Friday, March 03, 2006

Mr. Fix It

First saw the above pic at PGR; the original sticker can be purchased here.

I made a slight modification.

Have a good weekend.
Clumsy Student Movers

George the Unready

Iraqi insurgents, hurricanes and low-income Medicare recipients have three things in common. Each has been at the center of a policy disaster. In each case experts warned about the impending disaster. And in each case — well, let's look at what happened.

Knight Ridder's Washington bureau reports that from 2003 on, intelligence agencies "repeatedly warned the White House" that "the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war." But senior administration officials insisted that the insurgents were a mix of dead-enders and foreign terrorists.

Intelligence analysts who refused to go along with that line were attacked for not being team players. According to U.S. News & World Report, President Bush's reaction to a pessimistic report from the C.I.A.'s Baghdad station chief was to remark, "What is he, some kind of defeatist?"

Many people have now seen the video of the briefing Mr. Bush received before Hurricane Katrina struck. Much has been made of the revelation that Mr. Bush was dishonest when he claimed, a few days later, that nobody anticipated the breach of the levees.

But what's really striking, given the gravity of the warnings, is the lack of urgency Mr. Bush and his administration displayed in responding to the storm. A horrified nation watched the scenes of misery at the Superdome and wondered why help hadn't arrived. But as Newsweek reports, for several days nobody was willing to tell Mr. Bush, who "equates disagreement with disloyalty," how badly things were going. "For most of those first few days," Newsweek says, "Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing."

Now for one you may not have heard about. The new Medicare drug program got off to a disastrous start: "Low-income Medicare beneficiaries around the country were often overcharged, and some were turned away from pharmacies without getting their medications, in the first week of Medicare's new drug benefit," The New York Times reported.

How did this happen? The same way the other disasters happened: experts who warned of trouble ahead were told to shut up.

We can get a sense of what went on by looking at a 2005 report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office on potential problems with the drug program. Included with the report is a letter from Mark McClellan, the Medicare administrator. Rather than taking the concerns of the G.A.O. seriously, he tried to bully it into changing its conclusions. He demanded that the report say that the administration had "established effective contingency plans" — which it hadn't — and that it drop the assertion that some people would encounter difficulties obtaining necessary drugs, which is exactly what happened.

Experts within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must have faced similar bullying. And unlike experts at the independent G.A.O., they were not in a position to stand up for what they knew to be true.

In short, our country is being run by people who assume that things will turn out the way they want. And if someone warns of problems, they shoot the messenger.

Some commentators speak of the series of disasters now afflicting the Bush administration — there seems to be a new one every week — as if it were just a string of bad luck. But it isn't.

If good luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, bad luck is what happens when lack of preparation meets a challenge. And our leaders, who think they can govern through a mix of wishful thinking and intimidation, are never, ever prepared.
Won't Save You a Bundle on Car Insurance...

But this fifteen minute video from Scout will open your eyes if not break your heart. Shot in the Lower 9th, it lends perspective to the scope of destruction. And remember, that's just one neighborhood. Equally devastated parts of the city include Lakeview, Gentilly, NOLA East...then there's Arabi...Chalmette...Plaquemines Parish...Slidell...the North Shore...

Hurricane Rita did some pretty heavy damage to towns in southcentral and southwest Louisiana too.

Last December, with some friends in town for a visit, we went on our own inspection of some of the worst hit areas of New Orleans. All I could think was that it looked like a bomb went off...or, more appropriate, TONS of bombs.

Footage from the air really doesn't give you a real feel for how bad it is...and, to be honest, I don't think video on the ground gives you quite the feel of seeing with your own eyes: the destruction, the abandonment, the eerie sense of going through a literal ghost town, that, a year ago, was a genuine community.

No, I didn't spend much time in the Lower 9th, pre-Katrina (for that matter, I didn't hang out much in Lakeview either). Then again, I'm not the president who abandoned BOTH communities, as well as the others noted above. I'm not a member of an administration who, if they chose, could tour and review the region, just like Scout did, but with far more in the way of resources and the political power to do something more than blame the victims or state and local officials. Anyone actually viewing the destruction--that is, anyone with a brain, Senator Hatch--could instantly see how overwhelming it is...far more than either the city or state can handle. It requires a capable, competent federal government to provide the resources to "promote the general welfare," just as it would if, say, San Francisco was hit by an earthquake, or Tacoma/Seattle was inundated by a lahar...or New York was attacked by terrorists.

You know, when New York WAS attacked, any number of Gret Steters took to the road and did what they could for the people working at Ground Zero. Some cooked and served industrial quantities of jambalaya and gumbo for the firefighters and other search and rescue crews. Louisiana citizens donated two fire trucks to the city. I don't recall anyone being angry about spending tax dollars on the recovery. And I certainly don't remember this administration literally abandoning hundreds of thousands of citizens. Or, on their own website and in their own words, doing nothing more than playing the CYA game.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.
Brown and Silent Shrub

John Dickerson has some thoughts about the June 23, 1972 August 28, 2005 tape featuring Nixon ordering the coverup Shrub displaying a level of attention commonly associated with toddlers--well, to be fair, he didn't drool--at least obviously--nor did he start smashing things...he just sat there...sort of like, as Schroeder points out, the way he...sat around, doing nothing...on 9/11.

We see the president all the time in public settings, giving speeches, shaking hands, looking concerned. But this footage is fascinating because it is the first video I can recall of the president at work in private. It's our chance to see how the image of the president painted by his allies compares with the actual man. And the result is somewhat alarming. Based on what I'd been told by White House aides over the years, I expected to see the president asking piercing questions that punctured the fog of the moment and inspired bold action. Bush's question-asking talents are a central tenet of the president's hagiography. He may not be much for details, say aides, but he can zero in on a weak spot in a briefing and ask out-of-the-box questions. I have been repeatedly told over the years that he once interrupted a briefing on national defense to pose a 30,000-foot stumper: What is the function of the Department of Defense?

So, surely during this briefing about an impending natural disaster, the president would have had a few pointed inquiries. The experts assembled in boxes on his screen like guests on Hollywood Squares had just told him the coming hurricane "was the big one" and talked about "the greatest potential for large loss of life." Yet according to the Associated Press, which is the only press organization that has reviewed the video, Bush didn't ask a single question in the briefing, but told officials "we are fully prepared."...

The president has been at pains recently to show the public that he has grown and adapted while in office. When talking about Iraq, he has increased his references to lessons learned. Wednesday night, he responded to ABC's Elizabeth Vargas' questions about the slow federal response to Katrina by pointing out that the administration had learned the lessons of its failures. But learning lessons depends on asking questions—the right ones and a lot of them. Let's hope one of the questions the president asked after the catastrophe was whether he had asked the right questions before it.

The only available evidence shows this administration hasn't learned a thing. And besides, the job ISN'T an entry level position. It's the goddamned presidency. Don't know about y'all, but I expect the office holder to display some qualifications from the outset. The only thing Shrub has demonstrated in the last five years is that he's not qualified to be dog catcher.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stating the Obvious

Firedoglake links to Murray Waas's latest:

Two highly classified intelligence reports delivered directly to President Bush before the Iraq war cast doubt on key public assertions made by the president, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials as justifications for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, according to records and knowledgeable sources.

The first report, delivered to Bush in early October 2002, was a one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate that discussed whether Saddam's procurement of high-strength aluminum tubes was for the purpose of developing a nuclear weapon.

Among other things, the report stated that the Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view disagreeing with that of other intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which believed that the tubes were intended for a nuclear bomb...

The second classified report, delivered to Bush in early January 2003, was also a summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, this one focusing on whether Saddam would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States, either directly, or indirectly by working with terrorists.

The report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States -- except if "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime" or if he intended to "extract revenge" for such an assault, according to records and sources.

The single dissent in the report again came from State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as INR, which believed that the Iraqi leader was "unlikely to conduct clandestine attacks against the U.S. homeland even if [his] regime's demise is imminent" as the result of a U.S. invasion.

You know, in retrospect, it was pretty clear back during the run up to war that the "casus belli" was all lies and bullshit. Anyone--that is, anyone with a brain, Senator Hatch--could see. But I'm guessing that Shrub and company craved the taste of war so badly (as long as their sorry asses weren't on the line) that they figured the lies wouldn't really matter all that much after "Mission Accomplished."

But reality has a nasty way of intruding upon flight-suit prancings.

And it's good to see evidence making its way into the media...even if we could've used a LOT more of it back then...
Quick Lesson

Lahar. La whore.

H/T to Ashley Morris for the second link. Meant to post this a couple of days ago.
Now Watch This Drive

Fully engaged

Well, a day after I decided to start checking, well, wouldn't you know the White House website has a significant Katrina update. No, I can't claim credit for that: seems as if the hiding-in-plain-sight-video, which captures the essence of the dauphin's blank slate nature, forced their hand...and, lo and behold, also resulted in the discovery and release of transcripts previously denied to Congress under the "executive privilege" rubric...who would've thought?

I dunno, maybe the transcripts were just lost in the sofa cushions and "executive privilege" was merely a way to avoid a little embarrassment (especially if the dogs had eaten them).

Anyway, here's an interesting tidbit from the WH page--Dubya on August 28th:

Yesterday, I signed a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana, and this morning I signed a disaster declaration for the state of Mississippi. These declarations will allow federal agencies to coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials. We will do everything in our power to help the people in the communities affected by this storm.

Hmmm...wasn't an early Team Bush excuse as to their shoddy and incompetent response something about how Governor Blanco failed to submit proper paperwork at the state level? Yes, as a matter of fact, it was.

Here's another item:

In August 29th Videoconference, Former FEMA Director Michael Brown Said The President Was "Asking A Lot Of Really Good Questions I Would Expect Him To Ask."

Um, we're supposed to be thrilled that the pResident is "asking a lot of really good questions"? Reminds me of Shrub proudly announcing that he "answered every question" the 9/11 commission asked...sort of like how Jerry Lundegaard "cooperated" with the police in Fargo.

The White House goes on to mount--no pun intended--a very Clintonian defense, engaging in vigorous parsing as to whether "overtopping" of the levees should be equated in any way with "breaching" of the levees, thus opening up the tiniest sliver of a plausible defense of Shrub's idiotic nobody "anticipated the breach of the levees" remark. As if somehow a major flood of New Orleans, regardless of cause, wasn't enough to, oh, I don't know, maybe CUT SHORT THE FUCKING PHOTO OPPING and start at least acting like the nation's chief executive? Sweet Mary, Joseph, and Jaysus, for chrissakes.

Of course, all the evasion, prevarication, and finger pointing aside, one thing you DON'T see is ANY statement as to their plan for recovery. Which isn't terribly surprising: if pedaling, waving and speaking is too much of a challenge, then actually working must seem like pure Abu Ghraib style torture for Pathetic-Little-Man-Chimp-in-Chief.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, sort of: human rights in Iraq these days are...pretty much the same as they were under Saddam Hussein. And don't think anyone believes things are better in Afghanistan either...

All adds up to: Worst. President. Ever.
On Old Dogs and New Tricks

Same as it ever was...

Last night I was "treated" to Kate O'Beirne and Bob Shrum on the Tweety hour. Well, it was Ash Wednesday and we all must do our penance. Matthews ran the clips of Smirk-Chimp being warned about bin Laden determined to attack the US Hurricane Katrina's potential damage (aside: you know, even WITHOUT the smoking gun in the form of a videotape, you'd have to be a complete idiot to NOT consider what a major hurricane could do to...oh wait, that's right--we're talking about Team Bush. Nevermind)...anyway, O'Beirne, as expected, reacted like a mangy, cornered weasel when confronted with clear evidence, beyond reasonable doubt, of Shrubian incompetence, that is, she retreated to the comfort zone of "accepted" talking points:

(paraphrasing here): the reports say all levels of government--and even the private sector--did poorly, blah blah blah, government is bad, blah blah blah, bureaucracy is bad, blah blah blah, ad nauseum, etc.

You know, it's tough to turn chicken shit into chicken salad, even when a compliant, lap-dog of a press corpse tells you how tasty it is.

I've got news for Kate O'Beirne and the rest of the Kool-Aid drinking acolytes who chant the free market mantra: anyone who thinks the private sector lacks a bureaucracy--and a bureaucracy that's often orders of magnitude more frustrating than on the public side--has managed to do the anotomically impossible. Time to pull your cranium outta there.

And time to destroy the myth of private sector efficiency: anyone who's punched more buttons than the NASA guys during Apollo 13 JUST SO THEY COULD SPEAK TO A FUCKING HUMAN BEING...who's often more baliff than either judge or jury...will know that the private side is no better than the public. Often it can be worse: theoretically, on the public side, everyone has a vote (yeah, I know, but work with me here)...think your 10 shares of AT&T qualify you to make ANY suggestions?

Not that anyone's gonna call them on it, but just once I'd like to see someone point that out to the wingnut faction.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Shrub Makes "Surprise Visit" to Afghanistan

"You got any Persian White?"

So, Afghanistan has joined Iraq in the whole "surprise visit" genre popularized by the administration...then again, when thousands in India demonstrate their grasp of Tom Friedman's "Flat World" by letting the dauphin know just what they think--"Killer Bush Go Back"--a surprise visit might just be another way to take a vacation...from vacation.

But, considering the Smirk Chimp's "youthful indiscretions," I wonder if his inner frat boy wasn't on a frustrated full alert:

Freedom has been good to Afghanistan's opium farmers.

Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's opium, and the drug accounts for one-third of the country's gross domestic product, according to the U.S. State Department's annual report on international narcotics trafficking released today.

Though the amount of acreage under poppy cultivation dropped 48 percent in 2005, yields increased because the weather was good, so production dropped only 10 percent below the 2004 level. Even with the decrease, this year's total is almost double the country's peak production levels under the Taliban, and more than half of the total reduction occurred in just two provinces.

The United Nations estimates that opium poppy cultivation accounts for a third of Afghanistan's gross domestic product.

Guess the poor boy has trouble distinguising democracy from poppy...only one's "flowering" in the "new" Afghanistan...
Bush: "We are fully prepared."


I'm surprised he didn't blurt out "bring it on:"

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."...

Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then- Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done," National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

"I don't buy the `fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.

White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions about reports of breaches."...

Bush appeared from a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, with his elbows on a table. Hagin was sitting alongside him. Neither asked questions in the Aug. 28 briefing.

"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," the president said.

A relaxed Chertoff, sporting a polo shirt, weighed in from Washington at Homeland Security's operations center. He would later fly to Atlanta, outside of Katrina's reach, for a bird flu event.

One snippet captures a missed opportunity on Aug. 28 for the government to have dispatched active-duty military troops to the region to augment the National Guard.

Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

Chertoff: "Good job."

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen...
You've Probably Noticed, But...

Mission Accomplished

Iraq is evidently Arabic for "civil war/conflagration." More news here.

Halliburton is evidently English for "lying-sack-of-shit-corporation-that-is-to- government-contracts-what-former-chairman-Dick-Cheney-is-to-quail-hunts." Hat tip to YRHT.

This is as apt a metaphor as anything when it comes to a dunce called Shrub...while Knight-Ritter, always an organization slighly less affected by whatever Team Bush is dropping into the water supply/Kool-Aid, has a story out confirming what most of us knew BEFORE the war: sooner or later, the occupation of Iraq was likely to cause deep resentment among the people living there, and set off either an insurgency or civil war. Of course, it's done both, with the added feature of drawing in terrorists keen to take advantage of the chaos. In other words, Team Bush hit the losing trifecta. Dumbfucks.

To be fair, my own guess before the war was that it wouldn't fall apart as rapidly as it did; then again, I assumed a far larger invasion force and at least some semblence of a plan--guess I misoverestimated the capabilites of Team Bush, even as I figured the scenario was more likely to play out like things did in Iran, i.e., initial success followed by long term failure. Instead, the clownshow in charge dispensed with the success part, declaring Mission Accomplished and Bring 'em on...way to go.

So, like the rabid hyenas they so closely resemble, the true believers are attempting to blame the left for their failures--I see some of their ilk are already testing that--and "the media lost it"--displaying simultaneously a level of pathetic almost limitless in its scope, and downright contempt for reality, or, at the very least, history (not surprising, given their total lack of understanding of even recent Middle East history, much less the more distant past).

It's my hope, though, that the public will see through the the screen of excrement held aloft by the clowns and their clown posse (and that the Democrats will begin to understand what John Murtha keeps saying--the public is WAY ahead of the politicians...oh, for that matter, so is the military).

Finally, in case anyone wasn't aware of it, the events in Iraq are merely a case of history repeating itself. Seems that, back in the day, it was the junior partner in today's "coalition" that was bearing the heavy load. Wasn't really worth it:

Churchill, writing to Lloyd George in 1922 about dealing with Iraqi insurgency: "At present we are paying eight millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having."

"Eight millions" was a lot of money back then...wonder how it measures up with today's expenses...
When a Blogger Meets a Blogger...

Coming through DBA.

No, I didn't meet Scout, but I was at DBA for when the second line came through and this video was made.

Unfortunately, I really did need to hit the road and head home. Klezmer All-Stars were scheduled, but the load-in was running late, and I couldn't stick around. Oh well. It was still a good time and perhaps a hopeful sign that the city can overcome a horrific storm, a catastrophic flood, and the sea of lunatics who comprise Team Bush.

Speaking of lunatics: I think I'll be checking the White House website regularly for any news related to the storm and flood--just to see what, if anything, they're saying. Today, for instance, my search term--"Katrina"--found nothing more recent than January 26th. The "Hurricane Recovery" page has slightly more recent "news," having been updated around February 23rd to reflect the publication of the administration's coloring book review...and, amazingly, I was able to find the pResident's personal copy:

On a more ominous note, my search on Google News turned up this:

President George W. Bush, who has acknowledged failings in the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, said on Tuesday that the media had better details about the catastrophe than the government did.

The ONLY reason this would be the case would be that Shrub and the incompetent boob/cronies he appointed to positions in government DIDN'T GIVE A SHIT. And, you know what? It's reflected in the stale reports on their own website.

I'd like to see Shrub, his almost-lethal veep (oh, and I think Cheney might've been on a Zulu float yesterday: I got hit in the face with a strand of beads), and the rest of them should be--no pun intended--peppered with questions every day, if not every hour, as to what they've done to address the situation on the Gulf Coast. Because if they don't get hassled, they'll try to sweep things under the proverbial rug.

As it's said, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Maybe I can't make the kind of noise that's heard in DC, but hopefully some can (and I'll be ready to help in any way).

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Just an Old, Sweet Song...

Keeps NOLA on my mind...

Happy Mardi Gras. See you in the city.

Monday, February 27, 2006

What Character?

We are BR!, um, 549

My sister passed this LA Times article to me:

Galatoire's, the celebrated restaurant that has long epitomized the epicurean pleasures of New Orleans, reopened last month in the French Quarter. But in a stucco shopping center 75 miles upriver, discriminating diners already were savoring its famous trout amandine.

Galatoire's Bistro opened here on the outskirts of the state capital in November, and New Orleans took the news as a civic shot to the gut. The story in the Times-Picayune began, "First the storm, then the floods. Now hell is apparently freezing over. Galatoire's is opening in Baton Rouge."...

Louisiana's capital historically occupied a spot in the municipal hierarchy similar to the relationship Sacramento has shared with San Francisco — languishing in the shadow of its bigger, more cosmopolitan neighbor.

One of Baton Rouge's top attractions remains the castle-like Old State Capitol. Built in the Gothic style in the mid-1800s, it was ridiculed by Mark Twain as "the ugliest thing on the Mississippi."

Twain evidently wrote that before the Chemical Corridor made the Old Capitol look pretty good in comparison; however, I'll let you judge for yourself:

Yet amid the boomtown hoopla, there is concern that Baton Rouge may be becoming too big for its own good. Many citizens fear the rapid growth that seems inevitable could change the city's character for the worse.

"So many people opened up their hearts and homes to people from New Orleans after the hurricane. But I think one of the reasons people live here is because of that small-city feeling, and it would be terrible if that changed," said Tina Wood, a Baton Rouge resident sitting outside a Whole Foods Market with her 16-year-old daughter, Sabrina.

Is that the Whole Foods over on Corporate Blvd? I think so, given that there's only one Whole Foods Market/Designer Grocery Store in the city...

Now, don't get me wrong: I live here in BR (549), and it looks like I'll be staying...but I've got no illusions. New Orleans, to me, is the northernmost extent of Carribean culture. Seventy-five miles--and a million light years, culturally-speaking--Baton Rouge isn't terrrible, but it sure isn't Carribean either. It's a southern town that benefits from proximity to New Orleans even if, at times, it seems like the city does its utmost to be more like Beaumont-upon-Mississippi than a smaller sibling to THE most unique metropolitan area in the United States. Which can be frustrating.

Having two major state universities in town is an added plus--literacy isn't necessarily a requirement for matriculation at LSU (don't know about Southern), but it doesn't hurt. The city is better off as a result. But again, this isn't NOLA.

Maybe--I'll repeat, maybe--with the added residents and decent leadership--by the way, I'm a fan of Kip Holden (despite some of his initial remarks in the immediate aftermath of the Katrina evacuation)--it's possible that a more symbiotic relationship could form between BR and NOLA...both could benefit, ESPECIALLY if decent public transit, that is, regular RAIL service, would start running between the two cities (alas, I'm not holding my breath).

For too long, I think BR--and the surrounding parishes--went out of the way to be the "anti-NOLA" without realizing that such a title will always be held by Shreveport. Also, Baton Rouge, despite the name, isn't a cajun town (Lafayette IS, and we could learn a thing or two from them as well). But one thing I'm sure as hell NOT worried about is "losing" any "essential character," because, c'mon, Baton Rouge ain't exactly a character mecca.

And Galatoire's up here might do ok...but I won't count that as "Friday Lunch at Galatoire's", which remains on my list of things to do before I die.
Adding My Two Cents

No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. Seen at many sites I read on a daily basis (one of these days I'll be updating my blogroll properly--and don't forget to check their own links, like this one), the Katrina Cottage looks like it would make a VERY decent fit for the city...not unlike some equally decent looking prefabs Oyster noted a while back. Think about it: the plan fits the existing city aesthetic, the cost isn't outrageous, it's a good example of entrepeneurial spirit...which is probably why it doesn't stand a chance. Damn.

I have a high degree of interest in stuff like that, dating back to when this book on a UW Bookstore discount table. I'd also like to see more projects like Loft Cube, a moderately priced--and ultra modern--prefab designed for urban spaces...maybe not for long standing NOLA neighborhoods, but there are plenty of spaces where they'd make for a good fit. And while I'm thinking about it/somewhat on the subject, I'll recommend this book as well: I was lucky enough to find a copy some twenty years ago, and at least have dreams of eventually incorporating solar energy in mi casa. According to the book, solar technology stretches back, oh, a couple millenia or so.

Sadly, I doubt the federal government will show ANY interest in this type of plan, which also speaks volumes about their so-called affinity for free enterprise...which I'm guessing isn't too different from their committment to a free press: just fine so long as THEY own it.
Kleenex for Kenny Boy

Just breaks your heart, don't it:

Former Enron Chairman and CEO Ken Lay has seen his personal fortune eaten away by the collapse of the energy trader and his legal problems, and he could be forced to file for bankruptcy protection, according to a published report.

The New York Times reported that Lay's stated net worth is now less than $650,000, down from as much as $400 million before Enron's downfall in 2001.