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Archive for January, 2021

Anyone who follows the wacky world of politics can easily recall an election campaign (probably several) in which candidates flood the TV ads with claims of being tough on crime. The appeal to voters’ desires of being able to live in a safe home, free of the fear of heinous crimes is a tried-and-true tactic. It works, as evidenced by the fear stoked by Republican strategist Lee Atwater for George H. W. Bush in the 1988 presidential campaign.

But in reality, what has the tough on crime campaign done since the VIOLENT CRIME CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT ACT of 1994, sponsored, by the way, by then-Sen. Joe Biden?

Well, for one, the U.S. now incarcerates MORE PEOPLE PER CAPITA – 698 per 100,000 population – than any other nation. That includes Iran, Russia, China and Third World countries. (Louisiana, by the way, is tops in the nation at 1,052 per 100,000, exceeding the national rate by 50.7 percent).

Why is that?

For openers, there is the case of FAIR WAYNE BRYANT of Shreveport who was sentenced to life imprisonment for…(wait for it)…stealing a pair of hedge clippers. He actually spent nearly 24 years behind bars before eventually being paroled at age 63 when his case was brought to the public’s attention.

Then there is Derek Harris of Abbeville, a veteran of Desert Storm, who received a life sentence to Angola State Prison for selling $30 worth of weed to an undercover sheriff’s deputy. The Louisiana Supreme Court eventually awarded the 52-year-old Harris a new sentencing hearing that allowed him to go free after serving 9 years.

Both Bryant and Harris are Black.

Compare those two life sentences for relatively minor crimes with that of HOLDEN MATTHEWS, who received 25 years for burning down three predominantly African American churches in St. Landry Parish. Matthews, who told the court that he had found God since the arsons, was also ordered to pay the churches $2.6 million. Good luck collecting that, even if he does get out early, which he probably will.

Despite that trend of stiffer penalties for less serious crimes and the accompanying problem of prison overcrowding, Wisconsin Republicans pushed a package of “TOUGHER ON CRIME” bills as recently as last year.

Typically, the proponents of the Wisconsin package would:

  • Expand the number of crimes for which juveniles can be incarcerated;
  • Increase the penalties for carjacking (currently considered burglary);
  • Call for longer sentences for parolees or those on probation who are accused of another crime;
  • Institute mandatory minimum sentences for repeat shoplifters.

In a nation where politicians attempt to out-law-and-order their opponents, nothing could be more puzzling than our inability to hold the one person who doubtless incited the invasion of Congress accountable. The fact that this individual, this man named Donald Trump, is solely responsible in causing the constitutional crisis of Jan. 6. But Republican senators have already telegraphed their unwillingness to follow through on their get-tough-on-crime rhetoric.

That he stood before the frothing throng that fateful day there is no question, but rather than admit defeat in an election he lost convincingly, he chose instead to urge his conspiracy-minded followers bent on seeking out and inflicting harm on members of Congress. Now Republicans in the Senate will overlook this perpetuation of sedition and treason in the impeachment trial.

Nearly every Republican is on record in favor of stiff punishment for crime but oppose anything that resembles reform. Take, for example, Sen. John N. Kennedy who is on record as OPPOSING the First Step Act.

So, if stealing hedge clippers and selling 0.69 grams of pot warrant life sentences for a couple of Black offenders, how does 25 years for a white man who torched three Black churches square up?

Better yet, how is it that a criminal, a mob boss, who encourages a treasonous insurrection in the halls of Congress is not facing indictment and criminal prosecution?

Rand Paul claims that impeachment of a former president is unconstitutional. He’s probably wrong but all doubt can be removed if federal prosecutors simply indict Trump.

Why is the fruitless effort to convict him in his impeachment trial even being pursued before spineless Republicans who, while advocating toughness on crime on the one hand when it involves one segment of society, choose to look the other way for one who has influence but utterly no regard for the U.S. Constitution?

There are, of course, penalties spelled out for INCITING To RIOT, so why is the statute not invoked in this case?

Here is the question I would pose for Louisiana Reps. Mike Johnson, Clay Higgins, Steve Scalise and Garret Graves, and Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, each of whom voted against impeachment:

If stealing hedge clippers and selling less than an ounce of pot warrant life sentences, how then in the name of all that is just, is it that inciting mob violence against elected members of Congress during which five people died does not rise to the level of high crimes?

I implore each of those men to provide an answer to that question.

If you fail to respond, I can only hope the question comes up again in your next election campaign.

You owe the citizens of Louisiana that much.

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In 2007, when he was 11 years old, Justin Bleker was afraid to speak out about being raped by a school custodian.

Last Thursday, the St. Tammany Parish School Board wouldn’t allow him to.

LouisianaVoice REPORTED last month that the First Circuit Court of Appeal had upheld a $450,000 award to Bleker following a state district court trial that was just the latest of many examples of political malfeasance throughout the parish.

A follow up LouisianaVoice report earlier this month REVEALED that the man who was vice-principal of the school where Dino Schwertz was transferred to after details of his criminal past were learned is now the parish school superintendent.

And that $450,000 award to Bleker that was upheld by the First Circuit? Well, the School Board, rather than do the honorable thing of paying the judgment after having failed Bleker and other students who were victimized by Schwertz, has decided to throw good money after bad by incurring additional legal fees in applying for writs to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

And of course, the board hid behind that pending application for writs in denying Bleker the opportunity to address the board – and the public – last Thursday.

Bleker was on the agenda and was recognized to speak but halfway through his address, he was abruptly cut off, his microphone killed. Because the audio is cut, it’s impossible to hear any explanation for shutting off his microphone but the only plausible reason would be that the writ application to the Supreme Court is pending.

Bleker, who has a learning disability, was attempting to point out shortcomings in protective measures taken at parish schools and to explain the trauma he experienced as the result of his being raped multiple times by Schwertz. He begins speaking almost at the 1:27:25 mark in this VIDEO of the board meeting but his mic is abruptly killed three minutes in, at the 1:30.25 mark.

The camera is taken off the closeup of Bleker, the video of him replaced by a generic shot of the entire board, and the audio does not resume until more than a minute later, at the 1:31:42 mark, when board President C. Brandon Harrell recognizes the next person on the agenda. (Note to board: refusal to show his face does nothing to mitigate the criminally negligent manner in which you failed to protect children from Schwertz.)

It was a cowardly way to treat a victim of a heinous act, an act that shouldn’t have ever happened, wouldn’t have happened if only the board had been more diligent in its responsibility to vet Schwertz, who lied on his employment application. Instead, the board was slipshod in conducting its background check on a predator who was allowed to work where he could prey upon defenseless children who apparently had no one to report his acts to. Even worse, once the application misrepresentation was discovered, Schwertz was not fired, but, incredibly, was transferred to another school.

Below is the entire text of what Bleker had intended to say to the board. The text that is in boldface is what he was able to say before his mic was killed:

Hello. My name is Justin Bleker. I want to explain that my words may sound a little broken because I have speech impairment and problems reading. I am here to discuss what happened to me at school in the 4th grade. I was attacked in the bathroom by the Janitor. I was raped more than once. He threatened me by choking me. He told me if I ever told anyone he would hurt and or kill my family. I was so scared and hurt. I tried to hide from him by avoiding that bathroom and hallway but he would come and find me. There were times that I would climb up the poles holding the roof to the breezeway up then onto the main roof to hide. I eventually told my parents what happened and I no longer went back to Abney. After many years of counseling [sic] I tried to go back to school. I went back but not for long. My parents were told that my identity would be kept quite [sic] so no one would know that I was one of the kids that was messed with by the Janitor. That was a lie. Teachers would talk about me walking down the hall. Kids asked questions as well. I would take my cell phone to school with me just to be able to call my Mom so I felt somewhat safe. I have many problems that make it hard for me to learn. The schools and teachers failed at teaching me to read at a level to be able to graduate. The cameras that was [sic] installed after this happened is a joke. I was able to go to my sister’s school and walk past the cameras and never was stopped. I know that many of these cameras have blind spots and do not work and no one maintains them like they are supposed to. The policy of checking ID’s is not followed through like it should be. The placement of signs outside the bathroom when it is being cleaned is not be used as it should be either. If the background check had been reviewed with his application and he would have been fired then I may not have had to go through all of this. I suffer from PTSD now. I suffer with night terrors, sleep walking, fears of public bathrooms, and I have stomach problems now. I need for you all to understand that no one needs to go through this. If changes are not made then it can happen all over again. I plead with you to not allow these people to stay on as employees when they have clearly done wrong. I also ask that you make changes for the better. I believe that you owe me and my family an apology. I feel that each of you need to think how you would feel if this would have happened to you or one of your kids. I will not stop fighting for change because this issue affects not just me but other children. I now have kids of my own and I do not want them to have to deal with this. I know that I am talking for none of you to respond because of the court case that you have now taken to the Supreme Court. I hope that this message reaches each of you so that we can make our schools a better place for all kids.

The entire scene is reminiscent of another school board meeting two years ago in Vermilion Parish at which a teacher who had the temerity to question a $30,000 pay raise for parish school Superintendent Jerome Puyau was ARRESTED, HANDCUFFED AND REMOVED from the board meeting.

In both instances, the school boards displayed a shameful reluctance to be held accountable to the taxpaying public, to employees and students.

In both cases, the boards’ behavior was inexcusable and reprehensible.

But hiding behind a pending court appeal in an effort to silence the victim of sexual abuse is especially repulsive and repugnant.

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A friend sent me a blogpost by Alabama writer Kyle Whitmire with a note saying, “I wish I’d written it.”

My friend was correct. It was the type of post most writers wished they’d written.

What Whitmire had done was take four Alabama elected officials and compare each one to one of the four characters who comprised THE THREE STOOGES (Larry, Moe and Curly – plus, as Whitmire added, “or on a bad day, Shemp”).

For Moe, the obvious choice was Rep. Mo Brooks who tweeted last February, “American healthcare: ZERO dead” as if, Whitmire pointed out, the pandemic was already over. “Brooks thinks he’s the brains of the bunch, but he really just gets the others into trouble,” he wrote.

And like Larry Howard, he wrote, “Rep. Barry Moore is just as dumb as Mo but doesn’t have the ambition yet to call himself a leader.” But he did say there was no point in taking protective measures against coronavirus because if Donald Trump could get it, everybody could.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the erstwhile football coach of Auburn, Texas Tech and the University of Cincinnati, earned the Curly moniker “for being too dangerous to trust around kitchen appliances.” Tuberville is the guy who identified the three branches of the federal government as “the House, the Senate and the Executive.”

Shemp never really fit in the Three Stooges, much like Alabama Attorney Gen. Steve Marshall doesn’t belong in D.C., though he did go there and did back one of the five dozen or so frivolous lawsuits seeking to overturn the Biden election. Marshall, who leads the U.S. Attorneys General Association’s Rule of Law Defense Fund, helped organize that Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol – with a little help from a certain Louisiana official.

Whitmire’s creativity inspired me to come up with a similar list but with a different cast of players for Louisiana officials (and a couple other notables thrown in for lagniappe).

For my celebrity cast, I chose the characters from Looney Tunes Cartoons. Without further ado, here goes:

Yosemite Sam: The obvious choice for this role is Rep. Clay Higgins who is every bit as blustery and boisterous – but without the charm.

President Trump Verbal Gaffe On “Yosemite” Spotlights Yosemite Sam –  Deadline

Foghorn Leghorn: Could there be anyone other than self-parody Sen. John Neely (“Ah been, ah say, ah been horn-swoggled”) Kennedy? I sincerely and seriously think not.

Foghorn Leghorn - Wikipedia

Tweety: Again, the choice of Donald Trump is more than a little obvious, though he was also considered for the Tasmanian Devil.

TWEET THIS: 21 Facts You Never Knew About Looney Tune's Tweety Bird! -  TVStoreOnline
Tasmanian Devil (Looney Tunes) - Wikipedia

Granny: Who has been more like a doting grandma to Trump than Mike Pence?

Granny Looney Tunes Minor Character

Marvin the Martian: For his space cadet-like efforts to challenge the election and for his pursuit of an overall wacko agenda, that role goes to Rep. Mike Johnson.

MARVIN THE MARTIAN™ Upset Poster | Zazzle.com

Wile E. Coyote: Gotta go with Attorney General Jeff Landry on this one because of his repeated legal setbacks and for announcing on Nov. 10 that the Rule of Law Defense Fund was filing an AMICUS BRIEF endorsing the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s challenge of a state supreme court ruling that allowed the counting of absentee ballots up to three days after election day (yet another court loss for Landry – kind of like an anvil falling on his head). And let’s not forget that he was listed as a CO-DIRECTOR of RLDF on 2018 tax documents filed by the organization, which spearheaded a ROBOCALL campaign calling on volunteers to march in that Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The Wile E. Coyote Rule.. Either we let our insecurities drag us… | by  Robert Cormack | Data Driven Investor | Medium

Elmer Fudd: For that role, I chose Sen. Bill Cassidy for his misplaced optimism.

Looney Tunes (Elmer Fudd) | Pyramid International

Daffy Duck: Rep. Steve Scalise for his consistent display of benign cluelessness.

Daffy Duck - WikiFur, the furry encyclopedia

Pepe Le Pew: I chose Rep. Garret Graves because…well, just because of his ability as a smooth talker.

Amazon.com: WHITE PEPE LE PEW DECAL WINDOW NEW STICKER: Automotive

Roadrunner: That goes to Rep. Cedric Richmond who seems to always be a few steps ahead of the rest of the Louisiana delegation.

Road Runner Looney Tunes Cartoon Sticker Decal laptop wall car phone | eBay

Finally, Bugs Bunny: That goes to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his ability to remain above the fray and for being the voice of calm in a never-ending succession of crises.

Pin on ☺ Remember When.....

There are several other Looney Tunes characters, namely Sylvester and Barnyard Dawg, and you may have your own favorite politician to assign to those roles:

Sylvester the Cat scolded | Classic cartoon characters, Looney tunes  characters, Cartoon clip art
Barnyard Dog by Themrock on DeviantArt

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By Jerel Giarrusso (aka Earthmother), Guest Columnist

The enemy within:

Bytes: Quote: Walt Kelly

Four years ago, at the close of the Obama administration, and after the shocking election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, a significant number of people, women in particular, were angry and rattled at the results of a free and fair election. The idea took hold of showing the world our disgust at the election of such an unfit and unqualified individual by gathering in Washington, DC the day after inauguration for a peaceful demonstration – the Women’s March on Washington. The moment we heard about the planned march on the news, I knew I had to go.  

Three of us decided to go together. One woman’s daughter, an attorney living in Washington, invited us to stay with her for the march. So, we three, ages 55, 65 and 75, flew to DC, and we joined with over a half million women, men and children, of all demographics, filling the streets with a sea of humanity that flowed down Independence Avenue and filled the National Mall.  Thousands wore pink “pussy hats” that were individually knitted, crocheted or sewn by hand, traditional womanly arts. The hats, designed to keep heads warm in the cold, have little kitty cat ears on the top corners, to defuse the nasty term trump had used in his infamous “grab them by the pussy” tape. We were right in the middle of it all, witness to the signs held aloft, the chants and songs, women pushing baby strollers, everyone looking out for one another in solidarity and peaceful protest.   

There were no arrests related to the march in Washington that day. Metro police were out in force, with police units parked along the route, and mounted police were present as well.  The cops engaged marchers in good natured conversation, and allowed people to pet their horses.  It was a beautiful example of women and men engaging in their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble, not to be forgotten.

Some observations:

#1. Midmorning on Inauguration Day, we went to visit Mount Vernon, home of George and Martha Washington.  The route, a raised highway, overlooked the site of the inauguration, which we could see clearly, and which, interestingly, was practically bare of people. Certainly not the horde that trump later insisted had witnessed his big day, one of the first of his big lies. We were there.  A big crowd for him was not.

#2.  Despite the claims by lots of trump-loving conservatives that George Soros, a wealthy donor to many liberal causes, paid for the Women’s March, I can state for the record that the three of us who attended paid our own way.  We’re all still waiting for that $2000 check from Soros.

Fast forward to January 2021, at the close of the disastrous trump administration, and after Joe Biden’s win in another free and fair election.  The young Washington lawyer who hosted us for the march four years ago is now an overworked, seasoned election law attorney who has helped to protect people’s right to vote by successfully arguing voter suppression cases all over the nation, and helped to win case after case brought by trump and his minions in efforts to overturn the presidential election. (See Louisiana Voice, December 6, 2020)  The Big Lie, that somehow a coalition of Democrats, Republican election officials and secretaries of state, THE MEDIA, and other unidentified villains, had colluded to “steal” the election from trump, was invented by trump and bought into by millions of deluded trump cultists and a significant number of Republicans in Congress.  The Big Lie has been debunked about 60 times in state and federal courts and the Supreme Court declined to give it oxygen. 

Despite a lack of any credible evidence, a significant number of Americans continue to believe the Big Lie.  At the invitation of the failed president, the idea for a protest in Washington, DC took hold, where another attempt to overturn the election would take place.  In contrast to the peaceful Women’s March, this time an apparently long-planned violent attempted coup d’etat took place, when a horde of men and women besieged the US Capitol where the joint houses of Congress were meeting for a formal count of electoral votes and declaration of Joe Biden as the next president.  The domestic terrorists attacked law enforcement officers, severely injuring many, and literally beat one officer to death. The lives of the sitting vice president and members of Congress were endangered by a howling mob, many wearing red caps mass produced in China, that signified allegiance to a lawless president.  The nation and the world were transfixed, watching the insurgents defile the halls of Congress on live TV.  It was a destructive and deadly attempt to impose the will of the minority on the country, so poorly thought out by trump and the leaders of the coup attempt, that they never considered the end game. They could have murdered the vice president and members of Congress and forced any survivors to declare trump president for another term, or for life, an unlawful declaration that would never stand.  The mob finally moseyed out of the Capitol, unhindered and un-arrested by law enforcement. 

And yet a significant number of Congress members are still supporting trump and the Big Lie, and have voted to overturn the election in a blatant act of sedition.

Reports are trickling out about fundraising efforts that some insurgents used to finance their travel.  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/16/us/capitol-riot-funding.html?referringSource=articleShare   AmazonSmile and PayPal were used. Some use a Christian fundraising site called GiveSendGo. (Check it out online, GiveSendGo – : The #1 Free Christian Fundraising Site.  the site has raised $585,000 for the legal defense of Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Read the comments praising him for killing people.)  Federal authorities are investigating a $522,000 bitcoin transfer originating in France that was funneled to several American alt-right groups and individuals. https://ca.news.yahoo.com/500k-bitcoin-sent-france-us-162934545.html#  In contrast to women paying our way, many of the insurgents had to beg for travel money.

US intelligence services and law enforcement are on high alert for a repeat performance by an armed mob on inauguration day. So instead of going to Washington to watch the legally elected president swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and our country, we will watch the event on tv. 

But the most shocking fact is that the nation’s capital is a city under siege. Washington, DC is practically on lockdown, with thousands of National Guard troops in the Capitol and on the streets. Barricades and tall fences and walls have been erected all over the capitol complex to prevent a mob from storming the seat of government once again.  Our beautiful capital city looks like a Third World city under siege by enemies.

But here’s the thing: the enemy threatening our democracy and the safety of our elected officials is not a malign foreign power.  The National Guard has been called in and defenses have been erected to defend against a cohort of our own people – American citizens who believe trump’s big lie, and who love violence, who have stockpiled weapons, and who think their wishes take precedence over the will of the majority.  People who think they can invalidate the votes and the wishes of other American citizens and impose their will by force. People who say they are angry (at what?) and want to be heard.  

The USA has always settled political differences at the ballot box, not at the point of a gun.  Until now.  We don’t lock up political dissidents in this country. At least, we never have in the past.  But what do we do with people who refuse to accept a legally elected president and promise sustained violence and unrest in order to have their way?  Some will be arrested, tried, convicted and jailed.  The US will have its first political prisoners, thanks to a malignant narcissist and his deluded, brainwashed followers, who have together laid waste to our government, destroyed confidence in our traditions and institutions and refuse to accept that trump is not a god-emperor. 

A lot of the trumpians are hoping for a second civil war.  Whether or not we end up with a sustained armed insurrection, the uncivil war has already begun.  People are lining up politically, drawing lines at who they will and will not tolerate and speak to, depending on who they support politically.  Though trump will leave the White House for good on January 20, his malignant stench will poison our land for some time to come.

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To all those skeptics who claim the mainstream media fails to report the good news, that it only gives us gloom and doom, I say balderdash.

There is a story circulating among the major outlets, The Washington Post included, that should warm the cockles of the hearts of the most distrustful of the media:

Donald Trump is REFUSING to PAY the LEGAL FEES of one RUDY GIULIANI.

I hope you’ll pardon me (oops, no pun intended) for attaching so many links to the story. It’s just that it’s such a pleasure to share such good news that I couldn’t resist (though it is difficult to type this while laughing hysterically).

But just for good measure, HERE are TWO MORE. (I would attach a link to The Washington Post but because it has a pay wall, only subscribers would be able to open it.)

Poor old Rudy apparently didn’t know that he was working on contingency – where he only gets paid if he wins (should’ve read the fine print in that contract).

But isn’t it the ultimate irony that the tangerine toddler would stiff the very person who has shown the most fealty to him, more so than even Mike Pence or Lindsey Graham (but maybe not sycophants like Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz or Devin Nunes.)?

And you can add to that list of shameless ass-kissers the names John Neely Kennedy, Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson, Steve Scalise and Garret Graves. Those five swore an oath to defend the Constitution against “all enemies, foreign and domestic,” yet they gave the ultimate domestic enemy not one, but two passes when they voted first to challenge the election results in Arizona and then against impeachment of a man who first tweeted and then stood at a podium and encouraged his followers to “fight, show strength” by invading the U.S. Capitol and literally attempting a violent overthrow of the government of the United States.

They voted against removing the criminal who is directly responsible for the deaths of five people (not counting the two suicides that followed the shameful events of Jan. 6).

Even the most loyal t-Rump supporter will have to admit this latest tantrum is perfectly consistent with his well-established pattern of refusing to pay contractors and vendors, defrauding students of his so-called t-Rump University, defaulting on bank loans and his multiple (what is it, five?) bankruptcies.

Not to be overlooked, there are the myriad pardons t-Rump has granted to criminals and traitors cast very much in the same mold as their benefactor. It’s true: birds (read: human garbage) of a feather do indeed flock together. For proof, take a long, hard look at the motley horde that descended on the Capitol last week. Not the type of people you’d want testifying as character witnesses on your behalf should you ever find yourself in need of such.

And it’s also in keeping with his tendency to dump loyalists when they are of no more service to him. Loyalty is most definitely a narrow, shadowy, one-way street for this snake oil salesman.

And finally, to Rudy Giuliani, I would say you got no less than you deserve. As the old adage goes, sleep with dogs and you get up with fleas. Your cast your lot with a con artist and you got conned.

It’s the ultimate irony and it reeks of poetic justice. Karma truly is a bitch.

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