Influence Peddling in EBRP? Sunday, Jul 29 2012 

Let’s talk about one of the oldest political tricks in the book — Influence Peddling.  It come in many forms, and is referred to by many names.  The key is to recognize Influence Peddling in some of its truest forms in East Baton Rouge Parish prior to the fall election.

In some political circles, influence peddling is extremely effective and considered a legal business deal — depending upon your viewpoint (i.e. lobbying). 

For those who are in tune with the media — behind closed doors or via quick mobile dialing — it can also be extremely advantageous (i.e. keeping things under wrap).

In the community, it comes in many forms including controlling the flow of information, determining where focus is put, and deciding where and from whom and to whom funding will flow.

The examples could be lengthy, but why prolong our pain?  Let’s just get to the point, shall we? 

Influence Peddling has come to mind in the current climate of East Baton Rouge Parish politics and current leadership — especially in light of the coming fall election. 

Let me be very clear whom I refer to when considering ‘current’ leadership. 

  • They are the individuals who decide the who, what, where, and how.  
  • Simply put, they are the ‘powers that be’ — those behind the scenes who direct and determine what is, and what is not, done.
  • Depending on your working knowledge of who is really in control of such matters, they include members of the media, key community leaders, heads of community organizations and businesses, and a handful of politicians who both need and desire to be peddled regardless of what is right or wrong. 
  • They are the true decision makers and spin doctors of our political, economic, and financial climate in the Red Stick. 
  • For the past dozen or so years, they have determined where we are headed and how we will get there.

They should also be held accountable for where we currently are — something they are attuned to and very good at blaming on others.  Blame-shifting and influence peddling go hand-in-hand.

God help you if you should ever choose to disagree or question these influential peddlers or their political figureheads.  They are able, and more than willing, to strike back with a vengeance.

After all, influence peddlers stick together and are much like a brotherhood that almost appear to have unlimited powers to cut you off or make you into a spectacle — whatever suits the scenario.

They remind me of the mafia — a brotherhood of sorts that stick together against those who might interfere with their desires or whims.  The power of the political machine or editorial pen can be enormous in their world — and in yours. 

I am not a conspiracy theorist.  I work completely on the premise of truth revealed through extensive research that brings forth a working knowledge of the facts. 

Freedom from spin will set you free, and allow you to make more informed decisions.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants to know the truth.  In biblical times, they wanted to believe a lie, so God allowed a messenger to tell them what they wanted to hear: II Thessalonians 2:11.

Don’t be caught unaware.  Don’t be willing or desirous to believe a lie.  Do your homework.  Avoid the spin doctors.  Look long and hard at the facts.  And, above all else, be an informed citizen.  That is your responsibility before entering the voting booth.  Your vote does count. 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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The Magical World of Louisiana Politics Saturday, Jun 20 2009 

 all about the money

Alice in Wonderland taught us about the world of childhood fantasies.  It’s a world of fantasy where some still choose to reside.  It’s a magical land of make believe where anything can happen, much like the world of Louisiana politics.

The heart of the Red Stick is the seat of both city and state government where magical dreams come true.  It’s a tale that began with wonder and delight.  Some call it the legend of Istrouma Bluff . . .

It all began long, long ago on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, when a french explorer, Iberville, spotted a bloody cypress stick and named the location ‘le baton rouge’ or Red Stick

A new architect to the land, Dakin, built a gothic medieval castle to house the seat of government with a front row view of the massive river traffic, but just as in all magical lands, this castle was not large enough for the politically powerful. 

So, Governor Huey P. Long commissioned a taller state capitol to house state government.  It would, one day, become the home of the largest employer in the state of Louisiana. 

This was only the beginning of the people’s woes including larger, more excessive state government.  A chicken in every pot, and funding for all special interests.  It was a Never Never Land, where politicians proclaimed ‘no is not an answer’.

In this magical land, money grew on trees and blank checks fell from the sky.  Politicians skipped down the halls exchanging votes only behind magical closed doors. 

The legislative sessions do often sound like tales from folklore.  Don’t they?  Unfortunately they are not fairy tales, but the reality of gatherings comprised of elected officials and appointees that often lack common sense, ethical concern and good ole-fashioned prudence. 

In the magical world of Louisiana politics, finances are infinite.  There is no awareness of real budgets or lack of funding.  Like Dick Tracy, someone with a magical answer is always ‘on their way’ to the rescue. 

The mentality is that state government is too big to fail, that bailouts and magic financial formulas will cause money to magically appear.  And like all mantras, sometimes they do come true as evidenced by $22.6 million in funding suddenly ‘found’ recently.

In this magical world of Louisiana politics, the finances are so tangled in bureaucracy that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.  So much so, that within 12 months we can be so far off base to go from a surplus to a shortfall.  Then, magically, we begin to pick the fruit of unspent dollars and tax dollars to meet the shortfall. 

It truly is magical.  No reality here folks.  Just a wonderful world of fantasy spending that will endlessly lift us to another world of wonder. 

As long as we are living in the world of fantasy, I recommend we all search for a character similar to the one in the movie ‘Dave’.  A hero that snuck a friend into the state capitol to recommend financial cuts.  If it worked in the movies, surely it will work in the magical world of Louisiana politics.  Right?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Senate District 16’s David & Goliath Friday, Mar 13 2009 

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The District 16 Senate race reminds me of the biblical story of David & Goliath.

Claitor, I mean Goliath, was a tall Philistine, and quite the bully.  Every day Goliath would send out the word through his minions attacking and mocking the Israelites while daring them to fight – a somewhat passive-aggressive approach.

Domingue, I mean David, was of small stature, and was a servant to his brothers laboring and sharing with others freely.  David had a brave heart and refused to wear armor in his fight against Goliath.  Instead, armed with simplicity – a simple slingshot and 5 smooth stones he took on the bully.  

David won his battle.  We love David because he was the underdog, and we identify with him because he no one likes a bully. 

Claitor proved himself a bully in the last political race he ran against District Attorney Hillar Moore.  His passive-aggressive stabs at Moore were to no avail.  Insinuations about Moore’s contributions, endorsements and community work with our children lost the race for Claitor.

I do not personally know Domingue or Claitor, but have researched their campaign messages and personal stories. 

Claitor graduated from law school in 1987, became an assistant district attorney in Orleans Parish, and opened a private practice in 1990.  He is a trial lawyer, and told The Advocate that he spends most of his time representing his family’s holdings.  This is his second run for political office in less than one year.

Domingue is an entrepreneur.  He formerly owned an upscale car dealership that folded, and now serves as CEO of Wolters Kluwer/App One –  a business he started in the basement of a rent house that is now extremely  successful.  Domingue is also an author of Pearls of the King, a book that outlines his past personal failures and his faith in God which he says has dramatically transformed his life.  He is also the founder of Cyrus International, a not-for-profit, organization that fights against human trafficking.  This is his first run for political office.

Yesterday the District 16 Senate race took an interesting twist in this ‘battle’ when Laurinda Calongne, the losing candidate in the primary, endorsed Claitor.  This brought on an entirely new definition of political spin:

  • When Calongne ran for Congress, the political pundits attacked her for being a lobbyist and a liberal.  In this same expose’, Calongne’s contributions to democrats such as Blanco, Landrieu and Melancon caused her to be labeled a ‘friend of the Democrats’.  Claims were made that Calongne had spent far too much time in Washington and was ‘out of touch with people in the district’.
  • Just 7 weeks ago, as a candidate in Senate District 16, Calongne was attacked for her ‘missteps’ in the campaign.  She was also mocked, along with Domingue, for attending Healing Place Church and ‘appearing to be off to a fine christian start’.

Calongne must be practicing the old adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer? 

Claitor would have beat Calongne into the ground further if he had not felt that Domingue was his strongest competition.   Even given these attacks against Calongne – Claitor and his fellow conspirators now embrace the endorsement of Calongne. 

Is this a logical decision?  No, it is simply politics in its truest form.  The strategy is clear.  Discredit and attack your opponents . . . that is, until they endorse you

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Domingue Dominates Senate Campaign Tuesday, Feb 10 2009 

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Senate District 16, once known as Jay Dardenne’s home plate, includes Baton Rouge’s most informed and active voting district in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Dardenne went on to prove his political savvy by winning the position of Louisiana Secretary of State.  After Dardenne moved upward, Dr. Bill Cassidy quickly beat out his opponents winning the much sought after Senate seat, only to move on to the 6th Congressional District seat vacated by Richard Baker.  This Senate seat brings good tidings!

Now, the seat is up for grabs again.  Three Republican candidates are vying for this critical seat in the Louisiana Senate including two ‘career candidates’ that formerly ran unsuccessfully for other offices:  Dan Claitor, attorney and a member of the well known Claitor family and Laurinda Calongne, business owner and lobbyist.  The third candidate is a newcomer:  Lee Domingue, business owner and not-for-profit founder.

According to The Advocate, Domingue leads the field with the most dollars raised.  Calongne and Claitor claims this does not concern them; however, anyone following politics understands that cash is the mother’s milk of winning campaigns.

  • Lobbyist, Laurinda Calongne’s website, quotes her as saying “we should have learned  long ago  that overspending during a temporary rush…is economic suicide.”  She also touts herself as a fiscal conservative, but Calongne doesn’t seem so conservative fiscally since she loaned her own campaign for congress nearly $300,000 according to the FEC.  She lost.  Calongne is also closely tied in business to the infamous Bob Livingston – though Calongne removed Livingston from her consulting firm’s website, Livingston still lists her as one of his key people in his Washington lobbyist firm.  Enough said.
  • Attorney, Dan Claitor’s website, gives reasons he is running, but it seems he is running because he failed to win the race for District Attorney.  Sorry, but I am not fond of candidates that jump from one race to another, so I will leave you to visit his website.  Running in race after race is what was the demise of Dan Kyle, a likeable man with many good attributes, but a killer scenario in the political world, according to voters.  Claitor may be also be a good guy, but anyone who can’t even put their picture on their website makes me wonder.  His campaign for District Attorney failed to make headway with his “Ready to Listen. Prepared to Fight”  slogan.  He should stay in his first love – fighting crime!
  • Business owner, Lee Domingue, caught my eye when a friend told me his background and compassion for others through a not-for-profit organization he created.  Domingue founded Cyrus International to fight human trafficking and to support orphans with AIDS.  He is also a successful businessman, honored as Businessperson of the Year by Junior Achievement and is author of the book Pearls of the King.  Domingue started his business in a garage and brought it to a billion dollar success.  He believes he is here to make a difference.  I like that kind of thinking – immensely, especially when they have proven success and are able to bring others together.  Coalition builders with fresh ideas are excellent first-timers for elections!

Out of all the potential candidates for Senate District 16, I am most impressed with Lee Domingue.  Perhaps I will let his own words in the BR Business Report speak for him best:

“Making money is easy, but making a difference is eternal.” 

“I want to be remembered as somebody who gave it all for the next generation.”

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

Obama: Politics As Usual Sunday, Jan 25 2009 

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Obama’s campaign promise:  “I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of  setting the agenda in Washington are over.”  November, 2007

Obama’s reality:  Raytheon lobbyist, William J. Lynn, III, has been appointed by President Obama as the #2 man for the U. S. Defense Department. 

Obama’s campaign promise:  “No political appointees in my administration will be permitted to work on areas that directly and substantially related to their employer for two years.”

Obama’s reality:  Lynn stopped lobbying in July, but not before he spent $1.15 million in 2008 to lobby the defense department to influence issues including missiles, sensors, radar, advanced technology programs, and intelligence funding – only six months before his appointment.

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President Obama will soon learn how difficult it may be to keep campaign promises.  Once elected, politicians often believe they are immune to promises made during an election.  This fact leads us to the familiar saying, “Politics As Usual”.

President Obama issued an executive order immediately after taking office to ensure lobbyists who were active within the last two years would not be allowed to serve in public office.  Now, a waiver is on the table for Lynn.

So, here we find ourselves in the same political boat that Obama promised he would not sail.  Obama plainly states on his website this would not happen.  But here we are.

Perhaps ObamaWorld will not be so different than promised?  Could it be that he is the consumate politician with unfulfilled promises?

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In less than one week in office, Obama has found another challenge regarding the closing of Guantanamo.

Approximately 250 detainees are currently held at “Gitmo”.  Of this number, there are natives of Yemen, Saudia Arabia, China, etc. that currently will not be allowed back into their country.  About 12 are targeted for trials and must be incorporated into prisons in the U.S.

If moved to U.S. prisons and our justice system, there are further complications regarding Miranda rights that were not given and treatment of prisoners that are not allowed in our prison system.   The alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed is an example.

Will President Obama incorporate these terrorists into our U.S. prison system?  Where? 

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Things are not always as easy as they appear.  President Obama ran for office with promises that we would see a different management style – a real change in Washington.  Instead, right out of the gate he proves that he is willing to make exceptions for lobbyists and that Gitmo is more involved than he realized.

Is ObamaMania just more Politics As Usual?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican