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Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

It was inevitable, I suppose. The signs were there for us to see all this time, so it certainly should be no surprise.

Donald Trump has launched his own NEWS SERVICE to give the minions the “real” news. He’s fed up with that fake stuff dished out by the networks that they back up with obviously faked video, doctored photos, falsified documents and biased stories about his bogus university, his refusal to divest himself from his business interests and his coziness with the Russians.

Well, what ostrich-head-in-the-sand couldn’t see that coming?

Of course, the real head-scratcher is why he would go to all that trouble when he has the biggest blowhard of all spewing the right wing extremist line for three hours every day on a smaller-than-before-but-still-large radio network.

But Rush (“Praise the Lord and Pass the OxyContin”) Limburger is basically a mouthpiece for the Republican Party as a whole and that party is going to have to separate itself from ol’ Orange Hair with all due haste if it has a chance to hold its ground in the 2018 elections. So, in that respect, maybe his own “news” network would seem in order to Trump.

After all, this is the man whose motto would seem to be ut per eos testacles in cordibus et in animis sequentur. That’s Latin for “Get ‘em by the testacles; the hearts and minds will follow.” (And he’s certainly known for grabbing those areas.)

Any student of history knows that a dictatorship requires a suspension of all citizens’ rights (see his efforts to clamp down on dissent) and to muzzle all criticism (his repeated attacks on the media). The third requirement, of course, is to take over the media so the dictatorship’s lies can be saturated without fear of challenge.

We may as well start referring to Trump as DEAR LEADER a-la Kim Jong-Un. Somehow, though, I just don’t think I can bring myself to call him Herr Trump.

But the signs are already there. His repeated boasts of non-existent accomplishments, his exploring the possibility of pardoning himself, his exaggerated claims of voter fraud, claims that he had the biggest inauguration crowd in history, attacks of “fake news,” and the list goes on and on ad nauseum. And all easily refutable lies but still he barges ahead with still more lies. His favorite, of course, is calling the special prosecutor’s investigation into collusion with the Russians “a witch hunt.” He uses that one on a regular basis these days.

Adolf Hitler was the first to describe the benefits of the repetitive lie, which he said people would come to believe if they heard it often enough. He called it the “Big Lie.”

In Mein Kampf, Hitler said, “…In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie…Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.” (emphasis added.)

He would go on to say in Mein Kampf:

“The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses’ attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision.

The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make and objective study of the truth, insofar as it favors the enemy, and then set before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly.”

Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, would later expand on der Führer’s philosophy when he said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Extreme examples? Perhaps. But the track that Trump is on is frighteningly familiar to students of history and should not be dismissed lightly.

After all, look at the people with whom he has surrounded himself. Not the least of these is one STEPHEN BANNON who has described Trump as a “revolutionary on the world stage,” and who described himself as a LENINIST who desired “to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

So, is Bannon Trump’s Joseph Goebbels or will he be his Martin Bormann (Hitler’s private secretary who controlled access to der Führer)? Or worse, will he be Trump’s Heinrich Himmler (commander of the Gestapo)? From this vantage point, the vote would have to go to Bormann.

All these scenarios were unthinkable 18 months ago. No one seriously thought Trump would ever be president. The day of his announcement, I confidently predicted he would “crash and burn” in six weeks.

But then, no one thought Hitler would rise to a position from which he could plunge the world into war.

But now we have an official Trump news service through which he can reach the masses with his own skewed version of reality. And for now, at least, he has an official Minister of Propaganda in Kayleigh McEnany.

 

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“I certainly take responsibility for the fact that these documents, these notices, were labeled a subpoena under our administration […] It was improper, it was incorrect for us to label those notices as a subpoena, that was incorrect. That was improper, and I take responsibility for that.”

—Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, in an April 27 interview with New Orleans WWL-TV. Curiously, he never said the practice was a mistake or that he was genuinely sorry.

 

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Troy Hebert just won’t go away.

But in this case, he’s probably like to.

The former commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) is scheduled in U.S. District Court Monday as a federal racial discrimination LAWSUIT  against him and ATC cranks up.

The lawsuit, to be tried before U.S. District Court Judge John W. DeGravelles, was filed by former ATC agent Charles M. Gilmore of Baton Rouge, Daimin T. McDowell of Bossier Parish, and Larry J. Hingle of Jefferson Parish.

The three claim that Hebert made working conditions so bad that employees had to take medical leave or were forced to resign. Each of the three filed separate complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received “right to sue” notices.

LouisianaVoice first reported the filing of the lawsuit three years ago, in July 2014. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/07/14/forcing-grown-men-to-write-lines-overnight-transfers-other-bizarre-actions-by-troy-hebert-culminate-in-federal-lawsuit

The lawsuit says five African-American supervisors worked in the ATC Enforcement Division when Hebert, a former state senator from Jeanerette, was appointed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal in November 2010. “By means of the manipulative actions by Troy Hebert…there are now no African-American supervisors within the ATC Enforcement Division,” the petition says.

Prior to Hebert’s appointment, the three “had unblemished records with no prior disciplinary actions,” the suit says. “Each…had been promoted to supervisory positions at ATC before Troy Hebert’s arrival.”

The suit says Hebert “deliberately acted in disregard of the plaintiffs’ clearly established rights to be free from racial discrimination, race-based harassment and retaliation.

Gilmore worked for 10 years as a corrections sergeant and Louisiana State Police trooper before joining ATC in 1998 where he worked his way up to Special Agent in Charge until he was “constructively discharged” by Hebert on Sept. 27, 2013, the lawsuit says.

“Constructive discharge” is when working conditions become so intolerable that an employee cannot stay in the position or accepts forced resignation.

McDowell was hired by ATC in 2005 and in his seven years was promoted three times. Hingle was hired in 1991. During his 21 years of employment, he was also promoted three times.

The lawsuit also alleges that on Aug. 22, 2012, two days after taking leave, Gilmore and McDowell were told by fellow agent Brette Tingle that Hebert intended to break up the “black trio” a reference to Gilmore, McDowell and Supervising Agent Bennie Walters. Walters was subsequently fired on Sept. 7.

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Bureaucrats always blame the messenger.

Rather than devote productive efforts to cleaning up their act when they are exposed, management of public agencies would always rather go on a hunt to exact reprisals on those who may have blown the whistle.

That’s what took place today as several field personnel were called in and grilled about whether they were the sources for two recent LouisianaVoice stories. You can see those stories HERE and HERE.

And as an update to those stories, WWL-TV has CONFIRMED earlier reports by LouisianaVoice that Nanette Krentel, 49, wife of St. Tammany Parish Fire District No. 12 Chief Stephen Krentel, did not die from last Friday’s fire that destroyed the family home, but instead, died of a gunshot wound.

Even when a Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (LOSFM) inspector attempts to correct problems internally without alerting the media, those inspectors suddenly find themselves “reassigned” and forced to travel 200 miles or more to report to work in, say, Shreveport if the poor guy resides in the Baton Rouge area, or to Houma if he lives in Monroe.

And while these might not be actual cases, LouisianaVoice has learned that such reassignments do occur at LOSFM.

On Friday, field personnel were interrogated and told they would be required to submit to polygraph tests at unspecified times (“whenever we call you in to do so”) and that they would be interrogated further.

Reports out of LOSFM headquarters were that LOSFM Fire Chief Brant Thompson was “livid” over reports that staff are inadequately trained and certified before they are fully prepared to conduct arson investigations. One inspector, Henry Rayborn, highly regarded for his professionalism by nearly a dozen of his co-workers interviewed by LouisianaVoice, resigned following a confrontation with Thompson over the St. Tammany fire investigation.

That’s a strange reaction from Thompson, coming as it does only weeks after he contacted LouisianaVoice after we spent the better part of a week poring over office expenditures.

“We’re really glad you’re taking a look at our operations,” he said. “It’s always good to have someone checking us out and I want you to know I’m here to cooperate with you in every way I can. If you find that we’re doing something wrong, I hope you’ll let us know.”

Actually, Brant, we thought that was your job.

And, Brant, just so you know: When you try strong-arm tactics to keep people from talking, it almost always blows up in your face.

 

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LouisianaVoice has been receiving reports of questionable expenditures and inadequate training of inspectors and investigators at the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (LOSFM) for several months, the most serious, of course, being the charges of inadequate and improper training.

Rebuilding from last August’s flood has delayed the story, which understandably involves considerable time with investigations and interviews.

But now, fires in two different areas of the state—one involving a suspicious death which resulted in the angry resignation of a top LOSFM inspector, and the other which resulted in the arrest of an innocent nurse on 77 counts in five separate fires at a nursing home—have clearly illustrated not only that the claims of inadequate training or accurate but that there may be a serious argument for malfeasance in office on the part of LOSFM upper command.

That’s a strong accusation for LouisianaVoice—or anyone—to make, but let’s examine the facts.

In both cases, a residential fire in which the wife of a local fire chief was found dead in the St. Tammany Parish town of Lacombe, reportedly with a bullet wound to her head, and the multiple fires at Bayou Chateau Nursing Home in Simmesport in Avoyelles Parish, LOSFM failed to send a certified arson investigator, assigning instead fire marshal inspectors who are not certified as arson investigators or qualified to perform those duties.

In the case of any homicide investigation such as the death of NANETTE KRENTEL, 49-year-old wife of St. Tammany Fire District No. 12 Chief Stephen Krentel, the fire marshal’s office is required by law to assign as its lead investigator a certified arson investigator. Instead, Henry B. Rayborn, a 10-year veteran LOSFM inspector was given the assignment.

“He (Rayborn) is one of the very best inspectors the fire marshal’s office has,” one former co-worker told Louisiana

Voice. “Everyone considers him as top-notch, but he is an inspector, not an arson investigator. There’s a huge difference. He was in over his head and he tried to convey that to Chief Brant Thompson.”

The former co-worker said that during a conference call between Rayborn, Thompson and other unidentified participants, Thompson became abrasive and Rayborn responded by telling Thompson he could consider the conversation as his resignation.

Reports from LOSFM indicate that State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, apparently fearing Rayborn will talk to the media, is pleading with him to reconsider his resignation.

When a series of fires broke out at Bayou Chateau Nursing Home late last year and earlier this year, LOSFM Inspector Kevin Billiot was dispatched to investigate. Like Rayborn, Billiot, a part-time minister, is not qualified as an arson investigator and sources say he never removed any articles from the fires for analysis.

LPN BRITTANY DUPAR, 27, of Simmesport, was subsequently arrested on two counts of attempted first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated arson and 70 counts of cruelty to the infirm.

The first fire was on Nov. 10, 2016. Two fires were set on March 25, at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and two more on March 26, at 10 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. Two of the fires were to bedding. Others were under a bathroom sink, to a supply closet, and in an undisclosed location in a patient’s room.

“He was also in far over his head,” a former arson investigator said of Billiot, who has been with the fire marshal’s office only a short time.

When other personnel began their own investigation, the time sheets of Dupar were pulled and it was learned that on the days of four of the fires, including the one in December, she was not even at work.

Moreover, a lighter was found in a patient’s bed.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners has SUSPENDED Dupar’s license pending the outcome of her criminal charges.

Evidence such as her time sheets and the lighter discovered in the possession of a patient, in legal parlance, is called exculpatory evidence, meaning it is evidence that would held an accused in proving his or her innocence and under law, those accused are entitled to all such evidence.

But with an Avoyelles Parish Grand Jury scheduled to consider the charges against Dupar next Thursday (July 27), that evidence has yet to be given the district attorney’s office.

A recent email thread between Thompson, son of State Sen. Francis Thompson, and other LOSFM personnel reveal a disturbing lack of concern for Dupar on the part of Thompson.

Asked if the DA’s office should be informed of LOSFM findings that would clear Dupar, Thompson declined, suggesting that the office should let events “play their course with the Grand Jury.”

Thompson, something of a political survivor and apparently one with all the right connections, would appear to be more concerned with protecting the image of his office than in protecting the rights and the career of a wrongly-accused woman.

Perhaps the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney would find that email thread interesting reading.

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