Archive for the ‘Earl Long, Huey Long’ Category

Louisiana, from Huey and Earl Long to Jimmie Davis, John McKeithen, and Edwin Edwards, has a well-earned reputation of electing colorful—and controversial—governors. It is, therefore, something of a paradox that the one who would aspire to play on the national stage would be described as a policy wonk with no personality and nothing in common with the others.

While Bobby Jindal is unquestionably intelligent, he, unlike the others, is woefully inadequate in his ability to relate to his constituents on a one-on-one basis or to field hard questions from a skeptical press. To put it bluntly, he simply lacks the skills to relate to the man in the street, forced instead to fall back on his time-worn but well-rehearsed rhetorical philosophy designed to appeal to his ultra-right-wing political base. Jindal perhaps is best described as Ben Stein (the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) without the charisma.

Even when he does stray from his tightly-controlled script in an effort to draw a laugh, his efforts usually languish. In 2014, he made an appearance at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington and followed that the next night with an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and set up the same joke about Attorney General Eric Holder at both events by saying, “I see Eric Holder is with us…” The problem was Holder was not at CPAC (nor would he ever have been expected to be) and the gag fell embarrassingly flat (cue the chirping crickets).

A good politician, like a good standup comic, always knows his audience. Lyndon Johnson once said he had no use for any politician who, thirty seconds after entering a room, could not tell who was for him and who was against him. Lyndon Johnson would have no use for Jindal. Nor would Edwin Edwards who could always be counted on for a quip appropriate to the crowd or the event. No one but Edwards would, after getting a hug from a nun in Monroe, dare say something like, “Careful, Sister, I don’t want to get into any habits.” Nor could Jindal ever get away with saying (as did Edwards) the only way he could lose an election (against David Duke in 1991) would to be “caught in bed with a dead girl or live boy.”

Instead, when Jindal talks, he comes across as stilted and decidedly wooden, inflexible. He cannot speak off the cuff; everything is rehearsed, which is why every speech sounds like all the others. He is unnatural and exhibits absolutely no understanding—or compassion—for the single working mom, for the working poor unable to afford health care insurance, or for the tax burden of the middle class, a result of his generous tax breaks to business and industry. His limp handshake only serves to underscore his disdain for pressing the flesh (to borrow a term from LBJ).

His railing against Washington and President Barrack Obama is vaguely reminiscent of Robert F. Kennon in his run for a second term as governor in 1963. I spent a day with Kennon in 1983 and he relayed an interesting story to me. He had crisscrossed the state during the ’63 campaign, repeating his familiar slogan: “Send Kennon to Baton Rouge and (President) Kennedy back to Massachusetts.” The slogan caught fire and Kennon surged to the lead in the polls ahead of key rival New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Morrison (that would be “Dellasoups,” to Uncle Earl). Public Service Commissioner John McKeithen, meanwhile, slogged along with his own aw-shucks slogan: “Won’t you he’p me?” Then, on November 22, the eve of the governor’s election, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and overnight, public opinion was turned on its head. Kennon was out, McKeithen finished second to Morrison and then won in a runoff. “Kennedy’s assassination beat me,” he told me 20 years later.

I also spent an entire day as a young newspaper reporter in 1971 riding with McKeithen near the end of his second term as he toured the LSU agriculture station in Homer in Claiborne Parish prior to an address to the local chamber of commerce that night. The tour was not one of those events where the politician breezes in, shakes a couple of hands and departs, leaving it to his press office to call it a “tour.” Instead, McKeithen, fascinated with innovations at the Ag station, spent the entire day learning about how the station personnel managed to get productive timberland to serve the dual purpose of grazing land for the farm’s cattle. “I’ve never seen cattle graze in timberland,” said McKeithen, himself a cattle rancher.

And during McKeithen’s entire visit at Homer that day, there was not a state trooper security detail anywhere in sight. Not one. Zilch. Jindal, on the other hand, never goes anywhere without a coterie of state police security, even during his presidential run which has taken him out of Louisiana for more than 45 percent of his final years as governor—all at the expense of Louisiana taxpayers.

Even in retirement, John McKeithen kept the common touch. In the late 1980s, I resided next door to his son, Secretary of State Fox McKeithen. The younger McKeithen had a pecan tree in his front yard and on many mornings when I walked outside to retrieve my Baton Rouge Advocate, there would be Big John walking around the yard picking up pecans. Somehow, it’s just impossible to conjure up an image of Bobby Jindal walking around picking up pecans off the ground. He’d almost certainly have a state trooper from his security detail performing that task.

Jimmie Davis not only was an immensely popular singer, but a spellbinding storyteller as well. He told a great one about Edwards. When Davis left office in 1964, he built a new home behind the governor’s mansion. Both the Davis home and the governor’s mansion were across the lake from the State Capitol and Davis said once he was in his back yard “knocking down dirt dauber nests, wasp nests, pulling weeds and killing snakes,” out of the corner of his eye he caught then-Governor Edwards strolling purposely toward the lake. As he watched, he suddenly realized that Edwards was intent on walking to the Capitol…across the lake. “He’s going to try to walk on the lake,” Davis thought. Sure enough, Edwards did indeed begin walking across the lake and made it about halfway before suddenly sinking. “There wasn’t anything I could do,” Davis said, “but walk out there, pull him up out of the water and carry him the rest of the way.”

We can thank Davis, by the way, for the Sunshine Bridge over the Mississippi River at Donaldsonville, for the current governor’s mansion, and for the implementation of civil service as protection of state employees from political patronage.

As a political junkie, I have followed Louisiana’s governors all the way back to Uncle Earl. I vividly remember Earl’s mental breakdown, his commitment to a couple of mental hospitals and his subsequent escapes. I recall his defeat of incumbent U.S. Rep. Harold McSween in 1960 only to die of heart failure ten days later. As a teenager, I read every book about Huey and Earl Long that I could lay my hands on. Rather than cut funding for services, Huey increased the miles of paved highways in Louisiana from 300 to 3,000. Rather than deprive the poor of health care, he built Big Charity Hospital in New Orleans that operated as a teaching hospital for Tulane and LSU medical schools while providing care for the poor. Instead of slashing appropriations for higher education, Huey made LSU a top tier university. Jindal, hell-bent on cutting taxes for industry and the rich, allowed the state’s infrastructure to crumble. He denied Medicaid expansion, thus depriving 300,000 of the state’s poor adequate medical care. Budget cuts under Jindal’s leadership proved disastrous to higher education, forcing tuition increases that were unaffordable to low income students.

But after all is said and done, it was Earl Long who was the real visionary. Jindal beats his chest, refusing to accept Medicaid expansion. He fought Common Core, defiantly boasting that he would not allow Washington or the liberal media to sway him. But even as Mississippi’s Ross Barnett, Alabama’s George Wallace, and Arkansas’ Orville Faubus were pledging “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” Earl saw the writing on the wall early on and prepared for the future accordingly.

When Orleans Parish legislators approached him in the 1950s about locating a public university in New Orleans, Earl readily agreed—on one condition: the school would be open to whites and blacks alike. Higher education was integrated in Louisiana years before James Meredith entered Ole Miss and before George Wallace stood in the doorway at the University of Alabama. Rather than cutting education, Earl originated the hot lunch program in Louisiana’s public elementary and high schools, providing students affordable lunches—his proudest accomplishment.

Earl refused to take political advantage of the fever-pitch emotions that were boiling over in Baton Rouge over the desegregation fight with the federal government. His most famous confrontation was with Plaquemines Parish political boss Leander Perez, who refused to acknowledge the changing times and attempted to pass sweeping legislation in Baton Rouge to resist the growing tide of desegregation. “What’re you gonna do now, Leander?” Earl shouted at his nemesis at one point. “The feds have the A-bomb!”

Dave Treen, the quintessential Republican, who served as governor from 1980-1984, proposed a $450 million tax on oil and gas to hold the industry accountable for damage to the state’s coastal marshes. The Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy (CWEL), which he said would place no undue burden on any individual or group, fell twelve votes short of the necessary two-thirds approval in the House after being vehemently opposed by oil and gas interests and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI).

That stands in stark contrast to Jindal, who, beholden to the oil companies for their financial support of his political campaigns, was in bitter opposition to (and eventually succeeded in killing) a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) seeking to force the companies to restore the state’s damaged wetlands.

These are the personality and philosophical traits sorely lacking in Jindal’s psychological makeup. He cannot champion the working people of Louisiana—or America—in the manner of Huey Long. He could never negotiate the peace between warring factions the way in which Edwin Edwards could get both sides to comprise—and like it. Jindal, with his disconcerting rapid-fire speaking manner, is devoid of the ease with which Jimmie Davis could hold an entire room captive with his homespun humor. His response to Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2009 proved that beyond any doubt. He could never be relaxed after more than five minutes of visiting something as ordinary as an agricultural station in north Louisiana but McKeithen, on the other hand, was right at home. Earl may have had mental issues, but even in his deteriorated emotional state, he stood head and shoulders above Jindal in his ability—and willingness—to do for people what they could not do for themselves.

There does not exist a hole sufficiently deep to bury the differences between Jindal and any one of those six governors. To somehow think he is presidential timber is simply beyond comprehension. He would be wise to consider the human element of leadership over any poll results.

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When State Fire Marshal Butch Browning isn’t busy defending his wearing of unauthorized military decorations and ribbons or trying to shift blame for a carnival ride that malfunctioned only seven hours after his office inspected it, injuring two children in the process, he apparently can play the political game as well as any state appointed official.

Remember the New Living Word School in Ruston? That’s the facility that had only 122 students in 2012, yet was approved for more than 300 vouchers by the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) even though the school lacked teachers, classrooms, desks or other supporting facilities to handle the increased numbers.

In fact, construction was started on New Living Word’s school without anyone bothering to obtain the requisite building permits or to hire a licensed contractor. In fact, no zoning variance was even obtained to operate the school on property that was zoned for a church.

Moreover, the building itself had so many deficiencies that Ruston building inspector Bill Sanderson refused to approve the structure. Those shortcomings included partitions made of flammable materials and multiple electrical cords lying on the floor between wall outlets and computer equipment.

New Living Word, looking to lose tuition of $6,300 per student (an amount later determined by auditors to be excessive and all the vouchers for the school were pulled), could not afford to wait until all the requirements had been met.

Enter State Sen. Rick Gallot.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Gallot is a member of New Living Word Church and sits on the school’s governing board.

Suddenly, all those deficiencies and procedural violations went away after State Fire Marshal Butch Browning became involved.

Browning subsequently issued an amended approval letter, giving the school the green light to proceed with constructing classrooms in the upper floor of the church gymnasium. He said the school had not requested approval to build the classrooms but that “after further review and as a point of clarification, the upper floor…is included in the scope of the review and is acceptable.”


The late John Hays, then-publisher of the Ruston weekly newspaper the Morning Paper, wrote on Aug. 27, 2012:

“Lobbying never fails, especially when Louisiana’s controversial school voucher program is the issue. After the state fire marshal fell I line, so, to, did the City of Ruston, approving a jury-rigged private school after a quickie inspection.

“Inspections were scheduled for Monday morning. But with 167 state vouchers (the number by then had been reduced from more than 300—before those, too, were yanked) at $6,300 each, New Living Word wasn’t willing to wait—just as it was not willing to apply for a zoning permit or a building permit or to hire a licensed contractor.”

Hays, holding both Browning and Sanderson responsible for bending the rules, went on to say that Neither Sanderson nor Browning had bothered to explain “why they didn’t pull the plug after New Living Word started construction without the required building permit and without a licensed contractor. Under Ruston 21 master plan, New Living Word was also required to obtain a zoning variance to operate a school on property presently zoned for a church,” Hays wrote.

“What Sanderson cannot change to anyone’s satisfaction is the fact that (church minister Jerry) Baldwin renovated two buildings without the benefit of a land use variance or a building permit, with a complete set of plans by a licensed architect or engineer, and without the use of a licensed general contractor and a licensed trade contractors,” the acerbic Hays said.

“Contrast this treatment of a politically-connected entity to that of a business that dared to ask that it be allowed to put up a sign slightly larger than the rules allowed,” said Ruston’s Walter Abbott on his Lincoln Parish Online blog.

Abbott, also writing about the New Living Word building permit controversy, then attached a link to an earlier story about a local realtor named Brandon Crume who wished to install a 32-square-foot sign in a location where such signs are limited to 16 square feet.

Bound by the rules, since there were no state politicians or appointees to intervene, the Ruston Planning and Zoning Commission denied Crume’s request outright, prompting Abbott to observe that a new business recently announced for Ruston “is showered with incentives, grants and glowing press coverage” and the press conference announcing its coming was attended “by numerous political dignitaries” while an “established Ruston business is encumbered with endless red tape just to remodel a building and put up a sign.”

“Maybe Brandon Crume needed a state senator on his payroll instead of facts and logic in his argument,” Abbott concluded.

The immediate question is why did Browning become involved when the local building inspector had already moved to halt work on the building? The obvious answer is that his intervention was on behalf of Baldwin and the school and not to support the local building inspector. It is equally evident that political pressure was brought to bear upon Sanderson to get him to ease up on the school which at the time, was held in high favor by DOE and by extension, Gov. Bobby Jindal.

And just what did Gallot promise Jindal in return for support from Baton Rouge via Browning’s involvement?

Shortcuts with safety regulations and procedures often can come back to bite you.

We can only hope there will not be a New Living Word incident reminiscent of the horrific school tragedy from the Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, the thinly-disguised Pulitzer-Prize winning novel about Huey Long which became the basis of two movies of the same name.

Or of the very real 2011 accident with the carnival ride in Greensburg that injured two siblings only hours after a State Fire Marshal’s inspection failed to shut the ride down because of the removal of an emergency brake on the ride.

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Anyone who still wonders why Gov. Bobby Jindal trots around the country uttering his venom-laced attacks on Washington in general and the Obama administration in particular should understand something. It’s all about politics; he is simply pandering to what he perceives as his base which is, at best, an illusion.

His foaming at the mouth courtship with his invisible support group is something like playing with an imaginary friend. In Jindal’s case, we have it on pretty good authority that he had two imaginary friends as a child but they would go to the other end of the playground and never let him join them. You will notice he never shows up in any of the lists of potential major GOP presidential candidates. That’s because the Republican Party just doesn’t want to play with him.

We have to give Jindal credit for one thing, however; he backs his rhetoric with action.

In his steadfast resistance to anything Washington, we have seen him:

  • Reject $300 million in federal funding for a Baton Rouge to New Orleans high speed passenger rail connection because he doesn’t want federal control;
  • Pretend to reject $98 million in federal stimulus funds for recovery from the 2008 recession while quietly taking the funds and handing out checks to municipalities during his highly-publicized visits to Protestant churches in north Louisiana;
  • Reject $80 million in federal funding to expand broadband internet service into rural areas of the state, primarily in north Louisiana;
  • Reject $15.7 billion in federal Medicaid expansion funds because he incorrectly claimed it would cost Louisiana taxpayers up to $1.7 billion over 10 years. He provided no figures to back that claim but did defiantly say Obama “won’t bully Louisiana.” Meanwhile, more than 200,000 low-income Louisiana residents are still without medical insurance.
  • Reject the Common Core State Standards Initiative after previously voicing his wholehearted support for the standards, again saying, “We won’t let the federal government take over Louisiana’s education standards.”
  • Prevail upon the legislature to reject an increase in the minimum wage, to reject tightening regulation of payday loan companies, to ban discrimination against gays, and to reject support of equal pay for women—most probably because all such proposals have the ugly thumbprints of Washington all over them.

So, taking into account his polarizing negativity against Washington, it’s pretty easy to see that things might have been different if we’d never had this little demagogue as governor.

But then we got to wondering how Louisiana might have fared down through the years if we had always been saddled with a Jindal on the fourth floor of the State Capitol. We would probably have beaten South Carolina in being the first state to secede from the Union.

But for the sake of simplicity, let’s just go back to Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. That’s pretty fair because U.S. Sen. Huey Long (whom Jindal often seems to be trying to emulate) was about as anti-New Deal then as Jindal is anti-everything federal is today. Moreover, the nation was reeling from the Great Depression, thanks to Wall Street’s greed, just as America was suffering from the Recession of 2008, thanks in large part to Wall Street again gone amok.

Works Progress Administration projects:

  • Big Charity Hospital in New Orleans where many Louisiana physicians received their training for decades (including Congressmen Bill Cassidy and Charles Boustany, Jr.);
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) which brought electric power to Louisiana’s most rural farm communities (and without which, to paraphrase the late comic Brother Dave Gardner, they’d all be watching TV by candlelight);
  • State Capitol Annex across Third Street from the State Capitol;
  • More courthouses were constructed under the program from 1936 to 1940 than in any other period in state history. They include courthouses in the parishes of St. Bernard, Natchitoches, Iberia Parish, Caldwell, Cameron, East Carroll, Jackson, Madison, Rapides, St. Landry and Terrebonne.
  • Mumford Stadium, Bradford Hall and Grandison Hall at Southern University;
  • Himes Hall, the faculty club, and the geology building at LSU;
  • Two buildings at what is now the University of Louisiana Monroe, three on the McNeese campus, seven each at Southeastern Louisiana University and Louisiana Tech, a water tower at Grambling State University, eight additions at Northwestern State University and 12 at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, all of which significantly extended the reach of higher education in the state.
  • Scores of new elementary and high schools (including this writer’s Alma Mater, Ruston High School), as well as high school science labs, gymnasium-auditoriums, home economics cottages, athletic fields, music rooms and vocational education shops;
  • New buildings for the Hansen’s Disease Center at Carville;
  • The Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans;
  • Extensive improvements and updates to the French Market in New Orleans;
  • Expansion of the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans;
  • Paving of 40 miles of roadway on Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City as well as the clearing of 15 miles of bayous and drainage canals and the rehabilitation of 43 wooden bridges on the base;
  • Improvements to the 1,300-acre City Park in New Orleans;
  • The Louisiana State Museum in Shreveport;
  • Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans;
  • The old City Hall in Denham Springs;
  • Construction of the Louisiana State School for the Deaf (now housing an administration building for the Baton Rouge Police Department);
  • Post offices in Hammond, Plaquemine, Arabi; Arcadia, Bunkie, Donaldsonville, Eunice, Haynesville, Jeanerette, Leesville, Oakdale, Rayville, and Monroe;
  • Conversion of a Baton Rouge swamp into the University Lakes around which many LSU professors, former U.S. Congressman Henson Moore and current Congressman Bill Cassidy now reside;
  • Eradication program to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes near the New Orleans lakefront.

Huey Long did everything in his power to throw up roadblocks to FDR. His reasons? He planned to run for President in 1936 and he needed to incite opposition to Roosevelt and Washington in order to build a national political base. In fact, before his death in September of 1935, Long was quite effective as fewer than three dozen PWA projects were fully authorized for the state.

Sound familiar?

Following Long’s death and with his obstructionist policy abandoned by his successors, FDR funneled $80 million into Louisiana for roads, bridges, water and sewerage systems, parks, playgrounds, public housing, library and bookmobile programs and literacy drives. That’s $80 million in 1930s dollars. About what it would take to fund that proposed broadband internet expansion for rural north Louisiana today.

So, let’s ask Jindal to hop into our time machine and travel back to September 1935 where he will run and be elected governor just in time to revive the Kingfish’s anti-Roosevelt rhetoric.

Big Charity Hospital? Who needs it? But wait. Jindal wouldn’t have that facility today to give away in his privatization plan yet to be approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). And without Big Charity, there probably never would have been similar state hospitals in Houma, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport or Monroe to close or privatize.

All those courthouses? Shoot, just drop them in the Capital Outlay bill and sell some more state bonds. We can always raise the state’s debt ceiling.

As for all those buildings on the university campuses across the state, hasn’t anyone been paying attention? We’re cutting funding for all that. Who needs public colleges anyway? Let the students get a student loan and go to ITI Technical College.

And Ruston High School? We’ll just turn that into a charter and issue vouchers to the white kids—the smart rich ones.

All those New Deal programs created jobs for Louisianians? Well, so what? There probably wouldn’t have been an unemployment problem in the first place if the workers weren’t so greedy back then and would’ve agreed to work for 15 cents an hour. That’s what happens when you raise the minimum wage.

Fast Forward 30 years

And lest we forget, we probably need to include a couple of programs President Lyndon B. Johnson rammed through Congress.

The Civil Rights Bill opened the door of opportunity for African Americans as nothing since the Emancipation Proclamation had done. And of course there was bitter opposition right down to passage—and beyond. There are those, some in elective office, who would repeal the act today, given the opportunity. The irony is that LBJ had opposed every Civil Rights measure in Congress when he was a senator but when he ascended to the presidency upon JFK’s assassination, he told one supporter, “I’m everybody’s president now.”

And, of course, there is the precursor to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

Of course, that would be that radical Social Security Amendment of 1965 which created Medicare and Medicaid.

There was rabid opposition to Medicare by Republicans and the American Medical Association which insisted there was no need for the federal government to intervene in the relationship between patient and physician. Today, if any politician ever tried to terminate Medicare services, he would have a blue-haired riot on his hands and rightly so.

Medicare now provides medical insurance to 50 million elderly Americans and Medicaid does the same for another 51 million low-income or disabled Americans.

Perhaps someone should ask Republican Congressmen Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge (6th District and a candidate for U.S. Senate against incumbent Mary Landrieu) and John Fleming of Minden (4th District), and Charles Boustany, Jr. (3rd District) each of whom is a physician and each of whom opposes Obamacare, what percentage of their income as practicing physicians walked in the door as Medicare or Medicaid patients?

Then check with Jindal to see how that squares with his opposition to the welfare state and such socialistic practices.

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Oxymoron: A combination of contradictory or incongruous words that is made up of contradictory of incongruous elements (Merriam-Webster).

Greek in origin, the term comes from the words oxy (sharp) and moros (dull).

There are several terms that come to mine which would qualify as oxymoronic:

Jumbo shrimp, conspicuous absence, crash landing, deafening silence, found missing, only choice, peaceful conquest, pretty ugly, silent scream, unbiased opinion…well, you get the idea (and there’s no way I’m dropping happily married into the mix).

As in, “A certain jumbo shrimp governor, after a conspicuous absence, was found missing in (insert state) where he presented and unbiased opinion of himself as the only choice for a peaceful conquest of the White House in a pretty ugly speech that was met with deafening silence and a few silent screams…”

Okay, that was just too easy. But, back to the subject of oxymora.

As of Saturday (mark the date: June 21, 2014), you can add to that list anarchist Bobby Jindal.

Bobby Jindal, an anarchist?

If you hear or read what he said in Washington in a speech to the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, yes.


In his address to more than a thousand evangelical leaders attending the three-day conference led by Christian activist Ralph Reed, Jindal accused President Barrack Obama in particular and the Democratic Party in general of waging a war against religious liberty and education and said a rebellion is in the making and America is ready for a “hostile takeover” of the nation’s capital.

You read that correctly. Jindal, growing bolder in his ever more frequent appearances everywhere but in Louisiana, called for a revolution in the streets, an action some might call treasonous were those words uttered by the likes of David Koresh, Randy Weaver or the late fire-breathing right wing evangelist Gerald L.K. Smith.



“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

Shades of the late Tulsa, Oklahoma, evangelist Billy James Hargis of the Christian Crusade radio broadcasts of the ‘60s.



Or of everyone’s favorite contemporary elitist hate monger, Rush Limbaugh.

Jindal said there was a “silent war” (again with the oxymoron) on religious liberty being fought in the U.S.

“I am tired of the left. They say they’re for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: they respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them. The left is trying to silence us and I’m tired of it. I won’t take it anymore.”

Let’s break that down, shall we?

“They say they’re for tolerance.” This from perhaps the most intolerant, most narrow-minded Louisiana governor since Huey Long.

“They say they respect diversity.” This from a governor who stacks state boards, commissions and cabinet positions with older, rich, Republican white men—with the occasional African-American or female for appearances sake.

“They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them.”

Wow. We could write for days on this one but instead, we will simply refer you to the growing list of those who “happen(ed) to disagree” with Jindal:

  • Tommy and Melody Teague;
  • William Anker;
  • Cynthia Bridges;
  • Mary Manuel;
  • Raymond Lamonica;
  • John Lombardi;
  • Dr. Fred Cerise;
  • Dr. Roxanne Townsend;
  • Scott Kipper;
  • Murphy Painter;
  • Tammy McDaniel;
  • Jim Champagne;
  • Ann Williamson;
  • Entire State Ethics Board;
  • State Rep. Jim Morris;
  • State Rep. Harold Richie;
  • State Rep. Joe Harrison;
  • State Rep. Cameron Henry

And that’s just a partial list.

“I won’t take it anymore.”

So now Jindal is the reincarnation of the Peter Finch character Howard Beale from the 1975 classic movie Network.

To that bravado, we can only add the words of the late Gov. Earl Long, responding to Plaquemines Parish boss Leander Perez’s dogged fight against desegregation: “Whatcha gonna do now? The feds have the A-bomb.”

The conference also featured most of the other potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination for 2016 who had to endure yet another tirade by Louisiana’s symbol of tolerance, understanding and benevolence.

Jindal also asked the (supposedly rhetorical) question: “Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question,” he said. “I’ve thought long and hard about it. Here’s the only answer I’ve come up with, and I’m going to quote Secretary Clinton: ‘What difference does it make?'”

To that we can only add (once again):

Never have the words to the song One Tin Soldier been more appropriate than for Jindal and his minions:

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend;

Do it in the name of heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

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In June of 2012, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law Acts 754 and 779, both of which were designed to curtail the so-called legacy lawsuits and thereby curbing landowners’ rights to hold oil companies responsible for damages to private property where they had drilled.

Everyone it seemed, especially the oil companies and the Louisiana politicians who were beholden to them, rejoiced. Handshakes and back slapping abounded. Those mean old trial lawyers had finally got their comeuppance. More important, the new legislation would ensure the uninterrupted flow of oil money into the campaign coffers of friendly legislators—and governors.

Even U.S. Sen. David Vitter weighed in on the discussion to sputter that the new laws “will ensure that Louisiana remains a leader in responsibly producing great American energy—AND great American energy jobs.”

But before we cue the brass band and break out the flags and apple pie, consider another very telling part of Vitter’s official statement of Nov. 14, 2012:

“To correct the situation (of legacy lawsuits), the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), and other business groups proposed reforms that were introduced as bills at the start of this past state legislative session.”

That’s right. LOGA and LABI proposed the reforms. Apparently, the input of landowners whose property had been ravaged by drilling operations and left cluttered with abandoned equipment was not needed—or wanted. Vitter, never one to back away from an issue important to his Republican constituency, continued:

“The message began to resonate. As a result, the House voted overwhelmingly—82 to 19 — in support of the strong legislation that LOGA and others helped draft. And momentum grew.

“Within a few short weeks, this led to a so-called compromise on the issue, which was passed and signed into law. But, it’s not just a compromise; it’s a solution, because it included all of the major elements of the strong proposed legislation.”

But as my favorite poet, Bobby Burns of downtown Shongaloo once wrote: “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go kaput.”

Just when legislators, LABI, LOGA and Jindal thought it was safe to go back into the courtroom, along comes the Mother of All Legacy Lawsuits.

A lot has transpired in the four months since the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) raised Jindal’s hackles when it filed that massive lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for damages to the disappearing Louisiana coastline, not all of it good for the guv.

His courtroom setbacks are stacking up like dead armadillos on a busy Louisiana highway in the hot summertime but he nevertheless sticks with attorney Jimmy Faircloth, the recipient of more than a million dollars in fees while winning…what was it? Oh, yes, zero cases. Jindal could probably paper the walls of the governor’s mansion with the adverse legal decisions handed down thus far. His national political stock has gone into a free-fall that has him grabbing onto any issue that will give him face time on Faux News or CNN.

Distracted by his ongoing feud with President Obama over health care and the federal lawsuit that has thwarted his school voucher program, his pressing duties as Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association and his yeoman’s work on behalf of failed Republican candidates (see Virginia governor’s race and Louisiana congressional election), Jindal has had precious little leisure time to tend to pesky little issues facing the state (see health care, budget deficits, federal investigations into multi-million contracts, crumbling infrastructure, flood insurance and that ever-expanding sink hole in Assumption Parish).

The one matter that he did tackle head-on, however, was that ridiculous lawsuit by the greedy SLFPA-E against those poor defenseless oil companies for the destruction of that useless Louisiana coastline that’s good for nothing but as a wildlife refuge…and oh yes, hurricane surge protection.

Jindal believes that the litigation is a crime against nature and just to prove his point, he resorted to his favorite tactic—firing those who dare disagree. But before he could fire three members of the authority who pushed for the lawsuit, he took the added measure of removing a $500,000 annual subsidy the authority has received in years past. Of course Jindal said the funding cutback was unrelated to the litigation. Yeah, right.

And of course Jindal only wants what’s fair for those civic-minded oil companies that dredged and then abandoned some 10,000 miles of canals along the Louisiana coast, decimating the hurricane wind and surge protection the coastal lands and marshes provided before their disappearance.

Oh, did we mention that of those 97 companies named in the lawsuit, 16 combined to contribute a minimum of $171,750 to one or more of Jindal’s three gubernatorial campaigns? And one of those, Marathon Oil, in addition to the $15,000 ponied up for Jindal’s campaigns, chipped in an additional $250,000 to the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children. Marathon subsidiaries then received a cool $5.2 million in state funds.

For a governor who raked in more than $20 million in his three campaigns, $421,750 seems an awfully cheap price for which to sell out the state’s chance to withstand the onslaught of coastal erosion—to turn the tide, if you’ll forgive the bad pun.

The antithesis to the pomposity of Vitter would be the dogmatic candor of Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, the last of the Louisiana populist politicians. Campbell, who ran unsuccessfully against Jindal in 2007, has thrown his unconditional support behind of the authority’s lawsuit and sharply criticized Jindal in the process.

“Jindal’s actions undermine the people and institutions trying to protect Louisiana from coastal erosion and flooding,” Campbell said. “He is shielding from blame the companies partly responsible for the damage.”

It is not the first time Campbell has taken shots at the establishment. He has accused virtually every Louisiana politician, with the exception of former Gov. Dave Treen, of selling out to the big oil interests. “The board (SLFPA-E) has done what virtually no politician in Louisiana has dared to do—confront Big Oil about its destructive coastal practices,” he said. “Mr. Jindal’s response was to replace the board president and vice president with people who will undo the lawsuit.”

Jindal, in arguing against the wisdom of the lawsuit, said it “jeopardizes and undermines our ability to implement the Master Plan.”

Jindal was referencing the 50-year coastal protection and restoration Master Plan which outlines how the state and local governments will restore wetlands and improve on flood protection, particularly for the New Orleans area.

There’re only two problems with that $50 billion Master Plan:

It’s unfunded.

And if something is not done soon, there may not be a New Orleans to worry about in 50 years.

Jindal also called on SLFPA-E to fire its attorneys, claiming they were hired in violation of state law that requires their hiring be approved by the governor.

But then-SLFPA-E Chairman John Barry, author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, said Jindal was dead wrong (nothing new about that) in his contention that the authority needed his permission to file suit. He said Jindal was relying on the wrong state law that applies to state boards and commissions, not the specific legislation creating the authority. (We can’t help but wonder where Jindal got his legal advice.)

So Jindal took the only action he knows: he fired Barry, Ricardo Pineda and David Barnes and replaced them with New Orleans attorney Lambert Hassinger, Jr., Jefferson Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation, and Kelly McHugh of Madisonville, president of the Kelly McHugh and Associates civil engineering and land surveying firm.

And, oh yes, he yanked the authority’s $500,000 annual state subsidy.

But then a strange thing happened. The parishes of Jefferson and Plaquemines filed their own lawsuits against a spate of oil companies. Jefferson filed seven lawsuits and Plaquemines 21, claiming a variety of environmental law infractions, including dredging canals without proper permits and without employing erosion prevention techniques to prevent the encroachment of salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.

And Jindal is powerless to fire the parish leaders or to require that they seek his permission to file suit or that they fire their attorneys.

It brings to mind the 1958 battle between the U.S. Justice Department over desegregation. Then-Gov. Earl Long saw the inevitability of things to come as well as the futility of continued resistance against the federal government. Leander Perez, boss of Plaquemines Parish, that last bastion of segregation, however, did not and vowed to continue the fight. This prompted Long to chide Perez, saying, “Whatcha gonna do now, Leander? The feds got the A-Bomb!”

That quote could be paraphrased today with, “Whatcha gonna do now, Bobby? Those parishes got their own attorneys!”

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