This week, the United States’ National Space Council met for the second time at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Vice President Mike Pence led the meeting, which was titled “Moon, Mars and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier.” The focus of this gathering of government officials, national security experts, and space entrepreneurs was the ever-expanding commercial and scientific opportunity of the “next frontier.”
According to President Trump, the next frontier should include a return to the Moon with a subsequent trip to Mars. To fulfill this goal, the President’s budget includes $19.9 billion for NASA in the 2019 fiscal year, followed by annual allocations of $19.6 billion until 2023.
When the Space Council was relaunched last year, members emphasized their focus would be on efficiently spending tax dollars on achievable projects offered by space industry leaders with a reliable track record. Thankfully, the administration remained resolute in its original objectives. The desire to increase competition and innovation through objective deliberation and analysis is ostensibly why Pence appointed a 29-member advisory group in its second meeting, which included representatives from all the leading aerospace manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and SpaceX.
The fact that the National Space Council stuck to its keys principles is relieving. After the recently successful inaugural launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket, some pundits – surprisingly, even a Trump administration ally – have implicitly suggested that the Space Council alter its original objectives so companies like SpaceX can artificially receive more support.
This would be an odd switch for a council dedicated to competition. SpaceX’s recent track record highlights why such a shift would be ill-advised. While SpaceX is enjoying plenty of positive press after its latest successful launch, this exuberance is obscuring a rocky track record. As of last year, repeated failures and delays have resulted in it amassing 70 uncompleted missions worth a whopping $10 billion. And, the significant achievement of launching the cost-cutting Falcon Heavy this month occurred after almost five years of Falcon Heavy delays, a recent SpaceX launchpad malfunction, and the postponement of another Falcon 9 rocket launch set for last weekend.
A SpaceX explosion in September of 2016 obliterated a $200 million Facebook satellite. Other failures include the destruction of a $110 million NASA payload and defaulting on a $60 million U.S. government contract. Perhaps the most spectacular failure occurred in January, when the billion-dollar “Zuma” spy satellite appeared to not reach orbit.
All these incidents have increased concerns about the durability of the SpaceX launch vehicles. In contrast, its only major competitor, the United Launch Alliance, has a perfect record after 12 years and 124 launches. These differences have not escaped the attention of the Defense Department’s Inspector General, who reported that SpaceX suffered from more “deviations from quality standards” than ULA – 50 percent more, to be precise.
This is not to say that SpaceX doesn’t have anything positive going for it, which could lead the company to deservingly earn contracts. Over the past few years, SpaceX has managed to successful cut the sticker prices of many launches, in some cases costing $50 million less than its leading competitor. However, the White House’s leading advisers in the space realm know that sticker price is just one factor in the decision-making process, as is dependability and the prospect of hidden costs, which come in the form of launch malfunctions. That’s why having an array of contractors at the government’s disposal is so important – so taxpayers always get the most bang for their buck and national security remains adequately protected. Any move by the council to artificially throw work towards any vendor would undermine its very mission.
The National Space Council has a tremendous opportunity to revitalize the space industry, and it is encouraging that it is receiving input from a wide variety of manufacturers. But it is also important that the council hold vendors accountable] for their failures and not just blindly throw contracts to vendors and call it competition. Competition only makes vendors more efficient when they are all held accountable to the same standard. This type of process truly puts America First in space, both from a national security standpoint and in safeguarding the precious financial resources of our country’s taxpayers.
In the 2015 gubernatorial campaign, John Bel Edwards pretended he was a conservative Democrat. He emphasized his military background and his support for the pro-life cause and the Second Amendment. Thus, when he was elected, Louisiana supporters expected a somewhat conservative Governor who would steer the state in the right direction. Instead, voters have witnessed a typical “tax and spend” liberal Governor who is a proponent of a large state government and is resistant to tax and fiscal reform.
The current impasse regarding the $1 billion budget deficit is instructive. While Republican legislators are calling for serious spending cuts to balance the budget, especially in the area of the state’s bloated healthcare spending, the Governor only seems interested decimating the hugely successful college scholarship program, TOPS. This is a program that benefits many middle-class Louisiana families because it rewards students who study hard and succeed in high school, regardless of income level. Thus, aspiring students from families of different economic backgrounds can benefit. If any state government program should be protected it is TOPS, which makes the Governor’s threats to eliminate the program all the more absurd.
The Governor also has a track record of supporting tax increases. Under intense pressure from the Governor, the legislature passed a package of tax increases which gives Louisiana a very dangerous distinction. Our state now has the highest sales taxes in the nation, which is a major disincentive for any business to move to Louisiana.
With high taxes, a bloated and inefficient state government, soaring crime rates, poor infrastructure, and misguided political leadership, the latest census data should come as no surprise. The shocking results showed that Louisiana was one of only eight states in the country to have suffered a loss of population in the last year. People are leaving our state in droves due to many reasons, including the anti-business environment that has been created.
With Louisiana suffering under harmful policies and inept leadership, we are vulnerable to poaching from our neighbors. In fact, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a conservative Republican, is coming to Louisiana this week to lure businesses to the Sunshine State.
In this “trade mission,” Scott will be selling the advantages of Florida as an ideal place to establish a business. According to Scott, “While we are fighting to cut taxes and make it harder for politicians to raise taxes in Florida, Louisiana is doing the exact opposite. In fact, for nearly two years, Gov. John Bel Edwards has been continuously working to raise taxes instead of reaching a long-term solution for their state’s financial crisis.”
Since he was elected Governor in 2011, Scott has grown Florida’s economy, while Louisiana has seen a recession, an unemployment rate higher than the national average and continual budget problems. Florida also offers no state income taxes, so Scott can credibly claim it “is the perfect location for Louisiana business owners and families who want to keep more of their hard-earned money.”
In response, Governor Edwards ludicrously declared that “we’ve turned this state around,” and blasted Scott for a “fundraising stop on another one of your campaigns.” It is believed that Scott will run for the U.S. Senate in 2018 against Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson.
Hopefully, Scott’s visit will be a wake-up call for Louisiana voters. We cannot afford to lose our businesses to Florida or any other state; however, we are not going to keep them in Louisiana unless we become more business friendly. We should follow the example of Florida, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and a host of other Southern states which are doing much better economically than Louisiana under conservative Republican leadership.
The next Governor’s race begins in earnest in only 18 months. Let’s hope voters make a course correction in the next election. Otherwise, Louisiana will continue to lose more businesses, population and, influence on Capitol Hill. Since 1990, Louisiana has lost two congressional seats due to population losses. More losses will be coming until we start to follow the pattern of the states which are prospering, and there is no better example than Florida.
This week on the Ringside Politics radio show (M-F, 7-11 am, WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com) we conducted our annual listener poll, asking the audience who should be our “Turkey of the Year.”
The competition was very spirited for there were so many potential turkeys to consider in 2017. Some of our worthy nominees included Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), ungrateful UCLA father LaVar Ball among many others.
Previous winners have included former President Barack Obama, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, former House Speakers Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Florida Governor Jeb! Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich, U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New Orleans Mayor and current federal inmate Ray Nagin and former U.S. Congressman and recently released federal inmate William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson.
This year, despite numerous worthy nominations, the Ringside Politics listeners selected, by an overwhelming margin, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Ironically, Landrieu is currently being celebrated by national Democrats for “courageously” removing four of the city’s Confederate monuments; however, in reality, he created racial divisions and reopened old wounds that had long ago been healed.
Mayor Landrieu started the unfortunate national trend to remove monuments dedicated to Confederate heroes, Founding Fathers, Christopher Columbus or anyone that the country’s self-appointed social justice police believe is not sufficiently politically correct. If a monument honors a white male, chances are that it has been deemed “racist” and needs to be removed.
While he was crusading against the Confederate monuments in New Orleans, the Mayor vowed to find appropriate places of honor to relocate them. Of course, all of those promises were lies for, today, the priceless Confederate monuments are being stored in a dingy city warehouse. He also vowed to repurpose the former monument locations; however, the old sites remain eyesores today. Landrieu literally destroyed beautiful city attractions in his quest for national glory and praise from the liberal media and Democratic Party leaders.
It is no surprise to learn that the Mayor may run for President in 2020 and will be releasing a book in March to describe how he dealt with the monument issue. The book, “In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History,” will be released in March and will be a shameless attempt to garner national headlines while he prepares for a presidential campaign.
If he was honest, he would admit that the controversy was a two-year distraction from more pressing issues, such as the violent crime rate. New Orleans is a top destination for murderers, ranking as one of the most violent cities, per capita, in the nation. Landrieu decimated the police force when he became Mayor and the New Orleans Police Department never recovered.
His management of the Sewerage and Water Board was abysmal and his pick for Executive Director was exposed as a political hack who had no business running such an important agency. Incredibly, experienced engineers, hydrologists and water system experts were overlooked so Cedric Grant, a Landrieu crony, could be selected for the Sewerage and Water Board position.
When a minor rainstorm flooded New Orleans on August 5, 2017, the Mayor stayed in Aspen, Colorado to attend parties and seminars and refused to immediately return to his rain soaked city. For two days, while his citizens were dealing with a myriad of problems created by his incompetent mismanagement, Landrieu partied with colleagues at the Aspen Institute. While he was away hobnobbing with the political elite, Landrieu allowed his staff to lie to the local media and residents about what really happened. They lied about the cause of the disaster and even tried blaming global warming.
Eventually, Landrieu returned to New Orleans and did what most politicians do, reprimanded his underlings, fired subordinates and denied personal responsibility. He tried to convey the image of a leader in charge, but that fantasy had long ago been exposed as total fiction.
It was discovered that major funds were either lost or stolen, drainage pumps did not work, equipment was inoperable or antiquated and catch basins were not cleaned on a regular basis.
Landrieu did not come close to fulfilling the most basic requirements of a Mayor. He did not provide a safe environment for citizens and tourists alike.
Over the next six months, it will be difficult for the residents of New Orleans to tolerate Mitch Landrieu presiding over tricentennial festivities in the city. A historic celebration will be led by a Mayor who declared war on history to advance his selfish political aspirations.
New Orleans has survived plenty of disasters in its 300-year history and it will survive Mitch Landrieu. Unfortunately, he has done tremendous damage to one of the most unique and colorful cities in the world. Hopefully, he will not win the Democratic nomination, much less the presidency, for the consequences for our nation would be catastrophic. If he does for the nation, what he did for New Orleans, God help us all.
In the last legislative session, Governor John Bel Edwards was successful in passing a package of laws that completely overhauled the state’s criminal justice system. The main reason for the legislative package was to reduce the state’s incarceration rate, which is the highest in the world.
As a result, starting on November 1, 1,900 “non-violent offenders,” became eligible for release from prison after serving at least 35% of their sentence. Before the release, Sheriffs and District Attorneys across the state expressed concern that violent criminals would be unleashed upon the innocent citizens of Louisiana. Not surprisingly, days after the state started releasing these “non-violent offenders,” an armed robbery was committed in Kenner by Tyrone “Smokey” White, one of the criminals set free.
White used a BB gun to rob a roofer working at a home in the 600 block of 27th Street. After another roofer claimed he had no money, White scampered away from the scene of the crime. Before the armed robbery, White had been trying to steal cars in the neighborhood by pulling on door handles to see which ones were unlocked.
Fortunately, White was soon apprehended by the Kenner Police and booked with attempted armed robbery and armed robbery. Unfortunately, his case is indicative of what could be in store for the people of Louisiana in the days and weeks ahead. According to Kenner Police Chief Michael Glaser, “You can’t imagine the amount the amount of frustration we have here in law enforcement. We knew it was coming.”
White has an amazingly lengthy criminal record. Even though he is only 24 years old, he has been arrested over 50 times for burglary. He has also been charged with a variety of crimes ranging from illegal possession of a stolen handgun to resisting a police officer.
At the age of 18, White pleaded guilty to multiple counts of simple burglary and was placed on probation; however, he was soon thereafter arrested on more burglary charges. In October of 2012, White was sentenced to six years in prison for four counts of simple burglary.
Incredibly, White was soon out of prison committing more burglary. He was eventually arrested and sentenced again. In 2014, he was convicted on four counts of simple burglary and was sentenced to 12 years in prison; however, a mere three years later he was released. As noted by Chief Glaser, “He’s got a 40 page criminal history.”
White is the type of criminal who should have never been released. To maintain basic public safety, prisoners with a “40-page criminal history” need to remain behind bars. How many other “non-violent offenders” sprung from prison on November 1 will be committing crimes in the days ahead?
Supposedly, Louisiana Department of Corrections officials were reviewing each case to make sure that dangerous criminals would not be released. Obviously, in the case of White, a huge mistake was made. Thankfully, no one was killed this time, but an innocent citizen might not be so fortunate the next time.
After almost 54 years, the controversy about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy still rages today.
The question at the center of the debate is the roll of Lee Harvey Oswald. Was he the diabolical perpetrator of the crime or an unwitting patsy set up to take the blame for the murder of the century by powerful forces either within the U.S. government, the Mafia or foreign entities?
Prior to the assassination, Oswald spent several months living, playing and working in New Orleans. While some believe he was using that time to prepare for the Kennedy assassination, others are convinced that Oswald was working undercover for the U.S. government.
Since New Orleans played such a key role in Oswald’s life and the Kennedy assassination drama, it is only appropriate that the city host a series of events exploring this story from a unique angle.
On Wednesday October 18, a variety of authors and Kennedy assassination experts will gather in New Orleans to celebrate what would have been the 78th birthday of Lee Harvey Oswald. Instead of viewing Oswald as a villain, these researchers firmly believe that Oswald was innocent, so they want to celebrate his controversial life.
At 10 a.m. a press conference and rally will be held at Lafayette Square, across from Gallier Hall.
At 10:30 a.m., a walking tour will commence at Lafayette Square and include visits to old New Orleans haunts of Lee Harvey Oswald during his “march to infamy” in New Orleans.
From 2-5 p.m. there will be a book signing event at Barnes and Noble, 1601B West Bank Expressway, Harvey, LA 70058. At the event, readers will be able to meet Edward T. Haslam, author of Dr. Mary’s Monkey and Judyth Vary Baker, author of Me and Lee. Baker, who claims she was Oswald’s girlfriend, will also be highlighting her new book, Kennedy & Oswald: The Big Picture.
At 8 p.m., the day will conclude with the official Lee Harvey Oswald Birthday Party at Le Bon Temps Roule, 4801 Magazine Street, New Orleans.
This day will include research, activism and since it will be held in New Orleans, of course, a celebration of what would have been the 78th birthday of Lee Harvey Oswald. All of the activities are free and open to the public. If anyone would like additional information, please visit www.LHOBirthday.com.
Along with trying to rehabilitate the reputation of Lee Harvey Oswald, event organizers have another major purpose in this day of activities. They hope to increase pressure on the federal government to officially release all files pertaining to the Kennedy assassination as mandated by the JFK Records Act, passed by Congress in 1992 and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.
The legislation was approved in the aftermath of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy laden 1991 film, “JFK.” Stone alleged that the Kennedy assassination was shrouded in a complex layer of government secrecy.
This law requires all relevant documents be released to the American public by Thursday October 26, 2017. Only President Trump can withhold the disclosure of this long-awaited information. Some researchers are concerned that the CIA or FBI will ask the President to suppress the release of these materials for “national security reasons.” Roger Stone, an informal adviser to the President, is reporting that the CIA is asking the President to delay the release of pertinent materials until 2042.
Such a decision would be a major mistake and would generate more suspicion among the American people that their government is involved in a coverup. Hopefully, nothing will interfere with the online disclosure of more than 3,000 files and previously redacted information in 30,000 other records.
The President needs to strike an important blow for openness and transparency in government and allow the American people the opportunity to finally know the complete truth about the Kennedy assassination. President Trump is being encouraged by members of both parties to fully release the files. A powerful supporter of full disclosure is U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who said “Americans deserve a full picture of what happened on that fateful day.” Finally, after 54 years, it is time for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
For most of their 50 years, the New Orleans Saints have been a losing professional football franchise. It took 20 years for the team to make the playoffs and other another 13 years to secure the first playoff victory. It took 42 years for the team to finally win the Super Bowl.
Through the suffering, the great New Orleans Saints fans have remained loyal to their beloved team. However, that loyalty is being threatened by the actions of selfish players and the inappropriate comments of the Saints ownership and Head Coach Sean Payton.
On Friday night, in a rally in Huntsville, AL, President Trump blasted NFL players for disrespecting the National Anthem. He called on NFL owners to fire any player who refused to stand for the National Anthem. Instead of following his advice, owners backed the actions of over 200 players who disrespected the National Anthem on Sunday.
Among the protesters Sunday were ten Saints players, who sat during the National Anthem. In another gesture possibly aimed at President Trump, Saints Wide Receiver Brandon Coleman raised his fist in the air after a touchdown. Some fans interpreted the “celebration” as a black power salute.
The Saints organization did not discipline any of the players, instead team management criticized Donald Trump. In a prepared statement, the Saints called the President’s criticism of the National Anthem protesters “disappointing and inappropriate.” The team also supported the players and stated that they “should be allowed to share or express their feelings.”
Saints Quarterback Drew Brees spoke in favor of standing for the National Anthem, but criticized the President’s comments. Coach Payton questioned the wisdom of President Trump and said he was “dividing the country.” Last year, Payton made headlines for anti-Second Amendment comments in the aftermath of the murder of former Saints player Will Smith. In fact, the Coach praised “England, where even the cops don’t have guns.”
Sean Payton is the most successful head coach in the history of the New Orleans Saints. He led his team to the playoffs five times, including one NFC championship and one glorious Super Bowl. Clearly, his mastery of his craft is unquestioned and his coaching tactics have been emulated by other NFL coaches. However, after three straight losing seasons, it might be a better idea for the coach to focus on football rather than bashing the President or advocating gun control.
All of these political comments and protests are having some negative ramifications for the Saints. Several legislators are now questioning the funding the team receives from the state budget. Billionaire owner Tom Benson, who is the richest man in Louisiana, has received over $165 million in state benefits, including an upgrade to the Superdome and the annual payment of office rent at his building in downtown New Orleans.
Legislators are looking at more pressing needs in Louisiana such as housing, education and healthcare. If Saints players continue to be disrespectful toward symbols of our country, and receive support from coaches and management, it may be difficult to convince legislators to continue the subsidies.
It is unclear what the players are protesting. Is it police conduct or treatment of minorities in America? Certainly, NFL players are not the victims of discrimination. These protesting players are mostly millionaires who make more per week than the average American family can make in a year.
If this continues, both the NFL and the New Orleans Saints are threatening their solid support base among loyal fans. Already there are signs that the Saints have crossed a line with local fans. For example, a Slidell Mardi Gras Krewe has rescinded an invitation for two players to serve as Grand Marshals in the next parade.
In Chalmette, the management of WOW Café and Winery announced that the restaurant will not air Saints games for their patrons until the players start showing appropriate reverence for the National Anthem.
In addition, some Saints fans are burning jerseys, while others are tearing up their tickets. It is a full-scale fan revolt that is unprecedented in the annals of Saints history. Even during the 1-15 1980 season, fans still attended the game, but with bags over their head.
Unless corrective action is taken, the Saints are on the verge of destroying the tremendous loyalty and support among fans that has been developed over 50 years. This is all being threated due to the ill-advised actions and comments of the entire organization, not just the ten players who sat during the National Anthem.
At the next game, all players should stand for the National Anthem and show proper respect to not only a country that has given them so much but also to fans who have served in the military and made sacrifices that have guaranteed all Americans the right to enjoy our God given freedoms outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
All Saints fans are the “customers” of the team and no group has been more long suffering and loyal. These people deserve better treatment from the organization. The fans need to be respected first and foremost. Unfortunately, the Saints in a bid to show solidarity with a protest movement, have forgotten their fan base. Let’s hope and pray they come to their senses.
For eight long years, Republican candidates have promised to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. It is biggest reason why the GOP took control of the U.S. House in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2014. Ending the nightmare of Obamacare was also one of the major motivating factors for the 62.9 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump.
Even after the Senate finally voted to move forward with discussion of an Obamacare bill, it is very questionable whether anything can pass. So, it remains to be seen whether Republicans ever meant any of those promises or whether it was just more meaningless campaign rhetoric designed to garner votes.
The real losers are the conservative activists who organized Tea Party events and helped give Republicans control of both the House and Senate. Trump voters have also been abandoned, not by the President, but by the congressional leaders who never really supported the Trump agenda.
As an outsider and populist, Donald Trump is directly at odds with the leadership of Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell are only lukewarm supporters of the President. Often, they have been critical of everything from his tweets to his political plans.
The dilemma for Donald Trump is that his agenda cannot be fulfilled by executive actions only. Unfortunately, he needs the support of the weak-kneed Republican congress that has not been able to deliver on the major parts of his agenda.
Other than the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Republican House and Senate have delivered nothing of substance for President Trump and the American people. These privileged politicians are paid handsome salaries, enjoy outrageous perks and large staffs, and yet do not listen to their constituents. They are captives of the lobbyists, special interests and the media. They are creatures of the Beltway, denizens of the noxious swamp.
Unlike Democrats, who easily unite for the benefit of their party, congressional Republicans are like a herd of cats, unmanageable and ineffective. McConnell should be replaced by real conservative and Trump supporter. On his most important task, McConnell failed miserably, delivering a major setback to the President and the Republican Party.
McConnell’s lack of leadership was apparent after the second edition of his Obamacare reform bill crashed and burned. Thereafter, his idea of a repeal only option followed by replacement two years later also appears to be dead on arrival.
In the process, the President’s entire agenda is in jeopardy. If Obamacare is not repealed, it will be much harder for the President to garner congressional support to implement his other major campaign promises: major tax cuts, building of a border wall, and massive new infrastructure spending.
Ideally, Republicans should completely repeal the disastrous and unconstitutional Obamacare legislation. This would give return America to the healthcare status of 2010, prior to Obamacare mandates and exchanges.
Thereafter, free market reforms should be enacted giving Americans the opportunity to purchase health insurance across state lines, build Health Savings Accounts. All of the mandates and Obamacare taxes need to be eliminated. States should be given block grants to deal with indigent care and high-risk pools.
Instead of passing legislation to offer Americans common sense healthcare solutions, the nightmare of Obamacare will continue. Premiums will continue to rise, insurance choices will become more limited and the march toward a single payer system will be inevitable.
Without the guts to make tough decisions or the desire to unify, Republicans will gift wrap the 2018 mid-term elections for the Democrats. This will give the left wing, crazy, and unhinged Nancy Pelosi the position of House Speaker once again.
If that occurs, it will be a total nightmare for our country, but it will not upset many of these weak Republicans in Congress. For these members do not have the courage of their convictions and are unwilling to challenge the establishment, the Democrats, the special interests and the media. These Republicans do not want to lead and prefer to be controlled by Democrats and answerable not to their constituents, but to the cocktail circuit in Georgetown.
The irony of this situation is that the Republicans have a congressional majority, but are unwilling to enact an agenda and prefer to be controlled by the minority, the Democrats, and the liberal media.
This strategy will only lead to more difficulty and obstacles for President Trump who has a winning agenda if only it could get implemented.
In a political party devoid of young leaders, some are speculating that Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans, must be a prime presidential candidate for 2020. He was mentioned along with about a dozen other presidential prospects in a New York Times article. This national publicity for Landrieu follows his interview on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program discussing his crusade to remove four Confederate monuments in New Orleans.
Not surprisingly, by championing the removal of Confederate monuments, Landrieu is scoring political points with the far-left leadership of the Democrat Party. In fact, Landrieu’s political ambition is the whole reason the monuments are being removed.
Prior to the Mayor’s embrace of this cause, there was never any groundswell of support in New Orleans for the monuments to be removed. Before Mitch Landrieu was Mayor of New Orleans, four African Americans served in the city’s top position and none of them tried to remove the monuments.
When Landrieu was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Lt. Governor, he never made the removal of Confederate monuments an issue. As Lt. Governor, Landrieu controlled state museums and was tasked with promoting the culture and heritage of Louisiana as well as fostering tourism. It would have been the perfect time for a political leader so concerned about Confederate monuments to make it a statewide issue. Instead, he said nothing about Confederate monuments.
During his four campaigns for Mayor of New Orleans in 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2014, Landrieu made no mention of his seemingly burning desire to remove the monuments. It was only after a tragic shooting in South Carolina that Landrieu saw an opportunity to make the removal of Confederate monuments his signature issue.
He knew that this stand against Confederate monuments would give him national publicity. Landrieu also knew that in Louisiana his prospects for statewide office were nil. Thus, he needed another goal, to set his sights on national political opportunities.
In November 2016, a clear opportunity for a cabinet position was lost when Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. Now that Donald Trump is President, Landrieu is auditioning for the role of chief antagonist. In recent weeks, the Mayor has ramped up his rhetoric against the Justice Department’s crackdown on sanctuary cities. The Mayor is an ardent supporter of New Orleans retaining its sanctuary city status; although he claims the city is not breaking any laws.
All his activities are clearly exposing the Mayor’s new goal, running for President in 2020. For Landrieu, fighting Donald Trump and fighting racist monuments is a perfect platform for a lifelong politician to run for national office. He has started a political action committee, Nola PAC, and is constantly pitching his supporters for funding to fight against Trump and racist monuments.
Although the Mayor is long on ambition, he is short on actual accomplishments. Other than political office, Landrieu has zero meaningful private sector experience. His record as Lt. Governor is undistinguished and as Mayor it has been a total failure.
If Democrats care to investigate his record, they will notice his inability to fight violent crime, reform the New Orleans Police Department, fix failing infrastructure or bring good paying jobs to the city. In fact, the population of New Orleans is now declining for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, as people are being forced out of the city by the high crime rate and the Mayor’s unquenchable desire to raise taxes.
The race for the Democrat Party presidential nomination in 2020 will be wide open; however, if Mayor Landrieu is given thoughtful consideration it will show how desperate the situation has become for a once proud political organization.Instead of providing a safe environment, jobs and opportunity for his citizens, the Mayor has created a major controversy which is leading to racial division and violence. He has ignored local standing problems such as the violent crime rate to pursue the removal of Confederate monuments and his own political agenda.
If Democrats want a problem solver, they need to look elsewhere. However, if they want a self-serving politician who cares little about the real plight of his constituents, but is brimming with unending ambition, then Mitch Landrieu would be a perfect choice as their presidential nominee.
The Confederate monument removal frenzy has now spread from New Orleans to Lafayette, Louisiana. A monument dedicated to Confederate General “Alfred” Mouton should be removed, according to activists with the group Move the Mindset. A member of the group, Frank Crocco, says that he agrees with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu that Confederate statues “don’t represent the community anymore.”
The Mouton monument opponents were emboldened by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision clearing the way for Mayor Landrieu’s administration to remove four Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Among the New Orleans monuments, the statue honoring General Robert E. Lee is the oldest and was unveiled in 1884. In Lafayette, the Mouton statue has been in place since 1922. These Confederate statues are both works of work and historical treasures that need to be protected, not removed and potentially damaged or even destroyed.
The effort to remove Confederate monuments gained momentum in 2015 after white supremacist Dylan Roof killed nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was later discovered on the Internet that Roof had been pictured waving the Confederate flag. Soon thereafter, South Carolina officials removed the Confederate Flag from their statehouse grounds.
In New Orleans, Mayor Landrieu used the South Carolina tragedy to mobilize opposition to the four Confederate monuments. He was successful in obtaining a 6-1 New Orleans City Council vote, which labeled the statues as “nuisances” and gave official approval for their removal.
While the decision has been ratified by the courts, there are pending lawsuits in both state and federal courts and the potential for legislative action in Baton Rouge aimed at protecting the monuments.
The whole process could also be derailed by a lack of funding. Reports are circulating that the anonymous donor who promised to cover the costs of removing the Confederate monuments has withdrawn his offer. There is also the potential for a lack of qualified bidders to handle such a delicate project. Unfortunately, no one knows who is bidding on the project or funding it because the Landrieu administration refuses to provide the public with this information.
If the Mayor is successful and the four monuments are moved to an undisclosed warehouse for temporary storage, there is no assurance that they will be preserved or relocated in a public setting. In fact, there are some rumors that a private individual may eventually possess the monuments at his “slave museum.”
Presently, there are more questions than answers, but we do know that the Mayor is fixated on removing the statues and he now has legislative and judicial approval to move forward.
The process might not end with the removal of the four Confederate monuments because there are vocal activists with the group Take ‘Em Down NOLA who want to remove dozens of other statues in New Orleans, including the city’s most iconic monument, the statue of Andrew Jackson in the French Quarter. This statue, right in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, in Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter is the most photographed spot in the Gulf South. Removing such a gem would be devastating to New Orleans as a tourist attraction and historical destination.
These activists want the city of New Orleans to be completely free of references to Confederate heroes or slave owners. They demand that any landmarks and street names honoring former slave owning Presidents such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson must also be removed.
This campaign is not new, it actually started in the 1990’s when Orleans Parish Public School Board officials stripped the name George Washington from a school. Even though he was a brilliant general, our first president and our most influential Founding Father, since he owned slaves the school board judged him to be unworthy to adorn a public school.
Along with monuments and school names, street names will also need to be changed. Residents can say goodbye to Jefferson Davis Parkway, Robert E. Lee Blvd., Jackson Avenue, Washington Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Bienville Street, Calhoun Street, Henry Clay Avenue, among many, many others. This will cause confusion and bring economic costs to thousands of citizens and businesses who will be forced to deal with the headaches of changing their official addresses.
Before the landscape of New Orleans is changed forever, it is imperative that the residents of the city be allowed a vote on the issue. On a matter, so important to the future of New Orleans, voters should have input. It should not be left to the politicians or unelected federal judges.
If the Mayor is so confident of the correctness of his position, why not give the citizens the right to make the final decision? Surely, in a city with a 65% African American majority, citizens would agree with the Mayor, right?
Or, maybe not, which is why Landrieu and his political cronies hoard all the decision-making power and give none of it to the citizens of New Orleans, the people most impacted by their misguided governance.
Back in late January of 1999, I had just finished a two-year stint as Executive Director and Deputy Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. Looking for a new project, I started a political newsletter with journalist and commentator Christopher Tidmore.
While interviewing Ed Butler, the new General Manager of talk station WTIX 690 AM, we were offered positions as talk show hosts on the station. Of course, we gladly accepted his kind invitation, although we had no experience or training. It was a great opportunity for complete novices. Fortunately, Butler was patient as we learned the business and became more comfortable on the air.
Eventually, Chris moved to another station and I brought on a new co-host, Leslie Stewart, to fill the role of my liberal counterpart. A year after the radio show started, we created a television version of the show and I recruited former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial as my liberal co-host. Our radio and TV on-air battles were spirited, but respectful, hopefully educating our audience not demoralizing them.
After another year, I bid fond adieu to both Leslie and the Mayor and had the formidable challenge to be the solo host of both programs. A show that had started as Politically Speaking Louisiana Style became Ringside Politics.
After WTIX 690 AM, the program moved to Pittman Broadcasting on the Northshore and Lafayette and then find its home in June 2007 on WGSO 990 AM. This remains the only locally owned news/talk station in New Orleans, as all the others are owned by either out of state media conglomerates or individuals.
This week, I have the good fortunate to celebrate 18 years on the radio as a New Orleans talk show host, a lone conservative voice on an island of liberals. In fact, New Orleans is a deep blue island in the red sea of Louisiana. For example, in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 81% of the vote in New Orleans, while only receiving 38% statewide.
New Orleans is a city with immense potential, but immense problems. There is rampant poverty, blight, horrible street conditions, homelessness and a high crime rate. The liberal Democrats own all the current problems afflicting the city. Democrats literally control everything from the schools to the streets. In fact, there is not one Republican serving in an elected public office in New Orleans. The last Republican Mayor of New Orleans was elected during Reconstruction.
Hosting conservative media programs in such a liberal market is a challenge. At least, I don’t have much competition for being the conservative voice of New Orleans. One “conservative” news/talk station has all out of town syndicated political shows, while the other major talk station in New Orleans features hosts who are either moderate or outright liberal.
The so-called objective political analysts on television are liberals. The local newspapers mostly feature liberal columnists, and, quite often, will present only liberal editorial opinions, apart from an occasional establishment Republican viewpoint.
There are some exceptions such as Kathleen Benfield, a great social conservative talk show host on WSHO, a religious station, and the talented Libertarian John Osterlind who does a show on a music station. Other than that, it is all liberal, all the time.
Surviving in this climate is only possible due to our great listeners, viewers, supporters and sponsors of the Ringside Politics TV and radio programs. In 18 years, I have had the incredible opportunity to interview 18,000 wonderful guests, who have graciously shared their stories with our audience. These guests have provided tremendous insights on countless issues and helped me clarify my positions on the pressing problems we face today.
At the very top of this impressive guest list are my talented radio all-stars who generously donate their time on a weekly basis to enlighten our audience: Chad Rogers, Publisher of The Dead Pelican, Steve Sabludowsky of Bayou Buzz, Attorneys Mitch Gibbs and Nick Varrecchio, Chris Holton of The Center for Security Policy and commentator Donna Carol Voss.
None of this would have been achievable without the backing Chris Beary, Principal Owner, Richard Tate, General Manager, and the entire staff of WGSO 990 AM. Their steadfast encouragement of my program over the years has been crucial to any success I have been able to achieve. In addition, much appreciation is also given to Ron Yager, WLAE-TV Vice President and General Manager and Jim Dotson, LAE Productions Vice President and General Manager, for their generous support of my television program.
Also, very special thanks to my longtime friend Steve Sabludowsky for faithfully featuring my columns on Bayou Buzz and co-producing with me the successful political comedy show, Politics with a Punch.
Even after 18 years, this work never gets old as every day is a new adventure. Today, during this heightened political season, it is the most exhilarating time ever to be on the air discussing the major events of the day.
To be able to express my views, explore important issues, interact with guests and listeners and try to impact the political environment in our country is the biggest honor I will ever receive.
Prior to the passage of much needed reform legislation in 2004, the sale of contact lenses was primarily controlled by eye doctors exclusively. Patients were not given their prescriptions and not allowed to shop for better prices. This situation changed in 2004 with the passage of the Fairness in Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA), which allowed patients to shop for the best prices for their contacts. It required doctors to provide patients with their prescriptions, leading to lower prices and more choices for consumers. The bill was a success as it introduced free market principles into this industry, which, not surprisingly, became more prosperous.
The legislation allowed consumers to purchase contacts from online sources and retail giants like Walmart. The monopoly was busted and prices dropped dramatically. Of the 41 million Americans who purchase contact lenses today, one-third take advantage of online sites and retail outlets. These sales total approximately $1.5 billion in an industry valued at $4.5 billion in the United States and $8.8 billion worldwide.
Unfortunately, a new bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA), which would strip away some of these reforms. It is advocated by contact lens manufacturers and the American Optometrists Association. The bill forces third party lens manufacturers to provide additional information to doctors, who would be allowed to ask questions and delay the delivery of the contacts to patients. It clearly limits the free market advantages of the 2004 legislation and restores more of the monopoly for optometrists.
Supporters of CLCHPA claim that contacts sold by third party vendors are unreliable and have caused more medical problems in patients. However, studies have proven that eye infections have not increased as more patients have purchased lenses from online sources and third party vendors.
UCLA Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Paul Donzis, conducted extensive research into this topic. He concluded that “based on…authoritative scientific articles, it appears that online sales of contact lenses have not contributed to any increase in the incidence of contact lens related [injury].” The medical journal Eye and Contact Lens also conducted an extensive 20-year study of this issue and concluded that there was no increase in contact lens related keratitis after the 2004 legislation was passed. In effect, giving consumers more options did not lead to more health problems.
Since no lenses can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription, these complaints are little more than scare tactics. The entire purpose of the new legislation is to shut down a thriving industry, limit choices for patients and force them to pay more for contacts, while giving optometrists a greater percentage of the profits.
The new bill is being vigorously pushed by the medical lobby, which understands that in many European countries and Japan, it is not even required for patients to receive a doctor’s prescription for contact lenses. In these countries, there is also no evidence of increased health risks or additional eye infections. Unfortunately, even some members of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation have jumped on the cronyism bandwagon.
Hopefully, Americans will soon be able to have the same freedom as those patients in other countries. Today, a patient can totally bypass a doctor and use an online app to accurately check their vision on their phone. This type of technological innovation is threatening to the medical lobby which is trying to maximize profits and limit patient choices.
Our political leaders should embrace new technologies, while maintaining a strong interest in promoting patient safety. Unfortunately, the new Senate bill is little more than a throwback to a bygone era of monopolies which did not place the interests of patients first.
At the very least, the new bill should be defeated and the next step should be to follow the lead of other nations in giving patients even more control of how they purchase contact lenses.
Since my Ringside Politics radio and TV programs started in 1999, I have enjoyed an annual Thanksgiving tradition of bestowing a “Turkey of the Year” award to the most deserving celebrity or politician. Of course, these are “winners” who distinguished themselves in a particularly foolish way. Previous winners have included filmmaker Michael Moore, former House Speakers John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, President Barack Obama and former New Orleans Mayor, current federal inmate, Ray Nagin.
This year, the list of nominations was almost endless. It has been a political year like no other, but it has been dominated by one person, President-elect Donald Trump. He burst onto the political scene as a businessman and outsider who was tired of the insufferable weight of political correctness. He declared his goal was to “Make America Great Again,” by “draining the swamp” around Washington D.C. and putting “America First.”
It all started on June 16, 2015 before a huge crowd at the Trump Tower in New York City. In his initial speech, Trump claimed that the country needed a wall on the southern border and that Mexico would pay for it. He also lambasted Mexico for “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Immediately, Trump was labeled a racist and the media started to ridicule his presidential plans. There were also efforts to financially harm Trump’s business empire. His Miss Universe show was dropped by television networks, the first indication that his presidential aspirations would be met with fierce opposition.
In the GOP race, Trump faced 16 seasoned challengers, many of them are members of the Republican Party establishment. These candidates were quick to condemn Trump whenever he made a controversial comment. Many issues arose that gave his opponents fodder. Trump’s statements about Megyn Kelly of Fox News, Senator John McCain, and an Indiana judge presiding over the Trump University legal case caused continual controversy.
After he secured the Republican presidential nomination, there were other controversies such as his statements about a Muslim father who lost a son in the Iraq War, a former Miss Universe and his infamous remarks about women captured on a 2005 tape recording which was conveniently released to deflect from the WikiLeaks disclosures about Hillary Clinton. The icing on the political cake occurred when 12 women came forward to allege Trump sexually assaulted them.
In every one of these incidents, Trump was viciously attacked by the usual collection of news reporters, Hollywood celebrities and liberal politicians. Unfortunately, they were joined by many Republican politicians who were eager to be critical of Trump and unwilling to support his candidacy, even after he secured the nomination.
Former Republican Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush refused to endorse Trump, as did 2012 Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney. U.S. Senator and 2008 Republican Party presidential nominee John McCain was among several prominent Republicans who withdrew their support after the 2005 tape was released.
Joining these political leaders was a collection of conservative misfits in the media and political worlds who refused to endorse Trump. This group became known as the “Never Trumpers” and included radio talk show host Glenn Beck, commentators Erick Erickson, George Will and Bill Kristol and Senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Many of these individuals bitterly opposed Trump, even though he won the nomination fairly and faced Hillary Clinton, a corrupt liberal, in the general election.
From this “Never Trump” universe, I selected my three Ringside Politics Turkeys of 2016. These were the worst of this motley crew because they were presidential candidates who betrayed their party and reneged on a promise to support the nominee. All 17 GOP presidential candidates signed a pledge to officially endorse the eventual party nominee. Unfortunately, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Ohio Governor John Kasich placed their own political interests in front of their party and their country.
Not only did they make a horrific mistake, but they looked quite foolish in the process. Graham said that “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.” Not quite Lindsey, as Trump won 30 states, plus Maine’s 2nd congressional district, and collected 306 electoral votes, the most won by a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. Jeb Bush who was embarrassed by Trump and famously labeled “low energy” acted like a petulant child and refused to endorse anyone, and indicated he would vote for a third-party candidate.
While Graham and Bush acted poorly, the most egregious political violation of the year was committed by Ohio Governor John Kasich. He not only refused to endorse Trump but later confessed to writing in the name of John McCain as his presidential choice.
Kasich declined to participate in the Republican National Convention which was held in his home state of Ohio. He did not welcome the delegates nor attend any of the events which culminated in Trump’s nomination. He was under the delusion that he was the “most electable” Republican presidential candidate even though he only won one primary in his home state of Ohio. In contrast, Trump won 37 states and four times the number of delegates as his nearest competitor.
In a year of the Trump political revolution, where one candidate defeated the combined forces of the political, business, media and globalist establishment, these three Republican Turkeys did not join the historic party.
Sadly, Graham, Bush and Kasich put their selfish interests first and lost badly. Their only consolation is that they are the clear winners of the 2016 Ringside Politics Turkey of the Year Award.