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8.8.08

Fleming becoming formidable 4th District candidate

The 4th Congressional District contest has taken another turn with a front-runner emerging among the competitive Republicans, and the reason why could make him the favorite come the general election.

A new poll commissioned by Republican Dr. John Fleming shows him pulling away from the other two GOP candidates, Chris Gorman and Jeff Thompson. The respected Southern Media and Opinion Research group puts him at 43 percent of Republican voters, while Gorman checks in at 17 percent and Thompson at 15 (the remainder of the sample of 350 don’t know or wouldn’t say). More remarkable is that fundraising totals would have predicted the opposite order.

Of these candidates, Fleming and Gorman had raised substantially the same money, significantly ahead of Thompson; however, the majority in both cases was from their own funds. Thompson has tossed in only $50,000 of his own but independently raised more than either. Most interesting is that Gorman has independently raised almost three times as much as Fleming.

Often a good indicator of candidate success comes from donations. Giving to a candidate not only signals a very high likelihood of the donor voting for the candidate (unless multiple candidates in that race are so blessed by that individual), but also usually means that donor will pull in friends and family to do so accordingly. There’s no bigger booster of a candidate than somebody who already put his money down on him.

By that metric, Thompson ought to be doing best, followed by Gorman and Fleming. Historically, heavy and sufficient (i.e. a few hundred thousand dollars) self-financing of a campaign will make you competitive but far from guarantees a win. The success of Fleming, with about 80 percent of his campaign self-financed, also is all the more remarkable given his strategic base of Minden is much smaller than the Shreveport (Gorman)-Bossier (Thompson) metropolitan population.

This means Fleming’s success must be due to a convincing message well delivered. Such an explanation also is consistent with the results of a poll announced in mid-June by Gorman which, while short on details, appeared to read that while a majority of voters had yet to state a preference, the plurality that did chose Gorman. Only he at that time had cranked up major campaign efforts. Since then, Fleming and Thompson have joined him and it would appear Fleming is sweeping up the majority of more recent deciders.

On issue preferences, there actually is not a lot of difference among the three, all mainstream conservatives dissatisfied with business as usual in Washington, but what seems to set Fleming apart is while the other two’s backgrounds show they took advantage of opportunity, Fleming made his own breaks. For example, while Thompson (after experience in, of all places, almost certain Democrat nominee former Caddo District Attorney Paul Carmouche’s law practice) eventually established his own law practice and headed the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, and Gorman came into his family’s trucking business Tango Transport, Fleming not only built a practice from the bottom up with nothing, he then diversified into doing the same with Subway and UPS franchises probably creating more jobs than the Bossier Chamber or Tango.

This shows initiative appealing to the conservative Republican base in northwest Louisiana, and that may be what could give the edge to Fleming over the very politically experienced Carmouche in the general electorate. While he may have the job of a prosecutor down pat, to date he has appeared very unsteady to run the Democrats’ Southern playbook of enunciating vaguely broad, popular platitudes, giving a conservative line on God and guns, and deflecting any other inquiries highlighting the liberal Democrat agenda supported by the party leadership on which he will be required to vote (if not willingly) its way most of the time if elected.

Worse, he seems to have little grasp about other, important issues or, in his haste to obscure his and/or his party’s preference, tries to talk around them (his obscurant, rambling non-answer to a question about the Employee Free Choice Act which would permit union intimidation of workers on YouTube is becoming legendary in the district). Fleming’s no-nonsense, straightforward approach – a good example being how his criticism of the Louisiana Legislature’s attempted pay raise well before its veto distinguished him as one of the “common men” disgusted with career politicians – would provide an effective counter to Carmouche’s evasiveness that reinforces the stereotype of the Democrat as a career politician.

Local Republicans have been hoping a leader would emerge among their three candidates so as to concentrate fire on Carmouche as early as possible. Despite the odds, Fleming may prove to be the answer.

7.8.08

Jindal, "closest thing to a minority," may perturb liberals

As it appears Gov. Bobby Jindal is getting the prime speaking slot at the Republican national convention, of course this causes no end of consternation for liberals.

Perhaps a little luster is off Jindal’s shine courtesy of tax-cutting and absurdly high legislator pay raise waffling, but if Jindal aspires to higher office, he’s got a few years to regain it and polish it with a solid conservative agenda and record. Making the keynote speech at a convention offers a prime opportunity to continue this process, and history shows it can be an important stepping-stone for a party politician with national ambitions.

This is not a welcome development for liberals, who regard Jindal as one of the most dangerous conservatives around to tear down their playhouse of governing. His unabashed, thoughtful argumentation for conservatism is damaging enough to expose the bankruptcy of liberalism, but worse is he’s the “closest thing to a minority” on the GOP side.

At least that seems to be the line now coming from one prominent Democrat, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco operative Bob Mann who bailed out of that job into a cushy academic sinecure. The change in profession doesn’t seem to have sharpened Mann’s demographic and/or reasoning skills: 2006 estimates of a U.S. population of just under 300 million show that 19 million call themselves other than white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or native Indian, which includes southeast Asian Indians of the same ethnic stock as Jindal. By any real definition southeast Asian Indians like Jindal are not “close” to being an ethnic minority in America, they are.

But liberals like Mann can’t allow themselves to think that way because to them a “minority” is a group who is “disadvantaged” in an economic sense and, frankly, Asians of almost any ethnicity do decently in America. No, to them a “minority” is “disadvantaged” because they are being “oppressed” in some way, by virtue of race, gender, class, or whatever suspect category and thus deserve some kind of preferential treatment. (Why Asians escape “racism” to allow them to prosper, liberals never can say.)

Naturally, Jindal subscribes to none of this nonsense, realizing the locus of success or failure economically resides in the individual, not from “racism” institutionalized in our societal institutions (any impulses of which are suppressed by law), or any other aspect of the economic system. Liberals cannot allow this to be understood because their whole hustle is on the idea that only they and their policies can empower people, whereas Jindal believes accurately that individuals empower themselves – if government stays out of their way and lets them.

So maybe Jindal will get a chance on the big stage and, if so, liberals are just going to have to hope he bombs it – although even that doesn’t guarantee stopping a future president. A stinker of a keynote speech was delivered in 1988, leaving those seeing and hearing it wondering what all the fuss was about this guy – future Pres. Bill Clinton.

6.8.08

LA Democrats' fraudulence explained by TV series

All one needs to know to understand how Democrats campaign for office can be learned from watching Star Trek, at least its The Next Generation spinoff, as recent actions on the issue of energy concerning Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Don Cazayoux demonstrate.

First, let’s review a primer of Democrat strategy, and then the important concepts to be learned from ST:TNG. The most basic principle of today’s American political world is that if Democrats and/or liberals display and behave who they really are, they cannot win national elections thus power. Their beliefs and desires are so at odds with the majority’s views in America, as well as what is best for Americans as a whole, that (as long as their opponents express principled conservatism and don’t merely echo the bankrupt liberalism of the Democrats) an informed, thinking electorate will deny them the White House and a majority in Congress.

Therefore, Democrats must present a chimera of what they really are to win. Here is where concepts from ST:TNG can be useful and used. In the science-fiction television series set in the 24th century, science has created holographic imaging that is virtually indistinguishable from reality. Democrats seek to create the same: they want the public to see the holographic images they choose to represent their candidates which will appear to be much closer to the median voter than in reality, not their candidates as they really are.

5.8.08

National Democrat brand avoided by Southern candidates

One needs to go beyond surface impressions to understand why southern Democrat candidates for Congress – even the ones bestowed with party leadership status and made delegates – seem reluctant to attend their own party convention.

All those named in this category are participating in competitive contests, just as are some Republican seatholders skipping the GOP version. However, a notable difference is that the latter are veteran lawmakers fighting in tossup battles, while many of the Democrats either seek to win initially or won very recent special elections. In other words, the GOP absentees clearly are identified with the GOP and will sacrifice that for more campaigning opportunities, while the Democrats planning on playing hooky have but a tenuous connection in people’s minds with that party and seem disinterested in strengthening that.

Or to put it more bluntly, Republicans are trading away reinforcement of positive identification for more campaign time, while Democrats are avoiding any identification to better mold an image at odds with what Democrats are all about. This is because the districts they are trying to win, or win again after just a few months, contain majorities that oppose the bulk of what Democrats believe.

One analyst argues that this avoidance deals with racial attitudes connected to the party’s presumptive presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama. That’s a bit too simplistic: while some voters in these districts will react negatively to Obama’s being black, many will object to him because he, the most liberal senator in that body, represents all too well everything that modern Democrats stand for – pro-abortion, gun control, higher taxes, bigger government, drill never, blame America, global tests, and withdraw now (even as he tries to move away from several of these).

Another observer notes this but wonders whether these candidates have misjudged Obama’s top-down appeal on the ticket and could later try to create a stronger link between them. That itself misjudges the real situation: any Democrat in the South who wants to win a national seat must avoid always insinuations of attachment to Obama’s liberalism and the growing sense that his flip-flops on issues (which he denies are precisely that because he is supposed to be the candidate of principled change) to obfuscate that liberalism make 2004 Democrat nominees Sen. John Kerry look stable. Until Nov. 4, almost always these candidates will avoid Obama like the plague.

You can’t ignore the Democrat playbook in the South – support God and guns, avoid and obscure almost every other issue – that produces the only way such a candidate can win. It takes no greater understanding to realize why Democrat congressional candidates will stay away from anything publicly having to do with national Democrats (out of view, they eagerly will associate with and kowtow to it) – until Nov. 5.

4.8.08

Impotent Cazayoux fails constituents a different way

The Democrat playbook for the South – support God and guns, avoid and obscure almost every other issue – it’s getting a mite hard for Rep. Don Cazayoux to handle because the political party to which he pledges his fealty keeps reminding Louisiana voters it does not reflect their views and, as a consequence, neither can Cazayoux.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to schedule activity that could lead to increasing drilling for offshore oil, an activity with little environmental consequence that will send prices down in the short term through knowledge that future supply will be less constricted, and with that supply coming will keep prices down permanently. Understand the ideological imperative why Democrats back Pelosi on this – under the guise of environmentalism, they wish to provoke antipathy towards the private sector because of high fuel prices and to channel frustration into greater acceptance of government intervention. This suits their long term objective of empowering themselves by getting control of government and having government take control more and more of the people’s lives and their resources.

So Pelosi won’t back down, which supposedly disturbs Cazayoux so much that he fires off a letter criticizing the leadership for its varied phantom solutions to a simple regulatory/marketplace problem. And it provide another demonstration of Cazayoux’s strategy to retain power – provide cheap talk but being unable or unwilling to follow through for his constituents.

Simply, Cazayoux cannot overcome the internal contradictions of what put him into office. He says one thing and does another, or complains about the very people he continues to allow to stay in power – both which highlight the fact that his talk is cheap and his constituents deserve far better than what he delivers. The impact of the letter doesn’t so much convey he’s fighting for his constituents but that he’s impotent in doing so – by his own free will.

An intellectually honest lawmaker, rather than talk about, would try to act on his principles, in this instance either trying to oust Pelosi, or to switch parties. But Cazayoux won’t because he agrees with most of what Pelosi and liberal Democrats believe which is the opposite of his district’s ideology. This letter merely tries to deflect people from thinking otherwise and even for those who believe Cazayoux can be two incompatible things at once, it’s clear that he has no influence in the party with this useless effort so what’s the point in having a zero representing you?

The deception works only if the public is not alerted to it. That’s unlikely to occur with a strong Republican candidate, state Sen. Bill Cassidy, facing Cazayoux in fall elections, ready to point our each and every inconsistency. (And, for good measure, Democrat-turned-independent state Rep. Michael Jackson will contribute here as well.) Cazayoux’s high-wire act looks increasingly likely to produce a fall.

3.8.08

Overdue changes finally coming to EDA waiver program

Louisiana never has been good at making good health care spending choices with public money. The first signs that this may be changing perhaps are appearing.

For decades the prevailing philosophy was to take anybody considered low income with more than a mild long-term disability (through misfortune or aged infirmity) and to warehouse them in institutions either run by the state or private sector. The lobby that built up around nursing homes to keep the gravy train rolling eventually would exacerbate this trend and send costs (compared to other states on a per capita basis) sky high and force many who could have remained productive citizens in the community into shut-in situations.

But the backlash finally came through the Barthelemy case (which technically remains active since a settlement is being played out) where the state agreed it was not doing enough to provide elderly and disabled care in the least restrictive environment. This brought forth a Medicaid waiver program that would pay for home- and community-based care – but with an important indicator that it should do so only where the expense would be reduced as compared to institutionalization.

Unfortunately, spiraling costs of the state’s Elderly and Disabled waiver are casting doubt on the program’s effectiveness as well as stressing taxpayers. Fortunately, a solution is at hand.

The major flaw in the program is that from the start it has been first-come, first-serve. If one met a certain level of disability, one qualified, with no distinctions made in degree of disability. Further, when entering the waiting list (which has never come into the 90-day target of the settlement and in fact now stretches for years) it’s strictly done on chronological basis. Therefore, you have some people with severe disability waiting for years to get any services, while there are other only mildly disabled who have had services for years, and others like that who will get them prior to those worse off.

This makes no sense and a major change floating around the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals is to adjust service levels to the degree of disability and to create priorities on the waiting list along the same criterion. If implemented, these changes will send dollars where they really are needed and better accomplish the original goal of the program.

(It should be noted that this program is a Medicaid waiver, meaning to qualify the household must be near the poverty level. State policy for the infirm and disabled for those households lower middle class and above in income and/or assets is simple if immoral – they get no help from this kind of program. Or, to be more blunt, if you are poor, you get everything paid for, and if you’re not, you are to spend away all your assets in the care of the disabled person until you then become poor and qualify, or you detach that person from the family – often by divorce and breaking up a family – to put him or her into poverty and thus qualifying. The incredible inanity of this is another matter ripe for reform.)

By the end of September these reforms should be rolled out, to the relief of the truly needy disabled and taxpayers.