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Archive for August, 2018

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight
But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite.

                                                            (The Snake, by Al Wilson)

 “I do listen to people. I hire experts. I hire top, top people. And I do listen.” (Donald Trump, Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016).

I’ll readily jump out in front of the parade on this one: Omarosa Nanigault Newman is an opportunist. After taking full advantage of her close association with Donald Trump to score a top-paying ($179,700) job, she is now trying to sell her tell-all book about his ugly side that was already in full view for anyone with any degree of objectivity to see.

So, am I saying there are no good guys in this little dust-up?

Exactly.

You see, no one really knows what her job duties were in pulling down almost $180,000 per year and Trump’s justification for hiring her? Try this tweet on for size:

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard….

8:27 AM – Aug 13, 2018

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

…really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!

8:50 AM – Aug 13, 2018

Half-an-hour later, unable to resist his addiction to Twitter, he again tweeted:

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

9:21 AM – Aug 13, 2018

So, he paid her 179,700 U.S. taxpayer dollars per year “because she only said GREAT things about me,” only to end up calling her “a lowlife” and “wacky.”

Good God.

I’ve heard more intelligent taunts on an elementary school playground.

People, this is the so-called leader of the most powerful nation with the biggest and baddest military might on the planet reduced to exchanging insults on social media with a subordinate he hired for no other reason than she said nice things about him—and he let you pay her salary.

It just doesn’t get any more embarrassing than this.

Or does it? He has brought on board the weirdest assortment of amateurs to ever grace the West Wing, appointees whose job it is to always tell him how brilliant he is and to never tell him he’s wrong or that he should cancel his twitter account. I know this is sacrilege to those who voted for Trump, but Bill Clinton has co-authored a pretty good book with James Patterson called The President is Missing. A single sentence on page 192 caught my eye, a sentence most likely written by Clinton: “Surrounding yourself with sycophants and bootlickers is the surest route to failure.”

Without even addressing his bizarre appointments (like Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, Tom Price, Steve Bannon, Ajit Pai, et al), let’s examine the record.

  • Trump is opposed to CHAIN MIGRATION, yet his own mother and Melania’s parents took full advantage of chain migration to enter this country and to become citizens. This is no negative reflection on his mother, his wife, or her parents. No one can blame them for taking advantage of that law. But it does provide stark evidence of Trump’s double standard, or hypocrisy.
  • While he is quick to sing the praises of Vladimir Putin, Trump was unforgivably remiss in deliberately ignoring war hero JOHN McCAIN in announcing—to a military audience, no less—the signing of the Defense Authorization Bill named after the cancer-stricken Arizona senator. That in itself is inexcusable, an insult that matches—or even exceeds—the misdirected criticism of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem for any perceived lack of respect. (A clue, Trump: the kneeling isn’t even about the anthem. Anyone with any perceptive skills knows it’s a silent protest of the profiling and shooting of blacks by police. Let’s at least try to stay on subject, Mr. Number-One-Putin-fan. You think you can do that? Never mind, foolish question.)
  • Trump hired PAUL MANAFORT as his campaign manager in June 2016 but after Manafort ran into legal problems, Trump tried to throw him under the bus as is his wont by claiming Manafort “came into the campaign very late and was with (them) for a short period of time.” I have only one answer to that: You hired him.
  • After praising personal attorney MICHAEL COHEN for his loyalty, Trump did a quick 180 and turned on his former legal counsel bigly when it was learned Cohen had taped evidence that revealed that Trump knew of the $130,000 payment to porn star STORMY DANIELS.
  • Two days after he was elected, Trump was cautioned by PRESIDENT OBAMA not to hire Michael Flynn. Did Trump listen? Hell, no. He knows more than Obama, he knows more than his generals, he knows more than the Department of Justice, he knows more than all the intelligence agencies combined, so why should he listen to anyone else? He hired Flynn. He even allegedly tried to get former FBI Director Michael Comey to go easy on Flynn. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates also tried to warn Trump. Of course, Trump would end up firing both Comey and Yates and, of course, ANDREW McCABE, just two days before he was eligible for retirement. But when things went south for Flynn, Trump tried his damnedest to SHIFT THE BLAME to Obama and Yates because, as everyone knows, Trump is never wrong.
  • GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS served as a foreign policy adviser and on a presidential international business advisory council but when he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian nationals on behalf of Trump during the presidential campaign, Trump couldn’t run fast enough or far enough, tweeting (of course) “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.” Well, someone knew him well enough to trust him and to try and use him to set up meetings with a Russian oligarch.
  • And then there’s Sen. Jeff Sessions who Trump was quick to recognize on election night. He was the first member of the Senate to endorse Trump and Trump made him his attorney general. But today (August 14) he had this to say about Sessions: “If we had a real attorney general,” there would be no Russia investigation. The man does not know the meaning of loyalty.
  • And as for that infamous TRUMP TOWER meeting with that Russian lawyer, Donald Trump, Jr., said the discussion was about Russian adoptions. Turns out Donald Trump, Sr., dictated that response himself and he only last week acknowledged that the meeting was about getting “information on an opponent,” which he said was “totally legal.” Except it’s not. Trump Sr. says he knew nothing of the meeting. Omarosa says he did. Place your bets.

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!

7:35 AM – Aug 5, 2018

Do you detect a trend here?

He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,

Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

                                    (The Pilgrim, by Kris Kristofferson)

Donald Trump’s entire 19 months in office have been marked by one CONTRADICTION after another, a character flaw he has made no apparent effort to address. Yet, those who blindly follow him in the expectation that their lives will be better under his policies (which change daily, sometimes hourly), continue to blindly follow. They demand no explanation as to why Trump feels he has to suck up to Putin while disparaging our own intelligence agencies, why he thinks he can trust Kim Jong Un when he has violated ever agreement he’s ever signed, why massive tax breaks for the very rich are supposed to benefit the very poor, why divisiveness among whites and blacks is supposed to be healthy, why caging children is a good policy, why depriving millions of people of health care is wise, why removal of policies to protect the environment, consumers, borrowers, and the economy can possibly make sense, or why he constantly—CONSTANTLY—finds himself embroiled in controversy of the crudest, crassest sort.

In their book One Nation After Trump, writers E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann note that Alexander Hamilton warned that “Disorienting the public by blurring the line between fact and falsehood is the trick of the despot whose ‘object is to throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” (Emphasis mine)

That’s an apt description of Donald Trump if ever there was one. When it comes to disoriented the public by blurring the line between fact and fiction and throwing things into confusion, he owns franchise rights.

Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin
You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.

Take me in, oh tender woman 
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in oh tender woman, sighed the snake 

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As a state representative, John Bel Edwards was once a harsh critic of Bobby Jindal.

That was then. Now appears to be quite different.

Edwards the legislator was often a lonely voice in the legislature, speaking out in opposition to Jindal’s destruction of the Office of Group Benefits and the raiding of OGB’s $500 million surplus from which it paid medical claims for state employees. Then.

Edwards opposed Jindal’s attempts to privatize governmental services, including prisons. Then.

Edwards the legislator was the leading critic—sometimes the only critic—of Jindal’s destruction of the state hospital system. Then.

Edwards the legislator openly challenged Jindal’s constant budgetary cuts, often asking pointed questions of Jindal or his lackeys during committee hearings. Then.

Edwards the legislator said that he was fooled into voting in favor of an amendment at the end of the 2014 legislative session that would have given a hefty—but illegal—boost in retirement income for then-State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson. Edwards, in fact, led the call for an investigation into the maneuver by State Sen. Neil Riser of Columbia. Then

But when John Bel Edwards was elected governor he suddenly began to morph into Bobby Jindal 2.0.

The first indication that the more things change the more they remain the same was when he reappointed Mike Edmonson as State Police Superintendent and Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc at the behest of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.

The sheriffs’ association is a powerful lobby and anyone who desires to be governor must pass in review before the association and receive its blessing. The local sheriff, after all, is the single most powerful political figure at the parish level. And when you multiply that local power by 64, the number of parishes, you have a formidable political force to overcome if you don’t have their collective endorsement.

Edwards’s brother is a sheriff. So was his father and his grandfather before that. So, it was no surprise when Edwards received the association’s seal of approval.

JINDAL was joined at the hip by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and he showed it by his penchant for tax relief for big business at the expense of public and higher education and health care.

Remember when people could actually afford to send their kids to college?

Remember when there were facilities available to those in need of mental health care?

Remember when the state budget reflected some degree of sanity?

Remember when teachers could count on a pay raise every decade or so?

I can remember when there were real Democrats in Louisiana politics and not pretenders who bend with whichever direction the wind blows (see John Alario, John Kennedy, et al).

Well, thanks to the abetting of compliant legislators beholden to corporate campaign contributors, those are now just fond memories.

But when John Bel was elected, there was hope.

Instead, he has cozied up to business and industry and rather than confronting legislators, he tried to get along with them without offending them. Apparently, he didn’t learn from Dave Treen, a Republican governor who tried unsuccessfully to get along with a Democratic legislature.

And now, today, he is in New Orleans to address, of all people, delegates to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On a lesser scale, that’s the moral equivalent to Trump colluding with…well, never mind.

ALEC is, or should be, everything a real Democrat (as opposed to a DINO) should shun like the plague. A real Democrat truly interested in promoting what is best for Louisiana’s citizens would never set foot inside an ALEC Annual Meeting, much less appear as a speaker at one.

Retired State Budget Director Stephen Winham said as much when was quoted by a Baton Rouge Advocate EDITORIAL yesterday.

ALEC is a conglomerate of BUSINESS INTERESTS that promotes a Republican agenda exclusively. Members converge on a city (like New Orleans) for their Annual Conference, sit down in highly secretive meetings (no press allowed, thank you very much), and draft “model legislation” for member lawmakers in attendance to take back home and introduce as new bills, quite often without bothering to change so much as a comma.

That’s it. Legislative members of ALEC attend these meetings so lobbyists for corporations from other states can tell them what’s best for Louisiana citizens.

In 2011, when then-State Rep. Noble Ellington of Winnsboro was its national president, Jindal was the featured speaker and received the organization’s Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award.

Now, ALEC is back and so is Jindal 2.0 John Bel Edwards.

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I now have two E-books available for purchase for $5 each on Kindle, Barnes& Noble’s Nook, Sony, Apple, Kobo, and Diesel.

My first novel entitled The Mission has been joined by Macabre Vengeance in the Big Easy, a ghost story thriller set in New Orleans.

The Mission is about the election of a mentally unhinged tyrant as president of the United States who wins the most acrimonious, divisive election in American history and who, immediately upon his inauguration, sets about dividing the country—and the world—even further with his dictatorial actions. Even as he comes under investigation, he continues to insult our allies and to curry favor with our adversaries, creating a volatile atmosphere that threatens world peace and economic stability.

At the same time, NASA sends a seven-person crew on a first-of-its-kind mission into space. The crew of Sol Orbiter One, commanded by Col. Travis Whitten, discovers during its mission that the earth is doomed to nuclear annihilation and they are the only ones who can change the course of history

Upon their return to earth, they embark on The Mission that is shrouded in secrecy and if successful, they know they will save mankind but at the cost of their own lives.

It’s enough to get Alex Jones and the conspiracy-obsessed Q-Anon types to salivating over the possibilities of the black SUVs rolling up to my house in the middle of the night to whisk me away to parts unknown.

Macabre Vengeance in the Big Easy, on the other hand, is a bit more mundane. It’s only about a crooked lawyer who is in cahoots with a few corrupt judges in New Orleans as they work together in getting murderers and rapists acquitted and then, when they can’t pay their legal bills, employing them in their drug smuggling and prostitution enterprises. The scheme runs smoothly until the felonious co-conspirators begin turning up as corpses as they meet violent, unexplained fates and a law clerk named Matt Ramsey starts to get curious about it all. When he gets too close to the truth, his life is placed in danger and his discoveries leave him with legitimate questions about the probable existence of an otherworldly realm in a city where voodoo and the spirit world have a long tradition.

Enjoy.

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Sean Morrison is fighting a tough battle in one of the reddest of a decidedly red state’s parishes. But he doesn’t make any apologies for his positions and he stands ready to take the fight to the special interests.

Morrison says he is not beholden to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) or any other special interest group in his quest to fill the unexpired term of District 90 State Rep. Greg Cromer who resigned to become mayor of Slidell on July 1.

In fact, Morrison, chairman of the St. Tammany Democratic Parish Executive Committee, took the rather unusual step of releasing a copy of LABI’s candidate QUESTIONNAIRE, the answers to which are virtually certain to keep him from getting the organization’s seal of approval—which is fine with him.

The survey, he said, “asked candidates to oppose policies that are good for working families like workplace fairness, job safety protections, access to justice for all Louisianans in our courts, access to high quality healthcare, promoting wage fairness, and an ongoing review of Louisiana’s billions in corporate tax giveaways.”

He said, “We need leaders in Baton Rouge who aren’t already influenced before they get there. I’m promising this: to fight hard to do what is right under the circumstances every single time,” Morrison said.

Born in Missouri, he grew up in Texas and moved around a lot as a child. From small towns like Egan, Louisiana, to Stillwater, Oklahoma, Sean saw all aspects of American life. His father, Michael, has worked in the oil and gas industry his entire career. His mother, Christy, is a school teacher in Houston.

Morrison studied political science, psychology, and philosophy at Tulane. He graduated with honors from Case Western Reserve Law School with a focus on international law and war crimes. He went to law school with one goal – to prosecute war criminals. Case Western Reserve had just the program, so Sean packed a U-Haul and drove it all the way from New Orleans to Cleveland. The gambit paid off. For six months he worked with the prosecution for the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the aftermath of their brutal civil war.

Following law school, he got a job working with a large Cleveland law firm. One morning he woke up and saw his whole future laid out before him. It was full of billable hours, corporate meetings, and Cleveland winters. So, he hopped on a plane to American Samoa and became a criminal prosecutor there. It was not long until the island was hit with a devastating tsunami. He immediately transferred to the Department of Commerce, where he worked on rebuilding the community, revitalizing its broken economy, and planning to prevent future disasters. “It was there that I learned that serving people through government was the most rewarding work anyone could do,” he says.

When he returned, he began working to conserve the Gulf Coast, it’s beaches, wetlands, and fisheries for future generations. He entered the job in the wake of scandal, as the Executive Director and others were jailed for corruption. As part of the new team, Sean helped reorganize the department, put in place new legal and fiscal systems, and rebuilt the reputation so that today the Department of Marine Resources is considered the gold standard of government in Mississippi (though Louisianans, after eight years of Bobby Jindal, are leery of anything bearing the label “gold standard”).

“I have dedicated my career to helping people through public service,” he says. “I have seen how the government is supposed to operate, and what gets in the way. Too often it is the legislators enacting laws that make it impossible to provide decent service to the people. As more and more politicians claim that there’s nothing to be done (and then set about proving it), I’ve come to know that all we need is public servants willing to roll up their sleeves, stop playing politics, and start doing the hard work of government. I have that experience and I can get the job done.”

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LouisianaVoice may have to move its operations to Iberia Parish just to keep up with the shenanigans of Sheriff Louis Ackal, District attorney Bofill Duhé and Assessor Ricky Huval.

We might as well for any information we might pry out of the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry about his investigation of a criminal case in Iberia involving the son of a supporter of both Landry and Duhé.

Landry is so preoccupied with his dual role as Donald Trump’s leading Louisiana lackey and Gov. John Bel Edwards’ primary adversary, it’s going to be interesting to see how he manages to do his job as attorney general.

Meanwhile, there’s the question of Duhé’s First Assistant District Attorney Robert C. Vines and his part in the investigation of the illegal manipulation of the Cypress Bayou Casino’s employee and payroll databases.

The Cypress Bayou Casino is run by the Chitimacha Indian Tribe in St. Mary Parish and in June 2016, the tribe’s chairman, O’Neil Darden, Jr., was ARRESTED by State Police on charges of felony theft, accused of stealing from the tribe by tinkering with the casino’s data bases that resulted in his receiving and “annual bonus” of several thousand dollars to which he was not entitled.

Duhé’s office is handling the prosecution and Vines was named lead prosecutor.

The problem with that is Vines is also the prosecutor for the Chitimacha Tribal Court. He was appointed to the post in January 2016 by….(wait for it)….Darden.

That case was originally set for trial last January but was removed from the docket and continued to May 1. But that trial date also was continued and the matter is now set for trial August 29.

Meanwhile, LouisianaVoice has received a non-response response to our public records request into the status of its investigation of Taylor Richard, accused of sexually molesting toddler siblings, daughters of his girlfriend.

Taylor Richard’s father, James Richard is a political supporter of both Duhé, having contributed $2600 to his campaign in 2014 and 2015, and Landry.

Landry got the case because Renee Louivere, who had previously worked as an assistant district attorney for the 16th Judicial District which includes the parishes of Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary. She left the DA’s office and enrolled as Taylor Richard’s legal counsel while in private practice.

But then she returned to the DA’s office and currently works in the St. Martinville office. That created a conflict which allowed Duhé to punt the case to Landry and the AG’s office in Baton Rouge.

Last Thursday, we received the following email from Landry’s office:

From: LADOJ – Public Records Center <louisianaag@mycusthelp.net>
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2018 2:21 PM
To:
Cc: wisherr@ag.louisiana.gov
Subject: [Records Center] Public Records Request :: R000178-070918

RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST of July 09, 2018, Reference # – R000178-070918

Dear Mr. Tom Aswell,

In response to your public records request pursuant to La. R.S. 44:1 et seq, which our office received on July 09, 2018, the information you requested has been processed. You sought records related to the following:

“The AG’s investigative file for Taylor Richard of Iberia Parish.”

Louisiana’s Public Records Law, specifically La. R.S. 44:3(A)(1), exempts records held by the office of the attorney general which pertain “to pending criminal litigation or any criminal litigation which can be reasonably anticipated, until such litigation has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled…”

As the matter of Taylor Richard is pending criminal litigation, the file you seek is not subject to disclosure and our office must respectfully decline to produce these records at this time.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 44:3(A)(4), however, allows release of the initial report for this matter. Copies of these records are invoiced below.

After a diligent search, our staff have (sic) identified three (3 ) pages of records which are responsive to your request. The records are not electronic. If you wish to receive physical copies of these records, pursuant to La. R.S. 39:241 and La. Admin. Code Title 4, Part 1, Section 301, there is a charge of .25 per page. The billing is as follows:

3 pages @ .25 per page = $0.75 

TOTAL:  $0.75

If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact our office. 

Best regards,

Luke Donovan
Assistant Attorney General

Besides brushing up on grammar, Landry’s office could also stand a remedial course in math.

What we got was two, not three, pages of a heavily-redacted report (a third page was blank) that confirmed that the AG’s office was indeed investigating a complaint of the sexual battery (redacted) against a female of (redacted) age in a New Iberia home by Taylor Richard.

The only way it could be determined that the battery was against a child was that the complaint was made by an employee of the “Department of Child Services” (actually, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services).

The report had one other grisly revelation. It noted that the sexual battery was “completed” and not simply attempted and after the words Criminal Activity on the complaint form was the word “Other.”

We can hope it won’t take Landry two years to complete this investigation the way it did for him to finish up the probe of the Union Parish jailhouse rape. But this is Jeff Landry and if he can’t see a political advantage, he just doesn’t give a rat’s behind.

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