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Christmas Day, 2015

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday after noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Friday, Dec. 25 being Christmas Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Syndrome reaction to Jindal challenge of culture

With the departure of Gov. Bobby Jindal from Louisiana’s political scene, at least for the immediate future, more enlightened observers will miss perhaps the most humorous aspect surrounding his electoral career – behavior stemming from the affliction that some catch called Jindal Derangement Syndrome, the pathology of which merits scrutiny.

This syndrome manifests as a hyper-emotive, sociopathic reaction to all things Jindal. Typical behavior includes screeds devoid of reason that ramble enough to connect Jindal somehow to the imagined perfidy. So consumed by hatred of Jindal, these victims abandon any attempt to use fact and logic to evaluate policy preferences pursued by the outgoing governor.

For example, as incoming Gov. John Bel Edwards agitates for resumption of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits to the able-bodied without spouses and/or dependents between ages 18-49 who do not work, attend training programs, or volunteer to charitable organizations at least 20 hours a week in the past three months, invective flies against how Jindal wisely decided to join 20 other states in returning to following the law of the land since the late 20th century by terminating benefits for these recipients. Or, more generally, how a few of the chattering classes define Jindal’s optimal decisions to right-size government that help people keep more of what they earn while those policy same choices make others being subsidized and/or who desired subsidies force others to do their fair share to accrue these privileges as some kind of crimes against humanity.


Edwards' inner liberal keeps muddying his narrative

Incoming Gov. John Bel Edwards throughout his campaign tried to distance himself from his image as a wild-eyed liberal. Yet leopards don’t change their spots, as a recent comment of his validated.

On perhaps no issue did Democrat Edwards differentiate himself from his GOP rivals than on tort reform. Long an ally of trial lawyers, as one example of his fealty towards them Edwards opposed efforts to remove the ability of state regional bodies to bring suit on matters over which the state or parishes had ultimate policy-making authority, voting against such a measure.

That law specifically applied to the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s attempt to extract money from nearly 100 companies that had explored and extracted oil in its jurisdiction over the decades. It alleged them primarily liable for environmental damage in the billions of dollars despite that science does not corroborate the impact to that extent and with few exceptions had followed the law with the state’s blessing in their activities throughout.


Other shoe may drop on LA unconstitutional taxation

Before Louisiana policy-makers breathe a sigh of relief over the state’s current fiscal year budget, they need to realize the real trouble could lie ahead, either financially or as a threat to representative democracy in the state.

Last week, state District Court Judge Michael Caldwell ruled against the Louisiana Chemical Association in its suit against the state for the outcome of HCR 8 of 2015. That resolution suspended a penny of the four cent sales tax exemption on business utilities essentially for the fiscal year, which will raise an estimated over $100 million and allowed the budget passed to balance.

Caldwell noted, as has this space, that the Constitution allows for suspension of tax breaks from the time passed until 60 days after the end of the next year’s regular legislative session by a simple majority, the same required to put a tax exception in place. The LCA had claimed something like this did not need a two-thirds majority in each chamber through a convoluted argument that the supermajority provision applied only if the Legislature had suspended the entire statute that set up the tax, not a “portion” of it.


LA GOP hopes to move past majority growing pains

That so many Louisiana Republicans have come out the woodwork to run for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year illustrates the maturation and but possible continued immaturity of the party that gave away its control of the governorship this year.

Loser of that election runoff Sen. David Vitter decided to call it quits in his current spot after that debacle Republicans inflicted upon themselves. Throughout most of that cycle observers considered a GOP candidate a lock to win, and Vitter the favorite to do so.

Republicans have put themselves in the strong position they hold in the state now – near supermajority status in the Legislature; control of the Supreme Court, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Service Commission; holders of every state statewide office except soon governor; of the seven U.S. House seats serve in six of them; and have both senators – at the state level less for what they have done than the self-destruction arranged by state Democrats with their insistence on following national Democrats ever further leftward ideologically. This hari-kari encouraged factionalism among Republicans since Democrats made themselves too weak to offer the necessary incentive for the GOP to emphasize the winning conservative ideology that earned them the state’s majority and instead lazily allowed Republicans to base their candidacies and policies on the state’s common past political cultural themes of populism and personalism, making personalities rather than ideology the flashpoints of conflict and policy-making.