either, except when it's used to browbeat someone else.

...

I take some comfort in the fact that while the Republican half of Congress was busy orchestrating this display, Democrats were doing anything else.

SOTU alternatives 

Of course there are always your drinking games, but I whole-heartedly endorse the Library Chronicles approach. If you must watch it, wouldn't it be more appropriate to tape it and watch it a week from today when Lent begins and God compels some of us Christians to sacrifice?

Gross 

I think this is in Lafayette, too.

Casting Call 

Lafayette is hosting a casting call for the remake of "All the King's Men" this afternoon at the Hilton from 3:00 to 6:00. This was in the Advertiser this morning and it doesn't seem to be online, but if you read the story you might have noted the ridiculous quote which suggested that because of the overflow of good-looking and dedicated people that there was sure to be a windfall of film productions to grace our city. Umm, I'm sure that's the first thing Steven Spielberg will be thinking the next time he decides to go on location.

Running Items 

Surprise, there won't be enough money to cover the payment to the Saints when the fiscal year ends at the end of June.

Terrifying 

This usually isn't my game, but this story struck me. What an awful situation.

Ugh 

Bobby Jindal is clearly the biggest self-promoter in Louisiana's tiny delegation, and probably in the entire freshman Congressional class. In just a few weeks he's already been on the most useless political program on television and now he does the absolute least thing anyone can do to "show solidarity" with the "newly freed" Iraqis. I'm already tired of him.

01 February 2005

Site Maintenance 

The Church of Baseball

a stockton & tweed production

I'll tell you quite frankly that I believe Stockton & Tweed to be the most underappreciated humorists on our little side of the partisan internets. I'm no more than a casual fan of baseball at best, but some others out there may find lots of interest in this, so go check it out when you get a chance. I believe some important guy somewhere said sports blogs would be the next "Big Thing." Help the Bad Vernacular crew make it.

Mary, Mary 

Josh Marshall informs us she's probably the very last member of the Fainthearted Faction.

She's already getting fronted by wingers in North Louisiana for having the gall to uphold the filibuster on a mere ten of Bush's precious nominees for the judiciary. It's possible she's looking for a major issue to compromise on to fill the role of Louisiana "bipartisan broker" left in the wake of John Breaux's retirement. Please tell her Social Security privatization is not the best issue to carry into his shoes. While you're at it give her thanks for that filibuster, and tell her you support her attempt to keep extremists off the bench. Maybe a little encouragement from her base can move her out of the FF.

Sigh... 

The favorite report of local news around here lately is to visit with the troop(s) on temporary leave from Iraq. I certainly don't mean to demean the contributions of the soldiers and the hunger of local media outlets and their viewers to honor those who are sacrificing so much overseas. The impulse is honorable and I respect it, but it sure does lead to some awful reporting. Give that report there a looksee. The extent of information we learn about these troops besides their names is the following:

"Justin and Melissa say the best thing about being home is that it's home and not Iraq."

Meanwhile, a barely worthwhile interview with Dustin Tidwell, a casualty of the last attack on a 256th Bradley on the mend back home in Acadiana, accompanies the report. These are interesting stories that the folks at the newsroom could do so much more with. Why phone them in with such disregard?

Meanwhile Governor Blanco is still unhappy with the overuse of our local Guard, which she apparently expressed to some reporters yesterday. More action; less talk please.

Louisiana=Good Government? 

According to this report from the Government Performance Project, Louisiana earns a solid "B", putting it towards the top of the list of states in America, though they acknowledge plenty of room for improvement in areas of workforce training and--whudathunkit?--infrastructure improvement. The state received her highest marks for the dynamic budgeting process and commitment to electronic access of governance.

Doesn't jibe with your experience of life around here? I'd say it's about right. Many of these grades are the result of rather recent reforms, and while there are some factors of government that this study seems to ignore (see that aversion to meaningful ethics rules that I mentioned this morning), there's little doubt that plenty of good faith efforts have been made in this state over the last couple of decades (probably beginning with Roemer's brief flirtation with the Governor's mansion) to improve the way things are done in the "Gret Stet of Loo-si-ana."

At any rate, the study was conducted by the folks at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, so attach whatever academic biases you may believe it has, whatever the case it's not the same thing as these tiresome studies funded by private think-tanks with political agendas.

Precious 

Thank God for Chris Rose. You'll never guess who he's talking to here, so click on the link:
"Now, I know several presidents extremely well. I've met lots of heads of state who will answer my phone calls. I know Nelson Mandela. I've been in war zones. I stood in Tiananmen Square and hung a banner for democracy on behalf of the Chinese people. I've been out there. And these people -- these guys! -- won't answer my phone call."
No more long vacations, please.

Surprise! 

The lawyer in charge of the Louisiana "ethics code" isn't happy with the annual watering-down of rules preventing conflicts and small-scale corruption.
Louisiana's ethics law has been "the strongest, most comprehensive, far-reaching" in the United States, Sexton said.

But, he said, it has been amended more than 100 times since 1980, "and most of those amendments were at the expense of the overall fairness and comprehensiveness."

"The continued enactment by the Legislature of exceptions (to conflict of interest laws) creates two manifest problems," he said.

The exceptions put the seal of approval on otherwise prohibited conduct, Sexton said.

And, he said, "it creates a fairness problem."
No kidding, huh? He also discussed the problem that the technological capabilities are so lacking that they can't even make good on some of the new executive branch disclosure rules that the legislature agreed to in the last session. I suppose it's reassuring that this is even a conversation, but given the state officials' affinities for Tiger tickets, steak dinners, and fancy parties it's hard to imagine much done about this. More here.

The Commandments are coming 

I'll be the first one to Crowley this morning at ten to witness such a glorious moment, if only Justice Moore could be there too.

But seriously, should my local paper really publish letters like this one? At some point don't the people that provide access to this forum have to take responsibility for slanders and the tin foil hat charges that occur in their paper?
The arrest of the Philly Christians is a wake up call that certain un-American groups are trying to change our heritage. The arresting officers were directed by gay attorneys from the justice department on what charges to file against the Christians. One Nation under God, In God we Trust; oh, and has the newly sworn in President just said So help Me God when affirming his oath?
That's just the first paragraph. This guy is all over the map. He goes on to talk about the I-49 connector and the LUS Fiber Optic initiative, which he supports, though I wouldn't want to call him an ally.

Whatever the case, I had no idea who the hell the Philly Christians even were, but I suppose our friend got his information from this worldnutdaily story. Man, am I ever tired of gay lawyers screwing up my peaceful protests. They have so much power.

31 January 2005

Open Thread 

Just kidding, but I have my own ways to satisfy you when I simply can't be inspired to post anything up here in the afternoons, and you know what it is, right? Random games found on the internets. I haven't watched Aqua Teen Hunger Force in a long time, but I did play the flash game inspired by the show quite a bit over the weekend. Help Meatwad and Carl find Carl's head as you take a tour of the ATHF landscape. The directions are rather simple. You use the arrow keys to move Meatwad through the level, but don't get too far away from Carl, because the meat man has to change shapes every now and again to protect Carl from danger and move him along his way through each level. Watch out for Ignignot and Ur a few levels into the game, and fear the Quad Laser.

Hillary Down 

How long before someone construes this as a sympathy ploy meant to further Hillary's Presidential ambitions?

...umm, wow I was only joking, but it took the crackpots all of five minutes over at FreeRepublic. See "post 8" reading, "Didn't Jamit [sic] Reno pull the same fainting trick a while back?"


Huey History 

Adam Nossiter has a good column this week exploring recently deceased fascist sympathizer and master-architect Philip Johnson's fascination with Louisiana's own dictator. Huey apparently didn't think much of Johnson, and in his typical style dispatched the architect to Ohio to organize the state for his Presidential run. Of course Huey did this from his hotel room in his pajamas.

And so it begins 

"Legal incidents of marriage" included in our state ban against same sex marriage are sure to figure in to this ruling. Now the state courts will be forced to rule on whether or not the city of New Orleans can provide partnership benefits to city employees:
A state appeals court on Monday was scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging New Orleans' 1999 "domestic partners" law, which allows city employees to include same- or opposite-sex partners in family health plans.
The lawsuit was filed by Shreveport resident Mike Johnson, who is affiliated with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group.

He argued that providing benefits to gay, lesbian or unmarried partners conflicts with the definition of marriage under Louisiana law. The lawsuit also said the state constitution favors marriage over "unmarried cohabitation."
A judge has already dismissed this suit before, but things may be a little different this time around. Let's hope not. It's too bad some jerk bigot in Shreveport should care so much about who the city of New Orleans provides benefits to.

More embed 

Brian Thevenot files another masterful report out of Baghdad for this morning's Picayune. He seems to do a great job of capturing the apprehension and relief within the soldiers he's been employed to cover as they witnessed the first democratic vote in Iraq since Saddam Hussein tyranny began. It is worth noting a line that's kind of thrown away towards the end of the report noting violence against Iraqi civilians:
The day was not without violence: At least four suicide bombers attacked polling places in the company's sector, killing an undetermined number of civilians, but no Louisiana soldiers.
To read reports in the national press and listen to CNN and other cable outlets yesterday, I was left with the impression that there were maybe a dozen or so attacks across all of Iraq yesterday, but that's hard to square with the fact that there were as many as four in a single sector under the 256th's watchful eye in Baghdad. Obviously this is one of the most dangerous areas, but is it possible that we don't have the whole story on this just yet? At any case, the hunger of the Iraqi people to vote is inspiring, and Thevenot and others who covered the elections there certainly didn't miss this fact.

Of course, families in Louisiana are continuing to learn the hard lessons about the price of this venture. This story about a marine needing a liver transplant for an unidentified ailment after returning from duty in Iraq is particularly terrifying.

30 January 2005

Vinturella Responds 

If you've given up reading the comments on the latest Saints post, the source of the rumors said the following this afteroon:
What I said was "the rumor is spreading." My connections relate to having owned blackandgold.net for a couple of years, and a relationship with the L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission (lasec.net).

In any case, this has initiated a lively and interesting discussion.
I'm still curious about where this rumor is spreading besides Dr. Vinturella's blog. He does seem to have certain connections that might make him privvy to gossip from people in the know, but that's not going to do it for me. There's the other problem of it being patently ridiculous that Benson could have engineered a sale upwards of $600 million dollar in the course of a single business day, but I guess stranger things have happened. Oh well, you know the mantra, "I report. You decide, bitches [/Chappelle's Show]."

...meanwhile Kevin Drum, Los Angeles editor for the Washington Monthly, believes fans of local franchises need not worry their pretty little heads over their beloved teams taking up residence in the Golden State. I'm not so sure he and those he links to are quite right about that.

Sunday Papers 

Okay, there's not much to link to this morning, but I will turn your attention to this quote from the Times-Picayune report on the latest family to receive news of a Louisiana guard soldier's death:
The National Guard said the men were on patrol in western Baghdad late Friday afternoon when a roadside bomb exploded, killing them and making them the latest casualties of the 256th Brigade Combat Team. The brigade, which left for Baghdad in November and includes the 1088th, accounts for 2 percent of the U.S. troops in Iraq. As of Friday, it had suffered 11 of 49, or 22 percent, of combat casualties this month.
The way these guard brigades are set up practically begs local communities to suffer terrible tragedy when they see their children shipped off to war, that's why it's all the more important to reduce the burden on states' guards to prosecute foreign wars. These brigades are trained to fight, but they're not organized in any way that will ease the suffering of communities when their individual companies come under attack. Rather it ensures that when they do meet the enemy, the communities they represent will suffer out of proportion to the consequences of similar attacks on full time professional military. Let's just hope today's job maintaining the security of Iraqi voters in unpredictable urban terrain met them with less violence than the rest of January has.

In news that's rather quaint by comparison, levee officials are cautiously optimistic that the Mississippi River waters will begin to retreat to safer levels after the crest passes New Orleans later this week. And in other news, Bob Odom is still a tool, but a humbled tool thanks to the sting of the Queen Bee.

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