Showing posts with label Gustav. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gustav. Show all posts

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There'$ pow'r, pow'r . . . wonder-working pow'r!

There aren't many things that will drag me out of my flu-fouled sickbed to putter around on the blog.

One, however, is the alleged evildoing of a supposedly slimy Bible-believin' preacher. Another is the latest freak show from the Gret Stet.

So when you put those two things together . . .
cough, cough . . . sniffle . . . moan . . . here I am.

And there be Bishop Ricky Sinclair of Miracle Place Church, headquartered in Baker, La. According to the Louisiana inspector general's office, one of Sinclair's biggest miracles was in getting money out of the federal government on nefarious grounds.

OK, so that's not so big a miracle. It's common, as a matter of fact.

Here we go. . . . According to the Louisiana inspector general's office, one of Sinclair's biggest miracles was in almost getting away with not disclosing his criminal record on documents when he applied to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to run a halfway house.

Hang on. That's not a miracle, either. We're talking about bureaucracy, and we're talking about Louisiana. The miracle is that somebody noticed.

This guy and his church are running short enough on miracles that they might be in Dutch with the Federal Trade Commission, too.

FROM THE (Baton Rouge) Advocate this morning:
The report by the office of state Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. said Bishop Ricky Sinclair of Miracle Place Church also used people — ordered by the courts to attend a church-affiliated halfway house — to perform work clearing land and building a new home for Sinclair, his wife and family.

In a prepared statement sent via e-mail, Sinclair denied any wrongdoing.

“I have read the Inspector General’s report, and the accusations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Miracle Place and Ricky Sinclair have been serving the people of this area for over 20 years, and we will continue to serve them to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ.”

Street said Sinclair’s fraudulent activities date to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and continued after Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

“You’re not talking about questionable claims here,” Street said.

“You’re talking about blatant, fabricated and deliberate fraud — from scratch in many cases, where they just made things up.”

He said it was “particularly reprehensible” that the fraud was committed against the backdrop of two natural disasters.

Street said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of the Inspector General assisted with the investigation.

The findings have been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution, he said.

The report alleges that Sinclair collected $121,281 from FEMA for labor costs for operating his church as a shelter during Hurricane Katrina but spent only $39,950 paying workers. He kept the remaining $81,331, the report says.

I HAVEN'T lived in the Gret Stet since Ricky Sinclair still was a two-bit drug dealer, yet I knew the guy is an ex-con. And, according to the story, all his tracts tout that the guy's an ex-con.

HECK, even Pat Robertson told the entire backslidden world, via his 700 Club TV show, that Bishop Sinclair did time for dealing dope. Yet the Gret Stet of Loosiana couldn't figure out a thing until the inspector general noted that Sinclair and some associates "failed to disclose past criminal convictions, as required, when they applied to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to operate the halfway house program."

Some would call Sinclair a moron for that one. I'd merely say that he was just
(so far, allegedly) implementing the first half of "be ye therefore wise as serpents." In other words, you have to know what you can get away with.

In the Gret Stet, that would be a considerable amount. The "and as harmless as doves" population ain't what it should be.

It's where self-government goes to eat well, clog its arteries and die of a heart attack.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gustav + 10 days: All is well!

Nothing to see here down there in Louisiana, more
than a week after Gustav didn't flood New Orleans.

Nothing to see here at all. New Orleans didn't
drown. No harm, no foul. Just move along, please.

Look! Barack Obama called noted breeder Sarah Palin
a pig! Lipstick on a pig! Soooooooey! Barnyard brawl!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Gone with the wind after 252 years


The old Boyd oak is falling in the storm

All the huge, green branches blowing down. . . .
Gustav took our tree out in the gale
I don't think that we can take it
'Cause God took so long to make it
And we'll never have that live oak tree again
(with apologies to Jimmy Webb)

The last of the great live oaks on the Capitol grounds in Baton Rouge deserves better than a "MacArthur Park" ripoff, but that's just what happened to come to mind.

It's not all hot gumbo and cold beer being a Baby Boomer, you know.

I TOOK the above picture of the Louisiana State Capitol 20 years ago through the massive limbs of what was called the Thomas Boyd oak, named after the LSU president who presided over the Ol' War Skule when it sat where Huey Long's legacy now reaches for the sky.

Was called the Thomas Boyd oak. Hurricane Gustav put it in the past tense while he was attending to the rest of south Louisiana -- particularly Baton Rouge.

And I'll never take that picture of the Capitol again.

Here's the story from The Advocate:
A tree that had seen more than 250 years of history at the State Capitol — the last of three historic live oaks remaining in the Formal Gardens — was downed by Hurricane Gustav.

The Thomas Boyd oak, with its large branches held off the ground by cables just high enough for passers-by to bend under, was uprooted by the winds that swept through Baton Rouge.

“That was our major loss,” said Mathilde Myers, assistant horticulture manager for the Office of State Buildings.

Back in the 1700s, Myers’ ancestors, the Cabo de Gonzales family, owned land that ran through the Pentagon Barracks to the Arsenal Garden area, she said.

“It was a horticultural garden back then as well,” Myers said. “It wasn’t just for growing row crops or sugar cane. It was more aesthetic-type gardens. It was more for the love of plants.”

The Thomas Boyd oak was once part of a tree trio in the Capitol garden, accompanied by the Annie Boyd oak and Nicholson oak.

The Boyd oaks were named for Col. Thomas Duckett Boyd, president of LSU from 1896 to 1927, and his wife, Anna Fuqua Boyd.

The Annie Boyd oak was uprooted during Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

The Nicholson oak, named for LSU math professor and two-time LSU President James S. Nicholson, was already declining after it was struck by lightning and had to be taken down in 2000.

A story in the 1961 Morning Advocate quotes the first grounds superintendent, Euberne Eckert, saying he took borings of the tree in 1941.

Based upon his estimate, the oak’s age in 2008 could be 252 years.

“It will make a real impact, as far as a feeling of loss,” Myers said.

“It was the centerpiece of the garden,” said Louis Wolff, horticulture manager for the Office of State Buildings. “It’s really going to change the overall look of the garden.”

Got oil?

For many Americans, the first news of what Hurricane Gustav really did hit might come at the gas pump.

Here, from the
Houma Courier, is what you haven't seen on the TV news . . . or in your local newspaper:
More than $1 billion worth of oil and gas per day is not reaching U.S. markets because of damage done by Hurricane Gustav, the director of one of the largest Gulf of Mexico industry supply ports said.

Channels leading to the Gulf of Mexico oilfield clogged by storm debris and lack of electricity at Port Fourchon are the leading problems, said Ted Falgout, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, which operates the Fourchon site.

Channels leading to the Gulf of Mexico oilfield clogged by storm debris and lack of electricity at Port Fourchon are the leading problems, said Ted Falgout, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, which operates the Fourchon site.

Progress toward recovery was made Friday when the port’s Belle Pass Entrance Channel opened to vessels.

Falgout and other officials said losses would have been greater if the storm, which made landfall at Cocodrie Monday morning as a Category 3 with 110 mph winds, had stayed true to initial projections and ramped up to a Category 4.

Port Fourchon officials worried that the storm would cause the catastrophic consequences predicted in an April report, which details the economic impact of a three-week work stoppage.

The report said a storm like Gustav could cause billions of dollars in lost oil revenue and tens of thousands of lost jobs across the country.

Those scenarios did not materialize, officials and economists agreed. So far, no official estimates have been made concerning the overall effect Gustav will have on oil.

The port continued operating after the storm, and remains on track through generator power, as officials wait for traditional electric service to be restored.

“Clearly right now, there’s probably a billion dollars per day of oil and gas unavailable to the American public that this port plays some role in furnishing,” Falgout said, noting that damage to rigs several miles offshore could play a role in the overall equation.

The oil-speculation markets do not appear to be responding to such predictions, however.

“Apparently what the market is telling us is the damage to the Gulf was not bad at all because oil prices have actually fallen in the face of this,” said Baton Rouge-based economist Loren Scott. “My understanding is 2.3 million barrels of oil were not processed because refineries were down. Maybe we will still seek a spike in oil prices when it becomes clear power is out.”
WELL, I GUESS if the press isn't covering it, maybe the billion-dollar-a-day shortfall of oil and gas didn't really happen.

But if one day next week some soccer mom pulls up to the Exxon station in her SUV and her wallet is $10 lighter than it was after the last fill up, will America then care about Louisiana and the missing wetlands that used to protect the oil-and-gas infrastructure?

No, it won't. That is because gasoline grows on trees at the Exxon-Mobil orchards somewhere in Texas, where the mean gas farmers plant fewer and fewer petroleum trees every year to keep prices artificially high.

Um hmm. It's true.

And you heard it here first. Oh . . . and remember that Ike's coming.

Break out the Welch's and the strippers

Oh yi yi, ma pouvre Louisiane! Could it be that your inherent joie de vivre leaves you somehow susceptible to unending mal de gouvernement?

THE NATION first saw this back in the age of newsreels, with the homespun, strutting demagogue Huey Long giving his dirt-poor subjects some of what other Americans had taken for granted for decades, but giving himself a lot more off the top as he plotted to take the White House from Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

A couple of decades later, a nation returned to watch the televised spectacle of Huey's little brother Earl crowin' all the way to the funny farm . . . yanked from the loving arms of New Orleans stripper Blaze Starr and thrown into a rubber room, paranoid and stained purple from the grape juice he had taken to pouring over his head.

Two decades after that, America tuned back in to marvel at the grafting -- and womanizing -- antics of the Silver Zipper, one Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, whose present address is the federal prison at Oakdale, La.

Three years ago, television -- and Hurricane Katrina -- introduced a national audience to da mayuh uh Noo Orluns, "Crazy" Ray Nagin, who proceeded to cry and cuss on the radio as his city drowned, then presided -- of a fashion -- over the half-hearted rebuilding of a self-proclaimed "Chocolate City" . . . and an exploding murder rate.

Nagin went on to say the murder spree at least kept the city's "brand" out there. This before he, ultimately, ended up proclaiming himself a "vagina-friendly mayor."

KATRINA GAVE US NAGIN, and now Gustav has given us Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet. According to the Houma Courier, things ain't good after the hurricane down on the bayou in Houma.

And you probably would have heard about that already had Terrebonne's very own Boss Hogg managed to be at least half as entertainingly whack as Nagin.

But Claudet has been anything but. The best the man could muster, says the Courier editorial board, was to hand off the reins of post-deluge power to Roscoe P. Coltrane and slink off to mutter about those damn Duke boys:
Terrebonne’s response to Hurricane Gustav has been hampered by poor communication from parish officials, and most of the responsibility rests with Parish President Michel Claudet.

Problems started long before Claudet ceded his leadership of the parish’s hurricane efforts Tuesday to Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois — something no one got around to announcing to residents until a day later. They started before the storm, as Claudet and his emergency-preparedness director, Jerry Richard, refused to answer even the most basic questions from reporters and the public about what the parish was doing to prepare.

One of the greatest examples is an e-mail received by The Courier and various Louisiana TV stations and newspapers Aug. 29, as Gustav strengthened and forecasters projected with increasing certainty that the hurricane would hit here or somewhere dangerously close.

Neither the name associated with the e-mail, nor the subject line, includes anything that would indicate it is an important notification or that it even came from Terrebonne Parish government. The subject line reads, simply, “press release.” Open it, and here is exactly what it says, in its entirety:


August 29, 2008

6:00 A.M. or 0600 hrs. (8/30/08) the EOC will be fully operational.

Mandatory evacuation 4 pm (1600) Saturday, August 30th by declaration of Parish President Michel Claudet.
That was it?

You would think an announcement of that magnitude would have warranted elaboration from the parish president – not a minion or spokesman but the man charged with the wellbeing of 110,000 residents whose lives and property were threatened by a powerful hurricane. And not just to the media but to the people he represents.


Throughout this storm, our questions to Claudet and Richard have mostly been met by vague answers, unreturned phone calls, evasiveness or a parish president and emergency director who say they are too busy to tell the people what they are doing to protect them. Sometimes, they simply hang up.

Claudet told the Parish Council, whose members questioned at a meeting Thursday why they, too, have been left out of the loop, that knocked out cell phones and other technological problems impeded communication during the storm.

Once the phones came back on, he said, “all hell broke loose” as officials worked to respond to myriad callers.

“No one can prepare for something like this,” Claudet told the council. “It’s impossible.”
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S response to Katrina, of course, proves that abject incompetence and a tendency to melt down are not phenomena found only within the borders of the Gret Stet.

But you do start to wonder, though, when two hurricanes in three years produce a pair of unrelated meltdowns in basic governance and crisis management. Especially within the context of a state much better at elevating crooks and cartoon characters to high office than statesmen.

Real people suffer because of this stuff. Real progress is stillborn because of this stuff. Louisiana and the American taxpayer ultimately pay a price because of this stuff.

You won't read about any of it in the national press, just like you won't read about the horrendous damage done by Gustav to the state beyond New Orleans' miraculously unbreached levees.

MAYBE IF CLAUDET -- better sooner than later -- pours some grape juice over his head, boinks a stripper, gets hauled off to the booby hatch and then federal prison somebody in a New York newsroom will notice the sufferings of south Louisiana.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Back to the 19th century

Hey, New Orleans didn't go in the drink.

Move along, nothing to see here. Right?

Well, let me put it this way. The above map is of Baton Rouge -- Louisiana's capital city. It's a community of some 240,000 souls, more or less.

All the orange areas are estimated to be without electricity for 14 to 21 days, thanks to Hurricane Gustav. Large areas of the state are in just as bad shape.

Move along, nothing to see here. Especially when it's pitch dark.

'Now do you care about Louisiana?'

Large swaths of south Louisiana remain dark and in shambles five days in Gustav's wake.

Because the blackest of the blackouts and the shambliest of the shambles lie not within the woebegotten borders of Orleans Parish, the plight of Louisiana is no big whoop to the national media.

IF THE NATION'S ARBITERS of newsworthiness happened by accident to take a look at Friday's Times-Picayune -- after all, it is a New Orleans newspaper -- they might want to rethink their lack of attention to what was hit by the "bullet" the Crescent City dodged:
Three days after Hurricane Gustav made landfall, more than 95 percent of Gulf of Mexico oil production is still shuttered and a key hub for the offshore petroleum industry remains without power.

Gustav slammed into Port Fourchon, a hub used by more than 60 companies to service Gulf rigs and platforms, before coming ashore in Cocodrie on Monday. Port Fourchon also houses the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a facility that receives about 12 percent of the nation's oil imports.

Director Ted Falgout said Thursday that Port Fourchon may not be able to receive power for four to six weeks. He also said storm sediment and stones displaced from a jetty may leave one of the port's channels impassable for as long as a week.

Meanwhile, the energy sector is beginning to reoccupy its facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, although the bulk of oil and gas production remains shut down. More than 87 percent of the Gulf's natural gas production remained shut down on Thursday, down from 92 percent on Wednesday. More than 95 percent of Gulf oil production remained shut down on Thursday, the same amount as Wednesday.

As of Thursday, 73 percent of the platforms in the Gulf and 52 percent of the rigs in the Gulf remained evacuated. Platforms are the offshore structures from which oil and natural gas are produced. Rigs are offshore drilling facilities.
DOESN'T THIS MEAN that the United States has just lost a pretty big slice of its oil supply for the foreseeable future? And isn't that a big deal?

As a T-shirt popular down on the bayou says,
"Now do you care about Louisiana?"

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Big blow holds that tiger

Hurricane Gustav hung on to the ball when it hit the wall . . . and who knows when next the goal will be in view for LSU.

LORD KNOWS, the Tigers' next home football game won't be Saturday. The Troy State contest has been pushed back to November.

And no one knows whether it will be possible to play in damaged Tiger Stadium next week either. Even if the old ball yard is fixed up in time, who knows whether Baton Rouge -- still mostly without electricity, a state which will continue for days or weeks -- will be up to the task of a football weekend anytime soon?

From The Advocate in storm-ravaged Baton Rouge:
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva made the official announcement Wednesday that Saturday’s game between No. 7-ranked LSU and Troy has been postponed to Nov. 15. Tickets already purchased for the Troy game will be honored Nov. 15.

Alleva, LSU System President John Lombardi and Chancellor Michael Martin met Tuesday to discuss options after Gustav ripped through the area Monday.

Moving the game to Monday was not an option and the thought of playing the game in the Superdome or anywhere in the state was also turned down.

“This decision was a university decision and really wasn’t made until earlier (Wednesday) morning when we were sure that we had to postpone the game,” Alleva said.

The determining factors for the postponement were the condition of Tiger Stadium and the LSU campus, as well as the city’s current predicament.

LSU’s campus incurred several pockets of major damage and the venerable football stadium was not spared.

While there isn’t apparent structural damage to the 84-year-old “Death Valley,” the interior absorbed a notable series of blows.

Several seats on the west side of the stadium were damaged and the 200- and 300-level club seats were particularly hard hit, with several awnings ripped away.

Associate athletic director for facilities and grounds Ronnie Haliburton said several team bleachers from the sidelines apparently blew into both sides of the stadium.

The natural grass surface was also victimized with several gashes and divots from debris. Haliburton and his staff spent much of Tuesday removing debris.

The overriding problem with the stadium, though, was as of Wednesday there was no power and no guarantee it would be restored by Saturday and be reliable for a game.

When all factors were weighed, the bottom line was a stadium that wouldn’t have been playable.

“There were a lot of factors why we had to do it,” Alleva said. “The first is safety. Our stadium suffered a lot of damage. There are windows blown out. We don’t know the condition of the scoreboard and the lighting system. … There’s no power and we don’t know when power is going to come back on.

“The city of Baton Rouge is in too bad a shape to take resources away to play a football game. We’ve got to worry about the citizens of Baton Rouge and getting them power and food and water that they need. We’ll reschedule this game and hopefully the city of Baton Rouge will back on its feet shortly.”
AND RIGHT NOW, "hopefully" is up for grabs:
The focus shifts to a Sept. 13 home game against North Texas, but even that may need to be done tentatively.

With crews scattered around the greater Baton Rouge area trying to restore power, there’s no guarantee LSU’s campus will get immediate attention.

“My biggest concern is to make sure the stadium is ready to go next weekend,” Alleva said. “And we’re going to make sure it is, but that’s still a concern. We have to get contractors in here, and obviously contractors are very busy. We have to make sure we get the stadium safe for next weekend.”

Geraldo, I'm ready for my close-up. Geraldo?

There are 250,000 stories in the Darkened City. America's not interested in any of them.

They're not in the script.

IT'S BEEN FEWER than three days since Gustav worked over South Louisiana, devastating towns like Houma, Grand Isle, Lafitte, Plaquemine and Baton Rouge . . . my hometown. Baton Rouge got whacked. Devastated. Laid waste.

My hometown is a dark city tonight. It is a city under curfew. And it is a city of shortages -- short of food, short of ice, short of gasoline.

Baton Rouge also is a city of trees, a city enveloped by a beautiful canopy of old oaks, and magnolias, and pecans, and gums, and pines. Many of those trees tonight lay on the ground.

Across roads.

Atop homes.

Over electric and phone lines.

A lot of my hometown, officials say, might have power in a week or so. The rest might take a month or more to put back online.

For that inland swath of the state, Gustav was the worst hurricane in living memory. Damage will be in the billions and billions of dollars. So, what do we see on the national TV news . . . what do we read in our local newspapers around America?

This: New Orleans' levees didn't bust. New Orleanians clamor to return home. A damaged New Orleans is being repopulated, despite officials' pleas for residents to hold off.

UNDERSTANDABLY, folks in Baton Rouge -- and Houma, Plaquemine and West Feliciana Parish -- are wondering what up with that?

What up with that isn't brain surgery, exactly, this inability of the national media (and the national media spotlight) to adjust to the disaster that happened, as opposed to the disaster they expected. Look at it this way: The news business isn't the news business anymore.

If you look at national TV news -- or the failing newspaper industry -- as exercises in public service, you are sadly mistaken. If not out-and-out naive.

Newspapers have to make a profit in an era when people don't like to read the newspaper. Network (and cable) news operations have been expected to pay their own way for a generation now.

The news business has become just that -- pure business. Capitalism, uncut. News is just another commodity to be sold -- just like toothpaste, beer or cigarettes. To sell the news, you need some sizzle . . . some sex . . . some existential conflict.

You need a story arc. When it comes to Louisiana hurricanes, the story arc centers on New Orleans. Dysfunctional New Orleans.

Forgotten New Orleans. Violent New Orleans. Wronged-by-the-feds New Orleans. Drowned New Orleans. Phoenixlike New Orleans.

And for the last week, it has been Will Phoenixlike New Orleans Get Drowned?

As we all now know, nobody drowned . . . and nobody in government really screwed the pooch this time. This seriously screws up the story arc. It deprives our news marketers of the kind of sizzle they need to sell their product.

Faced with this, the "Mad Men" of American journalism have cut bait. Deprived of a second chance to be the heroes of their own reality-TV show -- Anderson Cooper's Death Storm 2008: Wretches in the Bull's-Eye in Post-Apocalyptic New Orleans -- the networks and the other corporate journalists have done their "dodged a bullet" stories and gone home.

Never mind what the bullet actually hit.

Meanwhile, places like Houma and Baton Rouge suffer unsexily and unnoticed. Here's a thought experiment for you: If a swath of a small, poor Southern state gets blown to hell and back but no one sees it . . . is Sarah Palin the matriarch of the Anchorage Hillbillies, or the savior of the GOP? You Decide.

the infotainment industry creates out of whole cloth are always more interesting than the hillbillies cleaning up after a natural disaster. And you are hillbillies, you know. Hillbillies from Flyover Country.

Even when your neck of the woods hasn't that many hills to speak of.

Now, if you're a foreign hillbilly or if George W. Bush knocked that pin oak onto your house, call Geraldo Rivera: Warrior Journalist right away. Because it's all about the story arc, and we can't have the "news" jumping the shark.

That's what it all boils down to in a society where everybody is expendable, and everybody else is a commodity available for trade to other commodities in a consumerist society. Your misery isn't news in itself.

Your misery is newsworthy only if it has entertainment value to consumers, who in turn can be sold to advertisers. If you don't believe me, Google some audio or video of news programs and political coverage from a generation or two ago. Compare and contrast to what you get today on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News or MSNBC.

Suffering stinks. And suffering amid the total indifference of others is exponentially worse.

IN THAT LIGHT, what Baton Rouge needs to do is to suffer according to the mainstream media's preconceived story arc. Facts on the ground are irrelevant if they don't match the story outlined in advance by producers in New York.

For instance, have Kip Holden -- the mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish -- act crazy. Crazy as a loon. Blame somebody for something . . . anything. Hire some looters.

Remember, it's the story. Not the news.

And that's the way it is -- Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

When you assume. . . .

You know the old saying, "When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME"?

Down in Baton Rouge, The Advocate never heard of that one. Before Hurricane Gustav came roaring in, the newspaper's publisher assumed -- with a hurricane on the way -- that the paper's brand-new printing plant would not lose power.


sday, The Advocate publicly wipes the egg off its face. Not that many of its subscribers ever will read about it:
Capital City Press did not publish a newsprint edition of The Advocate on Tuesday because it did not rent a backup generator to power the presses halted by Hurricane Gustav.

Instead, it posted the 48-page product it put together the night before in a format that retains the layout the newspaper would have had in print and distributed 200 office-paper copies Tuesday afternoon to agencies providing recovery services.

Beginning today, the paper is being printed by The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette until power is restored to Capital City Press’s Rieger Road printing facility, which could take several days or longer, Publisher David Manship said.

The newspaper’s content is produced at the editorial and administrative offices on Bluebonnet Boulevard, which have backup power.

Manship said Entergy Corp. told the paper before the storm that the printing facility could have power back by Thursday, but Manship pointed out the paper will be in line behind hospitals and other emergency service providers and that it could take longer.

Thursday’s paper and subsequent editions will be larger than today’s 16-page paper.

It also will begin running advertising again, though ads will be contained to recovery-related services.

Manship said the paper will be delivered to parts of the metro area where carriers have access. He also said carriers will make papers available at points close to those areas they cannot reach because of downed trees and power lines.

The Daily Advertiser printed 50,000 copies of today’s paper when it finished printing its own, at 3:30 a.m.

Manship said the goal is to have papers delivered by noon.

“We’ll … distribute them as best we can,” he said, noting traffic and fuel availability will be major factors.

Executive Editor Carl Redman said today’s edition seeks to balance much-needed information about the storm with other elements — comics, puzzles and some national sports news — that offer a sense of normality.

He said the main challenge so far is getting reports in from the field because of the lack of power and the unreliable communications infrastructure.

He added the newsroom is using the Web site to get information out as quickly as possible and is posting more photographs than usual.


Manship said he had to decide last week whether to pay $20,000 for a back-up generator by Thursday and decided against it because he didn’t think the printing facility would lose power.

“We made the decision that we didn’t want one,” he said, “and it was obviously a bad call on our part.”

While he conferred with a couple of department heads, Manship said the call was his.

“I was the ultimate decision-maker on that,” he said.

Newspapers generally pride themselves on performing their civic function regardless of — and especially during — difficult circumstances.

Tuesday was the first time in memory that The Advocate wasn’t published on a day it was supposed to.

UNREAL. That paper has a new printing plant, and you'd have to wonder why The Advocate's powers that be didn't just eat that cost upfront as part of the build-out. Especially in hurricane country.

But it is what it is.
And the home of "Why Try Harder?" continues its unbroken streak of short-sightedness in breaking its streak of daily publication.

And a fine lot of good plopping PDF files on the website will do for a largely powerless (and Internet deprived) city -- full of subscribers who didn't evacuate out of the storm zone.

Tweet Jesus! On hold with the Red Cross

Still on hold w/ Red Cross. Music. Won't. Stop. Waterboard me instead. Make it stop! Tell Jack Bauer the nuke's in the Hill Metro station.

from web

Starting over w/ Red Cross permahold. "A representative will be with you shortly." Are we talking "shortly" as in, like, geological eras? from web

57 minutes on hold with the Red Cross. Still no help for Mama, who is too damn clueless to get help for herself -- and, indeed, refuses to. from web

Please let me hold in silence! I CONFESS! I am 21st hijacker! I killed the Kennedys! I blew up the Maine! Josef Mengele was my chiropractor! from web

That . . . music. It's the Abu Ghraib of on-hold music. Make. It. Stop. PLEASE! I tell you where IED is hidden! OH NO! It's Lynndie England! from web

The Red Cross representatives are not currently assisting THIS caller. Sorry, Mama . . . at least you had a nice 85-year run. Ack! from web

I think the only Red Cross operator on disaster duty right now must be Clara Barton. A disaster-relief version of the Dead String Quartet. from web

Still on permahold w/ the Red Cross. Never want to hear cheesy synthesizers and chimes again. Make. It. Stop. AAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!! from web

The Red Cross disaster call center is here in Omaha. I could have walked there & knocked on the door by now. Sheesh. from web

Mama will be OK while it's cloudy & cool (relatively). But she won't help herself & she'll be in trouble w/ no power (or AC) in a day or 2. from web

Thought I was being clever in calling Red Cross at 1 a.m. On permahold. Trying to get special-needs aid for my elderly mom in Baton Rouge. from web

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Flashlight . . . check. Batteries . . . check.
Trojans . . . check. Butt paste . . . check.

My hometown is a broken and dark city on the mighty Mississippi -- battered by Gustav, largely without electricity, bracing for flooding from rain-swollen waterways and waiting out an overnight curfew.

IT TOOK 43 YEARS, but a hurricane finally whacked Baton Rouge worse than the gold standard of stormy suck -- Betsy in 1965.

I'm sitting here in Omaha early, early this Tuesday morning, listening to continuing coverage on WJBO, the city's news-talk station that has enough Internet connectivity to stream its signal but not a lick of telephone service. Hurricanes are funny that way.

But across town, it's good to know that the hurricane-chasing reporters and cameramen of
WAFB television are chockablock with Trojans and Boudreaux's Butt Paste.

Are the TV people having the Mother of All Hurricane Parties . . . or what? According to a Channel 9 cameraman's
storm blog, chalk one up for "or what":
That hair dryer at the bottom of the picture isn't just to keep the reporters well-coiffed. It comes in handy to de-fog a lens or dry the humidity from our cameras as well as dry our socks.

And might surprise you to know that no storm chaser worth their Doppler would dream of leaving the station without a box of condoms . . . Now, now, you're getting ahead of me. They're not for a game of Beach Blanket Bingo. Condoms are the absolute best things we've found to keep our microphones dry and operating like they're supposed to.

And one thing not pictured, but equally important, is a giant tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Perfect for those occasions when sand gets trapped in your sensitive parts. And there's a whole lot of sand blowing around Grand Isle.
UHHHHHH . . . RIGHT. Though you have to wonder what some sheriff down on the bayou might be thinking when the Channel 9 storm chasers shove a Trojan-sheathed mic in his face.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav, the deadly ironist

Hurricanes not only are destructive, they are ironic.

CHANNEL 9 IN BATON ROUGE reports two deaths in the city -- an elderly couple who fled the central Louisiana coast for shelter in the capital -- marking Hurricane Gustav's first U.S. victims.

Here's the
story from the WAFB television website:
Police say two people were killed Monday when a tree fell on a home at 1218 Elmcrest in Baton Rouge. It happened about 1:20 p.m.

The victims have been identified as 72-year-old Richard Broussard and his wife, 71-year-old Mary Ann Darby Broussard, both of Abbeville.

Police say the couple had come to Baton Rouge to stay at their daughter's boyfriend's home during Hurricane Gustav.

A large tree fell from a neighbor's home onto the house, killing both victims.

Officers say the couple's daughter and her boyfriend also suffered minor-moderate injuries and were transported to a local hospital by EMS.

You know you're a Midwesterner when. . . .

You know, after long years in the Great White Nawth, you finally have become a Midwesterner when you're horrified by a TV station's lack of alarm at a tornado warning.

You've got to understand. I live in Omaha, Neb., on the northern end of "Tornado Alley." A large slice through the heart of my city was
leveled by an EF-4 monster in 1975.

Several smaller twisters have taken chunks out of Omaha neighborhoods this spring, and the whole place got knocked silly by a late-June thunderstorm that acted like a short-lived Category 2 hurricane.

NEBRASKANS -- Omahans -- don't mess with tornadoes, just like New Orleanians no longer mess around with hurricanes in Katrina's wake. And at Omaha television and radio stations, it's all hands on deck and wall cloud-to-wall cloud coverage every time the sirens go off.

Reporters are chasing the storm and calling in with blow by blow reports. Meteorologists are plotting storm paths and arrival times on their Doppler radar displays.

Viewers are E-mailing in digital pictures of snaking funnel clouds.

And storm-wary Omaha folk are heading for "safe shelter" in our basements.

WHERE I'M ORIGINALLY FROM, though, this concept unfortunately doesn't exist. If Baton Rouge's creaky old air-raid sirens sounded for a tornado warning, locals would think it was either the Russkies or the Luftwaffe about to blow them up good.

I think this might be why so many Southerners end up getting themselves killed when tornadoes fall upon them from a black, stormy sky.

That is because, in the opinion of we Midwestern twister veterans, lukewarm Southerners are quite insane.

This was my first thought, when the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning as I was watching Hurricane Gustav coverage on WAFB in Baton Rouge. Frankly, Channel 9 didn't seem that excited that potential death was threatening to snake out of Gustav's outer bands.

The station didn't find it necessary to break away from news reports about Gustav's impending arrival. Or from commercials, for that matter.

When the Channel 9 weatherman did come on screen, he casually mentioned rotation in a storm over Livingston Parish and headed fast for the capital city. It might be a good idea to take shelter in an interior room or hallway.

I thought I might be watching
Al Sleet. "Heyyyyyyyyyyy! Que pasaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

NO. NOT QUE PASA. I am from Omaha.

We. Know. Tornadoes.

The proper response, Baton Rouge, is
"AAAIIIIEEEE!!! SEEK SAFE SHELTER NOW!!! Joe Schmoe in the field is right behind this supercell -- Joe, what are you seeing now?"

Three Omaha TV stations and several radio stations
were caught asleep at the switch at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning when a couple of twisters touched down in suburban Omaha. There was hell to pay. Particularly for the station caught airing a rerun of The Wild, Wild West.

And the one TV station with a meteorologist at the switch . . . the one station sounding the alarm before the storms touched down -- and before the storm sirens could go off -- now is The Station of Tornado Heroes.

Channel 9's "Heyyyyyy! Que pasaaaaaa!" act wouldn't fly in Omaha, by God, Nebraska. Omaha, by God, Nebraska, is not an Al Sleet kind of media market.

What hurricanes are to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, tornadoes are to Omaha and the Midwest. And while lots of Omahans might not know a storm surge from a storm cellar, they'd know what to do when one of them twisters dropped out of a feeder band.

Uh huh, yes we would.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bullseye: Your gas tank

Michael Moore says Hurricane Gustav is "proof there is a God in Heaven."

WELL, IF THAT'S THE CASE, what does it say that this is the bullseye of God's "judgment"? Would that make the target of divine wrath not the Republican National Convention and George W. Bush but, instead, Americans' gas-guzzling, wasteful ways?
Hurricane Gustav has been a Category 3 all day - At 11pm EDT, NHC continues to say that 'some intensification is possible tonight'. 0Z (23:00 EDT) models have increased damage forecasts a bit from six hours ago, but not a lot; however, this can change if it weakens further or re-intensifies or has different landfall track and speed, etc. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, or LOOP, and Port Fourchon, which has historically been a land base for offshore oil support services in the Gulf, is still directly in the path of Gustav and is expected to take damage. As you will see below, a good bit of oil and natural gas is also expected to be taken offline: some for a few weeks, some for much longer, according to Methaz' models.

Matthew Simmons, of Simmons International says:

LOOP is the only facility in the Gulf to unload VLCC tankers which carry over 2 million barrels of crude. They can in theory be "litered" by unloading onto smaller tankers that can make it into the Gulf Coast ports but this is very lenghty timing and the spare capacity of these smaller tankers is slim. We get about 1.2 million b/d of crude imports through Loop. (+/- 10%)
TO SUMMARIZE the above discussion on The Oil Drum blog . . . Got oil?

Port Fourchon (FOO-shon): Remember that name. And remember places like Port Fourchon and the port of New Orleans are why rebuilding Louisiana's wetlands is important.

Oh, wait . . . we didn't care about Louisiana's wetlands? Oops. Our bad.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Proof there is a devil in hell

If Barack Obama were president, would the Democrats give a tinker's damn about New Orleans?

Even when the suffering, storm-battered people of southeast Louisiana were no longer useful as a battering ram against the Republicans?

I WONDER. See, it's starting to look -- with a Category 4 monster in the Gulf waiting to finish off what Katrina didn't -- that people who stand to lose everything they have are nothing more to their "champions" than expedient pieces of meat.

And Gustav's pending arrival on Monday -- as the Republican National Convention kicks off --"just demonstrates that God is on our side," according to former Democrat party chair Don Fowler.

To filmmaker Michael Moore, speaking Friday on MSNBC, the storm is "proof that there is a God in Heaven."

Meat to the Dems. Meat to the GOP.

A blood sacrifice to the worst demons of our fallen nature.

And in a day and change, possibly well cooked pieces of meat. That, of course, isn't important now. Not when there are political points to be made.

Hangin' on the corner y Nueva Orleans

If you're so paranoid that you think la Migra is going to use a Category 4 hurricane as a "Roach Motel" for illegals, maybe you just ought to have spared yourself an ulcer and stayed the hell home.

The Associated Press explains how there are people in this world
who just might be too stupid to live:

Advocates have criticized the decision not to establish a shelter, warning that day laborers and the poorest residents will still fall through the cracks. As lines at bus stations kept building, about two dozen Hispanic men talked under oak trees near Claiborne Avenue, where on better days they would be waiting to be picked up for day labor.

They'd been listening to Spanish radio and television but none of them knew what to do and were waiting for someone to come by and tell them, said Pictor Soto, 44, of Peru. Told they could take a bus at Union Passenger Terminal, they all shook their heads, fearful that immigration agents would be looking for them. "The problem is, there will be immigration people there and we're all undocumented," Soto said.
REALLY, I THINK los federales have bigger things to worry about right now.

But if these undocumented workers don't get on those buses and do get caught on the streets after the mandatory evacuation -- and the curfew -- go into effect, I'm sure they'll be held somewhere safe until la Migra can get around to them.

Geez Luis.

The hurricane games people play

I hate it when people wish for hurricanes because it would be "fun."

People like that are either stupid or mean. Take your pick.

When I was a student at Louisiana State, you could tell the Yankees from the natives -- apart from their accents -- by their attitudes on hurricanes. The Yankees thought hurricanes were an excuse for a party and wanted the opportunity to see one up close.

At the rest of our expense.

NATIVES LIKE ME, and Desirée from New Orleans, wanted to kill the little bastards. We were the same age, and we each had vivid memories of Hurricane Betsy in 1965, not to mention other various and sundry lesser storms.

And memories of the Category 5 monster that missed to the right -- Camille.

As a then-4-year-old from Baton Rouge, I remembered Betsy as a hellacious windstorm. I remembered the lights going out in the middle of one of my television shows -- "Flipper," maybe? -- and staying off for days.

I remembered the adventure of sleeping on a quilt in the living room, the battery radio tuned to WJBO, flashlights and kerosene "hurricane lamps." A 4-year-old isn't old enough to appreciate that hurricanes can kill you.

What I remember to this day is how the wind screamed like the satanic host somewhere outside our boarded-up windows, unleashed from the netherworld for a long night's rampage. I can still see the aftermath -- leaves plastering everything like verdant wallpaper. Limbs all over the yard. The odd shingle from someone's house.

Before Betsy hit, my old man didn't have time to take down one purple-martin house. It sat sturdily atop a 2-inch galvanized steel pipe about 25 feet high. Solid stuff.

After Betsy's wind got through with it, that mast was bent to the ground, like a miniature Gateway Arch. Over at Aunt Rose's and parrain's, a huge pecan tree had come down, splitting their old house in two.

Parrain -- otherwise known as my Uncle Joe -- had been in the bedroom just a minute or two before the tree turned it into splinters. After the weather cleared up, I remember spending the whole day there as the grown-ups in the family put the house back together again.

They never did rebuild the smashed fireplace, though.

DESIRÉE'S EXPERIENCE of Betsy -- from New Orleans -- was more dramatic than mine. Her "adventure" included having to swim, with the rest of her family, out a second-story window of their house.

I couldn't top that one, having grown up some 50 feet above sea level.

But I could contribute my memories of Hurricane Edith in 1971.

Edith, truth be told, was a pretty piss-poor hurricane. She was no Betsy, and certainly no Camille.

Up in Baton Rouge, Edith wasn't considered enough of a threat to even bother boarding up our windows. School was open, but I stayed home.

If I had gone to school, I would have missed the tornado.

My mother had just gotten off the phone with grandma.

"Mama, look!" I said. "The sky is black."

Right then, everything went white. A swirling, roaring white cloud enveloping our neighborhood and our house. I stood in the living room watching it. More precisely, I stood in the living room, watching debris fly out of the mist and bounce off our front window.

Shingles. Leaves. Fiberglass insulation. Branches.

I don't know how the windows held. Probably, they held because the actual vortex of the twister missed us by a little less than a block.

I was 10, and I'd never seen a tornado before. Didn't have sense enough to run for the hallway and hit the deck.

Then again, neither did my 48-year-old mother. She went into hysterics; I tried to calm her down. I didn't get scared till later. Being the adult in a situation like that screws with your preteen brain,
you know?

BEFORE THE TORNADO, Edith's torrential rain had left the street with a good half a foot of water in it, and the flooding had made it halfway up our driveway. Afterward, the street -- and our driveway -- were dry.

As the weather returned to its normal lame-hurricane programming, the bulletin sounder started blaring over WLCS radio. Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Bulletin! Bulletin! Bulletin! Bulletin! Bulletin! Bulletin! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

We were under a "tornado alert." Thanks for the news flash, fellas.
Doppler radar was a couple of decades away still.

By all rights, I probably ought to be dead or something. I guess God really does look out for fools and little children . . . whichever category I fell into at the time.

But I was old enough for Edith, the Hurricane That Got No Respect, to teach me one thing: You don't f*** with hurricanes.
Anything can happen. Thus was born my gut instinct to kill Yankee classmates who thought a hurricane disaster might be good for kicks and giggles.

Or an excuse to down a case of cheap beer or three.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I don't know
what the hell "The Louisiana Conservative's" damn excuse is:
I guess you’d have to be from Louisiana to understand this, but that sadism is brewing again. I don’t want to experience Hurricane Katrina again. Once in a lifetime was enough for me. I hated that a fifteen minute drive suddenly became a two hour experience. I hated sitting inside the house the entire time without electricity as the only sound was the howling wind. I hated coming in from work as the hurricane came as an uninvited guest, drenching us with rain, the road barely visible. I hated to hear about the looting, the flooding, the mayhem that swept through New Orleans…

And though I would still hold my hand out to New Orleans residents who needed aid in that type of emergency, I could careless if the people who destroyed the river center that housed them slept on the streets. I don’t like seeing people sticking greedy hands and taking assistance away from those who genuinely need it. I don’t want to see people getting recovery money and spending it in strip joints, night clubs, and bars. Nor do I want to see them spending money on a designer purse and boom boxes.

Hurricane Katrina gave us the best and the worst of people. I’m grateful for the best of people, I loathe the worst of people, and I hope to see neither again.

But as I said, I am still into a little sadism. Part of me wants Gustav to come right up the Mississippi River and into Baton Rouge. As I said a couple of minutes ago, you have to be from Louisiana to understand this, but I want to know. Can Bobby Jindal handle a hurricane?
I AM FROM LOUISIANA. I understand that "Avman," the "sadistic" author, needs to keep his dark impulses to himself.

To one "Louisiana conservative," Katrina was annoying traffic jams. To more than 1,000 New Orleanians, for whom he has little but contempt, Katrina was the death of them. I wonder whether they hit bad traffic on the way to the afterlife?

Perhaps "Avman" could fight the evacuation traffic and head for Ohio. Then stay there until he forgot what a hurricane was like. Then, at least, he'd have some sort of excuse for his "sadism."

Still, I think I understand what he's trying to say. Maybe.

I'll confess that the run-up to a big storm can be exhilarating, in that you're rising to meet a huge challenge. It's an avenue of escape -- at least momentarily -- from our modern lives of quiet frustration and a nagging sense of futility.

It brings on the rush -- albeit disordered and somewhat deviant -- of being, at long last, part of something bigger than our own boring, solipsistic selves. Our inner 4-year-old finds that somehow exciting.

Especially when we figure it's not us who might lose every damn thing we own . . . or our life, or those of our loved ones.

Then, the non-stop hurricane coverage on TV is the ultimate "reality show." People get to lose their stuff -- die, even! -- so that we can transcend our own sucky selves.

I get that.

When you start feeling that way, it's helpful to realize what's going on. And feel bad about it. And just keep your damn mouth (or laptop) shut. Being a public sadist is unseemly, and not generally recommended.

THE EXHILARATION always crashes, eventually, into the tragedy. Soon enough, we see all too well that our "hurricane entertainment" was no game. That the reality TV show was a meteorological snuff film.

The TV images of "video game" tracking maps and radar displays give way to scenes of death and destruction. Of people who lived . . . and worked . . . and played . . . and loved yesterday but today are just bloated corpses floating in the fetid floodwaters.

Places you knew yesterday suddenly are unrecognizable in today's news footage.

The unactualized life you sought escape from in the excitement of nature's fury just might be forever changed today. And you find that's more than you bargained for in your "sadistic" quest for relevance through Götterdämmerung .

The green, young soldier who thirsts for the glory of battle soon enough is the middle-aged combat vet who wakes up screaming in the night. If he's lucky.

NORMAL PEOPLE know that . . . no matter what crazy-ass things their feelings sometimes tell them.

Almost three decades ago at LSU, I never did get the opportunity to lay down my own storm track on one of our out-of-state hurricane enthusiasts. I don't think Desirée did, either.

It's too bad The Louisiana Conservative's chief sadist wasn't at LSU with us back in the day. I would have paid money to see Desirée kick his ass.