Showing posts with label banana republic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label banana republic. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dear Pete Ricketts . . . .

Dear Pete,

I hate to ruin your day and all with a little perspective, but my basket of f***s to give has been empty for a while now.

Tuesday, there were 318 new COVID-19 cases reported in Nebraska. Italy reported 114. That puts us 204 ahead of -- or, more accurately, behind -- Italy.

Nebraska's population is 1.9 million. Italy's is 60.4 million. Just so you know.

Perspective is a stone-cold bitch. And you are a catastrophically bad governor. We'll be damned lucky to survive you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

We're off on the Road to Caracas

This is frickin' Haiti. If only someone had thrown a chair -- maybe shot a hole in the ceiling -- for the full effect.

Where this all is heading is frickin' Venezuela, which as I type is completely emptying out because it, like Louisiana, is completely incapable of self-governance. It's amazing all the existential, quite-fatal flaws $100-a-barrel oil can cover up.

Until it's $50-a-barrel oil.

IF I WERE Gov. John Bel Edwards, I'd make sure Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) discovered -- by Wednesday morning, at the latest -- that state health inspectors had documented severe rat-and-cockroach infestations at every single one of his convenience stores up there in Bumf*ckistan. Out of an abundance of caution, Harris' nasty, filthy stores then would have to be shut down.

In the name of public safety. And good government.

Especially good government.

When you're gub'na of a banana republic, you damn well better act like you're the top banana.

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Great Leap Nowhere

If a corporation is too crooked and too big a polluter for China, and if it's likely that an African government won't put up with its guff . . . where do you open shop next?


Obviously, you go to Louisiana, where the governor is more than happy to throw tax incentives at you to pollute Cancer Alley just a little bit more -- or maybe a lot more -- and not create that many jobs in the process.

Ah, Louisiana. If it looks like a Third World country, and it smells like a Third World country, and it does business like a Third World country . . . it just may be a Third World country. Unfortunately, this one happens to be an American state whose governor aspires to be president.

Of the United States.

AL JAZEERA AMERICA tells us all about China's latest industrial investment in the Third World, right here in the United States. Here's how the series of three articles begins:
A prominent Chinese tycoon and politician — whose natural gas company's environmental and labor rights record recently started coming under fire in the Chinese press — is parking assets in a multibillion dollar methanol plant in a Louisiana town. And he appears to be doing it with help from the administration of likely GOP 2016 presidential ticket contender Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Not many locals in a predominantly black neighborhood of St. James Parish — halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — know that Wang Jinshu, the Communist Party Secretary for the northeastern Chinese village of Yuhuang and a delegate to the National People’s Congress, is the man at the helm of a $1.85 billion methanol plant to be built in their town over the next two years with a $9.5 million incentive package from the state. The details of the project are unclear, residents say, largely because they were not told about the project until local officials, amid discussions with state officials and Chinese diplomats, decided to move forward with the project in July 2014.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose, a 74-year-old black Vietnam War veteran who works at a nearby church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

The Chinese company has filed for expedited permits to construct and operate a plant on a sprawling 1,100 acres — situated between a high school, two churches and an assisted living facility for senior citizens — from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which is set to study the impact on the local environment and deliver its decision on March 6, 2015.

The plant is part of a recent push by New Orleans–area officials to reach out to Asia’s growing economic powerhouse to redevelop communities still devastated by the effects of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Some of those projects, it appears, have since gone sour. In one instance, which Al Jazeera will explore in the third installment of this series, a company contracted by the city government stands accused of stealing millions of dollars from Chinese investors seeking U.S. citizenship in exchange for building businesses in an underserved neighborhood.

Local economic development authorities told Al Jazeera that St. James Parish is an ideal location for the methanol plant because of readily accessible deep water and cheap fuel from the shale oil boom that will help cut production costs. But it remains unclear what the impetus is behind a methanol plant that plans to send the lion’s share of its product back to China, which is struggling to find a market for the methanol already being produced.

What is clear is that there are links between Wang’s U.S. subsidiary — Houston-headquartered Yuhuang Chemical Inc. — and the Chinese government and the Jindal administration.

READ the whole three-part series -- here, here and here.

Apart from urging you to read the whole series -- which obviously is a non-assimilationist Islamic plot against Bobby the Truth Teller -- I have little to say about this thing. I'm talked out, written out and outraged out when it comes to my home state. To quote the Steve Taylor song from 1987, "Since I gave up hope, I feel a lot better."

The reality of Louisiana is that Louisianians are basically incapable of effective self-government. The reality of Louisiana political life is that it's probably not too much worse than that of Guatemala, Honduras or some state in northern Mexico. The reality of the Louisiana economy and workforce is one where officials throw money at foreign companies to build plants that despoil the state's environment and poison adjacent communities (mostly poor and black ones, by the way) while state regulators look the other way and promises of many jobs become realities of not so much.

The reality of Louisiana is none of this is likely to change anytime soon. In fact, it's likely to get worse.

The reality is that Bobby Jindal's Louisiana -- just like Kathleen Blanco's Louisiana, Mike Foster's Louisiana and Edwin Edwards' Louisiana -- is that state government is likely to put up with a lot of Chinese corporate misbehavior that officials in . . . wait for it . . .  Zambia brought to a swift and dramatic end:

Last year [2013], Zambia's government seized control of a Chinese-run coal mine, saying Chinese managers had failed to address safety, health and environmental concerns.

In 2010, two Chinese managers at the mine were accused of shooting miners during a labour dispute, and clashes in August reportedly saw one Chinese worker killed and two others injured.
I THINK it is safe to say Louisiana will not be seizing control (or even much sanctioning) any industrial facility for failing to address pretty much anything. State government is much more accustomed to letting vested interests seize control of it. Billion dolla . . . cheap!

I can't change that. You can't change that. Short of a military invasion, street-corner firing squads and scores of re-education camps, the United States government can't change that.

Worst of all, Louisianians cannot -- or, more accurately, will not -- change that. I guess Third World is as Third World doesn't.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You want some assimilation, Governor?

Louisiana's embarrassment-in-chief is at it again.

This time, Gov. Bobby Jindal went all the way to London to say deeply stupid things, making his state a laughingstock internationally as opposed to scandalizing just a domestic American audience, as Louisiana has done time and again.

In a speech to the Henry Jackson Society, a British think tank named for the late U.S. senator from Washington state, Jindal took discredited Fox News assertions about Islamic "no-go zones" in the United Kingdom and France, then ran with them in decrying immigrant Muslims' failure to assimilate into Western societies. After all, what is truth, anyway?

According to an Associated Press  report:
In a speech prepared for delivery at a British think tank, Jindal said some immigrants are seeking “to colonize Western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that.” He also said Muslim leaders must condemn the people who commit terrorism in the name of faith as “murderers who are going to hell.”

Jindal aides said he did not make significant changes to the prepared text.

The claims on “no-go zones” are similar to those a Fox News guest made last week about places where non-Muslims were not welcome in parts of the United Kingdom such as Birmingham, and “Muslim religious police” enforce faith-based laws.

Steven Emerson, an American author who often is asked about terror networks, told Fox News that in Britain “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”

Prime Minister David Cameron responded by calling Emerson a “complete idiot.”

Emerson later apologized and said his comments “were totally in error.” Fox News also issued apologies for broadcasting the comments.

Jindal, however, used similar rhetoric during a speech, warning of “no-go zones” in London and other Western cities. Jindal’s remarks come in the wake of the massacre by Islamic extremists at a Paris magazine’s offices and subsequent attack on a kosher supermarket in the city. Three gunmen killed 17 people in the attacks.

“I knew that by speaking the truth we were going to make people upset,” Jindal told CNN during an interview from London.

“The huge issue, the big issue in non-assimilation is the fact that you have people that want to come to our country but not adopt our values, not adopt our language and in some cases want to set apart their own enclaves and hold onto their own values,” said Jindal. “I think that’s dangerous.”

Jindal’s parents immigrated to the United States from India. As a young man, Jindal converted from Hinduism to Catholicism.
TO HIS CREDIT, the governor did not tell his British audience that he was "a recovering wog."
"My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans. If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India," Jindal, who is seen as a potential Republican Presidential candidate, is slated to tell the Henry Jackson Society in London on Monday, according to an advance transcript of his speech released by his office.

"It's not that they are embarrassed to be from India, they love India. But they came to America because they were looking for greater opportunity and freedom," Jindal maintains, adding that he does not believe in "hyphenated Americans."

"They like to refer to Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and all the rest. To be clear - I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage. But, I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within," Jindal argues. 
THAT IS a fair point. But exactly what is "establish a separate culture within"? And exactly how credibly can the governor of Louisiana say such a thing?

For example, you have the United States of America. And then you have Louisiana. Technically, the state is part of the United States. Practically, not so much.

In Louisiana, you have an entire tourism infrastructure predicated upon how not typically American the state is. And if Louisiana ever were to be assimilated to the Borg level Jindal seems to advocate for immigrants to Western nations, it would cease to be anything one might recognize as Louisiana -- both for good and for bad.

If tomorrow, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government woke up and decided to make Bobby Jindal and his constituents eat a big heapin' helpin' of what the governor feels free to preach to Europeans, I doubt that would go down well. In fact, it might go down something like this:

You want assimilation, Louisiana Governor Boy? We'll give you some damn assimilation.

First off, the United States Army arrives tomorrow to resume Radical Reconstruction, thanks to Louisiana's woeful non-assimilation on matters of race, poverty, education and official corruption. Your whole high-functioning Third World vibe continues to give the United States of America an international black eye. Furthermore, your election -- twice -- proves that the Louisiana electorate is in need of some radical re-education and, frankly, an attitude adjustment.

Also, because David Duke.

About that civil-law, Napoleonic Code thing that screws up your legal dealings with the rest of the country and makes it quite difficult for attorneys educated elsewhere to practice in Louisiana . . . we'll be sending a Justice Department legal task force within the month to rewrite your statutes and begin the rewrite of your constitution. Two words for you, Governor: Unassimilated and un-American.

And you now have counties, not "parishes" . . . and all your remaining "police juries" will be known as either "county boards" or "county commissions," effective immediately.

Now, while we're at it, about your state flag and state seal. . . . 

WE DETECT medieval Catholic symbolism for the Eucharist there. They'll have to go. Separation of church and state, don't you know?

What, Governor? You are displeased by our heavy-handed, totalitarian cultural imperialism? Just the kind of thing we have come to expect from unassimilated, un-American separatists like yourself. If you people do not wish to live as Americans, we certainly won't make you stay, Governor. Comprenez-vous?

Listen, Gov. Jindal -- May we call you Piyush? -- you quite publicly have made your and your state's bed. Now lie in it.

We are America. You will be assimilated.

Love and kisses,

The United States of America

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

If everybody's crooked, is wrong all right?

Garland Robinette, in most every way, has been the face -- or, more precisely, the voice -- of post-Katrina New Orleans.

And for being too representative in one important way, the WWL radio host -- who before that was a TV-news fixture in the Crescent City from the time I was in elementary school to well past when I married and moved away from Louisiana -- ought to be fired.

No matter who you are or how good you are at what you do, sometimes you do something for which there's no excuse -- or at least no good excuse. And for Robinette, who's been around the block more than once as a journalist, covering Louisiana scoundrels grand and petty, there's just no excuse for not knowing a massive conflict of interest when it presented itself.

Indeed, there's just no way a longtime radio and TV reporter and anchor could not have known what he was doing was, shall we say, both ethically challenged and fatally toxic to both his and his employer's credibility. There's just no way.

WHAT did he do? Here's what the Times-Picayune says he did:
WWL talk radio host Garland Robinette received $250,000 from the owner of the River Birch Landfill in October 2007, after Robinette routinely used his show to criticize the reopening of the rival Old Gentilly Landfill to dispose of Hurricane Katrina debris, his attorney confirmed. Federal authorities investigating River Birch flagged the monetary transfer and interviewed Robinette several times late last year, said Robinette's attorney Dane Ciolino, who said the money was a loan.

"They asked him a lot of questions, and he has cooperated fully," Ciolino said Friday. "He has been told that he is not a subject or target of the investigation."

Embattled River Birch owner Fred Heebe loaned Robinette the money through a company Heebe owns, Ciolino said.

"Fred Heebe is a personal friend of Garland's" he said, "and it was a personal loan."

Ciolino said the loan was to be repaid once Robinette and his wife sold a vacant lot they own in St. Tammany Parish. He said he believed Robinette, an avid painter, used the money to build an art studio.

Ciolino said he did not know whether Robinette has repaid the loan or whether he has been paying interest.

The disclosure involving one of New Orleans' most prominent media figures is the latest development in the 20-month investigation of River Birch, which allegedly paid $460,000 in bribes to a former state official to lobby for closing Old Gentilly.

The loan was made during the post-Katrina landfill wars as Heebe and his associates sought to shutter the Old Gentilly Landfill and the new Chef Menteur Landfill to increase River Birch's share of more than $175 million in disposal fees for at least 38 million cubic yards of hurricane debris.

From mid-2006 through mid-2007, Robinette frequently raised environmental concerns about disposing of debris at Old Gentilly and the new Chef Menteur Landfill in eastern New Orleans on his "Think Tank" talk show.

THIS WEEK, Robinette took to the WWL airwaves to defend himself:

"I can look my wife and my daughter in the eye and tell you the public I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Robinette said.

Entercom Corp., WWL's Pennsylvania-based owner, backed Robinette, saying

company officials "do not expect this matter to affect Garland's status with WWL."

From 2006 until at least May 2007, Robinette frequently raised environmental concerns on his show about disposing of hurricane debris at Old Gentilly, a former city dump in eastern New Orleans that reopened two months after Katrina.

The payment to Robinette, first reported Saturday in The Times-Picayune, came as Heebe and his associates were trying to shut down the Old Gentilly Landfill and the Chef Menteur Landfill -- both of which were opened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to deal with the huge volume of trash.

Robinette said his coverage of the landfill issue was not influenced by the money from Heebe.

"My opinions are not and have not ever been for sale. I would never dishonor your trust nor my family's," he said.

HE CAN LOOK his wife and daughter in the eye and tell us he's "done nothing wrong"? No joke?

If Robinette believes that --
really believes that in his heart and mind -- he obviously operates within the context of a depraved worldview, likely formed by the corrosive forces of an depraved civic culture, one with a completely deviant view of such concepts as "right," "wrong" and "normal." (This also applies to Robinette's corporate boss, Entercom, which is blind -- as American corporations are wont to be -- to everything but the bottom line.)

Dat's Loosiana for you!

That's a place where "on the make" and "on the take" are such a part of "normal" civic life as to be unexceptional -- and unprosecuted if not for the U.S. Justice Department. There you have a society where businessmen are giving, officials are taking and -- now -- at least one prominent figure in the mass media is "borrowing."

While talking up his friend and creditor's shady interests by running down the "competition."

THIS is what passes for "absolutely nothing wrong" in the mind of a man who emerged as one of New Orleans' preeminent post-Katrina crusaders for what he'd have us believe was "truth, justice and the American Way." Now he's a man making himself into a different, yet much more familiar, face of "the Big Easy" -- the ethically pockmarked face of an American banana republic.

Answer me this: In the Gret Stet, what institution can the public really trust?

That Garland Robinette now has added to the long, deafening silence that accompanies that question is reason enough to "kill his mic" . . . and his long broadcasting career with it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

El socialismo, sí! Darwinismo social, no!

I remember standing in line at the local Sears service center years ago, out in the industrial hell of southwest Omaha, waiting to get a certain part for our lawnmower or something.

The line was long, the service slow. Competence seemed negligible. The vibe was not one of "How do we improve the customer experience today?"

Finally, one guy closer to the front of the line had had enough. I know I had had enough, and this guy had been standing in line longer than me.

"This is worse than Russia!" he erupted. I mean, he screamed that. And then he stormed out the door, part not in hand.

Mind you, this was when the Cold War still raged. When "Russia" meant the Soviet Union. Land of communism . . . and craptastic workmanship.

IN THE NEWS today, we learn that American babies are more likely to die than those in 40 other countries -- most all of which Republicans deride for their allegedly inferior pinko "socialized medicine."

But their babies are alive. Too many of our fine, capitalistic progeny aren't.

From My Health News Daily:
Babies in the United States have a higher risk of dying during their first month of life than do babies born in 40 other countries, according to a new report.

Some of the countries that outrank the United States in terms of newborn death risk are South Korea, Cuba, Malaysia, Lithuania, Poland and Israel, according to the study.

Researchers at the World Health Organization estimated the number of newborn deaths and newborn mortality rates of more than 200 countries over the last 20 years.

The results show that, while newborn mortality rates have decreased globally over that period, progress to lower these rates has been slow, the researchers said.

In 2009, an estimated 3.3 million babies died during their first four weeks of life, compared with 4.6 million in 1990, the report found. About 41 percent of all deaths of children under 5 occur in the first month (the neonatal period). Progress to reduce newborn deaths has been particularly slow in countries in Africa, the researchers said.

A BANANA REPUBLIC, if you ask me, is one where "family values" politicians yell and scream about the genocide of abortion -- which it is -- but are perfectly content to let babies croak once they exit the womb unmolested. Particularly poor babies, who most depend on the ebbing Medicaid kindness of federal and state lawmakers.

In other words, "This is worse than Cuba!"

I guess there are worse things in the world than socialism . . . like whatever the hell it is the United States does now.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Help! Help! They're being repressed!

I am one of those Catholics who believes in God, not cultural self-identification.

I believe that God exercises a "preferential option for the poor." I believe that's in the Bible -- somewhere toward the back.

I believe that how we govern ourselves, and how our governing structures implement a basic vision of social justice, is a direct reflection on a democracy's citizenry, which grants consent to its agents.

I believe that God does not sleep, that nations come under judgment and that we are in big, big trouble.

I ALSO BELIEVE that Louisiana -- my home state -- is working hard to sink from mere banana republicanism to fascistic banana republicanism, and that this stinking turd some self-righteous collegiate twerp left on the opinion pages of LSU's student newspaper is Exhibit A. From the soiled July 28 edition of my old stomping grounds, The Daily Reveille:
Obama and the Democrats love to paint a picture of the "poor" as innocent people "just trying to stretch every dollar as far as it will go."

I wonder how many Democrats have ever been to a Third World country to see what poor really means. For two weeks I stayed with a family in Costa Rica who had no air conditioning, no hot water, no washer or dryer, and the roof of the house was raised above the walls so that air could circulate in and out. And yet they washed all my clothes, gave me meals every day and never complained about it.

There are definitely some Americans who are truly needy, but it would be ridiculous to think the 47 percent of Americans not paying federal income tax are eating food out of dumpsters.

It's sickening to hear Obama and the Democrats portray the poor as blameless people in dire need of government help when our poor live lives of luxury in comparison to the poor of other countries.

It isn't the rich who are paying less than their fair share in taxes. To the contrary, they're paying much more than everyone else. It's America's poor who get free health care and new SUVs who aren't sharing the sacrifice.

And if we don't start taxing the rich, Obama wants to withhold Social Security checks. How about the government withholds welfare checks from the "poor" instead of Social Security to those who have actually paid their fair share?

It's about time the so-called poor Americans share the sacrifice and pay their fair share of taxes.

BACK IN MY DAY, the "f*** the poor" crowd complained about "welfare Cadillacs" and ghetto dwellers buying bottles of Mad Dog and Colt 45 tall boys with food stamps. Now, apparently, it's "free health care" and "new SUVs" that are the problem.

My assumption, though, is that the faces behind the stereotype are still brown ones.

What I don't understand is why the smug Reveille columnist, Austin Casey, didn't aim lower for whom he considers real poor people. Why not starving Somalians instead of Costa Rican peasants?

That could have made him feel even better -- or worse, depending -- about how rich America's poor are in the grand scheme of things. After all, it doesn't look quite so bad that the richest 1 percent of Americans controls 40 percent of its wealth and takes home a fourth of its annual income if we get to put quotation marks around our poor.

Sorry, make that "poor."

OF COURSE, the whole construct of inequality in the United States is unique to "socialists" like . . . well, me. I actually give a rat's ass about stuff like this. Austin Casey and the rest of Tea Party America don't.

When Austin Casey encountered the poor of Costa Rica, they sheltered him, fed him and wished him well. When Austin Casey encounters the poor -- sorry, "poor" -- of America, he pouts, stamps his feet and screams "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

Tea Party America is not the land of e pluribus unum -- out of many, one. Instead, it is the land of ad te sorbet -- it sucks to be you.

Jesus has an opinion on that. It's in the Bible -- somewhere toward the back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A banana republic . . . if you can afford it

We're high for a poor country, in terms of inequality, and we're a rich country. We're about the same level of inequality as China. And, of course, China, half the population are rural peasants who are not part of the modern world.

And if we were to compare us with African countries, dictators in different places, you know, taking a lot of the wealth from normal people, we would be among the top half of the African countries of inequality. So, the U.S. really has reached an extraordinary level of income inequality.

-- Richard Freeman,
Harvard economist

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Snooki, now Crooki

I'm not exactly sure how you can beat the 1991 Edwards-Duke debate in the universe of whack-job, bizarro "reality TV."

Apparently, though, somebody is willing to try to top the "reality" s***storm that was the gubernatorial runoff between Edwin Edwards
(the crook) and David Duke (the Nazi).

In Baton Rouge,
The Advocate isn't prone to considering that. I just did.
First a fiancée and now a reality show?

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards is unfolding the chapters of his post-prison life on a Facebook page that features a photograph of him snuggling with his fiancée, Trina Grimes Scott.

The latest installment is a possible reality show on his personal life, including his engagement to Scott, who is in her 30s. Scott would be Edwards’ third wife.

Edwards recently posted on Facebook that he and Scott are in talks for a reality show.

“We have received a lot of questions but have no answers at this time. Thanks for all the interest and we will try to keep you posted!” Edwards wrote in an update Monday.

Edwards, who was released from federal prison in January, lists his residence as Gonzales.

He said he and Scott are working with producer Shaun Sanghani of SSS Entertainment.

Like Scott, Sanghani has ties to Alexandria.

One of his latest works is “Girls, Guns and Gators,” which follows a 25-year-old girl’s management of her family sporting goods store in Bastrop. The show is scheduled to air on the Travel Channel.
WELL, I GUESS it theoretically could get weirder. The Silver Zipper could get his own reality show, then commence stepping out on his grandchild-aged fiancée -- on camera -- with Snooki.

But then people would lose all respect for the man. Even Louisiana has its limits.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If wishes were birdies. . . .

Everything's a metaphor. Especially in Detroit.

On the other hand, I think the United States' transition to a banana republic is going pretty smoothly, don't you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Really, Piyush? Really?

If ever you make your way down to the Gret Stet uh Loosiana, you got to go see its biggest attraction -- Piyush Jindal, the Self-Hatin' Furriner.

That Piyush Jindal is gubna uh da Gret Stet only makes him more of a must-see. Listen, Hoss, the boy hates himself and his un-Americanness so bad that he refuses to call himself by his Christian
(Hindu?) name, Piyush.

Back in the day, when the future governor was just another brown-skinned, funny-looking lad with a weird name -- and stuck in the middle of Baton Rouge, by God, Louisiana, where the rednecks run headlong into the Cajuns -- he did the only thing a geeky little kid embarrassed by his un-Americanness could do.

He named himself after Bobby Brady. As in
The Brady Bunch.

On television.

Actually, it probably wasn't a bad call. For my bottom AMERICAN greenback dollar, Piyush is even weirder than Barack.

THAT WORKED OUT pretty well for ol' Piyush Jindal as the years rolled by. He went to an Ivy League college, became a wunderkind, got into state gummint. And then federal gummint. And then into electoral politics.

He went around touting what an all-American success story he was. Talked a lot about his conversion to Christianity -- which doesn't feature monkey gods or anything too un-American . . . except for that Pope in Rome feller. Well, at least he's white. And homo sapiens.
(Sapiens, dammit . . . S-A-P-I-E-N-S. Not the fruity kind of "homo.")

And like I say, it all worked out pretty well. That is, until 2003, when he up and ran for gubna and needed to pick up every Caucasian vote he could muster in the deepest backwater of the Deep South.

I'LL LET this article in the conservative American Spectator (dated Nov. 18, 2003) pick up the story from there:
But there's a less savory reason that Blanco made inroads in northern Louisiana. This is where former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke got the votes in 1991 that propelled him into the run-off election against the corrupt former governor Edwin Edwards. (The latter is now serving time in jail for taking bribes; this was the race that gave us the classic bumper sticker, "Vote for the Crook. It's Important.")

"If there was a racist backlash against Jindal anywhere, it would be in north Louisiana, in Duke country," Louisiana political analyst John Maginnis told Rod Dreher of National Review Online after the race. To some extent, Blanco laid the groundwork for a such a backlash herself. She dusted off her maiden name and campaigned as Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. Voters encountered the full name on the ballot, where her opponent was listed as "Bobby" Jindal, complete with quotation marks (Jindal's given name is Piyush). Appealing to tribal instincts in the only state where Frenchness is still considered a virtue, Blanco's packaging of herself was designed to make it clear who had the deeper roots in Cajun country.

Such tapping of identity politics for ethnic whites is nothing particularly unusual or scandalous. The shamrock incorporated into Irish-American candidates' names is a staple of local politics across much of the Midwest and Northeast. It would be unfair to suggest that Blanco ran a racist campaign. At the same time, isn't it worth noting that the usual suspects, to whom unfairness rarely gives pause, haven't so much as raised an eyebrow?

It might be useful to file this case away as a yardstick for the future. There was a small amount of coverage of northern Louisiana's racial politics during the race -- Adam Nossiter's AP dispatch from last Friday, a set of quotes culled to make the town of Amite, Louisiana, sound as awful as possible (sample: "Really, you got a foreigner and a woman. So it's a hard choice to make"), was typical -- but the "Babineaux Blanco" appeal to "Duke country" has gone mostly unnoticed. The next time Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or Kweisi Mfume or any similar rabble-rouser announces a whiff of racism (or "racial insensitivity"), measure the grievance cited against this non-event. The comparison might be illuminating.
I RECKON about now you may be thinking "Well, that's interesting enough, but so what?"

Here's what. And in this case "what" comes in this article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Gov. Bobby Jindal would sign a bill requiring presidential candidates to provide a copy of their birth certificate to qualify for the Louisiana ballot if it reaches his desk, a spokesman said Monday.

"It's not part of our package, but if the Legislature passes it we'll sign it," press secretary Kyle Plotkin said.

House Bill 561 was filed last week by two Republican lawmakers. President Barack Obama's citizenship has been challenged by some groups, derisively called "birthers," despite numerous independent investigations finding that documents and contemporary news reports show that Obama was born in Hawaii.

The bill by state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, and Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, would require federal candidates who want to appear on Louisiana ballots to file an affidavit attesting to their citizenship, which would have to be accompanied by an "original or certified copy" of their birth certificate.

The requirement also would apply to candidates for U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives.

A similar bill was recently passed by the Arizona legislature.

THUS you have the only-in-Louisiana spectacle of Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, the self-hatin' foreign-ish fellow who fought against prejudice and overcame his Otherness to, in 2007, be elected the Gret Stet's first non-white governor since Reconstruction . . . only to throw his support to a "birther" bill that's aimed squarely at people just like him.

Now let me say that I believe Piyush Jindal was born in this country. I have no doubt about that -- despite all the talk about monkey gods and burnin' girl babies because they ain't as good as boy babies. I believe the man is just as American as the next funny lookin' dude with an oddball name who gets elected to high office.

Which means that I believe -- believe with all my heart -- that Piyush "Bobby" Jindal is an all-American tool. A self-hating tool . . . but an all-American self-hating tool nonetheless.

And, no, you can't make this s*** up.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Culture shock, demonstrated

I guess word takes a while to reach Massachusetts.

This sometimes results in good-government consultants not having heard, and then in people being shocked. Which, given the reputation of New Orleans and Louisiana, is itself just a little bit shocking.

Anyway, this "turnaround consultant" came to the Crescent City to advise Mayor Mitch Landrieu on how to slide the city an inch or two toward the good side of the "government generally works, people generally care" continuum, and he didn't quite run screaming into the humid night . . . but it was pretty close there for a while.

Really, the guy hadn't seen anything like it. And it's not like he just fell off the proverbial turnip truck or something equally clichéd.

AFTER EVERYTHING had been studied, his recommendations drawn up and his report tendered to Landrieu -- and after he presumably had cried into a few stiff hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's -- David Osborne talked to the Times-Picayune:

Osborne, who has advised dozens of cities on streamlining efforts, said Thursday that New Orleans faces myriad, deep-seated problems, the likes of which he has never encountered.

"I was kind of shocked," said Osborne, who served as a senior adviser to then-Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review initiative. "I think they inherited the least competent city government I'd ever seen in this country and the most corrupt -- a really tough experience. I just haven't run into this level of dysfunction before, and I've been doing this work for almost 25 years."


Other observations about city operations included poor customer service, a focus on relationships rather than results, centralized authority that gives little power to rank-and-file employees, contracting and internal workforce systems that lack rewards and penalties, unnecessarily complex purchasing procedures, a fragmentation of city services among independent boards, and poor working conditions and equipment.

"These people, they feel hopeless," Osborne said of morale among city employees. "It's drinking from a fire hydrant. There's so much work coming at them, and they can't keep up with it, and a lot of it is paper rather than automated. And then there's skill issues: secretaries that can't type. I mean, stuff that you just don't see other places."

NO, you don't.

I have written about this. A lot.

Maybe it could have been fixed if the victorious Union hadn't bailed on Reconstruction after only a decade and a half or so. Nation building, after all, always is a long and messy process, and the Yankees didn't occupy the Gret Stet long enough to even make a dent in the cultural underpinnings of a whole heapin helpin' of dysfunction and non-American thinking.

So there you go. As we in the expatriate community like to say about Louisiana (and this goes double for New Orleans), it's a great place to be from.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Only we can do that to our pledges

Oh, boo f-ing hoo.

House speaker-to-be John Boehner says the president disrespected him by saying he took the taxpayers hostage so the rich could get their tax-cut due.

Did I mention "Oh, boo f-ing hoo"?

On one part of the Politico website, Boehner is whining about how mean Obama and the Democrats are to himself and the poor, poor Republicans:
In an interview with Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes” for broadcast Sunday night on CBS, Boehner said Obama showed him “disrespect” by calling him a hostage-taker.

“Excuse me, Mr. President I thought the election was over,” Boehner said, according to a transcript obtained by POLITICO. “You know, you get a lot of that heated rhetoric during an election. But now it's time to govern.”
MY HEART BLEEDS for the House minority leader. Frankly, I think Obama let him off too easy.

Look it, the guy ought to thank his lucky stars that the president didn't treat him like Republicans treat their own. One click away -- on another part of the
Politico site -- there was this little item from Minnesota, you see:
In a dramatic display of the new Republican order, Minnesota’s state GOP banished 18 prominent party members — including two former governors and a retired U.S. senator — as punishment for supporting a third-party candidate for governor.

The stunning purge, narrowly passed by the state Republican central committee last weekend, suggests more than just a fit of pique: by banning some of the state’s leading moderates, the Minnesota GOP moved toward extinguishing a dying species of Republican in one of its last habitats.

Those exiled warned that the measure, which bans the 18 former members from participating in party activities for two years and bars them from attending the 2012 Republican National Convention, may provoke a backlash that undercuts the party’s competitiveness in a state that’s voted for the GOP presidential nominee just once in the past half century.

“The Republican party is trying to become ... you would call it introverted totalitarianism,” said former congressman and Gov. Al Quie, a onetime vice presidential prospect who plans to stick with the party despite the penalty. “It’s just plain dumb on their part. ... In the long run, if the party persists with this, [it's] going to just become smaller and smaller and eventually something else would come in its place.”

Among those rebuked along with Quie were former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger, former Gov. Arne Carlson and former state House Speaker David Jennings.
WELCOME to politics in the world's first nuclear banana republic.

We have Republicans in the provinces fighting an ideological war -- the "country clubbers" vs. the "totalitarians." Meanwhile, in the capital, we have the leader of the insurgency complaining that El Presidente said mean things while giving him what he wanted, instead of exiling him to Elba . . . or Saint Helena.

Take your pick.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There's no 'I' in 'team.' There are some in 'idiots.'

I was all ready to start out this appeal for civic common sense with a high-falutin' reference to John Donne and "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee," yadda yadda yadda.

Then it occurred to me,
"This is Nebraska, stupid. John Donne? Really?" I mean, John Deere, maybe. But John Donne. . . ?

But I get ahead of myself.

The deal here is that Omahans' taxes are going up. Why? The city, like most cities these days, is tapped out.
Broke. In the red. It's called a budget deficit.

To balance the books, being that the city already has cut the budget to the bone the past two fiscal years, Mayor Jim Suttle proposed tax increases -- a property tax hike . . . a dining tax . . . a higher wheel tax, including one on those who work in Omaha but don't live here.

The city council made some additional budget cuts but passed the tax increases Suttle asked for, more or less.

And in this age of the tea party, it goes without saying people are furious.

The council should have cut the budget more! Government is too big! Balance the budget!

How? Who the hell knows, just do it. Cut off the freeloaders! Just not me and mine.

PEOPLE ARE so mad, there's lots of talk now about recalling Jim Suttle, as reported by KETV, Channel 7:
A group said Wednesday it will hold a news conference to announce the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of recalling Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.

Under the title Recall Mayor Suttle, the group will announce its intentions Thursday morning at Anthony's Restaurant in Omaha.

The announcement comes one day after the Omaha City Council approved a budget plan that includes a new, 2.5 percent restaurant tax, a property tax increase of at least 2.3 cents, a wheel tax increase, and a wheel tax expansion, requiring those who live outside the city, but who work in Omaha to pay.

The Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association will attend the meeting. MOPOA said a poll it commissioned weeks ago showed dissatisfaction with the mayor's handling of the budget.

But political experts said such an effort likely wouldn't be driven by the masses.

"My sense is that it's more that maybe Suttle hasn't been responsive enough to some of the local business interests, and they want to make it clear that they really are calling the shots," said University of Nebraska-Omaha political science professor Dr. Loree Bykerk.
IT GETS BETTER. Says Joe Jordan over at Nebraska Watchdog, one of the people behind the latest recall effort aimed at Suttle is Jim Cleary -- the guy who spearheaded the last successful recall of an Omaha mayor, back in 1987:
Nebraska Watchdog has learned that at least part of Jim Cleary’s decision to work for the recall of Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle was made by the numbers, polling numbers.

On Monday Nebraska Watchdog reported exclusively that Cleary, who was one of the key players in the successful 1987 recall of former Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle, is now working behind the scenes with a group of Omahans who are in the early stages of formulating a strategy to recall Suttle.

Nebraska Watchdog is told that an early August poll was a key factor in persuading Cleary to get involved. According to the poll of 400 likely Omaha voters, 70% said the city was on the wrong track and 67% disapproved of the way Suttle, who was elected in May of 2009, is handling his job.

Those polled also strongly disagreed with Suttle’s 2011 budget plan which initially included a 9 percent property tax increase and a 4 percent restaurant tax. On Tuesday the City Council lowered the property tax increase to about 5 percent, trimmed the restaurant tax to 2.5 percent, and found an additional $13.5 million in budget cuts. In a statement issued following the Council’s decision the Mayor would not say if he intends to pull out his veto pen. ”I will review (the Council’s) changes to the recommended budget and will respond within an appropriate timeframe, “said Suttle.

According to several sources the recall group is expected to announce Thursday that it is forming an exploratory committee which will begin laying the groundwork for its anti-Suttle campaign.

That committee will examine the pros and cons of a recall effort, prior to launching an official petition drive. In order to recall Suttle, the Mayor’s opponents would first have to acquire the signatures of 26,642 registered voters in the City of Omaha. Those signatures must be gathered within 30 days. Sources close to the recall tell Nebraska Watchdog that a petition drive might be timed to coincide with Election Day November 2nd. That would allow those gathering the signatures to set up operations near polling places in Omaha where registered voters are casting their ballots.

Nebraska Watchdog contacted Cleary to ask him about several of these items but Cleary refused to comment.
WELL, I GUESS it was too much to ask that the national snit fit and every-man-is-an-island nervous breakdown (see, I worked in the Donne thing after all) would somehow bypass the place where I live. Insanity is afoot, and it's catching.

Nevertheless, the moment "calls for a stupid and futile gesture on somebody's part," and I guess I'm just the guy to do it.
Here goes.

There is a fine line between a progressive, livable city and a dungheap that proves itself totally resistant to economic growth and successful self-governance. Indeed, civilization itself is a thin veneer over the barbarian rabble we once were . . . and could be again.

Over a couple of centuries, Americans have developed municipal services like police, fire departments, parks, libraries and social-welfare programs because we figured we needed them. Because we thought they made the places where we lived more orderly, more livable.

These things evolved all across America because we decided, for the overall good, that everyone should have a right to certain services, certain "safety nets" -- that by investing in our communities, we were investing in our, and our children's, future.

This is not the case everywhere in the world.

In some locales, those who have, keep it. All of it. And those who have not . . . have nothing. They're just flat out of luck.

Some such places we call the Third World. Other such places we call "banana republics."

They all got there when enough people -- at least enough people with means -- decided that "me" was a lot more important than "we." That is the thin line between "the American way of life" and the abyss.

I'M NOT getting through to you at all, am I? I completely lost you at John Donne, didn't I?

Well, this is Nebraska, so let me put it to you this way:

What do you think would happen if there was an "I" in "team"? Yes, I'm talking football.

What do you think would happen if Zac Lee and Niles Paul decided that giving Bo Pelini 100-percent effort was just excessive, and that instead, they'd give just 73 percent, but only when it would directly benefit their individual stats?

How do you think that would reflect on the Huskers' win-loss record?

Do you think Nebraska would be fielding a product worth the price of admission? You think anyone would care to take up residence, so to speak, at Memorial Stadium if the whole program went to hell in an every-man-for-himself hand basket?

What if bunches of first- and second-team players adopted the same attitude? Decided they were in football just for themselves? Rejected Pelini's expectations that they'd all do their bit in the name of the common good?

And what if Pelini came under suspicion for demanding players all do their part for the team?

WHAT IF Jim Cleary were Nebraska's athletic director and decided that Pelini was just a "tax-and-spend" football coach and recalled him? Well, you'd probably end up with a replay of the Bill Callahan era, that's what.

Which, of course, would be a lot like what happened to Omaha after Cleary engineered the recall of Mike Boyle -- several years of civic stagnation, instability and a revolving-door cast of mayors.
And there's more!

With your electoral snit-fit, we'll include years of political mayhem and strife for free . . .
all because we know you wouldn't pay for it anyway!

So, go ahead. Take care of No. 1. Recall that big-tax mayor who's so incompetent he can't do the fiscally impossible, and so arrogant he opted for the socially responsible instead.

Go ahead. Pitch a fit; sign a petition. I can't think of a better prescription for what ails us.