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By Stephen Winham (Special to LouisianaVoice)

I became the state budget director in 1988.  Because we had consistently spent more than we had taken in since 1984, we faced a $1 Billion dollar budget and cash flow hole in a budget less than half the size of today’s.  We literally did not have the money to pay our day-to-day bills and, like too many of our citizens, had to hold off paying them until we had the cash.  We were flat busted.

In an effort to ensure this never happened again, we enacted a comprehensive package of budget reforms, including establishing  an official revenue forecast; prohibiting the use of one-time money for recurring expenses; requiring a balanced budget from initial presentation through enactment  and to be maintained throughout the year; providing that any interfund borrowing (the mechanism that enabled us to go totally broke in 1988) had to be repaid by the end of the year in which it was borrowed, and many others.

To address the immediate emergency, we took the unprecedented step of creating a special taxing district that issued bonds we paid back over 10 years by dedicating one cent of our sales tax to debt service.

We began to diversify our economic revenue base.  For example, we went from a 40% reliance on mineral revenues to a less than 10% reliance on them today.  We raised other taxes, including, most notably, sales taxes.

We took full advantage of a federal Medicaid program paying high rates to facilities serving a disproportionate share of poor people (we made an annual “profit” of $700 million from this program during its peak).

We enacted the lottery, riverboat, and land-based casino gambling.

All of these kept us going until 1995 when our economy finally began to perform really well and did so through 1998.  Our economy slowed down in 1999 and it was necessary to pass more taxes.

In 2002, the legislature passed, and the state’s voters approved a plan by Representative Vic Stelly that substituted increases in income taxes for 4 cents of sales taxes on food and utilities and placed these exemptions, along with those on pharmaceuticals, in the state constitution.  The reason:  Because sales taxes are regressive and because income taxes generally respond better to our economy than sales taxes.  In my opinion, and that of many others, the Stelly Plan was the best fiscal legislation passed in our history.

We were doing pretty well until 2005 when Katrina struck.  Ironically, recovery from Katrina fueled our economy to the point that by the time Governor Jindal took office in 2007, we had a $1.1 Billion surplus.  Governor Blanco’s last proposed budget was $29.2 billion, of which over $8.0 billion was disaster relief money.  The legislature enacted a $32 Billion budget that year, including the $8.0 billion in non-recurring money.

So, what happened?

Well, remember those laws we passed to ensure we engaged in sound budgetary practices?  We began to ignore them and we spent the $1.1 Billion surplus and every other pot of one-time money we could find.  We repealed HALF, NOT ALL, of Stelly – the income tax increases that would be generating about what we lose in the sales tax exemptions still on the books today -about $700 million.

We cut corporate taxes in half – by a cool Billion.

We pretended we had a balanced budget every year, but using common sense and the letter of the laws we enacted, it is clear we, in fact, DID NOT.  And, although cuts were made – state funding to higher education, as one example, has been cut by $500 million – we NEVER made the cuts necessary to balance recurring spending with recurring revenue.  Why?  According to Kristy Nichols, Commissioner of Administration, as quoted in 2013, doing so would result in “needless reductions to critical services.”  WHAT?  Are you saying you didn’t cut the budget because you couldn’t?  Or, are you for cutting the budget, but you really don’t want to do so?

Governor Jindal continues to be widely quoted, to this day, saying we need to live within our means.  If that is true, why does he not present budgets that do so?  As long as projected revenues from reliable, stable sources do not equal projected necessary expenditures, we will NEVER have a balanced budget.

Could anything possibly be simpler, or make more sense, than balancing what you plan to spend with what is coming in so you don’t dig a hole for yourself?

It is certainly easy to understand why it is difficult to make hard cuts when cash is, or even may be available, but willfully allowing gross fiscal instability to continue indefinitely is a violation of the public trust and ultimately leads to wasteful spending and the inability to see true inefficiencies because the fiscal house is always on fire.  It is beyond time we were presented with an honest budget on which to make honest decisions.

So, you might rightly ask, “How would you fill the $1.6 Billion hole we read about every day in the papers?”

There are an almost infinite number of ways to do so.  Here’s one:

$1.600 reported gap

($0.160): Don’t Fund Inflation and other continuation costs. We rarely do, anyhow.

($0.180): Make cuts pursuant to consultant “efficiency” recommendations. We ought to get something for the $7 million we blew on this contract.

($0.100): Increase tobacco tax to the southern average

($0.700): Restore the income tax provisions of the Stelly Plan

($0.149): Eliminate the refundable tax credits proposed by the governor, except the inventory credit.

($0.100): Cap film tax credits at $150 million

($0.200): Eliminate exemption from severance taxes on horizontal wells. This was new technology when the exemption was granted. It certainly isn’t now, so no incentive is needed.

($0.011): A rounding figure, based on the Executive Budget. Or do $11 million of the $415 million in strategic cuts recommended by the governor – or, dozens of other possibilities.

$0.000 Remaining Problem.

Too simple, right?   And, perhaps, other holes could be poked in my scenario as well, but it proves it is possible to take a pragmatic approach, combining cuts with a limited number of revenue measures for a relatively simple solution.  We often make things a lot more complicated than they are.  I am convinced our government leaders often make simple things complicated in hope citizens won’t know and question what’s going on.

Regardless of what happens we must have an honest budget. If balancing recurring expenses with recurring revenues means making draconian cuts, so be it. Because they have been misled repeatedly, the bulk of our citizens will never believe we have a problem (or one that can’t simply be solved with cuts) until they experience the reality of a true “reform” budget that raises no revenues and cuts services to achieve balance. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that, but it may be the only path to real reform.

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There’s nothing left to be said other than to say Bobby Jindal is bat guano crazy.

The Louisiana Office of Group Benefits (OGB) was cruising along in 2011, providing virtually complaint-free quick turnarounds on medical claims for state employees, retirees and their dependents.

But then Bobby Jindal saw a way to undercut premiums in his privatization scheme which allowed the state to be obligated for less in its share of matching premiums so that Jindal could rake in some extra cash to cover his backside, aka budget deficit.

The result, as just about everyone who follows this sham of an administration knows, was that the $500 million reserve fund was all but wiped out.

Bobby Jindal, after having first jerked $40 million in funding for state colleges and universities, reversed himself again by taking $30 million from a federal hurricane recovery fund.

Bobby Jindal has shrunk the state’s rainy day fund from $730 million when he took office to $460 million and a $450 million fund to subsidize companies for investing in the state has evaporated as is the $800 million balance in the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly.

And after giving away billions of dollars in tax breaks, incentives, rebates and exemptions for business and industry in an effort to spur economic development, we learned today (March 18) that Louisiana’s unemployment rate was third highest in the nation. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/bobby-jindal-campaigning-114948_Page2.html#.VQoeJ005Ccw

The one constant in all this is the Louisiana State Lottery, which since a 2004 Constitutional amendment has dedicated proceeds to the Minimum Foundation Formula (MFP) for public education.

Since the lottery’s approval by voters in 1990 and its implementation in 1991, the lottery, which is mandated to transfer 35 percent of proceeds to the state treasury, has contributed $2.8 billion to the state.

In 2014, sales were $450 million and $161 million of that was transferred to the state.

Also, 2014 marked the 13th consecutive year that the lottery has transferred more than $100 million to the state.

Why do we tell you all this?

Well, only because the administration of Bobby Jindal is currently entertaining the notion of selling bonds that guarantee future State Lottery profits in order to raise some $467.7 million in one-time money to help plug a $1.6 billion hole in the state budget.

Wait. What? Sell the State Lottery?

Yup.

State Treasurer John Kennedy tells LouisianaVoice that the administration is “seriously considering” two separate proposals to take over the lottery and to pay the state one time money.

The two proposals were from Wall Street banking firms Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. While Citigroup did not specify an amount, Goldman Sachs said, “Based on lottery revenue growth of at least 1.5 percent annually, the state could raise approximately $428 million and preserve a minimum contribution to the MFP of $160.2 million.” Goldman Sachs Presentation – March 2015

Citigroup Presentation – March 2015

With 13 consecutive years of receipts of more than $100 million and total receipts of $2.8 billion since 1992, $428 million in quick cash appears to be a terrible deal for the state—not that Bobby Jindal gives—or ever gave—a flying fig about this state.

Let’s first take a look back at the history of lotteries in Louisiana.

In 1868, the Louisiana Lottery Co. was authorized and granted a 25-year charter after a carpetbagger criminal syndicate from New York bribed the Legislature into approving the lottery and establishing the syndicate as the sole lottery provider.

Because it was an interstate venture, 90 percent of the syndicate’s revenue came from outside Louisiana. Because it was so profitable, when efforts were made to repeal the charger, bribes to legislators ensured the effort’s failure.

Ten years after it was approved, Louisiana had the only legal lottery remaining in the company. When Congress passed a prohibition against operating lotteries across state lines, the Louisiana Lottery was finally abolished in 1895. When it was disbanded, reports of ill-gotten gains and bribery surfaced. http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/03/chapt2.html

But even more worrisome are the histories of the two Wall Street banking firms who submitted proposals for taking over the Louisiana Lottery.

And even though Kennedy said Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols has said the lottery won’t be sold, the mere fact that two proposals for just that scenario have been simultaneously submitted by Goldman Sachs and Citigroup cannot be considered as coincidence. Both investment banking firms pointed that similar actions have been taken by Oregon, Florida, Arizona and West Virginia.

And what about the integrity and professional ethics of the two companies?

That’s a fair question, so let’s look at the records.

Goldman Sachs:

Citigroup:

So now the administration suddenly receives “unsolicited” proposals for the sale of the Louisiana State Lottery from two Wall Street banking firms with checkered backgrounds. (But admittedly, it would be difficult to find a Wall Street bank—or banker—these days that is not under a similar cloud.)

A Division of Administration (DOA) source said Bobby Jindal feels that, unlike his desire to sell the remainder of the tobacco settlement in yet another desperate effort to raise one-time revenue, he would not need legislative approval to sell the State Lottery. “We feel legislative approval would be required, but the governor apparently feels otherwise,” Kennedy said.

The State Treasurer added that he felt if Bobby Jindal does intend to sell the State Lottery, “he will wait until after the legislative session has adjourned and then direct the Lottery Corporation to take the action.”

The nine lottery corporation members are appointed to staggered terms by the governor. Kennedy serves as an ex-officio member. Three members, Christopher Carver ($2,000), Heather Doss ($1,000), and Lawrence Katz, combined to contribute $8,000 to various Jindal campaigns since 2003.

 

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There comes a time when those surround Bobby Jindal must return to earth and come to grips with a realistic fact about their boy.

Pick one:

  1. He cannot seriously consider himself real presidential timber;
  2. His quest for POTUS is simply a cruel joke he’s playing on the rest of us;
  3. He told an unforgivable lie when he said, “I have the job I want”;
  4. He has no clue as to how to govern a state, let along an entire nation;
  5. The little boy should never try on big boy pants;
  6. He may actually be qualified to lead the Stupid Party;
  7. All of the above.

The correct answer is….well, you know.

As Jindal’s numbers continue to shrink to less than single-digits in GOP presidential preference polls, his efforts to garner attention have ramped up accordingly and in the process, have made him a national—if not international—laughingstock.

His handlers should take note and rein him in—for his own sake. While once fun to watch him as he writhes and issues forth preposterous utterances, people are starting to exchange nervous, embarrassed glances. It’s kind of like the drunk uncle you want to keep away from reunions, weddings, funerals and any other social gatherings—at all costs—in order to prevent his bringing further shame on the family.

That’s what happens when you have someone who doesn’t know when to shut up or when he’s had too much to drink—in Jindal’s case, some unknown Kickapoo ego-boosting joy juice that has him convinced he’s democracy’s answer to the rest of the world (Hint: George W. Bush already tried that and it didn’t work).

In recent weeks, we have seen the following:

And even before the recent rash of brashness on his part, Jindal set the tone right after the 2012 presidential election loss by Mitt Romney when he said the Republican Party needed to “stop being the stupid party.” http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/279243-jindal-republicans-must-stop-being-the-stupid-party

There seems to be no end to his string of banalities—unless one wishes to include his duties as governor of Louisiana. In that case, he appears to have punted, to have taken a powder, abdicated, as it were.

But for the true picture of the depth of his silliness, we need to go all the way back to February 2, 2005, and then-President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address—a full four years before Jindal’s disastrous Republican response to the Obama State of the Union Address.

The 2005 Jindal was in stark contrast to the January 2015 Jindal.

In 2005, then-U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal drew national attention (what else is new?) when he provided a bowl of purple ink for members of Congress to dip their index fingers in and to hold the fingers aloft during Bush’s address as a show of solidarity with Iraqi citizens who had voted in elections in that country. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1683&dat=20050203&id=GSQqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Q0UEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6546,792517

“We all watched with joy as Iraqis dipped their fingers in ink and held them high, proudly proclaiming to the world that they had voted,” Jindal said rather naively in a letter to fellow congressmen as he somewhat prematurely launched his one-man celebration of the birth of democracy in Iraq.

That was then.

This is now:

That experiment in democracy apparently did not take in Iraq as the country anticipates a bloodbath between the Sunni and Shiite factions, a rift that pre-dates American democracy by some 1100 years and shows no signs of going away. http://www.cfr.org/peace-conflict-and-human-rights/sunni-shia-divide/p33176#!/

As if that were not enough, our friend C.B. Forgotston points out that today’s (Monday) Baton Rouge Advocate quotes Louisiana Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield as saying that he “has already been in talks with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to see if the group would consider replacing revenue lost from local inventory taxes with increased collection of remote sales tax revenue neutral.http://theadvocate.com/news/11837337-123/st-james-leaders-brace-for

That’s correct. The administration consults with Norquist before making any decision on the state’s budgetary matters or before even going to the restroom. A governor who is the self-proclaimed expert on all matters dealing with foreign policy apparently cannot make a decision on Louisiana issues without the nod of approval of the most powerful unelected official in America. As Forgotston pointed out this morning, “A group out of D.C. is in talks with Team Jindal on how to tax us.  If the legislators had any courage or self-respect, they’d shut this down NOW!” You simply can’t make this stuff up, he says.

But, hey, our governmental sage has a bowl of purple ink for anyone who’s interested.

To paraphrase our former governor Bobby Jindal, “at the end of the day,” you have “two things:”

  • One, we have a man who, though he repeated ad-nauseam during his first term that he “has the job he wanted” and then proceeded to spend all of his second term chasing the job he really wants to such a degree as to abandon any pretense of being governor.
  • Two, by admitting that the administration has been in talks with Grover Norquist, the tea party guru who doesn’t even live in Louisiana and never has, Barfield has openly acknowledged what we all knew: that Jindal has never—repeat, never—been his own man, and never will be. He is beholden to big business and the no-tax-under-any-condition mantra that the corporate world cherishes.

We can only conclude that he has been snorting too much Koch.

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There’s blood in the water and the sharks are starting to circle.

To clarify the analogy somewhat, the blood is $750 million in tobacco settlement money and the sharks would be 144 state legislators and the guy masquerading as Louisiana’s governor.

Bobby Jindal, the same guy who as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in 1996, opposed the state’s participation in the 46-state litigation against the nation’s four largest tobacco companies, now wants to sell off the remaining portion of the 1998 settlement of that suit to generate $750 million for the state treasury.

That’s the same Bobby Jindal who as DHH secretary, was well aware that the state was spending millions of dollars per year in treatment of indigent patients for tobacco-related illnesses at the state’s charity hospitals, but nevertheless signed affidavits along with his boss, then-Gov. Mike Foster, that argued that Attorney General Richard Ieyoub did not have the authority to sue on behalf of the state and DHH.

That’s also the same Bobby Jindal who as governor in absentia, successfully opposed the lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) against 97 oil and gas companies in an effort to hold them accountable for damages to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, claiming that SLFPA-E did not have authority to file suit on behalf of the state.

No matter. The tobacco litigation was settled for $365.5 billion in 1998 and the state was in line to receive $4.6 billion, or $141.2 million per year for 25 years and continued payments as long as tobacco products are sold within the state as its share of the settlement. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/tobacco-settlement-payments/

But in 2001, the state, with the support of State Treasurer John Kennedy, sold 60 percent of its settlement income as a hedge against the possibility of bankruptcy by the tobacco companies. That money was placed in a trust fund that generates revenue for health care, education and the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), the program that provides college scholarships to Louisiana high school students to meet curriculum and grade criteria.

Now, though, Jindal is proposing selling off the remaining 40 percent, a move that Kennedy opposes, saying it represents the same disastrous fiscal policy that is responsible for the current $1.6 billion structural deficit in the state budget.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, in her usual condescending manner, said Kennedy does not understand what the administration is trying to do.

“The only way we will consider this is if it creates recurring revenue for TOPS,” she said, adding that the money would not be spent all at one time.

But Nichols and Jindal only have a few months left in office and have no way of guaranteeing how the money will be used and Kennedy is more than a little skeptical of Jindal’s motives. “It’s just another gimmick to generate one-time money,” he said. “It’s just not a good idea to sell the family silver.”

He said the administration does not have the authority to dictate how the money is spent. “That will be the decision of the legislature and with the history of the legislature being what it is, you know they can’t wait to get their hands on this money,” he said.

Kennedy said the proposed sale is much like the manner in which the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) saw its reserve fund reduced from $500 million to only about $100 million and still dwindling.

“The administration reduced premiums for OGB members which on the surface, looked like a great thing for the members.” What the administration didn’t say is that the move also reduced the state’s corresponding obligation to match premiums, thus freeing up money the state would have paid into OGB for helping Jindal patch his budget holes. Meanwhile, because of reduction in income from premiums, OGB found itself paying out about $14 million more in benefits each month than it was taking in, thus creating a continuous drawdown on the reserve fund.

Kennedy said the revenue from the sale of the tobacco settlement cannot be used to plug budget holes because it would have to be used for TOPS and higher education. But by dedicating the money for TOPS, it would allow the administration to take the money it would normally use for those two purposes and redirect it to the state budget.

Kennedy said the administration has taken on all the characteristics of a junkie in search of a fix.

He said Jindal’s chronic use of one-time money to fill budget holes has included selling state property, raiding the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly, indirectly taking funds from the OGB reserve fund. “When you get hooked badly enough, you will sell your shoes for a fix,” Kennedy said. “Any farmer knows it’s a bad idea to sell your seed corn because then you don’t have anything to plant next year’s crop.”

Noting that Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s bond rating agencies have already put Louisiana on negative credit watch, he said the rating agencies will take a dim view of the state’s selloff of the remainder of the tobacco settlement which is currently generating about $50 million a year for the state.

Nichols said the proposal to sell the remaining 40 percent of the settlement would have to be approved by the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corp. Board, the Legislature and the State Bond Commission. The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in House Committee Room 1 in the State Capitol.

Approval by the board is expected to be a mere formality since the board members are Jindal appointees.

“My fear is that all $750 million of this money will be spent,” Kennedy said. “Everyone will want a piece of the pie. That will only add to our structural deficit and what will we do next once the money is gone? We’ve got to stop thinking about the next election and begin thinking about the next generation. Don’t hold this fire sale.”

If the board does approve it and it goes before the Legislature, “we are going to do everything we can to oppose the sale,” Kennedy said.

The practice of Bobby Jindal’s selling off everything in sight to raise money is reminiscent of a 2011 comment by former State Sen. Butch Gautreaux (D-Morgan City) who, in criticizing Jindal’s practice of selling state property, suggested acerbically that perhaps the administration should consider selling the 24-story State Capitol building because “it would make a great waterslide.” http://louisianavoice.com/2011/04/29/of-water-slides-and-comparisons-between-2-state-health-plans/

 

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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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