Saturday, June 27, 2009

Governor Palin and the Media

If Governor Palin was hoping to position herself for a run at the 2012 Republican Presidential ticket, I have a piece of advice for her. Governor Palin , shut the hell up. I admit that free advice is worth about that much, but this advice actually has some merit to it. For those of you that read this blog on a semi regular basis my bias is obvious. I am inherently left leaning in my opinions, but having worked for a conservative republican on Capitol Hill, I am able to view things from the center.

Governor, please take my advice. (For those of you unaware of what this is about) Recently, Governor Palin has been keeping her name in the public eye in all the wrong ways. The two most obvious events are a (bad) joke made by David Letterman early last week. To see Letterman's apology click here. After David Letterman apologized twice, Governor Palin finally let the matter drop. This kept her in the news for a few days, but simply as a late night comedian's punchline. This week she is upset that a blogger clearly aligned with the Alaskan Democratic Party chose to photoshop a picture of her and her son who has Down Syndrome ( To see the picture in question go to the post from June 25 at 23:24:35).

This change was made to show how close Governor Palin is to a specific radio talk show host in Alaska. Her spokesperson is now sending out statements claiming that this is an improper manipulation of Governor Palin's special needs child. I feel it is important to tell any of you reading this that I have Cerebral Palsy. I am considered mildly disabled by the general public. I do not want someone's disability used for political fodder. However, the only one manipulating the disability in this case is the Governor herself. This photoshopping had nothing to do with the disability, it had everything to do with her relationship with a media person.

Her complaint is centered around the fact that children of politicians are generally off limits. Two good examples of this are the Obama girls, and Chelsea Clinton (circa 1992-2000). In both these cases, these children were not at many political events, and even on those rare occasions, they were not the center of attention. The Clintons and the Obamas did there best to ignore the occasional joke about the children, and succeeded in keeping the children out of the spotlight. I also think President Bush did a good job keeping his twins out of the spotlight. I give the Governor some credit for her argument the media has treated her family differently.

There is a significant difference in the way Governor Palin has treated her own family in the public eye. Governor Palin has made a point of putting her family out there from the beginning. In her convention speech she chose to take her special needs child on stage with her, using him as a prop to get votes.

Here is her problem (and the problem of Senator Ensign and Gvernor Sanford for that matter) the core of the Republican Party is more interested in the family dynamic than policy initiatives. This is no longer a fight worth having. The Governor is going to get the core Republican vote so bringing herself down to the level of a late night comedian or some left wing blogger does not serve her purpose. If she want to be taken seriously as a contender for 2012, stop worrying about what Letterman says, and start worrying about what the Federal Reserve says. Stop making yourself the joke of the election cycle.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BBC Report about the protests in Iran


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Louisiana Recovery Authority Press Release


June 10, 2009

Media Contact:
Christina Stephens
Louisiana Recovery Authority

Governor Bobby Jindal Announces Second Allocation 
of Federal Recovery Assistance - $620 Million in Aid for 
Hurricanes Gustav & Ike Recovery

BATON ROUGE - This afternoon Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the federal government's second allotment of recovery assistance to assist the state in building back from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike totals $620 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the funding earlier today, and this second allotment follows the first allotment of $438 million to Louisiana from HUD last year.
Governor Bobby Jindal said, "Louisiana has been struck by four major hurricanes in three years, and this assistance is critical for helping our parishes support their housing, economic development and infrastructure priorities. We are absolutely committed to building back stronger than ever before, and this funding will give communities the vital assistance they need to rebuild and encourage growth in their local economies.
"This second allotment of recovery assistance meets the state's federally approved recovery plan to provide $57.8 million in assistance to agricultural needs, $27.4 million for coastal restoration needs, $27.4 million to support our fisheries and $84.9 million for affordable rental housing assistance. Many industries in our state are continuing to recover from the storms as they also work to compete in this challenging national economy. These funds will help them take a positive step forward in their recovery efforts."
Wednesday's announcement is the second allocation of a $6.1 billion pool of CDBG funds Congress set aside for states affected by disasters in 2008, including Louisiana and Texas for hurricane damage and states in the Midwest for flooding. In November, HUD allocated $438 million to Louisiana in their first round of funding.
Additionally, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today that HUD is creating a pool of $312 million in competitive disaster innovation grants for states affected by disasters in 2008.
"Hurricanes Gustav and Ike struck Louisiana in one of its most vulnerable times - when we already faced a recovery from two major hurricanes. In the months since, state and local leaders have worked diligently to set priorities for recovery," said Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "These additional recovery funds will help parishes face housing and economic development issues head on and allow the state to offer much needed aid to its fishing and farming sectors, while continuing to address coastal restoration and affordable housing needs."
"We will be working with state agencies and local leaders to come up with creative applications for further rebuilding funds and look forward to competing for these dollars and demonstrating innovations in recovery," Rainwater said.

Damage levels were determined for each parish based on HUD analysis of FEMA damage assessments. Accordingly, the 10 most damaged parishes were: Terrebonne, Cameron, Iberville, East Baton Rouge, Lafourche, Jefferson, Assumption, St. Mary, Ascension and Calcasieu.

To use federal CDBG funds, states must present action plans for federal approval. HUD already approved Louisiana's first action plan for using these funds, giving the state the ability to draw down administrative and other funds. The approved plan is as follows:
State-level set aside: $197.5 million

Agriculture -- $57.8 million

Coastal Restoration -- $27.4 million

Fisheries -- $27.4 million

Affordable Rental Housing -- $84.9 million

Parish-level allocations for housing, infrastructure and economic development: $565.5 million

Local and State Administrative costs: $40 million

Additionally, Louisiana has submitted its first amendment to this action plan, which HUD must also approve. The state has held several outreach events for parish leaders and has already signed Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (CEAs) with 30 of the 43 round one designated parishes and the Department of Agriculture, which will allow these entities to act as subgrantees of the state and administer their own programs.
Many parishes, working in conjunction with municipalities, have started holding required community participation meetings to obtain citizen input on their recovery plans and critical needs. The state anticipates beginning to approve individual parish plans this summer.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Man on the Moon

As I was putting my four year old to bed this past week, she looked at the moon.She was climbing under the princess covers, in her cute little pajamas, and looking out of the window. As she looked up into the heavens, she turned her gaze on me and said quite seriously, " Daddy, I think we should live on the moon".

"Not tonight, dear" was my response. This is the same response I would have given if she had asked to live with Dora and Diego, or to drive herself to preschool in the morning. With very little thought I respond to many such requests with "Not tonight, dear". I imagine that this is not that unusual a response for a parent of a preschooler. Nothing more was said of it as she settled in for the night.

I thought about the comment, briefly, the next day. She had not asked what the moon was made of (Green Cheese, of course), but whether we should live on the moon. I can safely say that I do not know what the future holds. On its face the idea of living on the moon is pretty silly. The more I thought of it though the more intrigued I got.

I decided to see what strides technology has made in the average person's lifetime to get an idea of how far we have gotten. Give me a minute I need to google...

Here are some facts about 1929 America...
-The Federal Budget was $3.13 Billion
-The US Population was 121,767,000
-Penicillin was first used to fight infection
-Life expectancy: Male 53.6 Female 54.6 (for some of you this might be scary)
-Average annual earnings $1236; Teacher's salary $970
-It took 13 days to reach California from New York There were 387,000 miles of paved road.

I found these bits of information at American Cultural History and at Information Please. A couple of other things I did not put on the list, Vatican City was founded by The Lantern Treaty in 1929, and Leon Trotsky was still a major world figure. This is to say that much has changed since 1929.

I wonder how many American households didn't have a phone in 1929, I would bet that those people did not opt out of a land line because their Blackberry would suffice. I've heard stories of the early 1950's, where people would go to a neighbor's house to watch television because there was only one TV set on that block. I would imagine the majority of American homes have more than one television set. Even without computers and the internet it is safe to say that communications have come a long way since the day of the "flappers".

What else has changed significantly since 1929... How about everything! Medical care while not perfect, as evidenced by the difficulty in getting insurance, is significantly better for everyone than it was in 1929. Diseases like Polio were very scary and very real in 1929, today Polio has been eradicated. If you look just at life expectancy, it is obvious that the quality of medical care has improved tremendously. Thoughts of the hospital at Andersonville are not memories of my grandparents, but confined to horror stories, and history books.

Politically, we have a President who could not realistically have voted if he were alive in 1929, He visited a country (Saudi Arabia) last week that did not exist until 1932. He visited two memorials (Buchenwald and Normandy) to the victims of a war now in our distant memory that would not happen for another ten years. There are any number of other political changes that show significant change in the last eighty years.

If you even look at some popular icons from as late as the 1960's and 70's, you will see the progression of technology. The Foodamatic 3000 that is prominently featured in the Jetsons cartoon by Hanna Barbara is remarkably similar to that microwave I just used for my lunch. It is also easy to take some of the carousel of progress at Disney World as the prototype for Home Shopping Network and even on line sales to some degree.
These are not even the most obvious benefits to technology.

Considering planes now get us coast to coast in three hours, instead of 13 days transportation has made significant leaps in a relatively short timeframe. Commercial air travel started in or around 1914, with the Ford Trimotor being the first American airline in 1925. While air travel was basically in its infancy back then, there is now talk of space tourism (Richard Branson) today.

With all of these technological advances I feel it would be foolish of me to tell my daughter that her dreams of living on the moon are impossible. While I would not bet on it, who would have been able to foresee the last 80 years of advancement. Now if you will excuse me, I need to upload pictures of my daughter to my IPhone so that my friends in Kuala Lumpur can see her visit to Disney.

I relied a good bit on google for information in this piece

Monday, June 01, 2009

New LRA Press Release


June 1, 2009
Media Contact:
Christina Stephens

Louisiana Recovery Authority

State of Louisiana Approves $5.3 Million for Revitalization of Lakefront Area in Lake Charles, Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony

BATON ROUGE, La. - A ceremonial groundbreaking was held today in Lake Charles to celebrate the state of Louisiana's approval of a $5.3 million project that will enhance the Lakefront Promenade and provide associated infrastructure improvements.
At the groundbreaking event, Louisiana Recovery Authority Deputy Director Robin Keegan said, "This project will act as a catalyst to promote increased interest and investment in the Downtown and Lakefront areas of Lake Charles. Using disaster recovery money to redevelop damaged commercial and recreational sites is a key strategy in promoting the return of those vital businesses and mixed-use venues that anchor our recovering communities."
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said, "The Lakefront Development project was developed through the FEMA Recovery Planning Process and ranked as one of the most beneficial projects in terms of the redevelopment of the region. This initial phase is the first of many that will follow as the City works to remake the Lakefront-Downtown area in the wake of Hurricane Rita."
The state's approval allows the Downtown Development Authority to access federal Community Development Block Grant funds needed to implement the project. The funding comes from the Long Term Community Recovery Program, a $700 million pool of federal CDBG money set aside by the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Office of Community Development to help local governments rebuild and implement long-term recovery plans.
When Hurricane Rita damaged the lakefront's boardwalk, hotel and casino, it wiped out a major recreational and economic venue that was enjoyed by local residents and visitors. This project will replace the blighted section of boardwalk along Bor du Lac Drive from South Lake Shore Drive to the North Civic Center Site, and will attract new investments to replace the revenue lost from the shuttered hotel and casino.
The $5,357,748 project includes the construction of multi-use walkways for access to both the lakefront and cultural events; underground electric service for streetscape lighting; earthwork berms as a buffer from the lake; turf, landscaping and irrigation systems; public seating areas including benches, seating walls, trash receptacles and shade islands; water drinking systems; way-finding and interpretive signage; up to six ornamental steel gateway entrances; up to 10 textured crosswalks; colored concrete pavers for disability access; refurbishing of existing handrail; approximately 45 wind-resistant palm trees; removal and replacement of damaged electrical hookups; and replacement of broken sidewalks.
In the associated infrastructure improvements, the project will fund construction of a new sewer pump station, sewer main and gravity sewer; and installation of a water main, fire hydrants, subsurface drainage and catch basins.
The state's LTCR program supports implementation of local governments' long-term recovery plans in the most heavily impacted communities in the state. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved LRA's request to reallocate $500 million in CDBG dollars to the program, bringing to $700 million the total amount of long-term recovery funding available to the parishes. Funds are distributed among the parishes through the LRA/Office of Community Development according to a formula based on estimated housing and infrastructure damages inflicted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In total, the LRA has allocated $18,391,496 of CDBG funding to Calcasieu Parish for LTCR projects.
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.