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Quickly. What do these 27 Louisianans have in common, other than having been elected to political office?

  • Paul Hollis
  • John Alario
  • Jack Donahue
  • Gerald Long
  • Fred Mills
  • Barrow Peacock
  • John Smith
  • Steve Carter
  • Greg Cromer
  • Cameron Henry
  • Dorothy Hill
  • Valarie Hodges
  • Sam Jones
  • Dee Richard
  • Alan Seabaugh
  • Scott Simon
  • John Schroder
  • Kirk Talbot
  • Conrad Appel
  • Barry Milligan
  • Jeff Landry
  • John Kennedy
  • Bill Cassidy
  • Clay Higgins
  • Steve Scalise
  • Ralph Abraham
  • Mike Johnson

Give up?

Well, to make it more interesting, I’ll throw in these names:

  • Jeff Sessions
  • Tommy Tuberville
  • Tom Cotton
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Devin Nunes
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • Marco Rubio
  • Matt Gaetz
  • Ron Desantis
  • Rick Scott
  • Doug Collins
  • David Perdue
  • Brian Kemp
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Rand Paul
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith
  • Michael Guest
  • Tate Reeves
  • Roy Blunt
  • Ben Sasse
  • Christopher Sununu
  • Chris Christie
  • Chris Collins
  • Jim Jordan
  • Rick Santorum
  • Pat Toomey
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Tim Scott
  • Kristi Noem
  • Lamar Alexander
  • John Cornyn
  • Ted Cruz
  • Mitt Romney
  • Liz Cheney

Each of the aforementioned is among the 172 members of the U.S. House of Representative, 48 U.S. senators 12 governors and 27 Louisianans who signed Grover Norquist’s no-new-tax pledge, which reads simply enough:

I, ______, pledge to the taxpayers of the ______ district of the state of ______ and to the American people that I will: One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and Two, to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

Of the 20 Louisiana legislators who signed the pledge, seven are still in office. They are Hollis, Mills, Peacock, Henry, Hodges, Seabaugh and Schroder. Schroder is no longer in the legislature, having moved up to State Treasurer.

Landry, a former member of the U.S. House, is now Louisiana’s attorney general with an eye on the governor’s office just up the street. Kennedy and Cassidy, of course are Louisiana’s two U.S. senators while Higgins, Scalise, Abraham and Johnson are in the House. Abraham, an unsuccessful candidate for governor last year, is a lame duck and will exit Congress next Jan. 20.

Norquist, who founded the organization Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) wears his capitalist idealism on his sleeve. He’s been widely quoted saying thing like:

“Our goal is to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.”

He advocates standing on one’s own two feet:

“We want to reduce the number of people depending on government so there is more autonomy and more free citizens.”

Norquist feels that such reliance on government weakens one’s character:

“The welfare state creates its own victim/client constituency. By making individuals free and independent, we reduce the need for ‘charity’ to those truly needy citizens what we can certainly afford to help through real charity.”

Moreover, he is convinced that government spending, fueled by entitlements, is harmful to the U.S. economy:

“What’s hurting the U.S. economy is total government spending. The deficit is an indicator that the government is spending so much money that it can’t even get around to stealing all of the money that it wants to spend.”

The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown unquestionably crippled the US—the world—economy, necessitating Congress to pass a $350 billion paycheck protection bill to bail out companies with forgivable SBA loans of up to $10 million which, of course, caused Norquist to pitch a hissy fit even before another $330 billion was added to the relief package. He wrote a letter urging lawmakers not to approve a second stimulus bill, saying:

“Government spending is inhibiting the fast recovery we want in jobs and incomes, not stimulating it.”

But what Norquist neglected to point out is his Americans for Tax Reform had just received up to $350,000 in stimulus money from the first bill. In other words, he got his and now he doesn’t want anyone else to get theirs because it’s wasteful government spending, it kills incentive, creating victimhood.

Oops. Maybe all those members of congress, legislators, and governors listed above might like to reconsider signing off on Norquist’s “Don’t do as I do, do as I say do” pledge..

Perhaps Norquist should “funnel” that guvmint money to the CHOCTAW INDIANS of Mississippi, the tribe he helped Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed and JACK ABRAMOFF funnel more than $1 million away from the Choctaw back in 1999.

Of course, when it came time to put up or shut up, Norquist chose to shut up by REFUSING TO TESTIFY before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee’s hearing on lobbying abuses.

But perhaps the best illustration with the fewest words to describe Norquist’s role in the sordid affairs with Abramoff, DeLay, Reed, and Rove can be seen HERE. If all this doesn’t leave you needing a shower, I just don’t know what could.

Unless it’s this:

Others that received PPP funding included the Ayn Rand Institute (between $350,000 and $1 million), Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller ($350,000 to $1 million), Newsmax, the conservative TV network owned by Trump ally Christopher Ruddy ($2 million to $5 million), and (wait for it), the shipping business owned by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s family ($350 to $1 million). Chao just happens to be the wife of (ahem) Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. They’re all right HERE.

(Ayn Rand, for those who may not know, was a Russian émigré who fled the communist revolution, became an actress in the US and who wrote The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged has become something of a capitalism bible to her followers.)

To borrow from Charles Dickens, we seem to have the ghosts of capitalism past and the ghosts of capitalism present in one tidy little story. I can’t wait for the ghost of capitalism future to make its appearance.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t include one last Norquist quote because it’s really a gem:

“Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”

 

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Has anyone else noticed how quiet Louisiana’s junior US Senator has been lately?

It’s been a scant four months since his Feb. 4 glowing review of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address.

In that four-paragraph PRESS RELEASE, Sen. John Kennedy gushed on and on about how he (Kennedy)  was in favor of “freedom, prosperity and building a better tomorrow for America’s kids.” He went on to affirm that the SOTU address “showed the president’s commitment to moving all these priorities forward.”

He lavished praise on Trump because “America is respected around the world” and added that Americans “have reason to be optimistic” and “confident.”

It was enough to kick in the gag reflex.

But lately, Sen. Kornpone has been uncharacteristically quiet. Normally, he’d run over his best friend to get to a TV camera. No more. And he’s not alone. News services all over the Internet have posted stories about how Republicans in Congress cut and run when asked for comments about Trump’s rhetoric about bringing in the troops, shooting looters, turning vicious dogs loose on protesters, about dispersing protesters with chemicals so he could have his precious Bible-holding photo-op.

No Republicans, it seems, want to talk about that or the killing of George Floyd or of the groundswell of resentment against this administration for bungling one crisis after another.

Right now, as I see it, Kornpone has two choices:

He can continue to pander to a tyrannical president whose support appears to be eroding from beneath him while keeping his own political support in a decidedly Red State.

Or he could do the right thing and condemn Trump’s incendiary tweets, his divisive rhetoric, his crazed confrontations with the media, his incredibly inane photo-ops and lose some of his support from Louisiana’s white supremacists—but keep his soul.

 

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A Baton Rouge physical therapist has been formally charged with inappropriate touching of female patients and inappropriate comments about their bodies, but the bill of information from the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office might never have been submitted had it not been for the dogged pursuit of one woman who refused to allow her complaints to be ignored despite the best efforts of the DA’s office and East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s investigators to do just that.

Physical therapist Philippe Veeters, doing business as Dutch Physical Therapy, was first arrested last February on the basis of complaints by several of his female patients, but East Baton Rouge Parish DA Hillar Moore didn’t get around to submitting a bill of information against Veeters until Nov. 1.

The woman, who requested that her identity not be revealed, says she was assaulted by Veeters on June 7, 2018, said, “After dealing with the sheriff’s office for months, I contacted the FBI with all my documentation showing how the police kept lying to me and changing their stories. they did try to investigate them. However, Mr. Hillar Moore apparently invited himself to that meeting and shut that meeting down. Moore told the FBI that it is just too hard to go against a doctor,” she said. “This was disturbing and sickening, knowing Mr. Veeters had already admitted to the detectives within one week what he did to me without consent—trying to pretend it was a normal Medical procedure.

“I have since learned another victim went to the sheriff’s office in 2012…but no one ever took her seriously or even investigated her assault,” the woman said. “I had to fight so hard against the people who should be protecting us. They had his admission on tape, they had others who reported it to them and the board yet they kept lying to me. Why?”

She said sheriff’s office investigators initially were supportive and told her she was doing the right thing in filing charges against Veeters. But then she said authorities suddenly began “to tell me different stories and start(ed) deflecting when we question(ed) them on things” and opened and closed her case three times. “I now know why victims do not come forward. It takes so much power and strength to report something like this and you aren’t allowed to heal and push the memory away as quick (sic) as you would like.”

She said she and her husband met with sheriff’s office investigators but got no answers.

“I also have emails dating back to July 2018 between Hillar Moore and myself—where I’d share things with him about the sheriff’s office,” the woman said, “and from July 2018 until January 2019 he would tell me he’d get with them and they’d get back to me. He never got back to me!! It was almost comical. I went from patient to angry that someone didn’t want to protect the women in our community. He completely stopped responding to me once I told him I learned who Floyd falcon was. Never heard from him again!

“When I finally met with the assistant DA in May 2019, she claimed they were protecting me. I have no idea what they were protecting me from nor do I believe her. Considering they wanted all my medical records from the board and were upset my mental health records were not obtained, I doubt they were protecting me from anything.”

She also was critical of George Papale, legal counsel for the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board, which had received complaints of sexual abuse by Veeters from at least half-a-dozen women. The board finally got around to continuing a prior nine-month suspension handed down on Oct. 5, 2018, suspending Veeters indefinitely on September 13 of this year, seven months after his arrest.

The consent decree signed by Veeters and his attorney, Floyd Falcon, noted that “This is not the first disciplinary action” taken against Veeters “for related professional misconduct and sexual misconduct of a physical therapy patient.”

The board did not recommend disciplinary action on a similar complaint in 2012 and in January 2014, placed Veeters “on notice,” but took no formal disciplinary action against him.

The board’s reluctance did not deter Papale from firing off a 24-page letter of complaint to State Sen. John Alario in which he asked for an investigation “on behalf of the citizens of Louisiana” of actions taken by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee during and following a May 15, 2019 hearing relative to the board, which Papale termed “unlawful and unprofessional.”

Papale, who no longer represents the board, complained that committee chair Karen Carter Peterson and Sen. Jean-Paul rebuked the board “with callous disregard for the truth” by repeatedly mischaracterizing the adjudication of a complaint by saying “a person who is under nine counts of sexual assault charges is under probation with the board” and “this guy got a nine-month slap on the wrist.”

His letter also accused the committee of threatening and attacking board members, its employees and contractors and of saying the board was failing the citizens of Louisiana “without investigation into the validity of the complaints, nor a basic understanding of administrative laws, processes, or procedure.”

To read the full text of that 24-page letter, go HERE.

Consent agreement of OCTOBER 5, 2018

Latest CONSENT AGREEMENT

 

 

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Google the definition of jury tampering and you get several hits, all of which say the same thing. I have chosen to include the following definition from the web page of USLegal:

  • A person commits the crime of jury tampering if, with intent to influence a juror’s vote, opinion, decision or other action in the case, he attempts directly or indirectly to communicate with a juror other than as part of the proceedings in the trial of the case. Jury tampering may be committed by conducting conversations about the case outside the court, offering bribes, making threats or asking acquaintances to communicate with a juror. (emphasis mine)
  • A juror includes any person who is a member of any jury, including a grand jury, impaneled by any court or by any public servant authorized by law to impanel a jury. The term juror also includes any person who has been summoned or whose name has been drawn to attend as a prospective juror. (emphasis mine)

Certainly, I am not an attorney nor am I a legal scholar by any stretch of the imagination.

But if the House does ultimately approve articles of impeachment for President Donald Trump—which now seems inevitable—then the question of jury tampering could conceivably arise, which could explain why Mitch McConnell advised Trump to back off his tactic of CRITICIZING SENATORS who may soon be sitting in judgment of him.

As a disclaimer, let me say up front this is not a partisan essay but a legitimate question about a legal conundrum that may need to be addressed down the road if the laws concerning jury tampering are to be enforced across the board at all levels of jurisprudence.

The potential problem revolves around the fact that (a) the House, which will have to vote to impeach, will act in the same role as a grand jury does when it indicts an individual and (b) the Senate will serve as the jury in the trial that would follow.

That means that every member of Congress—435 House members and 100 senators—would be serving at some point as either a member of the grand jury (House) or the petit jury (Senate).

So, when Trump goes tweets any criticism of any representative or senator over the issue of impeachment, is he committing the crime of jury tampering? When he says Republicans need to “GET TOUGHER AND FIGHT” on impeachment, could that be considered an attempt to influence a juror’s vote?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is one of Trump’s more vocal supporters who championed the impeachment of Bill Clinton but now rails against a similar move to impeach a president from his own party.

And Graham’s sometimes steadfast defense of Trump and his strident criticism of the impeachment hearings creates a glaring jury tampering problem in its own right.

You see, Graham heads up a political action committee (PAC) called FUND FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE. In fact, on the PAC’s web page is a quote from Graham: “I helped establish Fund for America’s Future several years ago to support conservative candidates for federal and state office. We will work hard to grow the Republican Party and chip away at the Democrats’ control of Washington.”

And as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Ay, there’s the rub” (often misquoted as “Therein lies the rub”).

Of 21 Republican senators up for reelection next year, 15 have accepted $110,000 between them from Fund for America’s Future this year alone—all since the subject of impeachment was first broached inside the Beltway. These senators, with the amounts they received, include:

  • Dan Sullivan, Alaska: $10,000;
  • Tom Cotton, Arkansas: $5,000;
  • Cory Gardner, Colorado: $5,000;
  • David Perdue, Georgia: $10,000;
  • Joni Ernst, Iowa: $10,000;
  • Mitch McConnell: $10,000;
  • Susan Collins, Maine: $5,000;
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi: $5,000;
  • Steve Daines, Montana: $10,000;
  • Ben Sasse, Nebraska: $5,000;
  • Thom Tillis, North Carolina: $5,000;
  • Jim Inhofe, Ohio: $5,000;
  • Lamar Alexander, Tennessee: $10,000;
  • John Cornyn, Texas: $10,000;
  • Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia: $5,000.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy had no contributions from Graham’s PAC, though he did receive $11,200 from Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Republican power brokers. Several other senators also received contributions from the father and daughter from Nevada.

Additionally, several senators received contributions from Citizens United Political Victory Fund. That’s the PAC that convinced the SUPREME COURT to remove limits on corporations spending on political campaigns, a decision that led to the creation of super PACs.

Interestingly Citizens United Political Victory Fund provided compensation of an undetermined amount to Kellyanne Conway, who never passes up an opportunity appear on Fox News to defend Trump and to attack the impeachment hearings. No explanation was provided as to the purpose of that payment to her. That compensation, of course, further clouds the issue of jury tampering.

Cotton ($5,000), Daines ($10,000), and Graham ($5,000) also received funding from Citizens United Political Victory Fund while 10 received contributions from Citizens for Prosperity in America PAC, an organization that contributes 100 percent to Republican causes and candidates. Those included:

  • Sullivan: $15,000;
  • Gardner: $5,000;
  • Perdue: $10,000;
  • Ernst: $10,000;
  • McConnell: $5,000;
  • Daines: $5,000;
  • Tillis: $10,000;
  • Inhofe: $5,000;
  • Graham: $5,000;
  • Cornyn: $11,600.

Money is never given to any politician without the expectation of something in return. And inasmuch as these senators received these contributions this year with the full knowledge that they would likely be sitting as a jury in judgment of fellow Republican Trump, the question of (wait for it) quid pro quo comes into play and that would appear to constitute jury tampering.

In 1929, the Louisiana legislature voted to impeach Gov. Huey Long but he pulled a brilliant move that guaranteed victory. He convinced 15 senators to sign a pledge, the so-called “ROUND ROBIN” not to vote to convict. They were later rewarded with state jobs and other favors with some even alleged to have been paid in cash or given lavish gifts. That certainly was jury tampering by every definition of the term.

As far as we know, Trump has yet to attempt to get 34 senators to sign such a pledge.

As far as we know.

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Some weeks ago, I stopped counting political brochures arriving in my mailbox by sheer numbers, choosing instead to measure them by the pound.

Republic Services has probably had to put another truck or two into service just to cart away the political mail-outs cluttering the mailboxes on my street alone. They’re too slick to use for the bottoms of bird cages, so they serve no real purpose other than to attest to the fact we are needlessly killing far too many trees.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they actually offered anything new but, to paraphrase a line uttered by Frasier on the sitcom Cheers, they’re redundant, they repeat themselves, they say the same things over and over—and still they don’t tell us a thing about the candidate except perhaps in the case of one Edith Carlin, who insists she’s the male version of Donald Trump, a rather dubious self-accolade, if there ever was one.

Carlin describes herself in her fliers as “an outsider like President Trump.” (And yes, she does underscore the word outsider.) She goes on to say, “Just like President Trump, Edith Carlin is a self-made person…”

Really? Did she begin drawing millions from her father while still a child? Did her father purchase her way into the Wharton School of Business? Did she hire undocumented workers, not pay them, and default on billions of dollars of loans from banks into order to become “self-made”? Did she become “self-made” by declaring bankruptcy half-a-dozen times? Is she “self-made” from cheating thousands of students in a fraudulent “university” that was under investigation until making a big campaign contribution to the attorney general who was investigating the school? Is that what she means by “self-made”?

She should be so proud.

She says she “will hold the government accountable in a way politicians can’t.” Really? How does she plan to do that? That promise has been made thousands upon thousands of times by thousands upon thousands of candidates but nothing seems to change. But she’s different, I suppose. She’s proposing to waltz into a 39-member body and single-handedly convince her fellow senators and 105 House members that they’ve been wrong all along and they will obligingly repent of their evil ways.

That’s about as absurd as every four years, the candidates for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish vow to make public education better when in reality, the mayor’s office has zero to do with the school board. Zero.

Well, one of the things Carlin says she’ll do is “fix I-12 issues without raising the gas tax.” Well, Ms. Carlin, it would be most interesting to hear just how you plan to go about doing that.

“After billions of dollars in tax increases,” she says, “the government now admits taking too much from us.” I suppose she’s referring to the $300 million – $500 million surplus of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration. But personally, I much prefer a surplus of $500 million to the eight years of $1 billion deficits of the best-forgotten Jindal administration.

She is running against State Rep. J. Rogers Pope, a fellow Republican, who is term-limited and who is running for the seat of former State Sen. Dale Erdy, also term-limited. Pope is a former Livingston Parish school superintendent who brought our school system up to among the best in the state. Pope’s big sin is he doesn’t always vote the party line, choosing instead to vote his conscience, an attribute many claim as their voting philosophy but which few can back up. But when you cross party lines, you cross the party and the party is the party is the party and the party doesn’t forget.

Carlin claims politicians “haven’t fixed our drainage problems,” that “80 percent of our district flooded.” True. I flooded, as did thousands of others. And of course, Carlin’s hero, Trump, dragged his feet in getting the requirements for assistance approved by HUD. It’s been three years and many still have received nothing from FEMA. As for fixing our drainage problems, she says we need an engineer to fix those problems. She is an engineer.

But guess what? Rogers Pope was an educator. Do you think they assigned him to the House Education Committee? Nope. That would make far too much sense. They tucked him away where he wouldn’t be a nuisance to Jindal and John White. Does Carlin think she’ll fare any better? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, she says she’ll work to improve drainage problems but she’s against taxes. It’s going to be interesting to see her just snap her fingers and make our problems vanish.

But to really understand the candidate Carlin, it’s always best to follow the money to see who is the power behind the politician (and she is now officially a politician, her denials notwithstanding).

So, I went onto the campaign finance records to see who her backers are.

The results were eye-opening, to say the least.

To narrow the field, I looked only at contributions of $500 or more. I found 65 contributions totaling $68,500 since January 1, 2019, including a couple of multiple contributions by the same donor, namely Republican power broker Lane Grigsby, who also backed Jindal and who is backing Eddie Rispone for governor.

I also noted a $2,500 contribution from Koch Industries.

But the real story is that of those 65 contributions, is that exactly 11 were from Livingston Parish while 32 were from East Baton Rouge Parish, 14 from other parts of the state and eight were from out of state. That’s 11 from Livingston and 54 from elsewhere.

Those 11 Livingston Parish contributors (actually, only 10 because one person contributed on two different occasions) accounted for $14,500 (including $4,500 from just three persons) while the 32 East Baton Rouge Parish donors ponied up $37,500. The 14 from other areas of the state gave $17,500 and out-of-state contributors chipped in $13,500.

So, Livingston Parish contributors gave just 21 percent of Carlin’s total while backers in Baton Rouge put up 54.7 percent of her total.

Livingston Parish voters may wish to ask themselves why so many people in Baton Rouge are involving themselves in a race in Livingston Parish. Well, let’s see who they are:

  • EastPac, NorthPac, WestPac, and SouthPac, all arms of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), combined to give $19,267. Since there are limits as to how much a political action committee may give, LABI simply bent the rules by creating not one, not two, not three, but four PACs.
  • Lane Grigsby: $2,500.
  • Todd Grigsby: $1,000.
  • ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) Pelican PAC: $2,500.
  • The Louisiana Homebuilders Association PAC: $2,500.
  • TransPac (a trucking industry PAC): $1,500.
  • Investment portfolio manager Meagan Shields: $3,000 (two $1,500 contributions).
  • Louisiana Student Financial Aid Association (LASFAA) PAC: $1,000.

Besides Koch Industries of Wichita, Kansas, out-of-state contributors included:

  • Republican State Leadership Committee, Washington, D.C.: $2,500.
  • Chevron, San Ramon, California: $2,500.
  • Stand for Children PAC, Portland, Oregon: $2,000.
  • Weyerhaeuser, Seattle, Washington: $1,500.
  • Marathon Petroleum, Findlay, Ohio: $1,500.
  • Tanner Barrow, Worthing, South Dakota: $1,000.
  • Micham Roofing, Sparta, Missouri: $500.

Louisiana contributors not from Livingston or East Baton Rouge Parish who contributed were from Bossier City, Slidell, New Orleans (2), Shreveport (2), Raceland, Jennings, Mandeville, Alexandria, Prairieville, Covington, Ponchatoula, and Gray.

So, those who haven’t already voted early may wish to ask themselves why the Republican party has turned on one of its own in such a vicious manner—but mostly why so much outside money is being poured into Edith Carlin’s campaign.

You may also wish to ask yourself whether she will be beholden to the people of Livingston Parish or to the faceless PACs of Baton Rouge, Washington, and elsewhere.

She may call herself a political outsider, but from here, she looks more like a puppet with the potential to be controlled by political insiders from outside Livingston Parish.

 

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