Crescent Reinvented - Or Undone?

A sweeping plan to recast New Orleans' Mississippi riverfront is in the works...

...and so is an effort to stop what is seen as a grand architectural scheme that is too audacious, too imposed.

In Case You Missed It

Civil Defense Day in Azerbaijan.

Piles keep going down, water keeps going up

Pile driving continued today north of the Tchoupitoulas Wal-Mart.

I have not heard back from the local Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs section. I sent an e-mail last week outlining my concern about pile driving so close to the river and seawall, hoping for an explanation of the policy - and hopefully a reassurance that the activity is in compliance in some way.

The river waters continue to rise, although Phase II is still about 1.5 feet away.

Starts to remind me of a Johnny Cash song...

Go Crew!

James K. Polk was a dark horse, too.

Blight, Eminent Domain, and Louisiana Constitutional Law

Last week's Property class debate on Kelo etc. touches down in reality here in Louisiana.

The crux of the issue in this instance, however, seems to be a uniquely Louisiana reaction (or certainly less popular nationwide) to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo:

Another amendment -- this one the crux of the Burgess case -- forces government to offer seized property back to the original owner or his heirs before trying to sell it on the open market.

David Marcello, a Tulane law professor, says these provisions create a "roach motel" effect -- so called for the roach traps that catch vermin and won't let them out. The city can use its eminent domain powers to take blighted property into its possession, but it cannot redevelop the property by passing it on to a new and more conscientious owner.

Attorneys for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority argue that Louisiana lawmakers never intended for the latter amendment to apply to blight takings. It would, they said, be an "absurd" proposition to offer the property back to owners who let the property fester to begin with.

While I disagree with Kelo and empathize in large part with state efforts to respond to the encroachment of the decision's effects, the Louisiana particular "roach motel" requirement to offer land to the blight-inducing owner or his heirs seems illogical, and the provision should have been more narrowly tailored.

Here in New Orleans, though, there's a fine line between a) blighted and "character-filled"/charming - in a New Orleans opulent decay kind of way, essentially what makes New Orleans fascinating, and b) a critical need to restore or revitalize swaths of absolutely devastated housing that has seemingly been abandoned given conditions two and one half years post-K.

Military Experience & the Presidency

With McCain's emphasis on his military service dominating coverage of the candidate these days, it's interesting to watch the response of other candidates - and, more often, their surrogates - as to how deftly they diminish or distinguish his record.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look back in a similar vein. While neither Democratic contender in this year's race can play down McCain's military background very effectively given their lack of military experience, it's fun to review a previous example from the presidential campaign trail from 160 years ago.

Namely, Abe Lincoln on Lewis Cass in the election of 1848.

Here's a somewhat surprising taste of Lincoln's sharp wit on the floor of the House, satirizing Cass' claims of military heroism in the Black Hawk War, in which Lincoln also served:

"By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero? Yes, sir, in the days of the Black Hawk War, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of General Cass' career, reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was as about as near it as Cass to Hull's surrender; and like him, I saw the place very soon afterward.

"It is quite certain that I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly, on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in desperation; I bent the musket by accident. If General Cass went in advance of me, in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did - but I had a good many bloody struggles with the musquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry.

"Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our Democratic friends may supppose there is of black-cockade Federalism about me, and, thereupon they should they should take me up as their candidate for the presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me as they have of General Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero."

Zachary Taylor, candidate for the Whigs, went on to win in 1848 (he, too, had served in the Black Hawk War - as had his son-in-law, one Jefferson Davis).


Dixie Beer is Brewed in Wisconsin?

Yep, another frothy connection between Wisco and NOLA.

It seems the old Huber Brewery is currently helping to "rebeer New Orleans," as Dixie's label characterizes its mission. While I knew about this last fall, it keeps coming up in conversation, so it seems worthy of a post.

Largely debilitated by Katrina and subsequent looting - looters made off with the copper brew kettles themselves - century-old Dixie Brewery here in New Orleans is still on a long and winding road to recovery. At present, all of Dixie's brewing is being done under contract with Minhas Craft Brewing at the Huber Brewery in Monroe.

While it's ingrained in local culture - and seems to be the favorite local "ancient bar sign" brand - Dixie no longer constitutes a sizable portion of the local beer market. The head of Abita Brewing, speaking to our Tulane Business Law Society at his modern brewery on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, dismissed my question about Dixie as if I had mentioned an aged gnat that almost had his sympathy.

For anyone familiar with the Wisconsin beer market, Abita is a bit like New Glarus and Dixie is like Rhinelander or perhaps a Kingsbury that managed to survive.

Abita clearly holds sway in southern Louisiana - and there's not much else here beer-wise, besides the Crescent City Brew Pub, as far as locally produced beverages go.

Commentary on the quality of Dixie ranges all over the place. But for some, the fact that it was brewed in cypress kegs trumped all - and I have to admit it's a pretty cool local touch.

The ravaged Dixie brewery itself is in a tough part of town, and it looks like it might take quite some time before it's back up to snuff. The gigantic old brick building looms over Tulane Avenue, plants growing out of the nooks and crannies of the facade beneath the tarnished, silver-topped tower, the curlicues of the wrought iron gate imposing to passersby.

For now, the beer of the south, however, calls a little spot up north...

...its home.

Order some here.

Schlachtenhaufen Debuts

At the 2008 Madison Film Festival.

Andy Schlachtenhaufen lived on Floor 10 of Chadbourne Hall during my early years at UW-Madison. Even then, he was clearly on a film-making trajectory.

A Neenah native, I remember appearing ever-so-briefly in his short movie about a day in the life of Chadbourne for a competition between floors of the dorm (playing a game in the floor study room, if I remember correctly).

I also recall watching him edit raw video of someone jumping, a road cone, and some steps outside the UW Law School - it was pretty amazing to see him slice and dice the footage until it appeared as if a guy down the hall had just flown Jordan-like across a concrete expanse of obstacles.

Andy inevitably works a quirky sense of humor into any project, so I look forward to checking out "Loose Cannons" when I'm able. I'm not certain how it will fare outside Wisconsin, but I'm intrigued because I know many of the campus places and faces involved, and I hear there are plenty of kung fu scenes - another signature element.

Take That, Oral Arguments


Basra, you'll recall, was a British zone...

Just something to keep in mind as this unfolds.


As I told a prospective student before Property class this morning, Tulane's surroundings are key to making it a desirable law school. The many cultural offerings of New Orleans are the perfect antidote to hours of intense study, making any smidgeon of free time well spent.

But the antidote has the potential to be a distraction, too, so it's a fine line to walk.

This week has been a study in balancing delicately on that tight rope.

On Tuesday evening, I finally caught Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf on Logan's suggestion. On Wednesday evening, I hit up an evening event at the New Orleans Museum of Art, where I saw Rodrigue's Blue Dogs exhibition (boy, did that prompt some discussion about art, commerce, etc. in our group!). Last night I heard all about the fascinating lives of Teach For America teachers in the South over a delicious supper of corned beef, soda bread, and cabbage.

And today, as I continue reading, I'm feeling the tugs of a crawfish boil on The Fly next to the river accompanied by the Soul Rebels, as well as an outdoor performance by a friend's band at Bacchanal in the Marigny, and the Wisconsin basketball game at Cooter Brown's.

With oral arguments tomorrow, however, the tugs will have to be faced with sighs and shrugs. Until we're finished - then it's likely off to the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in the Quarter. And perhaps, if the wallet's not too light, a visit to the patio at Dos Jefes. Before getting back to outlining for exams...

It's all about putting one foot after another. And, I suppose, blogging less, as w-


Going to pieces

I've been watching Ogg slowly come apart over the past few weeks. Ah, the memories! They've got a majority of the west tower down already. The room I lived in freshman year, 804W, is now unbound atmosphere.

I wasn't able to take a picture today, but I did find this live feed. As part of their environmentally friendly disassembly, everything salvageable down to the concrete and cinder blocks was removed. They have been working their way down little by little with a bulldozer on the top floor.

My roommate mentioned that one of his friends is an intern in the campus architect's office and that the contractor taking down the building was fired within the past few days. Apparently, a crew knocked some concrete down onto a few cars. He said that whatever company it is, is the notoriously low-budget contractors--they had the contract to take down the old bank at Park and University and showed up with a wrecking ball and knocked bricks out into University Avenue traffic.

"The Patriots"

Monumental Art Deco sculpture, Louisiana State Capitol.

General Store

A little bit of everything:

Give me incandescence or give me death!

A rather accurate snapshot on visiting Kathmandu.

Why Wisconsin is not New Orleans - to its own detriment.

The most compelling, nuanced argument I've heard about Obama as a catalyst for a substantive change (although I still question Sullivan's gung-ho cheerleading).

A weird confluence of art, oil, law, and the Great, stinking Salt Lake.

Why shouldn't West Bank ferry and bridge fees simply pay for the operation of those critical transportation links alone?

Me gusta.

Law School Rankings Leaked?

Allegedly - there's a pdf...

Tulane rises three places, which, for what it's worth, is good to see.


Flood Tracker 2000

That's not really what it's called, but it seems like the zippy name a meteorology department would call it on the evening news.

It's actually called Rivergages.

The link above shows data for various points along the Mississippi River.

If you're concerned primarily about New Orleans flood levels along the Mississippi, data is available through the site regarding:

- The current flood stage in feet

- The incremental increases updated multiple times daily

According to the current data, the river is at about 12.75 feet - getting to the 15 feet projected earlier in the Times-Picayune in a single day seems awfully fanciful at this point.



Stephen Curry Twirls His Sling

Will he slay the northern giant?

Lookin' New Orleansy

"Dictator Kristen and the Wistful Chevelle"

Starbucks: Weighing In From the Provinces

The hegemon listens, tapping a nice little Web 2.0 means of improving itself via the constructive criticism of patrons.

In the face of economic downturn, as well as overextension and underperformance, it's good to see the coffee giant trying out new means of adapting.

I, as much as I like local coffeeshops, am intertwined with the fate of Starbucks. No, I don't own stock - thankfully. But a bottled Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino ranks right up there with an apple a day in my book.

Among the ideas presented and voted on, the top one involves instituting a punch card system, which makes sense. The other popular one is a plea for free wi-fi access (which runs contrary to Starbucks' business model, as pointed out in the comments here some time ago by Jib).

I think Starbucks, having proven the basic uniform quality of its products, needs to do a better job of varying the atmosphere and environment of individual stores. As long as the product is standard, make each store, each experience more unique.

I've seen some great adaptations along these lines, like the Starbucks in the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee. But then there are all the blah Starbucks I recall arranged like a fairy ring around the White House in Washington D.C., tucked into giant corporate blocks. And the Starbucks here in New Orleans on Magazine Street is about as hermetically sealed un-New Orleans as you can get (maybe that's the draw here?).


A Thorn By Any Other Name

I chose Stalingrad.

David Brooks picks Verdun.

Pile Driving Continues During Spring Flood

As I mentioned the other day, what looks like pile driving continues immediately north of the Tchoupitoulas Wal-Mart. I shot the photos below yesterday.

And the Mississippi River here in New Orleans is just days from reaching a projected Phase II flood stage of 15 feet along the levees.

Supposedly, any type of pile driving is barred within 1,500 feet of the levees during Phase II. And no "heavy duty" pile driving is permitted during Phase I, which we are currently in.

View Larger Map

The pile driver was at work around the intersection of St. Andrew and Rousseau yesterday in the afternoon. According to Google maps, the approximate location of the pile driving is well within 1,500 feet of the river - much of the work site that stretches up to St. Thomas Street, in fact, appears to fall within the zone where such pile driving is prohibited.

Here's the link to a Google map that shows the site and relation to the Mississippi in greater detail.

Again, the contractor may have a permit from the Army Corps. of Engineers. The riverfront in the area (largely an abandoned wharf, the road leading to the Jackson Street Ferry, and a large concrete wall) may warrant fewer worries than an earthen levee would. The site is on the higher old natural river levee that is less prone to flooding historically. And I certainly would rather avoid stopping progress on the new construction of homes.

But until I'm shown those factors override the safety rules for flood periods laid out in the Times-Picayune, I'm concerned about levee stability and potential flooding.


I contacted the paper's reporter who did the initial story on the potential flooding with my observations. She was kind enough to respond:

I will inquire on Monday. Thanks. Sheila

It will be interesting to see what she learns.


San Jacinto

Electric Eels

Forget tidal. Forget geothermal. Forget switchgrass.

At long last.

I think I proposed a similarly absurd electric eel scheme in second grade, but now it has actually come to fruition.

And there's even a disco revival theme song -MGMT's "...shock me like an electric eel..."

(The band seems like a strange mix of Beck, Vampire Weekend, and the BeeGees, and they have an "interactive music video")

I Met Dennis York's Father Today

He's a rather nice chap.


Why I will now think twice about changing a tire at night here in NOLA.

And I thought coming in over miles-long causeways from out of town after dark was bad enough.


Good Friday, NOLA

Stuff White People Think?


Gator in the Park

Why doesn't the city offer a bounty?

Promise me an appropriate incentive, and I'd be more than up for the challenge.

On Democratic Defections

Frustrated bluster or a genuine weakening of loyalty?

Among Obama supporters, 20 percent said they would vote for Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, if Clinton beats their candidate for the nomination. Among Clinton supporters, 19 percent said they would support McCain in November if Obama is the Democratic nominee. (See poll)

This seems to show the hypothetical advantage of McCain's unorthodox, relatively moderate stances finally translating into potential crossover appeal despite his all-important war stance.

Would it have applied in the absence of two very strong Democratic candidates? Probably not. Would it have applied with two Democratic candidates who had significant policy differences that meant they didn't have to make largely identity-based and emotional appeals? Probably not. Would McCain himself be the frontrunner if he wasn't following eight years of President George W. Bush? Probably not.

But things being what they are, his improbable candidacy is precisely the strange puzzle piece the GOP needs - and has - to stay relevant.

I find the willingness of small sectors of each Democratic candidate's backers to defect a rather incredible measure of the depth of support for a particular candidate. Only a mark of true, all-in emotional investment can seemingly override even the anti-war sentiment.

Of course, two factors might also be at work in tempering that calculus: 1) the Iraq war continues to fade from the collective consciousness as the most critical issue, 2) some Democrats have never been as deeply opposed to the Iraq War as some factions of the party would like to portray, and these individuals make the McCain "I would have executed the war better" distinction from Bush.

Or maybe it's simply McCain's pack-leading rank when it comes to integrity.


It's still Friday

at least for the next few minutes so I can squeeze in the traditional Friday music video--this time let's go political.

I was pretty sure I was going to be voting third party this presidential election but then I saw this music video on Metafilter, It's Raining McCain, and this changes everything.

Just kidding, I'll still probably be voting third party and heck, I can sing better that these people. I honestly didn't think it was possible to do a worse campaign song than the Hillary for You and Me. I came across that one a few weeks ago and still haven't be able to unwatch it.

New Orleans - Levee Check

Even without a hurricane, New Orleans has cause for concern for flooding this spring.

Excessive snows in the north have raised the Mississippi and put locals on alert.

Recent heavy rains in the Midwest, combined with the last melting winter snows, will swell the Mississippi River to an expected crest at 16.5 feet in New Orleans by April 9, high enough to place local emergency officials on guard for potential river levee problems.

The crest will be about half a foot below the point designated as official flood stage at the Carrollton gauge in New Orleans, although a combination of levees and floodwalls protects the city to 20 feet at that location.

I went down to check out the riverbank outside the levee near the Army Corps of Engineers complex. The levees in question this time are not the Pontchartrain and canal levees that breached during Katrina, but the river levees - which are much closer to my house.

What I saw - the photos shown here - stood in stark contrast to the far lower water level I documented in the same place two months ago.

While it's probably not unusual for the season, the water has risen multiple feet since my last visit to the spot. The series of pilings is dramatically underwater, as is the little tree island (the two trunks seen below sticking out of the water farthest out). More than half the rope swing is now floating on top of water.

Farther upriver near Harahan, the waters of the Mississippi have noticeably risen, passing the treeline along the banks and creeping in amidst debris to a point where they now lap the levee itself.

I also noticed a somewhat disconcerting point as I read the Times-Picayune article:

The 11-foot mark also means contractors must stop heavy-duty pile driving within 1,500 feet of the levee unless a district or the corps gives special permission. Without a variance, contractors can use only single, non-vibrating hammers.

A Phase 2 alert is triggered at 15 feet, when all forms of pile driving are prohibited within that safe zone, and corps flood-fighting teams join levee district teams to double the river surveillance.

The article does not state how high the water is at present, but it hit Phase 1, 11 feet, on March 11. It's expected to hit 15 feet on March 28 (based on a non-conservative assumption of no more bad weather upstream). So we're probably somewhere around 13 feet assuming a relatively steady climb.

My concern stems from the use of a large industrial pile-driver near the Tchoupitoulas Wal-Mart in recent days. I'm not certain if the site just north of the Wal-Mart is within the 1,500 foot radius from the river, but it seems reasonable to estimate that it is. I'm not sure what type of pile driver is being used, but if it's something other than a single non-vibrating hammer, it should have been barred from use as of March 11. Even if it is a non-heavy duty pile driver, it too will likely need to be barred from use by March 28 if Phase 2 is reached. And that's assuming there's no variance permit issued by the Corps.

It might be nothing, but it's something to look into further, and something I plan to keep an eye on moving forward.

As much as it might be an inconvenience to the developers, I'd sooner err on the safe side and refrain from subjecting the entire city to 1927 reprised.

Does Your State Have an Official Cocktail?

Now here's legislation I can get behind.

There's an effort afoot to make the venerable sazerac the official cocktail of Louisiana.

A sazerac lobby day in Baton Rouge, anyone?

I can only imagine what will follow in other states:

Janna Goodwin, a researcher for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said although Alabama has designated an offcial "state spirit" -- Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey -- it can find no record of any state naming an official state cocktail.

Will Wisconsin enshrine the brandy old-fashioned sour?

HT/Curtis P

Kermit Ruffins Lights Up Vaughn's

I finally made it down to hear one of New Orleans' premier trumpeters, Kermit Ruffins, last night. He and his band brought Vaughn's, a little old creole store nestled deep in the Marigny, to life as they have been for years.

Here's a sampling.

Ruffins' playing and distinctive voice definitely evoke the late Louis Armstrong, but with a bit more of a funky Brass Band vibe thrown in (see "If You Want Me to Stay" and "Palm Court Strut" on his Myspace page, which he featured last night).

The evening also included extended jam riffs on Armstrong's swinging "Skokian" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" - which both included a number of samples of other memorable songs, like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

It was great fun. The packed house ate it up and moved, drinks in hand, in homage to the do-rag and fedora.

I'm now convinced.


...Makes me want to rock out.

Last week, there was a concert in Zaqatala. It was a pretty big deal -- singers were coming up from Baku, even. And it was pretty much the first concert I'd heard of since I got here, I was pretty stoked.

The rest of the town seemed to be, too. By 5, there was getting to be a good crowd in the soccer stadium -- the concert wouldn't go on until about 7.

Security was pretty tight. There was a pretty big police presence -- I counted at least 40, scattered on the high ground around the arena.

There were soldiers, too, forming two cordons to break up the crowd, which swelled to a good thousand people by the time the show started. One cordon stood between the rows of plastic chairs arranged for the local dignitaries, the other just broke up the crowd.

There were folk dancers for Novruz, the spring holiday; instead of just one opener band, half a dozen people came out to sing one song each, interspersed by two folks talking about Novruz and what it meant.

And then we rocked out.

Tibet as Taiwan

An interesting look at the ramifications of Beijing's Tibetan actions on the politics of Taiwan.

It's immensely ironic to see the Kuomintang as the party representing closer ties with the mainland in the Taiwanese political scene.

Church, Baku

They say it's Armenian, and it's closed.
Since Blogger is acting oddly just now, I can't post titles.

This is the lady that sweeps the grass around the trash cans outside a friend's house in Zaqatala. The hunch comes from a lifetime of using a broom with no broomstick.

When I asked if I could take her picture, she said, "But I'm just an old lady."


Tibet Tries to Free Itself


Members of the Canadian TV crew reached the town in Gansu province, near the Tibet border, where they videotaped hundreds of angry protesters attempting to storm a government building.

Led by several dozen villagers on horseback, about 1,000 people rushed toward the facility only to be turned back by 100 Chinese soldiers who were inside, according to Canadian TV correspondent Steve Chao. The video showed women and children among the charging throng.

The scope of the revolt is growing.

The Battleship Texas

Big guns again
No speakee well
But plain.

14" shells.

Since 1914.

Below decks.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table

McCain Pulls Ahead?

Must be the shades and blades look.

Double HT/Drudge

UPDATE: Photo via Uriel Sinai and the NYT


On the Road

I'm rambling in sunny Lone Star land.

Here's one of the highlights I hope to hit up today.

Forecast calls for potentially light posting until Wednesday.


the doors

In Azerbaijan:


Texting, Crimes, School, Stupidity

Back in Kiel:

A fourth student was arrested Wednesday for allegedly sending and receiving text messages that threatened to kill a Kiel High School administrator and another student, according to Kiel Police Chief Dave Funkhouser.

A block away here in NOLA

Around that time, Gabriel started trading text messages with Perez. "Well everyone's blaming her death on me," Perez wrote. "This is fucked up."

"It was not you," Gabriel texted back. "It wasnt that. She stopped breathing this afternoon. It was something else."

Perez wrote: "Dude it was the dope."

And then: "Everyone keeps calling me telling me she overdosed on dope and that this is all my fault."

C. Ray Nagin's Latest Faux Pas

This man needs to be stopped.

He's "in" alright - sadly, in until 2010.


Spring, Garden District

What Ferraro's Comments Show Us About Obama

What about Geraldine Ferraro's comments about Barack Obama? And what about Obama's reaction to those comments?

I understand why Ferraro's observation may come off as inflammatory, but I think it's due more to shock in the face of general societal reluctance to make such observations than any racist underpinnings or lack of truth to the insight.

In her first interview with Daily Breeze, published late last week, Ferraro said, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

She also said Hillary Clinton had been the victim of a "sexist media."

Obama himself has called the comments "patently absurd."

"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party. They are divisive," he told the Allentown Morning News.

"I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd. And I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign, they shouldn't have a place in Sen. Clinton's, either," he added.

Are Ferraro's comments really that absurd? Are they really even divisive?

Obama has done a commendable job of refraining, at least on the surface, from using his racial background as an overt political tool; it is probably why he has done so well, as it has furthered his general proposition of transcendence.

Yet I don't think Ferraro's statement is untrue. It might be intended, in context, to 'poke the hornet's nest' at this point in the Democratic Primary. But I agree with the statement itself: I don't believe Obama would be where he is today if he were white and female. It's stating the obvious.

That's not to denigrate his talent, character, or race. It's a simple recognition that to be president demands an overarching personal story - like John McCain's prisoner of war and maverick narratives, or Hillary's first lady story. A significant theme in Obama's personal meta-narrative is his continued ability to succeed in spite of his race. Barack Obama stands out in a crowd of potential leaders in part because of his innate talents and perseverence and in part - probably crucially - because of that personal story.

Obama's reaction, in the end, is more disturbing to me:

"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party. They are divisive," he told the Allentown Morning News.

Labeling something of this nature divisive and swatting it wholesale off the table for discussion is far less comforting to me. It is effectively - and highly ironically - whitewashing. It is glossing over a legitimate observation otherwise encouraged in the pluralist play of American political tradition.

Clinton's response, too, shows us something about her: 1) This is a wily classic Clintonesque campaign tactic that allows her to condemn Ferraro's comments and appear to be the P.C. good cop, or/and 2) She takes a similarly jump-the-gun shallow view of the ostensible racist nature of the comments.

A president should not be so quick to label what is not a lie (or what is at least not so blatantly and factually far from the truth) a heresy that is not up for discussion. While I can see the potential ulterior motive by the Clinton camp, Obama's excessive response has succeeded in planting the seed of a question in my mind about his commitment to political free speech - something I didn't anticipate happening.

More on Ferraro's defense and explication of her comments - as well as the Obama camp's attempt to milk the situation - here.


"two chihuahuas argue about which is the biggest dog"

Mitt Romney gets canine on the Democratic contenders, calling McCain, by contrast, "the big dog" - while cracking open the door to a Vice Presidential slot.

What kind of dog, then, does that make him?

Why, Silda, why?

I do not understand why Silda Spitzer "stood by her man."

I do not understand how a Tammy Wynette song has somehow achieved a quasi-precedential imprint on American political protocol.

I have never understood the concept. Not with Clinton, not with McGreevey, not with Craig.

Perhaps I undervalue the "for better or for worse" clause, but in my mind, unless a public official can stand up at a podium boiling over with righteous, well-founded outrage at wildly improper accusations of sexual misconduct, no devastated spouse should have to stand by as some sort of sullen public prop.

If Governor Spitzer wants to publicly beg for contrition, his wife should not be made to suffer beside him more than she doubtlessly does in private.

New Orleans Flood Maps - Revised

Good news.

According to the maps, our house stands a 1% chance of sustaining a maximum of 2 feet of 100-year hurricane flooding in any given year. And that's under a scenario where no pumps are running.

According to our downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Elsas, the flooding during Katrina never reached the floorboards on the lower level.

The season opens June 1. The storm names have already been chosen.

Yesterday, I Went to Venice


Is this for real?

Despite remaining snow and persistently cold temperatures, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz on Friday declared the official start of spring in Madison was Sunday at 2 a.m.

Apparently, yes, and it's not in the Onion.

According to George Twigg, spokesperson for Cieslewicz, the mayor wanted citizens to look forward to spring and forget about subzero temperatures and record snowfall experienced over the past months.

Does this translate to reality that they won't be plowing the streets if it snows again?

I guess it's become politically worthwhile for the mayor to start sucking up to the Spring-lobby but he can kiss those winter votes goodbye. Since when has it become the mayor's priority to care about what people feel about weather?

Does This Make You Feel Safe?

Is this the proper role of government?

Is this the only way to proceed?

Does any pretext justify this much intrusion into our lives?

The Brief is Done!

It feels great.


It's Going to Be A Busy Day

Here's wishing I could be back out at the Fairgrounds for the Louisiana Derby!