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Political Horizons: Watergate leaves a polarized nation

Friday marked the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation, one of those landmark days in American history. A lot of the run-up to the anniversary revolved around pundits pontificating on how much more politically polarized the nation has become since Nixon ducked impeachment proceedings for covering up the dirty tricks his aides played against his opponents.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Different stories on Common Core split

Timmy Teepell can pinpoint the moment that the Common Core imbroglio erupted. It was about this time last year when the architects of sweeping changes in Louisiana schools sat down for a meeting, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top political advisor recalled. Until that moment, the Jindal administration had worked in sync with Chas Roemer, the… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Budget tricks part of an old pattern

A decade ago, Jay Dardenne — then a Louisiana state senator, now lieutenant governor — grabbed the microphone at the State Capitol. In a long and sharply worded speech, Dardenne criticized then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s $17.9 billion budget for the fiscal year 2005, which had to overcome a $500 million shortfall in revenues to pay for… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Teetering budgets

Gov. Bobby Jindal, like Michael Dukakis before him, bases his bid for the nation’s highest office on being a governor whose technocratic expertise led his state to economic miracles. Like the Massachusetts governor from the ’70s and ’80s, Jindal is driving a tank full of articles around to national publications that comment on how… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Bobbycare being considered

Louisiana Democrats have finished with trying to force a Republican governor, who hums “Hail to the Chief,” to accept billions of federal dollars to provide health care for the state’s uninsured working poor. Largely along party lines, the House Health and Welfare Committee voted 12-4 Wednesday against a Medicaid expansion proposal by state Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Legislature driving solo

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote speech at the Liberty University commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va., Saturday, May 10, 2014. (AP Photo/News & Daily Advance, Parker Michels-Boyce)

Fifty workdays have passed since the Louisiana Legislature convened March 10 and Gov. Bobby Jindal has spent 16 of them — roughly one-third — on the road. While Louisiana lawmakers have wrung their hands over the budget and payday loans, Jindal has visited New Hampshire, Chicago, Nashville, Mobile, Dallas, Washington, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, and… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Budget leaves some elderly struggling

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, speaks to members of various Council on Aging agencies from throughout the state on Wednesday at the Louisiana State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge.

Because the guards are under strict orders not to let any unauthorized vehicles pass the barricades that protect the parking spots of legislators and lobbyists, busloads of elderly men and women unloaded blocks away from the Louisiana State Capitol last week. The parade of grandmas and grandpas, many breathing with nasal cannulas and walking with rollators, schlepped… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Industry aims a smart bomb at lawsuits

The energy industry and its allies made headway last week in their shock and awe campaign to subdue — in the Legislature rather than the courts — lawsuits to force them to clean up after themselves. Finding that carpet-bombing all environmental litigation wasn’t working as quickly as hoped, a smart bomb was targeted Thursday at taking… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Tolerance bills face uphill battle

Expect Monday to be another big day at the State Capitol for gay rights. Two more bills are scheduled for hearings. But judging from the reception of earlier bills, Monday likely will be another frustrating day for people who want protection from discrimination because they prefer sex in a different way than the majority.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Chances of expanding Medicaid slim

Last year, the Louisiana Legislature’s Democrats systematically threw themselves against different parts of the Republican majority’s electric fence — looking, unsuccessfully, for weaknesses in the GOP opposition to the federal Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. Democrats tried several bills with different variables; they trotted out a variety of parliamentary strategies; they held rallies — everything… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Louisiana’s continuing angst

Unemployment is down. The economy is growing. Festival season is starting. All should be cheery in Sportsman’s Paradise. But statewide polls released last week say “No.” A vast number of Louisiana residents told pollsters that the state is headed in the wrong direction. One survey found that two-thirds believe the state’s elected officials can’t… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: New kind of campaign coming to Louisiana

Because Louisiana voters have been seeing red over the past few years, the state was pretty much left out of the 2012 presidential campaign, but for a couple trips to pick up money behind closed doors and a hurricane photo op. With Republicans holding all statewide elected positions, a majority of the Louisiana Legislature, and all the… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Focus should be on victim

Louisiana legislators ought to hear what Tonja Myles has to say. Since the United Nations started its campaign to curb the sex slave trade, politicians of all stripes have been talking about protecting the children, who they say are the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking. Most of the effort, however, has gone… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Unions could help develop workforce

Gov. Bobby Jindal last week said “workforce development” would be his big push for the upcoming legislative session. That means bills to develop, fine-tune, and fund programs that train workers will be the main theme when the Louisiana Legislature convenes in March, much as school vouchers and teacher tenure were in 2012. Over the next few… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Technology led to political gridlock

One thing I love about Christmas is the release of all the new books. This year, perhaps because of the current dysfunction in politics, many of the recently released selections have a fatalist feel. “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,” by Thomas… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Human trafficking legislation being considered

Even hardened state troopers who raided a massage parlor Thanksgiving week privately expressed revulsion at the living conditions of the girls accused of “prostitution by massage.” The images on television certainly seemed to confirm their opinions. And the raids were still being cited as Exhibit 1 a week later in media coverage of and testimony before… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: GOP candidates tack to the center

The election that sent political newcomer Vance McAllister to Congress last month seems to have reverberated more last week than the announcement that U.S. David Vitter, darling of the Louisiana GOP, would soon announce his 2015 gubernatorial intentions. Republican candidates for the south Louisiana 6th Congressional District echoed the “conservative but practical” message that worked so well… Continue reading →

Political Horizons for Oct. 27, 2013

This week a private citizen promised he would find about $30,000 to pay for basic maintenance and thereby end the Grambling State University football team’s mutiny, and Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered nearly $2 million in taxpayer dollars to house the personal papers of his mentor, former Gov. Mike Foster, in a first-of-its-kind archives. The situation might lend… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Reports support Obamacare

Once again, over-the-top political rhetoric is accompanying partisan bickering that threatens to send federal workers home in a government shutdown. Republicans and Democrats are toe-to-toe over President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” some of which has been implemented, some of which begins in… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Crawfish and computers

Quite a few New Orleanians of a certain age can still recall the address of a seafood store on North Broad that closed 20 years ago. The relentless commercials of Al Scarmuzza and “Seafood City, very pretty” are part of the reason why crawfish boils are now such a hallmark of Louisiana culture. Once only the… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Real ID fight gets unreal

So, when will Louisiana residents have to show a passport or some other federally accepted identification — rather than the driver’s licenses most use — to board an airplane? After three hours of testimony aimed at answering that question, state Sen. Jonathan Perry, scowling and shoving papers into his valise, said Thursday he doesn’t know.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Jindal and Common Core

Does Gov. Bobby Jindal want to slow, change or even reverse Louisiana’s bid for tougher, national academic standards? The new classroom guidelines, which debut next year, are called common core standards. Backers see them as a way to improve student performance, and Louisiana has been signed on since 2010. Critics call them a thinly… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Civil rights remembrances

Fifty years ago tomorrow, James Farmer, one of the nation’s most famous civil rights leaders who was slated to address the “March on Washington,” was arrested in Plaquemine. He was sent to Ascension Parish because Iberville Parish didn’t have enough room for the number of people arrested. So, come Aug. 28, 1963, Farmer watched… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Politics long part of tax assessments

All the hubbub a couple weeks ago sounded familiar to Frank Simoneaux. Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera had reported that the Tax Commission’s lax oversight of parish assessors may have resulted in many neighbors paying different property taxes for very similar homes. Simoneaux, the former chairman of the state Ethics Board, thumbed through old legal… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Getting everyone on the same page

Buddy Roemer last week recalled asking Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev what was the biggest problem facing the Soviet Union. This was back in the late 1980s when Roemer was governor of a state reeling from economic setbacks in the energy industry and Gorbachev was head of an empire based on an economic theory that was teetering on… Continue reading →