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22.4.10

Desperate Democrats think public buys stupid stunts

Desperate people do desperate things, and that statement describes well the reactions of Democrat dissenters to the expected easy reelections of Republicans Sen. David Vitter and Gov. Bobby Jindal.


Knowing that the direction of public opinion and recent records makes the longshot candidacy of Rep. Charlie Melancon unlikely to triumph against Vitter and that the emergence of any serious challenger to Jindal improbable, Democrats continue to revert to the tired strategy of manufacturing presumed shortcomings not based on issues of the day that they try to tie to Vitter and Jindal, regardless of any credibility that such charges may have to anybody who can rub two brain cells together.


In Vitter’s case, it’s that his operatives blew the whistle on the Orleans Parish Executive Committee which tried to hoodwink the University of New Orleans into hosting a campaign event for Melancon, despite UNO’s long-standing policy of not allowing use of university facilities for such things (I remember discussion of that when I was there over 20 years ago). Burned and publicly humiliated, Democrats have tried to claim that somehow Vitter’s office threatened that to allow the rally would result in his preventing federal funds from coming to UNO.


This is laughable. Federal funds coming into the university directly are either in the form of student aid or the spending bill funds of 2009, none of which any senator can influence because of the nature of the grants. Indirectly, money may come in for research but, again, the procedures are such that if any senator wanted to try to influence these results it would require a tremendous effort to try to track every single request and then a considerable deployment of effort to try even to influence the competitive process. No senator would try to waste so many resources on the faint hope of affecting any grant decision, and no university official would believe anyone could even if such a threat was made.


Rather, Orleans Democrats and Melancon operatives got caught doing something dishonest. Following the dictum that if you do something outrageously stupid you then accuse your opponents of something as egregious to cover up your error, Democrats have done precisely that. As ridiculous as the charge is, it fits the pattern where Democrats are trying to throw everything they can at Vitter, no matter how absurd, to deflect from their own candidate’s shortcomings on issue preferences.


In the case of Jindal, a leftist group bankrolled by George Soros which, in order to claim “nonpartisanship,” criticizes Democrats using objective standards but saves most of its venom for Republicans using ideologically-biased criteria, calls his actions “unethical and incompetent.”

Never mind that a respectable and truly independent group studying ethics issues, the Center for Public Integrity, rates Jindal’s record as exactly the opposite. As well, note the supposed transgressions of Jindal, which bear little relation to objective conditions and/or are presented in a selective way:

  • Supposedly undercut ethics enforcement by stripping adjudicatory power from a nonprofessional political body to give it nonpolitical professionals.
  • Was “hypocritical” because the state accepted most spending bill money despite his argumentation against it – if this has anything to do with “ethics and incompetence,” they’ll have to tell us in which universe with its own peculiar laws this applies.
  • That campaign contributors of his got jobs in state government – never mind there is no proof these donations had anything to do with selection choices, but just how exactly does this differ from their 39 governors, disproportionately Democrats, who did not get tagged by the group as “unethical and incompetent?”


It’s little wonder that Democrats, with the Louisiana public’s eyes wide open to their failed policies and arrogance emanating from Washington, wish to obscure their shortcomings with attacks of dubious validity. The only real wonder is how they think their crude motives aren’t so transparent to the thinking public.

21.4.10

Case, bill highlight need for state to act more efficiently


The state made the right call for disabled clients in its resolution of a court case concerning its evaluation methods, but it must pay heed to clients and taxpayers as well in this larger picture or draconian measures may cause more budgetary headaches.

In a case involving a severely disabled man, the state consented and as a result was released from being a defendant in a suit brought by the man’s family arguing his constitutional rights were being violated. Him being severely mentally retarded and prone to seizures, the state had cut back his in-home care hours from 24 to seven utilizing its recently-implemented resource allocation model (RAM). However, the state essentially admitted that the RAM had not correctly captured the full care implications of his conditions and will allocate him more hours.

The state has moved towards the RAM in the past couple of years because of spiraling home- and community-based care costs. A pair of court decisions mandated that the state provide approved federal waiver programs to use Medicaid money to provide this kind of care outside of institutions. However, it was done in a very uncoordinated way which poorly linked actual need to services received, wasting money. Further, federal regulation states that per client waiver costs over all recipients cannot exceed the average reimbursement paid to have that person in a nursing home, and use of the RAM is a tool to better align services to client that could remove unnecessary spending.

20.4.10

Higher education improvement clouded by LSU action


A warning sign of what may come from remaking Louisiana higher education sends a chilling message to those who advocate for improvement of standards.

Recently, Louisiana State University Baton Rouge yanked one of its professors from the classroom for reasons not disclosed, but almost certainly having to do with her insistence on high standards. This occurred as debate over the future of higher education in the state continues to intensify.

Reforms proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Legislature leadership, the Postsecondary Education Review Commission, and a number of interest groups push for higher graduation rates. Part of the package strongly encourages schools to raise their admission standards and undertake other efforts that allows for more rigorous instruction and expectations of students pursuing baccalaureate degrees.

19.4.10

Hate crime on GOP staffer shows liberalism's true self

What those who believe in civility and reason in politics feared apparently is true – the assaults on a staffer of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s and her boyfriend were politically motivated, but it should come as no surprise given the political left’s acceptance of violence by theory and its susceptibility for its use of violence as a substitute for fact and logic to win arguments.


Jindal fundraiser Allee Bautsch and her companion Joe Brown were heckled then assailed by five losers, breaking her leg and his jaw. At the time it was unclear whether the attack was politically motivated as they had been attending a fundraising for the Republican Party but no overtly political statements had been made by the attackers.


But it happened in the middle of crowded weekend night revelry in New Orleans’ French Quarter so their singling out seemed hardly coincidence. (And puzzling was the New Orleans Police Department’s reluctance to classify the case immediately as an assault and the glacial pace it took to the investigation which has allowed valuable opportunities to gather evidence slip away.) Now statements are coming from others at the event and from the victims themselves that lend more credence to the assessment that thugs targeted those individuals in attendance on the basis of their conservative political affiliations -- a hate crime if there ever was one.


Yet this should surprise no one, because liberalism at its core is about division rather than union, preaches class warfare, and decades ago found itself at a point where it had been proven intellectually and factually unable to win political arguments. One of its central tenets absolves the use of government power to remake society in its own warped view that disregards the rights and freedoms of individuals. It specializes in identifying enemies, disparaging them, and, when left unchecked, in violating them using public policy.


This is in great contrast to conservatism, which seeks to have people united in a quest for individual achievement that, when pursued by all, maximizes collectively everybody’s life chances to the best of their contributions to society. Conservatism avoids the use of government power to create those ins and outs, winners and losers, instead focusing on as much non-interference in people lives by government, limited only by rules to maximize fairness when individuals deal with each other and protection of our natural rights. Conservatism emphasizes peaceful cooperation for people to pursue their individual ends (except when dealing with those who declare war on society like criminals); liberalism favors zero-sum clashes that encourages different groups to dehumanize those not part of theirs.


So it is no accident that modern liberalism finds it so easy to resort to physical violence because, given its roots and having lost the intellectual battle, bullying is all it has left besides trying to cloak its real motives and to deceive the public into thinking it is something that it is not (as expertly done in the 2008 elections). Scan the headlines; you’ll find that violent protests of political figures and institutions in recent years always have been the work of the left (you never see the right trashing Starbucks, shouting down and threatening speakers, or using force). You don’t see this from the right because it wins arguments through reason, not depending on emotive appeals that today substitutes for the use of fact and logic by the left that thus tempts it to extend the natural violence voiced in liberalism into practice.


As liberalism has regressed from intellectual foundations to emotive ones, deception of its true nature has become more important to its practice and also is on display in this case. One hallmark technique liberals use is to accuse their opponents of the very things that underlay their ideology to distract from the broader realization that its traits lie within them. Thus we see the latest attempt of trying to equate spirited opposition to liberal policy successes despite negative public opinion of them as causing, with not a shred of evidence to confirm, the very violence they implicitly countenance.


However, these words of distraction lose their power and credibility when the real ugliness of liberalism rears its head as it did in these attacks. Not that the organs of liberalism in the media, academy, or among the political elite will assist with any sense of urgency (consistent with their treatment of the incident, now 10 days old, to this point). There will be few if any calls to step up the investigation, to look into the NOPD’s fumbling of the matter, and to proclaim that the left must disengage its heated rhetoric and internally evaluate itself to correct its faults.


There is one larger implication from this event, and that is that the left is afraid. If you must resort to violence, then you've already lost. In this context, it admits defeat in the battle of ideas and an understanding that only intimidation can stave off a massive shift in political power. Hopefully, the ramifications of this incident will hasten that overdue transfer.

18.4.10

Jindal budget plans have practical, political problems

Until now, Gov. Bobby Jindal has shown about as good a hand as possible in directing Louisiana through budgetary difficulties. But he stumbles with his latest effort to resolve the recently-declared shortfall for this fiscal year and the related reduction for the next.


Jindal actually had to reallocate almost $47 million more than the $319 million certified by the Revenue Estimating Conference for this fiscal year because of unanticipated expenses. The bulk of this will come from one-time money, part from settlement expenses left over that were less than anticipated, but the rest from money that possibly will have to be spent next fiscal year on another settlement.


Adding that sum to the forecasted gap of $245 million for next year, Jindal plans to accomplish eliminating that by dependence upon predicted legislation in Congress that will shovel money to the states. Jindal has been a past critic of such plans for the depressive effect they have on the economy and escalation of public debt they create. Even though each chamber of Congress has passed different bills, a reconciled one that becomes law could give the state more than the expected settlement costs plus the forecasted gap.


But another major assumption by Jindal also changes the complexion of his strategy. The Conference believed this may be the last downward revision needed of state-generated revenues, which means next year the Budget Stabilization Fund could not be used to plug any shortfall. Yet Jindal is banking on using the Fund next year in order to offset the loss of other federal dollars used this and next fiscal year from the 2009 federal spending bill which are greater than the 2010 versions now active. This only can happen if two-thirds of each chamber of the Legislature goes along with that joined by a majority vote of the people to amend the state Constitution to do so.


As previously noted, it’s not a good idea to change the Fund in that manner (allowing it to be used when federal largesse goes down) and there’s no guarantee the two needed majorities will manifest to make that happen. Therefore, it would be smarter to invoke the fund this year, which will cover the expected settlement costs of next year, and leave that there.


Further, what of the more than $300 million “Louisiana Purchase” deal included in the ruinous Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010? Jindal did not budget for it not being sure that the bad bill to which it was attached could be rammed down America’s throat, a wise precaution, and being against it philosophically. But now it’s here, so should it not solve for the forecast shortfall? And to do so would allow Jindal to be consistent in his policy worldview of eschewing support for any spending bill in 2009 now apparently gone by the wayside as he budgets for 2011.


While continuing his sage and heretofore successful attempts to root out inefficiency and unwise expenditures in state government, Jindal should roll as many health care bucks forward as possible from one-time monies courtesy of the Purchase mixed in with Fund proceeds to budget for no additional federal spending bill dollars. If they then fall into his lap, more reallocations can be done to use the money as long as the priorities are sensible. This is a better course that relies on certainties rather than contingencies and lets Jindal stay true to his beliefs rather than set them aside temporarily for the sake of expediency.