30 December 2010

The Myth of Charter Schools and Waiting for Superman

I found this on Daily Kos:

Waiting For SuperFraud 
By Michael T. Martin

Public schools have to fail. There is no alternative. So give up trying to argue otherwise with facts and logic.
The mockumentary Waiting For Superman made this clear. Funded by millionaires, the movie told the story of some privatized schools in Harlem portrayed as saviors of children otherwise condemned to public schools. Privatized schools mostly funded by hedge fund millionaires on Wall Street. They spent two million dollars to promote the film nationally. Another major film titled "The Lottery" told a similar tale: children in Harlem desperate to escape public schools. Funded by more millionaires.
State Senator Bill Perkins, who represents the people of Harlem, tried to put profit restrictions on these privatized schools. So the millionaires spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to run an opponent against him in the November, 2010, election. The people of Harlem voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Perkins.
One of the supposed heroes in the mockumentary was Michele Rhee, the caustic head of Washington, D.C., schools. She subsequently was the focus of the November, 2010, mayor’s election in D.C., campaigning for the existing mayor who appointed her, promising to resign if he lost. The people of D.C. voted him and her out.
The little people in Harlem and D.C. who see the truth on the ground voted against the millionaires. But the big money people still rate Rhee as a hero and keep pouring money and propaganda into charter schools. Ever wonder why? Brooklyn city councilman Charles Barron laments the situation in New York City: "Our public schools need to be in the control of parents and the community, as opposed to businessmen who see the $23 billion budget as a means to giving no-bid contracts to their cronies."
In April, 1999, the Wall Street financiers at Merrill Lynch published a 193 page "In-depth Report" titled "The Book of Knowledge, Investing in the Growing Education and Training Industry." Early in the report they noted: "The K-12 market is the largest segment of the education industry with approximately $360 billion spent annually or over $6,500 per year per child. Despite the size, the K-12 market is the most problematic to invest in today. Entrenched bureaucracies and personal and political interests contribute to the challenges facing this sector."
Public schools HAVE to fail in order to crack open this egg and give these financiers access to the $360 billion they are after (estimates are that it is around $700 billion today). No matter what logic you use to explain the problems or successes of public education, it will be of no avail: public schools HAVE to fail. Whatever it takes. In a 2007 appellate court decision ruling that Merrill Lynch could not be sued by Enron stockholders for facilitating the fraud of Enron, the dissenting third member of the judicial panel wrote: "The majority immunizes a broad array of undeniably fraudulent conduct from civil liability."
Big money wants the public schools to fail and they are quite willing to engage in "undeniably fraudulent conduct" to ensure it. One prescient book titled "The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, And The Attack On America’s Public Schools" told the tale back in 1996 but logic and facts won’t stop big money.
Back about the time NCLB was promulgated, Ron Susskind, a New York Times reporter, related a conversation with a senior aide to President George W. Bush in the summer of 2002: "The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore.’"
Big money is "the way the world really works anymore." Enough money to buy political influence. A lesson well taken from the experience of the tobacco industry in fighting the truth of lung cancer. A lesson perhaps best exemplified by the Tobacco Institute’s "Powell Memorandum" that exhorted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to establish a conspiracy to counter the environmentalism and consumerism of the public schools. The author of which was soon afterward appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The current leadership of the Republican Congress in the House and Senate both have long established economic ties to the tobacco industry. House speaker Boehner was criticized several years ago for handing out tobacco lobby checks on the floor of the House during a crucial vote on tobacco regulation. People whose self interest depends on addicting children to a poisonous product now claim to have the best interests of children in mind.
The overarching thrust of the mockumentary Waiting For Superman is that teachers’ unions are responsible for the faux failure of public schools. That teachers have their own self interest rather than that of children in mind. The teachers’ unions that have been major supporters of the Democratic Party since the Civil Rights era. So the Republican Party will stop at nothing to undermine public education.
After President Clinton was elected in the early 1990s, Reed Hundt, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (1993-97), asked H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Education Bill Bennett to support legislation that would pay for internet access in all classrooms and libraries in the country. "I asked him to support the bill in the crucial stage when we needed Republican allies. He told me he would not help, because he did not want public schools to obtain new funding, new capability, new tools for success. He wanted them, he said, to fail so that they could be replaced with vouchers, charter schools, religious schools, and other forms of private education."
Grover Norquist, a major political leader in the Republican conservative movement, was asked by writer Ben Adler of The New Republic "How evolution should be taught in public schools." Norquist responded "The real problem here is that you shouldn’t have government-run schools." Norquist is better known for his patriotic comment that he wants to shrink the federal government to where he can drown it in a bathtub. His words; somewhat evocative of drowning a child.
So there are powerful forces who will ensure that public schools fail. There is no sense arguing to the contrary, there is over $700 billion to believe otherwise. The same greed by the same people that left the U.S. economy in ruins, with millions of ordinary people unemployed and in bankruptcy, will ensure that the U.S. education system is soon in the same condition. Public education has to fail, because that is "the way the world really works anymore."

28 December 2010

Jindal and the Destruction of Louisiana

Here is a piece in the Advocate that helps explain the the new Census results. LA has the lowest population growth of the South. This is directly due to Jindal's selfish ambitions. I know he wants to get on the National stage, but, like most Republicans, he is hopelessly deluded. The Neo Cons don't like Gays or Latinos, and they are not big on women (except for scandals), and they hate the poor and the working class.
His book is not doing as well as Palin's second work of fiction--perhaps the title?--and he is allegedly gearing up to run for re-election next Novembre.

But the roof is about to fall in on him: cutting taxes on the wealthy to foment a budget crisis is not a good economic plan. When his house of cards falls, will he still be able to tout his tax cutting strategy to the Conservative faithful?  I think not, he is BROWN, lest you forget, and those tea partiers seem partial to white folks. Happy New Year!

25 December 2010

Christmas Dinner

I had a nice Christmas dinner last night, roasted game hens, dirty rice, roasted sweet potatoes, very good.

24 December 2010

Susan Cowsill

I didn't watch much TV as a kid, Marine sergeants make for strict parents, so I did not know much about the Cowsills, but I was so happy when Susan moved here in the late 70's. She is ever a delight to hear.

I include this because Jimmy Robinson is so fabulous

23 December 2010

Jim Crow through rose-colored specs

Some folks in South Carolina celebrated the 20th as the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Secession  with a ball (they danced the Virginia Reel, choreography courtesy of Gone With the Wind). On the same day, Gov. Halely Barbour gave an interview with The Weekly Standard, wherein he dissembled about segregated life in Yahoo City, MS, his attending integrated schools, and downright lied about the White Citizens Council fighting for civil rights.

The Neo-Con (or Neo-Confed) script on this is that the War of Northern Aggression was a States Rights issue--NOT SLAVERY.  But 7 of the 13 states cited Slavery as the reason in their Acts of Secession, the other 6 cited Lincoln's being an illiterate incompetent as the reason. While it is true that the majority Southern Whites were not slave owners, the secession was the act of wealthy landowners--planters who owned slaves.

My Father's Mother's Grandfather, he was Scotch-Irish with a big estate near Winchester, Tennessee, he owned slaves. I have no idea of how many or their names or what became of them. My Grandmother told me stories about him and his children, seldom about the slaves. They rarely entered the narrative and when they did, only in humorous episodes. I might have asked about them, but I never thought of it. I had been raised not to think about slavery--that was long gone and now Negros were all happy and contented.

Haley was born in 1947, 7 years before me. He "experienced" desegregation in his senior year at the University of Mississippi; I attended 8th grade at S. J. Peters Middle School, which was fully desegregated. Of course, New Orleans is much larger than Yahoo City, and it was much harder for Blacks in his time to get into college, so that may not be relevant.
       Here is the thing, we were both taught history through a Southern prism, and that is why I did not ask my paternal Grandmother about the slaves in her stories: I had been ham-strung by my education.

The real story is the culture that produced both Halely and me. The entire White South believed that the Civil War was about preserving our great heritage, that Blacks had been happy as slaves--no farmer would abuse his animals, why would a slave-owner abuse his slaves? The hated Yankees wanted to destroy States Rights!

That argument doesn't hold water. Yankees had States, so why would they choose to destroy States Rights? Why do we hear now and then of farmers convicted of animal abuse (just think of those factory chicken farms, factory hog farms and cattle feed lots)? The majority of White Southerners didn't own slaves, so how could they be hijacked by the 2% who owned slaves and controlled the political power? Why did Congress just pass an extension of an obscenely huge tax for the wealthiest 2% of our time?

It was strictly about keeping the right to own humans as chattel. Not slavery.

20 December 2010

Lunar Eclipse and Winter Soltice

The Druids must be going bananas, the moon is full tonight and there will be a total lunar eclipse at 7:40 GMT (1:40 New Orleans time) on the 21st, which is the winter solstice. I'll bet there is a huge crowd at Stonehenge, and they are having a dreadful snow storm.

19 December 2010

Gay Olde Army

I forgot to mention, I am over the top about the Senate passing the repeal of DADT. Screw you, McCain! And those whinny NeoCons who rail about emasculating the military? Tell that to the Spartans, or have you forgotten about their military prowess and their homosexuality? One baby step towards a better society.
This has been a hard month. When the weather is this unseasonably cold, I take solace in the knowledge that the oysters will be so delicious. Alas, not this year. No oyster dressing for Thanksgiving, and when I lunched at Iris (fabulous!!!), they had Maine and Seattle oysters--no substitute in my book.Give me Bluepoints from Bayou La Loutre! There is a ray of hope, a new oyster cultivation method from down under. Come on, people, we need our oyster folk to adopt this system--they will make a lot more money and we will have our beloved oysters!

17 December 2010

Jindal hates Louisiana

Sorry, I don't where I got this, but it is not mine:

Bobby Jindal used his widely panned response to Barack Obama's first State of the Union to infamously decry $160m of "wasted" government spending on Volcano Monitors, used by scientists to predict volcanic eruptions. Only months later, the scorned monitors detected a volcano eruption in Alaska.
One year later, he demanded $300m of sand berms to "protect the coast" from BP oil, despite wide and deep scientific testimony opposing the plan. The sand berms were recently declared an utter failure.
Bobby Jindal is a fraud and he hates science.

I have been saying this for a long time, Jindal hates Louisiana.

16 December 2010

Louisiana, They're Trying to Wash Us Away

Now the Feds have waded in on Jindal sand castles:

BP allotted $390 million for Bobby's little toy berms, and he has spent nearly $200 million so far. No one, excepting the home-schooled Jindal posse, think the berms will have any positive effect on the wetlands. Most are expected to disappear because of wave action. But why spend $200 million on castles in the sand when it could have been spent on rebuilding the wetlands--you know, filling in canals and planting oyster grass and cypress trees?
The answer is simple. Jindal wants to show the country that he is an effective leader: he slashed the LA budget (never mind that he cut mental health services and public clinics or that he devastated public education and screwed public transportation -- the light rail train from N.O. to Red Stick -- and he saved the wetlands from the black curse of BP's oil spill by building useless berms.
And guess where that sand for the berms came from: it was dredged up from the coastal waterways, which killed massive numbers of bottom-dwelling creatures and altered water flows and currents. Bravo!
Did I mention that money could be better spent restoring the wetlands? But there is no photo opts in doing the right thing.

15 December 2010

Bulldozing LSU

I was too dismayed by the foul give away going on in D.C. to write about this Tuesday story in the TiPsy. Mary Landrieu's support of Bernie Sanders 8 1/2 speech this past Friday baffled me because she said she would have a hard time deciding which way to vote, because, you know, a family making $500,000 can be very middle class. I have many well-off friends but I don't know anyone making that much money. Billy Goldring, maybe.
I made my calls and sent my emails and had no impact on my elected officials, so I can move on.

I was dismayed by the Tuesday article because it only presents the pro side of the plan to give LSU autonomy. Jan Moller is a good reporter, so I assume his piece was heavily edited to sell us the idea.
But let me point out a few details of the downside of this odious plan. The plan would eliminate 115 administrative jobs. Does this sound like a good idea with our unemployment already so high? This plan, despite their rosy prediction of saving $85 million over the next 5 years, will likely raise tuition $750 a semester.
The interesting thing about the Louisiana Flagship Coalition (LFC) is that it presents itself as a group working to preserve and improve LSU, but they are really Jindal supporters moving his anti public school agenda through the back door.
This plan would have a domino effect on jobs in Louisiana far exceeding the puny dreams of its creators. Taking LSU out of the State University system and raising tuition would effective limit the options of our high school grads. at this time, any LA High School grad can attend a state university if they can afford it. If LSU opts out of the system, that won't be the case.
The LFC believes that one of LSU's problem is its low graduate percentage, but I firmly assert that a kid getting 1 or 2 or 3 years of university is better off than a kid with only a HS diploma. The LFC would end that by raising admittance standards. That would have a rippling effect though out the LA university system because all the grads denied admittance to LSU would have to go to other schools in the system, placing huge pressure on those schools.
I envision Louisiana sliding downwards into the maelstrom of higher unemployment and lower business investment, both due to the poorly educated youth.
And, education is only one part of the equation of destruction. Jindal wants to kill public health,too. Did you read this? Free clinics in poor neighborhoods do not have a place in Bobby's heart.
Oh, Jindal is going on a fund-raising tour of Texas today--and you thought he was back to rule judiciously.

13 December 2010

Dwain the bathtub, I'm Dwowning!

Here is a very thoughtful piece by a man who gets us, to a point:

My only complaint is that the good Rev, like so many people around the US, thinks that New Orleans is below sea level. He goes so far as to say that some parts are 20 feet below sea level. This is rubbish and, oh, it vexes me.

The esteemed Richard Campanella, of Tulane and Xavier, compleated (not a typo, check Mark Twain or Ben Jonson) a study in 2007 which gives the lie to this belief. levees.org has gone on about this since its inception,pointing out that many of our major cities are partially below sea level and 37% of the US and 55% of the population are protected by levees.

07 December 2010

A Streetcar Named Desire

After years of incompetence by RTA, we turned the Streetcars (and transit system) over to a French Company, Veolia Transportation, oh, the irony! Where is Walker Percy? And they want to expand the Streetcar routes! Imagine that. The City Council backed down from a recent challenge, but where did that challenge come from? I wonder.

06 December 2010

Catfood Simpson Update

Here's a little grassrooty action I can sink my teeth in.
From the good people at American United for Change:

We're going to send cans of cat food to GOP transition offices to make sure they know what will happen if they cut off relief for the unemployed.

Will you sign a can of cat food to let Congressional Republicans know what they are doing to everyday Americans?

05 December 2010

War on Louisiana: Jindal's Agenda, Part 2

I heard this, La. Drops Use Of Christmas Trees To Save Coast, on TV yesterday, but combined with the news about LSU, it was too much bad stuff to write about.

Now I can.

The meager program costs $175,000 and has the added benefit of recycling Xmas trees and so reduces garbage costs. It started in 1991 and has helped to rebuild and slow the loss of vital wetlands. Jindal tossed this cheap program, thereby putting more pressure on local budgets, yet he thought redesigning the State flag was a priority.
The story about LSU ran on the front page of the T-P yesterday. The upshot is that LA Flagship Coalition, a non-profit formed by Sean Reilly of Lamar Advertising and Lane Grigsby of Cajun Contractors to take LSU out of the University system, would free LSU to run its own affairs and opt out of Civil Service rules. It would hire non-union workers to reduce costs. LSU was ranked as one of the best universities in the US the last 2 years, based on 2007 and 08, and before the draconian budget cuts by Lil Bobby in 08. Reilly speculates that the LSU System would benefit by sharing the money that LSU would have gotten from the state. But Jindal is certain to cut the budget by that amount so he can continue to toot his horn about his "fiscal responsibility".

03 December 2010

War on Louisiana: Jindal's Agenda, Part 1

This week liberal outrage has been focused on Arizona's Brewercare that is effectively killing it's citizens by denying Healthcare-provided organ transplants. Keith Olbermann interviewed 2 men last week who had been prepped to get transplants but, at the last minute, were told they were no longer eligible because of Gov Jan Brewer's Healthcare cuts. He followed up on the story this week and he encouraged viewers to donate money to help with the vital transplants. 
The NY Times ran this story yesterday: Arizona Cuts Financing for Transplant Patients.

This is horrible stuff and Gov Brewer is showing a callous lack of humanity. But consider Gov Jindal.
True, he is not actively killing people by denying services, but he is closing down public clinics and cutting financing to public schools. This has 2 effects, fewer people get adequate healthcare and education, and more people are out of work, so this damages the LA economy. And eventually, denying mental services to poor people will result in deaths, either by suicide or murder.

I got another email from Jindal's publisher today, another invite to join Jindal in Red Stick for a book signing. I responded that I would rather eat a bug and a better title for his book would be : Bobby Jindal--Leadership to Crisis.

"Catfood" Simpson

Harry Shearer, a new character for you!

From the Wyoming Capital Journal:        

CHEYENNE--During Al Simpson's nearly 50 years in government, he hasn't been afraid to take on critics and naysayers of his work in the U.S. Senate or on a variety of high-profile commissions and committees.
But as the co-chair of President Obama's debt commission, the Wyoming Republican said he's been taking an unprecedented amount of flak for the commission's draft proposals to help erase the nation's $13.8 trillion debt.

"I've never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life," said the 79-year-old Simpson. "Just vicious. People I've known, relatives [saying], "'You son of a bitch. How could you do this?'"
 Not surprisingly, many of the debt commission's draft proposals to cut the debt by nearly $4 trillion by 2020 -- from raising the retirement age to 69 by 2075 to bringing in $1 trillion more in tax revenue -- have won strong opposition from liberals and conservatives alike.
But Simpson said that while every interest group that testified before his committee agreed that the mounting federal debt is a national tragedy, they would then talk about why government funding to their area of interest shouldn't be touched.
"We had the greatest generation -- I think this is the greediest generation," he said.

All this hubbub isn't a surprise to Simpson, given how politically polarized the country is these days.
"You don't want to listen to the right and the left -- the extremes," he said. "You don't want to listen to Keith Olbermann and Rush Babe [Limbaugh] and Rachel Minnow [sic] or whatever that is, and Glenn Beck. They're entertainers. They couldn't govern their way out of a paper sack -- from the right or the left. But they get paid a lot of money from you and advertisers -- thirty, fifty million a year -- to work you over and get you juiced up with emotion, fear, guilt, and racism. Emotion, fear, guilt, and racism.
A few points:
Raising the retirement age will not cut the debt. Social Security is fully funded through 2039--ask the CBO: http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11580 -- and is paid for by payroll taxes (currently12.5%, matched by the employer, and capped at the first $75,000 of earned income). The Federal debt caused by S.S. is the money invested in T-Bills (which is how China "lends" us money). The trillion bucks raised by the increase in retirement age will keep S.S. in the black but will not reduce Federal debt.
       Here is the real kicker:
"Catfood" wants to raise retirement age because we are living longer, but that is only true in the average life span. In other words, the Rich and their children are living longer--the poor die sooner, making them less likely to collect the S.S. they paid into, more so if they have to work until 69 and, later, 75. And the Poor and Middle Class work harder for their money than do the rich.
A much better way of funding S.S. is to remove the income cap so that all earned income is taxed. That would allow full retirement at 60 years and no chance of depleting the fund. Republicans don't like that because it means the Rich would pay more than they would ever get back. But how do the Rich get rich? By selling oil, credit and insurance to the Middle Class and Poor, so why shouldn't they pay more? Problem solved.

       Okay, "Catfood's" stupid comment about Olbermann and Maddow:
They are not entertainers, they are journalists. Beck and Limbaugh are not either, they are demagogues who make money scaring people who dwell in ignorance (I saw that first hand when, fleeing before the Federal Flood, I wound up with relatives in Lake Charles. These were good, Catholic people with decent educations, but they watched only Fox "news" and so had a very skewed view of the world. When Auntie S, reading the morning paper, asked "Why does the ACLU hate America?" -- because O'Reilly and Limbaugh said so -- I countered with a mild explanation of how the ACLU defends the Constitution and pulled out my card. She didn't speak to me for 3 days).

29 November 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Dinner went well, except I forgot to serve the cranberry sauce and the dough for the Parker House rolls didn't rise in time--my first baking failure. They were great 10 hours later.

23 November 2010

Cucurrucu Paloma

No reason for this, it is just beautiful

Thanksgiving Dinner

My Little Sister, her Husband and 2 kids are joining us. The menu so far:

Thanksgiving Dinner 2010

Hors d’Oeuvres
  Cheese Straws       Paté       Artichoke Canapés

Turkey Gumbo

Roast Turkey with Corn Bread Dressing and Gravy
Cranberry Sauce 

    Seafood Eggplant Casserole    Shrimp Mirliton Casserole   Gingered Sweet Potatoes

Chocolate Turtle Cake

Cucurrucu Paloma

No reason for this, it is just beautiful

10 November 2010

George Bush as Pinocchio

Monday, in his interview with Matt Lauer on NBC to flog his unrepentant book Li'l George had this exchange: 
LAUER: Your words. "No one was more sickened or angry than I was when we didn't find weapons of mass destruction." You still have a sickening feeling--
BUSH: I do.
LAUER: --When you think about it.
BUSH: I do.

Really? Then why did you make this:

The Coming Attack on Social Security

The new Congress will make a strong move to can Social Security, and the campaign has already begun on Wall Street. Dean Baker of TPM plainly exposes the forces behind the attack.
"The thing about Wall Streeters is that no matter how much money you give them, they always want more. Now they are using their political power and control over the media to attack Social Security.
This effort is being led by billionaire investment banker Peter Peterson. Mr. Peterson has personally profited to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from the "fund managers' tax subsidy," an obscure provision of the tax code that allows billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than schoolteachers and firefighters. However, Peterson believes in giving back. He has committed $1 billion to an effort that is intended to take away the Social Security benefits that people have worked and paid for." 

05 November 2010

Average Black Person

 This guy is spot on, oh, and has anyone noticed that Lil' George has said in print that he committed  war crimes?

02 November 2010

Election Prediction

Okay, I know this is a weird Mid-term and that the polls are whacked, but I think there is a chance that Vitter will lose. I had lunch yesterday with a close friend who is a Republican and he told me me he can't vote for Vitter. This is a guy, a Vietnam era Vet (a story I cannot tell), who totes guns, sells guns, and teaches shooting. He didn't say he would vote for Melancon, but he is voting for Fayard.

We had lunch at Santa Fe. My first time since they moved to Esplanade. It was pretty awful, he had a tamale with pork, I had the Chili Relleno. Both were too salty and covered with velveta-like cheese, garnished with puréed avocado, not guacamole. Edible, but more Tex than Mex. The Roasted Beet salad was great. With roasted pecans, feta and a simple vinagrette--no choice of dressing offered, hurrah!

World Series

The Giants won, the first time since 1954, when I was born. And there were many wonderful plays made by both teams. Bravo!

VOTE, Really

If you miss this vote we are screwed

01 November 2010

Novembre Second

We have been bombarded by pundits and polls showing the Democrats will lose big in the election. 3 Months ago they were sure to lose both houses of Congress. Nate Silver, who has been remarkably good in the last 2 elections, has said that this is a crazy election and the polling doesn't present an accurate picture of the outcome. His numbers have changed weekly and the Dems have improved every time.
Now comes a story that young voters (under 35) don't use landlines and pollsters don't call cell phones. So that skews the polls, yes? And who voted Democratic in 2008, that very same group.
So go vote!

31 October 2010

The Tea Party

When I was in Grade School and first learned about the Boston Tea Party, I was confused. Why did the patriots fighting for liberty and representation dress up like Mohawk Indians to do their civil disobedience? If you are protesting doesn't it make sense to let it be known who you are so a point is made? I asked many teachers and never got a good answer, no one could explain this. I found the answer long after I had finished school in an essay written by Robert Graves. He states that Samuel Adams was a tea smuggler and the British Tea Act cut the tax on the East India Company so it could sell its tea cheaper than smuggled tea. The "destruction of the tea" ( it was not called the Boston Tea Party until 1834) occurred in the evening, at low tide, the 342 tea chests were sealed and waterproof. While some of the "patriots" did hack the chests open, many chests were thrown overboard and bobbed in the shallow water until they could be retrieved later. The value of the tea was £90,000, according to Ben Franklin, who argued that it should should be repaid, but any tea that was recovered was free and hugely profitable.
Sam Adams was a bad businessman and worked for a time in his family's business as a maltster, a man who malts grain to be made into beer. He did not make beer.
The 16th amendment allows for the Federal Income Tax and the 17th allows for the election of Senators--they used to be appointed. Jeff Landry wants to abolish Federal Income Tax and replace it with a National Sales Tax of 28 to 32%!
So watch this idiot below, the video is poor but the sound is clear.

29 October 2010

Stupid Commercials

This stuff drives me nuts, are the ad men so stupid that they don't know Dr Jekyll was the good side of his nature? Mr Hyde was the evil side. Also that concoction looks a lot like absinthe, which I love.

Vitter makes me sick

Yeah, Vitter will win, only because we are idiots. But a good slap in the face.

27 October 2010

Legalize Marijuana

Hemp has been grown for 12,000 years for fiber and food. It has been effectively prohibited in the United States since the 1950s because Randolph Hearst owned vast acres of forest that he used to make paper and he didn't like competition.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
Because of its importance for sails (the word "canvass" comes from "cannabis") and rope for ships, hemp was a required crop in the American colonies.
Hemp can yield 3-8 dry tons of fiber per acre, 4 times what an average forest yields and it is an annual harvest. Trees take 20 years to become ready to harvest. Processing hemp into paper uses fewer chemicals than wood and the paper made from hemp does not yellow with age. Hemp paper recycles easier than wood pulp paper.

25 October 2010

Crabby Crab Cakes with Lime Beurre Blanc

1 pound fresh lump crab meat (can be claw)
1 egg 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 scallions, chopped, some green parts reserved for garnish
1 large toe garlic minced
juice of half a lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour, more for dredging 
2 tablespoons bread crumbs--panko is great
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
4 tablespoons butter 

Beurre Blanc
6 tablespoons butter
1 scallion, chopped
1 toe garlic, minced
1/2 cup fruity white wine
juice of half a lime
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Gently combine crab, egg, mustard, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons flour, and breadcrumbs. Cover, and put in freezer for 5 minutes. Shape mixture into 8 patties, wrap each with plastic, place on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes. 
2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat, add scallion and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add wine, juice and Sriracha, turn heat to high and reduce to 2 tablespoon, just enough to cover the bottom of a pan. Remove from the heat and whisk in 5 tablespoons of butter, one at a time. Correct seasonings.
3. Put flour on a plate. Combine oil and butter in 12-inch skillet, and turn heat to medium. When butter melts and its foam subsides, gently dredge a crab cake in flour. Gently tap off excess flour, and add crab cake to pan; repeat with remaining crab cakes, and then turn heat to medium-high. 
4. Cook, rotating cakes in pan as necessary to brown first side, 5 to 8 minutes. Turn and brown other side. Sprinkle with reserved scallion tops. 
Yields 8 crab cakes.

24 October 2010


Click on the link, sign in to Facebook and allow moveon to access your info, it is worth it.

17 October 2010

Lunch at Brocato's Eat Dat

Brocato's Eat Dat, 8480 Morrison Road, 309-3465, is a brillant restaurant in New Orleans East. It is in a what looks like an office strip mall and the decor is minimal--stark-- but clean and comfortable. They serve po'boys and Cajun food. I had lunch there Friday with 2 lovely friends and we were all stunned by the food. We chose 3 daily specials, all under 15 bucks: Smothered Pork Chop with turnip greens, rice and cornbread, Crab Cakes (2) on Fried Green Tomatoes with Rémoulade Sauce, sautéed fresh broccoli and string beans, and Fried Catfish with Crawfish Étouffée with delicious rice. The seafood dishes came with house salad--made with mixed lettuces (no iceberg!) raddichio, radish, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and served with homemade dressings and croûtons. No liquor license yet, so BYOB. The chef/owner, Tony Brocato, no relation the Brocatos of ice cream fame, is from Opelousas and related to Paul Prudhomme and worked 13 years at K-Paul's.

16 October 2010

London Broil with Kim Chi

Not the best photo, I shall have to work on that.

I first encountered Kim Chi at a restaurant in New Orleans called Genghis Khan back in the 1970's. It was a delightful place (I still dream of the fried whole fish) and it hooked me on Kim Chi

Grilled London Broil with Kim Chee and Parslied Potatoes

Grilled London Broil with Kimchi
I served this with parslied potatoes
1 small head Napa cabbage, or Bok Choy, about 1 1/2 pounds 
Coarse salt 
6 large scallions, trimmed and chopped 
6 cloves garlic, minced, or to taste 
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste 
2 inches ginger, peeled and minced 
3 tablespoons fish sauce 
2 tablespoons plum vinegar 
1 tsp Black pepper
Shred cabbage crosswise into ½ inch strips and separate the strips. Toss with 1 tablespoon salt and the remaining ingredients. Weigh down with a plate, cover with a cloth and let ferment 1 day or up to a week.  
1 London Broil, about 1 1/2 pounds 
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced 
1. Place ingredients, except lime juice, in a pan or bag and marinate 1 to 6 hours.
2. Remove steak from marinade and wipe dry. Place on a heated grill and cook 4 minutes per side. Remove, tent with foil and let it rest. Heat marinade to a boil for 1 minute and add lime juice. Carve against the grain on a 45° angle. Place a portion of Kim Chi on a plate and top with steak. Spoon a little marinade over steak and serve. 
Yields 4 servings. 

13 October 2010

Is the Public Tipping?

Are American Religious, i.e. 'wackos', becoming more tolerant of those they dislike? I think not, but there is always hope.

29 September 2010

At Long Last: A Recipe!

Quinoa and Zucchini Gratin

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into small wedges
1 teaspoon Pimentón
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Black pepper to taste
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup cooked quinoa (cooked in chicken stock)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano (2 ounces)
1. Preheat the oven to 375° and Lightly oil a two-quart gratin. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add a little salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, another minute. Add the zucchini, herbs de Provence and rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and stir in the squash mixture, the cooked quinoa and the cheese. Mix well and season and transfer to the gratin. Bake 30 minutes, until  the top is golden brown. Serve hot  or at room temperature.
Yields 4 to 6 servings.

26 September 2010

The Jindal Microcosm

Is Jindal making reading for a 2012 national run? He is building environmentally disastrous berms offshore in the Gulf, he has gutted the budget and cut taxes and gutted higher education and Public Education and health care, especially mental health. He averted the inevitable crisis by accepting the 'heinous' stimulus money to fund teachers and health clinics in the state. He is paying his staff far more than their predecessors while dismantling the infrastructure for producing a healthy educated populous that might attract new business. But this will allow him to make a national claim that he cut spending and taxes before the crows come home to roost and everything falls apart. He may want to run for President, but he will happily settle for VP or a Cabinet position or, failing that, Chair of the RNC. He will settle for any national office, because he will have get out of Louisiana before his legacy unfolds.

Did he come up with this idea on his own? No, I think he has studied the Republican Agenda of the last 50 years, with its eye on destroying the Middle Class and stomping on the poor. They are banking on a submissive lower caste than will support a minority ruling caste. Think not? Why else would Republicans demand that the Unions accept slashing wages in exchange for saving the Auto Industry last year?

22 September 2010

Whose Waterloo is it Now?

The Tea Party is splitting the GOP; if they don't regain the House, we may be hearing their death knell. Just when you think they can't get any crazier, they do. Angle went to a John Birch Society meeting and called them the real American people. O'Donnell thinks that Obama is treasonously violating Section 1 of the Constitution by creating "a nobility" by appointing "czars", even though Obama doesn't use that term and there is no such job title in his administration. Ronald Reagan started and used the term with his creation of a Drug Czar, and Little George appointed far more than any other president, 47 in 35 "Czar" positions.

Rand Paul says there is no drug problem in Kentucky.

Sen Murkowski knows she will split the Conservative vote in Alaska, but I guess she figures a Democrat is better for Alaska than Joe Miller.

And not passing Don't Ask, Don't Tell today--not even allow it to be debated--is another nail in the coffin.

17 September 2010

We're Rich!

Devasted Economy? Not Really

I understand Vitter and Jindal and Chris John coming out against the Federal study that show the financial impact on Louisiana to be minimal. But what accounts for Mary's knee jerk reaction to the drilling moratorium? Unemployment claims have declined every month since April and most of the jobs lost due to the moratorium have been replaced by clean up jobs. You should be concerned with the 2 huge fish kills in the past week and the oily shrimp and crabs that have been brought up from the Gulf, It is on local news every night, don't you see it in Washington.
Our Governor has done his best to wreck Louisiana's economy by dismantling our health care system and our public schools--do you think that firing Dr Ryan is a coincidence? And why do so many of his staff get paid 6 digit salaries? That has never happened before.
Mary should be promoting a strong alternative energy program. Louisiana is perfect for wind farms and every home should have solar panels and solar water heaters. A Federal subsidy would go a long way to making that happen-- I am not talking about the Income Tax benefit already in place; that is a good thing, but it does not help people who do not earn enough to qualify for the rebate.
I just used my last sponge given to me by the Help the Po Folk in New Orleans, sorry, The Red Cross. I still have mops and Spray-shit and buckets. My query is: does anyone plan for disaster? Oh, I have lots of mops--what was in their thoughts?

16 September 2010

The Prez has just consolidated the Hispanic and LGBT vote in the 2010 election. Delaware's population is 8% Latino, Arizona 26%. Don't know the percentage of LGBT--so many closets, don't you know. But Karl Rove back-pedaled on his O'Donnell critique--he now claims he endorsed her Tuesday night on Fox. And more stuff surfaces about O'Donnell, showing her to be more crazy than Sharon Angle--I didn't think that possible!

Breaking news: The Pope thinks we should help the victims of sacerdotal abuse, now shut up.

Here Come da Judge, cue Music

If you are not watching the impeachment of Judge Porteous C-SPAN, you are missing the best comedy on TV! You could not make up this stuff. Both the lawyers and the witnesses are a hoot.

Old Times Are Not Forgotten

The National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) held its annual fall Board of Directors meeting in Charleston, S.C. last weekend.

Here is S.C. Senate President Glenn McConnell posing in his Rebel attire with 2 African-Americans in native dress. No doubt they are highly paid workers on his farm.

The event, “A Southern Experience”, was held 10 Septembre at the Country Club of Charleston. Hosted by the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women, it was included on the national conference’s official itinerary.

In addition to McConnell, S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford attended as did S.C. Republican Attorney General nominee Alan Wilson.

Invited speakers to the NFRW conference included U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Rep. Joe Wilson, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, former U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins and GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley.



10 September 2010

Terry Jones and the Religion of Hate

Terry Jones is a pathetic little man with a pathetic little "church" and he has a very dim understanding of the religion he professes. He was fired up by the likes of Sarah Palin, Glen Beck and Newt Gingrich and did not realize the magnitude of his stupidity and ugliness and, yes, his unchristian-ness. But that is the America we live in now.

06 September 2010

Rewriting History, Republican Style

Homeland Security Clown Tom Ridge has released a book, “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…and How We Can Be Safe Again” in which he tries to clear his tainted reputation. U.S. News’s Paul Bedard reports that Ridge reveals that he considered resigning because he was urged to issue a politically-motivated security alert on the eve of Bush’s re-election. Here is a headline used by Thomas Dunne Books to promote the book:
"Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."
I thought the color alerts were a joke at the time, and mixing politics with terror was a favored tactic of the Bush administration. In August 2004, the AP reported that even “some senior Republicans” privately questioned Ridge’s timing of a terror alert that came just three days after the Democratic National Convention. According to the AP report, “One top GOP operative, who works closely with Bush’s political team, said the White House appeared to overplay its hand, and voters may smell politics behind the warning." Ridge says he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.
But Ridge avoided that charge whenever it came up. On Aug. 3, 2004, he denied any such political pressure or politicization with a quote DHS used every time this question was asked.
"We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security."
That was true for his successor Michael Chertoff who did not issue a conveniently timed alert during his 4 years in office. But liberals were ridiculed for believing that Ridge used color alerts for politic gain. Richard Morin wrote a Washington Post piece, where he cited the politicized color code worry to make fun of Democrats:

         "Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, it has been an article of faith that the terrorism issue           works to the huge political benefit of President Bush and to the disadvantage of the Democrats. As a consequence, some Democratic stalwarts privately wonder whether administration officials might spring a late October surprise in the form of an orange alert in order to help President Bush win reelection. Such cynicism!"

03 September 2010

Lying Vitter, Continued

3 cheers for family values, Vitter style. If you think that David Vitter is not a lying, hypocritical Republican, watch this:

01 September 2010

Free Clinic

I volunteered at the Free Clinic yesterday--more than 650 people showed up for medical help in 10 hours. Many of the volunteers were from out of state, especially the medical volunteers, but I've never met such a delightful bunch of people. And the patients were wonderful, too. I love my city.

30 August 2010

27 August 2010

End the Filibuster!

Ending the Filibuster Starts Here

Republican Phony Math Skills

VP Biden was in New Hampshire yesterday to laud the project to weatherize homes with economic stimulus funds. The occasion was the completion of the 200,000th home finished.
“So we are picking up the pace. We are weatherizing 20 to 30-thousand homes each month. At that pace we will hit our goal of weatherizing 600-thousand homes. Look folks, weatherizing is a no brainer,” he said.
The stimulus set aside $5 billion for weatherization. Biden says besides conserving energy, the investment has also created 13,000 jobs.

New Hampshire GOP chairman John Sununu immediately took a crack at Biden and the stimulus using very deceptive math. He told reporters the Vice President’s math translates to $385,000 spent for every job created, which he said is unsustainable.

What he didn't say is that he pretended the money was spent only on wages, not materials, and the work was done by one person per house. He further pretends the entire $5 billion was spent on those 13,000 new jobs.
Those 13,000 jobs were created by existing contractors who hired new people to work with existing employees.

The actual cost of weatherizing 600,000 homes is an average of $8,333 per home, if all $5 billion is spent. Confusing apples with oranges is an old Republican trick--they know that most people will hear the mind-numbing figures and not check the phony math. Remember the wild calculations done by Bush and friends about Social Security back in 2000? Check this as well

20 August 2010

Taliban in Florida

Dan Webster is running against Alan Grayson. He was endorsed in the primary by the Orlando Sentinel and by Jeb Bush and he has very scary ideas about marriage and divorce. While in the Florida Legislature, Dan Webster sponsored a bill to institute "covenant marriage." Covenant marriages are now optional in Florida and do not allow for divorce except in the case of adultery. So if you find you are married to an abusive bastard and need a divorce there is only one option: you would need to deliberately commit adultery in order to get that divorce. But under Dan Webster's law, if both parties cheat on each other, then they can't get a divorce. Ever. And he tried to make that the only marriage available in Florida.
There is only one place in the world where both divorce and annulment are forbidden: The Taliban Government in Northwest Pakistan. Dan Webster is not a fringe Republican, he was in the Legislature for 28 years and served as Speaker of the House.

19 August 2010

Jindal's Berms are Killing

Officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Audubon Council disagreed in comments submitted this week to the Army Corps of Engineers in response to LA's permit request for the 6 berms already under construction and twelve more more. The first 6 berms are being built under an emergency permit while a permanent permit is considered.
Fisheries & Wildlife Service official James Boggs urged the corps not to approve construction of any more pieces of the project beyond those already built.
Boggs said the berms were too small to withstand coastal erosive forces, including storm waves and surges, and was demonstrated when Hurricane Alex "almost eliminated the nascent berm" with just tropical storm winds in July.
The slow pace of construction makes it unlikely that the state's goal of completing the first six berms by the end of November will be met, or that the state could complete the remaining 56 miles of the project within nine months, as proposed.
"Any large-scale threat to the Louisiana coast from Deepwater Horizon oil will likely have dissipated long before the completion of the berm barrier project," he wrote.
The danger caused by these bogus berms was highlighted today by the annoucement today from the Gulf Restoration Network.
But I guess we should be used to Bobby's blatant lying.

Parasol's for Sale

William Hock, whose family opened Parasol's in 1952 and ran it until 2000, is selling Parasol's for $600,000, although the deal is not done yet. Jeff Carreras, who has run it since 2000, is opening Tracey's at 2604 Magazine, one block away. Hock is selling the the property and the business, so the Florida couple will get the recipes and, if they know what they are doing, the food should return to its former glory. I liked the place in the 70's and 80's, but have found it under par in the last 5 years.

17 August 2010

Mosque in New York

Pastor Martin Niemöller's (1892–1984) powerful speech about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.  Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945 because he opposed the Nazi control of churches. The formal charge was that of insufficiently support the state.

He narrowly escaped execution and survived imprisonment. After his imprisonment, he expressed his profound regret about not having helped the victims of the Nazis and ultimately himself. This is from his speech given 6 January 1946 to representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt.

"They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."

10 August 2010

Is google naïve?

There was a lot of speculation about the motives for google's entry into China, but no one raised the one that I thought of: Did google hope to help open and democratise China? Sure the financial enticement was there, but google likes to do altruistic deeds that also yield profits.
So is that the reason google entered into an unholy alliance with stodgy Verizon? Are they hoping to leverage openness and goodness into capitalism? That remains to be seen, but I would bet on it. The problem is that a company like Verizon is unlikely to change its mindset. They make too much, and not enough, money. google is like a starry-eyed teenager who hopes to change the world--the difference being that google has more money than anyone.
Still, corporate change is slow.

Cheering News

Pause, Refresh

06 August 2010

Paul Ryan: Update

Paul Krugman agrees with me  tonight

Paul Ryan: Bankruptcy of Ideas

Last Monday, The Washington Post ran glowing reports on Paul Ryan Here. They tell us the CBO estimated that his plan would cut the deficit in half by 2020. What they don't say is that Ryan submitted his plan with only Budget cuts and did not include tax cuts. Cutting taxes AND spending would leave the deficit right where it is, $1.4 trillion in 2020.
This is rather like Little Bush campaigning on the need to reform Social Security using unadjusted 1960, 1972, 1980 and 1990 dollars as though they were equal. It is just another way of lying.
Ryan wants Medicare to issue vouchers for people under 55, which was Newt Gingrich's idea back in 1990. The problem with this is that vouchers would only subsidize a portion of private insurance and only a small percentage of the population could benefit.
He also wants to raise the age of eligibility to 69.
He wants to raise retirement age to 70 years and reduce benefits for those now 54 and younger.
Paul Ryan wants to eliminate  "entitlements" like Social Security. Yet Social Security is not an entitlement, it is a form of insurance which workers and employers pay for. He would establish investment accounts that workers would pay into to build their retirement fund. That would benefit stock brokers, but what happens when the market drops (as it did 2 years ago) and you are ready to draw on that fund?
He wants to eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains, dividends, and estates.
He does not want to reduce the defense budget, he wants to increase it. Even the Cato Institute and Ron Paul think we need to slash the Pentagon's Budget and make them accountable for it.
This is the best the Republicans can offer?

03 August 2010

The latest numbers released this week from various sources show that Louisiana's oil and gas industry is doing quite well and the overall employment in the state is improving. Even businesses along the coast supposedly headed for extinction are doing pretty well.
Two months into "The End of the World", the drilling rig count in Louisiana this past week has increased by 3 from the week before, to 187 check here. The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association was the prime mover behind the "End is Near Rally" in Lafayette. The videos are still on their website and probably will stay there until after the fall elections, because that is what this propaganda campaign is about.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (which at the Rally, included gasoline station workers on its list of industries directly affected by the moratorium) on Friday released its latest unemployment claims numbers. And guess what? New claims for unemployment in Louisiana fell last week, two months into the moratorium.
Drilling activity up. New unemployment claims down.
If the moratorium is not killing Louisiana, why do LOGA, Governor Jindal, Scott Angelle, and others rave on about the dire consequences resulting from this attempt to prevent further destruction of Louisiana's wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico?

13 July 2010

I thought about calling this blog Black Plague, but BP will eventually stop the spewing well--although it will take 50 years or so for the Wetlands to fully recover. That may well be too late for many species that live only here. Others, like the bluefin tuna, blue crabs, porpoises, oysters, and brown pelicans, can be reseeded. Anyway, Black Plague sounds a bit dreary and moribund.

I am smoking a pork butt. It has been going 5 hours and should be done soon--I entertain visions of pulled pork on whole wheat bagels that I made yesterday.