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13.4.06

Melancon delivers wrong message to wrong audience

Maybe you can understand why Rep. Charlie Melancon sounded like an idiot in front of school kids, but it defies explanation as to why he picked this particular forum to show off this idiocy.

I’ve had members of Congress speak in front of my college classes, but there’s a world of difference between those students and the junior-high-age children Melancon graced with his remarks recently. For one, college students in a political science class actually can understand the issues of the day and appreciate what members like Melancon does; next to none five or more years younger can. But even more crucially, they actually can do something with the information they have – they’re eligible to vote.

All right, well maybe Melancon made the appearance because it was a favor to some friends. That’s nice, but if you are going to have a nice little chat with some school children who aren’t really going to understand the policy implications of what you’re talking about, then you should keep it at an informative, trivial, whimsical level which will entertain them, teach them a little civics, and maybe give them a favorable personal (not political) impression of him which they could pass along to their parents to Melancon’s political advantage.

Instead, Melancon launched into partisan political attacks which did nothing to increase those students understanding of what it was like to be a Congressman or what Congress does. So what does he think is going to happen, little Johnny is going to run home and breathlessly tell his parents, when they ask what he learned in school today, “Democrats good, Republicans bad?”

But if that’s what he hopes comes of this, he better hope it stops right there and that the children don’t actually try to paraphrase his substance of his partisan attacks which would cause any parents who could think for themselves to wonder how this guy ever got in the office in the first place. It’s hard to conclude otherwise when Melancon actually said that, in terms of taxation and government services, “The problem we have with getting your money back is the party in the majority . . . has a policy of dismantling government.”

The sheer arrogance and contempt that Melancon has for the ordinary citizen with that statement leaps right out. He believes that the people don’t have the right to keep what they earn, but that it should go to growing government. Incredibly, Melancon implied to the class that their parents are a bunch of buffoons that do not deserve to keep their own resources, and that the “superior” elites such as himself through government expansion would do a better job of making decisions about their parents’ lives than their parents can.

Even more amazingly, Melancon has got it all backwards. The problem we have with getting the people’s money back is Melancon’s own Democrats, the minority party (the minority in large part because they are the problem) which believes government does a better job of running people’s lives than they can themselves, and thus Democrats support taking much more of the people’s money than is necessary. Melancon solidly backs that position: according to two leading interest groups that rate members of Congress on their willingness to tax the people, with 0 being too willing to abscond with the people’s earnings and 100 being very protective of the people’s resources, on the National Taxpayer Union scorecard Melancon got a 29, and on the Americans for Tax Reform scorecard he received an even worse 17.

So in this episode, we learn that Melancon not only has the wrong philosophy for Louisianans, he also can’t even pick the right audience to which to express it.

12.4.06

Stuck on stupid XVI: Blanco's blame game continues

As if we needed more reminders about why not only should Gov. Kathleen Blanco not be reelected if she chooses to run for governor again, but why she never should have been elected in the first place, when she whines about immediate post-hurricane events:

The talking heads in Washington started attacking Bush with his inaction. People who worked for Bush decided he wouldn't be the only heavy. They didn't like him getting beat on. They said, “Why my president? Why not that little woman governor?” We had a distinct shift in questions mid-week from the national press corps. [Presidential adviser Karl] Rove turned the stable of [conservative] talking heads on us.

I see, so it was the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that caused her to fail to implement the state’s inadequate evacuation plan, to appear clueless as to what to do (even as in the year previous a simulation and the real thing should have trained her what to expect and do), to run around like the sky was falling waiting for somebody to rescue the state except (as her e-mail messages showed) when trying to find ways to reverse her increasingly negative image at the expense of providing real leadership, and then to try to shift the blame on anybody else since. No doubt as 2007’s election day approaches she’ll eventually get around to blaming the VRWC for sending the hurricanes to ruin her term in office.

This blind, narrow, parochial, conspiratorial mindset married with a realization that political power was slipping away in those early days of Sept., 2005 regrettably made her put politics before responsibility and leadership:

The White House, she believes, also capitalized on the mixed signals she sent in response to Bush's request that she federalize Louisiana's National Guard. The request came during the president's first visit, on the Friday after the storm. Edwin Edwards … has said she should have accepted the offer and put the onus for the mess on Bush. That strategy, Blanco counters, would have meant shirking her responsibility.

Instead, she says she rejected the request because she didn't believe it was needed. “If you federalize them, they ... would have lost the capacity to back up local law enforcement.”

Like not having them under federal command was really helping to stop looting….

She suspects that Bush administration officials, knowing this, wanted to have the full forces under their command to take credit for improving things in New Orleans.

A real leader would not have cared who got the credit for easing the state’s pain. An incompetent one turns down the optimal strategy and wastes time until events force things on her. And also blames the negative impression that people are getting about her on this issue as a “communications problem.” (Adding to the blame game, she singles out New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for being “used” by the VRWC against her – although just a few months ago, she was singing a completely different tune.)

Blanco’s real problem is she has always seen herself as a fuzzily-liberal den mother to the great unwashed citizenry who she thinks are better off having government to decide and do things for them than to trust them. It hasn’t occurred to her that a large number of them have figured out her problems don’t come from these unseen forces and procedural difficulties, but that her policy mistakes and the negative impression they leave emanate from her own shortcomings borne of a politician whose worldview was wrong for Louisiana before the hurricane disasters, and doubly validated by the events spawned afterwards.

When you try to shift blame, all that usually does it make even more obvious you’re to blame in the first place. Until Blanco realizes that, she's continues to be stuck on stupid.

11.4.06

Why bus when you can follow a playbook that works?

Early voting across Louisiana kicked off Monday, the first time ever in U.S. history where “residents” registered in one parish/county could vote in another. This was made possible by a push from the Democrats and allied, many politically radical, interest groups. But they may be barking up the wrong tree.

Only a few dozen people showed up for satellite voting in New Orleans’ elections in Shreveport and a couple of hundred in Baton Rouge. In total, only 1,642 people took advantage of this, the majority in Orleans itself which means they otherwise probably would have voted at the polls Apr. 22. This probably does not meet the expectations of these liberals who were hoping to get a large number of black Orleans registrants to vote to reelect a black Democrat, Ray Nagin, to the mayor’s office, and secondarily to get black Democrats like incumbent Oliver Thomas in city council at-large positions.

Perhaps what these groups should have been doing was following the lead of pro-illegal immigrant groups, backed by the Democrats and liberal interests, who have been doing their best to register all sorts of voters at rallies for legalization of the status of those illegally present in the U.S. Thousands have been signed up at these rallies as a result of hopes of Democrats that they can somehow find new supporters, even if they legally cannot vote, to resurrect a party which increasingly is out of touch with all Americans and their interests.

It’s a strategy that has worked before. Further, illegal immigrants apparently have been pouring into Orleans Parish since the hurricane disasters. Rather than complaining about them, if area Democrats were smart, they would follow their past practice of signing up as many illegal immigrants as possible there in Orleans by, as always, promising them the moon on the backs of the most productive citizens in the country if they’ll vote for Democrats. It would pay off not only for the inevitable May 20 general election runoff for city positions, but in future area and statewide elections.

Of course, citizens concerned with election integrity would oppose such measures. Unfortunately, they have to guard against Democrats' efforts who realize they cannot win elections on the basis of their true beliefs, which is reflected in a number of measures being floated in this legislative session which precisely would erode election integrity.

10.4.06

Does Landrieu even know about what she puts in bills?

Sen. Mary Landrieu squealed like a pig when her latest efforts to divert the nation’s taxpayer’s dollars to specific projects in Louisiana were publicized, only adding to her illustrious and infamous record in spending the people’s money.

About $100 million appropriations items ended up benefiting Louisiana that were not requested by the president and all members of the state’s Congressional delegation made such requests. Still, most came from the Senate but some didn’t appear until the conference committees on the appropriations bills and for some nobody seems to know their origins.

It’s not so much news that Landrieu did this, compiling a 2006 record of bringing home the bacon that put her in the upper half (with one of the largest jumps from last year) of the list of lawmakers with power over Congressional authorizations, along with Rep. Rodney Alexander, the only other member of the state’s Congressional delegation in such a position. She is one of the past winners of a dubious honor put out by the interest group which tracks this, Citizens Against Government Waste, its “Porker of the Month” (shared) for Sept. 2003. She also has used promoted the use of political rather than efficiency criteria in the awarding of Army Corps of Engineer projects, potentially steering money away from flood control projects prior to the hurricane disasters of 2005.

What makes the latest incident interesting is the obliviousness she seems to possess concerning the very items she promotes on behalf of a few interests. When quizzed about the largest item by CNN, for the to-date very-underused J. Bennett Johnston Waterway (basically, to keep the Red River navigable), she said she was unfamiliar with it even as her web site lauded the project. The second largest item, the Inner Harbor Canal Lock, has for years been derided for its obsolescence.

The mixed messages Landrieu gives out about her working knowledge of the things she puts in bills, in the tens of millions of dollars, raises the question about whether Landrieu would spend her time ineffectually grandstanding than trying to understand what she’s asking taxpayers to foot.

9.4.06

Coming Landrieu win likely to create consternation

It’s nice the see the “Between the Lines Echo Effect” resonating again, as a number of pollsters and pundits are coming to realize that during the Apr. 22 mayoral election in New Orleans a majority of voters in the parish’s booths likely will be black and overall turnout probably will be around 55 percent black. With the help of a recently-released, if slightly dated, poll, it now appears the general election runoff will feature black Democrat incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin and white Democrat Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.

Adjusting numbers from the polls to fit the 55 percent black ratio, and not apportioning the undecided voters, Landrieu would have a slim lead of 26.7 percent, Nagin right behind at 26.6 percent, nonprofit executive Democrat Ron Forman trailing at 14.9 percent, and the only other candidate showing non-negligible numbers being lawyer Republican Ron Couhig at 6.5 percent. Only two other names were floated, former city councilwoman Republican Peggy Wilson and community activist Democrat Tom Watson.

Two things of note can be drawn from this. First, with 78 percent of the vote apportioned, only Forman has a chance to make a runoff spot other than Nagin and Landrieu but, second, he is a long shot to do it. Even if every single white voter yet undecided went with Forman, he still would fall short, and the reality of the situation is, of the estimated 28 percent of black voters (adjusted to the 55/45 ratio) undecided, the majority are going either with Nagin or Landrieu.

And if these two make the runoff, Landrieu holds the winning hand at the current ratios. If he could then hold Nagin to 15 percent of the white vote (Nagin has only 10 percent now) and 70 percent of the black vote (he has 28 percent of that already), he will eke out a six-point win at historical participation levels. These numbers are what continue to drive some black Democrats in the Legislature to insist on watering down ballot security measures, to make it easier to get absentee ballots to displaced black voters in the hopes that enough get returned allegedly marked by registered voters in Orleans.

If Landrieu does lead Nagin after the primary, look for these efforts to intensify, as well as legal appeals along the same lines, until shortly before the May 20 general election date.