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I'm now an "Internet kook."

So says C.B. Forgotston, a perceptive critic of the spending habits and “good old boy network” ways of Louisiana politics, when I told him of my decision to publish this blog.

He and a few others – commentators, state officials both elected and bureaucratic, even journalists – surface from time to time with their trenchant observations about the things that need to happen to raise this state from its bottom-dwelling status in so many ways. Or they may be like Lou Gehrig Burnett’s
FaxNet Update, which casts a similar critical eye (among its news reporting) on politics in northwest Louisiana. The problem is, they are few, and the attitudes they want to change are widespread. That’s why when a guy like C.B. persists in disseminating his opinions on the web, those of a different persuasion call him an “Internet kook.”

I’ve been one of those people for over a decade now that gradually has thrust himself out onto these ramparts. Us college professors are used to weighing forth on things (we’re supposed to do this by sticking to teaching fact and theory, not giving opinion, in the classroom; some of my colleagues in higher education actually do) and having been a journalist in my distant past, it’s become second nature to me to write columns frequently, so perhaps this is the next evolutionary step.

Actually, I’m not a big fan of blogs. Not to insult anybody, but I can’t see why anybody would be interested in somebody prattling on about their lives as if the world was dying to know about their individual soap operas, which from what I’ve observed the vast majority of blogs are. Rest assured you will rarely if ever see anything about my personal life in here, the privacy of which I intensely guard in any event.

At this stage of my authorial life, however, blogging appeals to me because, while for other publications I continue to follow the traditional “deadline” model of writing columns, with blogging I have the freedom to submit pieces when I want when perhaps they are the most timely, in most any size or format I choose. Obviously, if I admit this, I have a kind of compulsion to voice an opinion when I feel it would be worth something; the question then is, what compels me?

The answer is simple: given my training, interest, and breadth of knowledge, I think I can contribute to the debate, a public policy free-for-all that is going to determine the future of northwest Louisiana, the state, America, and the world. Two of my three university degrees were funded in part by taxpayers, so this is one way to continue to pay back their investment in me. I aim to take that education and learning I have experienced to articulate ideas and to help readers understand the political issues and what’s at stake in the world of politics.

In fact, that’s where the name of this blog comes from. For several years I hosted a talk radio show which was called “Between the Lines,” and my
FaxNet Update column is called the same. In both endeavors I have striven to bring out hidden aspects lying beneath news or opinion, in order for readers/listeners to have a better idea of the context of these events and ideas, to give them more ammunition by which to critically appraise the issues presented, so that they may be better able to draw their own conclusions about from where the public policy debate must proceed. Which, come to think about it, is what I do as a university professor.

I don’t know what’s going to happen here. I suspect I’ll post something most every day, at varying times given my teaching schedule. My guess is I will primarily discuss Louisiana politics, with some attention paid to northwest Louisiana’s, and some national and international commentary sprinkled in here and there. A state journalist I know remarked to me that he thought a high-quality blog during the Louisiana Legislature’s session might actually perform a service to readers. If I can pull that off (that fun begins in late April), then I’ll rest easily that I haven’t been wasting time and electrons in committing myself to this.

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