Author's posts

Book Review – Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow

I met Dedra Johnson at a book signing just before Christmas.  Earl Higgins, Dedra, and I were signing our books at the Loyola University's bookstore.  I'd been hearing about Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow from friends, bloggers, and others for a coiuple of months.  It's not the type of novel I usually read, but Dedra's a local author writing about New Orleans, good enough for me.

Sandrine may not be the type of character I usually get into, but I got into the novel nonetheless.  It is a well-written story with lots of local color and a cast of characters who are very easy to love and/or hate, just like family members.

I'm going to offer some more thoughts below the fold.  SPOILER WARNING – don't go there if you haven't read the book.

LA-01: Meet Gilda Reed’s Republican Opposition

Docudharma Note:  When I set up an account here, I originally intended NOT to simply cross-post my dKos diary.  That said, this is different.  I'm proud to be part of the 24 hours of blogging for Gilda Reed, progressive candidate for Congress from LA-01.  This is my entry in the round-the-clock blogging on dKos:

I was two years old when my family left Methuen, MA, for New Orleans. My mother, a NOLA native, didn't care much for Boston winters. She told my dad she was going back home with us kids and he was welcome to join us. My parents initially rented a house on Bonnabel Blvd., in Old Metairie, then bought a house not far away on Dream Ct. They moved closer to the lake when we outgrew that house, and that's where they lived out their lives.

T. Hale Boggs represented Metairie/Jefferson until his death in 1972. His wife Lindy succeeded him in the LA-02 seat and continued to represent the suburbs until the 1980 redistricting put Metairie/Jefferson in LA-01. There are still more Democrats registered in LA-01 than Republicans. It's just a matter of reminding them that Dems have done better by them historically than Republicans ever have or ever will.

This is what they will remember:

They'll remember the mold that covered the walls when they returned after evacuating for the storm.

They'll remember how they ripped out the walls of the houses they worked most of their lives to build and pay for.


They'll remember how so much of what they owned was carried away by trash collectors as worthless. (BTW, these photos are from my house.)

But most importantly, they'll remember the man who did absolutely nothing to help:

and they won't be too well-disposed towards those who think he did a good job.

Like Steve Scalise.

Gilda's opposition on the Republican side consists of Steve Scalise of Jefferson, Ben Morris of Slidell, and Tim Burns of Covington. Polls indicate that Scalise currently leads this field, with Morris five points behind him. (There is a 33% “Uncertain” in this race.) In spite of the large Uncertain percentage, my money is on Scalise, because the Republican money is on him.

Steve Scalise is 42 years old, from Jefferson, LA. He is married and has one daughter. His degree (from LSU) is in Computer Programming, and he lists his employment as a Computer Systems Analyst with Diamond Data Systems, a Metairie company specializing in DoD work.

In actuality, Scalise is a career politician, having been elected to office for the first time at age 30. He has been a Louisiana State Representative for the past 12 years (District 82). Scalise was unable to stand for a fourth term because of Republican-initiated/supported term limits. In spite of numerous expressions of interest in running for LA-01, Scalise ran for the State Senate (District 9), in the fall of 2007. His opponent in that race, former JP School Board member Polly Thomas (R-Metairie), predicted the exact situation that is unfolding now–that if PBJ were to win the LA-GOV race, Scalise would immediately qualify for LA-01, in spite of not even having been sworn into the office for which he was currently running. Thomas was savagely attacked by Scalise in the campaign for suggesting that he would abandon District 9 (if he were to win LA-01, Scalise would serve in one legislative special session and never represent the district in a regular session). Since the general election for LA-01 is 8-May, Senate 9 will be without representation, since there will be no time for a special election to fill the remaining 90% of Scalise's term.

Scalise is Roman Catholic, a graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School.

Scalise's positions on various issues:


Scalise lists “Strong National Defense” as an issue for his campaign, but there is absolutely no reference to the current Middle East wars on his website. The disrespect this does to our troops as well as the intelligence of the voters of LA-01 is incredible.


Scalise has been the NRA's go-to guy in the LA legislature for over a decade. He has authored legislation for the gun lobby on several occasions, most notably a bill to retroactively prohibit municipalities in the state from suing gun manufacturers.


Scalise is pro-life and has a 100% pro-life voting record with the Louisiana Right to Life Federation. The Louisiana Family Forum named Steve Scalise “Outstanding Family Advocate.” The LFF closely aligns themselves with Radical Cleric Dobson and Focus on the Family as well as Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. Favors no exceptions for rape and incest.

Flood Protection

Scalise's campaign website says he supports funding 100-year-storm protection for Southeast Louisiana, yet he stands by the records of his predecessors. His friend David “Diaper Dave” Vitter, and PBJ both fully supported the Cheney Administration's ongoing underfunding of flood control projects for Southeast Louisiana. Scalise offers no explanation for this conflict in his words and actions.


Opposed re-building of affordable housing initiatives post-storm.


Voted last year to cut 1,532 state jobs from the budget, most coming from the Department of Health and Hospitals. Adamantly opposed to rebuilding Charity Hospital New Orleans, even though it was one of the state's largest employers, teaching hospitals, and the primary source of healthcare for the metro area's uninsured.


Voted last year to cut $177 million in education funding from the state budget. Supports tuition tax deductions for families that have children in parochial schools.

Marriage/Gay Rights

Chief architect of the 2004 “Defense Of Marriage Amendment,” which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The amendment overwhelmingly passed in the legislature and at the polls. It was upheld in several court challenges and is now a part of the state constitution. Supports restricting no-fault divorce.

Voting Rights

Took the lead in deveoping “ballot integrity programs” for the LA Republican Party. The plans included increasing the number of Republican “poll watchers” for the 2002 Landrieu-Terrell Senate race.

Smoker's Rights

Opposed a ban on smoking in Louisiana restaurants (the ban passed and went into effect on January 1, 2007). What is significant about Scalise's opposition is that he did what one of his primary benefactors, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, told him to do. In many states, state-wide smoking bans are welcomed by restaurants, lest a county-by-county patchwork create inequities. In Louisiana, however, restaurants are gambling venues. By banning smoking, video poker players who want to drink, smoke, and gamble, have to go someplace else. That has caused a huge drop in restaurant gambling revenue. Scalise conveys the impression that he is a gambling opponent, but he serves a special interest that has made a lot of money from video poker in the last 15 years.

The Company He Keeps

  • Scalise's “Honorary Campaign Chairman” is former LA-01 Representative and almost-Speaker Robert Livingston. Livingston was forced to resign in the midst of House deliberations on the impeachment of President Clinton for being involved in a sex scandal, because he was implicated in a sex scandal. (Livingston is referred to as “almost-Speaker” of the House because he was Majority Leader at the time of Newt the Gingrich's resignation in 1996. Gingrich quit because he failed to deliver on his pledges to expand the GOP majority in the chamber. Livingston resigned before he could be elected Speaker. I point these things out here because I am utterly amazed at how many young progressives are ignorant of the GOP antics of the 1990s.)
  • Supports Senator David “Diaper Dave” Vitter, in spite of his involvement with prostitutes.
  • Endorsed by the House Conservatives Fund, who are also endorsing Adrian Smith (NE-03), Bill Sali (ID-01), David Davis (TN-01), Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Michelle Bachmann (MN-06), Peter Roskam (IL-06) Tim Walberg (MI-07), Vern Buchanan (FL-13), and Jim Ryun (KS-02).
  • There are numerous “whispers” floating around Scalise, the sort of stuff that sounds like it comes right out of a Karl Rove-operated campaign. We cannot confirm any of these sorts of allegations at the present time, so we will not dignify them here. No doubt his Republican opponents will pull out those guns before the 3-March closed primary.

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