20 September 2003

Takin' care of business 

Congrats to Gannett's John Hill who seems to be the first in the state to provide us with the basic numbers from the Marketing Research Insight poll I've been posting about for a day. It seems that the fuss from Maginnis was misplaced. Jindal and Blanco are still neck and neck with a lot of undecideds. The rest of the Democrats are in the middle of the pack, and Downer and Blossman are rounding out the field.

On Friday, Kennedy reported to the 25 wealthy businessmen who are supporting various candidates that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, D-Lafayette, and Bobby Jindal, R-Baton Rouge, are tied at 18 percent in his most recent poll.

. . .

In third place now is Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, D-Lake Charles, with 13 percent. In the previous poll, Ieyoub was at 12 percent.

Other standings: former state Rep. Claude "Buddy" Leach, D-Leesville, 9 percent, previously at 10 percent; former state Senate President Randy Ewing, D-Quitman, 8 percent, previously at 9 percent. Unchanged are state Rep. Hunt Downer, R-Houma, 6 percent, and Public Service Commission Chairman Jay Blossman, 2 percent. The remaining 1 percent selected other

The last poll published in state media conducted by Marketing Research Insight was conducted from Aug. 26-28 (the above story does mention an MRI poll conducted over the first week of September, but I can't find anything about that one). This was just after the debate carried on Louisiana Public Broadcasting. At any rate, here are the numbers, and there doesn't seem to be much change from then to now for the two front runners.









These numbers don't suggest a bump for anyone. Looking at the two polls side by side I can't figure out Maginnis got so excited about. I understand that this Marketing Research Insight is polling at the pleasure of a private consortium, but couldn't they provide some more data to the great unwashed of internet political junkies. I guess that's too much to ask.

The most useless political analysis of all time. . . 

Since my previous post I've been checking in to all the state newspapers and websites to see if I can find any more news regarding the poll teased at PoliticsLA.com this morning. After an afternoon of zero luck I decided to go out and have a few beers. Tonight I come home and see a story about Jindal pulling away from his GOP rivals in the "latest polls" in Saturday's Times Picayune.

Here's a question. How can any reporter write a story doing polling analysis without referencing a single number or source in the entire story? The heart of the article is that Jindal ran to the right with his advertising and rhetoric to establish himself as the Republican in the race for Governor, but author Jan Moller doesn't think it necessary to alert Louisiana readers to the source of the polling data that she makes extensive use of. Here's a few quotes:

Results of recent polls have confounded early speculation that a glut of GOP candidates might put two Democrats into the runoff.

The polls show Jindal running neck-and-neck with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco for the top spot, followed by three Democrats, and then by former Speaker of the House Hunt Downer, R-Houma, and Public Service Commission Chairman Jay Blossman, also a Republican. The polls found both Downer and Blossman well behind, in single digits.

. . .

But not everyone thinks the radio ads have been crucial to Jindal's success. Some analysts give more credit to the support Jindal has received from Foster and to media coverage that has been mostly flattering.

Still others say conservative voters have yet to settle on their candidate.

"They don't have a champion yet," said Robert Namer, a New Orleans talk show host who advised Foster during his 1995 campaign and says he thinks Blossman would be Foster's best successor.

What others say "conservative voters have yet to settle on their candidate?" Is it just some talk show kook in NOLA or do other pollsters say this? Moller quotes Bernie Pinsonat of Southern Media and Research, Inc. extensively in this story, but doesn't mention if they have conducted a new poll. The last poll that they conducted (which I posted on here) showed Jindal and Blanco neck and neck, but the new Kennedy poll teased at PoliticsLa.com seems to show Jindal establishing a lead in the race. I'm frustrated that I can't get the whole story out of a paper with the reputation of the Picayune but given their last few years of decline I'm not surprised.

19 September 2003

Jindal securing his spot at top as Democrats struggle to distinguish their candidacies 

PoliticsLa.com teases us with news from John Maginnis' "Political Fax Weekly." The text of the teaser reads:

Jindal Moves to First
According to John Maginnis in today's Fax Weekly, Bobby Jindal has taken the lead in Dr. Verne Kennedy's newest poll. Maginnis goes on to say that Jindal is securing the first place position and that the race for second is tightening up.

I don't subscribe to Maginnis' report, but I'm sure for Louisiana political watchers it's well worth it. At over hundred bucks a year I can't quite afford it right now. Anyway, Kennedy does the polling at a Pensacola based company called Marketing Research Insight, and good luck finding them online to get their methodology or the exact numbers. It appears interested parties will have to wait a day or two to get into the thick of these polling numbers once the papers get a hold of them.

However, the news of the poll does seem to be borne out by this story from the Times Picayune, which describes Democratic hopefuls Richard Ieyoub and Buddy Leach carving up the black vote. From all appearances this story only makes reference to endorsements by competing black organizations in the state and polls conducted as long as a month ago, but those endorsements have to carry some votes.

With Jindal clearly emerged as the Republican candidate and the chances of an all Democratic runoff out the window now, Blanco should recognize the precarious position she is in. I hesitate to make predictions without actually seeing these polls, but my gut tells me that a spot in the runoff is still hers to lose, even though she hasn't received any major endorsements yet from minority groups, and her name recognition and experience in government can only carry her so far. Of course, by all accounts her standing with women remains strong. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next two weeks.

I'll add at this point that I spoke to a friend in my hometown of Lafayette this morning. He's a Professor emeritus of Louisiana history and has studied elections and polling data in this state for over fifty years. He contends that no matter what the Kennedy numbers say, Ieyoub and Leach are underpolling right now because the support of blacks in Louisiana is rarely measured to its full extent until exit polls reveal it.

If the Maginnis teaser is to be trusted, Blanco should be disappointed. When the campaign started for most candidates it was a race to see who would be in a runoff with the Lt. Governor. Now it looks like she'll have to fight a little to make sure she'll even be around for the November festivities. I'll try and get these numbers to you as soon as I can find them.

Update @ 11:05 am: It appears that Verne Kennedy is polling at the request of a group of twenty-four powerful LA businessmen. I'm not sure what this means--if anything at all--about the reliability of his poll, but I'm just trying to get you all the info I can. Here's the story.

18 September 2003

Pulling the plug on the wurlitzer 

Kit Seelye paints an interesting picture of the relationship between Arkansas "buddies" fmr. President Clinton and ret. General Wes Clark in tomorrow's Times.

For anyone interested in the strange history between these two men you should give this article a read. Admittedly I only know as much about Clark as I've heard on shout radio and the few write-ups he's gotten since this draft Clark movement started. A common slur against him by right-wing blowhards is that he used Clinton to get promoted through the ranks during the nineties and then was removed from his supreme command of NATO forces in humiliation. This article seems to put these slurs to rest. Here are some key quotes, but if you're interested in the man you should go take a look at it.

At first glance, it would seem that Mr. Clinton and General Clark would have a longtime bond.

. . .

In reality, they hardly knew each other. Instead of paths that crossed, theirs were parallel. And when their lives finally intersected — while Mr. Clinton was president and General Clark commanded the allied troops in Europe — it was a complex and tortured time for both.

. . .

Still, early in the Clinton administration, Mr. Clark was named a senior aide to the joint chiefs of staff.

. . .

The similarities in their histories led people to think that there must have been a relationship. One rumor then circulating had it that Mr. Clark had double-dated with Mr. Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

The stories became so common that after several weeks, General Clark did start setting the record straight. And in reality, Pentagon officials said, General Clark's promotions were approved by President Clinton but not initiated by him

. . .

From that assignment as senior aide to the joint chiefs, General Clark took on a succession of promotions, culminating in his assignment as NATO supreme allied commander. But his end came unceremoniously.

. . .

In any case, General Clark was forced to retire early by Pentagon officials who, according to several accounts, tricked President Clinton.

. . .

"Clinton signed on, apparently not realizing that he had been snookered," David Halberstam wrote in his book, "War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals" (Scribner, 2001).

. . .

General Clark wrote that later, President Clinton had told him privately, "I had nothing to do with it."

I'm sorry for the extensive quotes provided here, but if I learned anything from the 2000 election and the horror that was the coverage of the Gore campaign it's that slurs begun on am radio have a way of becoming conventional wisdom pretty quickly. General Clark could be the next Democratic nominee for the presidency, so liberal-minded folks should get on the myths and tear them apart as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Promoting the community 

I'm adding two new blogs to my links at the right, so do me a favor and check them out.

The first is the surprisingly biting DNC blog with what's got to be the best name in blogistan: Kicking Ass.

The other blog is from a fellow Louisiana native. Her name's Mary and she runs Naked Furniture. Judging by her email address she has expatriated to the greener pastures of South Bend, Indiana. Let's hope she represents our great state well. Also, I've got no complaints with her blogger template; it couldn't be more pleasing to my eyes. Go on by and see what she's got to say.

Update @ 3:53 pm: by the way, notice how I scooped the dean of liberal blogging last night with my post about the Texas Dems. Where's the love Atrios? I was on the Kos open thread with that story last night before midnight central time. . . Don't ever call me a stranger to self-promotion

Send him your love 

In one of the forgotten political stories from the November night last year that Sen. Mary Landrieu defeated Suzanne Haik-Terrell, Democrats also picked up the open U.S. House seat left vacant by Republican Rep. Cooksey in his bid for the Senate. Most political observers felt the Republicans were a lock to hold on to the 5th district seat since the north Louisiana area leans heavily towards Republicans, but as the returns were coming and Democrat Rodney Alexander appeared to be making a go of it, Democrats' spirits across the state were raised. It was clear that Alexander's strong showing virtually guaranteed high Democratic turnout for the statewide election and would ensure Landrieu's hold on her Senate seat. At the end of the night Alexander prevailed in his race, and it was a hopeful ending to what had been a pretty dismal showing for Democrats in the 2002 midterm elections.

Now Republicans are training their guns on the freshman Congressman's seat for the 2004 election. It appears that fmr. Rep. Cooksey is considering running for his old seat, and his entrance into the race could spell trouble for the new Congressman. Alexander certainly has some advantages, and in the above story his chief of staff points to some favorable polling data. The Congressman's approval rating in the district is at 65%, which is pretty good by any standard. But any Democrats out there should go let him know you're supporting him. You know what to do, just click here. . .

My apologies 

sorry to my readers who may have been taken aback by the flurries of strange posting over the last few hours. I had some problems with blogger and didn't have the patience to wait them out. I'm still new to blogistan and blogger, so bear with me while I work these things out.

Ieyoub, Jindal, and Leach don't care much for the political process 

Not really, but The Advocate reports on the statewide voting records of the major candidates for governor this morning and three of them have some questions to answer. Jindal and Ieyoub were quick to apologize for their missed votes, which included some amendment elections, presidential preference primaries, and the governor's race that first elected Jindal's mentor Mike Foster. According to a chart provided by the paper Buddy Leach didn't vote in identical elections as Ieyoub, but he either couldn't be reached for comment or didn't care to respond.

Blanco, Downer, and Blossman all had perfunctory criticisms to make against their opponents, but I doubt anyone will take this story into account when they hit the polls next month. Of course, I just link to the stories; you decide.

While you're there check out this profile on Secretary of State incumbent Fox Mckeithen, who has very little chance of losing his spot this year but inspires lots of personal animosity from me. Given that, it's a pretty fair profile.

17 September 2003

Texas GOP accepting applications for cartographer with experience in gerrymandering 

After the Texas Senate Democrats returned from Albequerque last week it looked like the long wait to redistrict the Texas congressional map was finally over.

In what is good news for anyone who is concerned about the century long decline in representative democracy this country has experienced, the witless Republicans in the Texas House and Senate didn't use the four month absence of Democrats from the state to draw up a map that they could agree on. Now they're squabbling over how to draw the new lines, and their lord and master Tom DeLay couldn't "hammer" a compromise down their throats to get it through the senate. The Washington Post reports:

The internecine dispute has embarrassed Republican leaders and may imperil the party's plans to use its new dominance of the state legislature to push through a map designed to shift as many as six additional congressional seats into Republican hands.

. . .

But the House's version is unacceptable to some moderate Senate Republicans, and a public squabble over district boundaries between one west Texas state senator and the speaker of the Texas House{ndash}both Republicans -- has stalled progress toward a new map, at least temporarily.

The intraparty dispute has become so intractable that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House majority leader who has been actively involved in pushing the redistricting idea in the state legislature, flew to Austin last week to broker a compromise among the Republicans. He failed.

Just so you don't get your hopes up about this I should add that the article concludes with a statement which makes it appear that the Republicans will succeed in drawing an acceptable map anyway, but anything that further embarrasses them in this shameless exercise of power is fine with me.

I'm not going to comment further about this being a power-grab or how it breaks some solemn tradition of only redistricting once a decade, because that has been done to death by every liberal blogger between the Atlantic and Pacific. Rather, I'll be a little more angry and point out that every time a redistricting occurs things end up worse for the constituents of a given district. Every time legislators get together to do this they draw up maps that gerrymander safe seats for Republicans and Democrats and the voters lose. Representatives get more ideological and never have to be held accountable to the people who send them to office. The result is a polarized U.S. House of Representatives that can't reach bipartisan consensus on anything, so all we get in Congress is useless political rhetoric followed by passage of a bill that whichever party happens to be in power at the time draws up at their own pleasure. It's a terrible way to run a government.

Tit for Tat 

Via Josh Marshall we learn that the Bush administration is punishing our allies once again for not bending to their every wish in Iraq. It seems that the US has overextended the military in multiple overseas engagements, and now we need to find troops from somewhere to shore up the most pressing matters in the Middle East.

TPM points us to this Financial Times article about the reasons for the the possible removal of four thousand US troops from potentially volatile spots in the Balkans. Here's the kicker quote from an unnamed administration official:

The Balkans have always been essentially a European challenge more than an American one. Much of Europe seems bound and determined to leave Iraq as primarily an American challenge. Perhaps, therefore, a more clear-cut division of labour is in order.

Admittedly, Josh Marshall points out that we need to get our troops from somewhere. But when doing so why should administration officials go out of their way to be so undiplomatic about the whole affair? Every time our officials talk to foreign publications it's like another whining child demanding his ball back so he can go home. Of course there's the added problem with the whole argument that it's Europeans who have demanded to make Iraq primarily an American affair. Everything the administration does suggests that they have no true interest in seeing Europe or the UN get involved in Iraq. That official's quote smells funny any way you sniff it.

Advocate says no to thirteen and fourteen 

The Baton Rouge editorial urges voters against amendments 13 and 14. I agree with their charcterization of thirteen since voters have repeatedly said to subsequent referendums on this same amendment. It makes me wonder why the legislature keeps sending it to us. I don't know what to think about fourteen except to say that I'm generally opposed to any state law that would prevent a citizen from belonging to a political group or running for office because of a particular job. It seems more reasonable to me to apply stricter ethics rules regarding the raising of money and related activities than denying citizens what seems like a fundamental right in a democracy. But don't take it from me, go check out the the paper's rationale and make your own decisions.

16 September 2003

Let the games begin 

CNN says Wesley Clark is in. Watch the him part the seas in the Democratic primary, save little girls from burning buildings, walk on water, and all kinds of other neat stuff.

Opelousas' anti-terror task force, revisited 

Last week I alerted you to the insanity at Opelousas as they comemorated the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon by staging their own mock suicide bombing. Well it turns out this wasn't the first time. The same Sherrif actually staged a mock terrorist attack at the city's federal courthouse way back in 1993.

The most amazing thing is that he didn't warn other law enforcement groups or the local ambulance service that he was doing it. According to the story:

In December 1993, Caillier staged a drill at the federal courthouse in Opelousas, but he didn't let any other law enforcement agencies know about the drill in advance.

Two officers posed as terrorists firing blanks into a crowd of actors.

State Police, ambulance personnel and media crews rushed to the courthouse after one of the actors called 911.

The officer who answered the call didn't know the incident was a drill and told Lafayette television stations and Acadian Ambulance the attack was real. One television station flashed a message that an attack had occurred.

A federal investigation of the incident was critical of the exercise and its risk to people unaware that a drill was under way.

Caillier maintained that advance notice of that mock emergency would have defeated its purpose.

I can't imagine how that sheriff has held his job for ten years, except to once again point to the high rate of teen pregnancy and the possibility that there is something very strange in the water out there. Thank God this was before Louisiana passed it's conceal carry law, otherwise people may have ended up dead.

Advocate endorses three more amendments 

Baton Rouge's daily wants you to vote yes on amendments 1, 2, and 3 next month. I can't agree more since these are the amendments that deal with the protection and restoration of the Louisiana coastlands. Unfortunately this is the kind of issue that doesn't galvanize a lot of support since it seems like there is little money to be made from pouring funds into environmental protection projects, but voters should understand that coastal erosion damages wetlands where much of the nation's seafood comes from and introduces brackish water onto far-southern Louisiana farms, often destroying their ability to produce a living. The editorial also mentions the $1 billion worth of infrastructure at risk in wetland areas and the two million people who are threatened with displacement if no action is taken. These are important amendments, and the future of restoration projects depends on them. So vote for them, dammit.

15 September 2003

Advocate endorses some amendments, more to come? 

I meant to get to this in the morning but prior engagements prevented it. Anyway, sorry for the delay. The Advocate advises that you vote yes on amendments 5, 8, and 11, come October, but no on 7. I would add to their commentary, but I haven't formed my position on all these amendments yet. As my Louisiana readers know, there are fifteen on the ballot next month, and this paper implies in it's editorial that they will be revisiting other amendments at a later date. I'll let you know when they do, but for now, go check out why the editors at Louisiana's premier independently owned newspaper are going to be voting this way on October 4.

Reality(?) television, Harper's, and the Bush administration 

I know the above sounds like a bold title, but I'll attempt to bring it all together if you give me a chance.

I'm not prone to going into a tizzy over the long-term ramifications of current fads and popular culture, so I'll try to avoid pontificating about how shows like Survivor or the Osbournes are bad for the American character. I do think we can all agree that with last night's premiere of "K Street" and the revelations that "The Osbournes" were in fact scripted (among many other examples), that the line between fiction and reality is increasingly difficult to discern. Just look at the open thread on Kos last night and consider the confusion of the posters as to whether or not Carville and Begala were actually present at Dean's debate prep before the Congressional Black Caucus Forum.

It's hard to see how this could be a good thing for an informed civil society and the results are already clearly right out in front of us. Twenty-four hour cable news programs and talk-radio shows are dominated by ill-informed entertainers and politicians acting like journalists, and their tripe dominates the political discourse. They do little first hand research and like highly paid pied pipers they guide the electorate into the hands of malicious political interest groups who have only extremely narrow and unbendingly ideological approaches to the American political landscape.

When the time came for Americans to truly consider how to protect our nation's defenses this failed media relentlessly beat their drums for war on a Middle Eastern country with a tin pot dictator who had tenuous connections at best to the real threat to our nation, namely loosely organized networks of terrorists who used low-tech means to bring mass death on our citizens. The motives of the television media's helpful hand in promoting this war are probably too various to put together, but among them are almost certainly the knowledge that a war would mean great ratings and increased revenues; their inability or aversion to report complex issues to the public; their intimidations at the hand of GOP Orwell machinery; et al.

So with all this in mind I received the October 2003 issue of Harper's in the mail this weekend. Last night just after I watched "K Street" I laid down in bed and perused the magazine. Since the publication is thouroughly committed to hyperbole it's always a fun read, but I usually take most of the essays with a grain of salt. They're usually warning of slippery slopes that I can be quite confident will never come to pass. Case in point: in this very issue, author Kevin Baker pens an essay warning us of the danger that Bush's militarization of our culture could be seen as the origins of an inevitable military coup. I recognize that Baker's proverbial tongue is planted firmly in cheek there, but that's just Harper's.

The truly disturbing piece in this issue is something completely different. I don't know how to describe it other than reality journalism, and it forced me to come to terms with the fact that I have no way to put to words the way I disdain the men and women that we allow to lead our nation. This issue isn't online yet, so I can't link to it, but I implore you to get out to your newstands and pick it up. It's titled "The Revision Thing: A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies". Essentially the piece is fairly simple in design, and I'm surprised I've never seen a similar undertaking in another journal. To give you an idea of his purpose, here is the disclaimer provided by author Sam Smith, "All text is verbatim from senior Bush Adminstration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity"

What follows is every misleading statement, exaggeration, or any other euphemism for lying you can think of that has been trotted out on all the pundit shows over the last year about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and the supposed "War on Terror". I'll quote pretty extensively since you can't read it for yourselves without the print edition.

It was absolutely clear that that number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. You couldn't distinguis between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror.

. . .

The fundamental question was, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer was absolutely . . . There could be no doubt that Saddam Hussein had bioglogical weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.

. . .

Facing clear evidence of peril, we could not wait for the final proof that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. the Iraqi dictator could not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Inspections would not work. We gave him a chance to let the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. The burden was on those people who thought he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are.

We waged a war to save civilization itself. We did not seek it, but we fought it, and we prevailed.

. . .

It was entirely possible that in Iraq you had the most pro-American population that could be found anywhere in the Arab world. If you were looking for a historical analogy, it was probably closer to post-liberation France. We had the overwhelming support of the Iraqi people. Once we won, we got great support from everywhere.

. . .

We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. And we found more weapons as time went on.

. . .

It is not right to assume that any current problems in Iraq can be attributed to poor planning. The number of of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region dropped as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom . . . There is no doubt in my mind when it's all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

I've certainly been well aware of the current administration's freedom with the truth during the course of this run up to war, but seeing it put together in this way would be hysterical if it weren't so simultaneously depressing and enraging. After Vice President Cheney's appearance on the Meet the Press yesterday, it is even more mystifying that these men and women have been getting away with this for so long.

I can only imagine that we live in a world where the difference between fact and fiction don't matter at all anymore. That Harper's piece explores this confusion, but what solutions can we put together to do something about this? When will people understand the destruction that this administration has wrought against it's own citizenry? Who in the influential media will ever bring this to the attention of a confused and distraught public? Maybe they'll do an episode of "K Street" about it, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Federal appeals court delays recall in CA 

No details yet, got the news via CNN. Keep checking in there to get the whole story.

Just when things were really getting boring 

In the wake of Adam Kossiter's column about the gubernatorial field's bland showing in their many forums and campaign stops (sorry not online), we get this news from The Shreveport Times.

I missed this ad in my market, but apparently Ieyoub has been running a television spot promising that he'll be traveling around the country to help recruit employers into the state "instead of sitting in the governor's mansion having tea parties." There's nothing like good ole' fashioned sexist appeals to voters at the expense of a female front runner. According to the story Ieyoub stripped the comment from some markets because it "just didn't sound right." As political consultants say, though, "at least he got it out there."

Unfortunately this doesn't really make the race much more interesting. The candidates still aren't doing much to distinguish their positions from one another, and with the exception of Buddy Leach, they are afraid to make any bold promises. I'm not surprised by this from front-runners Jindal and Blanco, but there's a large field behind them that desperately needs to make some push to get into the runoff. You certainly don't do that by playing it safe.

As things stand now we can expect a runoff between Blanco and Jindal. When that happens maybe then the candidates will finally start to point out their differences and present a coherent vision for the future of our state.

For great reading on one of Louisiana's zaniest (yes I used that word) elections in it's very colorful politcal history read A. J. Liebling's The Earl of Louisiana. This book is very possibly one of the best books ever written about any election anywhere.

14 September 2003

Broken promises 

I'll get my post about the LA governor hopefuls and their oh-so-vague non-plans for the state budget out tomorrow. Tonight you should all be celebrating the Saints 31-10 victory over my least favorite city's football team, the Houston Texans.

Profiles in courage 

The Advocate ran a long story in their Sunday edition detailing the gubernatorial candidates' plans for dealing with the budget shortfall that they will almost certainly face. The author seems to accept the budget projection of around $600 million in deficits by Legislate Fiscal Officer John Rombach.

The story is not very flattering to the candidates, who are almost universally unprepared to offer specific proposals for dealing with the state budget shortfalls. It is clear that some of this is simple politics, because at this point in the game it isn't a great idea to mobilize opposition by talking about the spending cuts you'll be making or what taxes you will raise. But when will the candidates offer the public some reason to believe that they are serious about correcting what could be a devestating problem for our state? Later on I'll be making a post that deals with the vague plans that each of the major candidates have so far conceived in their platforms, but for now consider this quote from the lede and then hop on over to The Advocate to read the story:

Six of the seven candidates for governor agree that whoever wins the race will face a budget shortfall.
But not one offers a firm plan to fill the budget hole.

Most major candidates on the Oct. 4 ballot also back cutting taxes, further draining the revenues needed to balance the budget.

All say they would study the nearly $17 billion state budget, scrub away waste or improve efficiencies. A couple nominate a specific, small program or two -- $6 million to $10 million -- for the chopping block.

But not one outlines a plan to fix a budget mess that Legislative Fiscal Officer John Rombach pegs at $600 million, including some increased spending that is required by the state constitution and can't be trimmed.

You don't see games like this on television 

It's been pretty hot today despite the predictions of rain all day. I spent my afternoon tailgating before the University of Louisiana-University of Houston matchup at Cajun Field and the rain thankfully held off. Unfortunately, once my friends and I made our way into the stadium the skies opened up and all hell rained down upon us. Play was suspended for about twenty minutes while fans sat and waited the lightening to stop. The contest resulted in a Ragin' Cajun loss, but I'm only writing this because I think everyone should take a look at this picture to see what it looked like out there for about an hour and a half.

Voucher groups take a lesson from the Rove school of politics 

I still don't believe that DC Parents for School Choice will be particularly successful with the ad campaign that they have directed against Mary Landrieu here in the state of Louisiana. However, they have to be pretty pleased with the results of their demagoguery so far. You may remember that a little more than a week ago they began running ads against Mary Landrieu because she voted to block an experimental voucher program in the District.

Now The Times-Picayune helps out the DC lobbying group by running a story all about the "possible hypocrisy" of Democratic legislators who oppose vouchers but send their own children to private schools. The news from the Heritage Foundation (who may as well have written this story) is hardly surprising: most Democratic legislators who live in DC send their children to private schools. I'm shocked.

I hope I don't need to explain why it's not hypocritical to send your own children to private school while still supporting greater public support of federal education bills, but Bruce Alpert, the author of the story mentioned above, obviously can't hold conflicting thoughts in his head at one time, so there's little reason to believe that most other people could.

I won't pretend to know what effect a world without vouchers would have on public education, but there is little question that voucher programs will drain funding away from public schools all over the country. One of the great successes of voucher proponents has been their ability to paint opponents as people who are afraid to let the largely minority underprivileged children into the same private schools as their own children.

A voucher advocacy group, D.C. Parents for School Choice, bought a newspaper ad criticizing Landrieu for her opposition to a program that would provide vouchers worth as much as $7,500 for 2,000 students in Washington's troubled school system. Landrieu said she isn't opposed to vouchers, but has concerns that the current Senate bill won't hold private schools that receive vouchers to the same accountability standards now expected of public schools.

As the above quote states, Landrieu actually supports vouchers, but this experimental bill bothered her because it allowed private schools to start receiving federal support in the form of vouchers but would not hold the same schools to the same level of accountability expected of a district's public school. Also, please note that the bill would provide money "for 2,000 students." The problem with vouchers lies in the the question of what becomes of the thousands of students who can't get access to them. Supporters would have money stripped away from the only schools that some very poor students could attend. Somehow now anyone who sends their child to a private school but supports federal education bills is a hypocrite.

I'm surprised at the Picayune for being suckered into writing this garbage by an ad that appeared in their paper. I also wish that groups like the Heritage Foundation wouldn't be quoted so frequently when people write about public policy, since they can be counted on to always say the most moronic things about their opponents in any given political debate. I'm also sorry if my drinking has made tonight's post rambling and incoherent, but it happens. I'll try and address this issue more substantively tomorrow after the Saints defeat the Houston Texans

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