Thursday Reads

jackson squareGood afternoon!

BostonBoomer got into a bad fight with a bush that needed trimming and came out the loser yesterday.  She’s laid up at her mother’s house with a terrible, horrible, awful, very bad rash.  So, I’m writing today’s post and it’s on the tardy side as usual these days.  I’ve never been a morning person but now I have no reason to be since all my lectures, etc. happen in the evening. So, I’m just going to get us caught up on some thoughts today on the cultural shift of the last few weeks and give you a few suggested reads.

There’s some interesting things going on in New Orleans that I thought I’d share with you.  We’re a southern city in a southern state even though our history is more nuanced that some of the other southern states and cities.  There are two very prominent statues in the city from our past.  The first is one of Andrew Jackson atop a stallion to recognize his role in the Battle of New Orleans.LA-Bldg_0170_1_2_3_4_tone-merge-1024x605

The second statue stands on top of a huge column and is part of a traffic roundabout called Lee Circle.  It is, of course, a statue of Robert E. Lee the Confederate General.  Lee looks more than a little defiant with his back to the Mississippi and his arms crossed. He faces due North.  

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has decided that he’d like to take down the statue and rename the circle because he feels that it’s a little too much of a monument to a confederate general.  My question is when do we cross the line from glorification of past sins to erasing some history that we need to really discuss and understand.

Lee was not exactly Nathan Bedford Forrest, the ex-Confederate General who helped to found the KKK. Nor, was Lee a particularly gung-ho Confederate General to start out with if you remember your history.  Lee did something completely different than Forrest after the Civil War.  He became an educator and an advocate of educating black Americans. Lee also freed his slaves 10 years before the war. So, he was a complex man with a complex history as are most of our historical figures.  Still, both of these men who led an insurrection need to be understood without glorification. Can a monument area become an outdoor teaching museum made to elucidate instead of glorify just as many of our National Parks and Museums already do.

After the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson became a U.S. President who is notable for the “Trail of Tears” which was the policy of forcibly and violently removing Native Americans from their land.  The Chocktaw nation was removed from their land in the south and sent on what amounted to a death march west to what is now Oklahoma.  There are two National Parks where Jackson figures prominently. One is the Chalmette Battlefield site where the Battle of New Orleans took place.  The other is Trail of Tears National History Trail.   One is a site of national pride.  The other is a site of national shame.  Jackson, you may recall, is still etched on our $20 bill. If any one’s statue needs to come down it is surely that of Andrew Jackson.

However, history is a nuanced bitch and should never be white washed or banned or removed.  While I fully support removing the Confederate Battle Flag off of public buildings that aren’t museums, I question the wisdom of Mitch Landrieu and others who want to remove monuments rather than use them as an opportunity to teach.

Again, If any one deserves to have all his monuments torn down it is the genocidal Jackson.   Yet, without the win at the Battle of New Orleans we might have a totally different history with the British.  The citizenry who could vote at the time made him President.  He was an extremely controversial President and at times very unpopular for a variety of reasons.  Studying the variety of reasons helps us to learn about past mistakes and the ramifications of these mistakes to our present and future.

Andrew Jackson had long been an advocate of what he called “Indian removal.” As an Army general, he had spent years leading brutal campaigns against the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama and the Seminoles in Florida–campaigns that resulted in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of land from Indian nations to white farmers. As president, he continued this crusade. In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. (This “Indian territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma.)

The law required the government to negotiate removal treaties fairly, voluntarily and peacefully: It did not permit the president or anyone else to coerce Native nations into giving up their land. However, President Jackson and his government frequently ignored the letter of the law and forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations. In the winter of 1831, under threat of invasion by the U.S. Army, the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether. They made the journey to Indian territory on foot (some “bound in chains and marched double file,” one historian writes) and without any food, supplies or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way. It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a “trail of tears and death.”

This is what Mitch says about removing the Lee Statue and redoing Lee Circle. 

Now is the time to talk about replacing the statue of Robert E. Lee, as iconic as it is controversial, from its perch at the center of Lee Circle, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday (June 24) during a gathering held to highlight his racial reconciliation initiative.

“Symbols really do matter,” he said. “Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people.

“We have never been a culture, in essence, that revered war rather than peace, division rather than unity.”

[Listen to Landrieu’s speech on why Lee Circle should be renamed, or read a full article on his announcement here. ]

The slaying last week of nine black people in a historic Charleston, S.C., church at the hands of Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, has sparked heated debate about whether the Confederate battle flag and other symbols associated with the country’s racist past ought to be displayed in public places.

Just two days ago, Landrieu was noncommittal when asked whether the Lee statue should be removed, though he called for a larger discussion on it and other Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The 2018 Tricentennial Commission, whose tasks include addressing the city’s complex racial history ahead of its 300th anniversary, would also examine the propriety of the monuments continued display on public property, the mayor’s office said.

“These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols — statues, monuments, street names, and more — still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future.”

Now, I will give him credit if he manages to get Jefferson Davis Parkway renamed.  That shocked me the first time I saw it.  But, there’s an opportunity lost in the Lee Circle suggestion.  That opportunity is to highlight a complex moment in history and a complex man.  One of his former slaves Rev. William Mac Lee wrote some fascinating bits about their lives together.  

There are many more things that we could learn about the horrible institution of slavery and the men that enabled it. That’s a real conversation we need to have about race.  That institution has shaped race relations in this country.  We can’t bury or white wash the past by removing all elements of it.  We need not glorify the men, but we do need to understand the history and work to ensure we correct the sins and errors of the past. We also, need to instruct on how their actions inform our lives now by including more into these monuments or parks. Rev William Mac Lee wrote this about his former owner.

I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to my judgment. All of his servants were set free ten years before the war, but all remained on the plantation until after the surrender.

trailoftears05We have an opportunity in these places where monuments reside to discuss the sins, the complexities, and all of the people impacted both past, present and future.  There’s more than enough land there to introduce us to William Mac Lee and his descendants as they struggle to navigate the post Civil War South as well as understand the ways that Lee atoned and evolved.

Even statues of the nasty Nathan Bedford Forrest give us an opportunity to put a face and history on the horrible acts of the KKK including lynchings which were frequent and savage in many parts of our country. So, rather than just bury this history and these men, why not use the sites to explore the history of the lives they shaped?  Lee became an advocate of black education even while maintaining the racist notions of the time that African Americans were savages that could eventually be brought to full status through education.  That’s an attitude that needs elucidation because it still informs many in the South. I remember thinking of Lee when Barbara Bush made her pronouncement at the AstroDome on Katrina refuges.  Forrest created the original domestic terrorist organization.  How did these men take such different paths? How far have we come or not come since then?

So, in all of this call to bring down monuments, I hear no similar call to remove the statue of the genocidal Jackson that is also surrounded by enough land for us to be regaled not only with his victory at the Battle of New Orleans but his savage treatment of the Southern Tribes.  The square could be used to connect the Jackson of Chalmette Battlefield to the Jackson of The Trail of Tears.  For some reason, we seem incapable of grabbing teaching moments when they are upon us.  But think, no one plowed under the major concentration camps and there are Holocaust Museums.  They are are there for us to learn, understand, and evolve.

The SPLC has asked that holidays celebrated in the names of Jeff Davis and Robert E Lee be dropped.  This is appropriate.  It’s important to remove the glorification even while we search for deeper understanding of the acts, men, and history.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has launched an online petition asking that Alabama and four other states drop holidays honoring Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

“It’s time to stop the celebrations,” the petition says. “We should honor those who represent American ideals, not those who led the fight to preserve slavery.”

The other states listed are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

The petition follows other calls to remove symbols honoring the Confederacy since the murders of nine African-American worshipers at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., two weeks ago.

Gov. Robert Bentley had Confederate flags removed from a monument on the north side of the state Capitol last week.

In Birmingham today, a city board voted to explore removal of a Confederate monument from Linn Park.

SPLC President Richard Cohen said it was a good time to act on the organization’s concerns about holidays honoring Confederate President Davis and Lee, the South’s top general.

“We thought that now, while the public is sensitive to these issues and in some sense has a broader understanding of the nature of these kinds of symbols, that it would be a good time to put this issue on the public agenda,” Cohen said.

He said the petition was a way to start conversation.

“Why we honor people who fought to preserve slavery is a question I think the public has to ask itself,” Cohen said.

Again, it is a completely different thing to revere or honor bad actors.  So, I’m a firm advocate of museums, parks, and national historic sites that tell the full picture.  I’m not in favor of glorification.  Maybe, we should also have a conversation on the true stories behind the Thanksgiving myths eventually.  Plus, some one needs to talk to Mitch Landrieu about Andrew Jackson.  The man committed genocide plain and simple. But that’s enough from me!!!

Here’s a few interesting things that you might want to read today.

So, that’s my thoughts and suggestions for today.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?

Tuesday Reads: Diary of a Mad Meme

988922_10100144300981501_6638277329610483009_nGood Morning!

So I thought I’d start off with a local story that’s gone rather viral.  My fellow Louisiana Blogger and buddy Lamar White has broken a story that’s even bigger than soon-to-be Senator Double Dip’s payroll fraud.  I’ve watched it go completely viral over the last two days. It’s the stuff political junkie dreams are made from.

Metarie Louisiana is a small town that was one of the first white flight suburbs of New Orleans.  My first real exposure to it was watching Sheriff Harry Lee give a speech to a Republican women’s club 20 years ago in a restaurant in Fat City where I happened to be dining with the guy that brought me here.  The fact a big ol’ huge southern sheriff was Chinese and talking some really right wing stuff to a bunch of little old gray-haired white ladies was a hoot.

This was slightly after the entire Edwin Edwards/David Duke Governor race so I knew what the area was infamous for, believe me. News of that affair even drifted its way up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to the backwater of Omaha, Nebraska.  Then, there’s the fact that the various congressional and lege seats were and are held by some of the worst people in the state (e.g. Vitter and David Duke). It’s a wingnut haven. I drive through it on the way to the airport and try not to let the air waft into the car.

So, the current seatholder–whom I refer to as Congressman Sleaze–is Steve Scalise.  He’s just been elected to the majority whip position under Boehner and his goosesteppers.  Jindal and most republicans in that part of the state have always gotten in a lather at the idea of getting David Duke’s contact list for obvious reasons.  Scalise, however, appeared at one of his events.   What’s really odd is his response.  It’s a combination of ‘I didn’t know’ and ‘The one aid I had at the time is responsible’ and the usual ‘Who me racist?  Anti-Semitic?’ By Monday afternoon, the findings had gone from Lamar’s blog to TPM to WAPO. All the major news stations were on it by yesterday afternoon.  Way to go DUDE!!!

Bad news for incoming majority whip Steve Scalise. He has admitted that in 2002 he addressed a group called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization — founded by David Duke, whom the Anti-Defamation League calls “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite,” formerly of the KKK and known for his theory that Jews were behind 9/11.

Why would Scalise attend an event sponsored by Neo-Nazis and KKK members then admit to being confused about the event? Why would you possibly think speaking at this event was a good idea? Why would you think attending this event was a good idea as a human being let alone if you had the faintest glimmer of public office in your eye? NOTHING ABOUT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA.

In his defense, Scalise’s advisers are saying that “he addressed them, sure, but only because he had no idea where he was or whom he was talking to at any given time until 2007.”

I’m not making this up:

Here is an actual thing that one of Scalise’s former advisers wrote:

“It was a crazy time and I doubt there was a lot of checking up on who was who. . . . It really wasn’t until 2004 that he started sitting down and evaluating speaking engagements and questionnaires. Even then he really didn’t get a handle on schedule until he ran for state senate in 2007 and then congress the year after.”

That is certainly one tactic. “Until 2004, I had LITERALLY NO IDEA whom I was speaking to at any given time. My schedule was a total mystery to me. If a man came off the street, wrapped in a Confederate flag, and said, ‘Come address my group,’ I would have said, ‘Yessir, no question, I want to popularize my proposal to end slush funds.’ I didn’t know my own name until 2005, in case you discover that I’ve signed any unfortunate petitions.”

Okay, I knew about David Duke and I didn’t live in the state until 20 years ago to this month actually. How could this little guy not know who he was speaking to?  David Duke was a Louisiana Republican Party fixture until his run-in with the IRS and his later self expatriation to Russia. As previously mentioned, every one of these Republican officeholders went for his voter list.  You can’t tell me Scalise wasn’t just trying to get at the member list and grab as many potential votes as he could.  He probably figured it wouldn’t matter to his constituents or he’d never get caught.  He obviously had no idea about Google at the time so the way back machine must be way over his mental capacity.   Roll Call has this little gem up about conversation that Vitter and Scalise had about Duke in 1999. ick tweet

Back in 1999, Roll Call interviewed white supremacist leader David Duke about the possibility he would seek the House seat vacated by the resignation of Republican Rep. Bob Livingston. As part of that report, reporter John Mercurio also talked to up-and-coming Louisiana politicians, current Sen. David Vitter and current House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

“I honestly think his 15 minutes of fame have come and gone,” said state Rep. David Vitter (R), a wealthy Metairie attorney who holds Duke’s old seat in the state House and is “seriously considering” a Congressional bid. “When he’s competed in a field with real conservatives, real Republicans, Duke has not done well at all.”

Another potential candidate, state Rep. Steve Scalise (R), said he embraces many of the same “conservative” views as Duke, but is far more viable.

“The novelty of David Duke has worn off,” said Scalise. “The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected. Duke has proven that he can’t get elected, and that’s the first and most important thing.”

In light of Monday’s news reports about the likelihood that Scalise addressed Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization back in 2002, here is the full report from the Jan. 7, 1999, edition of Roll Call:

10885064_10204902334573144_1073535409181496610_nDuke was a former state representative holding the same lege seat that both Vitter and Scalise once had.  He made a comment about him prior to his damned appearance.  How could he not know who he was speaking to?  Anyway, the blogosphere lit up like a candle on Sunday and it’s been one big rolling ball ever since then.  Are people really going to believe this weak excuse?  And here’s a good idea of why I call the dude Congressman Stevie Sleaze.

By 2004, according to New Orleans CityBusiness, Scalise was condemning Duke, who by then was in federal prison on tax charges. Still, Duke was again considering a runfor the 1st District seat.

“David Duke is an embarrassment to our district and his message of hate only serves to divide us,” Scalise told the newspaper.

Scalise’s own message has not always been one of inclusion. Months after criticizing Duke, he was one of six state representatives who voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday. He had also voted against a similar bill in 1999.

In a 2008 ad during his first successful bid for Congress, Scalise accused Democratic rival Jim Harlan of “endorsing Obama’s liberal and dangerous agenda shaped by radicals like Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright.” His campaign also put out a flier with Harlan’s photo near the star and crescent symbol, commonly associated with Islam.

Here he is again with his excuses flying.

Please walk me through how you came to appear at the white nationalist event. 

“I don’t have any records from back in 2002, but when people called and asked me to speak to groups, I went and spoke to groups. It was myself and [former state Sen.] James David Cain who were opposed to the Stelly tax plan.

I was the only legislator from the New Orleans area who was opposed to the plan publicly, so I was asked to speak all around the New Orleans region. I would go and speak about how this tax plan was bad.

I didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group. For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.

I was opposed to a lot of spending of spending at the state level. When people asked me to go speak, I went and spoke to any group that called.”

You don’t remember speaking at the event? 

“I don’t. I mean I’ve seen the blog about it. When you look at the kind of things they stand for, I detest these kinds of views. As a Catholic, I think some of the things they profess target people like me. At lot of their views run contradictory to the way I run my life.

I don’t support some of the things I have read about this group. I don’t support any of the things I have read about this group, but I spoke to a lot of groups during that period. I went all throughout South Louisiana.

I spoke to the League of Women Voters, a pretty liberal group. … I still went and spoke to them. I spoke to any group that called, and there were a lot of groups calling.

I had one person that was working for me. When someone called and asked me to speak, I would go. I was, in no way, affiliated with that group or the other groups I was talking to. ”

You don’t remember speaking to a group affiliated with David Duke? 

David Duke was never at any group I spoke to.”

Were you avoiding him? 

“He was a state representative before me. Everyone knew who he was. I would not go to any group he was a part of.”

Why do you think this [controversy] is coming out right now? 

“Clearly, some people are trying to infer some things that just aren’t true. As a conservative…there are a lot of groups that don’t like conservative beliefs.

From what I’ve read about this group, they don’t like Catholics like myself.”

Yes, and the dog ate his campaign schedule.10897997_10100144393446201_1294380105915636085_n

So, all us blogging Louisiana Buddies are in awe once more of Lamar’s terrific detective skills.  Here’s a great example from blogging Buddy Adrastos.

This kerfuffle reminds me of the days when all sorts of “respectable” Louisiana Republicans played footsie with Dukkke. Many, like Scalise, have put some of Dukkke’s “populist” positions in a suit and tie and tried to make them respectable *after* the Gret Stet Fuhrer wannabe stopped doing so. It’s a minor league version of how Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter (yes, Jimmy Carter) cherry picked George Wallace’s political tree as it were. To be fair to my least favorite recent Democratic President, he borrowed Wallace’s anti-Washington/I’m an outside shtick, and not the whole standing in the schoolhouse door thing.

On a personal level, I’m pleased as punch that vast swaths of the MSM are giving Lamar credit for breaking the story. I expect that the Republican helots will be coming after him directly. He might even get slimed by Rush. If that happens, I will be a jealous motherfugu. (I’m trying swear less as well as to coin a swell new euphemism in addition to my continuing campaign to revive the word swell.) For now, I will merely bask in the reflected glory and hope that Lamar won’t forget the little people or Darby O’Gill for that matter…

I suspect that Scalise will keep his seat in Congress. He is, after all, from the same burg that elected Dukkke to the state lege. Moreover, as recently as 1999, Dukkke received 19% of the vote in a primary for the same seat Scalise holds today. Dukke finished third behind former Governor Dave Treen and the eventual winner, our old pal, Diaper Dave. Scalise has already used the “I’m not a racist” dodge to the Vestigial Picayune. We’ll see how it plays.

I think it’s pretty obvious that the folks in the Scalise District couldn’t care less about it. After all, they once elected Duke to represent them in the lege. The real damn shame about all of this is that the east coast media is giving interview time and column space to Duke.  He’s not rotting up there on the North Shore with the rest of the klan.  Scalise will undoubtedly retain his seat and it might even give him some cred upstate should he decide to run for a statewide office. However, I’m not sure what exactly the Republicans in the District are going to do with him.  He’s either going to have to do some serious mea culpas or offer to step down.  How long this stays as a top trending social media item will undoubtedly help write the end of the story inside the Beltway.  It’s also New Year’s and college football bowl game time.  There’s quite a few distractions including a downed airliner taking up air time. This is definitely an insider story at this point so the ending is still going to be written within the beltway.  Look for Boehner’s response or his absolute vanishing act from media appearances until he gauges if this story has very very long legs. Whatever happens, watch for Lamar’s blog.   And then watch the hashtag fun too.

Anyway, that’s my little two cents for the day.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Monday Reads: We call it riding the Gravy Train

Louisiana Purchased

Good Morning!

I’m going to go a bit local on you again with this eye popping set of numbers and business welfare stories from The Advocate.   The state’s budget is in ruin.  Public hospitals and universities have been defunded to the point that their services are in shambles and their accreditation/certifications have been questioned.  However, we seem to have plenty of room to subsidize rich people and high earning industries.  The eight part series is extremely well documented and it shows exactly how much our state has given to these businesses for nothing comparable in return. Watch out for give aways like these in a state near or around you.

Duck Dynasty” is the most popular show in the history of A&E. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer. Valero is America’s biggest independent refiner, earning $6 billion in profits last year.

But despite all that success, they’re all receiving generous subsidies from the taxpayers of Louisiana, through programs that funnel more than a billion dollars every year to coveted industries.

Every time the Robertson clan films another episode of “Duck Dynasty,” Louisiana is on the hook for nearly $330,000, at last count.

During the past three years, state taxpayers agreed to fork over nearly $700,000 to Wal-Mart to build new stores in two affluent suburbs.

And when Valero announced an expansion of its Norco operations, creating 43 new jobs, Louisiana promised to cover $10 million of the cost, or nearly a quarter of a million dollars per job.

Louisiana’s giveaways to businesses, aimed at boosting economic development in what historically has been one of America’s poorest states, have been growing at a much faster rate than the state’s economy.

Louisiana isn’t the only state that actually bribes Walmart to ruin its local businesses and labor markets.  I’ve linked toscizzorhandz the subsidies in Louisiana, but you can find your own state’s largess at the site too.

There are no centralized databases of economic development subsidies, but Good Jobs First found 20 deals worth a total of about $96.5 million in Louisiana.  …

Many Wal-Mart workers are ineligible for health coverage from their employer or choose not to purchase what is available, because it is too expensive or too limited in scope. These workers often turn to taxpayer-funded health programs such as Medicaid. Louisiana is among those states that have not disclosed data on the employers with the most workers or their dependents enrolled in such programs.

What we have is a mess and I have no doubt that Kansas and other Republican run nightmare states can’t be too far behind in the race to the bottom.

When the Legislature convenes next year, an even bigger shortfall of as much as $1.4 billion is expected. Many legislators, including Republicans overseeing key financial committees, speak of a “structural deficit” of at least $600 million that they trace in large part to the growing giveaways. Because the programs are built into the law, they don’t have to compete for funding with other state services: The state just pays the tab, whatever it is.

Indeed, Louisiana’s incentive programs are viewed with increasing bipartisan skepticism.

Liberals have long complained that the giveaways divert money from programs that help the poor and middle class, directing it instead into corporate coffers. Conservatives are uncomfortable with the state picking winners rather than letting private enterprise sort things out in the marketplace. An alternative would be to simply let taxpayers keep more of their money. And many members of both parties think the cuts, especially to higher education, have gone too far.

Still, the programs have proven difficult to corral, in part because Jindal — who holds considerable sway over the Legislature — has pledged not to raise taxes in any form. According to the rules of the pledge, promulgated by the powerful group Americans for Tax Reform, any legislative action that increases revenue to the state constitutes a tax increase, even if the action simply gets rid of a costly giveaway. Jindal responded to requests for an interview for this story by issuing a written statement saying his administration’s policies have led to economic and population growth, and that the state should not seek to increase revenues.

Jindal’s fealty to the anti-tax pledge may have helped keep his presidential ambitions alive, but it hasn’t necessarily made the business world see Louisiana as a tax paradise. Though some surveys put the Pelican State’s actual tax burden among the five lowest in the country, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation recently ranked Louisiana No. 35 among the states with the best tax climates for business.

It’s not hard to see why.

“States are punished for overly complex, burdensome and economically harmful tax codes but are rewarded for transparent and neutral tax codes that do not distort business decisions,” the group said in a news release.

With more than 450 tax breaks enshrined in state law, some of them massive, Louisiana undeniably fails that test.

You can read horror story after horror story in the paper’s 8 stories written by various Advocate staff.   Here are two more examples that just left me flabbergasted.

  • Louisiana’s film incentive program cost state taxpayers $251 million last year and returned less than 25 percent of that to state coffers in the form of taxes. Considered the most generous of its kind in the nation, the film incentive has made the state America’s busiest locale for making feature films. It’s no wonder: State taxpayers cover 30 percent of the cost of movies filmed here, including eight-figure star salaries such as the estimated $20 million paid to Tom Cruise for 2013’s “Oblivion.”

  • Refunds of a property tax that businesses pay on their inventory have more than doubled in the past seven years, reaching $427 million last year and widening the hole in the state budget. The tax, little known to most Louisianians, is assessed at the local level and paid by businesses to parish governments. The state then cuts refund checks for the entirety of the tax paid, under a law passed in 1992. The pass-through in effect means taxpayers around Louisiana are subsidizing parishes with heavy industry, which generates most of the tax. For example, roughly 6 percent of the revenue from the inventory tax program goes to St. James Parish, which has just 0.5 percent of Louisiana’s population.

So like nearly every other Republican who screams about being a fiscal conservative,  Bobby Jindal is pretty much proving it’s not so much about that as ensuring his donor base is tax free and  subsidized.  So some one please tell me why Tom Cruise is so deserving of a multi million dollar income support but we can’t feed poor children?  Any one?

EmperorOr hey, what about this?  You’re filthy rich, you own a highly subsidized business–namely a pro football team–so you’ve got big bucks.  Why not go take advantage of some homeless people?

Before every Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game, dozens of men gather in the yard at New Beginnings of Tampa, one of the city’s largest homeless programs.

The men — many of them recovering alcoholics and drug addicts — are about to work a concessions stand behind Raymond James Stadium’s iconic pirate ship, serving beer and food to football fans. First, a supervisor for New Beginnings tries to pump them up.

“Thank God we have these events,” he tells them. “They bring in the prime finances.”

But not for the workers. They leave the game sweat-soaked and as penniless as they arrived. The money for their labor goes to New Beginnings. The men receive only shelter and food.

For years, New Beginnings founder and CEO Tom Atchison has sent his unpaid homeless labor crews to Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning and Bucs games, the Daytona 500 and the Florida State Fair. For their shelter, he’s had homeless people work in construction, landscaping, telemarketing, moving, painting, even grant-writing.

Atchison calls it “work therapy.” Homeless advocates and labor lawyers call it exploitative, and possibly illegal. It is the latest questionable way Atchison has used homeless people, and public money, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.

Now Atchison is applying to run Hillsborough County’s new homeless shelter, a contract worth millions of public dollars that would entrust him with the county’s most vulnerable people.

The Times reviewed thousands of pages of public records about New Beginnings, including police reports, bank statements, grant documents and court proceedings, and interviewed more than 20 current and former New Beginnings residents and employees. Among the findings:

• Employees and residents said Atchison took residents’ Social Security checks and food stamps, even if they amounted to more than residents owed in program costs.

• A New Beginnings contractor told the Times he overbilled the state for at least $80,000 of grant money, then gave the money to the program instead of returning it.

• While claiming to provide counseling, New Beginnings employs no one clinically trained to work with addicts or the mentally ill. One minister cited his experience running a motorcycle gang as his top qualification. The Times couldn’t verify the doctorate in theology Atchison said he earned from a defunct online school.

Atchison, 61, defended the work therapy as a vital component of his program, and an important source of revenue. He said he never stole any Social Security checks or food stamps.

So, here’s today’s list of people that got huge sums of money that certainly didn’t do anything deserving of it. First up, I know will think twice before I EVER EVER EVER watch anything on ABC again.   Why?  ABC Reportedly Paid Darren Wilson Six-Figure Fee for Interview

ABC offered Darren Wilson a “mid-to-high” six-figure payment to give his first and only public interview on the network, according to the website Got News. An unnamed source from NBC reportedly told the website that both networks engaged in a bidding war to score the first interview with Wilson but NBC backed out after its rival “upped the ante.”

WTF?  Will they be hiring Mr and Mrs Charles Manson for a show for Newly Weds next?feature7c47790737384c50fcf3162a3b1d

Two republican senators–Diaper Dave being one of them–think that breathing is a privilege.  Two little piggies at the taxpayer’s trough continue to sell their souls to big oil.

Right-wingers are already peeved about the  new EPA regulation proposed by the Obama administration this week. The new rule would cap ground-level ozone—pollutants that make air risky to breathe—at 65 to 70 parts per billion. The standard “will represent one of the costliest rules ever issued by EPA and will serve as one of the most devastating regulations,”  wrote U.S. senators James Inhofe and David Vitter, in an effort to convince the American public that gradually choking to death is much, much cheaper. (The New Republic reports that the histrionic numbers they’re bellowing about are based on “the strictest assumptions to generate the highest dollar value.”) Luckily, Inhofe and Vitter will soon have the opportunity to vote for the  “Science Advisory Board Reform Act” when the bill hits the Senate, thereby assisting big business temper tantrums to drown out peer review science in EPA advising. But why should we trust Inhofe’s and Vitter’s take on the relative frivolousness of breathing air? Because they are respected experts, that’s why. Inhofe once conclusively debunked climate change  by citing the Bible, after which he presumably dropped the mic and ran off to stone his co-conspirator David Vitter  for adultery.

It’s enough to make one run for the borders of Canada!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Wednesday Reads: 10,000 Full Cavitity Searches…on Pigeons?

Good Morning


That tweet is something innit?

It seems like a logistical nightmare to me:

 China Subjects 10,000 Pigeons To Anal Exams Due To Terrorism Fears

On Tuesday, China’s largest newspaper The People’s Dailytweeted that thousands of pigeons had undergone “anal security checks” to ensure they weren’t carrying anything harmful in their bodies. These rectal examinations were performed as a terrorism precaution for China’s National Day on Wednesday.


Despite the fact that pro-democracy protests have been going on for several days in Hong Kong, China continues to aggressively censor news about the protests. This tweet served as a distraction and is just one example — albeit a ridiculous one — of China’s media complying and avoiding coverage of Hong Kong’s demonstrations. Additionally, China has also gone through social media to limit information being released about the protests — including removing protest-related posts from Twitter-like service Weibo and banning Instagram.

Seriously? Anal exams? On pigeons?

Ha…I couldn’t resist.

Okay, getting serious now.

It is October 1st.

The bloody shit has hit the fan, or what I really mean to say is that the Ebola virus has come to America:

First Ebola case diagnosed in US; fears others may have been exposed | Al Jazeera America

A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, federal health officials announced Tuesday.

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the unidentified patient is being kept in isolation and that the hospital is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to keep doctors, staff and patients safe.

The hospital had announced a day earlier that the patient’s symptoms and recent travel suggested Ebola. An outbreak of the killer virus has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who have traveled to that region.

All the crazy talk before, when sick folks were coming to Atlanta and other US hospitals for treatment, that was nothing. Get ready for the mega news cycle that is sure to follow this story. (Not that is isn’t big news…but it will eclipse many important things that are going on right now….that need media attention.)

Ebola now in the US, first case confirmed by CDC

The CDC has confirmed that a man in a Dallas hospital has Ebola, CBS News is reporting.


Apparently the man had been in west Africa recently — Liberia, to be exact — where there’s been a rather large outbreak of Ebola. He’s been in strict isolation as soon as the hospital suspected Ebola.

According to the CDC press conference, the man left Liberia on the 19th of Septemnber. Arrived in the US on the 20th of September. Had no symptoms, but then around the 24th of September, began to develop symptoms. Sought care on the 26th. And then Sunday the 28th admitted to a hospital and placed in isolation.

He was admitted into isolation on Sunday.

The CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says that Ebola is not contagious until you have symptoms.

CNN says that while this is spread through bodily fluids, if you shook hands with this man between the 24th and the day he went to the hospital, you would have to be put into isolation for three weeks. Wow.

The good news is that he had no symptoms until long after he arrived in the US, so at least people on his flight are safe.

More on the man’s background, and how they are now investigating him:  Health officials tracing Dallas Ebola patient’s path

The patient, who is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, did not develop symptoms until four days after he arrived from West Africa, officials said at a hastily called press conference at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta.

“He was checked for fever before getting on the flight,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “There is no reason to believe anyone on the flight was at risk.”

The Ebola virus is not spread through the air, but through contact with bodily fluids of victims — sweat, blood, saliva and other secretions.

The patient, whom officials would not identify, flew to the United States on Sept. 20, and began feeling ill on Sept. 24, Frieden said.

He sought care at the Dallas hospital on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics, Dr. Edward Goodman of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said at a separate press conference in Dallas. Goodman said the hospital is looking into why the patient was discharged.

On Sunday, a Dallas Fire-Rescue crew transported the man to the hospital in an ambulance. This time, he was admitted to the hospital, Frieden said.

The ambulance crew has been quarantined, and the ambulance taken out of service, according to a statement from the city of Dallas.

Gov. Rick Perry is scheduled to stop in Dallas on Wednesday in response to the news, according to

None of the officials at the news conferences would say whether the man is an American citizen. They said only that he was visiting family members who live in this country.

But a statement released by the city of Dallas said the man had “moved to Dallas from Liberia a week ago.”

Frieden, along with Dallas County and Texas state health officials, emphasized that the patient did not become contagious until Sept. 24 when he began to display symptoms.

“There is zero risk of transmission” to other passengers on the overseas airplane flight, Frieden said.

Asked how many people may have been around the victim after he developed symptoms, Frieden said, “I think handful is the right characterization. Family members, and there may have been one or two or three community members. Our approach is to cast the net widely.”

Those who may have been exposed will be monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for the Ebola virus, he said.

Officials would not release the name of the airline or the flight number.

A statement from American Airlines said: “American Airlines does not fly to Africa and we have been told the passenger was not on a connecting flight involving our aircraft. We follow the guidelines put in place by the CDC specifically for airlines and work with our crews to protect the health of our customers and employees.”

The patient “is communicating and expressing hunger,” Goodman said Tuesday evening.

He said the experimental vaccine that was used on two Americans who contracted Ebola in Liberia this summer is no longer available.

Hmmm, doesn’t The Walking Dead season premier start soon? Talk about a great way to drum up some hysteria and publicity. And think about it, all those Ebola victim Halloween costumes! Damn what impeccable timing.

Sorry that I am so snarky/bitchy. I am in a mood.

This is really a drop dead serious thing. Go to that link above to see how the CDC is handling it, and more specifically how Texas is handling it.

The city of Dallas activated its Emergency Operations Center and went to “Level 2: High Readiness” although no one was available to explain what that means.

Oh my. I think the pigeons over in China wish they lived in the city of Dallas.

A Dallas County spokeswoman said, “Level 2 generally means department activities and personnel have extended beyond the regular work day.”

President Obama has been briefed about the Ebola case by the CDC, according to the White House press office.

Good, the President should be briefed about something like this…right?

I mean, we want him to be ready to defend himself for the onslaught of blame:

And We Have Our First Conservative Pundit To Connect Barack Obama To the U.S. Ebola Case | The Daily Banter

If you had one minute in the over-under on how long it would take for a member of the conservative entertainment complex to connect President Obama to the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., congratulations — you win.

This afternoon, literally immediately following the CNN tweet announcing that the CDC had confirmed the Ebola diagnosis, 26-year-old Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted out this:

Now if you don’t know who Katie Pavlich is, that’s precisely why she made sure she was the first to invoke the name of the Great Socialist Satan in the wake of today’s Ebola announcement. She knew that, kind of like celebrity wedding pictures, the first one to get it out there is the one who gets all the free publicity.


Pavlich is one of the interchangeable conservative Barbie dolls that stake out the couch-of-shame on Fox News’s Outnumbered. She’s an editor at, which is a reliable online dispensary for the relentless stream of horseshit that comes out of the mouths of people like Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt. She wrote an entire book on the pretend Fast and Furious scandal and has a new book out called, amusingly, Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women. In other words, there isn’t a damn thing special about her. She’s your average, by-the-numbers conservative entertainment troll. She knows how the game is played and she’s playing it for all it’s worth.

Pavlich knows that once she brings Obama into this, she gets attacked by sane people — which just increases her street cred on the right — and the crazies rally around her because she just threw them a bunch of red meat. It doesn’t even matter that she went on to deny she was specifically blaming Obama for Ebola in the United States, because the goal was never anything more complicated than getting some quick mileage out of dragging the president into the storyline.

You knew it was a Fox contributor, without even having to read about it…didn’t ya!
Global nightmare by Political Cartoonist Olle Johansson

154311 600 Global nightmare cartoons

FENCE JUMPER by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

154362 600 FENCE JUMPER cartoons

Those cartoons just seemed to be begging to be included in the post.

Ah, let’s add one more.

Secret Service Screwups

154363 600 Secret Service Screwups cartoons

And with that cartoon, a few links on the Secret Service’s disturbing service or non-service:

No More Mister Nice Blog


I know I should be freaking out about Ebola, but I want to write about The Washington Post‘s appalling decision to publish an opinion piece by a former Secret Service agent that includes this recommendation:

[Secret Service director Julia] Pierson should be replaced and the next director should come from outside the Secret Service, with the deputy director remaining an agent. In this role, a true leader, not a bureaucrat, is needed. Someone like Florida congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West would be perfect for the role. West has successfully demonstrated that he possesses the leadership skills of a combat officer as well as managerial and diplomatic skills of a congressman, exactly the traits needed in the next director. Highly competent and beholden to no one in the Secret Service, he would be a superb director.

Allen West? Seriously?

Let’s ignore the fact that West resigned from the military a decade ago just as an investigation found probable cause to determine that he’d assaulted and mock-executed a prisoner in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Let’s ignore the fact that West specializes in verbal hand grenades, so it’s preposterous to credit him with “diplomatic skills.” The reason this is an insane recommendation is that we really can’t be certain that West would consider it his duty to protect President Obama from harm.


Just last month, West wrote:

Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause. You can go back and listen to his 2009 speech in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood associates were seated front and center.

All the circumstantial and anecdotal evidence points to that conclusion.

See, it makes me wonder if maybe there are people out there who should be getting other areas of their bodies probed and examined. I am talking about West’s brain, because that…is just fucked up. (More crazy at the link.)

Digby has another take on it…Hullabaloo

Now I’m worried about the president’s safety #secretservicewingnuts

by digby

Ok, I’ll admit I haven’t been as freaked out about the incursion into the White House as some people. But if the fellow who wrote this op-ed for the Washington Post is indicative of the sort of people who are protecting the president, I am now truly afraid for him[.]

Oh you bet your ass sister!

If I was Obama, I would earnestly think about hiring his own body guards.

Report: Obama rode elevator with armed man | AccessNorthGa

The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service comes after agency Director Julia Pierson took full responsibility for a Sept. 19 breach of the White House. The Washington Examiner and The Washington Post report that the latest incident took place in an elevator during Obama’s Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The Post says agents questioned the contractor and discovered his criminal history after he refused to stop video recording the president with a phone camera.

Agents didn’t know he was armed until a supervisor fired the contractor on the spot and the man turned over his gun.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Damn. You know the people here in Georgia are nuts. Gun nuts that is.

Again, we see Fox News spreading the joy, they are loving it:

Fox News Analyst Wonders If Secret Service Purposely Didn’t Do Their Duty:  Did they wish or did they wonder? | Crooks and Liars

In other political news:

WASHINGTON: Study: In 2012, Florida voters waited the longest to cast ballots | Elections | McClatchy DC

(Not that it was really a big surprise.)

Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options, according to a new report by congressional auditors.

Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog.

The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes.

Three others states had wait times about 25 or more minutes: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. But most of the others fell somewhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, on average.

In Florida, the GAO estimated, 16 percent of voters waited 61 minutes or more to cast their ballots – tops among the states surveyed.

And from Dakinikat’s home state, this long reads starts out like a horror story: Plaquemines Louisiana Environmental Disaster: The Land Is Vanishing | New Republic

In response to complaints some years ago about blocked plumbing along New Orleans’ Claiborne Avenue, city workers opened up the sewer main and found a human nose. Following the line down the avenue, popping open manholes and looking inside, they discovered ears, fingers, fingernails, shriveled flaps of skin, viscera. Where had it all come from?

To solve this mystery, the Sewerage and Water Board turned to Warren Lawrence, a former plumber who served as the utility’s inspector. Lawrence conducted his job with the perspicacity of a criminal detective. It wasn’t enough for him to repair a drainage problem; he made a point of pursuing each disturbance back to its source and holding the perpetrator responsible. When, for instance, Lawrence encountered a section of corroded pipes, he traced the damage to a battery factory near the Superdome that had been illegally pouring acid down the drain. After finding a black-and-white jumpsuit in a sewer, he learned that inmates of Orleans Parish Prison had been stuffing their uniforms into the toilets in an effort to back up the jail’s plumbing system. To increase their odds of success, every prisoner flushed their toilet at the same time. They called this a “Royal Flush.”

Lawrence followed the trail of body parts to Charity Hospital. The manhole that led into the hospital’s sewer line was clogged with flesh. Lawrence asked hospital administrators why they were dumping bodies into the sewer. They explained that, until recently, they had incinerated all unclaimed corpses. The stench was abhorrent, however, so they had installed a $1 million, 15-horsepower grinder pump. The machine ground the bodies into a slurry, but small parts escaped the blades. Lawrence ordered the hospital to remove the grinder. As he was backed by the force of City Hall, the hospital had no choice but to comply.

Take some time with that one.

On Jeopardy this week: – ‘Jeopardy!’ Category Titled ‘What Women Want’ Filled Entirely With Sexist Stereotypes

At a time when the country is struggling with serious issues regarding gender equality, Jeopardy! could have taken the opportunity to explore some of the things 21st Century women have been fighting for. How about equal pay? Or perhaps, access to birth control? Maybe greater legal protections against sexual assault?

Instead, the show offered such examples as “a new vacuum cleaner” and “Pilates.” Yuck.


I know we have Jeopardy viewers here, anyone see this shit?

For your history/archaeology link of the day: Massive Roman Coin Hoard Unearthed in England – Archaeology Magazine

Archaeologists and conservators from the British Museum have announced that an amateur metal detectorist has found one of the largest hoards of coins ever discovered in Britain. The hoard is comprised of no less than 22,000 coins dating to between A.D. 260 and 350 that were in very good condition when they emerged from the ground, Devon County Council archaeologist Bill Horner told The Independent. Since the hoard was found ten months ago—its discovery was kept quiet to avoid looting at the site while archaeologists conducted a proper excavation—the coins have been cleaned, identified, and catalogued. Many bear portraits of the family of the emperor Constantine and of the emperor himself.

That is awesome, they are calling the find, the Seaton Down Hoard. (Sitting Down Hard…ha.)

Lastly, a review of a new DVD release…of a classic movie, that just so happens to be screening on TCM later this month:

Review: Just in time for Halloween, Criterion releases horror classic The Innocents · DVD Review · The A.V. Club

“I can’t judge you, Miss. A body can only judge themselves.” So Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins), the housekeeper of a palatial country estate in the eden of rural England, concludes to Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), the new governess who’s grown increasingly convinced that her two young charges are possessed by the sinister spirits of their deceased former caretakers. The exchange happens late in The Innocents, as Jack Clayton’s formative but underappreciated horror masterpiece coheres into a ravishing neo-romantic takedown of Victorian repression, spooky and scathing in equal measure.

Miss Giddens, whom Kerr agreeably claimed was her best role, is a high-strung woman whose outspoken love for children may not be quite as selfless as it seems. Despite having no professional experience, Giddens is hired by an apathetic bachelor (Michael Redgrave) to care for his orphaned niece and nephew at his idyllic country home. Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) are strange and cloistered children who were previously exposed to the kinky sexual relationship shared between Giddens’ predecessor and the bachelor’s valet, and Giddens pities the kids for that, taking it as her mission to restore and protect their innocence for as long as she can. But as she begins to see apparitions around the property—a robed figure sweeping across a dark hallway, a man emerging from the night to press his demented face against a first floor window—Giddens starts to suspect that the children may be more tainted than she feared.

If The Innocents isn’t quite the oldest scary story in the book, it’s certainly by now one of the most familiar. (But it’s also damn old: The film was adapted from Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn Of The Screw, even though it takes most of its cues from the William Archibald play that inspired its title). Released in 1961 as a response to the somewhat schlocky Hammer horror films of the time, The Innocents is a comparatively restrained ghost story that owes far more to Jean Cocteau’s Beauty And The Beast than it does Terence Fisher’s The Curse Of Frankenstein. In fact, the case could be made that it’s not a ghost story at all; Clayton’s palpable use of the subjective camera ensures that the phantasms are almost never glimpsed from any perspective other than Miss Giddens’—a point cultural critic Christopher Frayling makes during the erudite commentary track included with Criterion’s new edition of the film. The script, co-written by Truman Capote, doesn’t spend much time entertaining the idea that everything is in Giddens’ head. But Kerr’s possessed performance as an unraveling woman nevertheless imbues each seemingly supernatural incident with the intimacy of a nervous breakdown.

Now I’ve never seen this flick, so I look forward to watching it:  Thursday, October 23 @ 08:00 PM (ET)

TCM has a long article about the film: The Innocents (1961) – Articles –

And Movie Morlocks has a few blog posts that mention the movie, here is one of them: – Do You Want to See Something REALLY Scary?

During the month of October I’m often asked to recommend my favorite horror films. But recommending scary movies can be a tricky business. What frightens me might make you merely shrug your shoulders and laugh out loud. And if you’re a serious horror fan there’s a high probability that you’ve seen a lot of well-regarded classic films such as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925), FRANKENSTEIN (1931), PSYCHO (1960) and Val Lewton’s various movies as well as Halloween standards like THE SHINING (1980), CARRIE (1976), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and HALLOWEEN (1978) so recommending movies can become rather redundant. Instead of simply suggesting some of my favorite horror films for you to watch I thought I’d share some of my favorite scary moments from films that have left a deep impression on me over the years. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable while I share something REALLY scary.

THE INNOCENTS (Jack Clayton; 1961) – The ghostly woman in black

THE INNOCENTS is one of my favorite films and in my not so humble opinion, one of the most frightening films ever made. Henry James’ classic ghost story has been adapted for the screen many times but no film has come close to matching Jack Clayton’s haunting retelling of “The Turn of the Screw.” THE INNOCENTS tells the eerie story of Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), a governess to two young children who she believes are haunted by ghosts. The film has a lot of chill-inducing moments but nothing terrifies me more than the startling image of an unearthly woman dressed in black standing by the edge of the water surrounded by tall grass. Kerr only gets a brief glimpse of the ghostly figure of the long dead Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) and if you blink you might miss her. But if you do see her, you’ll never forget her.

So be sure to check it out.

Well, let’s end today’s post with another little clip from 1996’s Beavis and Butthead. This one not only has another it cavity search bit, but gives Chelsea Clinton some ass kicking power in her teen years…and a jab at White House Security. Ah…life before 9/11…

Good times.

Friday Reads from Louisiana La La Land

Good Morning!

So, I’m sorry but I have to go all local today on ya!  There are just so many deliciously nonsensical things going on here that I cannot resist.

First, you download (7)know about our “kissing Congressman” if you’ve been awake and on line for several days. I first wrote about Congressman McAllister back in November when he won the special election.  There were several things that separated him from the politics as usual up there in Crackerland Central.

First, he had never run for office before but he was rich enough from that old grifter business known as the funeral parlor to self finance and win.  Second his buddies the let’s get ducks all horny and shoot’em for fun dudes helped him with commercials and such.  Third, he’s been telling Louisiana that we really need to take that federal money and extend medicaid benefits under Obamacare.

Now, we already know that it’s worked for the poor folk in Kentucky.  The difficulty down here is that our Governor doesn’t govern, he prepares his resume for his next political office and he’s got a small, tiny hard on for at run a the presidency.    Which, brings us to Jindal Gate.  Some of us think some of his buddies leaked the photos of congressman kissy face with Mrs. Peacock in the Alley by the camera.

The day this story broke was basically a day the press jumped on the usual republican family values dude falls short kinda headline day. But, over on facebook, a bunch of us who watch Louisiana politics like most folks watch the Saints thought hmmmmmmm, this is a little weird.  Lamar–who actually manages to stay up later than me–got to writing the story first and he gets tremendous Scooby Snax for it.  His article basically went viral but it seems that some folks are still trying to get back to the Congressman up in your family values face who was caught on video passionately smooching a friend’s wife who was also one of his paid  staffers.

The deal is this folks.  Check out the date on the video that’s been every where.  The kiss happened before Christmas in his office with Mrs Peacock right in front of the security cameras which was also the office and the security cameras of his predecessor.  This is the predecessor that retired early so Bobby Jindal’s handpicked buddy could go to congress.  That hand picked buddy called McAllister a liberal for supporting the federal extension of medicaid that Bobby Jindal doesn’t like, won’t take, and has chosen as the first little policy roll out of his pathetic attempt to get national attention.  Then, notice how quickly Politico got the tape.  The story originated from the Oachita Citizen whose owner backed the opponent and basically runs a virtual small town paper that’s about as notable as the PTA minutes from your local elementary school. Lamar’s got a tick tock that really lays it all out for you.

The story was first broken at 12:19PM by The Ouachita Citizen, a fledgling website that claims to have a paid readership of more than 5,200 people but, based on third-party web traffic analytical data, likely has a daily audience of between 200-300 unique visitors. An hour and a half later, the story was on the front page of Politico. An hour later, it was covered by almost every national news outlet in the United States- Fox, CBS, The Washington Post, NBC.

With all due respect to John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman, the two Politico journalists who broke the story nationally, it defies logic that they somehow randomly stumbled on a story published on a website that even most Louisianians have never heard of and verified the authenticity and provenance of a blurry surveillance video (which, by the way, was behind a paywall) all within a span of 90 minutes. No, this leak was coordinated and planned, and more than likely, considering it was recorded nearly four months ago, it had been in the works for a long time.

Notably, The Ouachita Citizen strongly supported State Senator Neil Riser, calling Mr. McAllister a “liberal” in a bizarre, apoplectic rant, which, ostensibly was an endorsement of Riser but reads more like a scathing attack against McAllister for supporting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. In its report on the McAllister video, The Ouachita Citizen claims to have received the video from an “anonymous” source, but somehow, inexplicably, they were able to verify the video’s provenance. The Ouachita Citizen, in my opinion, bordered on recklessness in their reporting, publishing Mrs. Peacock’s home address and implying, without any evidence whatsoever, that she may have never actually married her own husband. It seemed, to me, nasty and personal, motivated by more than a mere desire to inform the public.

20140403-kiss-x600-1396549483So, the fun part started yesterday when the head of the Louisiana Republican Party and then Jindal got all in a righteous huff about the kiss.  They called for his resignation because you know!!!  Religious right wing indignation and all that!  Funny thing is that both these asses were not so outraged when Diaper Dave Vitter was found on the list of the DC Madam and his diaper escapades went viral on the internet.  So, blogger, journalism professor, and political junkie Bob Mann can’t help but wonder if Vitter’s wet dreams of being governor aren’t going to wind up in the diaper pail?  I’ll see your kiss and raise you a felony soliciting prostitutes.  You know, the same kinda thing that forced a New York Governor to resign. But, not David Vitter, he’s pathetic entitled lily white ass just keeps on going and going and going …

Vitter, as you will recall, was embroiled in a sordid sex scandal in the summer of 2007, finally admitting to a “serious sin,” which everyone knew meant he had paid prostitutes for sex.

As Louisiana Republican Party leaders from Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Louisiana Republican Party called for McAllister’s resignation, a logical question for many journalists and other observers was: “If simply kissing a female staffer is a moral outrage that should cost someone his seat in Congress, why is it a lesser offense for a U.S. senator to pay prostitutes for sex?”

It’s a very good question and one which neither Jindal nor party officials addressed today after condemning McAllister. Vitter, of course, refused comment, too.

I’ll save for another day a full review of the rank hypocrisy of Jindal and GOP leaders who think it’s just dandy for the morally challenged Vitter to continue serving in the United States Senate, but find themselves absolutely repulsed by the idea of McAllister’s on-camera lip lock.

That’s like forgiving a bank robber, and then throwing the book at someone who writes a bad check.

Regardless, the uncomfortable questions keep coming from reporters, from the Twitter-sphere and elsewhere. Sure, the questions will eventually go away once McAllister himself has gone away.

Yet, that almost every political observer in Louisiana – upon hearing about Jindal’s call for McAllister’s resignation – immediately thought of Vitter’s prostitution scandal should tell Vitter and his Republican allies something.

Vitter may have assumed his sordid past was behind him. It isn’t – and this time next year it may be front and center in the Louisiana governor’s race.

So what is Jindal all uptight about?  He doesn’t say ONE word about Vitter but wow, the kissing congressman should resign because he’s an download (8)“embarassment”. Rank hypocrisy stinks enough, but there are those of us that really think he’s known about this tape for some time, is dropping it to get rid of a problem, and that some one close to him got that tape.

“Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment and he should resign,” Jindal said in a statement. “He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress.”

Notice Jindal’s response to Vitter’s gubernatorial aspirations and the one thing that really stands out in this announcement is what little issue here?

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R): “It is far too early for me to be making an endorsement.”
“I appreciate his working with us on an issue that I think is one of the most important issues in the state of Louisiana.” — regarding Jindal’s 2012 education overhaul.

“I also appreciate his steadfast opposition to Obamacare, to the ACA.”

Yeah.  Like I don’t smell that unique mix of Curry and Watergate salad coming from the Capitol City. Bobby and Diaper Dave may hate each other, but Jindal does not want any one messing with his foray into health policy wonkery.   I really really want the FBI to go for it, believe me. Just in case you want to see the response to the Vitter thing by Jindal.  Well, here it is.

While we are disappointed by Senator Vitter’s actions, Supriya and I continue to keep David and his family in our prayers. This is a matter for the Senator to address, and it is our hope that this is not used by others for their own political gain.


Wedding-candy-bulk-milk-chocolate-font-b-hershey-b-font-font-b-kisses-b-font-singleOther uber embarrassing things are just adding to my desire to see New Orleans ask France to negotiate a retake.  This one tops my list.  Please, please, please can some one read these idiots the first amendment with emphasis on the establishment clause?

 that would make the Holy Bible the official state book of Louisiana cleared the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs with a vote of 8-5 Thursday afternoon. It will now head to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, originally filed a bill to declare a specific copy of the Bible, found in the Louisiana State Museum system, the official state book. But by the time he presented the proposal to the committee, he changed language  in his legislation to make the generic King James version of the Bible, a text used worldwide, the official state book.

Still, Legislators became concerned that the proposal wasn’t broad enough and did not reflect the breadth of Bibles used by religious communities. In particular, some lawmakers worried that singling out the King James version of the Bible would not properly reflect the culture of Louisiana. The Catholic Church, for example, does not use the King James text.

“Let’s make this more inclusive of other Christian faiths, more than just the ones that use the King James version,” said Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro.

A few committee members fought the bill vehemently, saying the legislation was likely to upset some citizens who are not Christian and open the state up to legal challenges.

“I am so bothered by this bill that I just called my pastor. My pastor just said that he thinks we are going to have a legal problem,” said Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, who voted against the legislation.

Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey, tried to amend the bill to declare “all books of faith” the official state books of Louisiana, but the proposal failed 5-8. When asked if he would be open to making “all books of faith” a group of official state books, Carmody was fairly adamant in his opposition.

Well not even New Orleans is exempt from the usual asshattery.  After being found guilty of basically emptying the city’s accounts for personal trips, home improvements, clothes, family vacations, and all kinds of meals and stuff, we now have a plea for a legal defense fund for Ray Nagin.  Yeah, try kiss-part-12not to trip all over yourselves helping him get more money from others.

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s legal defense fund is real, and it has at least one donation.

After rapper 9th Ward Gucci (@IAM9THWARD) tweeted a pic of a digital receipt acknowledging his donation, Nagin (@RayNagin) retweeted the shot, appended with a shout out. “Maximum respect. Donated, spoke out, not intimidated. U the man!”

Try not to spend that $10 all in one place Ray Ray!

I did want to point to a story about one recent story about a crime here in uptown near the Tulane Campus.  This crime is really strange for a variety of reasons.  Not the least is the name given to the victim by the perp.

She first encountered the man, who introduced himself as “Patrick,” on April 1. She was visiting the Carrollton home of a friend, and saw the man staring at her from behind cars parked in the driveway next door.

“He was this huge, beefed-up young guy,” she said, “and the neighbors are middle-aged. My friends and I are all in our 30s. This guy just didn’t fit in.”

She remembers him saying, “Hi, I’m Patrick.” Uninterested in engaging with him, she didn’t respond and he walked away toward Carrollton Avenue.

The next day, she returned to the Green Street home. She started getting out materials to finish painting the trim on her friend’s front porch. It was still daylight. She thinks it was 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Suddenly, there was “Patrick” again.

This time he approached within eight to 10 feet and began pestering her with questions, small talk, and overtures to go out. He even raised his tight-fitting T-shirt, trying to impress her with his hairless, hardened abs.

“I’m sure I rolled my eyes and probably snorted or something,” she said. “I can be pretty icy, but he just kept on. I was getting kind of pissy, because I came here to paint a house, not listen to some college boy chat me up. I’m old enough to be this guy’s mom, practically.

“He said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry if I offended you. Let me introduce myself.’ And I’m 90 percent sure he said his last name was Bateman.”

Patrick Bateman, she later learned, is the name of the fictional rapist, sadist and serial killer who narrates Bret Easton Ellis’ novel “American Psycho,” made into a 2000 film starring Christian Bale.

Tired of his advances, she packed up her paints and brushes and went back inside her friend’s house and locked the door behind her. She was alone.

The man in the front yard walked away, she recalled.

So a few minutes later, she went to the restroom, closed the door, and drew a bath. As she finished bathing, she heard the stereo turned on and assumed her homeowner friend was home early from work.

“But it was really loud, and it was NPR,” she said. “Like, who blasts NPR?”

The woman dried off and got dressed in a shirt, blue jeans and socks. Her boots, and a canvas bag with her cell phone, were left behind as she came out of the bathroom. She called out to her friend, then to her friend’s husband, momentarily forgetting he was out of town on business.

She came down the hall to find “Patrick,” staring at her impassively. A black rope was in his left hand.

“He looked so much bigger inside the house than he did outside,” she recalled. “This dude was massive.”

The woman — 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 130 pounds — says she has taken Krav Maga self-defense classes and is physically fit from a job requiring manual labor. “But this guy was probably 6-1 or 6-2, and he probably outweighed me by 100 pounds,” she said. “All that self-defense stuff just doesn’t work when somebody is that much bigger than you.

“It was like fighting a tree.”

It seems women and children are never safe.

Some times a kiss is not just a kiss.


Here are some other headlines that you may want to check out:

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Resigning via ABC NEWS.

CBS announces that Steven Colbert will be David Letterman’s Replacement and Rush Limbaugh gets the sads. “THE LATE

Some lady threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton in Los Vegas .

 Well,  that’s it from me.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Try checking out the real Haunts for Halloween

13475891-mmmainThere are many really cool things about living in a very old city and in very old houses that I don’t know where to start.  You pretty much knowlalaurie-mansion that death, disaster, and the wicked part of human nature have not been sanitized for suburban pearl-clutchers or commercialized by the mercenary.  You live next to churches built for victims of Yellow Plague and cemeteries where the rain can wash up bones.  Living in New Orleans isn’t like living in a European City with their pits filled of tens of thousands of black plague victims and underground cities stacked with skeletons.  But, being in the French Quarter on Halloween night sure beats handing out candy to future obese, diabetics decked out in WalMart’s worst.

I really love watching spooky shows and movies this time of year.  One of my newest addictions is the FX TV show American Horror Story: Coven.  It has some great American actresses in it and it’s filmed in New Orleans.  It stars Jessica Lang, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett.  The two latter actresses play real New Orleans people.

Delphyne posted a link to my Facebook about scary as hell places in the USA.   New Orlean’s St. Louis  Number One Cemetery–where Marie LaVeau is supposedly buried–always pops up on the list.  Bassett plays LaVeau in Coven.  Bates plays Madame LaLaurie whose house is considered so haunted that no one lives there for long.

Frankly,  I’ve never found St. Louis One to be spooky or ooky.  Holt Cemetery is far more full of those weird vibes that you can feel in cemeteries.  Holt is the potter’s cemetery where many of New Orlean’s best Jazz musician’s were eventually buried.  The graves are shallow and not the little above ground houses you think about when you think New Orleans cemeteries  so if you go there after flooding or rain you are likely to find human bones about the place. There were lots of them scattered around  after Katrina.  They’re trying to redo the place to stop these kinds of events.

I lived across from the LaLaurie Mansion for five years and never ever experienced anything akin to a haunt or a wicked bad vibe. Kathy Bates plays Madam LaLaurie who is supposedly cursed by LaVeau to live forever and is buried alive to be found in modern times by Jessica Lange early in the series.  The series very much uses the city as another character in the story.  The rest–of course–is pure fiction and very much in the genre of making a spooky story based on the modern idea of spooky.  But, I do have to say it’s a fun twist and I love watching it display New Orleans in all its spookery.

I thought I’d share with you the actual stories of the LaLaurie House–which has been considered haunted for well over a hundred years–since it figures prominently in the 13459083-mmmainplot of Coven.  Here’s the original news story on the house that exposed the horrific things that Madame LaLaurie did to her slaves.  This is also something that is essential to the plot of Coven.  Again, I  I lived across from the house for five years and really never experienced anything.  That can’t be said for my own house now or other places I’ve been.  We will get to that later.

April 11, 1834

The conflagration at the house occupied by the woman Lalaurie in Hospital … is like discovering one of those atrocities the details of which seem to be too incredible for human belief.

We would shrink from the task of detailing the painful circumstances connected herewith, were it not that a sense of duty and the necessity of exposing and holding to the public indignation such a wretch as the perpetrator, renders it indispensable for us to do so.

The flames having spread with an alarming rapidity, and the horrible suspicion being entertained among the spectators that some of the inmates of the premises where it originated, where incarcerated therein, the doors were forced open for the purpose of liberating them. Previous however, to taking this liberty, (if liberty it can be called), several gentlemen impelled by their feelings of humanity demanded the keys which were refused them in a gross and insulting manner. Upon entering one of the apartments, the most appalling spectacle met their eyes. Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated were seen suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. Language is powerless and inadequate to give a proper conception of the horror which a scene like this must have inspired. We shall not attempt it, but leave it rather to the reader’s imagination to picture what it was.

These slaves were the property of the demon, in the shape of a woman whom we mentioned in the beginning of this article. They had been confined by her for several months in the situation from which they had thus providentially been rescued and had been merely kept in existence to prolong their suffering and to make them taste all that the most refined cruelty could inflict. But why dwell upon such aggravating and painful particulars! We feel confident that the community share with us our indignation, and that vengeance will fall heavily upon the guilty culprit. Without being superstitious, we cannot but regard the manner in which these atrocities have been brought to light as an especial interposition of heaven.

81455-AHS-Coven-Kathy-Bates-jnHPThere are a series of later articles on the house’s haunted status that are also great reading.  I love reading the articles in the vernacular of the day. This one is written in 1892 and describes the house’s reputation at the time.

In the Rue Royale stands this quaint, old-fashioned house about which so much has been written, and around which cluster so many wild and weird stories, that even in its philosophic day, few in the old faubourg care to pass the place after nightfall, or, doing so, shudder and hurry on with bated breath, as though midnight ghouls and ghosts hovered near, ready to exercise a mystic spell over all who dare invade its uncanny precincts.

“La maison est hantee,” that is what the Franco-Spanish residents of the “vieux carre” will shake their heads and tell you; and every one who lives in the rue Royale, whether descendants of the ancient habitue or member of that recent cosmopolitan element that has invaded the street, know the history of that old house, and repeats in guarded whispers, “The house is haunted” and will volunteer strange stories of how ghosts and spirits may be seen flitting mysteriously about the rooms after nightfall who the witches and hob-goblins hold high revel there, of the strange unearthly noises that proceed from the damp dungeon and attic, the mysterious, lambent lights that flit rapidly from window to window and then vanish, only to reappear with confused rapidity and the long, ghostly procession that winds up the stairway at midnight, and peers cautiously over the roof, where the figure of a little child may be seen upon moonlight nights haunting the latticed belvedere. And all this began long ago, when the great house was shut up for many years and broken windows and defaced galleries told the story of the uprising of an indignant populace and

delphine-lalaurie-6laid the foundation for the wild and ghostly legends which succeeding years have woven about it. No house in the rue Royale has attracted so much widespread attention. Every stranger who visits New Orleans inquires for it, artists have painted it and travelers have written about it and several years ago Geo. W. Cable made it the subject of a special article in the Century Magazine. How much of that story is true, and how much the creation of Mr. Cable’s fancy the old Creole of New Orleans will tell you; but this fact remains, that the house has a history, a real true history that needs neither imagination nor art to make it one of the most interesting studies in New Orleans, both from a historical and romantic point of view.

The house is still on the Haunted Tours that are omnipresent in the Quarter.  It was, in fact, owned briefly by Nicholas Cage.  It is an imposing structure.  My kids were anxious to take these tours but I have to admit I’ve never done it.  I have been on many a street when guides were spinning the stories they spin at some point in time. I do know a lot of people that have lived in houses they will not return to and the majority of them are not on the tours so I kind’ve judge the entire thing based on that. In my experience, there’s an apartment sitting near Cabrini park at the edge of the Quarter that’s got far more hauntings.  I’ve known folks that have lived there and nearly all of them have left within months of moving in the place.

I have had my share of really strange things that have happened since living in New Orleans and you can officially place me in the category of no longer skeptic about some kind of weird energies that exist that cannot be explained.  Nearly all of my experiences have happened after really raging hurricanes which seem to have a habit of stirring up energy and the watery ground beneath the city.  I’ve had experiences in my own home close after Katrina that I really can’t explain. The first one happened shortly after I got home when there was no electricity to speak of and no one else around.  It was deadly quiet because there were also no birds about.  I was lying in my bed and I had my curtains open wide.  I no longer leave my curtains open on that side of the house now at night.  Just call me extra cautious.  I saw a glowing round, orangish face in the window over my desk.  I really thought it was a person and since the neighborhood was mostly deserted, I was freaked out.  I ran to the window and pounded on it.  I broke the glass actually.  It occurred to me the next day that there is no way any person could peer through my window.  They would have to be standing on the shoulders of some one else to do that.  There was no light to play tricks on me so I have no idea what it could’ve been.  I was not drinking. I was not asleep.   I was in the dark reading a journal article by small flashlight.  If you can develop some plausible hypothesis let me know.  Like I said, I never leave a curtain or window open on that side of the bedroom after dark any more.

My second experience in my house was not too long after that.  I was walking towards the door to the laundry room by the same desk.  A very solid thick glass, cheese crock that holds odds and ends lifted about 18 inches off my night stand, went across my chest in front of my eyes and dropped to the floor without breaking.  My lama was in the house at the time and I ran to get him to show him the crock sitting on the floor. I have absolutely no explanation for that.  It was midday. I was not drinking and I am very much a logical, data oriented person so I am not the kind of person that just sees spirits in everything.  I know what I saw.  I know there is absolutely no logical explanation for it.

The last time I really experienced something strange was last year after Hurricane Issac when I was sitting at a table at Buffa’s in the Quarter.  I had gotten up to talk to a friend of mine.  I felt a distinct tingly,freezing cold sensation in the shape of person walking through me on the left side of my body.  It was like some one about 4 inches shorter than me walked straight through that half of my body.  It was electric and cold and totally in the shape of a person. I distinctly remember the shape of a head and torso.  It was not a linear shape.   I didn’t feel it completely on that side. It felt like the imprint of a short-person.  My friend Randy saw me turn pretty pale and could feel the temperature difference between my left and right hand.  It was very odd.

Anyway, if you spend your Halloweens in the suburbs with kids and candy and fake costumes and fake tombstones bought at Walmart you are really missing out on things.  I really love the Day of the Dead Celebrations that have gravitated here from Mexico.  They’ve got the “spirit” of the day down pat.  You really need to take the day to go to a real “haunted” location or cemetery and check out the energy then ride it to wherever it goes.  Of course, New Orleans is probably the premier Halloween destination on my list.  But, there are so many wonderful historical American cities with equally rich and real culture that I am sure you can get to one or the other.  I’ve never been to Salem, Mass but I have to say I envy people within driving distance.  Now, there’s a perfect Halloween destination!!!

Anyway, we have a lot of severe weather moving our way tonight.  I’m going to be keeping the shade down on the window over my desk tonight for sure!!!

Home Sweet Home

It’s days like these that get me wondering why I’d want to live any place else in the world.

Yes.  That’s my neighbors doing that really old Kinks Song with a quick  appearance of the guys from the Preservation Hall Band.

But, really, let me tell you about my home town.


The last time Greg Newkirk visited New Orleans, one of his favorite local attractions was an actual local.

“I had walked into a shop to ask a few questions and ended up getting a thorough history of New Orleans voodoo by a man who was the nicest self-professed vampire you would ever meet,” says the Cincinnati-based editor of “He gave us weird travel advice, delicious food advice, and psychic life advice. If that doesn’t sum up the French Quarter, I don’t know what does.”

Such full-service eccentricity made New Orleans a natural contender for the nation’s strangest people, based on votes in the offbeat category of T+L’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey. Readers rank 35 metropolitan areas for features such as live music and food trucks as well as their residents — be they smart, attractive, or, indeed, lovably weird.

I do hope you know the next Top Chef is the New Orleans version.

Well, it turns out that Top Chef was thankfully not affected by the shutdown. Government program? No. Hour long advertisement for cars and grocery stores in between Real Housewives episodes? That it may be. Whatever it is, the eleventh season has begun and is off to a sweaty running start in New Orleans. If you like shows with transition shots that are exclusively brass instruments played by old black men and alligators briefly surfacing in a swamp, you are really going to love this season.

Hopefully, Hurricane Karen won’t shut us down for long.

Open Thread!  Indulge!!!