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Mary: Me or Tea!

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Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu has donned her election fatigues and is ready for battle as she seeks a fourth six-year term in 2014.

The election may seem to be far in the distance, but Landrieu is appearing to be in full combat mode against two announced Republican challengers – so far.

She gave a rousing speech recently before a meeting of the Independent Women’s Organization in eastern New Orleans where she basically said, “It’s either me or another vote for the Tea Party in the Senate.”

The reference, of course, was to U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge and retired Army colonel Rob Maness of Mandeville, the two Republicans who have officially announced they will challenge her. Maness has already received the endorsement of the Tea Party Leadership Fund.

Rumors still persist that Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal may decide to jump into the race, which would certainly change the dynamics big time and throw the Republican Party into total disarray.

To be sure, this could be Landrieu’s biggest battle to retain her seat. She is the number one target of the GOP leadership among the 2014 races. And the GOP has already spent millions to discredit her.

Landrieu is no stranger to fierce re-election campaigns. In her initial run for the Senate in 1996, she defeated Woody Jenkins by only a few thousand votes. In 2002, she defeated Suzanne Haik Terrell 52-48%, and in 2008, she won over four opponents in the primary, getting 52% of the vote. Republican John Kennedy had 46%.

Whether Jindal runs or not, it’s a good bet that Landrieu will use him as a reason why Louisiana does not need another Republican senator. She will tie Jindal’s failed policies around the necks of Cassidy and Maness.

At the meeting, she said, “What this governor has done and what the Tea Party threatens to do to undermine the safety net for the middle class in this country is breathtakingly cruel.”

She added, “If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it over by dead body.” Strong, combative words, indeed, from the state’s senior senator.

Landrieu will not want for money. She already has $5 million in her campaign warchest and has set a goal of raising another $5 million by next year. There is no doubt that she will also receive significant monetary help from the National Democratic Party.

And she has two of the state’s biggest GOP contributors in her corner in New Orleans attorney Joe Canizaro and Lockport shipping magnate Boysie Bollinger. Both have decided to put party politics aside because of everything Landrieu has done for the state after Hurricane Katrina.

Landrieu said that none of her Republican challengers would have been able to deliver the millions of dollars she obtained to help restore the ravaged southern part of the state.

The fact that Landrieu is in a powerful position to help the state is something she will urge voters to think about. She holds important committee positions in the Senate, where seniority is still an important commodity.

While her Republican opponents will try to paint her as an Obama-supporting liberal, non-partisan watchdog groups categorize her as a centrist. In other words, a moderate among the current crop of senators.

Make no mistake about it. Regardless of one’s party affiliation, losing Landrieu in the Senate would be a blow to the state’s ability to benefit from federal aid.

 

Ready, aim, sign!

Louisiana is ranked No. 1 in the nation for the worst level of gun violence, but that did not stop Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal from signing into law six new pro-gun laws last week. After all, he does not want the National Rifle Association on his case as he pursues national ambitions.

The most controversial of the lot was HB 8, authored by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City. The bill imposes criminal penalties for public release of names and information related to holders of concealed handgun permits.

The media and Internet bloggers would be subject to a fine of $10,000, up to six months in jail, or both.

Legal scholars believe this law stands on shaky ground. They contend the state can’t be an absolutist on the Second and Fourth Amendments while whittling away the First Amendment, and it seems unlikely the law would withstand a legal challenge.

Here is a brief recap of the other bills:

*SB 135 and HB 717 is designed to keep weapons out of the hand of criminals and certain individuals who have been judicially determined mentally ill.

*HB 6 allows law enforcement officers to carry their firearms on school property, school-sponsored events, and in firearms-free zones.

*HB 98 allows sheriffs to enter into reciprocity agreements with sheriffs in a contiguous parish where concealed handgun permits are also allowed.

*HB 178 makes voter registration forms available from firearms dealers.

*HB 265 (signed last month) allows for lifetime concealed gun permits.

 

That’s just cruel, Governor

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto pen was extremely cruel to the disabled citizens of Louisiana. Nearly half of his 31 line-item vetoes cut money the Legislature had set aside for people with disabilities.

Among the veto victims was a program that provides at-home services to the developmentally disabled for which legislators had inserted $4 million.

In the recently concluded session, lawmakers had been sympathetic to requests for at-home and community-based services for individuals who can’t entirely take care of themselves and for families with disabled children.

Many of these individuals, some with children in wheelchairs, showed up at committee meetings, pleading with lawmakers to do something to help 10,000 developmentally disabled children on a waiting list that need around-the-clock care.

Jindal also cut $250,000 from the Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network (LATAN), which works with disabled people to find technology that can help them work, study or cope with daily life, as well as funding to continue operations of certain children’s health clinics.

While the cuts seem insignificant in a $25.4 billion state budget, they are monumental to the disabled, who have fought for such funding for years.

The governor also vetoed money for arts grants, a requirement that local emergency preparedness offices get a share of a federal emergency management grant, and for aquatic weed control.

Jindal’s reasoning: He said the Legislature did not include enough funding in the budget to pay for the expected increase in existing Medicaid services these new health programs would create.

State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said on Twitter: “Wow. Governor sticks it to the disabled.”

 

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

Lou come up with good places to cut the budget then, as we spend way too much money in this state as it is now. Our budget has doubled and more over the last 8-10 years, yet we get very little out of it. We reside at the bottom of most good categories and at the top of bad categories. Money is not the issue, we spend more money for almost everything even compared to the rich European counties, yet get only a small fraction of the benefits that they get per dollar spent. Education: spend more and more, yet less and less performance. $$ is not the issue, classroom behavior, not pushing parental responsibility forcing classrooms to have top to bottom level kids. It is almost impossible to teach the top performing kids in a class when the teacher has to keep the level and speed of instruction to a low level so the lowest level kids can keep up. Also, it is almost impossible to teach the lowest level kids at the best speed/level when you have kids performing 2x 3x their level. Follow the countries with the best educational systems, put kids in class with others at their level and not push political correctness issues such as placing special needs kids in regular classes. Ask teachers if it affects the whole class when there is one or two kids with special needs since that child requires extensive individual attention and you’ll get the vast majority of teachers acknowledging that this holds the class back. This also goes for the few behavior problem kids that constantly disrupt the class, thus forcing the teachers attention away from instruction and making that teacher a baby sitter/surrogate parent, thus not doing the job they are hired for. Too many kids that have behavior issues have parents or single parent that doesn’t care about their behavior or worse, that parent attacks the school/teacher for “picking” on their child, when the child causes constant problems. Separate the performance levels, separate the behavior problems and let special needs kids participate only in regular classes that won’t affect their 99% of the other kids, such as PE, art, etc. Unfortunately our school system is regulated by political/social correctness, not what is best for the kids and how it is best to teach the kids to achieve at their highest level. Parents of higher performing kids need to start complaining, suing as it is their kids education that is being harmed the most, as special needs kids/behavior problem kids/low performing kids have many extra programs and dollars spent to help them, but the higher level kids get the left overs and get held back by the school system.

The money issue goes for the majority of government programs: waste, waste, waste. Government employees are often provided with golden benefits/retirements while those of us that pay taxes for this expense are lucky to have anything, benefits, retirements, etc. Make government benefits more in line with private employee benefits, since why should government employees get much better deals then the people that they work for, us. We can’t continue to allow government unions to push for crazy benefit packages, which are sustainable in the short and especially the long term. Sorry, but no government worker deserves to get 70%-100% of their final salary for the rest of their life. Especially since they can retire so early and so young. We, the public that pays for their benefits, are lucky to be able to retire at 65 after 45 plus years of work, while gov workers can retire very well after 10-15 years on the job, with assured lifetime retirement benefits, such as healthcare, and a set retirement pay for their lives. Plus, gov employees don’t have to pay the 7.5% tax on their income for Social Security, while we private employees are forced to pay this amount plus the employers have to pay 7.5% which causes lower wages. Also, in many governments their employees get extra perks like a gov vehicle, free gas, car allowance (they don’t follow the same rules we do when it comes to logging mileages in order to met IRS regs), cops get to use their vehicles for their second jobs that they perform, tax free retirement benefits, excessive holidays, crazy amounts of vacation/sick time, the ability to carry over years worth of vacation/sick to use at retirement for either a lump sum payout or using those hours to stop working but remain on the payroll until the vacation time runs out, thus pushing their total retirement pay package up (does anyone actually believe that these employees haven’t taking a vacation in 5-10 years or haven’t used a sick day in that period of time? As this happens often that gov employees retire with thousands of hours of vacation time/sick time thus supposedly not taking a vacation in many years, sometimes they claim not having taking a day off in 10 plus years. Do you think that is true??? NOT), public employees also have the ability to claim large amounts of overtime in the last three years to push up their retirement package amount (suddenly someone that never was on overtime starts working 80 hours plus overtime every two weeks, just happens to be in the last 3 years on the job), public employees also have the ability to claim overtime even though they should be claimed as exempt/professional employees, such as doctors, dentist, etc. Look up the pay of state workers and doctors/dentist/nurses at state prisons are always the top paid because according to the overtime amount stated & paid for means they work 80-120 hours a week??? Do you believe that too? State employees at low levels, janitors, yard workers, etc are able to get fairly large salaries as compared to private employment, plus they get those generous retirement packages/benefit packages which private sector professional employees would be jealous of. Thats why gov cost so much, they pay 2x the amount the private sector pays for low level jobs then give hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in retirement benefits, for unskilled labor positions. Privatize the gov and you’d see cost drop significantly, plus you’d get better service as it is almost impossible to fire a gov worker for not doing their jobs, stealing, faking time worked, lying about the amount of time off, etc. Especially gov workers that are members of a union. Often government employees that are fired due to criminal acts, poor performance get their jobs back after a hearing at the civil service board, thus actions that would cause an immediate firing in the private sector are not punished in the public sector. Just look up stories about cops committing crimes but not losing their jobs, public employees caught faking time card entries are slapped on the hand but keep their jobs, judges that have hired all their family but allowing them to draw a check even though they never actually work, elected officials that never come to work, etc. These are all things that have happened hundreds of times, yet these people didn’t get fired from their jobs.

People our governments are filled with crocked people that seem to answer to no one, especially the voters/tax payers. Many gov agencies/workers think they are above the law and all too often they are right, they don’t have to follow the same laws/rules that we do. The people whose job it is to investigate & prosecute crimes by government workers/elected officials are all too often connected in many ways with the people who they are watching over. Crimes by gov workers/elected officials are all too often ignored or hidden because of their friends/connections within the government. This also goes to special deals that the government gives to friends/family/financial supporters, conflict of interest is none existent in the governments/elected officials eyes. Politicians do favors for supporters, supporters give donations/kick backs/future jobs to politicians, it is a vicious circle that screws us taxpayers. We need to force a totally open and transparent government, no unreported back room deals, all political discussions/talks to “special supporters” need to be recorded and open to the public at large. Make it illegal to discuss anything dealing with the government outside of recorded meetings, period. All activities of gov workers and elected officials such be recorded and noted.

Even though she has done some good things for the state, she also has supported here president and party over the best interest of the people of this state and country. She voted for ObamaCare and we see how that is working out (they passed it to help win elections, remember the cost and mandatory portions that restricts individual freedoms were put off until after the 2012 President Election and now they put it off again until after the 2014 elections) plus she is all for the amnesty program which will hurt the working poor American Citizens in Louisiana, you know the same people that the Dems claim to care for. Her support for Dems abortion on demand and forcing companies to supply birth control even if it is against their beliefs is something that should push this bible belt state against her. She is a career politician from a family that has made their living and fortune from feeding off the public trough for decades. Politicians like her, those that put party and self ahead of the public good, are the ones that have sent America on a downward spiral. Tell her thanks for the votes for Obamacare, Amnesty, support of abortion, etc. by voting her out of office. Don’t cry for her though, as she’ll collect millions of dollars in pension from the feds and the state, plus live off any/all ill gotten gains that her and her family have sucked out of our taxdollars. Goodbye Mary, if you could have only voted for the best policies for the people of this state all the time (like I said she has done good things for the state) maybe you’d still be in office after the next election. Too many votes, deals that were good for yourself, family, friends and party, too few votes that were good for us.

Mary Landrieu learned from the best. Moon was second only to Carlos Marcello in making crooked deals!