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You want something to back your absurd position in an argument?

No problem, you can find it on the Internet.

Maybe that’s why the country is divided down the middle on just about every issue, including the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

The winners, those who voted for Joe Biden, are content with the outcome and are eagerly anticipating the Jan. 20 inauguration date when Donald J. Trump will become a footnote in history.

The losers, rather than being content to say shut up and deal, are clamoring for recounts where Trump lost and a halt to vote-counting where he won and in general, making a lot of white noise about a rigged election without a shred of evidence.

To illustrate my point that the Internet is a ready source for just about any argument, there is the claim by an outfit called JUDICIAL WATCH that the U.S. spends more on medical care for prison inmates than it does on seniors, veterans and military personnel.

Not even close.

It wasn’t true when the claim was made back in 2016 and it’s not true now.

But then, that’s not surprising. Judicial Watch is a right-wing nutcase organization that has aligned itself with, among others, Steve Bannon and Breitbart News. Among its myriad of claims is one that asserts that climate science if “fraud science.” It also advanced the crackpot theories that the Clintons had Vince Foster murdered and that ISIS had established a camp in Mexico. The organization also urged that mail-in ballots be prohibited for the 2020 presidential election.

In short, Judicial Watch plays fast and loose with the facts but the claim that more money is spent for prisoner health care than for the other named recipients is pure garbage.

In fiscal year, MEDICARE SPENDING accounted for $644 billion, roughly 14 percent of total government spending and, after Social Security, the second-largest program in the federal budget.

The Defense Department spent $33.5 billion on healthcare for MILITARY PERSONNEL in 2017, a figure that has remained fairly constant through the fiscal year 2020 budget request.

For VETERANS, the healthcare expenditure was $69 billion in 2017

By comparison, federal and state prisons combined to spend less than $10 billion on healthcare for prisoners. The 50 STATES combined to spend $8.1 billion on prison health care services. FEDERAL PRISONS, meanwhile spent about $1.2 billion per year for fiscal years 2016-2018, but saw that number decrease to $1.2 billion in FY 2019.

Figures don’t lie but liars do figure.

And just in case you’re wondering, the gret stet of Loozianner, which ranks either first or second among states (depending on the month – it’s an ongoing contest with Oklahoma) in the number of people incarcerated in a nation that ranks first in the world, has a firm hold on the anchor position in the per capital expenditure for health care for prisoners.

The NATIONAL average expenditure for healthcare was $5,720 per year per prisoner in FY 2015. California was number one with a per capita expenditure of $19,796 with Louisiana dragging up the rear at $2,173.

So, where did Judicial Watch get its numbers? Who knows? The organization has a long and storied history of conjuring up lies and distortions to fit its right-wing agenda. Anything it publishes must be taken with a grain of salt – a huge grain.

 No rumor is too far out there for Judicial Watch to give credence. It advances some of the same crackpot conspiracy theories as the 3 Percenters, QAnon, Info Wars and Breitbart.

Why? Because there are about 70 million Americans out there who are so gullible, so incapable of independent thought and so unwilling to rationalize these assertions for themselves that they will believe any half-baked, sensational story that’s thrown out there like so much red meat, so long as it coincides with their own dark suspicions.

To check these stories for accuracy and veracity before sending them on down the line to their like-minded friends never even occurs to them. It’s on the Internet, so it must be true.

And that kind of thinking, like the refusal to wear masks in public, allows people like Lance Harris, Jeff Landry and Clay Higgins to take center stage to question the actions of a governor who is earnestly trying to protect the state’s citizens and economy from the effects of the worst pandemic in a century.

It is also evidence of a weak-willed society just ripe for a demagogue to step up and stoke the flames of discontent and suspicion much like a man named Hitler 90 years ago.

Oh wait, it’s already happened.

Never mind.

LSU’s football program got a lot of national attention last year, deservedly so.

LSU’s football program is getting a lot of national attention this year, deservedly so.

Last year it was the kind of attention a head coach and a school can only dream of.

This year it’s the kind of attention for a head coach and a school that causes nightmares.

To set the stage for this post, let’s try and put things into perspective.

The top 100 collegiate football coaches in America earn COMBINED SALARIES of more than $302.5 million. That’s an average of just over $3 million each.

It’s a relatively easy guess as who the top earner is: Alabama’s Nick Sabin, who pulls down $9.3 million a year with a buyout clause (in case the school was crazy enough to want to fire him) of $35.8 million. That means if he were to be fired today, the school would have to pony up more than $35 million.

The second-highest-paid coach is none other than LSU’s Ed Orgeron, who, even counting the 10 percent cut imposed because of the coronavirus hit to sport revenue, makes a pretty cool $8.9 million per year and who has a buyout clause worth $23.85 million. (That buyout clause could be important; I’ll explain why presently.)

There are three other Louisiana coaches who fall into that elite top 100 ranking:

  • Willie Fritz is paid $1.8 million a year by Tulane. No information was available on his buyout.
  • Billy Napier makes a million a year at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, with a buyout of $4.6 million.
  • Skip Holtz at Louisiana Tech is paid $700,000 per year and is secure with a buyout of $3.7 million.

No question about it, LSU football is big business. In the 2018-19 academic year, the program had a NET PROFIT of $56.6 million on $92 million in revenue. No doubt, with last year’s stellar undefeated season with a Heisman Trophy and coach of the year winners to go along with a dozen or so other top awards, capped by a national championship win over Clemson – right down the road in New Orleans, no less – the bottom line was even better. That $56.6 million net profit, by the way, was just about equal to the $56.4 million overall budgetary SHORTFALL for LSU.

Of course, the school library is CRUMBLING. But hey, when you have sports facilities that are second to none, who really needs a library, right?

And yes, I know the athletic department gives some of its profits to academics but that’s hardly the point here. The point is we seem to have lost our sense of priorities about what is and what is not the primary function of a university. And let’s not forget that LSU is the only state school where athletics pays its own way – and that argument becomes a myth if you remove the support of the Tiger Athletic Foundation. At every other school, athletics is a drain on the state budget.

It’s not like college is a place for serious pursuits like learning what with fraternity hazing, a basketball program on the verge of probation for recruiting violations and football players who are treated like ROYALTY.

And when I say royalty, it’s not an exaggeration. Just check out the $28 million dressing room facilities for the Tigers HERE and HERE. I mean, do jocks really need LUXURY SLEEP PODS where players can listen to their favorite music? And the football locker room is just one top shelf facility in the LSU athletic complex. Click HERE to see a few others.

And of course, royalty is never held accountable for bad behavior under the theory of sovereign immunity which, loosely translated, means the king can do no wrong.

And therein lies the problem. It’s a serious problem that conjures bad images of Baylor, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and dozens of other universities. An investigation found that college athletes are over-represented in sexual assault cases – and LSU is no exception.

University of Florida professor FRANK LoMONTE was quoted by USA Today as saying, “People in higher education have come to regard their institutions as a brand and will do anything to protect the brand, even if that means putting people on campus at risk.”

Again, LSU, sadly, is no exception.

After USA Today published allegations that former running back DERRIUS GUICE was accused of raping two women his freshman year, former student and part-time worker in the university’s football recruiting office Samantha Brennan came forward to report that Guice had secretly taken partially nude photos of her. But Guice, who would go on to an outstanding sophomore season, not only remained on the team, but was not even disciplined. Looking back, the entire episode smells of a coverup.

A former tennis player, Jade Lewis, has also come forward to report that former LSU wide receiver/boyfriend Drake Davis once hit her in the stomach and continued his physical abuse of her. Davis was eventually dismissed from the team. Apparently, he didn’t possess the same skill set as Guice.

Steve Spurrier, while head coach at Florida, routine cautioned his players that if any one of them ever hit a woman, he could consider himself an ex-Gator, no questions asked. And LSU coach Jerry DiNardo was quick to show Cecil “The Diesel” Collins the door in 1999 after he twice broke into women’s bedrooms in Baton Rouge. Undaunted by Collins’s sexual propensities, McNeese promptly picked him up for the Cowboys’ team. He went on to be drafted by the Miami Dolphins but just couldn’t keep it in his pants and wound up serving hard time for sexual assaults in that city.

When Brennan attempted to obtain a copy of her complaint report from campus police, the school responded by denying her a copy of the report she herself had filed. She was told the school was “having trouble” locating the report. LSU did give her a one-page, four-sentence “initial incident report” that was devoid of details, including Guice’s names and the fact he’d shared the photo with others. The school then proceeded to ignore all her subsequent requests until she called from a different phone number and demanded the full report.

LSU then denied her request, saying the statute of limitations had not expired and that a “criminal investigation” was expected, though it was not said who would initiate such an investigation since Brennan had indicated she did not want to press charges and despite the fact that LSU police had never shared information from the report with the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office.

Brennan and USA Today sued the university for the records on three other cases involving football players and LSU finally produced them on Nov. 13 but redacted the names of the suspects, citing the players’ right to privacy. LSU also has refused to provide records to Lewis. Privacy be damned! If I ever file an assault complaint against anyone, I better be able to obtain a copy of my own complaint.

The onus cannot be laid exclusively at Orgeron’s feet. Lewis says she reported her physical abuse at the hands of Drake to women’s tennis coach Julia Sell who responded by advising Lewis’s teammates to stay away from her. Sell’s husband, Mike Sell, even told Lewis’s father that Davis could derail her career – even while denying any knowledge of the Davis assault. The Sells have denied that Lewis ever complained to them about Davis.

Perhaps circling the wagons is the definition of teamwork in the LSU Athletic Department. If so, those in charge of the decision-making process should understand that no matter how bad the crime, the coverup is invariably much worse in the long run. And protecting thugs gives the whole program a black eye. In any other area of society, these same coaches – and the same rabid fans –  would demand swift and severe justice. So why a double standard in these cases?

No good can come from LSU’s refusal to cooperate with these victims and no good can come from protecting players who believe because they have access to tutors to ensure that they maintain their eligibility and because they are treated like they are special, that they are somehow immune to consequences for their behavior. Ignoring problems of this magnitude won’t make them go away. That never works.

No national title is worth the pain inflicted on these women. Why ignore their plight on behalf of someone with runaway testosterone?

Those responsible for this coverup, if that indeed is what it is, should be penalized – even to the extent of terminating their employment.

He’s baaaaack!

  • He’s been linked to JACK ABRAMOFF and almost went to jail along with the corrupt lobbyist who ripped off the Mississippi Choctaw Indians for $85 and the Louisiana Coushatta Tribe for another $32 million.
  • He also narrowly avoided serious jail time for his role in exposing CIA agent VALERIE PLAME (it’s a federal crime to reveal the identity of a U.S. spy). The person who actually leaked her identity was Dick Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby, who was convicted of perjury in 2007 but granted a full pardon by Donald Trump in April 2018.
  • He also played a key role in the persecution of former Alabama Gov. DONALD SIEGELMAN. Details or that scandal are particularly nasty. Rove used his influence with President George W. Bush and Bush’s Justice Department to conjure up charges of bribery against the Democratic governor who some considered a potential candidate for president.

So, now we learned that Senate Republicans have called upon KARL ROVE once again. This time, he’s being asked to oversee their fundraising program for the Georgia runoff elections. It seems the Republicans just never learn their lessons.

He will serve as national finance chair for the Georgia Battleground Fund, a joint fundraising accounted put together by the National Republican Senatorial Committee formed to benefit Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

Effective as he no doubt is, Rove is damaged goods, tarnished by a string of political scandals. He also is exceedingly lucky. Any one of those aforementioned political SNAFUs could have – should have – resulted in jail time for Rove.

The Siegelman case is especially egregious.

While governor during his first term, Siegelman had visions of creating a lottery to create funds to pay for the college education of every Alabama child who wanted to go but could not afford the costs, a noble program, to say the least. Siegelman, who had held every statewide political office – secretary of state, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor, was an announced candidate to again run for governor.

But when a large donor was reappointed to a state board, Rove and U.S. Attorney Leura Canary invented an elaborate bribery scheme even though Siegelman never received a cent of the contribution, the money going instead into a special fund used to promote the election to approve the lottery. The real irony was the donor was already on the board but did not desire to continue serving. He did so only at Siegelman’s urging. Did I mention that the board paid nothing to its members, who volunteered their services?

Canary, was the wife of Rove associate Billy Canary who, coincidentally, was campaign manager for Siegelman’s opponent. Officially, Leura Canary recused herself, but in reality, she took a firm hand in guiding the prosecution of Siegelman.

Add to the mix a hostile judge who had been investigated by Siegelman during his term as attorney general, and you have the perfect storm. (The presiding judge, Mark Fuller, would later be forced from office after brutally beating his wife in Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel.)

Siegelman served most of his prison sentence at the federal detention center in Oakdale, Louisiana, the same facility where former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards served. The two became close friends there.

Dozens of current and former state attorneys general petitioned the justice department for clemency for Siegelman, to no avail, and 60 Minutes did a lengthy piece on the persecution of the former governor, courtesy of Karl Rove, the man credited with the rise of George W. Bush first to governor of Texas and later to president, only to be forced out by Bush in the wake of the Valerie Plame scandal.

For the complete story of the Siegelman-Rove saga, I would invite you to read Siegelman’s book, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

To learn more about Rove’s role in Plame’s exposure, you should read her book, Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government. (The title comes from Rove’s own assertion that she was “fair game.”)

For more on the Abramoff-Grover Norquist-Tom DeLay affair, you’re invited to wade through the final report of Gimme Five, the Congressional Investigation of Tribal Lobbying Matters by clicking HERE.

Karl Rove is bad news anywhere he pops up but he is an effective fundraiser. He also is an extremely dirty player and wherever and whenever he is, whatever he is involved with, you can expect underhanded dealings. His track record is clear evidence of that.

Just ask Valarie Plame and Don Siegelman.

The following was posted on Facebook Monday by a person, a teacher – who is also my apolitical daughter – whose children just lost their other grandfather to Covid-19:

When mourning the loss of a loved one, we go through different stages of grief. I am in the angry phase right now. There are a few things I need to get off my chest so I can move on to the next stage of this process:

  • I am disappointed in my community. When I go to Walmart and see I am in the minority for wearing my mask or when I read snarky posts from my “friends” about mask-wearing, all I can think is TOP BEING SO DAMN SELFISH! THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU! It’s about doing the right thing in order to protect our elderly, who are, quite frankly, the better part of our quickly deteriorating society – by far! GET OVER YOURSELF. When we flooded, I was proud of my community for the way in which we pulled together and supported each other to get through it. Why is this different? I have my theory which brings me to my next point.
  • Wearing a mask is NOT a political statement. But NOT wearing a mask does speak volumes. It says things such as: “I’m selfish, I’m disrespectful, I have no regard for the aging community, I think I’m above the rules.” And to you, I say you shouldn’t complain when your children refuse to follow your rules because YOU SET THE EXAMPLE that they don’t have to, that the rules don’t matter. We see it in the classroom. We know who you are, because your children are the ones rolling their eyes, outright refusing, muttering under their breaths, copping attitudes, and being blatantly disrespectful when teachers tell them to put on/pull up their masks. This is the example you have set and they are following YOUR lead. We get them a couple of years; you get them their entire lives. ENJOY! You will reap what you sow.
  • If you want things to go back to normal, you have to wear the mask to get the numbers down so that can happen. You all want the state to be fully open, but you don’t want to do what it takes to get there. That’s like wanting money but refusing to work. And you call yourselves Republicans. You will not get the outcome you want if you refuse to do the thing it takes to get your there. Duh. It’s baffling how willingly ignorant people can be.
  • It’s NOT a hoax. It’s not a conspiracy. Just stop. The election is over – wasn’t this supposed to disappear after the election? Instead, it’s worse than ever. Or wait…maybe you’re going to now switch to the backup conspiracy theory that the Democrats just want to shut everything down again. It’s convenient that you have come up with conspiracy theories to cover both outcomes. Covid-19 getting better AND it’s getting worse, so you can continue this nonsense and ignore reality. HELLO? IS ANYONE HOME IN THERE? You can’t get 10 people in one room to agree on anything, so do you really think the ENTIRE WORLD came together to conspire and create this elaborate hoax for our election? Again, get over yourselves.

I will open this message by repeating what Michelle Obama said of Donald Trump today: It’s not a game. And I will address this to a select few recipients:

Bill Cassidy, you were just re-elected with 59 percent of the vote. Now do your damned job.

John Kennedy, you were elected four years ago with 61 percent of the vote. Do your damned job!

Steve Scalise, you got 72 percent of the vote two weeks ago but you’re pretty much worthless. But you should show a little backbone and do your damned job.

Garret Graves, you were right behind Scalise with 71 percent of the vote but you’ve been strangely quiet. Do your damned job!

Mike Johnson, you are the weak link because you got only 60 percent of the vote but you were likewise re-elected. Now grow yourself a pair and do your damned job.

It’s no longer funny to just sit back and make jokes like calling John “Mouth of the South” Kennedy by the well-earned name of Kornpone. It was funny for a while but it’s just not anymore.

Cassidy, boasting your support for “more medical options” for veterans would be honorable if you weren’t trying to rip medical coverage from 20 million Americans at the same time by working to repeal the ACA.

Graves, you give the appearance of working on behalf of flood victims but there are lot of us who have seen nothing, heard nothing. But that still is not the job you should be doing.

Scalise, you’re just an embarrassment, a homophobic white supremacist who seems to care only about the NRA despite your own brush with death from an assault weapon – from which you were saved by a….gay cop. Oh, the irony.

Johnson, with your blind allegiance to your so-called family values, you’re just irrelevant.

What am I going on about with these clowns?

Simple. One million new coronavirus cases in just the past week. Nearly a quarter-million dead Americans. Yet, our so-called president has not met with his pandemic task force in six months, he has literally been AWOL as the pandemic rages out of control. You know which pandemic I’m talking about – the one that was going to “magically disappear” after Easter, when the weather turned warmer, or on Nov. 4.

It’s the same president who refuses to work with Joe Biden, the man who won the presidency by 5.5 million votes and by precisely the same electoral vote margin as Trump did four years ago.

The same president whose General Accounting Office refuses to cooperate with the incoming administration which, despite all those emails to the contrary, is a lame-duck administration but which steadfastly refuses to enable a smooth transition at a time when this nation so desperate needs just that.

The same president who begs for contributions for his legal defense of the election in those same emails while failing to be up front about the fact that 60 percent of everything he collects goes not for his legal costs, but to his political action committee to retire his election debts.

At a time when those Republicans closest to President Tweet Thang should be whispering in his ear about the importance of helping the incoming administration cope with the pandemic, they are oh, so very strangely silent.

Especially Kennedy who so loves to impart his words of wisdom to any TV camera he can find hanging around the Senate offices. Where y’at, Senator, drinking weed killer?

The term “advice and consent” is generally used to describe the Senate’s role in the responsibility to confirm presidential appointments. It should also be extended to advising a clueless president on the importance of being president, not which club he should use on his approach shot.

It’s long past time when the Republicans in our congressional delegation should assume the responsibility of acting like statesmen instead of the political hacks they really are.

Back in 1974, Sens. Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and House Minority Leader John Rhodes, Republicans all, traveled to the White House to inform Richard Nixon that it was time to go.

Now would be a good time for a few good Republicans (I know – with this bunch, that’s an oxymoron) to do the same with Trump – or at least tell President Tangerine Toddler it’s way past time to let the Biden team go to work if he’s not willing to. It would really be nice of it was a group of Louisiana Republicans who had the cojones to do that now.

But they won’t. They don’t have the gonads. They’re eunuchs.

(You will notice I did not include Democrat Cedric Richmond, who, as a Democrat, wouldn’t have Trump’s ear in any case, Ralph Abraham, who is about the let the door hit him in the butt on his way out, or Republican Clay Higgins, who doesn’t know his ass from bean dip and couldn’t be expected to say anything halfway intelligent anyway.)

To the rest of you: do your damned jobs!

Robert Ariail Comic Strip for November 17, 2020

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