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Landrieu acquiescence acknowledges desperation

Understand that Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s acceptance of four debates with opponents to her reelection signals definitively that she gets it that her prospects to return to Washington are in trouble.

Back in the good old days, debates – where candidates actually verbally sparred back and forth for hours, instead of rushing to drop in as many relevant sound bites as they can before hustling to the next question as these have become today – served a useful process for the politically interested who could spread this information to others that they otherwise could not acquire from any source. These days, the interested person pretty much can find everything and anything about a candidate’s issue preferences through watching plenty of television advertisements and/or reading mail pieces and/or (most comprehensively with views from all sides) making a few mouse clicks. The casually interested will pay no attention to these, unless something dramatic happens that gets reverberated through news stories and campaign communications forcibly delivered to their eyeballs, eardrums, mail boxes, and in-boxes.

For these reasons, as information about candidacies increased and became more easily disseminated over the past few decades, debates have devolved, from candidates’ perspectives, into going on patrol in a minefield. A candidate can do nothing on his own to derive any benefit from a debate; rather, he only can harm himself by saying something stupid that makes him look uninformed, ignorant, or “uncaring” enough to voters. Any debate participation produces gains only if one or more opponents make unforced errors that you avoid. In other words, it’s a gamble as to whether you won’t blow it to your detriment and if others do to your benefit.


Potential suit fails on facts, logic, constitutionality

If a bad idea is useful enough once, a thousand uses are not too many, or so the Louisiana National Association for the Advancement of Colored People seems to think in response to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System School Board’s recent decision to reduce its membership from 11 to 9 members.

The state’s NAACP is threatening to file suit over the change made last month that will take an arrangement of six majority-white and five majority-black districts and make it a five majority-white and four majority-black arrangement. This happened despite that within the district black residents actually narrowly outnumber whites, 47.1 percent of it compared to 46.5 percent.

While the promised suit’s contents have yet to be revealed, it may well attempt to use an argument similar to the systemic racism theory advocated in a suit being heard this week about redistricting Baton Rouge’s city courts. That is, even if districts are created that have narrow black majorities, blacks are less likely to be registered to vote and also even if registered to vote in elections, because past racism has conditioned them along these lines as evidenced by these lower totals relative to whites, mono-racial voting patterns of the past, and past district election results where blacks only have won elections where a majority of those voting were blacks.


Holden run ploy to keep Guillory out, get others in

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden not only can’t win statewide office, but his decision to run for lieutenant governor also will contribute to dooming another candidate disliked by his party.

Democrat Holden confirmed long-circulated rumors that he would make a try for the office in 2015, which actually does very little in basically serving as the head of the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism (present occupant Jay Dardenne did away with the formalities and did not fill that cabinet post in favor of doing it himself). It certainly can’t hurt him, as his mayor-president term will continue through 2016 and he could run for that again; indeed, what funds and name recognition he has left over from inability to win this statewide office he could use towards securing a fourth term at the helm of the consolidated government.

And he assuredly will not win, barring incredible fortune. Winning statewide as a Democrat is a tough proposition, but it becomes impossible when one is a black liberal known most recently for backing to success an increase in taxes to pay for a rapid transit system plagued with mismanagement if not outright corruption, getting humiliated by defeated attempts to raise taxes for massive, if questionable in need, infrastructure projects, and whose prime economic development strategy these days is to annex unincorporated land in order to beggar potential growth competitors to Baton Rouge.  Even if the office he seeks is picayunish, with its only real appeal being waiting around for the governor to leave office one way or the other, and the scant actual areas of authority of it have little to do with being a chief executive of a consolidated government (with less power than a typical mayor), a majority of Louisiana voters will turn their noses up at that record as an indicator of how he would serve in the state’s #2 office.


Eroding populism drives devalued Landrieu endorsement

Just as one Louisiana U.S.senator uses well the fading power of populism in the state’s political culture to keep ahead of his rivals, the other uses it as well in hopes of staying in power.

In the transformation of politics, in a functioning representative democracy this comes from the bottom up. That is, as change sweeps the grassroots, it changes the matrix of candidates available and ultimately those successful, in turn eventually translating into policy change. But it occurs most slowly at the lowest levels of government because of the asymmetry of information availability. Specifically, for the mass public there is less information about politics available at the local levels, in part because there is less interest among the public (because, unless directly impacted, what local governments do seem less important in the world and often are seen as less controversial) and because existing elites, incumbents in particular, face reduced competition in provision of information and therefore find it easier to combat opposing views.

Transformation becomes blunted at the lowest level, providing shelter for elites as the world changes around them, as the public has greater difficult in learning of elite actions, of the consequences of those actions, and in connecting the two. As transformation occurs, the disconnection between policy desired by the public and policy-makers’ actions must yawn to a greater extent before the public begins to place responsibility onto the policy-makers in question, and to sanction them for deviations. In Louisiana, the contradictions between liberal populism and principled conservatism started becoming clear enough to provoke a substantial electoral response at the national level about 25 years ago, while at the state level it began about a decade ago.


Vitter's fusion approach makes candidacy formidable

Again, Republican Sen. David Vitter, candidate for governor in 2015, has demonstrated that he remains best equipped among Louisiana politicians to navigate the changing political culture of the state for electoral purposes.

Uniquely imprinted in South with the stamp of populism, or the belief that government primarily is to be used as a tool for redistributing resources to favored interests from those that aren’t, Louisiana has struggled intellectually to detach itself from this past. Even as liberalism finds itself far more compatible ideologically to this, many who claim to be conservatives in the state have their belief systems diluted with the notion that place more emphasis on the need for government to use its powers to provide some kind of subsidy or assistance to certain groups against presumed hostile forces as a result of this legacy.

But as educational attainment levels (with qualitative improvements within those levels) have increased, political information has become more plentiful and less costly to access, and economic growth has brought in conservative out-of-state immigrants whose formative political cultures lacked it, populism has less and less effectively has served as a mask for the violations liberalism brings upon the tenets held by conservatives. Even two decades ago, many economic liberals infested state and local offices, buttressing their positions by enunciating conservative social issue preferences, and embedded themselves because of a public with lesser cognitive capacity that discouraged being able to think ideologically and of a paucity of information about politics generally available to it. This environment made much more difficult understanding the internal contradictions liberalism presented within its own philosophical and data-denied incoherence and externally to core conservative values held by many who were becoming increasingly able to understand cause and effect in policy.


Court needs to reject reprehensible racist doctrine

Tomorrow a Baton Rouge federal district court begins hearing a case that has the potential to turn upside down civil rights jurisprudence and ratify an entirely noxious transformation of values in American society.

It’s the continuation of an issue first brought up a couple of years ago that gained legislative scrutiny this past session. In the last round of reapportionment of city-parish courts, East Baton Rouge had maintained its five districts, which in the present day have three with majority white constituencies and two majority black (although cases are not placed on dockets by geography; any of the judges may hear cases from any part of the city-parish). Some have complained that with the area having about 55 percent black population that this arrangement was unfair, if not illegal, in some way, and filed suit accordingly.

Since judicial offices are not considered policy-making institutions and that any judge may hear any case, federal constitutional imperatives that channel state and local governments into drawing district lines for other institutions place greater scrutiny on those outcomes that prompt these governments typically to use race as a major consideration into this districting, with the creation of “majority/minority” districts, a scrutiny lacking when it comes to judicial redistricting. However, even with the higher burden of proof suits leading to consent decrees in the past have caused the state with jurisdictions with significant minority populations to follow the same strategy with those judiciaries, with perhaps the most famous example in Louisiana being that of its Supreme Court.