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Archive for February, 2009

Jindal: From Rising Star to Black Hole

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

LNW_Jindal_responseWhile “disastrous” was among the more charitable descriptions of Bobby Jindal’s performance Tuesday night, we would like to thank him for mounting so ineffectual a response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. (The joke in the White House press room is that Jindal has gone from being a rising star to a black hole.) We take no pleasure in the derision—laughter at a governor who has made a fool of himself on national television only makes our state look bad—but we’re glad that he put up no serious resistance to the persuasiveness of Obama’s progressive agenda. Jindal has done us the favor of leaving his party even more leaderless and dispirited. His faux-optimistic speech, titled “Americans Can Do Anything,” was clearly written before the G.O.P. knew what Obama would say; they were expecting a gloomy assessment of the economy without an equal measure of confidence that the nation can rebuild and come back stronger than before.


Happy Mardi Gras 2009

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

The Festivities and Pageants arranged for his Majesty’s reception will surpass in joyousness and splendor the most brilliant attainments of his glorious past. It is ordained that good weather shall prevail, and the City of Flowers in its Festive array promises abundant pleasure to all within her gates.

—Proclamation by the King of the Carnival, 1934

From Henri Schindler’s Mardi Gras: New Orleans.  Illustration by S. von Ehrens.

From Henri Schindler’s Mardi Gras: New Orleans. Illustration by S. von Ehrens.

To everyone in New Orleans—and wherever Carnival is celebrated—we send warm greetings and best wishes for abundant fun and pleasures on Fat Tuesday, for joyful forgetting and release from heavy cares, and hopes that you may come back to your daily life refreshed and reinvigorated, with not too grinding a hangover.

For the people of Louisiana who are jobless and need unemployment insurance relief, we hope your ambitious governor will come (or be brought) to his senses and accept the financial assistance that Washington has made available for the public good.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mr. Jindal, Tear Down This Ambition

Friday, February 20th, 2009


Who says brainy, high-I.Q. types can’t be stunningly obtuse? Or cold-hearted?

We were already highly irritated with Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, by some accounts an educated man, for supporting and signing the creationist, Orwellian-named Louisiana Academic Freedom Act, a law that officially weakens the teaching of evolution and now punishes New Orleans as a national science association sadly announces it would rather meet in Salt Lake City (!) than convene its 2,300 members in an anti-science state.

In today’s G.O.P., a governor with presidential ambitions is a curse that we would not wish on any state.

Now, Jindal says he’ll reject $98 million from the recently passed economic stimulus bill that would go to extend unemployment insurance for up to 25,000 Louisianans.


Polar-Palooza and the Singing Glaciologist

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009



If Greenland melts, the seas will rise 23 feet. Greenland + Antarctica = 38 feet.

[Editor’s note: The Arctic and Antarctic may seem a long way from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but melting ice caps and warming oceans lead to rising sea levels and fiercer hurricanes. ’Nuff said?]

While everyone else is blogging about the stimulus plan (keep it up) we want to tell you about the “Polar-Palooza” talk we heard this weekend at the New York Times building, hosted by Andrew Revkin, environment reporter for the Times (see his great blog Dot Earth here) and author of The North Pole Was Here. Revkin moderated a discussion by four scientists studying the climate conditions and biology of the North and South poles and Greenland.

The talk’s title, “Stories from a Changing Planet” sounds innocuous—like there’s nothing to worry about? Indeed the tone was friendly, likely to encourage people to care about what is happening to the poles rather than to threaten with doom scenarios—but the subtext (like the bulk of an iceberg) was chilling. How scary? If all the ice on Greenland were to melt, the seas would rise 23 feet. If Antarctica also were to melt, seas would rise 38 feet. How would a Category 5-strength levee hold up against that?


Roll Up Sleeves, Pick Up Phone

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

“The situation could not be more serious. It is inexcusable and irresponsible to get bogged down in distraction and delay while millions of Americans are being put out of work. It is time for Congress to act. . . . This is not some abstract debate. It is an urgent and growing crisis.”
President Obama, Feb. 6, 2009

LNW_USA.sleeveAll week we’ve been wondering Where are the f—ing Senate Democrats?! It’s as though the camera hogs have turned into groundhogs, frightened of their shadows, leaving Obama to do all the heavy lifting on the American Recovery and Investment Plan, better known as The Stimulus.

We’ve tried calling a half-dozen senators’ offices to find out why Reid, or Durbin, or Schumer—usually so eager for the spotlight—have been camera-shy, but for some reason the lines were busy. Why haven’t the Senate Democrats been pushing back against the GOP’s flood of distortions and exaggerations? They should be out there explaining—simply, directly, using the same honest and memorable phrases over and over—the need to invest in public transportation and other infrastructure, helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, extending unemployment benefits and food stamps, and helping states pay Medicaid and education expenses so they don’t have to cut vital programs. Many senators, we know, are busy hashing out the details of the stimulus package, but we want to see the Democrats compete for air time with the Republicans, who have at least been showing up for work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, and everyplace else with a camera. (See “GOP Outnumbers Dems 2 to 1 in Cable News Stimulus Coverage” and “Dems Acknowledge They’re Being Outworked on TV, Vow to Fix.” And Daily Kos points out that, “adding insult to injury, a number of the Democrats who appeared are opposed to the stimulus bill.”)