Slaying the Dragons Wednesday, Apr 22 2009 

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The year was 1987, the race was for Governor, and the words spoken by one candidate were so enticing to us:  “We’ve got to slay the dragon”.  It was Buddy Roemer that caught our attention with that challenge based on fiscal reform.  The media absolutely loved him, and voters longed for real change.

Roemer was a breath of fresh air.  A candidate with lofty goals to take on our state’s bureaucracy by raising the bar for ethics and scrubbing the budget.  We were so excited; it was the promise of a better day in Louisiana.

The legislature, however, had a different agenda.  A majority of senators and representatives that kicked off Governor Roemer’s first session were, unfortunately, former Governor Edwin Edwards’ supporters.  They blamed Roemer and his administration for not being good communicators.  That was the least of Roemer’s challenges.

The Louisiana Association of Educators challenged Roemer’s plan for teacher’s performance-based reviews and pay based on merit.  The Red Stick’s finance director, Lynn Schofield balked at tax reform that would affect municipalities.  Jefferson Parish played a key role in defeating Roemer’s tax reform with some politicians spending their own campaign funds to lobby against reform.

No one was interested in tax reform.  Why?  Simple:  Reform sounds good until it affects your parish’s pocketbook.

It’s almost mind boggling to walk down memory lane. 

Fast forward to the 2007 election for Governor.  The ‘whiz kid’, Bobby Jindal is running for office, and his words are eerily similar regarding making a clean break from the past.  Once again, we are attempting to “slay the Dragons” by addressing  workforce development, creating accountability, developing a modern health care system, better schools, stronger businesses – all through ethics reform.  

Reform.  Change for the better.  Improvement.  Better Methods.  Courses of Action.  Strong words, but difficult to achieve when resistance is so powerful.  If we do not change our attitudes and take action, we are destined to repeat history. 

Do we really want reform?  Are we willing to pay the price it takes to make reform a reality? 

There is some good news in the upcoming legislative session.  Legislators have introduced bills that will give significant tax breaks.  The people have spoken, and for the first time in awhile, the politicians have heard what we are saying and are acting accordingly.  A brief description of bills filed by the House of Representatives can be viewed here, and Senate bills filed can be viewed here

Still, there is great criticism of Jindal’s calendar of events.  Jindal’s traveling is taking more hits than the news of actual bills filed that will affect each of us as citizens of our good state.  Interesting.

I long for the day when I can read critical information on bills in The Advocate.  Bills that we should be aware of as voters.  I crave information about Jindal’s speech to the Red Stick Press Club, instead all I hear about is whether his legal counsel should step down because he is considering political office after the session.

I need to hear more about how we can “slay the dragons”, not the sensationalism our local media wants to spin.  To find out what Jindal said at the Press Club, I had to do a search – not in the newspaper – but until I found his actual speech

What I learned was that Jindal spoke of the current financial crisis, and how we are all being called to make cuts.  So should the State of Louisiana.  I also learned we have retained business, secured new business ventures, and created more than 22,000 jobs, and retained more than 11,500 jobs in Louisiana since Jindal was elected. 

We have invested more dollars in Pennington Biomedical Research, and Barksdale Air Force Base.    I learned that despite the horrific economic downturn, Louisiana has not only survived, but flourished.  That we have retained some powerful businesses and had profitable major corporations open headquarters in our state over the past year.

Louisiana enjoyed a record year for the film industry.  We have totally outperformed the U.S. economy and are a leader in the South. 

Jindal plans to keep his promise of no new taxes.  That in itself should have been yesterday’s headline in The Advocate!  “Raising taxes is absolutely not an option”, were the Governor’s exact words.  What a refreshing and encouraging headline that could have been.

Jindal’s list of cuts for specific agencies are all in his speech.  A plan broken down, explaining how the budget crisis for the state will be addressed is there as well.  Again, it can be read here

How else would we have known that the Governor has a new education funding formula?  Or that he is behind the Commission for Streamlining Government?  (That legislation is mentioned in my previous post.) 

How long have we joked about state government employees?  If I hadn’t read his speech, I would not have been enlighted to the performance-based plan for state workers and compensation.  It’s about time!

There’s so much more the media did not address.  Jindal has a plan for more discipline in the classroom, extending research and development tax credits, DWI crackdowns, stronger laws for sex predators, work release program improvements, and tax amnesty for delinquent filers. 

I did not vote for Bobby Jindal, but he is our Governor.  His ideas and plans are moving forward.  Are we willing to jump into the battle with him and “slay the dragons”

Some say, “where is Bobby”?  I say,  “Bobby must be hard at work on the road…the road to a better Louisiana”.    What if I’m right?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Sin Taxes, Spendthrift Liberals & A Voice of Reason Sunday, Apr 19 2009 

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Apparently ‘sin’ taxes on cigarettes is the answer to Louisiana’s budget woes according to The Advocate and Representative Karen Peterson, Democrat, who has introduced HB 75

The Advocate has gone so far as to claim that ‘sin’ taxes are literally political taxes, in that cuts to education in our state are less desirable than charging ‘sinners’ more taxes.  Quite humorous given The Advocate’s disdain for anything Christian in political races.  How convenient!

Did The Advocate notice that another legislator, Democrat Senator Cheryl Gray, introduced SB 226 designed to spend the first $250,000 of the cigarette ‘sin’ tax annually on technology? 

It’s no coincidence that Rep. Peterson and Sen. Gray are working together on tax and spend projects.  Just last year they joined forces in a joint press conference to discuss projects that Peterson would locate funding for and Gray would quickly spend.  A great team of democrat tax and spend liberals!

The problem with any tax that is levied or raised is that it gives the false assumption there will be more money to pay down debt.  The truth is that it gives lawmakers the impetus to spend more money proven by the Peterson-Gray spendthrift duo.

Any knowledgeable person is aware that government budgets must be spent in their entirety in order for an agency to receive funding the following year.  There is always a frenzy to spend ‘the last of this year’s budget’ by agencies between October and December so they can re-justify their budget for the following year. 

It’s simple:  If you spend less, then you have proved you need less to operate.  This is never the goal of an agency. 

While sugarplums are dancing in their heads over increased tax dollars, we the people, are still looking for government spending to be streamlined.  We are not desiring more taxes, but less taxes, less spending, less government.

A new concept:  Senator Jack Donahue, Republican, has introduced SB 261 intended to streamline state government.  This bill is more in line with the thinking of voters.  It calls for streamlining, eliminating, privatizing, consolidating, and outsourcing, if necessary, governmental agency’s functions in order to be more effective and to cut spending. 

Alas, a voice of reason!

SB 261 further provides that an assessment be made of governmental agencies to ensure they are meeting or exceeding performance standards to meet the needs of Louisiana residents.  Accountability . . . a refreshing concept!

Cost efficiency, alternative resources and specific guidelines would be required in order to measure the efficiency of programs, services, functions and agency activities.  It calls for a Commission designed to streamline government functions and expenditures.  Bravo!

No wonder The Advocate endorses a ‘sin’ tax – they endorse our spendthrift liberal tax and spend Mayor, Kip Holden, as well as his bond issue to tax millions of dollars for generations to come.  Perhaps they should take a lesson from Senator Donahue and line up with taxpayers who long for true leadership and direction that cries out for government reform vs more spending and taxes?

If we continue to do the same thing, we will get the same result. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Tea Party in the Red Stick Thursday, Apr 16 2009 

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It was the most significant Red Stick Tea Party in decades.  Thousands of taxpayers paid a visit to the State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge to protest government spending, the $3.5 trillion U.S. budget, and President Obama’s $787 million stimulus package.

The Red Stick branch of the U.S. Tea Party has an informative website

It was a call to arms across the country for taxpayers.  Their arms were literally held in the air with unique signs announcing the ‘brewing’ of a new movement against wasteful spending. 

A clever sign stated “I made this sign with the tax break I received and have no money left!”  Other signs decried “Obomination – ObamaNation”, and “Stop breaking into my Piggy Bank!” – a sign carried by a teenager.

The event reminded me somewhat of Howard Beale in the movie Network when he screamed these famous words:

“So I want you to get up right now.  I want all of you to get up out of your chairs.  I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell . . .

I’m mad as hell,

and I’m not gonna take this

anymore!”

So, what will you do? 

Go ahead!  Get up! 

Go to the phone or to your computer! 

Call or write your legislator and congressional representative!  Let them know that you demand that they cut the fat in the budget, stop bailing out companies who have misspent money, and that you will not continue to take this anymore!

Perhaps we can share one signmaker’s words with our lawmakers: 

“Don’t share my tax dollars, share my work ethic!”

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Sheriffs Under Fire Tuesday, Apr 14 2009 

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The Sheriff is the most powerful law enforcement officer in any given parish.  Over the past few weeks, several Sheriffs in Louisiana have been investigated by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for ethics violations. 

According to The Advocate, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre was funneling business from the Sheriff’s Office to a business he owned.  Grant Parish Sheriff Pop Hataway is charged with using his influence to allow detainees to be released without required bond fees and under reduced bonds.

Given the world of technology and citizens who thrive as armchair detectives and watchdogs, it is a major mistake to misuse the power of a Sheriff’s Office.  Apparently, the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish, Sid Gautreaux, is about to come under fire for potential ethics violations. 

What are these guys thinking?  They are supposed to follow the law, not break the law.

There is no doubt that our Sheriff is the top law enforcement officer.  The responsibility of this position is huge.  He oversees more than 850 employees and a budget of more than $65 million.  It is the responsibility of voters to ensure that he properly administers and directs personnel by setting an example. 

Looking back to last year, the Baton Rouge Business Report broke the news that Sheriff Sid Gautreaux spent over $43,000 on a personal vehicle.  The ‘bling’on Gautreaux’s fine ride included a chrome package, sun roof, heated seats, Bose sound system, navigation system, rear view camera back-up, and DVD televisions front and rear.  Response from the Sheriff’s spokesperson was this was ‘an appropriate accommodation for the Sheriff’.  (Red Stick Police Chief Jeff Leduff drives a police cruiser.)  His entourage of top people enjoyed the same type of vehicles along with other ‘hand picked’ personnel in the sheriff’s office.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Last fall Mayor Kip Holden told the voters we needed to pass a tax/bond issue; a key component of that issue was to build a new administration building that would house the Sheriff of EBRP. 

A couple days ago, I heard that Sheriff Gautreaux already moved to Harding Boulevard offices where Mayor Holden’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness are housed. 

Tell me why we need that tax again?

Former Sheriff Greg Phares exposed Gautreaux for being absent as Police Chief of Baker.  It is my understanding that Gautreaux is repeating this character trait as Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish. 

We expect leaders to be present, not serving as absentee landlords.

When we elected Gautreaux, he made some hefty promises to the voters including cutting a top-heavy bureaucracy, yet he has almost tripled the number of promotions than any previous administration. 

Gautreaux promised to put more deputies on the road; how many more do we have today?  Once again, our media has not investigated or reported on this topic.  Do we have more deputies actively patrolling the parish or not?  How many?

Gautreaux said that former Sheriff Greg Phares’ anti-terrorist boat was a misuse of money (even though Phares said it was paid for by a grant).  Yet, recently the Sheriff took out an ad in The Advocate touting this same boat. 

Was this just political campaign talk, as usual?

Since elected, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has touted his accomplishments including Zachary and Pride substations.  The Zachary station was actually opened by the former sheriff in 2007.  

More political double-speak?

We elected Gautreaux, with Mayor Kip Holden’s endorsement.  We voted for change, for a leader that would maintain the integrity of the Sheriff’s office.  Did we do the right thing? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Day 6 of the Hostage Situation Friday, Apr 10 2009 

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Today is Friday, April 10th, Day 6 of the Red Stick Hostage Situation.  

What began as a protest by a handful of belligerent reporters and political pundits has turned into a hostage situation in the capital city of Louisiana, known as the Red Stick.

As we understand the facts, fuel was added to the protest by a couple of disgruntled attorneys and a dysfunctional family, creating what is now commonly referred to as ‘the ‘hunting dog siege’.   (The name was donned when certain individuals were not properly ‘rewarded’, as hunting dogs are, when they stalk their prey.)

The first hostage that was taken was Governor Bobby Jindal when he evidently refused to play politics in a manner they were accustomed to in certain circles.  Jindal’s stand against abortion and same sex marriage, as well as his promotion of sexual castration of sex offenders and the teaching of intelligent design in the classroom immediately set him on the opposite side of these ‘political terrorists’.

The second hostage to be taken was Rolfe McCollister, Jr., publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report.  McCollister served as Jindal’s finance chairman, and uses the opinion page of his news publication to discuss his personal political views, which are often at odds with the disgruntled group.

The third hostage was Lee Domingue, a candidate in the District 16 Senate race.  Domingue is a successful businessman who authored a book openly sharing his past, a message of hope and forgiveness – all of which angered the group vehemently.

The temperature rose when the capturers discovered that all of these men, including Pastor Dino Rizzo of Healing Place Church and Julio Melara, president of the BR Business Report (also hostages) chose to support Domingue for Senate.  Obviously, this did not set well with the group of protesters, and they set out to ‘teach these men a lesson’ by attempting a coup d’etat.

According to confidential sources, requests were made by the hostage-takers to ‘do as we say, but not as we do’.  When these men did not respond as requested, the protesters became perplexed, frustrated, and struck out in a plan that made Hillary Clinton’s ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ look like child’s play.  This is when the hostage situation elevated to a code red.

(Allow me to lower my voice to a whisper so the hostage-takers cannot hear me.)  

Perhaps the most interesting facet of this hostage situation is that the hostages are not being held hostage at all, but evidently the protesters are blind to this fact!

Just yesterday, all of the hostages were seen going about their merry ways doing what they are committed to doing in life.  McCollister was evidently running his publication, Jindal was serving as Governor as well as traveling freely about the country in fundraising efforts, Rizzo was ‘caught’ pastoring his church and reaching out to his congregation, and Domingue was actually back at work in his successful business. 

All to the unseeing eyes of the hostage-takers, who are convinced they are ‘in control’.  (snicker)

It seems unfortunate that they are under the false assumption that any of these men really care about their demands.  More so, how on earth can they not realize that the only hostages are their own selves?

Nevertheless, we will continue to cover the unfolding story of the Hostage Situation in the Red Stick.  If nothing more, it’s good banter for us, and keeps our minds off of any progress their ‘invisible candidate’ may, or may not, be making on our behalf.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

 

The Pearls of Politics Wednesday, Apr 8 2009 

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Pastor Dino Rizzo and the Healing Place took enormous heat for Rizzo’s personal support of candidate Lee Domingue.  This is baffling given the history of church and pastoral involvement in politics in the Red Stick.

It’s no secret that pastors and churches in the Red Stick have been actively involved in political races through the years. 

As one Baptist pastor said, “If you read the scriptures, Jesus was involved in the politics of Palestine”.  Another pastor said, “There is a working relationship between pastors and politicians that’s often not talked about”.  No truer words were spoken.

For years, it has been common knowledge that the doors of churches in the Red Stick have flung open for political forums.  These actions have often been followed by the support of pastors for particular candidates based on their faith and common beliefs in what is right for the community they pastor.

Some names of churches that come to mind, that are easily verifiable through The Advocate archives, are Jefferson Baptist Church, Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church, New Gideon Baptist Church, Woodlawn Baptist Church, and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church – all listed in past articles of The Advocate for their political involvement in the Red Stick.

No one seemed to take issue with the barage of letters written for or against specific candidates by Pastor Tommy French.  Neither has anyone criticized the list of black pastors that supported Mayor Kip Holden, including Reverand Raymond Jetson.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was endorsed publicly by several pastors during his political race.  None of these pastors or churches were criticized, even though the personal lifestyles of their candidates have been questioned sorely for lacking christian character.

Faith-based organizations in the Red Stick have also hosted forums and wound up working ‘behind the scenes’ with specific candidates running for political office.  WIN (Working Interfaith Network), and the Interfaith Federation of Baton Rouge, a 60-congregation membership of Christian and Jewish churches in the Red Stick,  have been very active politically through writing letters, and inviting politicians to speak to their congregations.  Flyers are often generated and passed out as members exit church on Sunday encouraging them to support candidates.  Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that? 

The Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues is well known as an active political machine in the Red Stick.  Members of all of these organizations have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates, though the organization itself is dissallowed by the IRS from making church contributions. 

They are many politically-savvy ministers – involved, in touch, and actively working with and for politicians and candidates.  In fact, election day activities are often run out of church annexes with members being paid for hauling getting out the vote.

To date, I have not seen any of these faith-based organizations, pastors or churches called out for these hands-on political activities. 

Yet, Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church were targeted numerous times during the Senate District 16 race.  The truth is, this is the ultimate discrimination by political pundits.  It’s the politics of old we abhor. 

I do not know Dino Rizzo, but I have watched his service on TV numerous Sunday mornings.  He is, obviously, a man of faith that is grounded in the word of God and has been active in the Red Stick community for over a decade.   

Why shouldn’t Rizzo stand behind someone he personally knows and believes in for political office?  

Why discriminate against one pastor, but turn your head when other men of God are deeply involved in Red Stick politics?

Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church has all the ‘gravitas’ they need in this community, and supporting someone he believes in, for political office, will not affect his standing in the Red Stick.  His pearls of wisdom are needed and wanted in our community.  That is, unless you consider yourself swine?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Dan Claitor: The Invisible Man Tuesday, Apr 7 2009 

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H. G. Wells wrote the science fiction thriller, The Invisible Man, a novel that might aptly describe the newly elected Senator of District 16, Dan Claitor.  

In our lifetime, we may never witness a newly elected Senator who is as barely mentioned in a barage of news articles and blogs by political pundits as Dan Claitor.  Is this the same group that convinced the voters Claitor was the ‘best candidate’?

I suppose it would be funny if it weren’t such a sad commentary of what really happened in the District 16 race.  A pitiful legacy at best, for a district that was previously held in high esteem by the election of former Senators Bill Cassidy and Jay Dardenne. 

It does beg the question, and the answer is simple. 

Claitor was not really the choice candidate.  With all due respect, I am sure Claitor thought he won of his own accord – because he had some brilliant plan for District 16.  So brilliant that no one is mentioning it whatsoever!

Instead, Claitor is learning what Louisiana politics is all about – much ado about nothing more than a group of egotistical political operatives that wanted him anyone to help them control the voters.  And that they did!

Don’t believe me?  Irrespective of Claitor, there is a growing list of articles and blogs about everyone but the new Senator.  Less than 3 days after the election, NOT ONE ARTICLE even mentions Claitor being the best candidate or anything he plans to do on behalf of the voters who were led to the voting booth like sheep to a slaughter. 

Instead, the pundits have tipped their hands as the voting booths are being audited, proving they had their own agenda.  What does this equate to for Louisiana?  Politics as usual, according the message being resounded across our good state and in the Red Stick:

  • The Advocate has authored 3 articles since Saturday with absolutely NO mention of Claitor’s plans as a new Senator. 
  • The Times Picayune’s article also fails to mention any thrust that Claitor might have as Senator and embarrassingly mentions his name only 5 times in an article where Governor Jindal’s name is listed 11 times and Lee Domingue is mentioned 12 times.  (Both men are given twice the recognition as Claitor.)  Rolfe McCollister, publisher of the BR Business Report, got the same billing as Claitor with 5 name mentions. 
  • Freelance writer, Jeremy Alford, wrote an article picked up by the Daily Report in which the only mention of Claitor’s future as a Senator is that he best ‘hit the ground running’
  • Columnist Stephen Sabludowsky wrote an article on the Senate District 16 race and does not even mention Dan Claitor’s name, making him truly invisible as a new Senator.
  • Clancy DuBos, political analyst and editor of The Gambit,  talks more about bloggers, McCollister, Jindal and Domingue than Claitor, and once again, makes no mention of anything that the Senator will do once he is sworn in to the Louisiana Legislature.
  • The Daily Advertiser also wrote more about every other player in the Senate District 16 race than about Dan Claitor.  No mention there about what Claitor plans to do once in office.

 

The Invisible Man’s legacy has begun, and his name is . . . uh, I already forgot! 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

District 16 Red Stick Lessons Sunday, Apr 5 2009 

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I’ve never been one to keep my opinion to myself.  Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I was disappointed in Saturday’s election of Dan Claitor to the Louisiana Senate District 16 seat.  It was no secret that I thought Lee Domingue was the best candidate for the job. 

There are so many great lessons to learn from life, and the Senate District 16 race is no exception:

  • Don’t make any donations to political campaigns, or for the betterment of Louisiana:  (Domingue donated to Jindal’s campaign and ‘Believe in Louisiana’.)  If you plan to run for office, just don’t contribute any money towards the good of Louisiana, else it will be used against you.
  • Don’t give endorsements in a political campaignIf you do endorse a candidate, be prepared to receiving scathing attacks from reporters and bloggers, as they will assume you have an agenda like they do.   (Both Governor Bobby Jindal and BR Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister experienced this scenario because they endorsed Domingue.) 
  • Don’t do business with any rich families in the Red StickIf you do, and dare cross the rich and powerful, (Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, et al) you will find your personal story on the front page of the local newspaper for everyone in the Red Stick to read. 
  • The Advocate’s original code of ethics has been defiled:  The Advocate has a creed, as set forth by Charles Manship, to create a newspaper with high standards of ethical behavior.  Journalists, like Marsha Shuler, have defiled ethics by reporting news based on her personal beliefs in a biased manner.  The Advocate is not a blog or forum for personal agendas, and news stories are a vast difference from the Opinion page of a newspaper.
  • Pundits will change their tune after you are elected:  Jindal was the most beloved candidate for Governor by all the political pundits and journalists while a candidate.  These same pundits, once the money train stopped, crossed to the other side in a media frenzy to attack Jindal.  No doubt, Claitor, will enjoy this privilege in due time from these same pundits.
  • Negative campaigning is still beloved in the Red Stick:  The pundit’s negative spin is more important than the positive issues that may affect voters in any given district.  This was proven by the fact that sensationalism reporting and character assassination was given precedence over critical issues that affect Senate District 16. 
  • Hide any facts about yourself if you are a candidate, but expose your opponent’s full history:  This includes your personal wealth, your background and work history, and business dealings.  (Domingue’s personal life history was used against him, even though he laid his life open on his website and in a book he authored.  But Claitor’s personal financial history and work history was hidden from public view.)

Dan Claitor worked very deceptively behind the scenes to win this senate seat.  He also lied on the radio claiming I was working for the Domingue campaign.  I do not know either candidate and did not and will not receive any monies directly or indirectly from any candidate or their representatives in this race.  That’s more than I can say for other political websites.  Claitor has made it obvious he is a character assassin.  No doubt he will continue this character trait for years to come.  We are, after all, creatures of habit.

 

Perhaps congratulations are in order to the voters for electing the to District 16?  You have just elected a liar, and a man that worked the system like old-line politicians who, for years, have used others to do their dirty work.  I suppose that is the greatest lesson of all – and the saddest one:  that the legacy of Edwin W. Edwards is still alive and well and flowing through the veins of the very pundits that claim they want change for our state.  

 

Until next time,

 

Red Stick Republican