Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm so jealous

When you hear of Shreveport's Mardi Gras feativities, you don't automatically think of donning a Kevlar vest, dodging inebriated masses and elbowing for position as you cover your children's eyes from the vulgarities of other venues. In Northwest Louisiana, it's more a tailgating-with-the-family affair that runs the gamut from the krewes of Gemini and Centaur and their big parades to off-the-wall events like the smaller but ever-growing Highland Parade and Barkus & Meoux, a krewe that reaches so deeply into family that it centers around pets.
Shreveport's Forum Newsweekly

Wow, somebody in Shreveport really didn't like Mardi Gras in Mobile. In case you needed to ask, Barkus and Meoux is six years younger than the original.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why didn't I think of that?

From the real estate section of yesterday's paper:
I have just watched Barack Obama take the oath of office and I am uplifted by our nation's peaceful transition of power. It gets me thinking about presidents past: What better way to celebrate them, I decide, than a Street Walk on one of the "president" streets near Bayou St. John? I land on Wilson Drive, named for the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson.

I can't believe I rode my bike straight home from work last Tuesday without taking a left at either Orleans or Dumaine. It would have been so easy to cap a historic day by crossing either bridge to take a detour down Taft, Roosevelt, Harding or Wilson. Instead, I thoughtlessly continued from Jeff Davis to Moss to Bell. Oh well, it shouldn't be long until Obama's first "State of the Union" address.

I don't quite understand the paper's description of the neighborhood's location:
Parkview, a historic district added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. The district includes a narrow sliver that stretches from North Rocheblave Street on the east to Bayou St. John on the west, and between Esplanade Ridge on the north and Mid-City on the south. The distinct character of this section of Parkview derives from the consistency and quality of its early 20th-century architecture and the glittering bayou that borders it.

N. Rocheblave is on my side of Bayou St.John, the "president" streets are all on the other side.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's investigate every former president.

Since the Clinton Library seems to be the conservative topic du jour, let's talk about the Clinton's predecessor:
That's when the other George Bush, the president's father, was appearing on Global Crossing's behalf at an event in the Japanese capital. His normal fee for such gigs was $100,000.
he even accepted a cut in pay, taking $80,000 worth of shares instead of the full $100,000 he was owed.
And in short order, Bush's $80,000 stake was worth more than $14 million.

Of course, that's no longer the case. Bush's stake in the now-bankrupt company is today worth little more than $2,000 -- but that assumes he's still a Global Crossing shareholder. It's hard to say whether he is or not.

He sold the shares:
President Bush may complain that his mother-in-law took a hit on her Enron stock, but it seems his dad made a tidy profit on that other notorious bankruptcy, Global Crossing. In 1999 and 2000, the elder Bush pocketed more than $4.5 million by selling Global Crossing stock, according to Securities & Exchange Commission documents obtained by BusinessWeek. His last sale came just weeks before the once high-flying telecom's stock started tanking.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good Catch, Varg,

Over at The Chicory, Varg tells us what Obama was saying when the television camera closed in on Nagin:
And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

With that in mind, some reporter should ask Nagin his opinion of an executive order that Obama issued today:
President Barack Obama's first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House and to freeze the salaries of high-paid aides, in a nod to the country's economic turmoil.

Might want to ask Mayor Transparency about these orders, as well:
President Obama issued new orders today designed to improve the federal government's openness and transparency. The first memo instructs all agencies and departments to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests, while the second memo orders the director of the Office of Management and Budget to issue recommendations on making the federal government more transparent.

Bad News in Advance

Inflation will be worse in 2009 than it was in 2008. At least, it will almost certainly be reported that way:
A mathematical oddity in Friday’s consumer price index means you can claim with some statistical backing that inflation last year was either 0.1% or 3.8%.

Measured on a December to December - or calendar year - basis, the consumer price index only grew 0.1% in 2008, according to Labor Department figures, the smallest gain in over 50 years and well below the 4.1% gain in 2007.

But when the annual average of the CPI for all of 2008 is compared to the average for 2007, the increase was much higher, 3.8%. That was actually up from 2007’s rate.

“It’s unusual for there to be this big of a difference,” said Labor Department analyst Stephen Reed. The two series sometimes line up exactly, and usually when there’s a gap it’s only a few tenths of a percentage point.

But when there’s a lot of volatility, like in 2007 and 2008, they can diverge a lot. Think of it this way: if the price of gasoline stays at $1 all year, then there’s obviously no inflation there. If it rises quickly from $1 to $2 per gallon and stays there for the first 10 months of the year and then falls quickly back to $1 in December, then on an average annual basis inflation would be higher than on a calendar year basis, where it would still be flat.

When it comes to assessing near-term trends, economists prefer calendar-year changes, which is why Wall Street research notes universally mentioned the 0.1% figure, and not the 3.8% one*.

The two series should even out over time, and in 2009 the calendar-year increase will probably be much higher than the average annual increase given the low base that the CPI index is starting at this year.

Bear that in mind when you read Larry Kudlow's latest bit of hackery:
And there’s a good chance Reagan was dealt a much tougher hand than the one Obama is holding today.

For one thing inflation today is zero. Back in Reagan’s time it was double-digits. Interest rates today are historically low. In Reagan’s day they were 15 to 20 percent. We have suffered a tremendous oil shock, as did Reagan. But today’s shock has completely reversed. And while today’s recession is over a year old, Reagan inherited a recession that began in 1979 and didn’t end until late 1982.
Rising to these challenges, Reagan gave his Fed chairman, Paul Volcker, the political ground to stand on to slay inflation with tough monetary restraint and a strong dollar

I'll explain why the "dishonest or stupid" question applies to that passage in a future post, but I think I know what Kudlow will be writing about a year from now.

Since the election, I've told anyone who will listen that liberals need to talk about the fact that Bush's guns and butter policy and debasement of the currency could potentially give us inflation as bad as any we've seen since the seventies. If Obama's stimulus is only successful enough to give us stagflation instead of depression, conservatives may claim that their prayers have been answered, but we'll know that it's a matter of Bush's bills coming due.

H/T to oyster for a couple of the links above. Added bonus link. since I've never heard of "Men's News Daily," I can't say with any degree of certainty whether that's serious or parody.

*If those numbers seem too low to you, you need to familiarize yourself with inflation and Pollyanna creep.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's not like he personally expired

There's really no need for the Picayune to shower such kind words on George bush because his term of office is about to expire. Sure, $3B extra for the road home was nice, but, hell, he even left office bumping his favorite old lie up to $121B. There's much more wrong with the editorial than that, but it's turned into too nice of day to spend in front of a computer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fed up with lemon-scented Foolishness

Jeffrey pretty much nails it on the French Quarter garbage collection controversy. It appears to me that Cynthia Hedge-Morrell showed some common sense:
"We're looking at a scaled-down form of service," said Hedge-Morrell, the chairwoman of the council's Budget Committee, who was accompanied by council President Jackie Clarkson and Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis. "The question is how do we keep the French Quarter clean the way we want it, but not have the cost as high," she said.

Hedge-Morrell said council members asked Nagin to try to renegotiate the city's contract with SDT to ensure that premium services such as frequent emptying of litter cans, mechanical street sweeping and pressure-washing of streets and sidewalks continues, even if less frequently.

But, that must of heve been too sensible for the rest of the council. Since I'm in a bit of a hurry, I'll just copy the comment I left at Library Chronicles with plans to revise it later:
I've been amazed at how many reporters could act like "Disneylike" service is something that should be discussed with a straight face, but I was waiting to see if anything would come of Hedge-Morrell's common sense suggestion to retain some of the enhanced service before posting. I don't think it was the best way to spend money, but I could see some enhanced power-washing. If we went too long between rains, the Quarter could get pretty foul smelling before Katrina. But, of course, it's all or nothing. I think the "Disneylike" or nothing reaction is partly because the city allowed the French Quarter to get so trashed for over a year after Katrina that people saw a bigger contrast than actually existed. Since a few talk show hosts and cartoonists gave the impression that the French Quarter would be covered in trash without the new deal and everybody sang the praises of the new clean French Quarter, it's understandable that people who don't know better would get the wrong impression. Where's the French Quarter's councilman been in all this?

The idea that they (can) fund it by cracking down on large residential complexes that shouldn't be getting free pick up is probably mistaken. After the contracts were approved, the council amended the sanitation codes to say that all buildings with 4 or more units would have to pay for private collection. Since very few French Quarter apartment complexes have 3 or fewer units, almost everybody will be paying for private collection, but it won't give the city more money for spray washing. At least they're being responsible enough to save $500,000 by letting city employees conduct the audit.

Monday, January 05, 2009

From this week's Gambit

Congratulations to Karen Gadbois for being named one of Gambit's New Orleanians of the Year.

It seems to me that Jeremy Alford is awfully cavalier in his use of the term "conspiracy theory:"
In particular, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, offers up a GOP conspiracy theory in one interview. She says Bush was getting slammed "nationally and internationally" for his handling of Katrina during those early, desperate days after landfall, and an executive decision was made to shift the blame. "[Bush's] political office decided that another scapegoat had to be identified," Blanco says. "And they identified me in that instance." She adds that an entire media campaign was crafted around the mission. "The message du jour was to go after Blanco," the former governor says. "She's expendable. She's a woman." Blanco also says national reporters tipped her off that Karl Rove, Bush's top political advisor, was personally making phone calls to float stories about her decision-making and suggests the White House even leaned on The Washington Post to run unflattering stories on its front page that were overly critical of her handling of Katrina's aftermath.

Somebody needs a history lesson.

This week's commentary closes with:
Finally, last year, we wrote that Mayor Ray Nagin "should try to get through an entire year without saying something that embarrasses his city." Some resolutions are worth repeating. Hope springs eternal.

I'd like to suggest that the city's (needed) alternative weekly resolve to stop acting like the mayor's biggest problem is his tendency to stick his foot in his mouth and start concentrating on secrecy and an inability to set spending priorities.

Ja'Shawn J. Powell Memorial Fund

Big Red Cotton informs us of the Ja'Shawn J. Powell Memorial Fund. My heart goes out to Ja'Shawn's mother and sister. Donations can be made at any Liberty Bank location or mailed to Liberty Bank P.O. Box 60131, New Orleans, La 70160.

Today's fashion question

Today's weather has me considering an umbrella and a raincoat, is that considered a potentially fatal fashion faux pas along the lines of suspenders and a belt? Bonus clip: Pompous British guy talking about "Once Upon a Time in the West".

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Utah fans know more about sports than T/P sports writers

This was written before the game. I don't want to take anything away from Utah, and I certainly don't make excuses for Alabama, but, if you're going to put a put a sports story on the front page, you should at least acknowledge the obvious. Peter Finney's usual social page fluff piece also failed to mention Bama's O-line woes; Ted Lewis' sports report glossed over it. In fairness, Lewis was duly impressed by the ability of Utah's offense to move the ball against Alabama's defense -- like I said, I don't want to take anything away from Utah. If I had a vote in the AP poll, I'd be tempted to vote Utah number 1 on the theory that the AP poll should reward any truly deserving team that gets slighted by the BCS system, but that would be just one possible vote. At any rate, I don't expect logic from a group of sports writers and broadcasters who failed to give Drew Brees a single MVP vote.

Friday, January 02, 2009

That makes a lot of sense

An Arabi man who pushed his girlfriend from his pick-up truck at a busy Metairie intersection, then ran over her in the street, remains in custody tonight as authorities considered how to book him in her death.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said detectives were talking to witnesses and trying to determine the intent of the driver, Lawrence Mangerchine, 37, of 447 Esteban St. Among the possible charges: manslaughter, vehicular homicide and negligent homicide.

"This is one of those cases where ... how you charge falls right on the middle of the fence," Normand said.

The victim, a 32-year-old woman from Metairie, died shortly after she was taken to University Hospital in New Orleans. Authorities have not released her name because relatives have not been notified of her death, Jefferson Parish's first homicide of the new year. link

I guess we can just assume that the relatives of a 32-year-old woman from Metairie who was seeing 37-year-old Lawrence Mangerchine of 447 Esteban St. in Arabi don't know her boyfriend's name.

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