This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday after noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time 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 Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.
With Thursday, Nov. 26 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.
Politically attentive conservatives in Louisiana must feel like the Frank Costello character in the movie The Departed, groaning “How … did this happen?” with the election of Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards as governor. Understanding how leads to the realization that its uniqueness likely does not change the evolution of Louisiana’s political culture.
Costello uttered this plaintive question after having gotten shot in a police ambush organized by his mole in the state troopers, betrayed because the mole thought Costello would betray him to federal authorities. In this instance, conservatives statewide suffered betrayal at the hands of some voters who typically cast ballots for Republicans in statewide contests but did not this time because they feared delivering the state’s top office into the hands of Republican Sen. David Vitter. After all, they got told often and long enough, even by Republicans, that Vitter was mean and that Edwards served in the military.
The state’s populist heritage played some role in this, a trait that Edwards skillfully exploited. With a public conditioned so long to evaluate politics on the basis of personalities and not issues, the Edwards campaign hammered at this and obfuscated as best it could, if not falsified, to mass audiences that large majority of his issue preferences incongruent with the Louisiana public’s, with some obvious success.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:55
Perhaps the most surprising, and deviant, results from Louisiana’s round of state and local elections in 2015 came in the northwest part of the state – where big money outside of the area appears to have played significant roles in these contests.
In one instance, that accrued to the advantage of conservative political elements. Republican businessman Tony Davis narrowly defeated appointed incumbent Republican educator Mary Harris for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education District 4 seat. Davis entered late, backing the Common Core for State Standards Initiative and worked to expand school choice, while Harris opposed both.
Aided by large spending on his behalf by political action committees that favored education reform, Davis overcame a 43-36 percent deficit coming out of the general election, where the opponent who did not make the runoff sounded more like Harris than he. Possibly a change in rhetoric by Davis, from supporting Common Core to stating a desire to “scrap” it and to “revise and replace Common Core with our own Louisiana standards” – in other words, follow the current process taking place under the auspices of the Department of Education and Legislature – may have helped win over some voters.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 12:00
I recommend reading the series of seven articles at The Hayride by site publisher Scott McKay (perhaps easiest would be to start here and then find links to the remainder of these as “related links”). While perhaps too pessimistic, a broad review of their general themes and fine-tuning the their implications indicates that the pain and suffering most of Louisiana seems set to undergo to enrich a few in the end likely will produce something positive and enduring for all.
McKay correctly worries that the ascent of Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards to the Governor’s Mansion early next year constitutes a clear step backwards for those interested in a better quality of life, greater prosperity, and safeguarding individual liberty for Louisianans. Edwards’ cornfield liberalism directly descends from the state’s horror show history with populism, which for decades made it the laughingstock of the country, ranked near the bottom in almost positive indicator for a person’s life prospects and towards the top of almost every negative indicator of such. Not only do he and his cronies think along the lines that produced this agonizing waste of human potential and happiness, some of them actually aided and abetted in the operation of this fiefdom, and show either indifference to the wages of their foolishness or revel in it as they attempt to extend their command and control over society to their benefit and society’s detriment.
No doubt that as governor Edwards can do considerable harm to the people. I noted in a recent Advocate column just some of the negative policy decisions he has a chance unilaterally to produce, given the powers of the office. Forcing the public regardless of its rights to religious freedom to act in ways that validates homosexual behavior as normative, raising the state’s minimum wage paid out by contractors that kills jobs, engaging in sue-and-settle tactics to impose policy bypassing democratic means (although, as McKay points out in general terms, incoming Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry might have the capability to restrict that exercise of executive power), condemning more families and children to substandard education by defunding some school choice options, all Edwards can inflict through use of administrative discretion, executive orders, and line item veto decisions.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 11:40
Politics dictates that Louisiana can’t even get through its gubernatorial election before senatorial election considerations come into play, illustrating a past potentially bad political call.
From the Republican perspective, the continued silence of erstwhile candidate for governor Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle regarding any endorsement for Republican Sen. David Vitter for the office speaks unwanted volumes. It might seem the most natural thing in the world to lend his support, as Angelle made a conscious effort to position himself as a conservative alternative to Vitter for voters inclined to the GOP.
However, given Vitter’s underperformance to date in securing the office, Angelle now may think that, regardless of Vitter winning, losing, or drawing, he’ll pursue the Senate seat of Vitter’s in 2016, making an endorsement now of a potential future opponent for another office counterproductive. That reticence brought a rebuke this week from Republican Treasurer John Kennedy, whose motives for doing so don’t seem quite as clear.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign ended abruptly today, the most serious candidacy ever by a Louisianan ironically ultimately undone by a divisive and unpopular president’s policies that put the Republican in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When Jindal assumed office in 2008, he seemed set up well to target the White House down the road. A brilliant, principled conservative paired with a Legislature still controlled nominally by Democrats but teetering on the brink of passing over to Republican control, a success story awaited him: by instituting a conservative agenda to wrench the state away from its populist past, in the years ahead after implementing those fundamental changes he could have the chance to point to that record of accomplishment as a reason to promote him.
But he achieved only partial results. Wisely, he started with the easy stuff with a wide mandate like ethics reform, and then broached out in a technocratic manner to make government work more efficiently by curbing the giveaway mentality that so infused Louisiana public policy, latent populism assigning as it did government the role of redistributor in chief, through policy such as Medicaid reform. The strategy then dictated building up political capital this way through not asking the Legislature for big policy changes and concentrating on what could be altered through changes in administrative practices. Ensuring this way a second term and hopefully GOP legislative majorities (which happened), then the first part of that one he could dedicate to big policy changes to position himself with an excellent résumé should a presidential run still seem possible and desirable.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 23:30
We already know from last week that, as surely as the sun rises in the east, Republican gubernatorial candidate Sen. David Vitter whoops up on his head-shaking Democrat opponent state Rep. John Bel Edwards in debates. Tonight, it’s not so important that Vitter went Holly Holm on Edwards’ Ronda Rousey in forensics as typically understood, but that Edwards displays an alternative set of forensic abilities that allows him to tell tall tales without a hint that he acts aberrantly.
While Edwards obfuscated, misdirected, distorted, and lied throughout the hour-long affair, his biggest departures from the facts occurred early in the affair, and showed his considerable range in torturing reality. Right off the bat, on a question addressing Syrian refugees, Vitter gigged Edwards on the shifting sand under the latter’s position, pointing out that in Facebook posts Edwards first enunciated a policy to “accommodate” federal government plans to resettle refugees, then changed it to the more independent-sounding “assist,” and finally issued a statement that he would do neither and wanted those resettlement plans to stop.
Brazening it out, Edwards denied that he had changed his mind, but problematically for him the enterprising website The Hayride busted him hours earlier on that. Of course, he likely figured the typical viewer probably had no knowledge of his record on this so he could get away with it.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 20:15
A bad idea repackaged slightly still is a bad idea, and on Nov. 21 Bossier and Caddo Parish voters should vote accordingly negative on the proposal to fund the parishes’ joint Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau’s 1.5 percent tax on hotel and overnight camping fees.
Voters narrowly rejected this retread just over a year ago, with this version differing only in that it asks for a half-cent fewer. It would commence on Pearl Harbor Day of this year and last nearly a dozen years, the proceeds of which would go to trying to attract sporting events, teams to play in Independence Stadium, and airlines and flights in and out of Shreveport Regional Airport.
As previously noted in this space, the Bureau continues to sit on lots of cash – over $5 million of which over $3 million in unrestricted – a growing total as it takes in more than it spends. And the airport’s problem is its high fares as it continues to rank among the most expensive for airports with 100,000 to 200,000 originating passengers. There’s no reason to throw unneeded dollars at the Bureau nor will more money solve for the inefficiencies at the airport.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 08:45