Monday Reads: Rabid, Rich Dogs Bite People across the country

Good Morning!

One of the biggest problems that I have with folks who wear the smug mantle of libertarian is that they make hay over abuses of power at the Federal level while shrugging off what goes on at the state level unless it has something  to do with dismantling public schools or taxing the rich.  I’ve always thought that abuse of power and destruction of civil liberties shouldn’t happen at any level.  However, if you go from state to state, you’re going to see how serious money has serious sway over the actions of politicians.  Some states and locales just ooze plutocracy. It’s a lot easier to be a thug at the state level. It’s getting to the point where reality is unfolding like a TV plot.

second lineI’ve dived into the fray at the local level again here in New Orleans where our culture of second lines, Mardi Gras Indians, and live local  music is under siege.

On one hand, I’ve decided to volunteer for the Mary and Mitch Landrieus’ re-elections despite serious reservations about both, because I don’t want to live in a state ruled by one party intent on driving the trains straight off the reality track.

I’m also headed to a huge demonstration on Friday, because some freaking rich lawyer has time and money to continually harass the causes of street sounds and music near his property in the French Quarter. His pet peeves will impact all of us.  Before he moved into the quarter, you would find musicians out about the street at nights.  I would see them on the way home from my gigs all the time when I lived in the quarter myself.  They now have to be out of sight and ear by 8:30. He’s been on a tear since then with a few rich neighbors.  Problem is, they have money and time and they just don’t give up.  Now, they want a “sound ordinance” that has an outlandishly low standard for what he deems ‘noise”. I literally will not be able to play my piano in my back parlor without risking a violation. That means also that Alan Toussaint would not have been able to play it in the taping of Hurricane on the Bayou.  And, a few months back, you would not have been able to hear Robert Plant from my front porch.  And, you will likely never hear live music in and around my neighborhood bars. This, to me, is unthinkable!

So, I am going  to the city council on Friday and I’m going to sign in to testify. I’ve already written letters.  This is bad for my friends who own small restaurants and bars.  It’s also bad for musicians and those who enjoy live music. The only beneficiaries are these few rich landowners that are all over the city council right now although they try to give the impression they have mass support.   The other beneficiaries are the downtown hotels and casinos and other big money interests that would rather have all the musicians held hostage in their bars. I’m doing something of a weird thing by supporting the status quo but yet fighting the powers that want to buy themselves a pristine, billionaire friendly New Orleans. Go figure.  I do wonder why people would buy property when they know they are surrounded by bars and music venues.  This is a bit like the other stuff that’s gong in my current neighborhood where I suddenly have neighbors who are all about having manicured grass in the back and side yards.  All hell is breaking loose, however, around this ordinance.

All hell seems to be breaking loose from New Orleans citizens who are up in arms regarding the underhanded way that the mardi gras indiansVCPORA attempted to slip in a noise ordinance that would have a severe impact on the city’s music scene.

Understandably, the peeps at VCPORA are tired of getting no action from the City Council regarding what seems to be Mr. Smith’s Number One priority (other than bashing oil companies, from whom he’s won bazillions of dollars in class action lawsuits. (From his firm’s web page: “In a 2001 Stuart Smith and Michael Stag jointly prosecuted the widely publicized Grefer case. A jury returned a verdict of $1.056 billion dollars against Exxon/ Mobil Corporation, the world’s largest oil company, in favor of the firm’s client after a six-week trial. The landmark verdict was listed in Lawyers Weekly, USA as the second largest verdict in the United States for 2001.”)

To recap from last week’s post, attorney Smith bankrolls the VCPORA and is successfully using its purported agenda of “preservation” to achieve his goals of eliminating “noise” in the French Quarter.

Since last week’s post, I’ve attended a MaCCNO (Music and Culture Coalition) meeting on Friday, and have been subjected to several emails from Stuart Smith, by way of the Brylski Company, which bills its emails as “Krewe of truth.”

Stuart Smith. From the VCPORA website: “For years, VCPORA has been able to count on a man who’s led innumerable legal battles on our behalf, and on behalf of the Quarter – and done all of it pro bono. That man is Stuart H. Smith – our neighbor, our benefactor, and a man of courage and capability who’s been a passionate advocate on behalf of the Vieux Carré.”I’d call it more the “Krewe of Propaganda.”

Here are a few points in the email [First of all, it’s entitled “Hearing Beyond The Misinformation: TRUE SOUND FACTS [in BIG FAT BOLD letters] about the ‘Seven Essentials’ and the Sound Amendments.”

“WILL THESE AMENDMENTS ‘KILL’ NEW ORLEANS’ MUSIC SCENE?
NO! Of course not! No elected official in New Orleans would sign onto an ordinance that would kill, or even hurt, our invaluable New Orleans music scene [Not unless a VCPORA member like Nathan Chapman sneaked it into Stacy Head’s office to be presented to the council at the last minute pre-2013 Christmas holiday. Chapman is past president of VCPORA and, how shall I say this?: Stuart Smith’s “minion.”] “Music is an invaluable part of our culture and our economy. The reason all seven council members signed on was because, after four years of detailed study and hearing, these amendments are actually very limited in scope and provide common sense improvements. [Untrue, these are not common sense improvements to anyone other than those who want to keep music at the level or a normal conversation. Oh, one had better NOT say that they want to kill New Orleans music! Ask Mr. Smith how much he enjoys the jazz at the Gazebo. Smith bought a property at 516 St. Philip Street in 1997, just a half block from the Gazebo and tried to get the zoning changed at a bar that had had music for many years, well before Stuart took up residence. Oh yeah, he loves music all right. But he moved right next to it and did try to kill it.]

Groovesect-wFred-Wesley-@-The-Maple-Leaf-Bar_2424942004_o1Smith appears to have done some really creative things in terms of showing he has support. And, he’s convinced the City Council that what he  is doing isn’t a big deal at all but very responsible and reasonable.

When they use these unrealistically low sound levels to justify lawsuits and to try to get police shut-downs, the well-funded noise factories of Bourbon Street will come out okay. They can either pay the fine, pacify the enforcers, or hire effective attorneys to back the process into a corner with constitutional challenges which the local court can’t handle and the Supremes won’t be bothered with, so the cases sit in limbo like Bleak House.

But smaller, newer venues, events and street bands, where some new music might emerge – they won’t be able to come close to affording it. The gentrifiers’ suppression will take hold. Venues will have to either shut down the music, or get driven out of business. Perhaps it is the city establishment’s strategy: to leave us with just tourist music and a few big names in big sites, with no sense that they are strangling the future. And for what? Increasing the radius of the comfort zone for a few property owners claiming special privilege.

So, those of you that follow me on FaceBook or Twitter or here, will continue to hear me talk about this because I’ve just about had it with people trying to change my city into some blase suburb.

BTW, the HBO series Treme ended this season.  There’s a great interview with a resident of that neighborhood on what the series has meant.  I still haven’t watched it but I swear there’s not an episode that doesn’t have a friend or neighbor in it.  I bought the DVDs some time ago but I still can’t bring myself to watch it.  I lived the entire thing and just can’t get into the idea of doing it again. I think the biggest curse of Katrina has turned into  two things for me.  One is the number of transplants that seem to want a pristine version of what they think New Orleans should be and what seems like the forced diaspora of the black middle class from the area which brought a red Louisiana and the evil Governor Jindal.  We could handle the Hurricane but I don’t know how much damage from those last two we can take.

RO: I think the show’s tapestry—dare I say gumbo?—of characters and struggles plays a big part in what makes Treme so authentically New Orleans. So it’s kinda hard for me to isolate a character or storyline—they all resonated with me at some level. But if I had to chose? I guess LaDonna running her bar; Nelson Hidalgo for his newcomer’s perspective, learning the byzantine ways of the city; Janette Desautel and her restaurant. Those would be the closest to my personal experience in post-Katrina New Orleans: I ran a bar right after the storm; I was a newcomer, in town just three months when the levees broke. Also, my first wife was a chef and we opened a summer restaurant in the Hamptons together, so Kim Dickens’ character’s professional struggles were very familiar to me.

This is one newcomer who seems to want to adjust to the way of life down here instead of having the way of life adjust to him.  But then, he doesn’t have billions of dollars to spend and the attention of politicians needing donors. I think this sound ordinance protest is the beginning of the pushback.  I’m not sure how much more folks are going to put up with gentrification at all costs.  I just hope the city council gets it. All of the music culture of New Orleans shown in Treme will only occur in hotel bars, the city’s sole casino, and a few Bourbon joints if the ordinance passes.

The_sopranos_right_at_favourite_place-1024x768 There are a lot of times when the larger-than-TV-Life culture of a state seems to be brought to life. It’s just not my state where the government seems to be pushing the agendas of the plutocracy at the cost of the people who call the place home. New Jersey government seems to be the new Goodfellas under Chris Christie.

The Christie Bridge Scandal seems to just pop off the screen and right into your face So far, there are more questions than answers.  However, this is not going away since the New Jersey Assembly has reissued subpoenas.  If there was an attempt to ride out the legislative year, it didn’t work.  Key establishment republicans are trying to buff this turd.

During a panel segment on Fox News Sunday, host John Roberts pointed out that many Republicans were praising Christie for firing one of his top aides after a newspaper exposed his administration’s role in closing part of the busiest bridge in the world as part of political retribution plot, but President Barack Obama had not fired anyone over the health care reform law.

“I think he did himself a lot of good,” Rove said of Christie’s reaction to the scandal. “I think he did himself some good by contrasting with the normal, routine way of handing these things, which is to be evasive, to sort of trim on the edges.”

“You’ll notice we haven’t been hearing a lot from the Clinton camp about this,” he added. “Contrast both with Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi.”

Later in the segment, Roberts asked the panel: “Where was this media coverage on Benghazi, the NSA or the IRS?”

Columnist George Will admitted that “this was not a phony scandal” because Christie’s administration had used the machinery of government to “screw our enemies.”

“There are reasons why conservatives had disagreements with Chris Christie, I don’t think that the tea party is going to seize upon Fort Lee and the George Washington Bridge as their defining difference with Christie,” Rove opined. “In fact, I think his handling of this, being straightforward, taking action — saying, ‘I’m responsible’ — firing the people probably gives him some street cred with some tea party Republicans, who say that’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility.”

I’m sorry, but there’s something distinctly different about handling people who have abused the public trust, committed crimes, and caused public safety issues and managing people who had oversight of  a bad roll out of product.  Here’s more information about those subpoenas because it looks more and more like something very criminal happened in Trenton.

At least six New Jersey residents have filed suit against Christie, the state of New Jersey, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, among others for the traffic jams and resulting problems.

The traffic jam caused by the lane closures delayed emergency services and left commuters and school children stranded on the bridge during periods of heavy traffic, according to local officials.

ABC News also obtained a letter from Fort Lee EMS coordinator Paul Favia that documents four medical situations in which emergency responders were delayed because of the traffic gridlock. In one case, a 91-year-old woman later died at a hospital of cardiac arrest.

Although Favia doesn’t directly tie her death to the delays, he noted that “paramedics were delayed due to heavy traffic on Fort Lee Road and had to meet the ambulance en route to the hospital instead of on the scene.”

Documents now show that the aides were told that this would hurt people and cause safety issues.  Christie originally mocked the stories by talking about laying the cones down. How is this leadership?  I don’t recall Obama ever making a joke about the people who were struggling with the original problems of the site and he told the people in charge to go back and fix it.  Which model of leadership seems ethical to you?

gunsmoke

No special interest groups appear to have larger sway over the country than the NRA and the various groups–like ALEC–that are funded by Pete Peterson and the Koch Brothers.  They’ve convinced many Republican controlled states that even providing the most basic services is evil in the face of putting taxes on the wealthy. Well, the modern day Matt Dillons are going to have a rough time controlling gunslingers in Kansas. 

Reasoning that more guns mean greater safety, Kansas lawmakers voted last year to require cities and counties to make public buildings accessible to people legally carrying concealed weapons.

But for communities that remained wary of such open access to city halls, libraries, museums and courthouses, the Legislature provided an exemption: Guns can be banned as long as local governments pay for protections like metal detectors and security guards, ensuring the safety of those they have disarmed.

It turns out that in Wichita, the state’s most populous city, and in some other towns, the cost of opting out before the Jan. 1 deadline was just too high.

“It was essentially being foisted upon us,” said Janet Miller, a City Council member in Wichita. The city applied over the summer for a six-month exemption but voted last month not to extend it after the police estimated that it would cost $14 million a year to restrict guns in all 107 city-owned buildings.

While Republican-majority legislatures across the country are easing restrictions on gun owners, few states are putting more pressure on municipalities right now than Kansas. The new law has forced some local leaders to weigh policy conviction against fiscal pragmatism in a choice that critics say was flawed from the start: Open vulnerable locations to concealed side arms or stretch meager budgets to cover the extra security measures.

I guess it will be open season on criminal justice employees in courtrooms in Kansas.

Anyway, these are just three different parts of the country where it seems that local politicians are doing a disservice to the people who elected them.  They are more moved by special interests than their constituents.  So, what’s a voter to do?  As for me, I’m taking to the streets on Friday.   I’m just relying on the Greater Ethos that  I’ll be in my own bed on Friday Night.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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83 Comments on “Monday Reads: Rabid, Rich Dogs Bite People across the country”

  1. Brava Kat this is one hell of a post.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It sure is!!

    • Fannie says:

      Ditto, wish I were in the streets taking care of business too.

    • RalphB says:

      Wonderful post indeed!

    • NW Luna says:

      Great post!

      Somebody buys property half a block from a music club in New Orleans and then gets all upset because of the ambiance — which he knew damn well knew about beforehand? Unbelievable.
      He should have bought a soulless condo in some bland neighborhood where he’d fit right in.

      • RalphB says:

        Sucks but it’s hardly unique. People bought houses around Love Field (old Dallas airport) and then complained about noise from the planes. Duh!

  2. Read this: As New Christie Allegations Emerge, Don’t Forget The Deliberate ‘Civilian Casualties’ | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

    It might be the best theory so far. Murphy, who, like Kornacki, once unknowingly worked for David Wildstein, theorized that the lane closures were intended to stymie a multi-billion dollar land development deal, known as “Hudson Lights,” that Fort Lee Mayor Mike Sokolich was busily closing back in August. The land in question is located within spitting distance of the toll for the GWB. If the toll lanes were closed permanently, the traffic nightmare would jeopardize the deal.

    More than any other theory, this is a solid and direct way for the Christie cronies to screw with Sokolich. Kill the Fort Lee development deal by deliberately making the existing infrastructure unacceptable. Clever. And dastardly, given the unprecedented traffic jam at an already traffic-heavy toll.

    Meanwhile, other Jew Jersey mayors have stepped forward with their own stories about alleged Christie administration retribution. Via WNYC:

    –The mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, was asked to endorse Christie, and when she refused, a Hurricane Sandy relief state grant the city had applied for to the tune of $100 million was approved — for a sum total of $300,000. Not nearly enough for the city, which had been 80 percent submerged during the flood.

    –The Christie administration also might’ve retaliated against Mayor Chris Bollwage of Elizabeth, New Jersey when legislators there opposed several Christie proposals in Trenton. Shortly thereafter, the only DMV in Elizabeth, the fourth largest city in the state, was closed. (You might recognize Elizabeth as the setting for The Sopranos.)

    What’s most striking and eerily consistent about all of these stories is, to me, the centerpiece of the entire scandal. Specifically, it’s the ugly, emotionless way in which the Christie administration has deliberately hurt average, innocent New Jersey residents in its effort to exact its petty Neo-Cosa-Nostra vengeance.

    • more:

      Political payback is begrudgingly acceptable if it’s targeted directly at enemies. If Christie really, really wanted to nail Mayor Sokolich, he could’ve started a whisper campaign or a push-poll or any number of “rat-fucking” style forms of retaliation. (See also Karl Rove planting a listening device in his office then blaming it on an opponent, or Nixon operative Donald Segretti stealing letterhead from Edmund Muskie and issuing crazy statements about Democratic opponents.)

      But when you screw with hurricane relief funds or create massive traffic jams, you’re not attacking political opponents, you’re attacking the people you’re supposed to be, you know, helping.

      This is an all-too-familiar tactic we’ve witnessed from the Republican side of the aisle for some time now. The GOP leadership desperately wants President Obama’s policies and presidency to fail — they’ve admitted as much — so what do they do? They aim for civilian populations. They shut down the government. Or they deal in brinksmanship with the debt limit. Or they try to repeal our healthcare. Or they sabotage job growth and the economic recovery, while focusing on a massive national debt which the Bush administration and Republican Congress almost single-handedly created. Or, in an effort to oust the president at the ballot box, they attempt to disenfranchise a growing minority electorate with Jim Crow style Voter ID laws.

    • Delphyne49 says:

      This is a great article – thanks for the link. We’re all considered collateral damage with these thugs.

    • joanelle says:

      As a NJ resident, I’m not much of a Christie fan, however one of the aspects of this that everyone seems to have overlooked, is that Christie is a strategist, even though he shoots from the hip, he does look at the long view and is very aware of his public image. He would have noted the public implications of causing traffic jams, the possibility of health and welfare issues if he were involved in the planning. If he wanted to get even with an individual, he’d go after him and not punish citizens. He’s a shrewd politician, a bully, not simply a bull. I certainly may be wrong but this smacks of a lot of stupid and thoughtless behavior and actions that were obvious they’d ricochet back at the Governor.

      • joanelle says:

        But, as I said, there’s a whole lot of stupid going around

      • janicen says:

        Bullies might be smart sometimes, but eventually they trip themselves up because bullying in and of itself is not smart nor can it be controlled. Bullies get away with it for a while but then become drunk and reckless with their power. Christie might have thought himself smart for making sure none of his fingerprints are on the GW bridge scandal, but nobody is fooled that Christie set the tone for his administration.

        I just read the Steven Benen account (dak linked to it below) of Christie threatening to show his ass and basically wreck the Republican convention if he didn’t get his way and have his video played. That’s the behavior of someone who does not care how many innocent people get hurt when he is exacting his revenge.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Excellent post!

    What Stuart Smith is doing in New Orleans is an outrage. It would be great if lots of musicians got together to protest by playing music in the streets outside his house and wherever the city council meets. I hope you’ll keep us informed about this, Dak.

    • janicen says:

      I envision a steady stream of famous musicians parading around the French Quarter, instruments blazing, daring the plutocrats to have them arrested.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think it would be very effective. We have lots of street musicians in the Boston area, and they are considered to be important to local culture.

    • dakinikat says:

      The organizers are encouraging every one to bring their instruments so I have a feeling it will be a a huge brass band event.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    I can’t believe this quote:

    Later in the segment, Roberts asked the panel: “Where was this media coverage on Benghazi, the NSA or the IRS?”

    How could there possibly be more media coverage about Benghazi and the NSA (still going on)? As for the IRS “scandal,” It was covered heavily until it was proven not to exist.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    TPM: Other Jersey Mayors Say They May Have Been Punished For Not Endorsing Christie

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/new-jersey-mayors-christie-endorse-punishment

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Chris Christie seems to have gone through life riding on his own slogan that “you can kiss my @ss” to anyone who challenged his authority. The voters of NJ bought into that “tough guy” schtick and he paid them back in full.

    As the self indulgent “king” of NJ he has punished and rewarded simultaneously while bringing to bear his role as the “enforcer” to anyone who may have bruised his massive ego. And no surprise that one of his “first acts of leadership” was to fire a woman accused of “lying” to him. Will she allow her reputation to be ruined in this way or will she eventually offer up his carcass to the investigating committees? We will soon see.

    Another interesting story is that one of the redacted e-mails is actually one written by his wife that reads she was the one “smiling” at the mess in Fort Lee. If so, then how in the world was she included on this event while he “was blindsided” until the day the story broke in the press?

    The man is at least corrupt and his own lies are bound to come up since so many agencies have now begun their own investigations will force answers, especially from those who have been accused of lying by a man whose ego overrides everything else.

    Is this who we want running the government of the US? Doubtful.

  7. janicen says:

    Well, I guess the right wing has come up with a “new” strategy for taking the media spotlight off of Chris Christie, it’s “Bbbbbbuuuuuttttt the Clintons…..!!!!!!”

    So Hillary remembers who supported her and who didn’t in ’08. That’s not quite the same as endangering your own supporters and constituents to exact political revenge, but the right wing wants you to know that the Clintons play hardball too.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/hillary-clinton-hit-list-102067.html#.UtQGIShJA20

    • Pat Johnson says:

      We all remember 2008 when some of those Dem weasels (I’m looking at you Claire McCaskill) jumped aboard the Obama Express for reasons few of us understood. The fawning and bowing got so deep you needed wading boots to get through the sludge.

      Of course Hillary will remember. Who wouldn’t? But she is canny enough to know when and how to treat those naifs come 2015.

      I just don’ want to see Anthony Weiner taking a role in that campaign regardless of her closeness to Huma. He needs to be sent packing before he mucks up the works.

      • janicen says:

        Bill Richardson was on Al Jazeera America this morning (my new and now only source for news other than The Daily Show and Colbert) hawking his new book. The interviewer asked him about his relationship with the Clintons and he giggled that it wasn’t very good but better with Hillary than with Bill. I’m guessing there are going to be a few sleepless nights in his future.

        • Pat Johnson says:

          I was almost embarrassed to admit that I watch Al Jazeera myself.

          They cover every aspect of the globe and so far I have not seen anyone as yet “kiss” the butt of some pol when interviewing.

          Which makes watching some on cable. notably Chris Matthews, who up until the Christie scandal broke, was doing his usual “man crush” for Christie and a 2016 match up with Hillary that had him wetting his pants in anticipation.

          The same Matthews who “swooned” over Bush 2, McCain, and Rudy Guiliani.

          As usual, he bats .1000 when it comes to some of these loons.

    • Fannie says:

      Hah, tell the Politico Rag that I’ll take a bullet for Hillary anytime. We know exactly want went on during the 2008 campaign, and we know who backed up the DNC, and looked the other way when violations occurred from within the party. Don’t they remember all the caucus fraud, and dirty tricks, including super delegates in 2008 (Donna Brazile). Don’t remember the damage done by the media, with Chris Matthews calling her the She Devil, and calling her daughter a whore, and how about John Edwards, the back stabber had his poor cancer ridden wife out begging for him to be elected. Not to mention, Judas who looked the Clinton’s in their eyes, and lied to their faces. How about the comments from Jerimiah Wright on Hillary, and how about the New Black Panther Case. Not to mention the damage inflicted by the List of Newspapers that endorsed Obama. Hillary put all that behind her, and rolled up her sleeves and went to work to better this country, the world, and she’s done excellent job.

      All the time sexism, racism, and homophobia was in the mix, and the democratic party members did nothing but turn their heads the other way…………bro befo ho…………..Claire McCaskill indulged in it too, she led the way telling other women it was okay to use sexism, and okay to throw Hillary under the bus. Remember, Tina Fey “bitch is the new black”..

      We had many pro Hillary websites, Puma, and others would didn’t stand by refused to be gagged, including Dr. Lynette Long, and Giig Gatson, and many of us working for the 3 am moment.

      Some of us didn’t drink the kool aid, and some at the politico rag, are obvious feeling the after effects.

      We know were a women’s place is, and we know the role she plays, and the tone it takes to WIN. Hillary’s leadership should never ever compare to the Big Bully in NJ. We got your back Hillary, and ready to a take a bullet. The changes this country needs will come from Hillary, and we are lined up for her success, and this new experience in the workplace.

  8. janicen says:

    dak, thank you for informing us about the attempts of the wealthy to turn New Orleans into their own private theme park. More and more attention needs to be paid this.

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    “And the beat goes on!” The feds are looking at where some of that Hurricane Sandy money may have gone that could have found its way into Christie’s pocket:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/13/chris-christie-investigation_n_4588132.html

    He may have used 25 million to create a “tourism ad” during his reelection campaign that featured his family.

    Whoops!

    • RalphB says:

      He “did” use $25 million of Sandy Aid for that ad. There is no “may” about it. The competing firm was about $15 million cheaper but didn’t use his family, so they got kicked to the curb.

    • RalphB says:

      Chris Hayes had a group of people in NJ on his show recently and ther are still whole areas where nothing has been done after Sandy. Thousands of people are still stuck out of their homes and with little or no aid. Looks like billions of $ either hasn’t been spent or has perhaps disappeared in some ratholes.

      The FBI needs to audit that whole damn affair.

  10. dakinikat says:

    A few more states to add to the list:

    West Virginia Officials Knew Potentially Dangerous Chemicals Were Stored Near Elk River

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/12/west-virginia-chemical-spill_n_4586123.html

    The Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr. reports that Freedom Industries, the company that owns the leaking tanks, told state officials nearly a year ago that it was keeping thousands of pounds of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol in the company’s storage facility about a mile and a half up the Elk River from where West Virginia American Water draws supplies for thousands in the Charleston area. The chemical is used to wash coal after it is mined from the ground.

    GOP donor gets lawmaker to write bill to cut his child support

    http://m.jsonline.com/more/news/watchdog/noquarter/wealthy-gop-donor-gets-lawmaker-to-write-bill-to-help-with-child-support-payments-b99182267z1-239776351.html

    Wealthy Wisconsin businessman Michael Eisenga has been unable to find a judge who will cut his substantial child support payments under current law.

    So Eisenga is doing the courts one better.

    Eisenga — a major donor to Republican politicians — has found a GOP lawmaker to rewrite the law for him.

    “This stinks,” said Michael Collins, lawyer for Eisenga’s ex-wife. “It’s buying justice — if you call it justice.”

  11. janicen says:

    Breaking News from Planned Parenthood:

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from Arizona officials seeking to revive a state law that barred most abortions after 20 weeks of fetal gestation. The justices offered no reasons for turning down the appeal, as is their custom.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/us/supreme-court-wont-hear-arizona-appeal-on-abortion-ban.html?_r=0

  12. RalphB says:

    Interesting research. Manufacturing is in wafers like other silicon chips so could be really cheap.

    Your electricity may someday be generated by micro-windmills smaller than rice

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington announced the development of experimental micro-windmills a tenth the size of a grain of rice, which might someday power electronics like cell phones with a wave of the hand.

    Hundreds of the windmills could be embedded in a sleeve for a cell phone, the university noted in a release touting the innovation.

    Done inexpensively enough, flat panels with thousand of windmills could be mounted on the walls of houses or building to harvest energy for lighting, security or environmental sensing and wireless communication.

    Phys.org notes that UT Arlington will hold the intellectual properties while WinMEMS explores the commercialization opportunities, and that UT Arlington has applied for a provisional patent for the devices.

  13. RalphB says:

    From The Guardian via Raw Story, I wish I didn’t agree with this article.

    America is still a deeply racist country

    • Fannie says:

      That’s why I compared Duck Ducks with Rev. Edgar Ray Killen, Mississippi Burning. The fires aren’t out.

  14. RalphB says:

    I’m shocked! The Texas Lege did something I approve of which should stop a lot of gaming by deadbeat dads.

    New law in Texas sends dad to jail despite up-to-date child support payments

  15. Fannie says:

    Last week I made reference to the Redevelopment Funds for Fort Lee, noting that not much was listed at wiki. It was during a interview with the mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, who dropped the redevelopment project. It was Saturday morning, on MSNBC, when Steve Kornaki – UP segement, which he mentions in some detail about the Massive Redevelopment project in New Jersey’s bridgegate scandal. You can almost always link big money, real estate, and federal funds, etc. with such developments, somebody always has their hands out, kinda like that dude in New Orleans that Dak speaks of.

    Here are a few links for your review:

    http://www.northjersey.com/fortlee/Luxury-Fort-Lee-high-rise-transforms-Bergen-County-Skyline.html

    Steve Kornaki also mentions this book, the Bribe by Philip Ross

    https://www.kirkusereviews.com/book-reviews-philip-ross-2/the-bribe/

    http://therealdeal.com/blog/2013/09/16/fort-lee-n-j-getting-new-luxury-rental-project/

    http://www.rew-online.com/2013/10/17/work-starts-on-new-fort-lee-community/

  16. Fannie says:

    I see Robert Gates, forgot all about Pat Tillman. He’s out talking about “suspicion/distrust” from Pres. Obama and VP Biden. What a very short memory about what the hell was going in Afghanistan. Exactly who was lying to the people of this country, to the parents of Pat Tillman. The disarray of foreign policy coming from Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield was chock of different deals when it came to the Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan. All that damn squabbling and back lying plagues us to this day. Gates might want to fess up about the CIA secrecy bullshit that went on for years, including nuclear arms. All this led to not only a dreary economic downfall, but fear and distrust in the rants of the military themselves. Let us not forget all the raping going on, to the tune of millions.

    Hey Robert Gates, talk about game, and accusing the president’s distrust. How about that David Petraeous tossing the coin during the superbowl, what a show of his manhood, when it got game with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, meanwhile wife Holly spent her entire life getting him to the top.

    Yes, congress often legislates foreign policy, have you notice the difficult times we are having and the lack of help coming from your republican brothers/sisters? Not to mention their shut down of our government, and gutting programs that feed and health care that improves the families of those who serve in the military. Russia couldn’t, Iran couldn’t, so what the hell does he think the USA can help create a democratic government in Aghanistan……..oh, it’s not about democracy…………it’s about oil. What was I thinking went on behind closed doors. I can tell you one thing, it was MEN making the decisions. Not Hillary.

  17. Prolix says:

    Dak, excellent post — I can’t believe anyone, and I mean anyone, would stand the silencing of the Quarter by 8:30. In my many wonderful times in Nola I was just getting out of bed by 8:30 at night.

    As for Christie, the media has not yet resurrected it, but this was the behavior pattern he exhibited while he was a county Judge Executive. It’s what got him kicked to the curb by the voters until he was given a second lease on life by who else — Dubya appointing him U.S. Attorney. Another stellar move by Dubya, may be continue to paint and drool in peace.

  18. RalphB says:

    A review of Megan McArdle’s upcoming book…

  19. dakinikat says:

    A state full of George Zimmermans I guess:

    Noisy Texter Shot to Death in Florida Movie Theater

    http://gawker.com/noisey-texter-shot-to-death-in-florida-movie-theater-1500472540

  20. NW Luna says:

    Some of our state’s Rs are working on pushing everyone else further down to the bottom:

    After Boeing’s successful campaign to pressure Machinists into surrendering their pensions, some state lawmakers are renewing calls to phase out public-employee pensions, too. [….]

    Tim Welch, a spokesman for the Washington Federation of State Employees, said there is no financial need to end public pensions, calling efforts to do so “a mean and nasty effort to harm public employees.”

    If anything, Welch said, pensions enjoyed by public employees should be restored to the private sector, because 401(k) plans weren’t meant to provide a secure retirement for average workers.

    http://seattletimes.com/text/2022657853.html

    Most state workers get paid less than they would get in the private sector. Pensions were supposed to be an incentive to stay in public service.

  21. bostonboomer says:
  22. bostonboomer says:

    Former CA police offices acquitted of killing a schizophrenic homeless man in cold blood even though it was on video.

    In the surveillance footage, Ramos appears to grow angry as Thomas repeatedly evades questions about his name and doesn’t comply with orders to sit with his hands on his knees.

    Prosecutors said the back-and-forth took a critical turn when Ramos put on Latex gloves, made two fists in Thomas’ face and said, “Now see my fists? They’re getting ready to (expletive) you up.” Seconds later, Thomas stood and backed away and ran. Ramos and his partner swatted at him with their batons then overtook him and repeatedly called for backup as they struggled to cuff him.

    Rackauckas told jurors that Ramos was charged with murder because his verbal threat set in motion the chain of events that led to Thomas’ death and he did nothing to stop the violence as six officers joined the fight. Cicinelli, who arrived minutes later, used the butt end of his electric stun gun to hit Thomas eight times in the head and face, breaking multiple bones and causing breathing problems that contributed to his death, prosecutors said. He also stunned him several times.

    The coroner listed the cause of death as brain death caused by asphyxiation from the officers piling on his chest.

  23. dakinikat says:

    Great insight by Steve Benen: Christie basically makes everything about him:

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/taking-worship-self-whole-new-level

  24. NW Luna says:

    Why do they still use the word “womb”? That’s so biblical. Journalists, the word is “uterus.”

    And I have a terrible feeling we will see poor young women selling their uteruses, with the obvious and dreadful consequences.

    Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives in an experimental procedure that has raised some ethical concerns. The women will soon try to become pregnant with their new wombs, the doctor in charge of the pioneering project has revealed. ….

    The transplant operations did not connect the women’s uteruses to their fallopian tubes, so they are unable to get pregnant naturally. But all who received a womb have their own ovaries and can make eggs. Before the operation, they had some removed to create embryos through in-vitro fertilization. The embryos were then frozen and doctors plan to transfer them into the new wombs, allowing the women to carry their own biological children. ….

    …removing a womb for donation is like a radical hysterectomy but it requires taking a bigger chunk of the surrounding blood vessels to ensure adequate blood flow, raising the risk of complications for the donor. ….

    All of the women who received womb transplants will need to take anti-rejection medicines, but Smith said data from women who have received kidney transplants doesn’t suggest their babies are at any increased risk from the drugs. ….

    After a maximum of two pregnancies, the wombs will be removed so the women can stop taking the anti-rejection drugs, which can cause high blood pressure, swelling and diabetes and may also raise the risk of some types of cancer.

  25. bostonboomer says:

    Hey, Everyone —

    My post is going to be a little late, because of some kind of crazy WordPress glitch.

  26. joanelle says:

    What on earth do they put in the water for elected officials. Once they’re in office, they all seem to go around the bend

  27. bostonboomer says:

    Morning post is up, finally!