Saturday, November 22, 2008

Almost Famous 

Apologies to the T-P for the perhaps unfairly excessive excerpt, but there is much to love in the Saturday local politics compilation:

After his meeting with [N.O. City Councilmembers] Clarkson and Hedge-Morrell, Nagin continued to claim that [Councilmember] Head had uttered profanities and "race-baiting remarks" during her clash with White, even though he has not cited a single example of such abuse and many people who have listened to tapes of the meeting say no such remarks were uttered.

Nagin claimed his allegation was backed up by the tapes -- although he did not say he has listened to them -- and unidentified eyewitnesses.

His refusal to admit his initial response might have been wrong came as no surprise to veteran Nagin-watchers. From his first days as mayor, Nagin has been reluctant to concede -- even in the face of overwhelming evidence -- that he was mistaken about anything.

Also unsurprising was his statement in one of his messages to Clarkson that they would have to "agree to disagree on who was out of line" during the initial confrontation.

Nagin has used the "agree to disagree" line before, such as when confronted last year with proof that he had not voted in several 2007 elections, including a gubernatorial primary he had chastised thousands of New Orleans voters for ignoring. Refusing to acknowledge the accuracy of the election records, Nagin declared, "I guess we can just agree to disagree."

. . . . . . .

TRIAL RUN: Meanwhile, a local blogger has taken up Head's suggestion in the initial confrontation that White's failure to provide information to the council was "grounds for discharge."

Eli Ackerman, who writes the blog "We Could Be Famous," has an online petition calling on Nagin to dismiss White.

Ackerman said he knows his petition, which has been "signed" by 275 Internet visitors, cannot force Nagin to do anything. But if he reaches 500 names, he said, he will send the document to council members in hopes of prompting them to "unite against the Nagin administration," rather than letting things return to the status quo.

A Bywater resident, Ackerman said the petition also serves as a test of whether Internet-based grass-roots organizing can work in the Crescent City.

"It's an experiment," he said. "Nobody knows how powerful New Orleans's online communities are, so I thought it would be an interesting way to get the ball rolling."

Eli Ackerman is like a golden god, or a Rolling Stone journalist, or both. I can't decide.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

News Alert: Big Oil pays taxes! 

JudyB at Thanks Katrina links to an informative video by Dennis Woltering and WWL about "Big Oil and Our Wetlands". Please watch it if you have seven minutes.

Salt water intrusion from coastal canals dredged to support oil and gas infrastructure accelerated Louisiana coastal loss by one thousand years. One thousand years! But don't dare blame Big Oil-- not even a little bit! And don't imply that they aren't doing their part to fix the problem.

Here's why: Big Oil... pays TAXES! They do! That's what we learned on that video. Believe it or not, Big Oil pays TAXES. Who'da thunk it? How could anyone but a radical environmentalist possibly ask them to do more than they're already doing... which is paying taxes.

Big Oil pays taxes... just enjoy the smug, insulting way they lay that talking point on you. With a straight face.

Big Oil pays taxes... I can't get over it. Here's my response:

HELL'S BELLS, HOSS, I DIDN'T KNOW Y'ALL ALREADY PAID TAXES! Pardon me all over the place, I didn't know you carried a tax burden. Well smoke my shaved rabbits in holy vapors, ya learn somepin new every day. Me and the rest of us ignorant freeloaders assumed you were like the church or something. You mean to tell us that you do all that oil exploration and extraction and refining and selling, AND you have to PAY TAXES, TOO?!? Jeezm pete's, it hardly seems fair! See it in your heart to forgive us for implying that you weren't doing your part, Big Oil. We're sorry. You pay taxes to help Louisiana's coastal crisis. That's mighty f*cking white of you.

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But-- heaven forfend!-- if an impertinent radical environmentalist persists in asking Big Oil to do more for coastal restoration than pay taxes, Big Oil is ready with a response: they tout their sponsorship of PR campaigns that raise 'coastal awareness'. And the goal of this "coastal awareness" is to make more citizens "aware" that the Federal Government should pay for the huge environmental problem that Big Oil helped create. And if a persistent radical environmentalist should ask Big Oil to do anything more than pay taxes and fund a self-serving PR campaign... well, then the bristling begins. Big Oil will accuse them of playing "the blame game". They'll tell the radical environmentalist that the economy will suffer and jobs will be lost if Big Oil has to pay anything more. They'll tell the radical environmentalist that Big Oil wants to work with them, together, towards common solutions and better talking points which will move our Energy Coast forward into a new day of cleanliness and sunshine... blah blah blah... (just as long as you don't make the industry pay or do anything more than it already is doing). And if the radical environmentalists should raise the specter of Big Oil having to actually pay or do more to prevent coastal catastrophe, then Big Oil quickly pivots and threatens to lawyer up and seek endless delays in the court system before they'll ever pay anything.

See, Big Oil already does its part by paying taxes... what do you do?

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Seriously, watch that video, especially the interview segments with Chris John and the video segments of the open water that was once wetland forest. It's not the strongest piece of journalism I've ever seen, but there's a lot of people who need a reminder about this issue.

Knowing full well that South Louisiana has ten eight years to save our coast, former U.S. Rep. (and potential 2010 Senatorial candidate) Chris John shills for Big Oil by saying the industry does its part by... paying taxes! See the 3:45 minute mark of that video for this quote:

"The fact of the matter is we are paying. The industry pays billions of dollars in taxes... "

I guess that's why Mr. John gets paid the big bucks. When you ask him what Big Oil is prepared to do to address Louisiana's coastal crisis (which they helped create), he'll tell you with a straight face that Big Oil already pays its tax bill. Ask them to do more, and you're playing the "blame game". That's how they choose to play it during this time of crisis.

So, Chris John is there to inform us on camera that Big Oil pays taxes. How bloody virtuous.

Is this little douchemook really the Dems' best alternative to Vitter in 2010?

And then, of course, the video also features Bobby Jindal's coastal "point man" effortlessly spewing Big Oil talking points. The Jindal administration seems fully on board with the idea that Big Oil is already doing its part by paying paying taxes and other normal costs of doing business. They want to "work together" with Big Oil, so long as Big Oil doesn't have to help fix the mess they helped create.

Again, this country spent a hundred million tax dollars to restore Iraq's marshlands*. But apparently we're going to let the communities of South Louisiana wash away. Big Oil is partly, if not mostly, responsible for this environmental crisis. And saying that Big Oil is partly responsible is not playing the "blame game"-- it's stating a fact. But, apparently, if you ask Big Oil to do something more for Louisiana's coast than pay their tax bill, their lobbyist shills and allies in government bristle and make threats about lawsuits.

See, Big Oil will "work with" Louisiana to fix the coast... just so long as we don't ask them to do anything more than fulfill their legal obligation to pay their taxes. They're cool like dat. If we do ask them to do more than pay their tax bill, suddenly we're radical environmentalists engaging in "the blame game", and we're not working together, and we're going to hurt Louisiana's fragile economy and jobs will be lost, and it's the Army Corps of Engineers' fault, too... and whiny excuse after whiny excuse.

Where is the leadership in the oil industry on this issue? Where is the corporate citizenship? Where is the willingness to assume responsibility? This is a huge environmental crisis, and Big Oil is acting... very small.

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* the funds were rerouted a few times after Congress threw a hissy, but rest assured, it was our money that paid for Iraq's marshland restoration. And many of Louisiana's experts were shipped over there to help find solutions to Iraq's marshland crisis.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

"There's little to show for the $7 million taxpayers have plunged down this rabbit hole." 

Below are some facts from yesterday's T-P article titled "Blind Justice", which dealt with the city's high-priced contracts for ineffective crime cameras.

Five years ago, Nagin promised more than 1,000 cameras across the city. The city contracts and their operations have been cloaked in secrecy, causing a rift between the administration and some City Council members.

Then in late September, Harrison Boyd, the city's new technology officer, announced that a company with close ties to that office had been paid nearly $3 million this year to maintain and improve the cameras, a price tag substantially higher than the cameras' purchase price.

Last week, the impact of the cameras again came under scrutiny. This time it was in a council budget hearing. Councilwoman Stacy Head said the city has spent $7,500 per camera this year for maintenance and upgrades to each of the 240 cameras, while it costs only $6,240 to buy and install a new camera. The $1.6 million proposed for maintenance and restoration in 2009 is more than it would cost to buy all new cameras.

Then, for emphasis, this T-P editorial from today:

The concept of installing crime cameras would seem to make sense in a city with high crime and reluctant witnesses.

But it's been five years since Mayor Nagin promised more than 1,000 working cameras and only 240 have been installed. Most of them are now inoperable, high-tech telephone pole decorations -- like the broken camera at St. Roch Avenue and North Villere Street, near where Mr. [Kendrick] Thomas was killed Monday night.
...
There's little to show for the $7 million taxpayers have plunged down this rabbit hole. That's more than the $5.5 million budgeted for recruiting and training new police officers next year. Yet the administration wants the council to approve another $1.6 million for camera maintenance in 2009. Spending more on cameras would only make sense if our city had a fully-staffed Police Department, an efficient justice system, someone who made the cameras work and truckloads of extra cash. None of these apply to New Orleans.


[This camera fiasco is so ridiculously ineffective and overpriced, sometimes I wonder if this whole thing is really just the biggest "Punk'd" prank ever. Ashton Kutcher is going to run out from behind the curtain during Mayor Nagin's next State of the City address, and tell everyone that the real cameras were hidden throughout the city, filming the people who were getting mad about the fake cameras... so it's all a big joke, and everyone would have to gather in tight for a group shot and tell the tv audience "New Orleans got punk'd".]

Bayou St. John David is correct to say that "the technology office isn't the only weak link" in Nagin's administration. The trash contracts are bad, too. However there is a political opportunity with the cameras that doesn't exist with the trash contracts (yet). At intersections throughout the city, we have ineffective and inoperable crime cameras coupled with incredibly efficient red light traffic ticket cameras. This is an unbeatable political contrast, in my view. I've harped on this before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. An aspiring political candidate should emphasize the absurdity of the camera issue, because it brings fear and outrage together in a potent, emotional way-- you can connect a widespread annoyance (red light cameras) with a security issue (ineffective crime cameras), then add a whiff of corruption to get the media slobbering... and you can run with that! That's a combination that can appeal across all voting demographics. It has something for everyone.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"87% ballsy" 

Just for the record, let me say that I would've taken the under on this one. I was probably more surprised than you were after learning that that YRHT scored tested out so masculine on this gender analyzer. The eighty-seven percent range is pretty high*. I'm particularly pleased to have "outmanned" Drive by Blogger(78%) and Pawpaw (75%), and, somehow, Jesus' General (73%).

Beating Jeffrey (64*%) on the scale of absolute gender... well, let's face it, that wasn't terribly difficult. I could probably transform YRHT into a Morrissey fan blog and still score higher than that wanker. But beating out Raving Black Lunatic (71%)-- now that's impressive!




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* or low, depending on your point of view

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Quotes of the weak 

"Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment."

-- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on the Bill O'Reilly show


"No."

-- New Orleans D.A. candidate Ralph Capitelli, in response to a televised debate question asking him whether he thought his opponent Leon Cannizzarro was a "good man".


"Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat."

-- Author Gore Vidal, in response to a question about Barack Obama being a potentially "transcendent" political figure, along the lines of FDR.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Really? 

Has it come to this?

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(via kos)
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nagin and Blakely are needed in the Maldives 

"The only thing I can tell you is that I probably have enough energy to get to the end of my term, and then I’m gonna go take a break." -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

T-P:

Saying he's confident that the proper structures are in place at City Hall for long-term success, New Orleans recovery leader Ed Blakely said he is weighing whether to leave his post in January, when he completes the second year of his tenure.

The CSM reports that rising water levels threaten the Maldives, a low-lying tropical paradise with a tourist-based economy. The Maldives’ first democratically elected president is already waving the white flag, and preparing to move the entire island population to higher ground-- perhaps to Australia.

There's only six people in the world with the training and experience to help the Maldives escape disaster, and two of them are (sometimes) in New Orleans: Mayor Ray Nagin, and Recovery Czar Ed Blakely. Nagin and Blakely should go help the buffoons in the Maldives find an accountability structure. Then, after a job well done, they can relax on the beach together.

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Dearly Beloved are you listening? 

Yesterday afternoon, Lovely and I were honored to witness a friend of ours get married in the French Quarter. It was a fine ceremony, and afterwards we had fun drinking cocktails, eating oysters Rockefeller and remembering when we got hitched in the French Quarter eight years earlier. While we sat on a balcony, surveying the River and the neighborhood, I decided to kick the occasion into high gear by quoting the Bard and the Bible. Do I know how to party, or what? (It had been a tough week for Lovely and I, and we were finally having a chance to relax.)

"All these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come."

-- William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet


"For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed [in] us."

-- Paul of Tarsus' letter to the Romans, 8:18

Then I looked down and saw a long, long line of people marching down Decatur, making an impact. I waved to them in support.

An old woman came over from the reception hall and said, "I can't read the signs, what are they saying?"

"They're saying they want to get married, too," I replied.

"Who are they?" yelled the old woman's friend standing by the door.

"The gays," the old woman yelled back.

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Can you imagine how bad the California fires would be if Prop 8 didn't pass? We'd have to immediately start torturing the gay away (again), in order to avoid a fiery apocalypse. Right?

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On the drive home Lovely and I listened to Franz Ferdinand:

Walk among us
Never judge us
Yeah we're all blessed
...
Walk among us
Oh if you judge us
We're all damned.
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Update: Jeffrey took some pictures of the march.

Update #2: Gentilly Girl wants to know why she can't marry someone she loves.
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* Title reference: Jesus of Suburbia by Green Day


And there's nothing wrong with me
This is how I'm supposed to be
In a land of make believe
That don't believe in me
...
To live and not to breathe
Is to die in tragedy
To run, to run away
To find what you believe
And I leave behind
This hurricane of f*cking lies
I lost my faith to this

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