While the first
U.S. Senate debate for Louisiana’s open seat presented the chance for the
major candidates to put themselves on the paths they believed best to make for
winning coalitions, the second
would show well they could progress given the constraints inherent to those
choices. Last night the consequences of those choices became clear, leading on
the whole between both debates a performance most convincing to voters.
Starting with the least effective, that only could
be the one contestant who did not inflict himself upon the viewing audience at
the first one, invited just to the second. David
Duke showed himself a joke on multiple occasions. The Republican, who has
lived most of his life off of other people’s donations, made some valid general
remarks, concerning government’s propensity to accumulate power to favor
certain interests, but some of the details showed he has no connection to
reality, such as his insisting a cabal of Jewish bankers wield too much
political power in the world.
A quarter of a century ago, when running for
senator and governor and racking up significant numbers of votes, he stuck with
the generalities and understandably fooled many into supporting him on those occasions.
But with time, his history since then, and an environment that provides far
fuller information on candidates today, he probably thought he had nothing to
lose by taking off his mask to reveal the beliefs that expose his general
unfitness for elective office.
For now, a popular game among those interested in
politics around northwest Louisiana is “Where’s Marshall?” – but an amusement
that looks unlikely to last much longer.
Drive around the Shreveport area or watch
television emanating from it and you’ll occasionally see the visage of Democrat
candidate for the Fourth Congressional District lawyer Marshall Jones touting “experience”
(even though he’s never held elective office as opposed to three of his
Republican opponents) and that he believes in God and guns. But unless you congregate
among those he thinks likely to vote for him, you can be forgiven for thinking
he exists only as a media creation.
So while he may show up at the Martin Luther King
forum or at a brewery with other candidates, you’ll never see him at candidate
gatherings where he can get asked tough
questions such as at forums at Bossier Parish Community College or for the
South Bossier Citizens Assembly. Questions like whether he will vote for
Democrat presidential nominee Hillary
Clinton, or her proposals to scrap
the Keystone XL pipeline and increase
gun control, whether he supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act, whether he will raise taxes to fulfill his desire to balance the budget,
Matters have gotten interesting regarding two of
the six constitutional amendments with which Louisiana voters must struggle
One has generated controversy because its impact
appears indeterminate. Amendment 3 would remove the deduction for federal taxes
now enjoyed by corporations, but because of two statutory changes that go into
effect only if the amendment passes, it also would eliminate the several
brackets of income tax rates applied to corporations and collapse them into
just a 6.5 percent tax, below the current highest category at 8 percent.
As experts point out, the federal income tax
deduction artificially inflates rates, to some degree takes state tax policy
out of its own hands (because federal tax changes happen independently), and
does not guard against double taxation of equity investments. Optimal tax
policy emphasizes simplicity, and the removal of the deduction plus the
added-on flat rate accomplishes this.
The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled
correctly on a case pitting religious freedom against laws requiring
reporting of a crime against minors, finding a way to permit attainment of both
This issue involved the confession a female minor
made to Rev. Jeff Bayhi in 2008, where she allegedly told him of abuse at the
hands of a now-deceased male member of the congregation. The family had sued
Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge, saying he should have alerted
authorities. But canon law unambiguously states that for a priest to violate ministrations
under the confessional seal, even if the penitent reveals the content of it,
would lead to his excommunication.
The Court had ruled over
two years ago that if the penitent voluntarily revealed the information
then courts could compel the priest to testify, in an attempt to clarify
ambiguity in statutes. The Children’s Code maintained that mandatory reporters,
defined as to include clergy, had to report potential endangerment regardless
of privilege, while the Code of Evidence made privileged communications under
confession. The defendants brought the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which
declined to hear the case.