On Thursday (Feb. 25), we posted a story that contained several news developments. Those included the approval of the one-cent sales tax, Moody’s downgrade of the state’s credit and the announcement of Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell’s entry into the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by retiring Sen. David Vitter.
Also mentioned in passing was the call we received from someone conducting a so-called “independent poll” about the upcoming Senate race.
We bracketed the term “independent poll” with quotation marks because it took only a few questions from the “pollster” to realize the questions were quite obviously written on behalf of—and possibly even by—U.S. Rep. John Fleming, the good doctor/UPS store/Subway sandwich shop/payday loan entrepreneur from Minden.
Unfortunately, that is the way virtually all polls commissioned by candidates are conducted: loaded questions intended to steer the respondent’s answers in a certain direction so as to enable the candidate to release the “results” that put him or her in a favorable light.
With Fleming, however, it is more than a little difficult to put him in a favorable light. He is just that repulsive and his candidacy for Senate could well be a blessing in disguise. Should he lose—and at the moment, State Treasurer John Kennedy would appear to be the clear favorite—then the state will be rid of what one blogger called “today’s most hateful Republican stooge.”
Should Kennedy or any of the other half-dozen or so candidates win, then Fleming can go back to selling foot-longs.
It’s bad enough that Fleming pulled down more than $5 million in 2008 the year he was first elected, but he did so while refusing to contribute to the health care of most of his 500 employees. The precious few who did qualify were forced to pay a $3,300 deductible.
A couple of years ago, Fleming was critical of LouisianaVoice for what he perceived as our position of favoring “redistribution of wealth.” We responded that the only “redistribution of wealth we were able to document was the upward flow of wealth to Wall Street, pharmaceutical companies and big oil and gas. It was at that point that Fleming did what he does best: he blocked us from further correspondence on Facebook. So much for public discourse and accountability to the electorate (yes, we are aware we don’t vote in his district, but he habitually does the same thing to his constituents).
We also wrote about his payday loan company. Payday loan companies, which, by the way, our wonderful legislature has refused to rein in, feed on low-income, unsophisticated citizens by charging impossibly high interest rates that only perpetuate the problem of recurring, increasingly high debt for those struggling to survive. (That same legislature has exacerbated the problem by repeatedly refusing to increase the minimum wage in Louisiana.)
It was at that point that his mouthpiece, aka public relations flak, contacted us, asking if we would print a retraction to the story about his payday loan company, which the mouthpiece claimed was a corporation set up solely for Fleming’s employees (that’s nice, pay low salaries and then take the money back via high interest loans).
Our response was that we would be happy to print a retraction if (a) he could prove the story was untrue and (b) he would reveal to us how many medical malpractice lawsuits had been filed against Fleming’s medical practice.
We never heard from him again.
But back to that poll:
The questions were couched in such a way as to make every other candidate (except for Campbell who at the time, had not announced as a candidate) look like some type of evil predator bent on devouring the livers of the electorate. For instance, were aware that John Kennedy was a Democrat who supported John Kerry for President (in 2004) but later switched to Republican?
Wow! That’s a real killer.
How do you feel about John Fleming, who despite humble beginnings, brought himself up by his bootstraps to become a successful businessman who founded several businesses and who was a successful physician?
Short answer: “He’s an idiot.”
And “even though there has never been a Supreme Court Justice appointed in an election year…..”
Whoa. Hold it right there, lady. That’s a lie.
Nonplussed, she soldiered on: “President Obama intends to fill the vacancy…”
Not true. There have been six Supreme Court justices confirmed during a presidential election year since 1900—two by Nixon, one each by Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. http://www.vox.com/2016/2/15/10998836/supreme-court-nomination-election-year
Okay, Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist were actually confirmed in December of 1971—a couple of weeks shy of the actual calendar election year, but well within the 12 months leading up to the election. Same for the confirmation of Ford’s nominee John Paul Stevens (December 1975). But Anthony Kennedy, Reagan’s nominee, was confirmed in February of 1988.
Going back a tad further, Franklin Roosevelt nominated Frank Murphy who was confirmed in January of 1940 and Herbert Hoover nominated Benjamin Cardozo who was confirmed in February of 1932.
Let me ask you a question, Ms. Pollster: How do you feel about Fleming’s apparent willingness to tell an outright whopper just for the purpose of obtaining a favorable (to him) answer to a poll question?
For that matter, how do you feel about Fleming’s consistently voting against working families even though he represents a district where the median income is only about $35,000 per year?
- He opposed a bill whereby small businesses with 25 employees or fewer with wages of less than $40,000 would qualify for tax credits of up to 50 percent of the costs of providing health insurance. (Of course, he favored tax credits for the wealthy and for big corporations).
- He opposed help for seniors with drug costs in the Part D donut hole that would have cut the costs of brand name drugs by 50 percent and which would have eventually eliminated the donut hole altogether.
- One of his first votes in Congress was to oppose SCHIP, the proposal to provide medical insurance to 11 million needy children. (Fortunately, that bill passed by a huge margin of 290-135.
So there. Take your little poll and stick it in the same place where Fleming’s head resides.