Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Apparently, there is no herd immunity for nearly a third of the US population.

Research data provided by the Associated Press National Opinion Research Center (NORC) for Public Affairs indicate that 32 PERCENT of the overall population either “probably will not” (17 percent) or “definitely will not” (15 percent) receive a Covid-19 vaccination whenever it becomes available.

For Republicans, Independents, non-college graduates and the 30-44-age group, the responses were even more negative.

The numbers offered up by NORC must make one wonder what it would take to get through to a certain segment of the population.

Perhaps experience that only comes with age. It was comedian Richard Pryor, after all, who once said, “You don’t get old being (a) fool.”

Of those age 60 and over, 20 percent (the largest number of any group) have already had their shots while 50 percent (again, the biggest number of any segment polled) say they “definitely will” receive the vaccination and 11 percent said they “probably will.” Another 11 percent said they “probably will not,” and only 7 percent said they “definitely will not.”

Likewise, the numbers for college graduates were 17 percent already have, 50 percent “definitely will,” 15 percent “probably will,” 10 percent “probably will not,” and 7 percent “definitely will not.”

The numbers are similar for Democrats: 16, 48, 15, 11 and 7.

Conversely, for non-college-graduates, 12 percent have been vaccinated, 27 percent say they “definitely will,” and 21 percent say they “probably will.” Incredulously, 40 percent in this group say they either “probably will not” (21 percent) or “definitely will not” (19 percent).

Among Republicans, the numbers are 12, 24, 20, 21 and 23. That’s is nearly half (44 percent) who either said they “probably will not” or “definitely will not.”

Independents: 10, 26, 20, 26 and 16.

For ages 30-44, those questioned appeared to feel they had an aura of invincibility with 42 percent (21 percent each) said they either “probably will not” or “definitely will not” take the vaccination.

Some skeptics hold to the absurd belief that with the vaccinations, the government would be injecting a monitoring device by which the government would be able to track our movements.

Others cling to their assertions that the coronavirus was never more than a regular case of the flu. That, too, is ludicrous. In 2019, the year before coronavirus struck, 34,200 Americans died from influenza. Thus far, coronavirus has killed 450,000 Americans.

In two years (1918-19), before the invention of penicillin and with substantially fewer weapons to fight the spread, 675,000 Americans died of the Spanish Flu.

If Americans in 2021 cannot be convinced of the sanity of wearing masks and getting vaccinated, we are almost certain to surpass the 675,000 of 1918 and 1919.

In retrospect, all it would have taken was for Donald Trump to plead with his Republican and non-college-education devotees to wear the damn masks, to get off his Big Mac eating, twitter-sending, Fox-watching ass and have a decent and efficient system of vaccine distribution in place and ready to go when the vaccines became available.

But he just couldn’t do that. Instead, he placed JARED KUSHNER in charge of developing a vaccine – after he’d already botched an earlier assignment of overseeing the availability of personal protection equipment for front line workers and ventilators for patients. Meanwhile, Jared and daughter Ivanka were busy raking in $640 million while working in Daddy’s administration.

And let’s be perfectly clear: Jared Kushner did not develop a vaccine. In fact, he had nothing to do with developing a vaccine. He is no a scientist. Researches extensively trained in immunology, who have spent their entire careers in research, are the ones who developed the vaccines. Jared Kushner’s background is that of a slumlord.

If Trump had only not downplayed the coronavirus (“it’s like the flu,” “it’ll disappear by Easter,” “it’s a Democratic hoax”) and told his base to mask up and take the vaccinations when they became available, you’d see pro-Trump anti-vaxxers who slept through civics classes in high school signing up for their shots.

But that’s the reality in which we live today – a reality where, thanks to social media, up is down, black is white, wrong is right and those who can shout the loudest prevail.

Read Full Post »

An alarming trend in efforts by public agencies and public officials to shield themselves of public accountability via a tactic called strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) is being employed with more regularity in Louisiana.

The most recent manifestation of this strategy is the lawsuit by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (who, by the way, has championed transparency on the part of others) against the Baton Rouge Advocate-New Orleans Times-Picayune and its reporter Andrea Gallo.

So, what exactly did Gallo do that warranted legal action against her and her publications by the state’s top legal authority (a description, by the way, that goes far in illustrating just how bad it’s gotten in this state)?

Basically, she made a public record request Pursuant to LA. R.S. 44.1 (et seq.), which gives every Louisiana citizen of legal age the right to examine public documents that are not otherwise exempt from examination and/or copying.

Peter Kovacs, executive editor of the papers, said, “In my 40 years as an editor, I’ve never seen a journalist get sued for requesting a public record.”

Apparently, he hasn’t been paying attention.

As early as May 2015, judges in the 4th Judicial District (Ouachita and Morehouse parishes) FILED SUIT against the Ouachita Citizen newspaper after that publication made a public records requests for documents on whether 4th JDC Clerk Allyson Campbell destroyed or otherwise mishandled public records in a high-profile lawsuit in that court.

In June 2016, JOHN WHITE, thenserving as Louisiana Superintendent of Education, FILED SUIT against activists Mike Deshotels and Dr. James Finney over public record requests they made.

Not long after that, in August 2016, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter employed criminal libel law that was no longer in force to justify a raid on the home of a local blogger who had the temerity to criticize the sheriff on his blog. The good news on that one was a federal judge blocked the sheriff, the blogger sued and won a $250,000 settlement from the sheriff.  

In 2015, Lake Charles attorney RUSSELL STUTES, representing Calcasieu Parish’s Gravity Drainage District 8, sued Breaux Bridge contractor Billy Broussard because Broussard kept attempting to get the parish to pay him about $1 million for his work in cleaning out Indian Bayou following Hurricane Rita in 2005. Broussard also never got the money that was owed him. Broussard was placed under a restraining order PROHIBITING him from making public records requests or even being allowed to communicate with members of the gravity drainage district or the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. Broussard also never got the money that was owed him.

That, apparently is what you can expect when the legal system is used to the advantage of those who know how to manipulate it.

Also in 2017, the mayor of Welsh, her daughter and son and the town’s police chief filed four separate lawsuits (using the same attorney) against Alderman JACOB COLBY PERRY who ultimately prevailed and collected attorney fees of about $16,000 from the four plaintiffs – all because he was asking questions about the town’s budget, something an alderman might reasonably be expected to do.

About that same time, I was also sued and won a judgment against the plaintiff for court costs and attorney fees.

The most flagrant violation of a citizen’s right to ask questions came in 2018 in VERMILION PARISH when a Kaplan middle school teacher was hauled out of a school board meeting and arrested because she asked why the local school superintendent was being given a health pay raise when teachers were not getting an increase.

That incident made national news and did nothing to enhance the public image of the local school board. Charges against the teacher were quickly dropped but the damage was done and the pollical fallout had begun. A 15th JDC judge nullified the $30,000 per year pay raise for Superintendent Jerome Puyau.

And of course, Attorney General Landry was quick to recognize the political capital to be gained by weighing in with his defense of openness, transparency, accountability and apple pie.

“…[E]very community has a stake in the performance and the governance of its public schools,” sniffed Landry. “The community’s views and thoughts should be taken into account before any action or discussion on an agenda item occurs.”

“Ms. Hargrave [the teacher in question] has been a dedicated public servant, educating our State’s youth and even earning Middle School Teacher of the Year Honors for her efforts. Her voice and the voices of her fellow teachers, who have not received a pay increase in many years despite growing class sizes, should have absolutely been heard.

“I applaud Judge Smith for remedying this injustice, including assurance the Board will abide by the laws and policies related to public comment at future meetings,” he said. “And I pledge to continue diligent enforcement of our Open Meetings Law.”

Well, that certainly sounded good and wholesome at the time.

But that was then and now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s a horse of a different color (check back for future clichés as they occur to me).

Landry is first, last and always, a political animal whose first instincts are survival – not the self-serving claim of protecting the public’s interests.

It now seems that when one of those “fake news” reporters gets too close, the attorney general must finally turn his attention from trying to get Trump back in office by encouraging (through the National Association of Attorneys General) a riotous INVASION of the U.S. Capitol back on Jan. 6 to protecting his own turf.

So, as a result of reporter Gallo’s Dec. 14 public records request of copies of sexual harassment complaints against Pat Magee, director of the criminal division for Landry’s office, the only logical thing to do was to filed suit to block Gallo’s request.

Magee was put on administrative leave by letter of Jan. 19 and an official investigation was initiated. But here’s the really wild part: in a state racked with the costs of hurricanes and a pandemic during 2020, where state sales tax revenues have taken a hit, Landry sees fit to spend money the state can’t afford by engaging the services of Taylor Porter, one of the big-dollar law firms in Baton Rouge, to conduct its investigation of allegations against Magee when a smaller, less expensive law firm could do the same job at far less cost. (Pre-2008 and pre-Jindal reforms, I would suggest letting the State Ethics Board look into the allegations but that possibility is but a distant, fading dream.)

Both Magee and Landry hail from the Lafayette area and both attended Southern University Law School together and Magee is a member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors. He earns about $140,000 per year as head of the Criminal Division.

In seeking the complaints, the newspaper offered to make concessions to protect the identity of complainants. “We would invite redaction of the initial complaint to protect the identity of the victim, but that is the only privacy interest even arguably applicable,” said Advocate-Picayune attorney Scott Sternberg.

But Landry would rather sue to block any public accountability.

Read Full Post »

One of the campaign promises made by President Joe Biden was an end to the practice of private prisons.

If the examples of problems experienced by LaSalle Management, aka LaSalle Corrections, of Ruston are in any way indicative of conditions throughout the industry, that might be a very good thing indeed.

LouisianaVoice in recent months has had no fewer than nine stories of wrongful death lawsuits, class action lawsuit over forced hysterectomies at its Georgia facility, wrongful injury lawsuits, violations of Department of Labor requirements, falsification of records, inadequate employee training and even a description of how the company reorganized its corporate structure in order to deny the ex-wife of one of the company’s principals her ownership share of corporate stock.

As the calendar rolled over to 2021, LaSalle has found itself hit by two more legal blows in quick succession.

In January, the company paid out a $405,000 settlement to a former prisoner at the Jackson Parish Correctional Center who said a fall at the jail left him severely injured and that he was subsequently denied physical therapy. The man, Lane Carter, said he was often forced to drag himself across the jail’s floors because guards refused to provide him a wheelchair. Moreover, following his injury, medical treatment was denied on several occasions and his only treatment was an over-the-counter pain medication.

The latest legal salvo against the company comes in the form of yet another wrongful death claim by the family of inmate Cecil Williams who suffered an asthma attack at the LaSalle-run Madison Parish Correctional Center in Tallulah. He was denied treatment or resuscitation efforts for more than an hour after he lost consciousness and ultimately died, the lawsuit claims.

LaSalle, which Dun & Bradstreet says generates $34 million per year in sales, operates NINE FACILITIES in Louisiana as well as other installations in Texas, New Mexico and Georgia.

Operated by the McConnell family, the company’s headquarters are located, perhaps appropriately, at 192 Bastille Lane in Ruston.

Here are links to other stories LouisianaVoice has done on LaSalle:

Whistleblower’s hysterectomy complaint on LaSalle Georgia detention center has strong Ruston, Louisiana connections | Louisiana Voice

Judge cites LaSalle Corrections for lack of training, falsifying documents in abuse, wrongful death in Texarkana jail ruling | Louisiana Voice

LaSalle Corrections penalized by Dept. of Labor for failure to pay benefits to 122 contract employees at its Tullos facility | Louisiana Voice

Inaccessibility of doctor, falsification of records, neglect lead to still another wrongful death lawsuit at LaSalle jail facility | Louisiana Voice

A peek into LaSalle Corrections background and how its principals will go to great lengths to protect investment | Louisiana Voice

LaSalle’s Web page is back up and it’s a dream job now; still, that doesn’t erase $177,500 pepper spray incident settlement | Louisiana Voice

Inmate beaten while “lost” to personnel of LaSalle-run jail; just another in long line of woes for Ruston prison company | Louisiana Voice

Case in LaSalle-run facility in Georgia now a class-action suit that could expose widespread detainee sterilizations | Louisiana Voice

Employee reviews of the company paint an equally bleak picture:

Working at LaSalle Corrections: 182 Reviews | Indeed.com

Read Full Post »

The vote was close, much closer than it should have been, but Marjorie Taylor Greene has been STRIPPED of her committee assignments by the US House of Representatives.

It was a vote strictly along party lines, 230 Democrats voted to remove her from the committees on Education and Labor and on the Budget and 199 Repugnantcans voted to forgive and forget that this creature stands with QAnon, one of the most bizarre conspiracy perpetuating outfits ever to come along in this country, and the anarchists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Two did not cast votes.

The 11 GOP members who voted to remove Taylor Greene included Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Carlos Giménez (Fla.), Chris Jacobs (N.Y.), John Katko (N.Y.), Young Kim (Calif.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Chris Smith (N.J.) and Fred Upton (Mich.).

The Repugnantcans who supported her appeared to forget that this mouth-breathing redneck from Georgia apparently detests everything this country stands for. Why else would she attack the very government which she now represents with a barrage of hate-infested lies? She thinks that there is a concerted effort to silence her. Perhaps she should try her hate speech in some totalitarian state like North Korea, Iran, or Turkey and see how much support she receives.

And among those Louisiana Repugnantcan representatives (and I certainly use that word loosely) who gave her a pass were Steve Scalise (who, if Taylor Greene is to be believed, was most probably never shot on June 14, 2017), Clay Higgins (who Taylor Greene probably thinks is George S. Patton reincarnate), Mike Johnson (the constitutional lawyer who apparently lost his copy of the US Constitution) and Garret Graves (who should certainly know better).

I simply refuse to believe that the typical Louisiana citizen, who these four presume to represent, agrees with the Taylor Green philosophies.

Okay, I know that just yesterday I wrote that maybe it would best for the country in general if we just ignored the certifiable nut case that she is. But now, by this forced vote by the Democrats, Louisiana’s four Repugnantcan House members have publicly cast their lot with the nuttiest of all the fruitcakes in Washington since Donald Trump and family, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell left town.

And by voting no on the resolution to remove her from her committee assignments, these four have forsaken their oaths of office, turned their backs on any shred of integrity they may have once possessed, and necessarily joined 195 other Repugnantcans in stating for the record that they believe as indisputable facts:

  • A plane did not fly into the Pentagon on 9/11.
  • 9/11 was a government hoax.
  • Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg is a crisis actor.
  • Parkland and other school shootings never happened.
  • Charlottesville was an inside job.
  • Democrats are satanic pedophiles.
  • Nancy Pelosi should be executed for treason.
  • Jewish space lasers started the California fires last year to clear land for a high-speed railroad.
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been replaced by a body double prior to her actual death.
  • Israel was somehow connected to the JFK assassination
  • JFK, Jr. is alive and well.
  • Robert Mueller was appointed by Trump to investigate Hillary Clinton.
  • Lizard people control the world.
  • Trump won.

Moreover, they have forever identified themselves as bigoted, anti-Semitic white supremacists.

A friend sent me this tweet that pretty much says it all:

“No matter what you think of this move by the Democrats, Republicans got no one to blame but themselves. It’s THEIR fault this vote took place. THEY should have disciplined her. THEY should have cleaned up their own house. THEY should have done the right thing. But THEY wouldn’t.”

Good to know once and for all where they stand.

There was a time when I could give Graves the benefit of the doubt. He is, after all, the congressman who represents the district where I live.

No more.

By virtue that he could, by his vote today, condone the intolerable utterances of one in an otherwise responsible position as Taylor Greene, he puts himself in the same company with those in Germany who gave Hitler a pass in 1933.

And before you blow your stack at my analogy, understand I have not compared Graves and the other Repugnantcans to Hitler; I’ve compared them to the people of Germany who allowed him to come to power in the first place through their overall discontent and dissatisfaction. The only public official I would compare to Hitler would be Trump because of the manner in which he duped millions of citizens.

Why did I single out Graves? Simple. Scalise and Johnson long ago sold their souls to the radical right wing of the Repugnantcan Party and Higgins is the poster child for arrested mental development that it’s enough that we could expect him to utter a coherent sentence of no more than a half-dozen monosyllabic words.

But I somehow expected better of him because I perceived him to be one with some semblance of responsibility for doing the right thing no matter the consequences.

I was wrong.

Read Full Post »

The Democrat-majority House will VOTE Thursday on whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will be stripped of her membership on House committees, including the Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on the Budget after Republicans PUNTED on punishing the Georgia kook for her conspiracy theories, stalking activities and Qanon affiliation.

But from my vantage point as a non-politician with no contacts inside the Beltway, no inside knowledge other than what I see and read, I believe the Democrats are making a serious mistake in going after the female version of Clay Higgins, but without the charm, the intelligence and the humility.

This woman goes way beyond weird. She makes Batman, Superman, and Spider Man seem plausible and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny something more substantial than a myth.

And she’s the best thing that’s happened to the Democratic Party. The Democrats in Congress should be doing everything in their power to keep her on her committees – not working to kick her off. Every time she opens her mouth, the Republican hole of credibility gets a little deeper.

Damon Linker, writing for THE WEEK, said “…lavishing attention on her definitely will vastly raise her profile and increase the size of her audience beyond her George district.”

He’s correct (see coverage of four years of Trump tweets). I have a friend up in St. Francisville who consistently lamented the coverage given Trump’s outlandish proclamations (“nuke hurricanes,” “drink bleach,” “it’s just like the flu,” “it’ll be over by April,” “fake news,” “witch hunt,” “no collusion,’ ya-da, ya-da).

Now Trump is threatening to start his own political party, something called the “Patriot Party.” Again, I wholeheartedly encourage him. He will not only finish destroying the Repugnantcan Party in the process, but will add yet another to his growing list of FAILED ENTERPRISES (see Trump Airlines, Trump Beverages, Trump: The Game, Trump Magazine, Trump Mortgage, Trump University, Trump Steaks, Trump’s Travel Site, Trump’s Communications Company, Trump Tower Tampa, Trump Vodka, Trump Ice, The New Jersey Generals football team, Trump Network, Trump Plaza Hotel, and, of course, Trump Casinos).

But I digress.

We have witnessed the morphing of the Repugnantcan Party from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Trump and now the Party of Marjorie Taylor Greene. Riding shotgun in her kookmobile is Josh Hawley, with Gym Jordan, the aforementioned Higgins, Mike Johnson and John Neely Kennedy crammed into the rumble seat as they careen the wrong direction down the Political Expressway.

Among Taylor Greene’s more outrageous claims:

  • A plane did not fly into the Pentagon on 9/11.
  • 9/11 was a government hoax.
  • Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg is a crisis actor.
  • Charlottesville was an inside job.
  • Democrats are satanic pedophiles.
  • Nancy Pelosi should be executed for treason.
  • Jewish space lasers started the California fires last year to clear land for a high-speed railroad.
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been replaced by a body double prior to her actual death.
  • Israel was somehow connected to the JFK assassination
  • JFK, Jr. is alive and well.
  • Robert Mueller was appointed by Trump to investigate Hillary Clinton.
  • Lizard people control the world.
  • Trump won.

This, dear readers, is the new face of the Repugnantcan Party. Abe and Teddy Roosevelt would be mortified. Even Nixon would turn away in disgust.

Even Mitch McConnell, who protected Trump for four years, ramming through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to replace Ginsburg just weeks before the 2020 election while denying Obama’s effort to nominate a justice nearly a year before the 2016 election, calls Taylor Greene a “cancer” on the Repugnantcan Party.

When you’re too “out there” for Moscow Mitch, you know things have pretty much gone to seed in the GOP.

How did the party that espouses family values, fiscal conservatism, law-and-order, and good old capitalism slide into such a condition? The answer can be found in two memos.

The first was the Lewis Powell MEMO, written a year before Nixon appointed him to the Supreme Court as his reward. That one was a “corporate blueprint to dominate democracy.”

The second, and most important, was the so-called SOUTHERN STRATEGY, a 500-page instruction manual for the Repugnantcan Party’s 1968 plan to absorb the erstwhile Democratic South into the party in order to gain total political dominance by appealing to white prejudices while pitting racial and ethnic groups against each other and gaining political capital from the competitions and resentments that ensued.

Kevin Phillips, the 28-year-old staffer in the Nixon White House who wrote the book, told writer Garry Wills during the 1968 presidential campaign, “The whole secret of politics is knowing who hates who.”

Phillips must’ve been paying attention when then-Sen. LYNDON JOHNSON said to Bill Moyers in 1960, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.”

So, in the span of half-a-century, we’ve seen the resignation of a president, the impeachment of two others (one of those twice), the bombing of a federal courthouse in Oklahoma City, mass shootings (Taylor Greene and Alex Jones’s contentions to the contrary notwithstanding), and an unprecedent rise in right-wing extremism (that’s not to say the left has been completely dormant, the most vocal and extreme activity has come from the right).

The Southern Poverty Center has a list of EXTREMIST GROUPS that grows longer by the day. To try and understand the mindset of these people, in this case the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, click HERE.

So, don’t go after Marjorie Taylor Greene with knives flashing. That’s exactly what she wants: victimhood.

You see, Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t the problem. Neither is Gym Jordan, Josh Hawley, Tec Cruz or Clay Higgins. They’re just symptoms of a much larger and more deadly disease that, fed the mother’s milk of publicity, can only grow stronger, more credible and more lethal.

As we should have learned from four years of Trump, the one thing these people cannot stand is to be ignored. Ignored, they will fade into oblivion.

It was difficult to ignore Trump because he was, after all, president of the US, theoretically, the most powerful man on earth. His pronouncements carried consequences, good or bad, but consequences nonetheless.

But Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of 535 members of Congress. There are 100 senators whose thoughts and actions generally carry more meaning than House members (unless it’s someone like John Kennedy). And Marjorie is but one of 435 House members – and a lowly freshman at that. Her words and actions mean little without a platform or an audience.

So, Democrats, do what’s best for your party and let her rant to her flaky bimbo heart’s content.

After all, everyone loves a clown and if she’s ignored, she’s just a harmless hick clown from Georgia.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: