ISIS is losing, Iraq is improving... says an article today on Vox:

Sowell agrees. "There is no Islamic 'State' in Iraq. They're basically operating as an insurgency/mafia," he says. "They just don't have the ability, the wherewithal in Iraq to set up Sharia courts, patrol, and really govern a state."

Let's hope so, because I'm growing weary of Lindsey-in-the-closet saying "boots on the ground".

This is a good read, and a good analysis of the current situation in Iraq.


Bravo, Brother Martin!

My alma mater, Brother Martin High School, won its fourth consecutive state wrestling title over the weekend. Congrats to Coach Dauterive and the team. The BMHS wrestling program has a long history of success and championships.

Not only is four straight state titles a great feather in the school's and Coach's caps, it's four straight for one particular wrestler. He's won state in his weight class all four years he's competed. He did it with a pretty messed-up knee, too:

Saturday night, it was his left knee that he felt pop out late in the match. Of course, that wasn’t going to stop him either.

He went on to claim a 10-5 victory over Joey Foret of Holy Cross.

He then flashed four fingers and flexed his muscles toward the throng of Brother Martin fans among the announced crowd of 3,972.

Klein won the 106-pound weight class as a freshman, the 120 as a sophomore and repeated as 132-pound champion to stake his claim as one of the best LHSAA wrestlers ever.

As we would've said back in the day, that's one crazy muthafucka...and we'd applaud the heck out of him when he got back to school. Best of luck to Klein as he has surgery to get his knee/leg patched up, then he's off to Arizona State next year.

SHAMELESS PLUG: want to learn more about Brother Martin High and its predecessor schools run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart? Buy my book.


Merging UNO and SUNO...again

Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.

The talk of merging the University of New Orleans with Southern University in New Orleans has been going on since I was a UNO student in the late 1970s. Now that Candidate Bobby Jindal (I do not refer to his elected title; he spends so much time out of the state campaigning for President, he forfeited the right to be called anything but a candidate) has destroyed most of the governmental infrastructure by not planning for sharp drops in oil prices and refusing to increase taxes/fees, lawmakers are scrambling to find any way possible to keep state-run universities from vanishing altogether.

Some background. The University of New Orleans was founded in 1957, a logical extension of the Louisiana State University system into the state's largest urban area. With thousands of men and women settling in after WWII, many wanted to use their GI Bill benefits and get a college degree. Working folks couldn't take time from life to spend four years as full-time students at LSU, so then-Governor Earl K. Long and the state legislature decided to convert the old Naval Station New Orleans site on Lake Pontchartrain into an institution of higher learning. (It didn't hurt that a university would extent the governor's control into Orleans Parish, pissing off his long-time rival/enemy, Mayor DeLessepps Story "Chep" Morrison.) So, Louisiana State University in New Orleans was born. The school dropped the "LS" in LSUNO in 1974, becoming UNO.

Southern University in New Orleans, just down the road from UNO

The late 1950s were Jim Crow days. To keep LSUNO white, a separate but equal institution had to be built. That was relatively easy for the state--just extend the Southern University system into Orleans Parish as well, so Southern University in New Orleans opened in 1959, just two miles from UNO's main campus.

By the 1970s, the African-American community in the city was done with SUNO as a separate institution. LSU in Baton Rouge got the lions' share of the state's education funding, UNO got the poor cuts of the meat, and SUNO got what was tossed on the floor for the dogs. Jarvis DeBerry explains in a 2011 column for

SUNO was created in 1959 "for the express purpose of further perpetuating the immoral system of racism in this country." That's what an English professor at SUNO said in a letter to this newspaper a decade later. That same year, the New Orleans branch of the NAACP issued a statement that the organization "is unalterably opposed to segregated public education" and pushed for a merger of SUNO and what was then called LSUNO.

When I student President of the College of Education in 1978, this was more than a logical way of thinking. UNO had over 6000 black students in those days, 25% more than the entire SUNO student body. over 90% of Education graduates passed the National Teacher Examination, while only 25% of SUNO grads did. By the 1980s, several departments at both schools flirted with resource-sharing, particularly in Sociology/Social Work and Education.

But times have changed. Jindal has destroyed Louisiana, to the point where UNO, the larger school by far, is dropping degree programs because of massive budget cuts. It's only a matter of time before the only money left in the state budget for higher education will go to the "flagship" school, LSU.

It's a sad comment on Bobby Jindal's stewardship of Louisiana that blacks in this state have so little that now they feel SUNO is worth keeping. Again, DeBerry:

It's fair to ask, however: How is it that the very creation of SUNO isn't tallied as a loss? How does a campus the government created in the furtherance of segregation come to be championed by those whose segregation was the aim? It's the Joseph story. It's the story of black people all over this country who, while fully aware of their government's devilment, worked together with the faith that they could still squeeze out of it much that is good.

Nothing left to squeeze, unfortunately. This time, the UNO-SUNO merger may stick, being the only way to keep any public higher education in New Orleans.

Thanks, Obama!


Vitty-cent strives for relavence...

In an effort to look like he's DOING SOMETHING, Louisiana's now-senior Senator wants to find out why Republicans are getting health insurance via the Affordable Care Act:

Vitter had announced earlier that the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee he chairs is conducting an investigation into misleading information submitted by the House and Senate as it made arrangements for members and employees to obtain their health insurance in 2014 through Washington D.C's Affordable Care Act marketplace for small businesses. 

So, Vitty-cent is unhappy that free-market capitalists got good value for their money under Obamacare? Well, yeah. Kind of reminds me of a Democratic policital operative/consultant in the 1980s who was outraged that I suggested Democrats taking a crack at running for office use a mailing list provider that charged three times less than she did. She was outraged for the same reason David is: heretics can't be tolerated. 

But the House of Representatives versus the Senate is an old and established rivalry that trumps any notion of party unity. The response from the House is what you'd expect:

"Although I appreciate your interest in this important issue, I have been unable to identify a provision of the Senate rules indicating that the internal operations of the House of Representatives fall within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship."

Translation: Suck it, Diaper Boy. Oh, excuse me...Senator Diaper Boy.


Metairie Mardi Gras is always SO much fun...

I'm conflicted when it comes to accusations of police brutality during Carnival time. Local law enforcement agencies have a tough job, dealing with drunks and stupid people, so others can enjoy parades. So, when I read a description like this, I'm inclined to believe it:

While Becker maintains he didn’t know Breaux was even a deputy, the report says Breaux and Porche identified themselves as law enforcement officers when they first approached Becker and a large group of his friends, who had watched a parade in Metairie the night of Feb. 13. The report says uniformed officers had been trying to usher “large numbers of people to their vehicles or from the area” after the parade when several people in Becker’s group began shouting “F--- the cops.”

Hey, I'd be the first to hell "Fuck the cops!", particularly at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. I grew up with this group of upstanding men and women in blue; I got stories. But in the parking lot at Da Mall, in the aftermath of a parade? Let's face it, we're not talking about the cream of society there, under the overpass. 

OK, so just when I'm willing to give JPSO the benefit of the doubt, I read this:

Becker was so inebriated after being taken into custody, the report alleges, deputies had to stop their vehicle so he could vomit as they left the parking garage of the Lakeside Shopping Center. Later that night, after Becker arrived at Interim LSU Hospital for treatment for his injuries, he asked Breaux and his partner, Cory Porche, what had happened, saying he “did not have any recollection of what occurred on the parade route,” the report says.

This is where law enforcement piss me off. These deputies reported, oh, we have a drunk guy, and he was puking. Sure, that makes sense. But then a video surfaces, where one of those deputies is recorded beating the shit out of the kid. Maybe he had to vomit because he was in shock? Maybe he didn't know where he was/what he was doing because he was concussed?

Time for the FBI to have a look-see at this one.

WWNO's Local Programming Problem...


Front-page banner from, New Orleans' NPR station.

I'm always conflicted when I want to write about WWNO. It's my school's radio station, even though it's not a "student" operation. I've always been quite proud that the NPR station for the city operates out of the University of New Orleans. The emergence of HD Radio on the scene changed the business model at WWNO radically. The station went from being a trifecta of drive-time news, daytime classical music, nighttime jazz, went to three HD channels with that content.

As a NPR news junkie, this made me happy, but then the station started to augment the daytime NPR lineup with local shows. A food/cooking show, another on local music, a books/reading program, and an interview program sponsored by a popular local restaurant, recorded on location at the restaurant.

The food show, "Louisiana Eats" and the music program "Music Inside Out" are positively awful, from the cliche' theme music, to the delivery of the hosts, to the mediocre and commercialized guests interviewed.

I just re-upped my contribution to WWNO, pledging $15/month, putting my money where my mouth is on this. The more-news format of 89.9 FM is a great concept. Here's to hoping WWNO can fix the mistakes and move forward.

Is this the end of St. Augustine High School?

Da Advocate, in reporting on the resignation of the chairman of St. Augustine High School's governing board, Daniel Davillier, includes an interesting and devastating quote from Mr. Davillier:

“The fact remains that St. Augustine High School is already in a precarious financial position,” Davillier wrote, “and adding an additional $580,000 of annual losses unnecessarily exposes the school to a substantially increased risk of insolvency within the next few years.”

That's a huge hit to the school's operating budget. Granted, some of that can be offset with faculty layoffs, but it's still going to hurt.

Unlike Holy Cross School and Christian Brothers School, St. Aug's decided to drop their sixth and seventh grade programs, rather than add K-5, as directed by the Archdiocese. The archbishop directed Catholic high schools in the area to operate either as K-12 or 8-12 schools. In recent years, Brother Martin High School and St. Augustine added seventh grade, and St. Aug continued to expand to include sixth grade. This was viewed by parishes operating elementary schools as unfair poaching. They saw the expansion by the two high schools as starting a trend.

Two schools, Christian Brothers and Holy Cross, got caught in the crossfire. CBS has long been a middle school, offering grades 5-6-7, and Holy Cross has long operated both a middle school (5-7) and a high school (8-12). Both schools have submitted plans to operate as K-12.

That leaves the city's historically black boy's Catholic high school, St. Augustine, holding the bag. The school has struggled in recent years with both recruiting and retention, and those struggles are reflected by the financial situation.

It appears that St. Augustine would rather continue its mission of educating high school-age boys than change formats. A proposal to merge St. Mary's Academy with St. Augustine, making a historically black coed Catholic school. It will be interesting to see the St. Augustine faith community's reception of that proposal.

Texts for TOPS

The Taylor Opportunity Plan for Students (TOPS) is a wonderful program to provide tuition assistance to Louisiana residents attending state colleges and universities. There are problems with keeping students in the program, however:

A legislative audit last year found that nearly half of the students lost their awards before finishing college, and most of them lost their awards during their first year. It concluded that the state spent more than $46.7 million on TOPS awards for students who didn’t make it on the program past their first year.

While a lot of the students who don't make it likely flunked out, there are a number of pitfalls in the program in terms of paperwork and such, that a student could show up for their second year, only to find they didn't re-qualify for TOPS.

The state's setting up a program to send SMS (text) messages to students, rather than trying to voice-call them, to remind them to check on their TOPS status. This makes perfect sense, since teens and 20somethings use their phones to text more than just about anything else.

State Troopers for Essence Fest makes sense...

Mayor Landrieu wants to beef up NOPD's street presence this holiday weekend with reinforcements from the Louisiana State Police. Not an unreasonable request, in the wake of the white-on-white shooting on Bourbon Street last week. Candidate Jindal's in a tough spot, though. Had the shooters in last week's incident been black, Governor Sociopath would have been able to score many points with Duck-believing Christians nationwide by stepping in. Now, it's more complicated:

That request was met with a cool response from Gov. Bobby Jindal, who pledged a typical deployment over the July 4 weekend for Essence Festival but made no promises beyond that.

State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said he would meet with New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas on Wednesday to discuss providing a contingent of troopers to augment the NOPD through Labor Day.

Edmonson doesn't get along well with NOPD (and that should not totally reflect poorly on him), so this will be strained. Landrieu is caught between a rock and a hard place, given the city's chronic underfunding.



Is Our Children Learning?

The Recovery School District proposal was controversial, even in the pre-Katrina world, but it passed because the common mantra was "how much worse can it be?" There's a lot of truth there. So many members of the OPSB from the decade before that were pushed out of office under clouds of suspicion and corruption, if not under indictment or in jail. Schools were a disaster.

Then the storm washed away all opposition, and in came the corps. Have we improved? Hard to tell--the metrics don't indicate much change other than who's profiting:

Even by the state’s own haphazard standards, the now all-charter RSD New Orleans continues to remain at the bottom of state rankings. In 2012, the RSD was given a “D” letter grade.” In 2013, the RSD was given a “C” – still withEven by the state’s own haphazard standards, the now all-charter RSD New Orleans continues to remain at the bottom of state rankings. In 2012, the RSD was given a “D” letter grade.” In 2013, the RSD was given a “C” – still within the state’s own definition as failing in terms of voucher the state’s own definition as failing in terms of voucher eligibility.

We shouldn't use taxpayer funds to pay corporations to do such a mediocre job.