Saturday, August 23, 2003

State incompetency

Here's yet another example of the incompetency of our state officials. A murderer serving a life sentence told the Louisiana Pardon Board that he was dying of cancer and wanted to spend the last few months of his life at home with his family. The Pardon Board accepted his story without requiring any proof and recommended that he be paroled. Governor Foster then signed the parole recommendation.

Surpirse! It turns out that the guy isn't dying of cancer after all.

The five members of the Parole Board are appointed by the governor and have a total budget of $355,781, of which $229,821 goes to salaries. That's right, these people are handsomely paid for meeting a handful times each year. For that salary, they are supposed to do the board's work on a full-time basis.

For the money that they're getting paid, you'd think that somebody would have looked in the file to see if a doctor had backed up the the convict's allegations that he was terminally ill. Nobody did.

As if all of this wasn't bad enough, the Pardon Board failed to notify the victim's relatives of the hearing, as they are required to do by law. Needless to say, they were very distressed to find out from a reporter that the convict had been given a parole recommendation.

Don't bet on any of the Pardon Board members being fired, though. Most of them were only put there because Governor Foster needed to pay off some political favors. Appointing people to state boards and commissions is one of the most powerful political tools that a Louisiana governor has at his disposal.

UPDATE: Of course, I guess it would have been asking too much to expect a news reporter to check on the "facts" of this guy's illness as well. I guess it's just easier to use a news article as an opportunity to criticize the board for not turning the murderer loose on the spot and to lament that the short delay could cause the him to die in prison. Pathetic.
Life as a Marine in Iraq

Today's Times-Picayune has an interesting story about the Marines working in Al Kut in Southern Iraq. This is not in the "Sunni triangle," so these Marines aren't facing a hotbed of resistance, but that doesn't mean that their work isn't deadly serious.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Louisiana Gubernatorial Update

Well, qualifying ended yesterday and the field is set. Fortunately, none of the three possible Republican candidates that I mentioned on Tuesday decided to put their name on the gubernatorial ballot. Clyde Holloway, however, provided a shocking development when he announced that he was running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Jay Blossman.

This is a brilliant move by both Blossman and Holloway. Holloway, as a former conservative Republican congressman, brings credibility to the Blossman campaign and will greatly strengthen Blossman in central and north Louisiana. In the last decade, Holloway has run for Congress in every metropolitan area in Louisiana except Shreveport and New Orleans (Blossman's base).

Since being redistricted out of Congress in 1992, Clyde has lost elections because of poor fundraising and campaign organization. Being on a ticket with Blossman will help solve those problems, as Blossman's solid campaign war chest and organization will now support the ticket.

Disclaimer: Sarcastic Southerner, though not affiliated in any way with the campaign (except for having a sign in his yard), is supporting the Blossman/Holloway ticket.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Right-wing extremism

I like a lot of what Spoons writes. I really do. He is, however, totally off his rocker with regard to the situation in Israel, and is actually advocating the impeachment of President Bush for originally pushing Israel to follow the so-called "road map." Now, the roadmap didn't work (as most conservatives knew it wouldn't), but it was necessary in the short term. What follows is something that I quickly wrote in his comments section:

Ultimately, President Bush is the best friend that Israel has ever had.

Spoons doesn't realize (or doesn't care) that the President had to temporarily sell out the Israelis to protect them in the long run. Getting Britain on board for the Iraq War required President Bush to back the "road map." It was also necessary to get other international support for the post-war cleanup as well as maintain good relations with Kuwait and the moderate Gulf states whose support we needed for the war.

Spoons ignores the fact that Saddam Hussein was the biggest threat to Israel's existence, since Saddam had always envisioned himself as the head of a "greater Iraq" that included Kuwait, Arab parts of Iran, and (you guessed it) Palestine. Uday's writings confirmed Saddam's vision of conquering Israel, and Saddam pursuit of WMD made him a serious threat to Israel's long-term security.

On top of all this, don't forget the blood money that Saddam was paying to the families of the suicide bombers. There is no telling how many bombings have already been prevented by the removal of Saddam.

Spoons also ignores the fact that President Bush has used the Iraq success to fundamentally change our Middle East policy to one of encouraging democracy and freedom. This is already producing results in Iran, as students there are demanding the end to the theocracy. President Bush wants to remake the Middle East for the long term, which will dramatically alter Israel's security for the better.

President Bush has called Sharon a "man of peace" and given him more support than any other leader in the world.

None of that matters to Spoons, though, because he's approaching the problem emotionally instead of logically. The Palestinians are "animals," he says. I don't think he would be happy unless we dropped nuclear bombs on Nablus and Hebron.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Louisiana gubernatorial update

Today's Advocate reports on the potential that we might have three new candidates in the gubernatorial race as we enter qualifying, all of them Republicans. Let's take a look at our three new wannabes:

Of the three, former congressman Clyde Holloway would be the most laughable candidate. Clyde hasn't held any kind of office for over a decade and has lost four straight high-profile races (for governor and for Congress in 1992, 1994, and 2002). He received 5% of the vote when he ran for governor in 1991. I like Clyde, which is why I feel sorry for him.

Almost as amusing would be a campaign from Dennis Stine, former Commissioner of Administration under Buddy Roemer. Memo to Mr. Stine -- nobody is nostalgic for the Roemer administration. Please remember that your boss was defeated for reelection in 1991 by a known crook and an avowed racist. Please remember that your boss failed again to make the runoff in 1995.

A campaign by John Georges wouldn't really be laughable, but it wouldn't be successful. It would probably work out like Bill Linder's campaign in 1995. Linder, you may recall, spent millions of dollars and got about 3% of the vote. Louisiana voters aren't going to put someone in the governor's mansion who has never held elective office, and Georges' connections to the gambling industry will most definitely not help him.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Christian-hating, part III

USA Today has a typical story in today's edition about the new "Christian" films coming out. Interesting graf:

Biblical scholar Raymond Brown has written that the Gospel of John is marked with "intense hostility" toward "the Jews." Not a ringing endorsement for mainstream Hollywood.

John must have been one of those self-hating Jews we hear about from time to time. The article doesn't have any quotes from "Biblical scholars" arguing that John is only slightly hostile toward Jews (much less anyone saying that John wasn't hostile to Jews at all), so I guess the paper wants us to accept Mr. Brown's opinion as the gospel truth.

The article also discusses the new movie Luther, which was initiated and co-produced by Thrivant Financial for Lutherans. The article ends with this quote from the movie's distributor:

"It seems a shame that a film like Luther is branded religious when in fact it's the story of one of the most influential men in history."

Yeah, we sure wouldn't want anyone to think that a film about Martin Luther is "religious" in any way. How awful.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Presidential primary musings

I'm really very skeptical of Bob Novak's claim that the President's top fundraisers are convinced that Gephardt will be the Democratic nominee.

First of all, it's way too early to tell and making predictions is absurd. The race is very close and a lot can happen between now and February.

Secondly, the logic here is totally unconvincing. Yes, Big Labor's support will likely help Gephardt win in Iowa, but what about after that? He'll probably place fourth or worse in New Hampshire, and it isn't at all clear how events will subsequently unfold. Presidential primary politics are very much about momentum, and it will be very interesting to see who has it after the Iowa and New Hampshire events are over.

Novak's bit about the congressional delegation is really silly -- a brokered convention with a hundred or so congressmen making the difference sounds like an interesting political novel, but it's really a fantasy in this day and age. If the race is going to be so close that a handful of Democratic congressmen might make the difference, how can anyone make a prediction about who will win?

Finally, I'm not convinced of the item's newsworthiness. Novak must realize that these men aren't campaign experts -- they're wealthy men who know a lot about their own businesses but don't know squat about how campaigns really work. As a former Louisiana GOP Finance Director, I speak from experience here. Novak, on the other hand, makes it seem as if these guys possess some kind of secret knowledge.

I actually think it's possible that someone was passing Novak deliberate misinformation. This piece is almost too stupid otherwise. I'm going back to my August 7 opinion of Novak.

Meanwhile,RealClear Politics has a great post up on the problems of Sen. John Edwards.

Right now, Edwards looks like a guy who tried to get to the top by climbing up on the top step of a tall ladder, only to have the ladder start wobbling on him.

I'm really very happy about this. As bad as Big Labor is for America, their influence isn't half as bad as that of the trial lawyers. I'd much rather see Gephardt as the nominee than Edwards (especially in the unlikely event that the Democratic nominee were to win). I'm also particularly against Edwards because Bill Clinton is for him.

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