Nine…

katrinawaterlineplaque01I wasn’t living in New Orleans when the levees failed, I was one year in on my first time in San Francisco, watching it all unfold on television just like most people not in New Orleans…the anger is still clear, as is the disbelief.

Respect and remembering those who lost and those who struggled…still struggle. And a recognition of those who still have been unable to get home. I know someone out here in SF constantly torn between going back to a place that triggers so much trauma versus staying in a place that has never been home, no matter how much he tries to make it one…

Best to him, best to all, and may those still seeking resolution nine years later, find it.

Have a nice day.

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Reflecting on a show: Ani Difranco…

The Fillmore gives free posters when the shows sell out...
Now featuring free posters!

I saw Ani DiFranco two nights ago at the Fillmore in San Francisco…great show, some songs I’d never heard performed before like “School Night” or “Overlap,” and she was in fine form, striking the guitar so hard during “Napoleon” or “Shameless,” you’d think it might break, and performing new songs that thanks to Youtube, I knew by name already, “Careless Words,” “Genie,” and more…and none of this was a surprise. Great shows from Ani Difranco are what I’ve come to expect in seeing her frequently over the past fifteen years.

What did surprise was the crowd…a good crowd, really good crowd and in this days version of San Francisco, these things are not a given. At the show, surveying the people who surrounded I saw a disappearance of the tech-entitled PBR types drunkenly sporting Google Glass or tech company logo’d hoodies. Not this time, the usual omnipresent forerunners of their own declared future instead gave way to what my friend described as a more “earthy” representation of the city…dreadlocks and patchouli oil, couples: straight, gay and lesbian couples (not singles) in jeans with a surprising lack of ornamental facial hair from the men or provocative spandex dresses from the women. It was like being in the city I loved again, and for a night the people seemed more real, genuine, less entranced with status and being seen, and serving more as a communal backdrop to the music Ani Difranco played…

It was nice, special, thoughtful.

And as mentioned above, it was a reminder of what this city used to be, and sadly, will probably never be again.

And it made me think of what this city was like when I moved here the first time, and who I was back then, or who I was the first time I saw Ani DiFranco perform and all the changes I have seen in myself over the years and the changes in the country, by way of all those performances in many other cities since…

Back in 99 or so in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the first, on a freezing cold night and I was not prepared for what I was about to see, who I was going to see it with or the emotions the show might elicit. This was back in time when most everything I listened to was punk rock and death metal. An acquaintance had turned me onto an album called “Little Plastic Castles” and I used to listen to it alone, quietly and I never really talked about it, lest I be referred to as “soft” or “selling out.” This was a time in my maturation process where such things still mattered, and even though I do shake my head today at the thought this ever mattered, it did once. I even bought the ticket in silence and didn’t tell anyone I was going to the show. I just went quietly and over the course of Ani’s performance was amazed how, just by being there, I was suddenly a part of something so joyful, so genuinely political and real. I was surrounded by more women than I think I’ve ever been surrounded by in my life and most of them were wearing handkerchiefs around their head (standard at the time) and smiling, dancing. They were celebrating. At this time I usually only saw bands called Slayer, Marilyn Manson, KMFDM, etc…and the idea of celebrating music with anything but aggression was foreign to me, and it became surprisingly emotional to me and so very different. I remember when Ani sang the song “Napoleon” and the lights splayed across the crowd and all the movement, the moving heads and dancing and shouting and joy…without anyone clobbering anyone else or slamming into each other in waves of bloody noses and flying elbows and I remember feeling genuinely, very happy. Happy in a good way, a positive way, a way that I wasn’t used to, not then and this helped open my eyes to the possibility of maybe doing things differently…

Six months later, I left the Midwest and moved to Seattle.

And I saw her there too, at the Moore Theater on a usual, drizzly night. I went to the show not only to hear the music, but because I was homesick, nervous, scared about my decisions and intensely lonely. I loved the city of Seattle, but I didn’t know anyone, not closely except a woman I was dating at the time, selfishly because I was afraid of being so alone…and at the show that night, though I don’t really remember too many of the songs (I was drunk. I was drunk a lot of nights that first year in Seattle) I do remember that familiar feeling of inclusion, of being a part of something…a feeling that to this day is something I don’t get to feel too often, and when  this is a stranger to you, when this inclusion approaches, you treat it well, savor and enjoy it because you don’t really know the next time such experience will knock on your door…and I saw her twice more in Seattle and felt the same each time, a special security held in the joy of a resonating performance that though difficult to explain is very real, welcoming and welcomed.

The next concert was in another new city, another new home…in New Orleans. I saw her play at the House of Blues, just her onstage with a guitar. I had always seen her with a band, never alone like this and conversely, this is the first show of hers I went to see with other people. I went that night with a woman I was dating and another couple she was friends with…supposedly I was friends with them too, in name anyways though it never really felt that way. He was an asshole who ran around with a handgun worried the mob was coming after him and she was a willing victim, caught between her concerns about his drinking, his erratic behavior and her desire to get out of the relationship (she eventually did). So even though I was with others that night, oftentimes through the show I pretended I wasn’t, listening to this woman onstage with such strength, and a voice alternating powerfully between soft and huge, concerned and angry, in love and in politics and I was reminded of the night in Milwaukee and those nights in Seattle, who I was then and who I was in New Orleans. Concerns on being soft were long gone, concerns about being lonely were fading into my own growing sense of strength. Being independent in mind and life was a growing focus. I was in full swing on my second cross country move and had spent a month in New York, weeks in Las Vegas, a crazy weekend in Los Angeles and I loved living in, being a part of New Orleans. I was bar-tending there, which was okay but I really wanted to do social work. Just couldn’t find a job. The city that care forgot had yet to see Katrina, but it was still plenty uncaring, tight communities notwithstanding; it was the government that didn’t give a fuck.

I was living there when Nagin was first elected mayor: need one say more?

Two years later I was in San Francisco for the first time…and I saw Ani play at the Warfield Theater on Market Street. I was in a strange long distance relationship that I enjoyed, but couldn’t quite figure out. I was falling hard and it was probably more honest than any relationship before because I didn’t care at all about being alone anymore. I didn’t care about being accepted or included…and the softer parts of my personality were welcomed; they blunted the sharper edges of my cynicism and ever increasing anger at this county and the priorities contained therein: Iraq wars, political lies as fact, the forgotten homeless, alienation of the mentally ill and corporation city shopping for the best tax-breaking deal, workers be fucked. I was fully in the trenches of the Tenderloin by this point, working at homeless shelters and wandering my neighborhood of drugs and containment and prostitution and police reprisal, watching it all…all night long. It was around this time that I watched Katrina unfold on the television and at the show that night, those disastrous affects were still paramount in my mind. I felt a loss, one that still affects me at times today…the people lost during the storm, the loss of housing and resources during that storm and as I watched and listened to the show that night I thought about all of it…even as Ani herself reminded us all of the ongoing struggles in Louisiana.

And two nights ago I saw her play again, and I thought some more, about Milwaukee, Seattle, New Orleans and San Francisco…about how much I’ve changed over all these years and about how much our society and these cities have changed. The increasing inequality, the gentrification driving out longtime residents, the political games being played in some far away world while people are being strangled in their homes or on the streets by a lack of opportunity, lack of food, lack of health care and a corporation sought, and government enabled willful transition of money, up to the highest rungs of a ladder whose lower rungs were seemingly smashed for good by the financial collapse of 2008. A growing segment of America’s population gets willfully discarded or ignored, left to dwindling resources they are blamed for needing, shamed for falling victim to a system that has destroyed them through destruction of pensions, false foreclosures, cutbacks on energy and food assistance, skyrocketing rents and layoffs.

I feel fortunate to have the times for these reflections; they remind me to try to do more, to be more than I am on given days and I feel fortunate to see a performer and a performance that helps provide a medium and an open, musical space for these reflections. A life’s soundtrack is an overly used expression, but probably overused because of the truth behind it and there are several performers I would include on that list…the aforementioned Slayer, the Nine Inch Nails, the Dax Riggs and Dr. Johns…and Ani Difranco. So much corruption and decay in this world and she plays, singing about it all, with an energized, joyful anger…and a politics of reality that resonates with so many, myself included.

And of course, who can forget the mistakes…I’ve made so many mistakes over the years and her mistake on Nottoway helps reflect that as well and that’s fine, so long as we all learn and try to do better, be better. And move on once the apologies have been made. As stated before, it was a great show and I feel fortunate to have seen it for the performance, the stories she told from the stage and the time needed to think about who I was and who I’ve become, about the mistakes I’ve made and what I still need to learn and what I need to do.

There’s so much more to do…with joy.

And music.

And integrity.

Have a nice day.

Well, that explains a lot…

The original horse whisperer…

Much like Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter, whenever Michael Brown pops up in the news, on a radio or television station, my first response is typically “Umm, why the fuck are we supposed to care what you think about, well, anything?”

I mean, Sarah was a shit governor nominated on a lark in a losing presidential campaign, who became even more famous for being an idiot. Ann Coulter is like the kid who raises her hand in class and says “Fag” or “Retard” and then looks quickly around at the attention she receives, taking her classmates giggles as an affirmation of what she consider her amazing wit. Ann’s essential argument for ten years can be basically summed up as “Liberals suck,” same as Sarah just throws out “Maverick” for the thousandth time and then off camera, listens enraptured as her handlers compliment her for her amazing insight, again.

And then there is Michael Brown.

The man who, in tandem with Bush, proceeded to oversee one of the most inept disaster responses in human history which left untold numbers to suffer while he focused on his hairstyle and clothing choices.

So, why the hell is this guy being asked about Hurricane Sandy at all?

Michael Brown: Obama could have “gotten more mileage” by delaying disaster relief

Oh.

Yeah, that might explain it.

Perhaps we should let the man tell it himself:

“Politically, he went out too soon…He could have just made a comment while he was in Florida that says, ‘You know my FEMA director is on top of this and we’re gonna do everything we can when the states ask us to come in and help.’ Boom.” He then added further, “He would have been better served politically to let everybody else—Bloomberg, Christie, Cuomo, O’Donnell [sic] – all of them make whatever statements they were going to make. Call for their evacuations…and then he could have stepped up, very presidentially, and said, ‘And by the way, I have instructed my FEMA director to give the states whatever they need as the storm approaches.’ I think he would have gotten more mileage out of it. In other words, he peaked too soon.”

Boom.

More mileage.

Obama peaked too soon.

The long and short: Rather than Barack Obama getting things up and running in an attempt to ensure as much was in place as possible, to alleviate as much suffering as possible, he should have waited because politically it would have made him look more presidential? Not only do I not even get the logic of this argument, I’m hard pressed to explain the morality of anyone who might delay relief efforts for a better(?) political appearance.

Moral, like GW Bush, Cheney and Mr. Brown.

So okay, maybe I do get the value of letting Brown continue to speak. Every time he does, I come to a better understanding of what the hell happened during Katrina and how much of a shame it is these people still walk free while others still wonder if they will ever get home.

Asshole.

Have a nice day.

This week, it was not Jindal’s fault…

I shit you not, Chuck Norris's balls are this big! I know! I've seen them! In the helicpter when we were fighting the oil spill!

Quite the week for Mr. Jindal.

Bobby goes to CPAC.

Bobby releases his budget for Louisiana.

Bobby blames everybody but Bobby for all the criticisms levied against the decisions and policies of Bobby.

Gotta feel for the guy, though…it must be difficult to be the only reasonable man in not only Louisiana, but the United States…the only true conservative, the only one willing to fight for the Louisiana coast he didn’t really care about until he saw the possibility to earn political points by developing a sudden, long-standing love of all things nature and fighting and Obama sucks and aviator sunglasses badassery!…oh, and the only man to care so much about fiscal responsibility, he’s willing to make the hard choices that fuck the poor out of health care and he had to, because those health care providers and bureaucrats just didn’t listen to him, didn’t plan and since they didn’t, who would Jindal be to try to remedy the situation and ensure his state’s citizens are cared for? Certainly not a benevolent leader of any sort, after all, his hands are clean and leadership is only for brief moments when one gets to ride helicopters and criticize the federal government…

Ah, but I’m rambling…let’s review, shall we?

Jindal went to CPAC and told a rabid crowd how badly Obama screwed up in the oil response, how he had “wasted precious time while that oil was coming to our coast, they refused to listen to the people who lived along the coast that knew better than the experts.”

Yeah, Obama was the only idiot in the Gulf. Because Jindal certainly never signed off on an emergency plan filed by BP which included the names of dead scientists to be contacted in case of an oil spill. Jindal never pushed forth a plan to create sand berms which not only wouldn’t stop the oil, but would also wash back into the Gulf and wouldn’t you know it, happened to make a profit for the Shaw Group, one of Jindal’s campaign donors.

Mere details, details not included in his speech because obviously, none of it was Bobby’s fault, it was Obama. If Barack Obama had just given Jindal what he needed, when he needed it, the damages from the spill would have been entirely mitigated, because for years Jindal and his cronies sat around the governor’s mansion anticipating the breach of the Macondo Well. They were all over that shit. And of course Jindal didn’t contrast democrat Obama’s horrible BP response with Bushco’s republican wonder works after Katrina…if it were to be asked, he would probably call the comparison irrelevant, not even worth a comment, not to mention politically unpalatable.

Next, Jindal proposes a new budget for Louisiana that not only privatizes everything he can get his hands on (because if there’s one thing we’ve learned since 2008, it is the efficiency and success of private industry, you know, like all things financial market and banks and auto industry and Standards and Poverty) he figures in more cuts to public health and surprise! No more cuts to higher education.

When it comes to state health, Jindal is calling for the removal of $34 million dollars in funds to the LSU network of public hospitals and clinics serving the poor and uninsured. Thousands of people receiving care from LSU would have to look for care elsewhere, where there is none, and hundreds of hospital workers would be laid off. LSU of course expressed disappointment in this development while Jindal’s health care secretary blamed LSU for recklessly overspending and blaming the administration. Also, Jindal proposes to cut reimbursement rates to doctors who work with Medicaid, but relax, politicians love to say, they’re not cutting even more services, just provider rates which…shhhhh, make doctors stop offering medicaid services in order to not go bankrupt, thus depriving health choices from the poor, yet again, so the poor, fucked again, but who cares in these times of austerity? Certainly not Bobby, All he knows is it certainly isn’t his fault LSU cared more about providing services and less about the budget. These are tough times! These are times of sacrifice! Jindal is more than willing to prove his conservative bonafides by balancing his budgets on the backs of the poor so what makes LSU’s public hospital so immune, so special?

Maybe if they served more rich people, they’d be in better financial shape.

Anyways, onto higher education which Jindal will not cut in this current budget and we certainly could applaud this, especially if we choose to forget the past three years, but maybe the reason he didn’t cut funding to colleges and universities this year is he already took everything he could over the past three…all $251 million dollars worth. Perhaps he’d been informed that if he cut anything else, the colleges were going to have to steal manufacturing jobs from the prisons, requiring students to work two hours a day in the gymnasiums making gloves or running call centers, the profits from which universities could then use to offset  further cuts to their budgets.

Hey, didn’t Jindal also say he was going to sell prisons in this new budget? So maybe there will be manufacturing contracts available after all.

Sigh…

Yes, it’s Jindal’s Louisiana…where quick, reactionary answers are proffered for any question.

BP oil spill?

Obama did it, or at least he applauded it and did very little while Bobby hung from a helicopter in a bomber jacket, sporting cool shades  and a bucket bailing out the Gulf with the help of Chuck Norris!

Denying health care to the poor?

That’s got nothing to do with Bobby. That’s LSU’s fault for not working harder to craft a more stringent budget and take on their own responsibility in denying healthcare to the poor. And hey, if those doctors decide to stop offering medicaid services because politicians like Jindal keep starving them out through reimbursement rate reductions, well, that’s on those greedy fucking doctors and their love of not declaring bankruptcy.

Funding higher education?

Hey, Jindal already cut $251 million dollars over the past three years and this year, if he tries to cut more, Tulane will have to begin selling their students for scientific experiments…

Quick answers.

No blame.

Well…no blame for Bobby, everybody else will have to shoulder their share of the responsibility, especially those who are suffering already…

After all, tightening the vise on those who can least afford it is the republican way.

Read the articles:

At CPAC, Jindal revives attack on Obama administration over oil spill recovery

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, LSU spar over cuts at public hospitals and clinics

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s state budget proposal is expected to avoid cuts in higher education

Have a nice day.

The truth, gosh…it’s just “so long and so complicated…”

Nope, no sense of history, none whatsoever...

…and so inconvenient.

Anyways, so as I read on the New Orleans Ladder, Sandy Rosenthal from Levees.org goes to the Louisiana State Review Board to give her presentation regarding why the levee breaches should be placed on the National Register of Historic Places (uh…duh’) and they vote three yes’s, and six…no’s?

No’s?

How could this be?

Sure sounds like these professional academics suffered a brain breach. Throughout our lives, very few historical events resonate with such magnitude where collectively, as a nation, the vast majority can point to a particular incident and tell you where they were: the Kennedy assassination, maybe the Space Shuttle Explosion, 9-11, the first time environmentalists sabotaged construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (wait, what?) and of course, Katrina.

Who the hell doesn’t remember the images from Katrina?

Myself, I was standing in my sixth floor apartment at Turk and Leavenworth in San Francisco, staring open mouthed at a television, horrified, sad and furious.

And anybody who’s paying attention to the story at all understands the flooding was caused by the Corps of Engineers faulty planning and construction, so then why in the hell would the Review Board say no?

Apparently, they would prefer their applications done in disaster shorthand…uncomplicated, and politically palatable…you know that kind of history. Hell, too often our country sustains itself with it…

9-11 happened because radical Islam envied our freedoms and way of life. Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and he did it all by himself. Ronald Reagan never raised taxes. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and of course there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Corexit is as safe as dish soap. That Gulf Coast cancer cluster – that could have been caused by anything!

And yes…the flooding of New Orleans happened because of Katrina.

Bullshit shorthand…politically expedient and culturally comfortable, and truth ain’t got nothing to do with any of it.

So when Levees.org presents an application filled with data, fact, soil types…etc, rather than being applauded for the thoroughness of the job they did, throughout the transcript of the presentation and meeting with the Review Board, one instead reads criticisms of how their application was too complicated, too confusing, too long…oh, and the application also might have suggested the Corps of Engineers were somehow at fault when the levees they built, uh…broke.

But, as reported by Levees.org, even though the board refused to approve the application, on December 29th…

“Ms. Breaux (the State Historic Preservation Officer) confirmed to Levees.org that she has sent the 39-page nomination – along with her letter of support and other documents pertinent to the breach sites’ eligibility – to the Corps of Engineer’s Federal Preservation Officer in Washington, DC.”

So at least the idea continues to move forward, just without the benefit of an endorsement by the Review Board.

And academically speaking, it’s got to be hard to be Board Chairwoman, Glenna Kramer, so I have taken it upon myself to offer up the text of a marker, text I think she would certainly approve of, and I doubt will offend anyone, unless they were to care at all about what happened in Louisiana at the breach site of the 17th Street Canal and the East side North breach site of the Industrial Canal, but anyways, here goes:

“At this site, on some date, something happened, which caused a lot of other things to happen, bad things, though none of these bad things came as a result of anyone’s fault because tragedies are sometimes like that, blameless. And so we remember the loss of life, of homes, of community and confidence we once shared that bad things such as the kind that happened here, wouldn’t ever actually happen, and will hopefully never happen again.”

I’m guessing the Corps of Engineers would also approve.

Read the article:

Despite thumbs down from academic review board, levee breach sites may get historic designation

Have a nice day.

A Baton Rouge review from the New Orleans Assassin…

Letter grades are so difficult to hand out...

Hello…

Yes, I still kill people for a living.

Though I’m thinking of starting my own charter school, but more about that later…

I know its been a while, and I might apologize if I believed in such sentiment but I don’t…so, another legislative session comes and goes, and I’m caught in the city in that early summer dry spell…why do contract hits slow down in the early part of the summer? I don’t know, your guess is good as mine, but during the down time I’ve been taking a few weeks to myself, sitting by the river, drinking a good strong cup of coffee and watching the barges and hey, how about the Mississippi a few weeks back? I mean, damn…sometimes being an assassin just don’t do a bit of good, no matter how expert one might be. It’s not like I could have disposed of the water, though I will admit, one drunken night after a few, few too many, I did try…and if you were near the Quarter, you know what I’m talking about, kind of risky going without the silencer, but obviously I wasn’t making the best of decisions that night…if I had, I wouldn’t have tried shooting a river in the first place…fair enough? After many Abitas though, lots of dumb shit starts making sense…s’why I don’t drink for the most part.

Anyways…back to the legislative session…mixed bag this year, though slightly better than expected…and overall, let’s take a look at some of the good and the bad and most importantly, look at how I can make this work for me…and working for me, that would seem to be the theme of this years session…I mean really, a four cent cigarette tax extension vetoed because Jindal swore not to raise taxes? The only reason for that foolishness is aspirations to a rabid GOP base and a ride on the Romney machine…unless Jindal’s courting the pro-cancer crowd, and that could very well be, he is a Republican and cancer is a money maker for pharmaceutical companies and hospitals and Jindal, he likes himself some hospitals…even if they don’t have the necessary funding.

Okay, okay…sidetracked again…

Did I mention I might be starting my own charter school?

Yeah, I get 49% of the seats on the board…and I’m betting my 49% will easily dictate to the other 51, we’ll be far better armed. Gonna call it the “Jackal School of the Arts and Assassination.” Normal curriculum, except we’ll be pretty pro-science. No creationism at the Jackal, and no “Intelligent Design” either, and a whole lot more about climate change…know what else? Ronald Reagan’s name will be taboo at the Jackal, and so will George W. Bush, who will be known simply as “Treason” so at the Jackal, if you mention treason, you’re talking Texas. My school, my rules and if you don’t like it, too bad, don’t enroll here. If you don’t come to the front doors as a friend, don’t come at all, seriously, don’t come…but really, is anyone stupid enough to come to the Jackal School of the Arts and Assassination with complaints?

If so, you will be outgunned.

I pay the bills, I set the template…oh, and all those teachers fired after Katrina…front of the line to apply, if so interested, so thanks to Baton Rouge and Bobby for this corporate charter thing (the possibilities) and don’t worry guys and gals, there could be worse schools then mine as a result…you might get stuck with Starbucks High or maybe the Dow Chemical School of Pleasant Poison, Halliburton Cementing Central or even the Goldman Sachs Institute of Fuck You, America.

We all know many charter schools deny entry to those less fortunate or those with behavioral problems and they wreck much of the admirable work of those so dedicated to, and inside the public schools through deprivation, and I wish I could do more to right this wrong, but what I can do is promise you that at the Jackal, we’ll take anybody, and in a few years of training a few handpicked students and teachers, well…plots have a way of hatching and plots, they can bust open all the school doors for everybody…at least that’s what I’ve heard, you know, about plots and conspiracies and, and such…

Moving on…

Turns out I’m going to have to find another way to communicate with friends on the inside as Facebook appears out of the picture, but really, that’s neither here nor there since me and my ilk have dozens of guards on the take anyway and speaking of prison, would it surprise you to know of my humanitarian streak, to find out I sponsor several young adults at Delgado Community College? If it does, one might ask whether you live entirely in a world of black and white, you know, like Treason does. Grey my friends, this world is grey as a coming storm cloud which this tuition hike might be for me if it weren’t for the tax breaks my software business is going to get in the next fiscal year.

I tell ya, that Bobby…on and on about not raising taxes like with the cigarette thing…yet he raises school tuitions, well, what would you call that? It’s a tax ya fool, they just go under different names. Oh, and raising the fees for probation and parole…you know, we here in the field have noticed a trend of this as late nationwide and I gotta say, our contract fees are going up because of it, but it’s okay for us, I mean we have a marketable skill, one that grows more marketable each year but a lot of people coming out of the prisons don’t. So I get it, it’s easy to pick on prisoners, I mean who sticks up for ex-cons? Well, I’m an ex-con, and though I may be well past any probation or parole time myself, let me just say that finding a job with a record, no matter what anyone says about the legalities of it, discrimination happens and it’s often hard for those so unskilled to find a job carrying a record, so raising these fees on people just adds to the pressure…and rasing these fees? Again, fees are just another name for a tax, but since Bobby’s going for the GOP base, if there’s one thing we all know about the Grand Ol Party, they give a fuck about ex-cons…oh, and if there’s one place we know for sure these ex-cons can’t collect a pay check anymore, at least not one they can show Probation and Parole, it’s for the hard work they could have done at a synthetic marijuana or bath salts factory.

Way to narrow down the job prospects Baton Rouge…and while I’m sure many citizens of New Orleans were pleased that penalties were increased for businesses that hire illegal immigrants, especially when dealing with state contracts, I bet they would have been even happier if Jindal and co. would have also guaranteed things like benefits and livable wages and maybe even local hire laws…but hey, it’s a start right? I know I’m getting a bit sick of the Argentinian crew that moved in Uptown getting some of my contracts. I know they do it cheaper, but this is about quality… and in my trade quality typically wins out, just as I suspect it will eventually in this case. Just wait till one of those guys in the CBD gets fingered because an Argentine got careless and if there’s one thing we all have come to know about Argentinian assassins, eventually they all do get careless.

Course I’m sure I don’t have to explain that to anyone here…common knowledge complete, like the rats run into the Quarter from the river at dusk, or New Orleans needs more movie theaters.

Oh, and here’s a thought, maybe you jokers would have a better time of placing limits on pay packages for the higher ups in college administrations or getting state employees to contribute more to their pensions if you weren’t trying to screw with state employee’s healthcare or if you demanded similar limits on pay for CEO’s in the private sector. And speaking of bitching, let’s just touch base for a moment on transparency. Yeah, Jindal ran on it and yeah, now Jindal runs from it and maybe one of these days the transparency law gets passed, like after Jindal leaves Louisiana for the whole Vice-Presidency thing…dream a little dream…don’t care where you go Bobby so long as you’re gone, besides…putting you on a national stage to give speeches, well, let’s just say that unless you’re getting off a helicopter to exploit another disaster to appeal to your base while railing against the Feds, when it comes to the speeches, you kinda suck.

Wooden would be a compliment.

When it comes to transparency…the time has long since come. Much like BP, Feinberg and the whole lot of them, lack of transparency gives the appearance you’re hiding something and what with that whole Medicaid contract thing…and the Chaffe report, you’ve been hiding a lot. You know it, we know it…and the businesses reaping insider benefits, they know it a lot. Pretty sleazy Bobby, and pretty slick, like Mitt Romney’s hair products.

And also Bobby, let’s tell the truth about this legislative session, you’ve had some issues this time round.

Hell, your own House out-righted you, made you look positively spend-happy at times…so, thank God for the Senate, huh?

And what else…

Sell the prisons? Oops…

Try to raise tuition at all the state universities too? Oops…cough cough TAXES cough cough…

SUNO and UNO what?

Reauthorization in 2014 of your plan to screw the poor by turning over a lot of Louisiana’s Medicaid programs to private insurers, those bastions of corporate and civic responsibility…nothing says “we care” like corporations trying to turn a profit by turning down health procedures for the sick…

Anyways Bobby, the New Orleans Assassin would like to wish you better luck next year…cause I firmly believe next year you won’t be here, instead you’ll be vying for either a useless figurehead position like Vice President or you’ll be part of an administration hell bent on screwing the entire country the way you’ve been trying to screw Louisiana so see-ya…and honestly, I’m of two minds on that subject:

Civic-mindedly, it’s disappointing to grow older in your age of the robber-barons and their Republican, and not a few Democrat enablers.

And personally, Republican policies always create desperation, and desperation creates contract work…some of it pro-bono for those who couldn’t typically afford my services and on the flip side, those who can afford it, get more money to spend and spend they will…often on me and my services.

So, the way I see it, another middling legislative session, some of it good personally, but per usual, mostly bad for the majority of the state. In any case, like I mentioned it’s the slow season and in the spirit of helping those less fortunate, time for some pro-bono work, so I’ll be looking…just put the chalk “X”, last pew on the left at St. Louis Cathedral and then walk away…I’ll find you and we’ll talk.

Or, keep a look out for the signs announcing construction of the “Jackal School of the Arts and Assassination.”

I’ll be around…and oh, one last thing…a special thanks for the defeat of concealed weapons on college campuses. I’m not typically called to work at the universities, but if that day comes, well, call me more comfortable…

Have a nice day.

So, they’ll get it right this time? Oil spills, mine disasters, levees and forgetfulness…

Far better prepared for this picture, than an oil spill...

It would appear a pattern is developing in this great land of ours. Simply put, we begin with a tragedy, then we have an investigation which discovers the governmental agencies designed to prevent such tragedies either fell down on the job or didn’t care, and even worse, the fail-safe for the agency that didn’t do their job is woefully unprepared to handle the mess created. Next, we get public and government anger, utter outrage about the aforementioned tragedy and congress types propose bills, make promises and issue guarantees that a tragedy like this will never happen again, and damnit, we mean it…never.

At least until next time.

What? What happened to the guarantees, the promises and the bills?

That was so last week man, have you talked to my lobbyist?

In a recent report, it was discovered (surprise) that the US Coast Guard was not prepared for a large deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was continually troubled by this lack of planning. Government and private sectors “demonstrated a serious deficiency… (in) preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation.” The panel also found many of the Coast Guard staff members interviewed “acknowledged that they were unfamiliar” with the plans to combat such a spill, “even though they held prominent positions” in the command structure for the response. Much of this is blamed on the changes to the Coast Guard, post 9-11. As their responsibilities were diversified, the oil spill response plan atrophied which resulted in problems with coordination and communication. From the report: “While the response plan by BP, the well’s operator, was criticized as unrealistic in the report, the government’s plans were also found to be inadequate and incomplete.”

Okay, given…anyone paying attention to events last summer could have figured out that both BP, the Coast Guard and state officials were caught with their pants down on this one, but…what happens now? New drilling permits are being issued, ten in fact (no matter what Vitter says).

“Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the Coast Guard was reviewing the recommendations and had already begun making improvements. (The Department of Homeland Security has requested an additional $11.5 million in its 2012 budget to help bolster the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to major spills, a department official said.)”

Improvements…

Perhaps a complete change might be more in order? One suggestion might be to immediately discuss and begin planning how to keep politics and corporate self-interest out of the equation.

If not, one might someday read an oil spill version of the soon to be even more tragic story about developments occurring since the Massey Mine disaster, which also happened last April and killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

If you don’t recall, there was outrage by Congress and the public that federal regulators didn’t have the power to close dozens of mines that had racked up thousands of safety and health violations (sound familiar?). At the time, both parties in Congress vowed swift action. They promised from their pulpits to fix this so no family will ever have to go through this kind of tragedy again.

A bill was proposed. It would have made it easier to shut down problem mines. It would have increased penalties for serious safety violations and offered greater protection for whistleblowers, and it took eight months for the bill to even reach the floor of Congress where two weeks ago, this bill was killed off, voted down by every single Republican and 27 Democrats.

In 2010, 48 coal miners died, the most since 55 were killed in 1992.

As retired miner, Fred Burgess said, whose stepson Ronald Mayor died in the Upper Big Branch explosion, “The miners should have a safer workplace, but the mine companies throw a lot of money around, they have lobbyists all over the place.”

Indeed, and to add insult to injury, it would appear lots of those lobbyists have been speaking to Rand Paul, who recently said in response to the MSHA’s (Mine Safety and Health Administration) new proposals which would reduce by half the amount of coal dust miner’s breathe, coal dust being the primary cause of  black lung, “”Every regulation doesn’t save lives…There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled.”

Or in other words, “What he’s suggesting is to keep the cost of coal down we would jeopardize the health of coal miners,” said Stephen Sanders, director of the Appalachians Citizens’ Law Center.

Oh, and speaking of guarantees and promises, anybody remember a certain town called New Orleans and this little catastrophic failure they had a few years back, you know, where over a thousand people died when the levees broke, in several places?

Yeah, remember all those promises made back in 2005, to guarantee that would never happen again?

Well, it would appear those promises were equally hollow. The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for building and fixing the failed levees, well…they’re working on it…going on six years later. Which isn’t to say improvements haven’t been made. They have, but do those improvements match all those guarantees and promises President and Congress types threw around during the flood’s aftermath?

Anybody want to by the Crescent City Connection?

Really, I’m selling…

But, back to the Coast Guard and their report. Whereas it’s great they are working on “improvements” to their response, it might be nice to see exactly what they are working on, how they intend to coordinate federal, state and local officials, how they intend to keep financial self-interest and politics out, how their own staff will be trained on any new plans that are so coordinated to ensure each administrative and governmental level is on board, you know, so we don;t wind up with useless sand berms.

It would seem if oil companies have a right to drill out there in the Gulf, and they are…Gulf Coast residents have a right to know what will be done, and a guarantee that it will be done to respond to another spill…even after the anniversary news coverage comes and goes.

After all, coal miners still haven’t gotten protection from cost cutting mine owners.

New Orleans still hasn’t received the levees promised by Congress and the Corp of Engineers.

And now, Gulf Coast residents are waiting to see if that pattern continues or breaks, and they’d probably like to know which, before the next big spill.

Hell, I would…because if there is one thing I’d…uh…oh damn…

From the Times Picayune:

“A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy…”

Continue reading:

A year after Gulf oil spill, Congress is sitting on its hands

Have a nice day.

Obama, BP…remain silent…about health, and everything else

Only if I'm re-elected...maybe.

As told before, but it bears repeating, the LEAN network released the blood test results from 12 Gulf Coast residents that were sampled in September, November and December and here’s the results:

Benzene: 4 blood samples, 11.9 to 35.8 times higher than the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Educational Survey) 95th percentile.

Ethlybenzene: detected in all twelve blood samples, all in excess of the NHANES 95th percentile.

m,p-Xylene: Eleven blood samples detected levels higher than the NHANES 95th percentile.

Hexane: All twelve samples had hexane in their blood.

2-Methylpentane: Again, all twelve samples.

3-Methylpentane: All twelve.

Isooctane: Eleven of the twelve.

And what do these twelve people get for playing?

The possibility of contracting anemia, leukemia and other forms of cancer, ovarian shrinkage, damage to hearing and the ear, dizziness, kidney and liver damage, respiratory distress…etc…

Why?

Certainly, it could be oil spills, chemical exposures and dispersants.

From Cherri Foytin – co-founder of the grassroots group Gulf Change when speaking to the president’s oil Spill Commission:

“Today I’m talking to you about my life. My ethylbenzene levels are 2.5 times the [NHANES] 95th percentile, and there’s a very good chance now that I won’t get to see my grandbabies.”

It should be noted, promises have been made to reopen the health issues at the White House. It should also be noted that British Petroleum has been promising for seven months to “make things right,” and Ken Feinberg, arbitrator of the GCCF has been promising greater transparency in the claims process. But unless BP has found a cure for cancer and Feinberg has found a cure for legal obfuscation…perhaps we shant hold our breath on the White House, who appears very busy lately, working with large-scale banks and corporations to divide up the rest of this country, while cutting payroll money to fund social security.

Oh, and of course we should note that Feinberg continues to beam with pride about his quick pay settlements that over 60,000 Gulf Coast residents have taken…and if they get sick, will now have no recourse to sue BP and a hundred other companies as a result.

Concern for the Gulf?

Hardly.

Make things right?

Nah…

The only people concerned about the Gulf of Mexico are the same people BP, the Feds and the GCCF trinity of negligence are desperately trying to forget about, leave behind, push out of the news cycles…and that would be the people who live there, who are suffering there, who are trying to put their lives back together after being forgotten by the federal government, again…

Rosina Philippe, an Atakapa tribe member from the bayou says she won’t feel safe “until things stop dying.”

Here’s hoping the White House gets a fucking clue soon because when the mainstream press started taking pictures of all that oil covered wildlife, the country freaked out and his approval ratings dropped. Okay then, how about pictures of residents dying in hospital beds while you offer condolences, and apologies that when it was necessary you did and said, nothing.

Or is that just a problem for some future administration?

Have a nice day.

An Open Letter to the Tea Party of Louisiana…

What do you mean, climate change?

Hello,

My name’s Drake.

I trust things are treating you well?

Good, me too.

Don’t worry, this letter won’t be too long but before I get into a couple of things, I feel it is important to tell you a couple of things about myself as they will become pertinent a bit later on. First of all, I’m on the high side of my thirties and I don’t have any children. It’s not a genetic thing if that matters to you, it’s a choice, one I made at about nineteen or twenty and a choice I am quite content with. Second of all, I fit pretty well into a personality disorder type called Schizoid and what that means is I have a distinct lack of interest in personal relationships, oftentimes don’t see the point of spending time with others. This may seem odd for a social worker. I agree, but just because I don’t care personally doesn’t mean I can’t effectively help people. My second choice in careers was to be a minister despite being an atheist. Why not? I’m good with people, public speaking isn’t a problem and I can write a decent narrative so sermons? No worries, I imagined people would have just presumed a belief in God…but I became a social worker, so instead people presume I’m social, anyways…

I’ve been reading your mission.

Especially the part about climate change.

Uh, really?

I am assuming that since you are the Tea Party of Louisiana that most of you live in Louisiana, right? I mean, even if you don’t live in Baton Rouge or New Orleans…Louisiana, right?

Okay.

In your platform I’ve noticed a couple of inconsistencies. You seem to start off by suggesting there is a climate change problem when you say the “purpose of the cap-and-trade legislation to reduce global CO2 emissions may appear to be for the greater good,” and then you go on a little later to suggest cap and trade isn’t actually for the greater good, not because there isn’t a climate change problem, but because other big polluters may not buy in to cap and trade.

So I don’t understand, is there a problem or not?

Oh, okay…not much of a problem, if at all, and certainly not caused by man.

All right, and you state that at the UN Climate Change conference in Poland, over 650 scientists were on hand to state it was not a man-made deal and might not even be harmful at all.

650 scientists, I agree, that might sound like a lot…but c’mon, it’s not, not really, not when you glance towards the other side to see the number of scientists who belive man is involved. From this vantage point, you get the official government scientific organizations of 32 countries, and this other ridiculous number of non-governmental scientific organizations worldwide who would have no qualms about taking those 650 men and women down in a street fight, a quick street fight…yeah, a horribly outmatched streetfight.

So relatively speaking, 650 people ain’t shit, you can find a handfull of so-called experts who will testify to anything. There are still people who believe the earth is flat, too.

Yeah, seriously.

Your platform also talks a lot about cost, but neglects to mention a more recent, larger cost estimate: $350 billion in economic losses along the Gulf Coast due to hurricanes and rising sea levels, two phenomena made much worse by climate change according to most scientists, well, most besides those 650 guys you mentioned so again, relative costs my friends and that $350 billion is a tiny percentage of the costs worldwide once food and water shortages become more serious.

I’ve also read a bit about how a lot of you guys are religious and that’s cool. I never fault anyone their spiritual side even if I am an atheist. I’ve seen a person’s faith do a lot of good in my social work world so bully for you, seriously, but I’ve also read that some of you feel you can do whatever you want environmentally because it says in the bible that God made you all stewards of the land. Okay, maybe so. But if that’s true, don’t you think people in general have to be pissing him off by now? Daddy gives you a new car and you never get the oil changed, the car’s engine locks up destroyed, well…daddy’s gonna be annoyed. If we are stewards, I don’t really wanna get fired because you guys suck at your job.

And in Louisiana, seriously…you guys really need the land and the water to be clean, productive and solvent because a larger majority of your economy kinda depends on it…and man, if those sea levels start to rise, you really want to put that in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers?

Remember, you can’t sue them…

Oh, and I get it..the cynical amongst you snickering to each other about who cares what happens to New Orleans? They vote Democratic anyway…mebbe so, but just try to get your state to function without their revenue, and what the hell would you guys do on Sunday afternoon? Watch the boring-ass Texans?

Long story short…I’m thinking you might want to be more supportive of efforts to do something about climate change, you got a lot riding on it whether you want to ignore it or not, and we are at a rather crucial time…the tipping point, or pretty close to it and if we wait much longer…then it won’t really matter…we’ll all be sitting in that useless, dead car.

And this gets me back to my lifestyle, and my personality disorder.

Between me and you…I really don’t care that much about people.

Oh sure, I play a caring person on TV, but no…not really, not that much…I don’t have any kids to be concerned about, never been all that close to anyone in my family beyond my parents and I’m old enough that short of climate change altering the ecology enough that one of those unstoppable virus’s can flourish in our climate, I don’t have a lot to worry about. If the world does fall apart before I kick off, I’ll just hole up with some food, some booze, some guns and good books and ride it out. That’s okay by me, ultimately…I mean in the grand scheme, but you guys and gals…I would imagine you got kids, grandkids? Are you really so selfish that you’d just throw them to the dogs like that? You guys all hate big government, but when the effects of climate change hit and hit hard, who do you think your kids are going to depend on or need? Yeah, how’d that work out for you during Katrina, the oil spill?

I understand that many of you, like me, will die before it gets really bad. So okay, but I do wish I could be there when you’re on your deathbed at home or hospital, and when it’s all pretty much too late and you think your granddaughter is coming to say goodbye before you die, and just as you reach out your arms for that last hug…

She kicks you in the balls for doing nothing.

Have a nice day.