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13.11.19

Kennedy impeachment intent doctrine fails

News show favorite Louisiana’s usually perspicacious Republican Sen. John Kennedy as always remained glib but missed the mark when he commented about the partisan impeachment circus currently in Washington, DC.

Appearing on a Sunday morning show, Kennedy argued that Republican Pres. Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky where Trump discussed that the Ukraine uphold treaty obligations in assisting on a corruption probe that included the son of Democrat former Vice Pres. Joe Biden – a potential challenger in 2020 – possibly could be an impeachable offense. During the call, Trump never mentioned military aid, which had been negotiated but not yet delivered. Zelensky didn’t even know the aid, which showed up three months later, as of the call had not arrived, nor did he feel like Trump was bargaining with him. In fact, the Ukraine has yet to pursue Trump’s request to provide any investigatory assistance.

Nonetheless, Democrats have declared the episode worthy of impeachment and conviction to remove Trump from office. Kennedy largely disagrees, with one exception:

12.11.19

Early voting small advantage to Edwards

So, early voting statistics for this Saturday’s contest predict a Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards reelection? Not so fast, my readers.

At the conclusion of early voting this weekend, about 115,000 more people voted early than in the general election of Oct. 12. This set an all-time record for early turnout proportion – although history suggests that won’t last long, as early voting for the 2020 elections that features the presidential race should surge past it.

But, significantly, the proportion of blacks in early voting rose from around 25 to 31 percent from the general election to runoff, undoubtedly spurred by efforts of special interest groups to round up and deliver them to early voting locations in larger parishes (typically two locations). As roughly of 90 percent of blacks will vote for Democrats, this gives a boost to Edwards and others of his party running in down-ballot contests (although only a handful of state-level contests went to a runoff featuring major party matchups, and in every case leaving Republicans heavily favored).

11.11.19

Veterans Day, 2019

This column publishes every Monday through Friday 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 Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Monday, Nov. 11 being Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.

8.11.19

7.11.19

Worse schools, less likely to support change

Not only do the just-released school and district accountability scores in Louisiana speak to the educational quality and pace of improvement within the state’s elementary and secondary education, these also illuminate how many Louisianans vote against their own self-interests.

The state’s Department of Education announced yesterday the scores, which federal law requires that it computes. Overall, these showed improvement from 2018, particularly among worse-performing schools. Tempering that good news, about 17 percent of schools ended up classified as “struggling,” while 44 percent had at least one student sub-population of interest classified as that.

However, out of all of this comes a fascinating nugget of electoral and political importance. A relationship exists between the quality of a school district and vote in the 2019 gubernatorial general election. Specifically, the worse the schools perform, the more votes for Democrats in that election.

6.11.19

Leftists increasing LA early voting efforts

If reelection of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards goes down in flames, it won’t be for lack of trying by one far left Louisiana special interest group.

Edwards finds himself locked in a tight reelection battle against Republican Eddie Rispone. Further, in the general election his candidacy didn’t seem to generate as much enthusiasm among Democrats, especially blacks, as seems necessary to win.

However, one group aims to change that, and it’s off to a good start. The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice launched efforts at the commencement of early voting last Saturday to get as many people, very disproportionately black and Democrat, to the polls.

5.11.19

Edwards lies again about Medicaid expansion

Election season lies just keep coming from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards about Medicaid expansion.

Edwards has held up expansion as a major accomplishment of his tenure, despite flimsy arguments in its favor. Throughout his reelection campaign he has touted how it brought insurance to many who didn’t have it and attributed care received under it as care that otherwise never would have occurred. In fact, as many as nearly half of all expansion enrollees already had privately-paid insurance and the remainder had access to care at the state’s charity hospitals. (And in any event, the health benefits allegedly conveyed by expansion are wildly overblown.) Further, about a tenth of enrollees at the peak were ineligible – largely because upon entering office Edwards’ Department of Health deliberately weakened verification standards – wasting $500 million a year in inappropriate payments.

That fact alone falsifies the idea that expansion “saved” money – an argument that almost made sense in 2016 when the federal government paid for all but several million dollars in administrative costs. But the tens of millions of state dollars wasted through inappropriate payments cancels any economic benefits from rerouting tax dollars from other states to pump through Louisiana (while Louisianans also see their federal tax dollars going elsewhere to pay for other states’ expansions) – even as an Edwards Administration-financed report erroneously inflated claims of economic benefits and left out other important data that left it almost useless to understanding expansion’s economic impact.

4.11.19

Edwards politicizes "reform," capital outlay

If Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has shown anything in his just about four years in office, it’s that he plays politics ruthlessly with state money in his quest to create an image and to hold onto power.

During his reelection campaign, Edwards has touted certain capital outlay projects and “savings” from criminal justice changes he promoted. The latter claimed it could lower the state’s incarceration rate without an increase in crime and thereby save money, by diverting nonviolent offenders and releasing others early. Money retained would go into the general fund and programs that supposedly would reduce recidivism.

But a review of the outcomes indicates that benefits from these – money for criminal justice efforts and projects benefitting local areas – often didn’t materialize in areas where Edwards has faced criticism from other elected officials. Indeed, Edwards on projects has gone out of his way to deny these to specific legislators critical of his policies.

31.10.19

Lying, panicked Edwards sees himself behind

The last Louisiana gubernatorial debate confirmed what other signs had indicated: Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards thinks he’s going to lose reelection.

Up to that point, the Edwards reelection had brought to battle some weaponry of questionable effectiveness in its quest to outpace Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in the runoff. It has replicated the 2015 playbook in attacking your runoff opponent, but this time with a distinct lack of ammunition. So, it has treated the public to ranting about Rispone’s ties to someone who similarly has donated copiously to conservative candidates, complaining that Rispone wouldn’t show up to every single candidate forum that issued invitations, and asserting that voters don’t know what they would get with Rispone in the Governor’s Mansion. In turn, this makes Rispone, according to Edwards, allied with corruption, shirking his duties, and too much of a risk in office.

These charges are, of course, nonsense, but they do serve the purpose of distracting from Edwards’ dismal record in office with – considering Louisiana can’t create jobs under his watch, its economic growth remains anemic compared to other states, it lags them as well with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and on a per capita basis had a higher net population loss last year than all but one state. Meanwhile, taxes were raised that cost Louisianans over $4 billion more over the course of Edwards’ term while spending from state sources increased at almost twice the rate of inflation.

Naturally, and on display at the debate, Edwards cherry-picks the few, largely meaningless picayunish statistics that run counter to the negative big picture (such as celebrating a dead cat bounce by saying for just one recent year the state’s economy grew faster than in most states; regression to the mean inevitably happens but doesn’t indicate a trend). But his campaign spends as much effort on trying to trash Rispone on phantom criteria, which Edwards again pursued almost pathologically throughout the televised forum.

In fact, viewers with no interest in Louisiana politics perhaps looking for the decisive seventh game of the World Series who stumbled across the debate might have gotten sucked into it momentarily at the sight of a wildly expressive, eyes bulging with excitement, well-dressed figure remonstrating furiously, interrupting often, and constantly complaining. They would have been surprised to know this panicked visage was that of the state’s 56th governor, looking for all the world like a backwoods Tangipahoa politician trying to gin up impressionable voters – and failing.

For the first two media questions, Rispone looked and sounded far cooler and in control than the maniac next to him. Edwards calmed down afterwards, but then towards the end had something happen indescribable except as a meltdown when Rispone needled Edwards’ on his inability to achieve fiscal reform other than by raising the sales tax. If Edwards – who a number of legislators privately admit flies into rages when he can’t bully them into toeing his line – acted this way in the Army, he couldn’t be entrusted to lead effectively even a phalanx of toilet attendants.

All in all, when considering polls show Edwards can’t reach 50 percent of the intended vote – and keep in mind these have undercounted Rispone’s support a bit and of those who claim undecided status in these most will vote for the challenger and the rest won’t show up – Edwards’ insistence on more and more debates (challengers typically want that in order to try to catch an incumbent perceived race leader into making a gaffe), and his attack strategy and unhinged debate behavior, seasoned campaign observers know indicate a candidate who thinks he’s behind and can’t win without something big and fortunate happening for him.

This standoff covered almost entirely the same ground as past efforts, save a startling admission by Edwards: he thinks Louisianans aren’t taxed enough. Referring back to a Tax Foundation report using 2012 data that showed the state with one of the lowest tax burdens – even as the interest group publicly has rebuked Edwards for using old data while more recent studies by other organizations put the state in the middle – he claimed there was room to grow on that.

Interestingly, Rispone’s one blunder of the night occurred when he mixed up this study with the most recent U.S. News annual Best States survey that keeps putting Louisiana last, although Rispone later corrected himself. Yet it wouldn’t be a 2019 debate without an Edwards fib, and this time it came over that study, which Edwards alleged used data from 2014-16 – basically, before he got things going as governor. In fact, the earliest data that study uses come from 2015 and most are in the 2017-18 period; for example, on the economy where Louisiana finished 49th, growth used 2017 data, employment 2017 and 2018 data, and business environment 2017 and 2018 data. Edwards is a bald-faced liar; with his policies he owns this awful ranking.

Maybe it’s internal polling data telling him this, or vibes he’s getting out on the campaign trail, but, from wherever, Edwards’ behavior during the debate showed all the hallmarks of somebody running behind and desperate to catch up. If that’s what he thinks, be prepared for his campaign to deliver a fortnight of obfuscation, distortion, extreme exaggerated hyperbole but, most of all, plain nastiness.