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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Archive for October, 2009

Public-Supported Health Care Has Worked for You, Joe Lieberman

Friday, October 30th, 2009

USAsleeve“. . . individual senators being able to hold up legislation, which in a sense is an extension of the filibuster . . . it’s just unfair.” Joseph Lieberman, 1994

Following is a letter we’ve faxed and mailed to the WDC office of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. (We tried faxing to his Connecticut office, too, but it wouldn’t go through. It turns out that, according to an aide in his office, his fax machine in Hartford is set up to not receive faxes from states other than Connecticut. Now, we have faxed to congressmen’s offices all across this great land, and this is a first. So, Lieberman’s WDC fax # 202-224-9750 will have to suffice. Phone # 202-224-4041.)

Please Vote for Cloture: Don’t Block Public Option

Senator Lieberman:

Your indication that you may join Republicans in filibustering a Senate bill with a (rather mild) public option has provoked outrage across the nation, and your reputation is not bearing up well. Your opposition is not a matter of fiscal prudence—you’re pretty clearly serving the insurance and drug firms that have contributed so richly to your campaigns.

Senator, this is a time when the people of your state—of your nation—need you more than Aetna and Glaxco do. How are you helping the 343,000 uninsured in Connecticut—10% of the population? What about the millions who are “insured” but unsatisfied with (or abused by) their private policy, struggling to pay the escalating premiums or being driven into bankruptcy? Do you really think you’d be reelected when 68% of your state’s voters preferred a public option and you helped kill it? Big Pharma won’t be able to help you then.


Levees Not War Meets LaCoastPost

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

LaCoastPostWe regretted missing the annual Katrina bloggerfest and live social networking known as Rising Tide 4 in New Orleans this past August—an omission we hope not to repeat. By way of making up for some of that fellow blogger community spirit, last week we took a long drive across the famous Pontchartrain Causeway (the world’s longest bridge) to meet with Dr. Len Bahr, founding editor of LaCoastPost and a former coastal adviser to many Louisiana governors.

Good conversation, a lunch of Church’s fried chicken + chilled Abita Turbodog, and Neil Young on the CD player . . .

We read LaCoastPost regularly—as does “everyone who’s anyone” in Louisiana coastal and environmental affairs (including, we suspect, some governors). We recommend the Post to anyone interested in the dire predicament of Louisiana’s scenic, fertile, hurricane-buffering wetlands, as well as in helpings of inside scoop on Louisiana politics. In addition to “scuttlebutt” updates—who’s reporting what, from the Times-Picayune to Science News—Len has recently run a series on the late Dr. Percy Viosca, “an unsung coastal hero” who foresaw Louisiana’s environmental predicament many decades ago. Also, a guest series by David Muth of the Jean Lafitte Historical Park and Preserve looks at why Florida’s Everglades has been made a national park but the nationally vital Mississippi River delta ecosystem ain’t got nuthin’ but land loss. Indeed, says Muth, “Louisiana has lost more landscape since 1930 (2,300 sq. mi.) than the current official size of the Everglades National Park (2,200).”


Thanks, Harry! Now Let’s Push Harder

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Damn liberals are never satisfied . . .
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Photo by Luke Sharrett/New York Times.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Photo by Luke Sharrett/New York Times.

Encouraged but not satisfied by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement yesterday of the inclusion of an opt-out version of a public option in the Senate health reform bill that he will bring to a vote, we sent the following letter to say Thank You and Give Us More. (We wanted to say “Give ’em hell, Harry,” but that doesn’t feel quite right, even though Reid’s a former boxer.)

Senator Reid’s WDC office phone # is 202-224-3542 and his fax # is 202-224-7327. For good measure, we’ve also faxed to his regional offices in Nevada: Carson City: 775-883-1980; Las Vegas: 702-388-5030; Reno: 775-686-5757. See our Political Action page for more contact information.

And before you read the letter to Senator Reid, check out this table of Uninsured by State 2005–2008 as tabulated by the U.S. Census Bureau. Activists, use this to remind/inform senators of the number of uninsured people in their state. No state comes out looking good, except maybe Massachusetts. Louisiana’s uninsured as of 2008 = 869,000, or 20.1 percent.


Majority Leader Reid Says Public Option Is In

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Just announced this afternoon. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announces the merging of bills from the Senate Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will include an “opt-out” version of the public option. This means basically that states will be able to choose not to offer their citizens a government-run, lower-cost health plan that is competitive with private plans currently offered in those states—but that the “default” position will be a national program. Reid announced:

I’ve concluded—with the support of the White House, Senators Dodd and Baucus—that the best way to move forward is to include a public option with the opt-out provision for states. . . . The public option, with an opt-out, is the one that’s fair. . . . We’ve spent countless hours over the last few days in consultation with senators who’ve shown a genuine desire to reform the health care system. And I believe there’s a strong consensus to move forward in this direction.


What Is New Orleans?
Resilient, a Moveable Feast, and Growing, Slowly

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Loyola panel discussion well attended, thought-provoking, encouraging

The moderator and panelists presented some very thoughtful and deeply felt responses to the question “What Is New Orleans” at Loyola’s Nunemaker Auditorium Wednesday night. In his introduction, the moderator, New Orleans novelist John Biguenet reminded the audience that in 2006 Republicans in Congress voted down a resolution that would have declared congressional commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast. (Biguenet blogged for the New York Times in 2005 and 2006 about the city’s recovery—check out his strong, clear-voiced pieces—and he is profiled in the Fall 2009 Louisiana Cultural Vistas.)

campanellaIn order of interest, first would be Tulane geographer and demographics whiz Richard Campanella (who actually spoke last), author of the fascinating Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans. (Buy it. Read it. Then buy copies for your friends who are interested in the city’s history and future.) Campanella—originally from Brooklyn, it turns out—is a sort of geography + demographics geek who makes statistics interesting and brisk-paced so your eyes don’t glaze over. To wit: the city’s population, about 450,000 before Katrina, dropped to nearly zero in Sept. ’05, and is about 340,000 now. The population had risen to 200K on the first anniversary (2006), 300K on the 2nd, and 320K by the 3rd anniversary. From the 2nd anniversary to the present, the population has risen by only 40,000 souls.


What Is New Orleans? Come Find Out.

Monday, October 19th, 2009

N.O.postcard.midiHow Do You Define a City?

Anybody who is within driving, walking, or biking distance of Loyola University in New Orleans on Wednesday night should think positively about coming to the discussion titled “What Is New Orleans” to hear the thoughts of panelists Richard Campanella (author of Time and Place in New Orleans among other good books), Tulane history professor Larry Powell, and New York Times reporter and N.O. native Susan Saulny, who covered among other subjects the homeless living in tent cities under the Claiborne overpass and around City Hall. The discussion will be moderated by novelist and Loyola professor John Biguenet.

“What Is New Orleans” is hosted by the Center for the Study of New Orleans in Loyola’s College of Social Sciences. Call 504-865-3431 for more information.

The event is free, open to the public.

7:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 21

Nunemaker Auditorium (Monroe Hall), Loyola University

6363 St. Charles Avenue

We’ll be there—hope to see you!

Obama Welcomed, and Challenged, in New Orleans

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Maybe he wished he’d planned to stay longer, though there may have been a point when he began to wish he hadn’t come at all. President Obama’s visit was criticized days in advance even by supporters for being too short. The advance team added a quick trip to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School in the Lower Ninth Ward—which thrilled the school but was criticized as a drive-by photo-op. The city has had enough of that kind of presidential attention.

UNO 10-15-09For the most part, the town hall crowd at UNO was raucously friendly to the president (though they embarrassed him somewhat by booing his hosts Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mayor Ray Nagin). “This is a feisty crowd here,” he observed. And the president, to his credit—and perhaps as a defensive, damage-control measure—brought along DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, education secretary Arne Duncan, and, important for coastal restoration, Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. All were welcome.


Obama Visits New Orleans (Too Briefly)

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

President Obama visits New Orleans for about four hours today. He will visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School in the Lower Ninth Ward from about noon till 1:00 p.m., and then will hold a town hall meeting at UNO from 1:15 to 2:00. This is his first visit as president. He has been to New Orleans five times since Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 2005). His last visit was before the Louisiana primary in February 2008, when he spoke to a full house at Tulane University. It’s a brief drive-by visit, but as usual we have to be thankful for any attention we can get.

Louisiana senators Landrieu and Vitter have criticized the brevity of the president’s visit—they’re not the only ones—though Landrieu yesterday on MSNBC softened her tone, saying she understands he has “a lot on his plate” and expressing gratitude for the visits of housing and education and other cabinet members and the help they’ve provided and promised. See Landrieu’s informative 8-minute video (above) for a review of the critical issues facing the state that she hopes the president will focus on. In a letter to the president Vitter urged Obama “in the most respectful way possible to expand your visit to ensure that it includes several important site visits, helicopter tours of coastal erosion/hurricane protection issues in parishes surrounding New Orleans, and focused discussion with community leaders regarding ongoing challenges.”