This is about arrogance. More specifically, it is about the arrogance of two men, both from Louisiana and each elected to represent his constituents to the best of his ability.
And to that end, each has failed miserably while taking his individual insolence to new levels—in very different ways. One we have written about extensively in the past. The other, not so much, though perhaps he may well warrant closer attention in the future.
We are talking about Gov. Piyush Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
The first, Jindal, has repeatedly displayed his cowardice, his spinelessness, by taking actions to close state facilities without bothering to notify affected legislators of his plans in advance. He has consistently ignored the plight of hundreds of state employees he forced into unemployment by cutting services and corporate taxes, further exacerbating the state’s budgetary crisis.
Vitter’s vote on a Senate bill last week can only described as despicable and hypocritical.
We will get to him presently.
It was not enough that Jindal announced the closure of Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville and C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in Dequincy without extending the courtesy of a heads up to the legislative delegation in southeast and southwest Louisiana, the two areas affected.
But in doing so, he appeared to give little regard to or concern for the hundreds of employees at the two facilities who will be adversely impacted by layoffs or, in a few cases, transfers.
Then, on the heels of the announcement of the C. Paul Phelps closure The Baton Rouge League of Women Voters held a panel discussion to discuss Jindal’s continued privatization of state agencies, including the Office of Risk Management, the Office of Group Benefits, charter schools, educational vouchers, state hospital privatization and Medicaid cutbacks.
Invited to attend were representatives of the Jindal administration and proponents of privatization as well as four opponents, including an education coalition representative and Dr. Fred Cerise, former head of the LSU Health Care System.
One end of the head table was fully represented. On the other end, not a single person appeared on behalf of the administration. Cowardice. If an administration cannot publicly defend its actions—and make no mistake, Jindal never does—then that can only be described as cowardly.
Oh, they all had excuses. Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said he had to attend a State Bond Commission meeting. But that meeting was over before the panel forum began across town. Bottom line, no one from the administration could—or would—find the time to defend the governor’s program.
Of course, Jindal had plenty time to attend a Republican unity breakfast in New Hampshire a week before and agreed to participate in a Sept. 26 Leaders of Iowans for Freedom “No Wiggins” bus tour—a rally in opposition to the re-election of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins who voted with the majority to rule the state’s one-man, one-woman marriage law unconstitutional.
We have to wonder how our governor, who, metaphorically speaking, has more snakes than he can kill right here at home, can find time to involve himself in a supreme court race in Iowa. Does the state Medicaid budget’s gaping budget hole not keep him sufficiently occupied without his having to traipse off to Iowa? Isn’t the fiscal plight of the state’s colleges and universities of enough concern to deter him from having breakfast in New Hampshire?
Or could it be more than mere coincidence that the first presidential primary and party caucus will be in New Hampshire and Iowa, respectively, in about three years? Could Jindal be that brazen, that disturbingly obvious? Well, yes. Could he really be that delusional, fooling himself into thinking he has a prayer? Yes again.
Piyush would be wise to awaken to the realization that Timmy Teepell is no Karl Rove.
LouisianaVoice has submitted a public records request to determine the cost of Jindal’s two trips including costs not only for Jindal, but for his security detail and any staff members who went along, including travel, lodging, meals and salaries—and including Jindal’s pro-rated salary for the days he is out of state.
Just for argument’s sake, let us say he made each trip in a single day. Giving his annual salary of $130,000, that would mean he should rebate the state a minimum $712 in salary while he was out of state attending to non-governor-type business—plus all the other expenses incurred on the trip for him and his entourage.
Now let’s talk about Vitter.
There was a bill up for a vote in the Senate last week. The Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012 would have made it easier for veterans in the future to transition to civilian life.
With veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing unemployment rates 3 percent higher than the general population, the bill would have put a lot of those veterans to work.
A majority (58-40) voted for the bill but that was two votes short of the three-fifths majority needed to overcome a budgetary point of order thrown up by Republicans.
Republicans said the bill violated the Budget Control Act by adding a program that would increase the deficit. Only five Republicans voted for the bill.
Vitter was one of 40 Republicans who voted no.
That’s correct. U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana), given a chance to vote up or down on a measure to help veterans, chose to vote down.
We’re talking about a $16 trillion deficit and the Republicans were quibbling over a budget item of $200 million per year over five years.
Given the propensity of Republicans to consistently vote for larger and larger appropriations for the Pentagon and military contractors and given Republicans’ support of two wars that have cost this country more than $4 trillion, a $1 billion appropriation to help our veterans re-enter the work force should not seem so unreasonable.
Given that most of these Republican chicken hawks have never experienced military service, it certainly is curious that they are so reluctant to lend a hand once these military personnel have sacrificed so much to defend the rhetoric of the pompous congressmen who while beating their collective breasts, are so quick, yea eager, to send them off to war.
It is heartless enough that military personnel with traumatic head injuries are unable to obtain adequate or timely medical treatment once they are no longer useful as fighters and as unwitting enablers of military contractors who milk the Pentagon budget of untold billions of dollars in unchecked cost overruns and outright fraud.
But when it came time to put his money where his patriotic, flag-waving mouth is, Vitter, rather than reaching out to the veterans, turns his back on them. What a coward.
And we thought his frequenting New Orleans prostitutes and cavorting with the D.C. Madam after all of his preaching about family values was hypocritical. That was child’s play, a victimless crime, as they say. His vote on the Veterans Jobs Corps Act dwarfed that transgression. There were thousands of victims of that callous action.
To demonstrate the Republican stance on American exceptionalism and righteous wars, one need look no further than to a statement made by Andrew Card, President George W. Bush’s chief of staff who, when asked about the timing of the March 2003 Iraqi invasion, dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom, said, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
There you have it. A half-century ago President Eisenhower said, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
Despite that admonition, war—and the influence of that military-industrial complex—has become a marketing concept, a product to be introduced with the appropriately hyped mixture of patriotism, mom and apple pie, along with the oft-repeated need to defeat the newest threat to the American Way of Life, whatever that is.
And Vitter is right there with his fellow Republicans—until it’s time to help those who supported that policy—the men and women in uniform.
In 2003, he voted in favor of HR 1559, the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act. In 2008, he voted in favor of HR 2642 to approve funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan War—funding that has now exceeded the $4 trillion mark.
But in 2012, he and 39 other Republicans just could not bring themselves to waste a five-year, billion dollar expenditure to help military veterans return to the workforce.
We should be so very proud of our junior senator.