Thursday, April 19, 2007

Incident Report 

I was informed that an armed man attempted to carjack two Tulane students the other night. He came up and pointed a gun at the driver but she floored it and left the man standing in the street. Frustrated, he jammed the gun back into his pants pocket and shot off his penis.

It could not be reattached.


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Dead Pelican says Boasso to switch to "Democrat party" 

You bet your bippy I'm gonna "credit" the Dead Pelican with this breaking news flash:


APRIL 19, 2007 XXXX 12:07:15 AM CT

State Senator Walter Baosso intends to make his switch to the Democrat party official at a press conference this Saturday, sources tell THE DEAD PELICAN.

"Democrat party"? What is that entity?

I'm sure this is merely a typo, and not an attempt to slant a report with hacktacular, Bob Luntz-inspired, GOP terminology. The Dead Pelican actually means to say that its "sources" claim that Boasso will switch (back) to the "Democratic Party", not the (nonexistent) "Democrat Party".

I'm quite certain that Dead Pelican publisher Chad Rogers knows the correct spelling of the party's name. After all, the Democratic Party dominated Louisiana politics for over a century; it's the oldest active political party in the world.

Also, Chad Rogers was an instructor of English Composition at a Louisiana College. He surely understands that "Democrat" is a noun, and that it is ungrammatical to use it as an adjective. The above misspelling must've been an innocent typo-- there was probably just as much chance that Rogers would mistakenly write "Republic party" (twice) as he would "Democrat party" (twice).

Update: The DP updates the story with new information from 99.5fm's Chris Tidmore, saying that Boasso may switch, but will make no announcement this Saturday. Also, happily, the DP doesn't "misspell" Democratic party in the latest update.


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Not to be missed 

Da Po Boy has another great post on Mary Landrieu's Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery hearings. Just go read the post and watch the video and click back here if you have the time.

I heartily support Da Po Boy's analysis and commentary, and thank him for his excellent work. Please do read it.


Now, I'd like to highlight an exchange between Senator Landrieu and Recovery Czar Donald Powell from the hearings-- thanks to Da Po Boy for transcribing it:

MARY LANDRIEU: You say in your testimony, quote, "The President Bush promised a better and stronger hurricane protection system." This statement seems inconsistent, however, with the administration’s recent request to shift $1.3 billion previously allocated between levee projects instead of authorizing and additional 1.3.


This Congress has put the 1.3 back in the budget. The President says he’s issued a veto threat saying it is neither necessary… and it’s extraneous…uh, it’s not, um… it’s not cost effective.

I know you have to carry the President’s message. But, what would you say if I argued with you that his words are not matching his budget documents?

DONALD POWELL: Senator, let the record also reflect that I am a New Orleans Saints fan. [mumble…laugh]

There's no better time for good-natured folksy jokin' than when testifying about unfunded levee projects to a system that catastrophically failed and killed hundreds of people.

ML: Do not try to divert... [crosstalk… laughter]


DP: I spend a lot of time briefing the President on the Gulf Coast area. Without question there is no reservation in my mind that he’s committed to building the levee system better and stronger than it has ever been. And there’s no question in my mind that he’s committed to spending the necessary money to protect the people against a one hundred year flood. No question in my mind.
But, there’s no question in my mind about his commitment.

Is it even too much to ask that the President HIMSELF verbally commits to One Hundred Year Flood Protection? Previously, Powell told us that the Feds were committed to building the best levee system in the world, and now we hear that Powell's REALLY CONFIDENT that the President is committed to 100-year flood protection. This is how far the standards have fallen-- with almost no real debate. Again, as inadequate as that 100 year standard is, the President can't even seem to publicly commit to that measly little goal, and say something like: "After a massive man-made disaster, New Orleans deserves enhanced WEAK CATEGORY 3 levee protection, which will be better than anything it has had previously."

I suppose that's asking too much. So, we have to rely on Powell, who says there is "no question in his mind" that the President is committed to 100-year flood protection standards.

And that's sweet, but here's the rub: if the President and USACE were committed to anything less than that level of protection for New Orleans, the city would dissolve because it would be unable to qualify for the national flood insurance program. Our city would be deemed too risky, and unqualified for flood insurance.

That folksy Texan Donald Powell-- what a card! He makes disarming jokes about the Saints, and then tells our Senator that he's confident that the President is committed to funding the bare minimum amount of flood protection for New Orleans to be insurable.

Can we please do a National Poll on this? What does the rest of America think? Should New Orleans get WEAK CATEGORY 3 protection (the bare minimum for it to be insurable and therefore viable) or should it get Category 4 or even Category 5 protection? What level of long-term protection seems most appropriate for this important port city, this cultural jewel?

Again: Our Recovery Czar is proud to say that he is confident that the President is committed to funding the bare minimum level of levee protection for New Orleans.

When does this become insulting?

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More Walls 

From First Draft, we learn of this Stars and Stripes report:

U.S. soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division in a Baghdad district are "building a three-mile protective wall on the dividing line between a Sunni enclave and the surrounding Shiite neighborhood," according to a U.S. military press release issued Wednesday.

Troops with the 407th Brigade Support Battalion began constructing the wall on April 10 and will continue work "almost nightly until the wall is complete," the release read.

"The area the wall will protect is the largest predominately Sunni neighborhood in East Baghdad. Majority-Shiite neighborhoods surround it on three sides. Like other religiously divided regions in the city, the area has been trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," according to the release.

I flagged this WSJ article two weeks ago which previewed this "gated community" strategy in Baghdad. I hope it works, but wouldn't bet on it.

We must erect 20 foot blastwalls in violent Baghdad neighborhoods, though. And we must build a partial $50 billion border fence to secure portions of our southern border. These barriers are crucial, you see, because American lives may ultimately depend on them.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Read, discuss 

This Da Po Boy post is very important. It gets to one of the "hearts of the matter" regarding this whole "Katrina/Federal Flood" thing. Go on and read it first.

A couple of points, if I may: first, these hearings on Disaster Recovery would not have happened if 3,800 Virginians had voted for George Allen instead of James Webb. It's amazing that a full accounting of the "Recovery Effort" would not have been possible if Sen. Allen hadn't called a dark-complected student "Macaca".

Second, Sen. Mary Landrieu deserves huge amounts of credit (which she won't receive) for cutting through the obfuscatory 80, 110,... 120 Billion dollar "figure" with which the Bushies have pounded us for over a year now. It's just another wildly misleading and malicious Bush White House talking point. That's why I started writing the phrase "120 billion trillion dollars" lately (in mocking reference to the talking point), because that absurd figure is equally as useful as the figure that the Bushies keep repeating. As Da Po Boy notes, the key question is: where has the money been spent, and how much has been spent on long term recovery needs? (I'll let you go to his site to learn the paltry answer.)

Because... we don't care about the expenses the Guard incurred arriving to New Orleans 5 days after the storm, we no longer care about the costs associated with all the empty FEMA trailers in Arkansas, we no longer care about the Federal Government's costs associated with paying out Flood Insurance claims (which we paid premiums for). And while we appreciate the debris-clearing, we're no longer outraged by the wildly inflated costs charged for that service. For over a year now, flood victims have been talking about recovery and needing help moving forward and the Bushies have responded with talking points citing high, misleading, aggregate cost figures in order to justify less recovery money and inadequate flood protection for S. Louisiana. We ask for recovery help and get endless reminders about how much it cost the government to respond to the disaster for which it is partially responsible. Every Administration response to an inquiry about more rebuilding funds begins with another (misleading, meaningless) reminder about the "$120 billion" the Feds have already spent on us. But no Administration response will utter the words "Category 5 protection" or "Category 4 protection". No, those words are taboo.

Third, in his testimony, Gulf Coast Recovery Czar Donald Powell repeated at least five times that the Federal Government is committed to building better levees than the ones that catastrophically failed New Orleans. And he's proud of that commitment.

This is an excerpt from "GAO’s Analysis of the Gulf Coast Recovery: A Dialogue on Removing Obstacles to the Recovery Effort".

While the federal government has provided billions of dollars in assistance to the Gulf Coast, a substantial portion was directed to short-term needs, leaving a smaller portion for longer-term rebuilding. It may be useful to view this assistance in the context of the costs of damages incurred by the region and the resources necessary to rebuild. Some damage estimates have put capital losses at a range of $70 billion to over $150 billion, while the State of Louisiana estimated that the economic impact on its state alone could reach $200 billion. Such estimates raise important questions regarding additional assistance that will be needed to help the Gulf Coast rebuild in the future.

To date, the federal government has provided long-term rebuilding assistance to the Gulf Coast through 2 key programs, which follow different funding models. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's public infrastructure funding for specific projects that meet program eligibility requirements. HUD's CDBG program, on the other hand, provides funding for neighborhood revitalization and housing rehabilitation activities, affording states broad discretion and flexibility. To date, the affected states have received $16.7 billion in CDBG funding from supplemental appropriations-- so far, the largest share of funding targeted to rebuilding.

As usual, minor edits were made to this post after it was first published.

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"I'm gonna go get the nicknames, get the nicknames" 

I'm really enjoying the "Mob Nickname Generator" that Adrastos found.

I typed my name in and got "The Hawk", which sounded like a cool nickname.

I plugged in my friend Ratboy's name and got "The Executioner", which sounded cool, too.

Then I tried Medium Jim's name and got "Childlike Complexion". I tried it again and got "The Self-Toucher". Neither are very cool, but I think both are wickedly appropriate.

Finally, I typed in Carlos Marcello and got "Tomato Salesman"... (not really).


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Another Great Gambit this week 

This week's Gambit is chock full of many fine articles:

1) Troy Gilbert writes about the rich history of sailboat racing in New Orleans.

2) There's a reprint of an important story about reporter Mark Greenblatt's attempt to map the crime increases in Houston. His research showed that rising crime is not solely due to "the Katrina effect". Violent crime was increasing prior to August of 2005. (Print version only.) Here is one of the Houston TV news reports about the story.

3) There's an article about my occasional poker tablemate Jonathan Ferrara, whose ARTDOCS grant program is helping New Orleans artists. If you are an artist in N.O., consider applying for a grant.

4) There's another article on Roger Wilson's "Broadway South" idea, which proposes using tax credits to recreate a vibrant Theater District on Canal St. I absolutely adore this initiative, and am glad it is progressing nicely.

5) In his latest "Politics" column titled "Now What" (not online yet), Clancy Dubos analyzes the Governor's race now that Breaux withdrew. While considering the prospects of Lt Gov Mitch Landrieu (who also later withdrew), Dubos writes:

One reason Mitch Landrieu lost the mayor's race last year is because Ray Nagin got 20 percent of the white vote in the runoff-- and much of that 20 percent came from conservative Republican strongholds Uptown. "Better four more years of Ray than eight years of Mitch" was the mantra of the GOP anti-Landrieu throng. Such talk was encouraged quietly by the Bush White House, which already had Mary Landrieu in its sights.

The Bush White House "quietly" meddled in the most important election in our city's history, and helped re-elect Nagin.

5) Finally, it seems that the Gambit's editors are "quasi-Blakely apologists" (like myself). They write: "maybe [recovery Czar Ed] Blakely is just the dose of reality that we need."

6) The only major flaw in this week's Gambit is the lack of a Suspect Device comic. Thankfully, Greg Peters provides one for us anyway. It's about... Blakely!

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Kiss of Death 

Historian Robert Dallek has an excerpt from his upcoming book in this month's Vanity Fair. The article is titled "The Kissinger Presidency" and offers some new glimpses of Henry Kissinger-- you know, that lovable old war criminal who currently advises Bush and Cheney on a regular basis.

I need to preserve the following quotes from the article, so I can review them in case I need to read something hideously funny.

Since 2001, Kissinger has, according to Bob Woodward's State of Denial, met with the president every other month, and with Vice President Dick Cheney every month, and he has advised President Bush that "victory … is the only meaningful exit strategy" for Iraq.
Using language that has a painfully contemporary echo, Kissinger and Nixon very quickly came to private conclusions about Vietnam that they never revealed publicly and denied entertaining. "In Saigon the tendency is to fight the war to victory," Nixon told Kissinger, according to the transcript of a 1969 phone conversation. "But you and I know it won't happen-- it is impossible." Even so, according to Haldeman's unpublished diaries, Nixon later urged that Democratic critics making this same point should be labeled "the party of surrender." When someone told Kissinger that Nixon could not be re-elected, because of Vietnam, he disputed it and added, according to a memo of a conversation, that "anytime we want to get out of Vietnam we can," and that "we will get out of Vietnam before the [1972] election." Nixon wanted to plan the removal of all U.S. troops by the end of 1971, but Kissinger cautioned that, if North Vietnam then de-stabilized Saigon during the following year, events could have an adverse effect on the president's campaign. According to Haldeman's diaries, Kissinger advocated a pullout in the fall of 1972, "so that if any bad results follow they will be too late to affect the election." He apparently had nothing to say about the American lives that would be lost by deliberately prolonging the war. Just before a peace treaty was signed, Kissinger in a phone conversation advised Nixon against stating that this was a "lasting peace or guaranteed peace because this thing is almost certain to blow up sooner or later."
After returning from the Middle East in June of 1974, Kissinger spoke by phone with Jacob Javits and told the New York senator, "You know, what really worries me, Jack, [is that,] with the President facing impeachment, what's been holding things together is my moral authority abroad and to some extent at home. If that's lost we may be really in trouble."

From this article we also learn that Kissinger thought George H.W. Bush was a soft, unsophisticated "idiot". Perhaps Kissinger thinks more highly of Duhbya, the son of GHWB. After all, President Bush II seems to be faithfully following Kissinger's example from Vietnam. Despite all his idealistic rhetoric about democracy-building, and all his assurances about "learning the lessons of Vietnam", Duhbya still altered our Iraq war strategy to suit his partisan political ends.

Tom Tomorrow has a related comic.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Suspect Device has several good posts on wacknut responses to the VTech Massacre. Bring your barf bags.

Here, Greg sez:
I generally can’t get too riled up about gun control; its one of the places where I part company with the rest of my leftst comrades. But while I do not support ever more restrictive gun ownership laws, I refuse to buy the false dichotomy of Ban Guns or Give Everyone a Rod. More gun laws are not the answer; more guns are not the answer. Get that?

Yeah, I get it.

Pawpaw's take is worth reading as well.

Update: I was attending college in South Tejas when the Luby's Massacre in Killeen occurred. Too bad I didn't use that opportunity to complain to my Texas friends about the dearth of "manliness" and "courage" among the slaughtered cafeteria patrons.

I'm sure they would've been mighty impressed by my conjectures.

Update #2: Celsus alerts us to this solution-oriented video clip.


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Liberals? 

...the Sadow knows.

You guessed it. Professor Jeffrey "Nagin has no chance" Sadow offers more of his unsurpassed political prognostications:

[Democrats] will let [Guv candidate Walter] Boasso spend his own money to support himself, but they will use some of theirs to launch negative broadsides against Jindal the ferocity of which has yet to be seen in American politics. As long as Jindal doesn’t win, any national aspirations he has could be permanently sidetracked.

And why does Sadow believe the Dems will attack Jindal with a ferocity unmatched in the history of American politics? Because...

Liberal Democrats desperately want to stop Jindal now, because should he win this fall and then serve two terms as governor without extensive controversy, in his mid-40s he would be just as unstoppable a presidential candidate as he now appears to be in regards to Louisiana’s governorship. [Expect]... national Democrats to throw big resources at backing the most vicious negative campaign against a statewide political figure the state ever has seen.

The Dems understand that if they don't stop Jindal now, he's gonna be President in eight years! So they will do anything to stop him.

It's unlikely that Prof Sadow could be wrong twice in one year, so I guess we better hunker down and prepare for the most vicious and ferocious attack campaign in the history of American politics.

Frankly, I didn't see it coming.

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"A tragedy on top of a tragedy" 

Ashley is rightly worried about skyrocketing insurance costs. Upon renewal, his homeowner's insurance might rise 463%, from around $1200 to $6600 per year. (That doesn't include flood insurance.)

Well, join the club. I've been paying $500/mo in homeowner's premiums for over a year now. It hellasux.

Ashley wants to know what can be done about it. Guh. Not a lot in the short term. National "All perils" legislation would be nice, but that might take a while to get through Congress. The State taking over the industry would be nice, until the first major storm occurred and bankrupted Louisiana. Better hurricane protection would be nice, but our President is satisfied that WEAK CATEGORY 3 flood protection is sufficient for (parts of) South Louisiana. That federal lack of commitment will not satisfy companies like Travelers, who announced plans to stop selling commercial insurance in New Orleans due to flood protection concerns. (They have since backtracked.)

The insurance situation in this state is bad, and getting worse. People tell us to trust the sacred free market... well, this is not a "Free market" situation.

In perhaps my best post evah, three months before Katrina I railed against Bush's massive cuts to the New Orleans district ACoE budget, and warned:

Is there a South Louisianan who would still trade their Bush tax cuts for poorer flood and coastal protections? Anyone? Ok, there's still a few. Well, then: would you mind if I looked at your insurance premiums? Have they risen much? May I ask you some follow-up questions about this when a storm enters the Gulf this summer?

This YRHT post responded to "conservatives" who didn't recognize the importance of insurability to South Louisiana's recovery. There, I reprint many quotes from posts I wrote in 2005. Here's one from 11/04/05:

Rep. [Jim] McCrery stated: "Two things are necessary for people to come back: housing and jobs."

That's wrongfully incomplete. Housing and jobs will not "come back" if the area is uninsurable. All else is secondary to significant federal commitments to rebuild floodwalls, levees and wetlands... even New Orleans' critical housing/labor shortage. This is the precondition for all of the pretty images President Bush described in his nighttime speech in Jackson Square. Yet, curiously, he and his party are "skeptical" of Cat 5 levees and wetlands restoration.

In that same post, I also said:

little else matters to me as long as congress can approve enough money for levee construction and wetland restoration. Businesses and residents simply will not return to New Orleans if they don't have confidence that these things will be restored. And crushing insurance rates will offset any tax incentives currently under consideration.

Last week, I marvelled at a stupid condo project being built near my apartment building. Given New Orleans' critical shortage of affordable housing, I wondered why developers would build condos when the city needs working-class apartments. The N.O. condo market is saturated, yet developers are building dozens of condo units that are available for purchase at $200k+ apiece! The displaced working class New Orleanians who power our T-Shirt Tourist Economy can't afford $200k condos! (Especially now after the subprime/Alt-A lending debacle.)

So, why would developers do this? A recent Wall Street Journal article titled "Most Affordable Housing In New Orleans Is in Jeopardy" provides an unsurprising answer:

Developers awarded federal tax credits to build affordable housing in post-Katrina New Orleans are concluding that many of the projects aren't financially feasible and are unlikely to get built before the government's 2008 deadline.

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 82,000 low- and moderate-income rental units in 2005, the federal government substantially increased Louisiana's tax-credit allocation, giving the state $170 million in low-income housing tax credits specifically for hurricane-ravaged areas.

Under the terms of the agreement, the developers must be ready to rent the units by the end of 2008 or lose crucial financial benefits that could help push their projects along. But according to the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, about 65% of the projects that were awarded tax credits are in jeopardy because developers can't get them off the ground. Some private developers say the number of projects in jeopardy is much higher, perhaps as much as 80%.

"It's a dire situation," says Milton Bailey, president of the housing agency. "It means a lot of teachers, carpenters, firemen and mailmen, every day kind of people, won't be able to come home. It's a tragedy on top of a tragedy."
[D]evelopers estimate that the per-unit cost to build a new two-bedroom apartment averages about $150,000, up 30% since Hurricane Katrina hit. Meanwhile, insurance costs have gone up as much as 500%.

The problem is that developers don't believe they can charge enough rent to offset the gap and make a profit.

So, just as I feared in 2005, sky-high insurance rates are more than offsetting post-Katrina tax incentives. It's not profitable to build and hold an affordable rental property here because the insurance is too expensive. That's why some builders are attempting this dubious, high-priced condo strategy. The insurance is simply too much to carry for the long term. It's too high, in part, because of a pathetically weak federal commitment to storm and flood protection for South Louisiana. (High crime doesn't help, either.)

The spectre of insurance premium increases (of 200-500%) not only frightens professionals like Dr. Ashley, it scares developers who could build affordable housing... and it even scares current apartment owners who made it through the storm intact:

Robert Page, a Houma, La.-based insurance agent and president-elect of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, said the owners of three large apartment complexes in Houma recently dropped their wind and hail coverage after their premiums doubled.

How does an area recover when it can't replace the 82,000 affordable units it lost in a Federal Flood? How does an area recover when its "teachers, carpenters, firemen and mailmen" can't afford to return? How does an area recover when 60-80% of its tax incentivized housing developments fall through because of high insurance? How can an area recover when some of the largest apartment owners in South Louisiana are dropping their wind and hail coverage?

I don't know, but do you think this insurance crisis was really so unforeseen? Do you think the powers-that-be didn't understand the important link between South Louisiana's insurability and a strong Federal commitment to Cat 5 Storm protection?

Update: as usual, some minor edits were made to this post after its initial publishing.

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Better freedom through fascism 


Lawyers in Denver are arguing that President Bush has the right to remove from an audience people who disagree with him.

The case involves two people ejected from a taxpayer-funded Bush speech two years ago.

Leslie Weise and Alex Young were removed from a Bush address on Social Security after a staffer for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., pointed them out as suspicious because they had arrived in a car with an anti-war bumper sticker.

President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants.

[Cato Institute President Ed] Crane asked if [Mitt] Romney believed the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind. Crane said that he had asked [Rudy] Giuliani the same question a few weeks ago. The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.

I recall casually throwing the term "fascism" around once or twice when I was a pseudo punk rocker in high school. But, my gracious, I never thought I'd live to see the day when:

1) People are removed from a public event because some Republican flunkie doesn't like the bumper sticker on the car they're driving.

2) The President acknowledges warrantless spying on American citizens.

3) The top Republican presidential candidate believes the President has the authority to arrest American citizens without charges or review of any kind.

... and so-called "small gubmint conservatives" mostly either ignore or defend these outrages.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Morganza, Coburn, Stafford, DeMint and Cheatham 

1. The White House wants to cut funding for the LA Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration plan in half, and eliminate the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee project. The T-P opines:

A draft policy paper that the White House is circulating calls for reducing the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration plan from $2 billion to $1 billion and requiring the state to pay 50 percent of the costs, rather than the more customary 35 percent.

Increasing the state's burden would be terribly unfair as well as unwise. Louisiana's coastline is washing away in large part because of activity that benefited the entire nation: leveeing the lower Mississippi River and cutting canals for oil and gas exploration.

The resulting erosion has left Louisiana far more vulnerable to storms that threaten lives and property here but also hurt the rest of the country by the damage they can pose to fisheries, oil and gas networks and shipping.

While President Bush has not threatened to veto the water resources bill, the objections that his administration is raising could slow the legislation or convince Congress to make harmful changes. Neither is acceptable. Experts say Louisiana has only 10 years to begin reversing erosion -- after that point, the job will be too vast and too costly.

The White House also is targeting another Louisiana project in the bill, the $886.7 million Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee project.
Killing Morganza-to-the-Gulf would be a mistake, however. People in the Houma area are counting on a flood protection system to shield lives and property from storms. "If they continue to put this on hold, there won't be anything left of Terrebonne Parish to protect," Parish President Don Schwab said.

2. T-P:

A White House memo last week signaled the Bush administration's opposition to a 72-mile levee system to protect Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, but the House plans to support it anyway.... Democratic leaders [say] they are four-square behind the Morganza-to-the-Gulf project and would "overlook" Bush's objections.... Even if it passes the House, the bill faces obstacles in the Senate, where Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., placed a hold on it last year objecting to the cost of the entire measure.

3. NY Times Editorial "Unmatched Destruction":

The recovery along the Gulf Coast and particularly in New Orleans is going too slowly, and there are steps the government can easily take to speed the process. One thing the Bush administration should have done immediately after Hurricane Katrina was to waive the requirement that state and local governments match federal rebuilding funds.

Much of federal disaster aid is handed out according to the Stafford Act, which calls for states to ante up a quarter for every 75 cents provided by the federal government. That way, locals still contribute what the law deems a fair share of each rebuilding dollar. When the damage exceeds $110 for each person in the affected state, the split increases to 90 percent for the federal government with a 10 percent local match.

Since 1985, the local matching requirement has been waived entirely for 32 separate disasters. It was waived for the State of Florida after Hurricane Andrew, when damage was $139 for each Floridian. It was waived again for New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, which cost $390 per New Yorker.

Yet somehow the Bush administration has not found it necessary to forgive the local match for Gulf Coast states after the double-whammy of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, except for costs associated with debris removal and some emergency services -- despite the fact that the two storms wreaked roughly $6,700 worth of damage per capita in Louisiana. This inaction is particularly surprising, given that such a large proportion of the damage can be attributed to the failure of the federal levees that were supposed to protect the New Orleans area.

4. TP:

"[Sen. Jim DeMint R-SC] acknowledged Monday holding up legislation intended to let Gulf Coast hurricane victims keep their rebuilding grants instead of using the money immediately to pay off federal disaster loans.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., filed the legislation in reaction to complaints from some of the 135,000 Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana and Mississippi who applied for home-building grants. Some of those who also received low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration, or SBA, are being told that they must use their grants to pay off the loans instead of using both for rebuilding.
Sen. David Vitter R-LA said, "This bill will allow borrowers to use the original life of the loan to make payments and keep their grant money for recovery and rebuilding as it is intended."

The bill is opposed by the Bush Administration, which sees it as a violation of Stafford Act prohibition on "duplication of benefits."

Republican bigwigs like Boysie Bollinger tell Louisianans that George Bush is their "best friend".

And last year, on this blog, several Louisiana conservatives claimed that a Democratic Congress wouldn't be any better for Louisiana than the Republican Congress or Bush's White House.

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