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Harry Shearer: Obama 100 day window of opportunity closes on Louisiana



Arianna Huffington and New Orleans resident Harry Shearer

Arianna Huffington and New Orleans resident Harry Shearer









The national media are obviously making a huge deal of the fact that April 29 2009 marks President Obama’s 100th day in the oval office.  

There’s obviously nothing magic about this arbitrary time period but one of my local heroes is Harry Shearer, who took advantage of the national hype to offer his perspective in Huffingtonpost on the Obama 100 day “anniversary” with a specific Louisiana focus.  

Harry Shearer is an actor, author, director, satirist, musician, radio host, playwright, multi-media artist, essayist and social critic.  He is probably best known for providing the voices of the following 17 characters on Fox TV’s eternal The Simpsons:

Principal Seymour Skinner

Simpson's character hapless Principal Seymour Skinner (from Wikipedia)


C. Montgomery Burns,Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Otto, Reverend Lovejoy, Dr. Julius Hibbert, Kent Brockman, Jasper, Lenny, Edde Rainier, Wolfcastle/McBain, Scratchy, Kang, Herman, George Bush, and Judge Snyder.

He is much less well known as a part time Louisiana coastal resident (New Orleans). In case you haven’t noticed, Harry Shearer has become a fierce national voice of support for south Louisiana in the post-Katrina era.

With respect to the latter role, Shearer is paying close attention to local coastal going’s on. For example, he wrote an April 10 HuffingtonPost piece on the firing of embattled coastal scientist Ivor van Heerden and followed that up with an April 12 interview with Dr. van Heerden on the Harry Shearer Le Show (minutes 31:30 – 50:00).

Shearer’s April 29 Huffpost essay is pretty down beat with respect to Louisiana not benefitting significantly from an “opening salvo” of administrative largesse associated with Obama’s first 100 days. Shearer suggests that such an opportunity won’t happen again. 

Alhough Mr. Shearer doesn’t speculate on a possible connection between our governor’s recent statements hostile to the new administration and our not receiving special post-Katrina resources, it’s very hard not to connect the dots.

It may or may not be significant that the president was hosting a town hall meeting in our upriver sister city of St. Louis on this special day, rather than at Jackson Square in New Orleans.  

Len Bahr

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  14. Tom Jackson says:

    Implications of Sandy's comments are very profound. If we can't trust ASCE on civil engineering matters or have to second guess NRC review – what it tells us?
    By the same token, Team Louisiana's report may be even less credible. They were state employees, exclusively looking for salaries. Lead authors were very politically involved with La DOTD and attorney general’s office (Read the Storm/ Breach of Faith).

    Tom Jackson
    New Orleans

  15. Heid'a'Ho, you called? Slooooowly I toin… step by step… inch by inch….
    Here I was just hanging back, enjoying watching the smart people pick you off like tickfaws on a Catahoula.
    Thanks for the compliment of trying to link me with the smart people, but it ain't me, babe. It ain't me yer lookin'fo.

    Only a coward without a rhetorical leg to stand on would attempt to justify their own passive aggressive cynicism on the back of another person's statement. HA! We unsmart people call that "Drive-by Commentary". Specious, damn near addled, even brutally incoherent.
    You would attempt to dismiss All Modeling in order to attack All Modeling? Jeez Louie, how lame. How so quickly redundant, like listening to a pile driver on concrete. You have got to do better than that, especially when I have seen the Hurricane Pam scenario layed over the top of the actual NOAA/Sat Katrina path scenario, to which the surges match in striking locations, to wit: MRGO for example, but only one example.
    Models are useful, but your use of them is fucking a Red Herring.

    It's the Levees, Stupid, not who I chose to support in their eventual safe disposition.
    It's the Wetlands, Stupid, not the tangential rhetorical syllodomy you would have us endure regarding our own experience with our own vanishing coastlines.

    Thank you,
    Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

  16. HeidiHoe says:

    I think Sandy's post above somewhat backs up my thoughts for cynicism here; with respect to the NRC being fairly incorruptible….. I gather there is some mild debate here with respect to the various parties and their conclusions being derived…. all working from the same basis of hydraulics/hydrology/science

    My honest dream is for Len, Sandy, and Editilla to get full funding to solve these numerous issues and then for them to have at it…….

    My bet is that Nature would outguess and outperform your team someday also……

    We are mere ants in the big picture; just like MR-GO's physical footprint as compared to that of Katrina or the Gulf…….

  17. I thought the NRC was fairly incorruptible until I read their final report on IPET. Flagrantly missing is any suggestion that IPET might be unsound on an ethical basis. Sherwood Boehlert in a report issued in Sept 2008 sharply scolded the way ASCE conducted their peer review of IPET ranging from the questionable way the review was funded to muzzling of the assessment teams by ASCE admininstration. And the things Boehlert observed were abundantly evident in the IPET.

  18. Len Bahr says:

    Your cynicism is amazing.

    I can't imagine living in a world in which you either don't understand or believe in the concepts of standardized testing, accreditation, peer review, academic rigor, etc. Universal standards for science and engineering education are apparently worthless. Certification for professional engineers is a sham. Calibrating and verifying numerical models against observed data is irrelevant. The spot-on 2008 election predictions of statistical guru Nate Silver were just lucky.

    If I thought like you I'd be afraid to fly in a plane, drive across a bridge, eat in a restaurant or get a flu vaccination.

  19. HeidiHoe says:

    The neat thing about numerical modeling and statistics is that one can prove about anything one wants to prove; just put the "right coefficients" into your models and PRESTO. The model doesn't care; it will still operate within the computerized realm and happily spit out "answers;" which may or may not make any sense. But a computer did it so it must be correct…..

    All done "by the book:"

  20. Len Bahr says:

    Wait until all the testimony is complete and all modeling results released before you jump to conclusions. I'm told that both the plaintiffs and defendants commissioned modeling studies and I'm anxious to see the bottom line myself.

    The funnel effect you say was ruled out by URS and Joe Suhayda seems indisputable when watching the ADCIRC animation sequence produced by Hassan Mashrique right after the storm. The corps seems to acknowledge this effect by the ongoing construction of a very costly surge barrier directly across the narrowing "funnel" created by the east-west levee of the intracoastal waterway and the north-south MRGO levee.

    No matter what comes from the expert testimony, however, it is indisputable that during forty years of operation the orginal MRGO channel had widened to destroy a huge area of St. Bernard coastal forest that might have absorbed most of the storm energy.

    It is also indisputable that salt water intrusion during forty years of MRGO operation increased the salinity of Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas enough to kill much of the amazing Manchac coastal forest system.

    I personally believe that had MRGO never been built the Aug 29/30 2005 devastation of New Orleans would not have occurred. My opinion isn't dispositive, however.

  21. Tom Jackson says:

    In a recent report NRC stated that the MRGO had very little or no role during Katrina. La DNR study (by URS and Dr. Joe Suhayda) also showed there were no funnel effect either. Len, my questions is then why are we closing the funnel or the MRGO?
    "Meanwhile, a court this week began hearing a lawsuit to decide whether the controversial Mississippi River Gulf Outlet built by the army's Corps of Engineers exacerbated flooding during Katrina. In its report, the NAE panel suggests that it contributed at most a minor amount to storm surge and flood depths."

  22. The only dots to connect come from La – or rather, they don't. Why hasn't the Governor requested a White House meeting to discuss our plight with the President? The Jindal administration has held choreographed hearings and meetings to blast the COE and challenge FEMA, and continues to attack their shortcomings relative to the coastal situation. The problems with those agencies are well known – why not go over their heads and talk to their new boss? The beginning of a new administration is a key time to re-affirm the partnership with the federal government for coastal restoration that La has pursued since 1989. One gets the impression that a successful partnership of this sort is not in line with the Governor's political amibtions – let's hope that's not the case.

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