Crazy Like A Fox February 21, 2008Posted by The Typist in 504, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
Tags: C. Ray Nagin, corruption, mayor, New Orleans, racism
There’s not much I can add to all of the other commentary on Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s outburst on WWL-TV today. Just check out the usual suspects: Adrastos, Ashley Morris and American Zombie in the column to your right. The mayor’s public tantrum came in response to a story that will air at 10 p.m. central detailing exactly what he has been doing to bring the city back over the past year. From the teasers, the answer some will find in a close examination of a year of his calendar is: not much.
Perhaps the news we have an absentee landlord of a mayor come as a surprise to some visitor who happens to be in their room at 10 tonight and not out partying, but it will not surprise anyone who lives here. We have a mayor with a home in Texas who is invisible to the public unless he’s doing something incredibly stupid, like brandishing an assault rifle at a press conference detailing how the city has squandered millions of recovery dollars buying SWAT gear when the guys we have on the front line don’t have what it takes to get the job done.
The simple fact is Nagin is, like a significant portion of the population here, in some form of burnout from the entire recovery experience. The difference between Nagin and every other poor schmuck out there is that when he swings the hammer and misses, he hits us all.
I’ve stood up for C. Ray in the long ago. Since then, I have witnessed a combination of ineptitude and the continuous appearance of impropriety and his prior public breakdowns. The sympathy, such as I had when I wrote the Vast White Ring Conspiracy post on Wet Bank Guide almost a year ago is replaced entirely by disgust.
There were hints in his morning interview of attempts to play the race card, and I’ve seen a reaction of that sort already on a mailing list I belong to, an otherwise thoughtful person buying into the “well there are a lot of racists who don’t like him.” Well, there are a lot of racists who don’t like people of another color, but the mental space Ray has entered is as far out there as that of the readers of the Turner Diaries, an alternate universe in which their own personal failings are excused by a racial boogie=man other.
Except I am not so sure that Nagin is that crazy. More, as my trite headline suggests, crazy like a fox. What is hiding behind the public buffoonery is a concerted program of looting the city recovery money via extravagant, no-bid contracts to his contributors. I plan to come back and work on a post, in fact hope to fulfill some of the mayor’s paranoid delusion by encouraging other bloggers in New Orleans to take up Bayou St. John David’s call for a concerted campaign to publicize the clear appearance of corruption in City Hall.
For now, visit his blog–Moldy City– and Dambala’s American Zombie and read what real journalism looks like. The WWL-TV piece promises some of that tonight, but if you want to see it in black-on-white, you can forget the daily Times-Picayune and the weekly “alternative”/lifestyle magazine Gambit. You’ll have to read the best of citizen journalism in the NOLA Blogosphere to start to see the real reason Nagin is mostly invisible when he’s not playing the fool or tossing gasoline on the smoldering racial tension in the city. It’s a great cover for doing with what’s left of the recovery dollars what was done by friends of the White House with the vast majority of the over $100 billion Congress think they’ve spent down here.
Part of the mayor’s tirade was against “bloggers”, but which other bloggers think he means the sort of scum who spend their days on NOLA.Com forums and comment threads of the T-P stories they published. There NOLA.com comment and forum rooms are certainly a human sewer. The sort of psychotic venom found there would be sufficient data for any advanced, space-faring race that happens to drift by to assume humanity are some sort of terrible disease this planet has caught and which they would be doing all the other life forms a favor by exterminating.
I believe that the mayor reads actual bloggers. I think he knows who he means, and it scares the hell out of him that at some point someone in a position of authority in a media outlet outside the city, or perhaps someone in the U.S. Attorney’s office, might also find them. Bloggers like AZ and BSJD have done all the heavy lifting. All some enterprising Pulitzer hound needs to do is stumble into their extensive indexing of the stories that have actually appeared in the Times-Picayune, stories the T-P must be consciously choosing to not link together,in order to tear away the facade of transparency and reform to reveal was it festering underneath.