As we head into the final seven weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 congressional elections, we have 12 candidates challenging Foghorn Leghorn Kennedy for the U.S. Senate and seven challengers for U.S. Rep. All Hat, No Cattle Clay Higgins in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District.

The remaining incumbents, with the exception of Rep. Mike “Tattoo” Johnson up in northwest Louisiana’s 4th district, have what would basically be called only token opposition. Johnson didn’t attract any challengers in what is a solid red district and Louisiana’s other senator, Bill Cassidy isn’t up for reelection for a couple of years.

I’ll get to Kennedy and, in the words of one of LouisianaVoice’s readers, his Randy Quaid impersonation presently but first, a few words about Higgins and his ability to embellish his credentials as well as his hero, Don of Orange, aka the Great White Dope.

Higgins, who claimed one committee hearing, to have been responsible for “thousands of arrests” during his stellar career as a law enforcement officer for a small-town police department and as public information officer for the St. Landry Sheriff’s Department (his former boss, the St. Landry Parish sheriff told LouisianaVoice the number of Higgins collars was closer to “half-a-dozen, at best”).

But never mind his terrorizing the criminal element in and around St. Landry. Let’s fast forward to today (Sept. 20) and Higgins’s claim that he and some of his unnamed House colleagues “have very thick files” that tell the real story of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and that the “involvement of actors that have not yet been held to account, and that’s precisely what we’re going to do.”

Higgins declined to name any of those supposed colleagues but did say he possessed “a four-inch-thick file” on the investigation that he said was the product of his investigation. “…[I]t’s going to be revealed,” he said. “It’s going to be addressed, very likely people are going to go to jail.”

Well, Congressman, some people involved in the events of that day are already in jail. Some of those are members of the Proud Boys who have been convicted for their part in that Jan. 6 debacle. Or didn’t your “investigation” turn up that bit of information?

The obvious question is if Higgins has such damning information, why hasn’t he shared those findings with anyone? He says his information is not complete yet. Well, if it’s not sufficiently complete to share, it would seem that there simply is not sufficient evidence to change anything — or to make inflammatory statements about what the report may or may not contain. Higgins is a doofus with not a shred of credibility. The only difference between him and Marjorie Taylor-Green and Lauren Boebert is gender.

But LouisianaVoice has received reliable information that Higgins’s “investigation” has revealed that the insurrection was launched by cleverly-disguised (as Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, etc.) left-wing anarchists from two fronts: the pedophile headquarters in the basement of a Washington pizzeria and from a grassy knoll in Dallas and that the leaders were John Kennedy, Jr., and Elvis, who were actually working undercover on behalf of President Rancid Velveeta and Rudy “Meet Me at the Four Seasons Lawn and Garden Center” Giuliani. (I’m pretty sure that’s about as reliable has the contents of his report.)

Now, if only Higgins had exerted as much energy to obtaining federal assistance for the victims of those two hurricanes that devastated Lake Charles and adjacent Cameron Parish in 2020. It’s been two years and little has been done to aid in recovery efforts – and that’s on Higgins, because it’s his district. He’s done little other than run his mouth like the idiot he most surely is.

Now, let’s talk about Randy Quaid John Kennedy. This is the guy who voted against certification of the 2020 election results despite having zero evidence that there was fraud (other than that “investigative file” in Higgins’s possession — which he didn’t, and still doesn’t, have).

Here’s a guy who, in almost six years in office, has rarely appeared in Louisiana and had never (until last week) sent any kind of mailer to his constituents to inform them (us) of developments in his office. But now that his reelection is looming and he has a serious challenger, a nice, four-page mailer that trumpets his work to reduce violent crime, combat drug overdoses, halting human trafficking, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, fighting inflation, and protecting Louisiana families suddenly appeared in my mailbox.

The beauty of it was that the mailer was sent out free of any cost to Kennedy via his franking privileges. None of his 12 challengers has the advantage of being able to send out a million or so campaign mailers at no cost. (And he didn’t see any need to communicate with the folks back home until election time.)

But give Kennedy credit: he knows how to appeal to the masses. His reelection ad is a beaut. He likes dogs. Well, guess what? I like dogs, too, but that does not qualify me as a member of the most prestigious club in the world. And neither does sprinkling in those defiant “by Gods” stand one in good stead for the Senate. Both look/sound good. Not so his passing attempt at being folksy but instead was just a asinine reference to “pink-haired” Washington reporters; that just sounds incredibly stupid and bigoted. The entire ad is devoid of any real substance or reasons why anyone should vote for a candidate solely on his flimsy, cheap imitation of homespun philosophy. Will Rogers he ain’t — he comes off more like Cousin Eddie from those Vacation movies.

But remember, too, John Kennedy also is the guy who voted against help for military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq. You remember Iraq, don’t you? That’s the war we started on faulty intelligence that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove had but chose to ignore. The result was 20 years of war that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives while enriching military contractors.

But if the events of Jan. 6, 2021, the discovery of top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago, and the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision have done anything, it’s caused the Repugnantcans to reassess their sanctimonious positions and to reboot their campaign strategies.

In case you haven’t noticed, Kennedy, who ran in 2016 as being “110 percent in support of Donald Trump,” has not so much as breathed the Orange Caligula’s name even though the Great Orange Hairball of Fear did offer up his endorsement of Foghorn Leghorn – for whatever minimal value that may still carry. I reckon Kennedy has ridden the Dorito Donald hoss about as far as he can, all things considered.

Kennedy loves to wax philosophical. But he should remember that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Sometimes you just have to produce in order to hold your job.

Gavin McCauley is in the Evangeline Parish Jail on drug charges.

His mom, Dana McCauley doesn’t deny he needs help and she plans to admit him into a rehab center – if she can keep him alive long enough.

The problem is he has a cyst in his brain stem and a deputy sheriff, a jailer actually, attacked Gavin, 27, last Friday and left him bleeding on the floor of his cell unattended.

The jailer was identified by Dana McCauley as Jaquerus Hayward (Sheriff Charles Guillory said he doesn’t know the jailer – “We have a lot of part-timers working in the jail,” he said).

A major problem with local jails is the staffing with guards who are part-time, inexperienced, and inadequately trained. Such situations often result in charges of excessive force on the part of guards.

The problem erupted Friday when Hayward entered McCauley’s cell and left the cell door open. McCauley asked Hayward if he could close the door, and Hayward said yes, Dany McCauley told LouisianaVoice. “Hayward yelled at him for closing the door and Gavin said he asked and McCauley said okay. That’s when Hayward grabbed Gavin, slammed him against the wall and onto the floor and began beating him.”

She said Gavin had a court hearing today (Monday) “and his face was still swollen.”

She said Gavin has a brain stem cyst and if it ruptured, it could be fatal. “They know about that but they don’t care,” she said.

She said she called the jail to complain and spoke directly to Hayward who said he was justified in taking the action he did.

LouisianaVoice spoke with Sheriff Guillory who said he was unaware of the incident. He added that he would investigate to determine why the guard attacked Gavin McCauley.

“They finally brought in a nurse but she didn’t do anything for him,” she said.

Six years ago, the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department slammed the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Ville Platte Police Department for the two departments’ policy of randomly detaining citizens for questioning even though they were not suspected of committing any crimes.

The 17-PAGE REPORT said the practice dated back “as far as anyone (at either department) can remember.”

LouisianaVoice REPORTED in May that victims of the practice waited too long to file their class action lawsuit against the two departments.

Guillory wasn’t elected until 2019, three years after the report was published, but Dana McCauley says little has changed.

“They’re still doing it,” she said of the practice of randomly hauling citizens in, strip-searching them, placing them in holding cells without beds, toilets or showers, and denying communication with family members – all in order to pressure them into giving information about possible crimes or even, in some cases, confessing to crimes they didn’t commit after officers threatened to arrest and imprison family members.

Depending on the year that figures are compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice, either Louisiana or Oklahoma has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

Broken down further, the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration and one of those two state routinely swap the title from year to year for the highest rate among the 50 states, thus the highest rate in the world. Higher than China, higher than Russia, higher any of the states in the Mid East. Highest in the world.

In 2018, for example, Oklahoma had an incarceration rate of 1,079 per 100,000 population, followed closely by Louisiana’s rate of 1,052 per 100,000. The NEXT FOUR were all from the South: Mississippi (1,039), Georgia (970), Alabama (946), and Arkansas (900).

Louisiana had held onto the highest rate for years until Gov. John Bel Edwards pushed through sweeping prison reform that resulted in early releases for a number of prisoners but by 2021, it had regained the unwelcome number-one position with an incarceration rate of 1,094 per 100,000 population (Oklahoma, meanwhile, had fallen to a rate of 993 while Mississippi had moved into second place at 1,031.

The national incarceration rate for 2021 was 664 per 100,000, a rate that was only 60.7 percent of Louisiana’s.

But there is one statistic that is indisputable: Louisiana had the second-highest rate of wrongful convictions per capita in the nation from 1989 to 2015, according to the NATIONAL REGISTRY OF EXONERATIONS.

In pure numbers, Louisiana, a relatively small state, population-wise, had “only” 45 exonerations of wrongfully convicted individuals during that same time, ninth-highest in the U.S. The eight states with higher numbers were, in order: Texas (205), New York (189), California (153), Illinois (151), Michigan (55), Florida (54), Ohio (53), and Pennsylvania (52).

But when population was factored in, Louisiana was second highest in the rate of exonerations per capita (1.93 times the national rate) only to Illinois (2.34).

But a more disheartening statistic showed that of the nation’s 3,143 counties/parishes, two Louisiana Parishes ranked in the top four in the rate of exonerations per capita – meaning those two parishes ranked highly in convicting the wrong person of crimes.

Orleans Parish, with 18 wrongful convictions from 2012 to 2015, had the highest rate of all 3,143 counties at 9.33 times the national rate, according to the National Registry report.

Jefferson Parish was fourth in the nation at 5.03 times the national rate of exonerations, a dismal showing for both parishes. Though neither parish ranked in the top ten in the number of exonerations, their rates eclipsed the rates of the Bronx, the District of Columbia, Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, Dallas, Kings County (Brooklyn), NY, and Harris County (Houston), Texas.

The advent of DNA testing, of course, has been instrumental in many of the exonerations but local district attorneys who obtained the convictions in the first place – and often even their successors – have been inexplicably reluctant to have evidence tested for DNA, even often at the defense’s expense.

Even when DNA evidence proves a person was wrongfully convicted, prosecutors often dig in their heels in incomprehensible efforts to keep the individual in jail.

In Jefferson Parish, two black youths were convicted in the 1997 robbery/murder of a store owner in Westwego.

One person drove the getaway car while a second entered the store. Hearing the gunshots, the driver was pulling away when the shooter came running out, threw down his ski mask and dove into the car through the open passenger window.

Soon afterwards, TRAVIS HAYES was spotted driving a similar car and RYAN MATTHEWS was with him. The pair was arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to death. Matthews spent five years on death row because the jury never learned that the ski mask DNA did not match either Matthews or Hayes. Nor were jurors ever told that Hayes’s car’s electric window on the front passenger side was stuck in the up, or closed, position.

The Innocence Project took the case and won Matthews’s release with the newly-discovered evidence. Prosecutors were told at the same time that since Matthews had been shown to be innocent, Hayes should be released as well.

No, said prosecutors, Hayes was a different case. It was curious logic that stretched credulity to the breaking point, but nevertheless, Hayes languished another 30 months on death row before he was eventually exonerated.

Harry Connick, Sr. was district attorney for Orleans Parish for 30 years and his office was notorious for withholding exculpatory evidence which resulted in the wrongful convictions of several defendants, among them one JOHN THOMPSON, convicted of murder in a carjacking gone bad and sentenced to death on May 8, 1985.

Thompson remained on death row for 14 years and in April 1999, just 30 days before his scheduled execution, an investigator for the Innocence Project discovered there was a blood stain from the killer that prosecutors had tested – in fact, the test had been rushed by prosecutors – only to find that the blood type was not Thompson’s. The DA’s office never revealed this evidence to the defense as required by law.

When Thomson was finally exonerated, he sued the DA’s office and won a $14 million judgement, which was appealed all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court where Clarence Thomas was the deciding vote that overturned the award.

He did finally receive $330,000 in state compensation, a paltry amount for 14 years of his life that was taken away by a DA’s office that valued a conviction – any conviction – more than an innocent man’s life, more than apprehending the real killer who, as far as anyone knows, is still out there.

Only 32 when he was wrongfully convicted, Thompson died of a heart attack in 2017 at age 55.

Last month I WROTE A PIECE about the Livingston Parish Council’s plans to move books deemed objectionable away from the children’s sections of the public libraries in the parish.

I attended that night’s meeting of the council and several in attendance, including the proponent of the book removals, Michael Lunsford, signed cards prior to the meeting indicating a desire to speak on the proposed resolution to support a letter to all the parish librarians.

We were even told after the meeting began that those having signed cards in advance of the meeting would be given four minutes to speak and those who had not submitted the cards but decided to speak anyway would be given two minutes.

But then, when Parish President Layton Ricks offered the resolution to the council, the motion was made quickly (too quickly, I might add), seconded, and passed unanimously – without allowing a single person in attendance the opportunity to speak. Ricks didn’t even extend the courtesy of making copies of the letter available to attendees.

So much for democracy in action.

Ricks’s letter was three pages in length, so I’ll spare you the details other than to say he did approach the volatile subject of censorship in a conciliatory manner, and to touch on the main point.

Acknowledging that “there are two sides to every story,” he wrote, “It appears to me that people on both sides of this issue are more interested in proving that their views are correct and everyone else is wrong than they are about addressing the real issue: What is best for our children. (sic) That should be the common goal.”

He then wrote, “…I encourage you to look beyond the arguments of adults caught up in their own battle of wills and remember the true issue at stake. I don’t have the right to ask that these books be totally removed from the library. However, in my opinion, if there is a concern about the content of a book, let’s at least put it in an adult section that is monitored by library staff or accessible only to children accompanied by a parent or guardian.”

Well, that was polite enough and may possibly have even diffused opposing viewpoints somewhat – had copies of the letter been made available in advance. It took a public records request for LouisianaVoice to obtain the document.

But the real underlying issue still goes back to the suspected ultimate end-game goal of the driving force behind the movement in Livingston (and the state’s other 63 parishes), one Michal Lunsford of St. Martin Parish.

I suggested in that August post and in an earlier one back LAST DECEMBER that it was just the first step toward book banning efforts.

“What’s next after you pull those books?” I wrote back then about efforts in Lincoln Parish that, it turned out, was just the opening salvo in this culture war. “What else might offend your sensibilities,” I wrote, “publications about slavery and injustices suffered by Blacks? Books about wrongful convictions of the innocent? Overcrowding of prisons because of harsh punishment enacted by “law and order” politicians for minor offenses? What about books that document American genocide, aka the near-eradication of Native Americans? Everything critical of any political viewpoint you happen not to share? Perhaps a certain cookbook because you happen to not like broccoli?”

I ended that rant by suggesting that some of the people in my home town of Ruston pull out their Bibles and read Matthew 7:1-3.

I reprised that post last month when I suggested that books about women’s rights (the struggle for women’s suffrage, for example), teachings about the Civil War because the topic of slavery would be unavoidable, the struggle for civil rights (such as Baton Rouge’s Bob Mann’s exemplary book, The Walls of Jerico). I even tossed out the possibility of an assault on the right to vote for blacks, women, or non-property owners.

In that piece, I overlooked encroachment on our freedom to choose which TV shows we deem to watch (probably because I happen not to watch much TV other than the news – not local news so much because I think it only exists to keep lawyer ads from bumping together).

But now US Rep. Mike Johnson from up Shreveport way has even waded into that discussion by taking on Danny DeVito and his new sitcom Little Demon.

The absurdity of Johnson’s taking time out from the nation’s problems of crime, environment, and economy to pick a fight with an animated cartoon is beyond description but he’s found a way to insert himself into the controversy that most didn’t even know existed.

DeVito does the voice of Satan in the cartoon. His daughter does the voice of Satan’s daughter, whose soul Satan tries to wrest control of from her mother, a mortal woman.

During Sunday night’s telecast of the LSU football game (who can forget that heartbreak?), ABC, whose parent company is Disney, ran a promo of the Disney show and Johnson claims he had to hurry and hit the remote to shield his 11-year-old daughter from the evil spirit of the preview which, I suppose, he felt might possess her body or pull her into the television a-la the 1982 movie Poltergeist. Johnson even fretted over how many other children might have been “exposed to it” or “how many millions more will tune in” to the series. (I would love to have seen and heard his take on the John Denver-George Burns 1977 movie Oh, God! but he was probably in the Marines about then and getting his tattoo.)

Well, he and all those who are so concerned about the content of libraries had better turn their attention to other sources. Online porn is oh-so-easily available over the Web and how many of these concerned parents keep a close watch over their kids’ computers and cellphones?

And parents might want to seriously consider “shielding,” as Johnson would put it, their children from reading certain parts of the BIBLE.

Johnson is horrified at the thought of a cartoon Satan but apparently is unconcerned about a talking snake. I wonder if he wants his daughter reading Numbers 31:17-18 (instructing God’s warriors to kill all male babies and women but to take female children for their own pleasure)? Or how about Lot offering up his two daughters for sex to the men of his neighborhood? Or of Lot later impregnating those same daughters? And what about all the mass murders perpetrated by God? Does he really want his daughter reading about a flood that wiped out all but the family of one man? Or of the plagues he sent on Egypt, including more mass murders of babies? Or still more mass murders of Egyptian soldiers by drowning? Lunsford’s companion at the Livingston meeting said the Bible “doesn’t condone” the killing but I beg to differ. Perhaps she should brush up on Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, and Leviticus.

They’ve already banned certain math textbooks in Florida. Math, for Pete’s sake! And Gov. DeSantis has even gone so far as to establish so-called “voting police” and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is offering a $10,000 bounty for neighbors to spy on neighbors.

Sorry, folks, but I just can’t shake this feeling that we’re headed down a slippery slope of banning books that tell of the dark chapters of our history – of Native American genocide, slavery, lynchings, civil rights struggles, and tens of thousands of Americans who died in wars that were fought for all the wrong reasons.

And lest some of you think I’m unpatriotic for offering up such criticism, I disagree vehemently. Patriotism is not “My Country Right or Wrong,” nor is it loyalty any political party – ANY political party – or politician. Patriotism is loving one’s country (and I do) and when seeing democracy wavering down a dangerous path, saying so – for the same reason we correct our children when they err or when we call 911 when witnessing a crime.

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