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Library Chronicles

Paradise plastic. Cheap and fantastic.

Updated: 2016-12-10T15:35:07.820-06:00


Donald Trump's Huuge Hangar


During a cameo appearance at what was ostensibly his own campaign rally, John Kennedy introduced Trump in Baton Rouge on Friday. Trump went on to complain about the "corrupt" election he just won.  Oh and to brag about the size of the hangars.  It opens this week's show.

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Anyway you've got one more chance to vote against Trump today if you like.
President-elect Donald Trump told nearly 5,000 cheering fans who gathered in Baton Rouge on Friday that he wants Louisiana to help pad the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate by electing John N. Kennedy.

"If he doesn't win, I've got myself a problem in Washington," Trump said at an event that was billed as a GOP get-out-the-vote rally ahead of Saturday's election and featured the state's top Republican leaders.
Also in Orleans Parish there's a judgeship on the line as well as two millages.  The things to know about those is the S&WB millage is a renewal that will, actually lower your taxes in practice
The drainage tax is now assessed at 4.66 mills but would drop to 4.46 mills under the renewal. A homestead-exempt property worth $350,000 now pays about $128 a year because of the tax and would pay about $123 under the lower rate.

City officials have compared that cost to the savings on their insurance rates that many New Orleans property owners received when new flood maps went into effect this year, noting that the city’s drainage and flood protection systems played a role in the reduced rates.

“If the millage is not renewed, we’re going to have trouble keeping the pumps on,” Landrieu said.
As for the fire millage, well, it helps put to bed a decades' long dispute the city is ready to put behind it. They tried to pass this thing during the last cycle with an unpopular police millage attached to it.  We'll see if it does better on its own today. 

Trump's America


We're privatizing education anyway. Might as well get ahead of the curve.
New Orleans may soon be the first city to have an all-charter school system -- a landmark in U.S. history.

Orleans Parish Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. announced Friday (Dec. 9) he had "received informal expressions of interest from current school and charter leaders to convert some or all of our remaining five network elementary and high schools to charter schools authorized by OPSB."
Remember voters in New Orleans could have had a say in this via the recent OPSB elections but nobody ran for those seats. 

Too late for a do-over


Or maybe it's too early to start the next argument. The fundamental problem for Foster Campbell in this Senate runoff doesn't have anything to do with John Kennedy.  As we can see from his ads and from the rallies last week and this week, Kennedy's closing argument is all about Trump.

Trump won this cycle in Louisiana. Campbell's challenge was, in the space of a few short weeks, to create a whole new cycle either separate from or in reaction to that.  Plan A would have been to run against Senate Candidate John Kennedy. But that isn't so easy when the guy refuses to debate and hides behind Big Daddy Trump. What does John Kennedy actually believe or stand for?  He hopes never to have to actually answer that question.

Plan B for Campbell would have been to run a Trump reaction campaign; try and turn the incredulity and revulsion against Trump into a way to motivate the disaffected voters who didn't participate in the primary. Send a message. Give Trump a problem in Washington.  Something like that. That's hard to do.  Especially so when the party leaves you hanging.
Campbell's effort hasn't attracted national surrogates or money, which is a sure sign that Democratic leaders think Louisiana, which gave 58 percent of its vote to Trump, is a lost cause. But he's managed to tap into an impromptu network of out-of-state disappointed Democrats looking for one last chance to send some sort of message.

But if they see a Campbell victory as a rebuke to Trump, Campbell's definitely not playing it that way. Instead, he's promising to "stand with the new president when he's right for Louisiana," but have the "courage to say no when he's wrong," as Campbell's highest-profile supporter, Gov. John Bel Edwards, put it in a closing ad.
Campbell's lame fallback is to be with Trump and the Republicans except when he's not. Which is sort of the same noncommittal strategy that got Hillary beat last month. Weird that the Democrats aren't supporting this. 

Today is the last day to vote early



Kennedy still ducking. I wonder if we should call Cornerstone to see if they can help.

Jeff Landry is only freaked out about this one thing


Weird, huh.
It is also not clear how broad Landry's complaint about the LGBT protections might be. In court Tuesday, his legal team said he only has concerns about the provisions that apply to transgender people, not the protections for gay people and same-sex couples.

At one point, they implied that if the governor's protections had been limited to gay, lesbian and bisexual people, the two might not have landed in court. "This whole case is about gender identity, not sexual orientation," said Chester Cedars, a lawyer for the Department of Justice who spoke for Landry Tuesday.

The governor's team was skeptical of that claim however. They said Landry filed the lawsuit against the governor to get the entire LGBT executive order thrown out, not just the part that applied to transgender people. Landry has also resisted including protections for the gay community in his own agency and state contracts, signaling he isn't interested in a more restricted policy.

"If you read over their pleadings, they want the whole thing dismissed," said Matthew Block, general counsel for the governor's office.

Everything's coming up Vitty


Even if Wendy doesn't end up with this job, David Vitter really like had the last laugh this year 
Though her husband will no longer be in the Senate next year, Vitter could still be in a strong position politically.

Both U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and Republican senatorial candidate John Kennedy, who is in the Dec. 10 runoff to replace David Vitter, are allies of the outgoing senator. Both received significant organizational and political support from Vitter in the past two years in their Senate bids.

Taibbi has finished reviewing Tom Friedman's new book


Always good for a laugh.

To me, Friedman has always been Exhibit A in a version of the "Banality of evil" argument. Yes, he is trite and stupid. But the trite, stupid things he writes have defended and justified horrors the world over.  He's a monster.

More importantly he's not alone.  He's emblematic of thousands of similar monsters who proliferate in media throughout the country. There's always good money to be made rationalizing the atrocities of the powerful with dimestore aphoristic nonsense if you can fake it well enough. Look around.  There's at least one Friedman opining from a high platform in your town right now.



Stuart "Neil" Fisher is a goddamned hero. A developer whose company failed in a bid to convert the former World Trade Center building in New Orleans into a hotel and condominiums is challenging the latest dismissal of a lawsuit to stop the job from going to another team. He's also secured a new legal team to handle the lawsuit after the first walked away.Attorneys for Two Canal Street Investors Inc. (TCSI) filed their notice to appeal Judge Tiffany Chase's dismissal late Tuesday afternoon, just ahead of a Wednesday (Dec. 1) deadline. TCSI's principal, Florida investor Stuart "Neil" Fisher, said in a phone interview the appeal will reveal the "conspiracy, fraud and bid-rigging" that resulted in the Carpenter-Woodward team winning rights in May 2015 to redevelop the city-owned 33-story tower."We are far from being over," Fisher said.Hollleeee crap you cannot kill this dude off. He has not yet begun to fight.  A few weeks ago I suggested we campaign to have Fisher named Gambit's "New Orleanian Of The Year." This was before I knew he had the sta-mi-nah to keep this thing going. We're gonna need a bigger trophy now.2016 is the Year of the Con Man and Fisher certainly fits the bill there.  It is also the year of the con man frustrating the ambitions of neoliberal corporatist politics (to a small and unproductive degree, of course, but still) and Fisher's lawsuit has done exactly that to Mitch Landrieu's attempts to put the WTC building "back into commerce" as a hotel. The value of this is complicated. Of course we'd all like to see the building put to good use.  We're not thrilled about yet another hotel there, of course. But that's the way things go lately. It's something we can live with under the right circumstances.  We're not convinced these are the right circumstances, though.Now Fisher is a crackpot and his suit is not likely based on the most... well.. accurate of suppositions. But his statements are worth noting because the instincts behind them are interesting. Fisher contends the Carpenter-Woodward proposal was the worst for taxpayers based on its upfront payment to the city -- lower than the other proposals. Jones Lang LaSalle, the commercial real estate advisory the city hired to handle the proposal process, determined the Carpenter-Woodward proposal had the biggest upside when including the property taxes generated over the 99-year lease with the city. Fisher, who is also suing Jones Lang LaSalle, contends the WTC property is tax-exempt, rendering any projections of property tax revenue moot. The Orleans Parish Assessor's website confirms the property is tax-exempt, although the Carpenter-Woodward proposal includes a payment schedule for property taxes.The agreement is they're paying property taxes from which they are exempt?  Maybe Fisher is misunderstanding something. Although, if he is, this article doesn't tell us what that could be.  But that does seem kind of odd, at least to us laypeople. There is also this. Fisher's Facebook page includes several posts with emails between city officials and representatives of Jones Lang LaSalle and Carpenter-Woodward, all dated before the winning proposal was selected. Fisher maintains the public records are evidence of collusion among the parties to ensure the bid went to the firm with the lowest upfront payment, which he said the mayor's office sought to keep any cash windfall out of the reach of firefighters with whom the city was negotiating a settlement in a lawsuit over decades of owed back pay.Again, to be clear, I think Fisher is probably pulling most of this out of his butt. (I base that on nothing, of course. All I know is what I read in the paper.) But this allegation may be worth pursuing a bit. It does sound slightly out of character for the mayor who has been all too happy to pursue big up front sums of money in ot[...]

Movie time


Via the Wa-Po, we present, Git Yer Gubmint Hands Off Mah Medicare starring Donald Trump.

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And yet, here they come for your Medicare.

Find something new or keep falling for this con


Joke's on us, America.  Because, surely, none among us could have predicted..... WASHINGTON — Steven Terner Mnuchin, a financier with deep roots on Wall Street and in Hollywood but no government experience, is expected to be named Donald J. Trump’s Treasury secretary as soon as Wednesday, people close to the transition say. Mr. Mnuchin, 53, was the national finance chairman for Mr. Trump’s campaign. He began his career at Goldman Sachs, where he became a partner, before creating his own hedge fund, moving to the West Coast and entering the first rank of movie financiers by bankrolling hits like the “X-Men” franchise and “Avatar.” As Treasury secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would play an important role in shaping the administration’s economic policies, including a package of promised tax cuts, increased spending on infrastructure and changes in the terms of foreign trade. He could also help lead any effort to roll back President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and opening to Cuba by reimposing sanctions on Tehran and Havana.His selection fits uneasily with much of Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric attacking the financial industry. Mr. Trump, in a campaign ad intended as a closing argument, portrayed the chief executive of Goldman Sachs as the personification of a global elite that the ad said had “robbed our working class.” "Fits uneasily" with the rhetoric, but not so much with the parade of billionaires and oligarchs Trump has named to cabinet positions in recent days. But Donald Trump is a con man whose entire campaign was one long... and pretty transparent con. Nevertheless, it is a con that worked.  Did it work, because Trump was able to stir up a tornado of resentment through a stream of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric?  Absolutely.  Would any of that have been effective, though, if his opponent had not also been certain to install a government of (slightly woke) oligarchs and billionaires?  We never got to find out.  And, unfortunately, the Democratic Party is not going to learn a damn thing from the experience. Here's Tom Frank on that. And here we are again. Today Democrats are wondering what went wrong, but before too many fundraising dinners have been digested they will have concluded they don’t need to worry, that demographics will bail them out sooner or later, and that the right and noble course of action is to proceed as before.This will happen because what leading liberals cannot understand – what they are psychologically blocked from understanding – is that the problem isn’t really the white working class. The problem is them.Let me explain what I mean by reminding you what this form of liberalism looks like. Somewhere in a sunny corner of the country, either right now or very shortly, a group of tech tycoons or well-meaning private equity investors will meet to discuss what went wrong in this election cycle.They will consider many things: the sexism and racism of Trump voters, the fundamental foreignness of the flyover, the problems one encounters when dealing with evangelicals. They will celebrate some activist they learned about from NPR, they will enjoy some certified artisanal cuisine, they will hand out prizes to the same people that got prizes at the last event they attended, and they will go back to their comfortable rooms at the resort and sleep ever so soundly.These people think they know what liberalism includes and what it doesn’t include. And in the latter category fall the concerns that made up the heart and soul of liberal politics a few decades ago: labor and work and exploitation and economic equality.What portion of Hillary Clinton's campaign message addressed economic equality was largely cribbed in watered down fashion from issues that made up the core of B[...]

What do we do now?


Matt Taibbi interviews Bernie Sanders in the new Rolling Stone. They talk about a lot of stuff but Bernie's most crucial message here is about doing politics in a way that connects with rather than manipulates people. What that means first and foremost is talking to voters instead of to donors.President Obama talked after the election about winning Iowa by going into counties even if the demographics didn't "dictate" success there. This seemed to be a criticism that the party had decided to ignore big parts of the country.I talked about that in the book. That's exactly what we did. We had 101 rallies in that small state. That's grassroots democracy. You speak to three-quarters of the people who end up voting for you. In New Hampshire, we had just a zillion meetings – far more people came out to our meetings. If you had the time to do that around the country, the world becomes different. The assessment has got to be that not only did we lose the White House to the least-popular candidate in perhaps the history of America, certainly in modern history, but we've lost the Senate, we've lost the House, we've lost two-thirds of the governors' chairs in this country. We've lost 900 seats in state legislatures throughout the country in the last eight years. Maybe it might be time to reassess?Is there any way to read that except as a massive repudiation of Democrats?No. I can't see how any objective person can. It speaks to what I just mentioned; we cannot spend our entire life – I didn't, but others do – raising money from wealthy people, listening to their needs. We've got to be out in union halls, we've got to be out in veterans' halls, and we've got to be talking to working people, and we've got to stand up and fight for them.Go outside. Talk to people. Stop relying on corporate media infrastructure and Big Data to deliver a finely tailored message to a neatly carved out set of demographic cohorts. Do something real. Or, if you are Donald Trump, at least appear to do that which is the next best thing. With Trump, was there a moment during the past year when you went from thinking "This is a joke" to "This is real!" Or did you realize right away that it was serious?I didn't realize right away. I didn't know much about him. What I believed and he believed is that the central part of your campaign should be rallies. Why is that? Because it's not only the ability to communicate with large numbers of people and get media attention as a result of that, but when 20,000 people sit in an arena or stadium and they look around and they say, "We're all on the same team together," that creates a kind of energy.He understood that. When I started seeing him bring these large turnouts of working-class people, I knew that that was real, you know? What politics passes for now is somebody goes on Meet the Press and they do well: "Oh, this guy is brilliant, wonderful." No one cares about Meet the Press. But that you can go out and bring out many, many thousands of people who are supporting your campaign – that is real stuff. When I began to see that, I said, "This guy is a real candidate." Who could do it? Jeb Bush couldn't do that. Marco Rubio couldn't do it. [Trump] was clearly striking a nerve and a chord that other candidates weren't.So did you, though.That is absolutely right. Surely did.What is going on in your neighborhood?  What is going on in your city?  Are your concerns being met?  Are your problems being addressed?  If the answer is no, then what can you do about it?Sharika Evans grew up working in fast food. But, she said, the minimum wages she's received — at $7.25 an hour — are not enough to support a family, her health care, utilities and her bills, Evans said she was fired from the Mc[...]

One more shot to get STRs under control


Council is voting on this tomorrow.
The ordinance still has to come up for another key vote of approval on Dec. 1. The current recommendations are frightening — deeming that every house, apartment, condo and commercial building in the city, except the French Quarter, can become a STR — with no limits on density.

The council disregarded the public outcry over the proliferation of STRs. Citizens from neighborhoods throughout the city felt betrayed. There were cries of dismay when Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s amendment requiring a homestead exemption to operate an STR was narrowly voted down. We are puzzled by the council’s decision to press forward, tipping the scales in favor of the billion-dollar platforms that enable STRs.
There's still a chance to (sort of) tip the scales back (somewhat) toward residents tomorrow. Will councilmembers have the courage to even try?

It's a marvel we haven't accidentally nuked ourselves or others yet


Just reading the description of this system and the confidence its keepers appear to have in it makes me nervous.
Those familiar with the nuclear briefings say they demand a sharp focus.

“It’s not something that someone even with vast experience can easily digest,” said Leon Panetta, a former secretary of defense intimately familiar with the briefings.

“He’s got to be ready from the get-go to respond if necessary,” Panetta said. “There really is a long process, a classified process, that involves a lot of checks in the system to make sure no mistakes are made. It involves a number of key people.”
Clearly this is the set up to an awful and inevitable punchline. And that's even before we add Trump to the equation. Now that he's there, though.  Well.. 
From the day Trump takes the oath of office, a military aide will shadow him everywhere, carrying a black satchel containing the system to convey a nuclear launch order. The satchel is popularly known as “the football.”

“His first briefing will be just about how the process works: ‘There will be a military aide with you at all times and he has the football,’ ” said P.J. Crowley, a retired Air Force officer and special assistant on national security affairs to former President Bill Clinton.

Trump will learn how a launch order would “send key people to underground bunkers,” Crowley said. “That’s a critical dimension of this. Even for the Strategic Command out in Nebraska, this would send an airborne command up in the air.”

The black satchel operates with a dual key system, and part of the system is for the president to take a card from his pocket to input the correct codes.

“The card itself is critical to begin the process that activates the system,” Panetta said.
Everyone in grown-up media world is lecturing everyone else about paying too much attention to random shit Trump tweets out. But I kind of think this is a perfect week to be watching. You never know what he might post.  

Read more here:

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Read more here:

It only matters when the tourism money is perceived to be at risk


Billy Nungesser may not be very bright but he sure knows who his friends are
Lt. Billy Nungesser told the Monroe News Star that the mass shooting represented the type of violence that could "destroy" the state's tourism industry. "Something has to change," he said. "We have to do something now before we let thugs kill tourism."
As for me, I'm not so sure the real "thugs" aren't actually running our tourism industry in the first place. But that's a different topic.  In this article, we have  all the elements of our "leaders'" accustomed selfish, panicked overreaction to tragedy that can only lead to more pain and tragedy as it progresses. 

But such is the politics of all against all capitalism. No one here addresses the question of societal violence. Hell, no one in this article is even really concerned about gun violence in the city. They're just mad that it sometimes (although infrequently relative to the rest of town) happens in front of their amusement factory.

A crisis type news event has the potential to motivate political change. But none of these bar owners has the courage or empathy to apply that energy toward the fundamental problem.  Instead they focus only on the simplest and most brutal (not to mention profit generating for the right contractor) means of protecting their immediate interests.

Whether the problem is crime, housing, or  climate change and coastal erosion our corrupt political response is not equipped to address any of it so long as it retains a myopic focus on the interests of the individually wealthy at the expense of the collective.  In other words, get ready to pay more so they can stay rich.