Saturday, November 15, 2008

An interesting profile

...of our notorious mayor:


- The mayor’s unwillingness to tolerate criticism hardened into a state of willful denial this summer, thanks to a scandal involving a program run by the New Orleans Homeownership Corp. News reports revealing that contractors had charged the city for work they did not do prompted the convening of a grand jury. Nagin doesn’t seem worried about the federal investigation, even though one of the program’s highest-paid contractors—S&A Construction—is run by his brother-in-law, Cedric Smith. He vows that Smith will face justice if he is culpable. “Everybody’s looking at it,” Nagin says with a smile, “which is great. Because now I’ve got professional investigators versus bloggers.”

Let's see if he's that happy when they start the crime camera investigation.

- The mood is dark but also distracted, as Gustav is making its way toward the Gulf Coast. The mayor, who is dressed casually in a light-blue short-sleeved dress shirt and a dark-blue blazer, seems edgy and irritated. He appears to be focused more on his critics than on the Katrina remembrance. “So when people talk about their love for this great city,” he says to the crowd, “and then you go to a blog, or you read something and it is divisive, it is hateful, it is mean-spirited, my question to you is how can you love New Orleans if you don’t love all of us?”

The race baiting continues...

“To me, some of those blogs have become the new sheets for racist people,” Nagin explains when asked why he worked an anti-blog rant into a Katrina memorial. “They’re not marching around with white sheets. They’re on the blogs and in the comments sections.” But since his re-election, his own comments have sometimes seemed both strange and offensive.

Once again he's suggesting that N.O. bloggers are racially motivated in their criticism of him and his administration...and I think he actually believes that. I've seen the race card used tactically by former school board members and city council members, but in this case, I think Nagin really believes we are attacking him on a personal and racially motivated level....never mind the African-American bloggers and journalists who are in that number.

When he refers to the comments section I'm sure he's referring to the TP comments section and by all means he's justified in that respect but if he's actually paying attention to those idiots he's the only one. To lump N.O. blogs in with the redneck lunatics who comment on the T.P. is bullshit but in his compartmentalized view of the world I'm sure he thinks because the information is coming from the's all the same thing.

The writer Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine, describes actions like those as “disaster capitalism”: profiteering and privatization in the wake of shocks such as 9/11 or Katrina. So when I spot Alan Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence, on Nagin’s desk and ask him about it, I’m surprised to learn that he’s not reading it but The Shock Doctrine, which he pulls from his briefcase.

“I understand exactly the premise that they’re presenting,” Nagin says, holding the book aloft, “that’s for sure. Look, man, after this disaster there is big money! The shock-and-awe piece of what they’re talking about is absolutely correct.” I ask if he’s read the chapter in which Klein laments that the public sphere in New Orleans is “being erased, with the storm used as the excuse.” Nagin replies cheerily, “I haven’t gotten that far! I just picked it up.”

What Klein specifically referred to in the book was the effort to privatize our public school system in the wake of Katrina...and she was absolutely right about that. Regardless, his comment that after the disaster "there is big money!" was priceless. I wish I could have seen the glee in his eyes when he said that. I often wonder if Ray has mastered the art of playing the fool or if he really is just a damn fool...I'm starting to lean to the latter.

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