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Archive for the ‘Legislature, Legislators’ Category

Well, there is bad news and there is worse news and thrown into the mix is an incredulous ethics ruling about lobbyists, hookers, and legislators in, of all places, North Carolina. We’ll get to that last one later but first, the bad news:

Gov. Bobby thinks he is qualified to run for President of the U.S. and continues to bob up anywhere there are Bible totin’, flag wavin’ patriotic crowds of more than three people—mainly in Iowa but more recently (as in just this past week) in Washington, D.C.

The worse news is that with each passing day, he appears as qualified as any of the other Ignoranuses (candidates who are both stupid and a–holes) seeking the Republican nomination.

The Washington Post offered up ignoranus as one of the winning entries from its annual Mensa Invitational in which readers are invited to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter to supply a new word and definition. Perhaps it was mere coincidence that the winners were announced around the same time as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was being held in the nation’s capital.

But perhaps not. After all, several prominent Republican wannabe candidates made their cases at the event and came away looking not so much foolish as downright scary at the prospect one of them may be chosen to lead the free world in 2016.

The CPAC event gave us the opportunity to employ a few more of the Mensa Invitational entries:

Bozone (n.)—the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The Bozone layer showed no signs of breaking down at CPAC.

Dopeler Effect (n.)—The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly (see any Gov. Bobby speech).

Glibido (n.)—All talk and no action.

Of course there were a couple applicable to the early odds-on favorite to be Louisiana’s next governor: Osteopornosis (a degenerate disease) and Foreploy (any misrepresentation about oneself for the purpose of getting laid).

But that’s another story for another day.

Let us return to the subject at hand which is to present some of the highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be) from the CPAC and a Saturday’s Club for Growth event in Palm Beach, Florida.

Just to get him out of the way early, we’ll take our own Gov. Bobby, who once again failed to even register in the straw poll following the CPAC meeting.

Gov. Bobby stood (on a chair, no less) and told the crowd that his dad came to this country 40 years ago “in search of freedom and an opportunity,” and then he told the whopper of all whoppers when he said his father told him and his brother to “get on your knees and thank God almighty that you were blessed to be born in the greatest country in the history of the world.”

The only problem with that little story, as our mystery cartoonist accurately noted in the strip below this story, is that Jindal’s dad (and his mother) are Hindu.

Writing for The Blaze, Mike Opelka said Gov. Bobby, who was speaking Wednesday night before the CPAC event actually got underway, “had a room filled with young conservatives cheering and applauding his brief presentation.” Opelka also described Gov. Bobby as “surrounded by cheering supporters.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/25/bobby-jindal-fires-up-young-conservatives-in-this-200-preview-of-his-upcoming-cpac-speech/

For sheer stupidity and audacity, though, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker probably eclipses the other candidates.

It was enough that he had no clue as to whether the Dodd-Frank financial reform law should be amended or repealed, but in giving his qualifications to deal with foreign policy, he was downright astonishing.

Walker said he was equipped to deal with complicated foreign policy issues because he once had breakfast with Henry Kissinger.

http://crooksandliars.com/2015/02/walker-performs-poorly-big-money-base?utm_source=Crooks+and+Liars+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d022c9ad94-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4904be7bc-d022c9ad94-330138269

We’re not joking. He actually said that. Well, I once caught a pass from Terry Bradshaw in a gym on a rainy day when there was no one else to throw to but that hardly makes me a threat to break Jerry Rice’s NFL pass reception records. (For the record, the pass was thrown behind me and I did make a spectacular one-handed catch that nearly dislocated my shoulder from the sheer force of Terry’s throw. Actually, the ball was thrown so hard it simply stuck to my palm and had to be peeled off.)

But if you think that comment was pretty amazing, consider what came next. Walker said he was thoroughly prepared to deal with ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorists because “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

He was referring, of course, to those ever-dangerous public employee unions who protested to his successful right to work legislation. Quite a stretch there, Scotty, boy. It’s hardly a valid comparison to lump public employees in with the likes of ISIS but hey, when you’re trying to appeal to rabid, shallow thinking conservatism, anything goes, right? http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cpac-speech-scott-walker-isis/story?id=29257020

Even The Donald was on hand to tout his pseudo-candidacy by calling for boots on the ground for an all-out war on everything Islamic.

http://crooksandliars.com/2015/02/donald-trump-my-superior-negotiating?utm_source=Crooks+and+Liars+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d022c9ad94-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4904be7bc-d022c9ad94-330138269

Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t perform like the others at CPAC but he did send out a tweet about the recently “Net Neutrality” regulations passed by the FCC, a move interpreted by everyone but Cruz as being good for the consumer and bad news for internet providers who wanted to charge premium prices for fast broadband internet. He subsequently got his come-uppance from a barrage of comments to his tweet.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/13/1344716/-After-nonsensical-comments-on-Net-Neutrality-conservatives-rage-against-Ted-Cruz?detail=email

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won the CPAC straw poll for the third year in a row but may have some problems surviving an earlier interview with Rachel Maddow.

Maddow attempted to interview a dodging, bobbing and weaving Rand Paul on his views about civil rights and businesses’ right to discriminate.

http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/rachel-maddow-corners-rand-paul-his-e

And, as if the comedy of the absurd at CPAC was not sufficiently nonsensical, along comes Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame to pour just a bit more humiliation over the State of Louisiana.

That’s right. The guy who quit the Louisiana Tech football team because Bradshaw was going to get his starting job actually shared his vast knowledge of the world with the good folks at CPAC, telling them that hippies were responsible for 110 million Americans having sexually transmitted diseases (STD). http://deadline.com/2015/02/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-video-cpac-speech-hippies-stds-1201383630/

“Sex, drugs and rock& roll have come back to haunt us!” he said. Just where all this fits into the scheme of things for the Republican Party is uncertain. The hippies have been gone from the scene for a few decades now and the ones I knew back in the day were peaceful kids who wanted us out of an ill-advised war that cost the lives of 58,000 Americans as well as millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians—all to no discernable purpose.

And just what were Phil Robertson’s qualifications to speak of the other topics he touched upon—Nazis, Shintoists, communists, ISIS, President Obama, the EPA, the IRS, the Department of Education?

We’re glad you asked. He was on hand to accept the 2015 Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award, named for a conservative writer who died in 2012.

And after all that, we’ve saved the best until last.

Apparently, in North Carolina at least, consensual sexual relationships have no monetary value and thus are not reportable as gifts or “reportable expenditures made for lobbying” for purposes of the state’s lobbying law’s expenditure reporting provisions. TAR HEEL HOOKERS

In other words, politicians don’t have to report the services of a hooker provided by a lobbyist. But the downside, for lobbyists, at least, is that they cannot claim the cost of a hooker for the politician as a legitimate business expense. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/02/27/gifts-for-politicians/

Can it possibly get any weirder?

Well, yes. The North Carolina Ethics Commission, in an opinion described as “almost romantic,” said that fostering sexual relationships with a government official does not qualify as a form of “goodwill lobbying,” which the Raleigh News & Observer described as “an indirect attempt to influence legislation or executive action, such as the building of relationships.”

So what we have here is hookers having relationships with politicians with lobbyists serving as the pimps—and the taxpayers getting screwed.

Some things never change.

(Note: an earlier version incorrectly identified The Blaze writer Mike Opelka as a member of Gov. Bobby’s staff. That Opelka is Frank Opelka who serves as an advisor to Gov. Bobby on health care policy. He is the son of Dr. Frank Opelka, who spearheaded the giveaway of the state’s charity hospital system and is not relation to the writer.)

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“They’re still negotiating with the terrorists.”

That gem, said in a private email to LouisianaVoice, came from a blogger who is relative new on the scene but who is very perceptive about what the Bobby administration is trying to do to higher education. https://lahigheredconfessions.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/open-letter-to-higher-education-leaders-the-time-for-negotiating-is-over/

A two-page letter today (Feb. 26) from five higher education leaders lobbed fluffy white marshmallows at Gov. Bobby and an anticipated $400 million (or more) cut to the state’s public colleges and universities. Joint Higher Education Letter 2-26-15

The letter was signed by LSU President F. King Alexander, Southern University System President Ronald Mason, Jr., Louisiana Community & Technical College System President Monty Sullivan, University of Louisiana System President Sandra K. Woodley, and Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo.

Rather than digging their collective heels in and shouting “Enough!” the higher education officials attempted to appeal to Gov. Bobby’s well concealed humanitarian instincts which has about as much chance as the proverbial snowball.

The letter comes about as close as possible to the prediction of one of our readers who said the college presidents in the end would thank Gov. Bobby for not cutting them more.

The letter began, predictably, with the education officials thanking Gov. Bobby “for your support during last year’s legislative session and the creation of the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund,” calling it an “unprecedented statewide collaboration across higher education.”

The pandering continued when the letter practically pleaded with Gov. Bobby to not lose “the momentum that began last year to raise the level of educational attainment in Louisiana.”

Have these educational leaders lost their collective minds? Have they forgotten that this governor’s policies of lavishing tax exemptions and incentives on corporations like Wal-Mart, chicken plucking plants and other corporations that offer little in the way of gainful employment are directly responsible for the fiscal mess we find ourselves in today?

And while Gov. Bobby did eventually support the move, it was the legislature that repealed the Stelly Plan, one of the most progressive tax programs in the history of this state, so we’re not giving lawmakers a pass on this.

“The need for college graduates, particularly in high demand fields such as engineering, computer science, business and industrial trades, is fundamental to meeting workforce goals and ensuring Louisiana graduates are prepared to reap the economic benefits Louisiana has realized,” the shameless communication said.

“Economic benefits Louisiana has realized”? Give us a freaking break! The only economic benefits realized by this state has been realized by Gov. Bobby’s campaign contributors. Why don’t these higher education officials just go on and kiss Gov. Bobby’s ring (yeah, we cleaned that up) and get it over with?

“Commissioner (of Administration) Kristy Nichols has informed us of the impending budget shortfall and the funding impacts on higher education,” the letter continued. “We want to partner with you and our legislative leaders to craft both a short-term approach to address the immediate budget shortfall and offer long-term recommendations that fundamentally change the higher education funding model. In both instances, budget stability is the overarching goal,” it said.

First of all, the use of the word “partner” scares the hell out of us. The last time “partner” was used by this administration, it gave away an entire system of public hospitals that resulted in such an overbearing spillover to Baton Rouge General Mid-City that it is closing its emergency room, thus making it even more difficult for the poor in north Baton Rouge to obtain needed medical care.

“In the long term, higher education is requesting budget stability and increasing state supported investments in higher education,” the letter said.

“The economic stability of Louisiana hinges on our collective ability to find both a short-term solution in the budget for next year and a long-term solution to sustain and increase investments in Louisiana’s higher education system.”

If the economic stability of Louisiana hinges on the ability of this administration, we’re in for a long, hard winter of economic—and intellectual—instability.

In addition to sending the letter to Gov. Bobby, copies also were sent to Gov. Bobby’s various lap dogs in the House and Senate where it will be promptly ignored as legislators turn their attention to getting re-elected while dealing with a $1.6 billion distraction.

To paraphrase H. Ross Perot, “That giant sucking sound you hear is Louisiana college-bound students headed out of state.”

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The Baton Rouge Advocate had a superb story today (Sunday, Feb. 22) that revealed that Gov. Bobby was out of state 45 percent of the time during 2014 at a direct cost of $314,144 to taxpayers in travel, lodging, meals and rental vehicles for state police security details. You can add another $58,500 (45 percent of his $130,000 per year salary) in additional costs for which taxpayers got no return while he was chasing the pipe dream of becoming president. http://theadvocate.com/news/education/11626690-63/frequent-flier

What you are about to read, though, is not about that. We’ve written about his travels before and The Advocate’s story thoroughly documents the actual costs of his travel to the extent that it would be redundant for us to beat that drum here.

Instead, this story, while much shorter than my usual posts, is simply about a Smart Phone.

And it says volumes about just how casually this administration takes its responsibility for the looming $1.6 billion state budget deficit.

It also says a lot about how certain people are not above helping themselves as they prepare to head out the door even as the institutions they are sworn to protect are swallowed by the expanding financial crisis—non unlike the captain abandoning a sinking ship with passengers still on board. We can only hope they remember to turn off the lights as they leave.

It speaks to the disdain contempt these people have for moral codes and legal constraints which require that they put the welfare of the state first and their own interests last.

And it practically shouts the double standard, the hypocrisy, and the lack of character ingrained in the makeup of the very people entrusted with running the state in the most economical, most responsible and yes, the most principled, manner possible—and their willingness to take ethical shortcuts even as they create and then walk away from a huge fiscal mess for someone else to clean up.

All this fuss over a Smart Phone?

Yes, because the entire affair is symptomatic of a much greater illness—official callousness, obliviousness and indifference—character flaws this state can ill afford in its leaders.

All over a Smart Phone.

You see, Commissioner of Administration recently decided she wanted a new Smart Phone.

Not a state-owned Smart Phone, one that would remain for her successor when she leaves office, but a Smart Phone for her very own personal use, owned by her.

And she wanted the State of Louisiana (taxpayers) to pay for it, according to our source inside the Division of Administration.

And she wasn’t shy about asking the Office of Telecommunications Management (OTM) to purchase one for her.

But OTM said no.

Nichols persisted.

OTM continued to say no.

Nichols finally relented.

But it was the very act of trying to get the state to pony up the money for a Smart Phone for her personal use that rubs salt into the state’s festering fiscal wound and calls into serious question the very integrity of the entire administration of Gov. Bobby.

It Nichols’ apparent disregard for well-defined rules and regulations disallowing just such actions that leaves the authenticity of everything she says and does subject to scrutiny and justifiable skepticism.

She should never have made such a request…and she knows it.

Her attempt at compromising her office and that of OTM, however, was only an extension of an attitude that runs throughout the upper levels of state government.

From the purchase of the luxury Eddie Bauer and Harley-Davidson trucks by former Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley, to long-term Enterprise auto rentals for State Department of Education employees, to legislators who use campaign funds for LSU, Saints and Pelican tickets and for expensive meals, to last year’s unconstitutional attempt to bolster State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s retirement by $55,000 a year, to Deputy Commissioner of Administration Ruth Johnson’s ordering of two desktop computers, a laptop and expensive furniture for her office, there is an attitude of entitlement that permeates the offices of those who impose a completely different set of standards on the rest of us.

And it’s an attitude that flows from the top down.

And the real tragedy is nobody will do a damned thing about it.

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“As states prepare their budgets for the coming year, they face the challenge of reinvesting in public higher education systems after years of damaging cuts — the product of both the economic downturn and states’ reluctance to raise additional revenues.”

—From story by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 19, 2013.

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“Jindal has done nothing in seven years. It’s time the Legislature re-asserted itself as an equal partner in governing this state.”

—State Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard (I-Thibodaux), in discussing bills he plans to pre-file for the 2015 legislative session that begins on April 13.

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