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14.8.08

Landrieu attack distracts from her inability to solve crisis

At least the Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu campaign can, unlike its candidate, keep its attention focused on something for more than a sound bite. Its latest attack commercial on Republican opponent state Treasurer John Kennedy accuses him wanting to snatch old people’s “insurance” payouts, better known as Social Security, from them via privatization of the system, staying with the “confused” theme since Kennedy once opposed that. Perhaps this is to distract voters from the fact that Landrieu’s actions on this issue fit the theme of fiddling while Rome burns, if not throwing gasoline on the fire.

The idea that privatization of Social Security, proposed in 2005 on a voluntary basis to a small proportion of the assets “held” for investment, would threaten a general reduction of payout amounts not only is blather, but in fact would prevent a reduction of payout amounts. The system is going belly-up: in two years the annual surplus being taken into the system will start to decline; by 2018 that will become and annual deficit, and by 2041 the fund will be “exhausted.”

(Note: technically, the fund is exhausted now and has been for decades because Congress consistently has borrowed any yearly surplus and will have to pay trillions of dollars to put it back. That luxury stops in a decade and close to the end of the century the deficit will have grown to over $7 trillion. This borrowing occurs because while the system was supposed to be insurance – pay now to get it back later if you live long enough or become disabled – instead through history it has been treated as pay-as-you-go – current workers are paying for the benefits of current retirees. This is why there will be a funding crisis, as the proportion of retirees relative to workers increases over the next few decades.)

Serious research shows overall that allowing a small portion of a retiree’s contributions to the system to be invested in private markets can prevent underfunding of Social Security – as opposed to the solutions bantered around by which include a payroll tax hike of nearly 2 percent (or much more if applied only to higher-income earners), removing the ceiling of around $90,000 on taxing income (favored by Democrat candidate for President Sen. Barack Obama), or, yes, reductions in benefits (again, more drastic if limited to higher-income earners). Thus, Kennedy’s present issue preference, even if it involved a migration from the opposite view, is not just the best solution to the problem, but the most responsible.

This stands in stark contrast to Landrieu, who has offered nothing in the way of realistic solutions to the problem except tacit approval of higher taxes or reduced benefits, especially if done on the backs of the few who pay the vast majority into the system, the biggest contributors to economic growth that would be sapped with larger contributions resulting in an even bigger deficit. In essence, Landrieu’s latest salvo is to try to scare unknowledgeable people concerning Kennedy’s preference when in fact his approach solves the problem, while she herself has done nothing to try to solve it in a responsible way.

It’s better to have someone who flip-flops to the correct decision as has Kennedy rather than to have Landrieu who has been consistently wrong on this issue.

13.8.08

Report reaffirms LA ACLU agenda, its hypocrisy

If one looks for the home of hypocritical chutzpah, you need to look no further than the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Perhaps best known for an anti-religious slant, the organization founded by communist interests is in the news in the state again by provoking in part again its recent favorite target, St. Tammany Parish where recently it won a partial victory against Slidell for what it claimed to be too much religious content to a display in its City Court. This time, it concerns presumed racial profiling occurring with parish law enforcement agencies, as well as in a few other areas around the state.

The charges, however, lack any serious basis or intellectual justification, even as they comport to the constipated cosmology that forms the ACLU’s worldview. Arrest records shows for many crimes blacks disproportionately are arrested. This should come as no surprise: as research amply shows, unfortunately blacks simply commit more crime, disproportionate to their proportion of the American population.

However, this inconvenient truth negates the ACLU’s view of the state’s corruptness. It believes some “power elite” exists (mainly composed of whites) which likes to spend part of its time harassing black folks. Therefore, a statistical discrepancy in this case causes them to discard the actual real-world explanation that it is produced by different attitudes and behavior in general among races, and instead inserts this artifice that racial profiling occurs.

Guided by this ideology, the report itself is designed to come to this conclusion. Just as a Shreveport Times investigation of citations, which less forcefully came to the same conclusion that racism was playing some role in making traffic stops, was marred by its failure to study the race of the citing officer, the ACLU effort fails to do the same unless it is willing to assume black officers also harbor some latent racism against members of their own race.

This whole stunt, however, lowers to the level of hypocrisy when considering the ACLU’s own defenses against charges that it is anti-religious. Note the causal chain here: significant differences in data denote a certain attitude among the authorities, specifically here that differences in arrest proportions to population proportions are a result of undesirable police attitudes (rather than those generally inherent to the populations themselves).

Yet when it comes to applying the same criteria to the ACLU’s actions to determine its real motives, it refuses to do so. The organization constantly argues that it is not anti-religious, among other things. But the statistical evidence is overwhelming in that a great many of its cases deal with questions like that of the Slidell City Court. Therefore, using the ACLU’s own logic, it is accurate to say that the ACLU is hostile to a religion, as well as to a number of civil liberties given the kinds of cases it almost always pursues (although it does throw in, very selectively, a few of the opposite kind here and there to try to inoculate itself against such charges).

Make no mistake that the ACLU has its own agenda countering the moral values implicit to the Constitution and the legitimate functions of government which it desperately tries to cloak through civil libertarian rhetoric. This latest action on its part merely provides more confirmation of this and reminds us of the hypocrisy inherent to the group.

12.8.08

Expect wild ride to settle LA Fourth U.S. District

After a dull previous 14 years, denizens of Louisiana’s Fourth Congressional District can be excused if they become heart attack candidates experiencing what could be a wildly unpredictable contest for this office that looked nothing like it was projected before the beginning of the year.

Conventional wisdom had it that, before Republican Rep. Jim McCrery announced his retirement, front-running candidates would include, among Republicans, former state Rep. Mike Powell and Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator, and, among Democrats, former Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower and state Sen. Lydia Jackson, vying for their parties’ closed primary nominations.

Instead, Powell retired from elective politics, Prator preferred his current job, and Hightower deferred entering after the only known political quantity who announced, Caddo District Attorney Paul Carmouche said he would retire from that position and seek the Democrat nomination. (Previous Democrat candidates attorney John Milkovich and minister Artis Cash are running, but appear noncompetitive.)

Carmouche is a serious candidate both by background and in demonstrated fund-raising. His law-and-order image has a better chance than most of his party to hold onto at least some white Democrats who traditionally have crossed over in droves for Republicans in national contests. At the same time, he has not had to run in a serious contest in 30 years and must broaden the scope of issue discussion into areas in which either he may not be particularly well-suited or may come under fire being linked to the liberal national Democrats. Questions also linger about decisions he made concerning what cases to pursue and that he chose to retain a private law practice interest even while serving as district attorney (prompting one aspirant to succeed him to proclaim he would be a "full-time" prosecutor).

On the GOP side, it is not so much issue preferences as it is backgrounds that have distinguished the three political newcomers. Early entrant physician Dr. John Fleming has solid conservative issue preferences but almost exclusively self-funded campaigns such as his to this point are tough to win and he operates from the smaller political base of Webster Parish. His self-made background appears to be a major point distinguishing him from his competitors, however.

Trucking executive Chris Gorman has a larger base from which to draw, emanating from west Shreveport. However, doubts circulate about the company he keeps, however, being endorsed by the likes of liberal state Sen. Robert Adley, a recent convert of convenience from the Democrats who defended legislators' attempt to raise their pay which would seem to contradict Gorman's stated conservatism. Gorman's past isn't a big draw to conservative voters as well: largely undistinguished, he was plucked from obscurity by his family to help run its trucking firm.

The last entrant burst on the scene in the most surprising manner, Bossier attorney Jeff Thompson (who, ironically, worked at Carmouche’s firm a decade ago), making his candidacy known through an endorsement by McCrery. Thompson’s Bossier Chamber of Commerce positions and work on behalf of other area candidates added to McCrery’ stamp of approval and fundraising doors have made him the biggest non-self fundraiser of three, a fact of which he reminds the electorate when possible. But McCrery’s support may not prove as hefty as imagined. It’s hard to ignore that, against no-name opponents one of whom was a Republican (under the old blanket primary system), McCrery did not even get 58 percent of the vote in 2006 and no doubt this factored into his decision to retire. Also having practiced in part as a trial lawyer, Thompson's also is a tough background for some conservative voters to swallow.

With reduced competition, Carmouche may be able to conserve resources while the others slug it out. Still, the eventual GOP nominee will emerge the favorite if two things happen: they run a civil campaign among themselves for the nomination, and then the winner in part runs a negative campaign highlighting Carmouche's faults serving as D.A. Otherwise, the nominee will have trouble gaining positive name recognition while leaving uncontested the largely issueless (according to the Democrat playbook) campaign Carmouche will try to run attempting to capitalize on his name recognition.

Despite a poll done for Fleming by an respected outside agency showing him with a big lead over fellow Republicans (which his opponents claim is suspect), and an internal poll done by Carmouche claiming he leads the entire field substantially (which is particularly suspect), any of the four still could win this race. This may provide more excitement than some would like in the Fourth District.

11.8.08

Less obscure Landrieu record, less likely she wins

Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is embarking on an uncommon campaign tactic for an incumbent U.S. senator – smear the challenger, in this case Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy – while trying to insulate herself from her greatest vulnerability. If Kennedy responds as expected, it will create an interesting situation in trying to persuade the casual voter.

Landrieu’s campaign has run an ad accusing Kennedy of flip-flopping on two accounts – in that he has been seeking higher office repeatedly and in his issue preferences. At the same time, it has been trying to float the idea that Landrieu is a “moderate” close to the preferences of Louisianans.

Nothing could be further from the truth regarding ideology: Landrieu, by virtue of scores like her 22 lifetime American Conservative Union (0 being a perfect liberal) tally and having voted with the liberal Democrat leadership of her party 84 percent of the time, is a “moderate,” as her commercials crassly proclaim, only compared to the rest of her party whose other senators vote severely to the left. Make no mistake: her liberal voting record puts her solidly at odds with the majority in Louisiana.

She desperately wishes to obscure this hence the spin trying to make her look “moderate” and attacks on Kennedy. One almost never sees an incumbent ripping into a challenger because they grant legitimacy to the challenger’s quest and make themselves appear vulnerable by association. Typically, it is the sign of a campaign that knows it’s in trouble, as her campaign’s reaction to recent polling data suggests.

Kennedy for his part has run a positive campaign so far but an old saw of campaigning is that serious attacks must be rebutted to prevent your opponent defining you, and a return of the favor can buttress that. Expect Kennedy to run something about how he recognizes mistakes and corrects them, while Landrieu won’t (using Landrieu’s extreme reluctance to admit any favorable attitude about presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, such as the quick removal of her name attached to a fundraiser for Obama which also shows she “flip-flops” as well by pledging support for somebody, then disappearing).

Kennedy also is likely to go straight after Landrieu’s voting record, not highlighting scorecards but instead key votes that demonstrates either her affinity to vote the agenda of the far left and/or not to buck the leftist national Democrats (her recent committee vote against oil shale drilling in the west to please a colleague Kennedy can exploit massively, just as one example). This will counter the “moderate” fiction her campaign her working overtime to propagate.

Landrieu can win this race only if she runs from her party and her record and successfully obscures them. If Kennedy reminds voters of them effectively, he wins. With the large majority of Louisiana voters only casually attentive to the contest, whoever succeeds in their task with these voters will be victorious.