This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.
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Woke roads may not be coming to Louisiana, but the attitude behind these might slow down progress to complete the state’s portion of Interstate 49 to link with the rest of the country.
The concept of wokeness – that America from its history, culture, society, and economic system is so irredeemably racist that only replacement at the systemic level led by government (which itself needs a makeover for this reason) can cure it – made its practical appearance in transportation policy when the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration announced over $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to fund pilot projects that remove allegedly oppressive after-effects of highways going through area with majority-minority populations. This could include more portals and connecting access across areas where highways run, beautification, and repurposing of rail lines.
But most controversially, removal of those highways qualifies for the pot. That has been the goal in some urban areas, including New Orleans where Interstate 10 swoops south to skirt the north edge of the Vieux Carré before curving back to meet the straight-shot I-610, in the process following a stretch of Claiborne Avenue that seven decades ago was much more vibrant and a mecca for commerce in the city’s black community. Activists have argued for destruction of the elevated roadway and restoration of Claiborne.
Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency that any extensive attempts for the EPA to regulate the entire power-producing sector of America would have to have a particular and clear Congressional grant. Specifically, it didn’t have the authority to impose a cap-and-trade regime on states designed to force a shift to renewable energy sources from those based on fossil fuels.
Absent that grant as is the case, the EPA can’t issue sweeping rules, as encapsulated in a plan initially forwarded by the Democrat Pres. Barack Obama Administration that the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration wished in large part to continue, that constrain power production on the basis of carbon emissions. Landry, not long after taking office and along with officials from 15 other states joined West Virginia on the winning side, commented on how the outcome correctly placed the power to regulate in the hands of Congress rather than bureaucracy.
Chavez, until recently a Republican and local party official, declared his run for the office by asserting he would run without a partisan label. This emulated the Monroe no party mayor, who despite backing from local GOP elites (and the spouse of a Republican state elected official) eschewed a label. Facing an electorate about five-eighths black and dominated by Democrats, he knocked off a long-time incumbent from that party by stressing his business credentials and critiquing the incumbent’s record.
However, for Chavez the dynamics differ somewhat than just refusing to call himself a Republican in the hopes of adding non-Republicans disgruntled with the ethical and policy missteps of Democrat incumbent Mayor Adrian Perkins to Republicans attracted by his conservative voting record on the Commission – until recently. For to prevent too many conservatives from sticking with Republican candidate Tom Arceneaux – Ellis didn’t have to face any quality GOP challenger – Chavez must continue to demonstrate conservative credentials that his Commission work puts on display.
Checkmate on wealthy special interests trying to subvert democracy has come in one Louisiana controversy, but an even more consequential one is just beginning that may cause even greater needless taxpayer, and certainly human, expense.
Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed preliminary injunctions issued by U.S. Middle District Louisiana Judge Shelly Dick on case orders that would force the state, contrary to the output of its democratic processes, to draw two majority-minority congressional districts as a result of decennial reapportionment from 2020 census data. Dick’s opinion, which strayed far from existing jurisprudence, had set up for her as early as Wednesday to impose a two M/M plan onto the state for elections this fall.
Instead, the 6-3 Court ruling put everything on hold until it resolves Merrill v. Milligan, an Alabama case that presents largely the same issues of how prominent a role race must play in reapportionment. There, in a state with about a quarter black population, late last year its Legislature drew only one M/M district of seven, and in February the Court enjoined a lower court ruling tossing that out, saying it needed time to vet thoroughly the issue that meant the enacted map would be used in 2022 elections, being as time was too short given the upcoming election schedule.
Since you’re reading this, you obviously aren’t in the opinion-free zone now increasingly the case for Gannett Corporation newspapers.
Quietly, the 250-or-so-strong newspaper chain has had its individual outlets drop opinion columns over the past several months. A directive went out earlier this year discouraging the running of regular opinion columns and preached that if papers do continue to venture into opinion that these should focus on local issues. It said internal research indicated reader dissatisfaction with eternal arguments over certain subjects, an inability to move to common ground, and irritation to the point that, despite being the least read section of the typical paper, views expressed on opinion pages former subscribers often cited as their reason to bolt.
Nationally, its outlets have begun scaling back entire editorial sections to run as little as weekly. In Louisiana, a review of opinion pages for its several outlets shows the disappearance of all but the occasional guest posting seldom on a national issue, with no regulars except for the leftist wildcatter Jeremy Alford who writes about state politics and syndicates across both newspaper/magazine and television platforms, and its Capitol news reporter (and at the Shreveport Times – where I wrote a weekly column a quarter-century ago before I was told I irritated too many powers that be and was given the boot – a former student of mine on the left is allowed to put it out there every couple of weeks or so).
It took only about a half-century, but my first foray into political activism finally paid off.
In the spring of 1973, of which the exact date escapes me, as our family did occasionally we visited one of our hometown Alvin’s very few sit-down dinner restaurants. While we waited on the food – the only Mexican restaurant in town at the time – our mother pulled out some information culled from one of the Catholic-oriented magazines to which we subscribed, which contained sample verbiage for a letter to any of several listed addresses of various elected officials concerning the recent Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.
This ruling, which using smoke and mirrors concocted a substantive due process argument creating a constitutional right essentially under any circumstance to abort humans – at that time technical reasoning lost upon a pair of ten-year-olds that wouldn’t be grasped for several more years – upset her deeply. While the bulk of her 15-year nursing career (before our time), mostly in what then was called the Public Health Service in some of its hospitals and after receiving her B.S. then in the Air Force, was spent as a surgical nurse or ward supervisor, she also had a stint in what today would be called a neo-natal unit. She did really well with newborns and loved to take care of them, a desire that manifested in her enduring three miscarriages before hitting the jackpot with a two-for-one payoff.
It’s even possible that Louisiana and its residents might in the short-term benefit from a three-month gas tax holiday as proposed by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and supported by the state’s only congressman from that party, but they surely lose big in the long run.
Biden has asked Congress to knock off the 18.4 cent per gallon federal excise tax temporarily as a means to quell surging gas prices. Nationally, they have about doubled since last spring, and in Louisiana as of this writing average about $4.50 a gallon for regular-grade fuel.
This could make for some good political optics, emanating the appearance of lowered prices at the pump, even as in reality it will do little to alter prices except immediately and briefly . Likely, a substitution effect will occur where demand increases because of the lower price, while supply will not have changed, so prices will rise to compensate. As well, “savings” only incompletely would be passed along the supply chain and the move negates Biden Administration policy fixated on preventing the myth of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming from fruition by increasing the amount of carbon burned into to atmosphere.
Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, like last year, has thrown down the gauntlet. But this time, it might get thrown back at him, and then some.
A few days ago, Edwards released his latest round of vetoes for bills from the recently-concluded regular session of the Legislature. That brought the total to 23 – all but one by Republicans with the remaining one innocuous in nature but done against no party state Rep. Roy Daryl Adams as payback for voting to override the Edwards veto of the state’s reapportioned congressional districts – meaning that before the deadline for veto issuance that comes by the end of the month, the number may surpass last year’s 31.
The past two years have ticked higher in number because Edwards lost much control over the Legislature after 2019 elections and the increasing ideological drift to the left his policy-making has exhibited since after that election he could no longer run for reelection. 2020 didn’t feature much discord because practical issues surrounding combatting the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic dominated proceedings, but since then the Republican majorities in each chamber haven’t been shy about legislating their preferences, with the occasional help of dissenting Democrats or no party/independent members, that stand inimically opposed to his.
In case any doubts lingered, in his latest announcements about disposition of 2022 Regular session bills Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards officially confirmed, when it comes to matters of public policy, his status as a “cafeteria Catholic” who puts political expediency ahead of giving witness to actual faith.
That term refers to someone who calls himself Catholic yet picks and chooses which parts of his faith to which to adhere. It’s widely considered that it’s tough for a practicing Catholic not to act this way; for example, despite the Church’s teaching that any contraceptive method not natural (except in extraordinary circumstances) violates God’s law, one poll a few years back revealed only 8 percent of people who identified as Catholics deemed artificial birth control as morally objectionable.
It's not for anybody to cast scarlet letters on others to castigate them on their supposed infidelities to their religious beliefs; that’s reserved to God and His mercy to offenders is endless in any event. People have enough trouble looking out for their own souls and, beyond bearing witness to their faith as best they can, have no time left over to intrude uninvited into others’ lives over such matters.