Fucked Louisiana, Fucked USA (part 2 of 3)
So, in part one we talked about how Louisiana is tripping over shiny oil royalty pennies when it faces billion dollar megaproblems. Here's a few ballpark numbers: Coastal Restoration: $35 billion plus. Category Five strength flood protection for S. Louisiana: $25 billion plus. Roads/Bridges infrastructure backlog: $14 billion plus. Better schools $?? Rebuild New Orleans $?? The list goes on and on, but for a poor state with only 4 million people these are titanic problems, and many of them can't be put off any longer. But what kind of leaders does Louisiana select to address these issues? Well, in a twisted bit of absurdism, Louisiana finds very sophisticated ways to choose colorful, entertaining, and corrupt leadership. This parade of characters is only broken up by the occasional boring, spineless "reformer" type, who invariably disappoints the hopeful goo goo voters.
So let's review some of the usual suspects currently in office, and try not to cry.
Bobby Jindal is our new Governor, the one you've been hearing so much about. He's an Ivy League Rhodes Scholar biology major who wants creationism and anti-Darwin sham-science taught in schools. Quite the whiz kid, he. Jindal got elected on reform rhetoric, and proudly touts all these ethics laws he supported that actually weakened the enforcement of ethics standards. Also, his office is less transparent than Dick Cheney's undisclosed location.
During the recent veepstakes, Jindal has served as McCain's catamite, parroting misleading GOP talking points about oil spills after Katrina and Rita. In short: post-storm spills never happened, and more drilling will solve all our energy problems! They're actually running on this shit, and think it's a winning issue. Recently Jindal spewed the McCain line implying that Obama is willing to lose a war to get elected. That's pretty damn funny, since the only combat Jindal ever experienced was "spiritual warfare" between himself and a demon that was attacking his crazy girlfriend. Deep in the spiritual "shit", Jindal distinguished himself on the battlefield by pissing in his pants, and having a panic attack when his crazy girlfriend started acting even crazier. Some braver fundagelical Christians on the scene decided to perform an exorcism. I'm not making this shit up.
The other day Jindal waited for McCain who was coming to LA to do a photo-op on an oil rig, But there was a huge oil spill in the Mississippi that day, and McCain canceled the "pro-drilling" excursion.
After Katrina, Sen. Mary Landrieu said she might have to punch Bush in the nose. Months later, after Bush gave his shitty 2006 SOTU speech, Bush was making his way down the aisle and Landrieu was on the side within striking distance. Bush had just glossed over the Gulf Coast's plight in his speech. I couldn't believe it, but when Landrieu spoke to Bush she congratulated him on his choice of Recovery Czar. I suppose that was politically smart, but I'd been hoping for a throwdown. (Btw, Bush's Recovery Czar was a Texas banker and Bush cronie named Donald Powell who basically spent two and a half years walking back a strong flood protection commitment he made to New Orleans. Countless times Powell would hedge on definitive answers to life and death questions about whether New Orleans should be protected by something better than weak Cat 3 levees and floodwalls. For context, here's how other nations do it.)
I was shocked to learn that some Louisianan cops had tasered Dubya and Colin Powell recently, and called them names, but it turned out they were actors in Oliver Stone's next film.
Mayor Ray Nagin, alas, is a chocolate George Bush-- minus the competence. While this might seem like an incomprehensible notion, I can assure you it's true, and it's probably not as scary as you imagine. Nagin can't competently see anything through, not even a big mistake. Which is nice. Below, E writes about the emerging NOAH scandal in New Orleans. One of the political hooks that will midwife this (blogger-generated) story into the national news stream is the distinct possibility that some construction companies got paid federal dollars for work that was actually performed by volunteer labor. The fresh-faced Christian volunteers who came down to New Orleans to do some good, and who helped gut storm ravaged homes... probably became the means to a paycheck for some connected crony who sat on his ass the whole time. If and when details like that surface, the Teflon Nagin administration will be in some trouble. Because it's Louisiana, though, there's always some bizarre detail beyond the basic alleged improprieties. In this case, such a detail might involve bamboo underwear.
We have a guy named John Kennedy running for Senate. As a Republican. A few years ago, John Kennedy was a Democrat running on a platform of economic justice. After he lost that race, he decided some changes were needed. He crafted a brilliant plan: first he would fellate Karl Rove and become a Republican, then he would disavow his liberal past and embrace George Bush, and try to beat Landrieu by telling Louisianans she's weak on oil shale. Kennedy recently did a statewide tour with a dozen stops, and more people just read this post than attended his events.
Senator David Vitter. Or as I affectionately call him-- Vitty-cent. What can you say about this diaper dandy? I mean, it's been quite a year for him, hasn't it? First he was mentioned as Rudy Guiliani's running mate. Then he got busted for past whoring, and went into hiding for several days. He apologized for a vague "sin" and has never been more specific than that. His Madam recently committed suicide, and he has the gall to try to use supporters' campaign donations to pay for the legal trouble his private whoring caused him. What a fuckmook. Now Vittycent's going to run for re-election while supporting "pro-family" marriage amendments. One fun thing to track is whether a local Republican named Vincent Bruno decides to run against him. Years ago, Bruno was the first to publicly call Vitter out for his hypocritical indiscretions, and he recently said that he might run against Vitter and ask him whether Vitter ever had any previous homosexual encounters. Why would he do this? Does Bruno have proof of some incident? That would be the interesting question. Perhaps Vitter is like Heidi Klum: he has "private junk" under Seal. (Also, recall that long ago, a GOP operative implied that Vitter was soft on homosexual issues, and he became enraged and assaulted her.)
Rep. "Dollar" Bill Jefferson. The Feds famously found $90k of alleged bribe money in Jefferson's freezer. Jefferson's been indicted, and this year he complained about the FBI watching him take a piss the morning of the raid. New Orleans has been watching him and his family's political machine piss on our faces for years, so I'm not sure why he was so embarrassed. Anyway, this is a guy who worked his way up from poverty to Harvard, then entered New Orleans politics so he could, first and foremost, enrich himself and his family. It's sad. Jefferson was re-elected in 2006 because conservatives and others allied with the Jefferson machine in order to strategically send the crook back to D.C. rather than elect a competent liberal alternative. Many were hoping that State Senator Derrick Shepherd would make the runoff that year. Let's see what he's up to:
State Senator Derrick Shepherd, currently under Federal indictment, recently broke into his girlfriend's house, punched her in the stomach then took her cash and phone. Allegedly. Then he retired to his home, which is not in his district, and ordered up some female talent for a private lap dance party. He was arrested during a lap dance and is currently in a halfway house. Shepherd is a Gulf War I veteran who built a rock solid political machine from scratch. I've studied him up close, and he's a perfect scoundrel.
So that's the story on those dildoes.
Yeah, we're fucked here, and we fuck ourselves further with the politicians we elect. And afterwards, all too often, Louisianans retreat into a comforting fatalism, and find pleasurable abandon in our rich cultural delights. I have no problem with the culture part. But the unholy triumvirate of mega problems, stupid leaders, and micro-solutions is catching up with us, and we need to do something about it quick.
Part 3 comes next, and it's not about Louisiana being a canary in the mineshaft. It's about you.