(I am no longer active with LouisianaVoice but I am leaving it open to guest columnists who wish to use the platform for their posts. Following is one such guest post by Stephen Winham, retired Director of the Executive Budget Office for the State of Louisiana.)

Tom Aswell

By Stephen Winham     

Our former POTUS knows that when it comes to getting elected, what the media says about you matters much less than the simple fact they are talking about you. Trump is the ringmaster of a circus all the media love – left, right and center– and he loves them back, even while pretending to be the victim if he is even mildly criticized.

Constant coverage keeps Mr. Trump exactly where he wants to be – at the very top of the news. Thanks to years of coverage of his increasingly outrageous publicity stunts and other questionable activities, he can thank the media for his election as POTUS in the first place and for his continued relevance today.

After all, what in the world could possibly be more important than what Mr. Trump did today? [Yes, Virginia, that is sarcasm] Constant coverage of Mr. Trump helps the media in many ways. As just one example, a lot of money is saved from not having to adequately cover a variety of events here and worldwide.

Some events just might be of greater import than showing the exterior of a courthouse for hours and then following the former president’s motorcade from the courthouse to the airport, ala the 1994 slow pursuit of OJ on LA and Orange County freeways. Then, of course, it was necessary to get totally predictable quotes from his attorneys on the tarmac and cover the takeoff of the TRUMP jet.

Since we no longer have a fairness doctrine, it is not necessary for media to attempt objectivity as they compete with one another. Each is free to tailor its coverage to its audience’s political bias. If the audience seems to be drifting away, it is easy enough to shift focus, or even go in reverse.  Right now, the top news everywhere is Mr. Trump and people are perceived to be fascinated by him. As long as that is true, media will capitalize on it.

Okay, so we know who the winners are here – Trump and the media in a deeply symbiotic relationship. Who are the losers? Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding…you got it – us.

Mr. Trump and the media deepen and widen the chasms that were once cracks in our society. I ask you; how does this help us? Is it a good thing that lifelong friendships are the victims of political ideology? That we can no longer civilly discuss, much less agree or even compromise on things that are existentially vital?

How can we possibly deny that the media and powerful politicians are responsible for dividing this country, or, at the very least, fanning the flames of internal discord? And who seems to be the most powerful politician in this country? The same person who is profiting from an indictment for what his supporters and many others consider to be a minor indiscretion – His very own favorite President, Mr. Trump.

Meanwhile, the current POTUS isn’t even afforded the respect due his office, further weakening his ability to lead. The media largely treat him as irrelevant, and the pundits treat him even worse. Even his supporters are lukewarm to him, at best. His age is certainly working to his disadvantage, but he seems to be trying his best and is a decent human being who does not lie as a default response. Nor does he routinely exhibit pettiness and cruelty.

[I know, I know. Mr. Trump did not receive the respect his supporters believe he should have when he was POTUS. I think he got much more respect than he deserved.]

Trump is treating the current indictment as a tempest in a teapot and his followers are agreeing. It is easy to predict he will capitalize on any additional indictments and even on any convictions. In the unlikely event he ever goes to jail, he will achieve the epitome of political martyrdom in the hearts and minds of his supporters.

The United States is progressively losing respect in the world. Mr. Trump should accept significant responsibility for this, and so should the media. The difference is that the media should not be expected to promote the United States as a world leader. As POTUS emeritus, Trump should. Rather than do so, he makes clear arguments that the United States is in horrible shape and going down the tubes in the absence of his presidency. Is that a good message to send to this country, much less the rest of the world? Should we care what the rest of the world thinks of us? We absolutely should and so should all our elected officials. We live on one planet.

Some say we have the country we deserve. Unfortunately, they’re right. We elect and re-elect people who serve themselves, and their political masters. We come in second, at best, and the media accepts it as normal. Politicians are given free publicity and the more outrageous their campaigns, the more publicity they get.

We need to break this cycle. I am not so naïve as to believe Donald Trump and his toadies should not be covered at all. But, please, does he have to be shoved down our throats continuously, particularly when he shows utter disregard for the truth or anything else that might have positive consequences?

Aren’t there important and real issues out there around which we could theoretically unite for the greater good? Will we ever again  have an opportunity to vote for and elect a candidate for President who we can really feel good about? Will the media ever regain its credibility and balance? It really depends on us.


Regular readers of LouisianaVoice are aware that I traditionally hold two fundraisers per year – in April and October.

Not this time.

If you want something to support that has real meaning, please give generously to your local Food Bank or to the victims of devastating tornadoes in Arkansas, Mississippi, and elsewhere. If you don’t have money to spare for those unfortunate victims, give clothing, cookware, furniture, and appliances you no longer need. These are people who genuinely need our compassion and assistance.

Give to them, not LouisianaVoice. In fact, those of you who have set up monthly payments to LouisianaVoice should terminate those payments immediately and permanently. They are appreciated but no longer necessary.

You see, all good things (and those not so good) must eventually come to an end and that time has come for LouisianaVoice.

We’re shutting down because the time has come to do so.

Like Tom Brady, I “retired” once before because of the macular degeneration in my right eye but that retirement was short-lived after doctors assured me the progression was slow. (My wife insists that I misunderstood the diagnosis in the first place and that it was actually masculine degeneration. She could be right about that.)

Be that as it may, the time, as I said, is right. There are several reasons for my decision:

Number one, I am going to be 80 this year and hell, I’m tired.

Number two, the Internet has become one huge echo chamber with proponents of both the left and right quoting those of similar persuasion for support until everyone ends up quoting each other at the expense of actual facts and useful information.

Number three, despite the presence of all the distractions of yelling back and forth, there are some informative, intellectually-stimulating blogs out there that are far better than what I have the time or resources to offer. Lamar White, Jr., and Sue Lincoln of BAYOU BRIEF come immediately to mind. With Bayou Brief, you can find real, professional journalism second to none. Others include THE LENS, dedicated primarily – but by no means limited to – New Orleans news; LOUISIANA ILLUMINATOR, the PELICAN INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY, and LOUISIANA BUDGET PROJECT on the state scene and too many to even attempt to name on the national and international level, though I will recommend THE GUARDIAN, which, though it is a British-owned online publication, it gives excellent coverage of major events in this country.

Number four, I intend to spend what days I have left in researching and writing books. At the moment, I have two manuscripts finished and ready for publication, and I plan to write at least three more. As I said, I’ll soon be 80, so I need to get cracking on those books.

And five – and foremost – people have gotten just too damn rude. I had an oft-stated policy of non-censorship of comments to my blogposts so long as readers did not become vulgar or racist in their comments. The posting of many comments by readers who disagreed with me were ample affirmation of that policy – until recently. Some of the comments directed at me and some at readers who supported what I wrote have become unprintable, so I have blocked them. Many comments through the 12 years of LouisianaVoice’s existence have pointed out typos and factual mistakes, all of which were appreciated, posted, and corrections made where necessary.

But I don’t have to tolerate the outright hostility expressed just for hostility’s sake. I don’t have to accept the venom spewed with no solutions offered.

Writing some three million words over the past 12 years has been a blast. I’ve loved the support readers have shown over the years and I will always treasure the experience and freedom that writing a blogpost has given me – freedom of expression a writer does not always have on a newspaper (the story about questionable campaign contributions to a prominent US senator that The Baton Rouge State-Times once stopped me from writing, for example – the reason given being the friendship between the senator and Publisher Doug Manship).

I am in preliminary negotiations with an individual to keep LouisianaVoice going, perhaps even expanding it to include a podcast, but those discussions are in the embryonic stages for now, making it premature to divulge any further details.

And I’m leaving the door open to writing an occasional post should LouisianaVoice continue under someone else’s leadership.

For now, though, arrivederci and, from the bottom of my heart, grazie.

As Republicans wrestle with the meaning of the terms “woke” (not one in 10 can accurately define what the word means), “CRT,” and “grooming,” censorship and the attempt to force-feed moral standards continue unabated. It conjures up the famous declaration of former New Orleans Mayor Martin Behrman who said in 1917 of the federal efforts to shut down prostitution in the city, “You can make it illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.”

In Florida, a school principal was forced to RESIGN  after parents, ignorant of art in general and Michelangelo in particular, raised holy hell over the display of the artist’s classic sculpture of David – after which everyone went home to watch 50 Shades of Grey, Eyes Wide Shut, or The Wolf of Wall Street. (Well, somebody was watching those movies, right?)

Now that the issue of book content in public libraries has become the issue du jour, it seems a good time to reveal a recent LouisianaVoice informal poll taken at meetings of the Livingston Parish Council where the burning issue of library books held sway over such trivial issues as flood control and impassable roads and highways where small cars could disappear into the abyss of a pothole from hell.

Fully 73 percent of those polled declared that they did not think President Barack Obama did enough to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Even more interesting, 87 percent got their dander up when I broached the idea that President Biden had announced that he would mandate that the U.S. rely solely on the Arabic numbering system, beginning in 2024.

The response to that scenario was instant and downright hostile. One woman declared that she was “against anything Biden wanted,” so I asked her what she did with her pandemic stimulus check. She gave me a blank stare, so I rephrased the question: “Did you send your check back?” Still no response.

Another person, a man who is a member of the parish governing council, replied with a question of his own: “What’s wrong with the system we have?” he asked indignantly before adding, “I don’t know how to respond to that. I’ll have to study it first.”

Respondents almost unanimously (97 percent) literally bristled when I asked them how they felt about Hunter Biden receiving $2 billion from Saudi Arabia in 2022. “He oughta go to jail,” spat one of those present to protest the perceived easy access of certain books by children. I never bothered to inform him that it was Jared Kushner, not Hunter Biden, who received the $2 billion from the Saudi Investment Fund. Oh well, details, details.

Maybe they would’ve recognized the bogus questions if they ever visited a library to read newspapers and news magazines.

But more important than all that, now comes the news that 39 of the 50 states, including Louisiana, may be forced to tear down their phallic-shaped state capitol buildings and build new, less objectionable ones.

Lunatics Gone Big Time Quirky (LGBTQ) has launched a nationwide movement to remove all phallic-shaped buildings from the landscape in order to protect the delicate eyes of youngsters who might accidentally look up from their cellphones and see sone of these structures that LGBTQ says might pollute and otherwise corrupt young minds.

It’s somewhat interesting that the state political leaders would tend to erect (no pun intended) phallic-shaped buildings in which to conduct state business. It’s somewhat indicative (again, no pun intended) of what the legislators do to the citizenry when they’re in session.

It’s also no coincidence that the title of the Biggest D**k goes to none other than good ol’ Looezeana, whose phallic capitol building towers an impressive 450 feet.

Louisiana State Capitol

Nebraska is second at 400 feet (maintaining its phallic shape despite having a unicameral legislature), followed by another state of many gigantic d**ks, Florida, whose capitol building stands at 322 feet. The domed House and Senate chambers on either side only serve to accent the current abundance of Florida’s d**ks within.

Florida State Capitol

The cost of the new, more modest State Capitol building in Baton Rouge is expected to exceed $480 million, not including graft and kickbacks. Disguised as legitimate cost overruns (as more politicians demand their take), that could escalate the cost by as high as an additional $1 billion – or more, depending on how creative the pols are at fooling the feds.

But Louisiana and Florida state capitols aside, all the suggestive capitol buildings may be history if LGBTQ has its way. Each of those 39 state capitols, as well as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of similarly-endowed structures may be on the LGBTQ chopping block (okay, bad choice of words).

Florida legislators, in anticipation of action by Gov. Rhonda Santis, have already begun preparing legislation to construct a giant fig leaf to cover the State Capitol building in Tallahassee, a project that could rival the cost of a new Louisiana structure given the fact that the state elected Rick Scott first as governor and then US senator despite his having presided over a company that was found guilty of 14 felony violations and fined $1.7 billion for ripping off Medicare, Medicaid. Graft obviously isn’t just tolerated in Florida, it’s encouraged.

Alternative to constructing a new Florida Capitol Building

Florida legislators and Rhonda Santis are also moving forward on an even more ambitious campaign to superimpose a map of the state over the statue of David to cover that 520-year-old marble appendage that has caused such an uproar – even though such a move will undoubtedly present David as considerably more conspicuously endowed (unless lawmakers choose a much smaller map), but will still be better than a map of say, Tennessee or, heaven forbid, Idaho or New Hampshire.

Florida’s solution to the unacceptable statue of David.

Unacceptable Substitutes

In Florida public schools, math books have been purged of controversial material, history book references to slavery and civil rights were expunged, and all English grammar books have been edited to delete any mention (or use) of periods. The same prohibitions are also being considered for colons and dangling participles.

Meanwhile, the Hyde Park Obelisk in Sydney, Australia, has already been fitted with a giant pink condom to conceal the obviously lewd phallic edifice. That should deflect attention from the suggestive obelisk, which will have its name officially changed to “Buildo” in order to comply with the anticipated demands of LGBTQ.

Sydney’s Hyde Park Obelisk in all its lewdness (above) and covered by a condom (below)

In addition to the suggestive buildings, LGBTQ is also targeting several cities and towns, including Dry Prong, Grosse Tete, Bunkie, Hardwood, and Waterproof in Louisiana, as well as a host of other cities in the US and Europe: Slickpoo, Idaho; Mud Butte, South Dakota; Climax, Georgia; Intercourse, Pennsylvania; Nellie’s Nipples, California; Weiner, Arkansas; Titty-Ho street in Raunds, Wellingborough, England; Bitchfield, Lincolnshire, England; Muff, County Donegal, Ireland; Sandyballs, Hampshire, England, and Wetwang, England. The Austrian village of F**king, in anticipation of the wave of decency and political correctness (and to reduce the frequency of city sign thefts), changed its name in 2021 to the more acceptable Fugging. Yeah, that should work.

Anyone remember former LSU President F. King Alexander? What were his parents thinking?

Certain Louisiana parishes have not escaped the attention of LGBTQ, either. Catahoula Parish could conjure up mental images of cat houses, which could cause irreparable damage to the psyche of young children. Morehouse sounds a lot like…well, you know. And the last syllable of Natchitoches could be mistaken for “tush,” so it has to be changed forthwith as does Tangipahoa, for the same reason: “Hoa” could send the wrong message as could the last syllable of Terrebonne. And the middle syllable of Ouachita just isn’t acceptable for young children. Not sure what Calcasieu implies, but it sounds dirty, so it goes, as well. And “Union” can mean only one thing: pre-marital intimacy between impressionable teenagers.

Here are a few other buildings likely to be replaced by more acceptable architectural designs:

On Friday, March 24th, I submitted my application for the open President position at Southeastern Louisiana University, my alma mater.

Numerous colleagues, alumni, and community members have asked me to apply for the position. Prior to the “technology meltdown” and the subsequent questionable leadership in handling of the “hack,” I had no intention of applying for this prominent position. But now I am persuaded to apply. The University—OUR UNIVERSITY—needs strong grassroots leadership. I am answering the call to service.

I came to Southeastern as a high school dropout. As an 18-year-old, I took the GED on campus in the Summer of 1988 and enrolled as a freshman student a few weeks later. Southeastern gave me an emergency student loan and a Federal Pell Grant. I was very involved on campus as a leader, thrusting me into a variety of leadership roles ever since. Truly, nothing good has happened to me apart from Southeastern.

For over 30 years I have served Southeastern in one capacity or another, from student worker to full professor. Indeed, I was President of the Faculty Senate and won the University’s highest award twice, once for artistic activity and again for service. I love Sims Memorial Library and Southeastern. I would like nothing more than to continue to lead in this setting. I have a distinct leadership style and vision. My approach is LOUISIANA STRONG, LOUISIANA BOLD.

On day one, as President of Southeastern Louisiana University, I will begin the process of implementing a clear strategic agenda with my 15-Point Plan: 

1. I will have 4 priorities: Enrollment, Funding, Student Mental Wellness, and Campus Free Speech. Aggressive recruitment of students 24/7/365. Fight for funding from the Louisiana Legislature for raises and deferred maintenance. All hands on deck for a campus culture promoting kindness, empathy, and awareness of mental health. Make the University a Free Speech Zone.

2. I will schedule an open press conference on the Southeastern Internet shutdown. Will answer all questions within my legal right to do so.

3. I will move into the President’s Home and will actually live there with my family. I will only serve as President for 5 years.

4. I will have regularly scheduled open-door events for any student, staff, faculty, or community member to drop by and talk about a campus issue.

5. I will eat weekly meals in the cafeteria and host an open table for anyone to join me.

6. I will host a monthly call-in show on radio and online: “The State of Southeastern.”

7. I will appoint a committee to remove Southeastern from the AAUP Censure List.

8. I will appoint a task force to put KSLU 90.9 FM back on the airwaves. Will have the station broadcasting by September 1, 2023.

9. I will appoint a committee to plan the “CB Forgotston Free Speech Forum,” and I will fund the speakers’ fees personally. Forum to be held bi-weekly during the Fall 2023.

10. I will sign an executive order for all campus employees (including student workers) to make $11 an hour as a minimum campus wage. Effective August 15, 2023.

11. I will propose renaming the Department of Communication the Robin Roberts School of Communication.

12. I will propose renaming the Department of Music to the Bill Evans School of Musical Arts.

13. I will reestablish the Southeastern Social Science Research Center and will propose to rename it the Professor C. Howard Nichols Louisiana Research Center.

14. I will propose naming the Athletic Training Program the Robert “Doc” Goodwin Athletic Training Program.

15. I will launch a contest-campaign to find a second family dog and have students name him or her. This will be a fundraiser for student athletic scholarships.

In closing, I would be grateful for your support and welcome your feedback. There is no place more important to me than Southeastern Louisiana University.

Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula. He can be reached at daynesherman@yahoo.com.

Rep. Danny McCormick is a damned fool.

That’s the only way to describe a man who uses his six-year-old granddaughter as justification for allowing anyone 18 and older to carry handguns without permits – or training.

McCormick has filed House Bill 131 – for the fourth consecutive year – which would allow adults over the age of 18 to not only carry concealed handguns without permits, but to do so without the currently required training.

McCormick, a Repugnantcans from Oil City, absurdly and thoughtlessly cited the proficiency of his six-year-old granddaughter, who he said used an AR-15 rifle to kill her first deer last year, as the pseudo-sound reasoning behind his bill.

He asked the not-so-rhetorical question, “Why don’t we trust law-abiding citizens with their Second Amendment rights?” in supporting his bill.

Well, first of all, Mr. McCormick, if you give blanket approval such as you advocate, what possible assurance do you have that everyone who takes advantage of this new-found freedom will be a “law-abiding citizen,” as you so eloquently put it?

The Nashville shooter at the Covenant School was “law-abiding,” until yesterday, when she wasn’t anymore.

Secondly, you seem hellbent on defending citizens’ Second Amendment rights while your fellow Rethugnicans, from Rhonda Santis all the way down to frothing-at-the-mouth parish council members embark on a concerted effort to weaken First Amendment rights – or abolish them altogether.

At least some modicum of consistency is called for here, Mr. Second Amendment Rights Legislator. The mob that once called itself the Party of Lincoln is determined to gut women’s rights, voting rights, education curricula, LGBTQ rights, civil liberties, and First Amendment guarantees of free assembly (see Atlanta), free press (see Rhonda Santis in Florida and numerous parish councils in Louisiana).

In fact, the Repugnantcan Party has not seen a single right that we take for granted, which are promised us in the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, that it not in favor of striking down – including an actual proposal by a Florida legislator to abolish the Democratic Party.

Except, of course, the precious Second Amendment. CAN’T TOUCH THIS is the mantra of the Repugnantcan Party when its faithful aren’t pausing to offer thoughts and prayers for the victims of yet another mass shooting.

But when all is said and done, I haven’t heard of a single drag queen show fatality. I can’t say the same for guns.

The best thing I can say for McCormick’s bill is, in the words of so many Repugnantcans when the subject of gun control is raised, now is not the time for the discussion. But when you think about it, and if you’re truly honest with yourself, you have to ask the single burning question:

When is the time?

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