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Feverish Ravings of a Middle-Aged Mind

Douglas Moran

Douglas Moran
Austin, Texas,
June 25
Low-level Technical Weenie
TechnoGypsy, family dude, technical writer, frisbee golfer, movie buff, political junkie, gadget fiend, computer nerd.


Editor’s Pick
MAY 5, 2010 2:21PM

Louisianans Ain't Ignorant Hicks

Rate: 20 Flag


My pop, who works for Halliburton--frequently offshore--could have been there

I love the blogger digby--I read her (and her co-bloggers) pretty much every day.  But one has to bear in mind that she's an unrepentant, California, Baby Boom leftie.  Which is one of the reasons I read her--God knows we need more of those--but sometimes it does irk me.

See, I live in Austin, and have for almost 10 years.  My wife's family is in Louisiana, and we got there as often as we can.  So I kind of have a different perspective than your garden-variety California progressive.  And in one of her posts yesterday, digby's attitude, more than what she said, really kind of rankled.  (Fortunately, Mike Madden of Salon had a partial antidote today--thanks, Mike!)  digby's posts often have the subtext (or even the overt text!) of, "If only they would listed to us California Liberals, we'd all be doing so much better."   This time, while she kept it below full-on digby bore, it was still discomfiting.

See, here's the thing:  I'm reasonably sure that digby simply has no idea what life in the Gulf states, and particularly in Louisiana, is like.  None.  It can't be explained, it can only be experienced.  
My in-laws are from Louisiana.  My father-in-law works in the oil bidness for Halliburton.  It's easy for people in California--I was one of them!--to think that Louisianans are clueless, back-country hicks who don't know what's good for them.  The fact is, though, that it ain't true.  
The oil business has been very, very good for Louisiana.  My Father-in-law, starting life in a shack with no indoor plumbing, managed to buy a nice house, raise a family, and put two kids through college on oil money.  So have tens of thousands of others in Louisiana and Texas.  Yup, the business is crooked, and it dumps toxic shit into the water, and they have tanker leaks and explosions and leaky tanks that spill oil into hurricane-flooded rivers.  And they put my Pop's kids through college, so they wouldn't have to live in Louisiana and drink toxic water and breathe chemical fumes from the PPG plant on the lake.  
Add that to the fact that Louisiana politics is crooked, unbelievably crooked.  This is the state that gave us Huey Long, remember.  But do you know how folks in Louisiana remember Huey Long?  "He built roads."  That was Huey Long . . . if you're a Louisianan.  This is the state where David Duke ran for Senate.  This is the state where one gubernatorial contest was between an indicted felon and a convicted felon.  This isn't simple "hand in the cookie jar" corruption; this is generations-long, nepotistic, ingrained corruption of the first water.  And the problem is, as bad as it can be, those people often get shit done.  So how are you supposed to feel about that?  Appalled?  Grateful?  Disgusted?  Relieved?  Who the hell can say?  

But Louisianans know the dangers.  Believe me they do.  Sami's grandfather died at 56 of heart failure--after jumping off an exploding rig and swimming for his life.  People don't swim in Lake Charles, and make jokes about Gulf water.   Rigs have been offshore since the 20s--these people know the score, believe me.

I think digby (and other non-Southern progressives) know this stuff intellectually, but until you've been there, lived there, had relatives working there, you can't understand it really, not in your gut.  And until you do, your opinons are going to sound like those of an arrogant Yankee carpet-bagging liberal who thinks he or she knows what's best for those dumb, swamp-dwelling, gumbo-eating hicks.  Even if that's not what you're thinking, that attitude seeps through.  Believe me; Sami whacks me often enough over it.

I have enormous respect for digby.  Huge.  Hers is one of only three or four blogs that I read every day.  But when it comes to the oil business, and the people who make their livlihoods from it, I don't think she really understands.  So kvetch about Landrieu all you want--Lord knows she deserves it.  But bear in mind that there's far worse out there than her.  Louisianans know.  They know, because they've lived through them. 

Just something to think about.

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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! From someone that knows the difference between a hick, a hillbilly and a redneck.
I get so tired of the racism that it's hard for me to talk to some of these people some times.
I am from Louisiana, New Orleans area. I was born in California-Military Brat.
My father worked on the oil rigs for a little while after he left the Marines when we moved back to Louisiana. My older brother works now for an oil company-Civil Engineer. And I have many young family members working for the oil companies.
Yes, the oil business is a Louisiana livelihood. I do get that.
As a Independent-Moderate that voted Democratic in 2008 I understand the importance of a clean environment.
Nothing is ever simple---nothing is Black and White -except the color black and the color white--everything else are shades of gray.
I wrote this because I had a emotional conflict brewing inside since the oil spell.
Oil--oil workers---Louisiana livelihood---environmentalist--wildlife--seafood Industry---Louisiana livelihood---
Like I stated about---nothing is white or black

As a Californian, I have no beef with Louisianans. What does bother me, however, is the complete lack of safety features on the rigs. This rarely happens in oher countries because of regulations. I know that's a dirty word to many Americans, but it shouldn't be.
Generalizations are not good for anyone, ( a generalization in itself, I admit ) be it about Louisiana "hicks" or California "lefties"... We are with you, Louisiana. This too shall pass?
No, it's not just digby; it was just her post that set me off.
I read Digby's post yesterday, and just went and reread it now.

Can you point out what specifically she says that gives you the impression she is looking down on anyone as a stupid hick? Or even which paragraph gives you that impression? I don't see it at all.
Right on! Digby is clueless. I worked for a few weeks as a contract welder in Morgan City, Louisiana back around '90 and by the time I left I was certain that no matter how long I lived there, I would always be an outsider. And that isn't intended in any way to put them down. They are just a different society, a different life, and you have to have lived it to truly understand it and I hadn't. And they have one hell of a work ethic, too.
Good post! My sister lives in San Francisco and wanted to come live with me here on Ohio after my housemate and best friend died nearly ten years ago. I knew she was looking for some place to live free of charge and having had to out her out once before when she came to live with me because she tried to stir up trouble with my then roommate and her fiancé, I knew I couldn't let her come to Toledo. So, I told her gay people aren't allowed here and she believed me because she and my brother who lives out there think that we live in the Dark Ages in the South and Midwest.

Thanks for setting the record straight! Rated
Estellar: It wasn't a particular sentence; it was more a subtext of "you stupid morons; if only you listened to us smart folks you would elect a *real* progressive, not someone like Landrieu." I very much appreciate digby pushing the progressive agenda, but she just doesn't understand how the issues of politics, people, and oil are intertwined in Louisiana.

John: no one knows that better than the poor guys who work the rigs. The previous administration did their very best to gut regulatory policies; this explosion is just the most obvious example of that deliberate neglect.

Henry: I don't think she's *clueless*; I just think she needs to spend some time outside of California. Hell, I think *everyone* does--including me.

Diva: I know just what you mean--Sami got bonked with that kind of attitude all the time she was in CA before we moved to Austin. Fortunately, so many Californians are already from "somewhere else," it's hardly universal.
As a native Louisianian, who lived in NYC for 13 years and now lives in Austin (wave as you drive by!) I have experienced firsthand the attitude you're referring to. People living on either coast look down their noses at those living in the south. And Louisiana and Texas are high on the hate list (though Austin often gets a pass, because of its liberal leanings). Even good friends who still live in NY let disparaging remarks slip because, well, "I don't really think of you as a southerner." I think that's supposed to be a compliment. But you're spot on when you say that only someone who has lived and breathed the life there and especially someone who taken a dip in one of the other coasts can you really understand where both perspectives are coming from. But, it's hard to be a hybrid.
Digby needs to be schooled by Massachusetts.
Really, a subtext? I think you're imaging things, but that's just my opinion.

She must have seen this because she just took you downcourt, or down ice, or whatever it is that guys say! She took you down! ;)

I guess seeing something that isn't there is one way to get attention. You got Digby's attention. She's one of the best. You pissed her off so much by accusing her of something she never did, said, or implied, that you got one of the top bloggers to link to you. So, though I may quibble with the method, I guess I have to give you props for that.
My brother lives in Baton Rouge. His wife works for Gov. Jindal. Her family is sweet, smart and loving. They are nothing at all like the stereotype. Most people aren't. Thank you for reminding everybody.

And as a side note, Huey Long didn't just build roads. Before him, there was no bridge spanning the Mississippi at New Orleans. The Huey Long Bridge--still used by thousands of cars a day--is also a railroad bridge used by freight trains.

Now, consider that the vast majority of grain exports in America pass through here, and that, when the Port of New Orleans is combined with the Port of South Louisiana just a few miles up the river in the suburb of LaPlace, this is the fourth largest port in the entire world. That bridge is extremely important not just to the local economy, but to the national one.

Also, before Long, the poor--both black and white--de facto could not vote because they had to pay the poll tax, which had to be paid in person, at the courthouse, at Christmas.

No one down here denies that he was a crook. But he got shit done.
You're right, of course, not ALL Louisianans are ignorant hicks. It just seems like the ones who are are consternated where I have to travel or work! After forty years of working in and traveling through Louisana I think there should be a sign at the boarder: Welcome to Louisiana - set your watch back 100 years!
I read this article, that one, then the other one, and I'm not getting it. Must be because I'm a Northerner and I don't understand how you're still proud of the deal your politicians made with the Devil, even though the Devil is now taking his due. Your politicians won't suffer when the Gulf is destroyed, will they?
I frequently feel somewhat the same, being from TX. I rant about TX as much as the next person, but still we aren't all that way. And like you, I know people who could have been there. One of my husband's friends has a relative that worked on that rig off and on for years - he says it always had problems, it was known as a problem rig....

I love LA - it's a different world. Not stupid or unsophisticated - just running on a different thought-system. Isn't it the only state in the nation still to use Napoleanic code?

Great post - and congrats on the cover!
Yeah, we should all be as smart as Californians. Then we would have $20 Billion state deficit and our Governors would be sitting on the corner with a tin cup like Arnold is. It isn't just the state either. Most of the cities of any size in California are also broke. California is the "Greece" of the US. Hopefully, our "courageous leaders" in D.C. will have the stones that the Eurozone and the IMF have to make California change their "enlightened" policies before we bail them out.

I don't doubt they will get a bail out. Obama has no choice. It is one of the few places left in the country that believes that bankrupting the future is good policy. I do suspect it will come after November however.
Huh. I thought "Feverish Ravings of a Middle-Aged Mind" was supposed to be ironic. But it seems to be like Glenn Beck's "I'm just an ex-rodeo clown": a seemingly self-deprecating cover for demagoguery. NOTHING of what you accuse Digby of has any basis in her column, only in your own boiled imagination and sense of grievance. I'm very sorry that you feel that a southern politician selling out her constituents (and despoiling an environment we all have a stake in) is a southern matter that outsiders dare not comment on. I certainly think it's OK for any American to comment on American issues. But if you don't, then please be consistent and don't comment on any event or person outside of the South.
I live on the beaches of south Walton County in Florida and other than a very rare trip to NO, my principal engagement with Louisianans is during our tourist season. Humongous SUV's (somebody has money!) loaded with every beach accoutrement known to man (and blocking any sort of peripheral or rear vision) lumber into our community and hopeless clog our roads. It's our deal with the devil in being a tourism based economy.
I completely understand the need of Louisianans to seek an un-befouled beach for their vacation but it makes me think about the deal with the devil they made generations ago to allow the desecration of their own natural endowment by chemical and oil industries. Greed and ignorance have similar consequences.
It's the old story again of money buying power and influence. The people of Louisiana must bear some of the guilt however for allowing the inbred corruption of their governments and their failure to preserve their natural heritage. Yes, their taxes are low, but the cost of tolerating this plutocracy is one of the most polluted environments in America.
Yeah, but those Californians sure can suck up all that oil and gas.
I'm somewhat sympathetic to your position. I grew up in Hawaii, and pretty much every time I read anything about it in the media or on blogs I feel like the writer never quite "gets it."

But in this case, I just don't see it. It seems to me Digby is limiting her criticisms to the senator. If your critique of Digby's post is based on some amorphous complaint about her "attitude," such that you don't quote anything she actually says, I think that suggests your critique isn't very fair. Maybe she doesn't understand something about Louisiana politics that would put Landrieu's comments in some sort of necessary perspective, and you suggest as much, but that's very different from saying she thinks Landrieu can get away with it because Louisiana is full of "hicks."
"Estellar: It wasn't a particular sentence; it was more a subtext of "you stupid morons; if only you listened to us smart folks you would elect a *real* progressive, not someone like Landrieu." I very much appreciate digby pushing the progressive agenda, but she just doesn't understand how the issues of politics, people, and oil are intertwined in Louisiana."

Speak for yourself, Doug. This state has gotten wingnuttier and wingnuttier over the years (creationism in the schools?!) and it's not because of oil. Most Louisiana voters do not, in fact, work for oil companies. If anything, it's probably because Huey Long F*CKED us back in the day and so we've had to put up with all the neurotoxic effects of oil contamination with no royalty money to clean it up.

Just kidding. Yes, oil brings in the money, but I REALLY do not think it's the case that the Louisiana people uniformly love oil companies and Landrieu takes lots of money from them and so the people follow the money with their votes and keep her in office.

I think it's more like the oil companies fund her reelection, because Landrieu certainly doesn't do anything to endear Louisiana Democrats, what with her opposition to healthcare reform and pretty much every single progressive issue. That's what keeps her in office, not her pathetic groveling at the feet of Big Oil, all so they can say "Even the Democrat Mary Landrieu says that drilling a hole you can't close is a wonderful idea!"

I understand that your family is very into the oil business but you surely realize that there are a whole lot of fishermen out there who don't have warm fuzzy feelings about the industry. There are many of us who are nauseated by this blatantly bought-and-paid-for Senator. The difference is that you think she's bought and paid for by misunderstood salt-of-the-earth roughnecks and so it's OK.
@K2isnothome--Louisiana beaches sucked for swimming and laying out long, long before anyone knew there was oil offshore. For one, there aren't that many of them--most of our "shoreline" is actually marsh and wetlands, not sand, and two, the ones that do have sand (like Grand Isle) are pretty muddy once you get out more than about fifteen feet in the water.

Different geology between Florida and Louisiana.
I'm a cajun who grew up partly in Louisiana and partly in the rest of the country... and AMEN!
The cajuns have been discriminated against since they were banished from Nova Scotia. My grandfather grew up speaking french but they forbid him from speaking it in school. So he had to learn English. Don't you know it, that when WWII hit he was sent to northern Africa and France only to do translations for folks in the battle field?
Come-on Liberals! Stop being racist! lol!
Capt. Bill - Most people in Louisiana say the same thing about low brow Texans. What a typical comment from a resident of Bush country. (Austin gets a pass since it is known to be the only progressive city in the entire state.)
PS -please read my blog "Louisiana's Environmental Catastrophe" for information about Louisiana's true environmental disaster.
This post leaves me with some mixed feelings. Here's another perspective. I'm Canadian, which despite a largely-shared culture with America, is regarded as an entire country so left-wing we probably look to the left of digby to most Americans. An entire book (the recommended "Fire and Ice" by pollster Michael Adams) has been written about the very different, and diverging "mental maps" of the two nations, and yes, we are most divergent from the "deep south".

But I'm also from Alberta, the Texas of Canada, source of twice as much oil as you buy from Saudi Arabia; and within Canada, we poll furthest to the right and are regarded by some who haven't been here or read deeply, as a bunch of rednecks. I'm not in the oil industry, and even I am defensive about the "dirtiest oil in the world" phrase going around lately. (Well, until two weeks ago...)

So I'm in the odd position of sympathizing with the redneck stereotyping while simultaneously being mystified at how everybody didn't happily jump on board Dennis Kucinich health care plan.

But I do think Alberta can be "explained". You don't have to just come live here and immerse in the culture to understand it. We have clear reasons for putting up with the environmental costs of the Athabasca tar sands, the lower service levels that come from low tax rates, and so forth.

Heck, Discovery Channel explains rainforest tribes and Chinese peasants and Pakistani extremists well enough to give the viewers a handle on their viewpoints and motivations. Is Louisiana culture harder to "explain" that them?

Or is it just impossible to *sympathize* with their viewpoint until you live there, dependent on the culture and economy around you? Is this just about Mark Twain's adage about it being difficult to understand something when your salary depends on not understanding it?

Because that isn't about a culture so deep and complex it "must be experienced". That' s just about drinking the Kool-Aid.

I was born and raised in Alberta, like my father and his mother. (And that's about how far back you can go, this far west; she was raised in a city with as many aboriginals in buckskins as settlers in gingham.) But I know fossil fuels can't go on forever - not even for many decades. Alberta has to change its economy.

Germans and Japanese had utter destruction and poverty imposed from outside a few generations back; before and after that destruction, they industrialized in a way that had appalling environmental costs which they recognized and diligently began to reverse, with great success, and both have gone from poorer and less-educated than Louisiana to much wealthier and better educated. Both had enormously high self-regard as being superior races; the Japanese in particular have an old, complex culture you "just have to live in to get". But both cultures *changed* and grew, before our eyes, the last few generations and have changed almost out of recognition.

Do Louisianans understand they have to change their economy, their culture, their whole outlook, if they don't want to be one of the poorest, least-educated places in North America? Those facts aren't the result of nature and poor resources, or imposed by evil Yankee carpet-baggers from outside, not in the last hundred years; they're endemic in the culture.

And if they don't "get it", I'm sorry, that does make them ignorant hicks of the worst kind: willfully ignorant, and unwilling to adapt as all life and all cultures must.
Northern liberals are every bit as capable of being bigots as their Southern counterparts - except in the North, they consider this to be "intellectual". They say bigotted things about one group thinking it negates the (often alleged) bigotted remarks by that group, reality be damned. Houston and Atlanta are routinely at the very top of places listed as being the best places for blacks to raise families. New York, Boston and Philly really don't make that list despite being in the enlightened North. Houston was the first major city to elect an openly lesbian mayor yet everyone knows that everyone in Houston is a dumb, ignorant redneck. LBJ will always be known for the Vietnam War though he inheritied that war from a beloved, assassinated president. How many Northerners know or care that LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights legislation - and also brought electricity and plumbing to the poorest (and often blackest) people in Texas? Good Northern Liberals who would never dream of slurring a black, Muslim or gay are perfectly capable of making the most hateful remarks simply because someone has a Southern accent. Those who hate Big Oil (and I'm among them) are still going to use the products these companies provide. Many of them even find excuses to drive SUVs or big, happy luxury cars blissfully uncaring about the oil these things use - and the people whose lives are dependent upon providing this in spite of the fact that that the cost to the environment makes them ill.

I admit I grew up in Houston, not LA. I will never truly understand what it is like to actually be from there. I do know that for generations Louisiana has been treated as the ass-end of the country. Long before there was oil, there were jokes about the sewage being dumped into the Mississippi and ending up inside a Louisianan. I detest the comments which seem to blame all of this on Louisiana. Bigotry is never a virtue.
@ Roy Brander:

"Do Louisianans understand they have to change their economy, their culture, their whole outlook, if they don't want to be one of the poorest, least-educated places in North America? Those facts aren't the result of nature and poor resources, or imposed by evil Yankee carpet-baggers from outside, not in the last hundred years; they're endemic in the culture.

And if they don't "get it", I'm sorry, that does make them ignorant hicks of the worst kind: willfully ignorant, and unwilling to adapt as all life and all cultures must."

Okay, Roy, you've got my attention. What's interesting is that you could replace Louisiana with Afghanistan and have an equally useless and nonsensical snotty piece about a place where all opportunities are squandered and a lazy ignorant culture wallows in its own failure forever and ever. The only difference is that instead of militant Islam, in Louisiana every single person spends 364 days a year vomiting up Hand Grenades on Bourbon Street. Right? Right.

As to Louisiana's real problems: well, we have a whole bunch of inbred fundies, just like the rest of the Bible Belt. Rural Louisiana is no better and no worse than rural Alabama when it comes to anti-intellectualism, patriarchy, racism, everything associated with toothless rednecks. It's definitely a bad culture but it's hardly unique. New Orleans, well things are getting better. Outsiders would do well to keep in mind that, honestly, there was a time when Ray Nagin seemed like a decent human being.

If you want to hear my alternative explanation for why Louisiana is perpetually behind, say, Texas, there is one massive reason: WE DON'T GET THE OIL MONEY. A long time ago, Huey Long sent some cretin to negotiate oil royalties, and instead of asking 30% he said all-or-nothing. And so the oil companies chose nothing. Ever since, we've been scraping by with the shitty parts of the oil industry: refineries and shipping (i.e. oil spills). Sure, they pay the salaries of many Louisianians, but if things had gone differently 80 years ago when the drilling began then Louisiana would be the richest state in the nation.

I'm sure you'll say that money means nothing and we should be able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps like Imperial Japan, but I think that's sheer fantasy. Louisiana is a mess because we're poor.
I will respond to comments in a while, but it was pointed out that digby posted about this blog posting, so I'm taking the time first to respond to her. I'll get back to you all when I have a moment later.
OK, "scarshapedstar" (I'm sorry, I can't get used to these posting names; they remind me of C.B. handles, I have to put them in quotes), I confess to being snotty in my last paragraph, just to get a reaction, and apologize if it stung; but this is a political blog, furcrissake, everybody google "Truman heat kitchen" for details. I really didn't like the "you just don't get it" phrase in the blog post and many comments. It's an excuse, and I'm in no mood to accept excuses. Neither are kids that get out of school and find no good job options around them.

The key solution of development away from a resource economy where richer people exploit you is literacy. That's just step #1, of course, but without it, there is no step #2.

"Imperial Japan", yes, and also post-colonial India, which claims a shift from 10% literacy rate to nearly 70% between 1950 and 2010.


They did this on an average of $3800 per person, per year.

Unfair comparison? Totally. That's just *basic* literacy. Louisiana, infamously, has a 28% "functionally illiterate" rate, a different thing, with some 40% of the Katrina victims unable to read the forms to get assistance. The problem is that the number isn't moving.

And that's not so much about money, (Cuba, income $4100/person, has a 96% literacy rate) as about a culture, a culture that says, "We don't want to be like the past, we want to be different people from our parents". Education success isn't even (mostly) about the schools, as zillions spent on education has proven; it's about pushing the kids and having expectations, and that comes from culture. And oh, man, do Germans and Japanese have a culture of high expectations and schoolwork and accomplishment. (To a fault, perhaps, viz, Japanese suicides over test results.)

Perhaps I'm stereotyping or generalizing, if so, pray instruct me (with some numerical facts) and get another apology. But I just see the whole "Deep South" corner of the country as the heart of the "I want my country back" meme we heard at the Town Hells, the resistance to change. An "attitude, more than what [they] said" that higher education leads to "elitism" and a Bad Thing.

It's been depressing to watch that rhetoric in the news, and the post here struck me as a kind of apologetics for a culture that has got to make some changes.

You're dead right that it's about the money, but "poor" is fixable; the key is willingness to change, though. It's those "anti-elitists" (that may be a stereotype and my mistake, please, please tell me so) that need to be seen as a Bad Thing.
Argh. Proof-read, then post. Two fixes. On the names, I meant to add "digby". Since it's a real name, I'll remove the quotes when she calls Vanna and buys a capital letter. On the ending that "it's about the money", when I spent half the comment saying it isn't the money: Yes, Louisiana has a host of problems for lack of money that it would not did it have more...but entire countries with far less money have indeed been pulling themselves upward without it. You can't be "up" without money, but you can head "upward" even without it. My fear, from what I read, is that a lot of Louisiana sees things that will take them "upward" as "the wrong direction".
"As to Louisiana's real problems: well, we have a whole bunch of inbred fundies, just like the rest of the Bible Belt. Rural Louisiana is no better and no worse than rural Alabama when it comes to anti-intellectualism, patriarchy, racism, everything associated with toothless rednecks. It's definitely a bad culture but it's hardly unique. New Orleans, well things are getting better. Outsiders would do well to keep in mind that, honestly, there was a time when Ray Nagin seemed like a decent human being."

Thank you, scarshapedstar!

I am a Louisianian, a born and bred Cajun girl with a family tree that goes back through Nova Scotia to the royal lines of France. I am also very liberal and believe that rather than running away from Louisiana's issues, some of us need to stay here to fight for change. Yes, the environment is very important to me and mine. On the other hand, my best friend's husband has made his living in the oilfield. They are progressives as well and know intimately the struggle between making a living and making the world a better place.

Those of us who have lived here our entire lives remember the oilfield of not so many years ago when explosions and fires were much more frequent occurrences. The oilfield has become a much safer place through the years. We're thankful and will keep pushing to make it safer and cleaner.

As for Senator Landrieu, she's certainly not my favorite. She's about as middle of the road as she can be. She was trained by long-time Senator John Breaux who believed in reaching across the aisle. As a liberal I would much prefer to see her fight for more progressive issues but I also know she's the best we've got right now. Our only other alternative is Republican David Vitter. Next to him, Mary Landrieu looks like a progressive saint.

We know what we're up against here and we don't plan to stop fighting any time soon. Don't paint us with such a broad brush and don't count us out.
"I am also very liberal and believe that rather than running away from Louisiana's issues, some of us need to stay here to fight for change. "

Well, there's the constructive topic. And we have in common that our views are in a hopeless minority where we live and things are not getting better.
My approach is that this doesn't have to be about Right/Left politics. Conservatives can be all for good schools, hospitals, more white-collar business than blue-collar, and normally are; the disagreement is about how to get there.

On the environment issue, on regulation of industry, a Louisiana liberal should look for ways to promote your views with specific proposals that create opportunities for somebody to get rich.

A great deal of environmentalism can be posed as the development of new technologies, new industries and businesses. It's been shown so in many places.

Me, I'm pushing that Alberta go nuclear before the fossil fuels go out of style, so we can remain an energy centre in a post-carbon future. Billions to be made.

You could push for Louisiana to be the place that develops new spill cleanup technologies; now would be a perfect time to bring it up.
The US of A has had a "hick" problem since the 70's. It's disgusting.

Growing up on the East Coast (NY/NJ) I observed this acutely in all media, TV, movies.

Our global pursuit created a domestic snobbery that only people like Sarah Palin (whom I dislike greatly), can attest to.

Thus, if you have a Spanish accent - you are worldly, kind, cosmopolitan... if you have a Southern accent - you are stupid, back woods, small minded, judgmental and probably dumb.

Perception is everything. And this one must change.

It's time to defend against stereotypes. And to those here who criticize people who worked the rigs.. or the safety.. arm chair warriors.. finger pointers.. F.U.

Until you walk a mile in another man's moccasins.. clueless, you are .
I agree. One should not generalize about whole populations--a piece of advice you may want to keep in mind when you talk about California. I grew up in Mississippi. I lived for a couple of years in New Orleans and then in back-country Louisiana. I spent a couple of years in Texas. Spent most of my life in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Live now in California by choice.

"Yup, the oil business is crooked, and they dump toxic shit in the water. " " . . . Louisiana politics is crooked, unbelievably crooked."

Man, what stellar recommendations! Bet your tourist trade will be booming! And this from somebody who is PRAISING Louisiana. Certainly everybody in the state is not a hick and an idiot. But there is such a thing as a dominant social attitude, regardless of the good people and their sacrifices. It isn't the snobbish attitudes of other people toward Louisiana that has caused this disaster and crushed the good people and made their sacrifices tragic. It's that prevailing if not universal attitude.

Straw man, bo. Grow up and quit making excuses.
So many people throughout history have come from 'nothing' to 'something' by working (and generally working damn damn hard) somewhere in the many extractive industries that fueled the industrial revolution ... one way or another.

This is so universal that about the only people (seen generally) who have been exceptions have been the slaves brought from Africa to the new world, and their descendants ... they have generally not participated in much of any improvement in their lives this way ... the 'better' jobs have not been available to them until recently.

In my family tree wealth was created by cutting down the forests of the new world and selling them to the old world (starved for timber), cultivating and refining sugar (in part using slave labor in the Caribbean, later on the Hawaiian islands) ... and the opium trade.

That's right, my relatives traded opium to China ... don't be surprised ... major fortunes were made that way. The Roosevelts depended on it, so did the Bouviers (Jacqueline) ... my family did too ... for a time.

To be frank, I don't see this as all that different than dealing in oil right now. But I'm not getting morally hissy about this ... that wealth in the 18th and 19th centuries left my family able to educate its children (even though the real 'big money' was long gone) ... able to have other choices.

This is the same as your "Digby," that's what allowed us to be 'liberals.'

My point is that when you see some kid dealing crack cocaine on a street corner ... think for second. How different is it REALLY ... other than the odds of spending the rest of your life in jail?