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“Bobby Jindal, Crony Capitalist”: Giving A Whole New Meaning To The Term “Corporate Welfare”

As much as I hate entertainment tax credit programs, and as obsessed as I’ve become with the bottomless well of opportunism known as Bobby Jindal, you’d think I would have guessed at the cash nexus underlying the prize endorsement of the Lousiana governor’s proto-presidential candidacy by Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson. But afraid it took a report from Bloomberg Politics‘ Margaret Newkirk to get me to see the connection:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a potential Republican presidential candidate, is trying to close a $1.6 billion budget hole without touching as much as $415,000 per episode in tax breaks that may be due to “Duck Dynasty.”

The A&E television reality show takes part in the nation’s most generous entertainment-tax credit program. Jindal is proposing no changes, arguing that reducing such breaks is tantamount to raising taxes. The state approves enough incentives each year to make up at least $200 million in proposed cuts that led Louisiana State University to say that it may plan for insolvency….

Louisiana, which was the site of the most English-language film productions in the U.S. in 2013, pioneered movie credits, approving the program in 2002. All but 13 states now have such programs, according to Film Production Capital, a New Orleans firm that brokers credits….

Feeding Time Productions LLC, which produces [Duck Dynasty], has submitted expenses for its first four seasons that would qualify it for $11 million in credits once approved, according to state data. That includes $4.6 million for the fourth season, or $415,000 per episode. None have yet been certified.

Louisiana offers movie makers credits for 30 percent of in-state spending and allows them to be sold to brokers.

Film-production companies set up as limited liability companies don’t owe corporate taxes in Louisiana. Most therefore sell their credits to someone that does. They are also allowed to sell them back to the state for 85 cents on the dollar.

That’s right: it’s not enough for Louisiana to let film and TV production companies eliminate their state tax liabilities; the state gives them “transferable” tax credits that can be sold on special markets to companies that do have tax liability, and if that fails the state will buy them back. So this is the corporate version of the “refundable tax credits” poor people get via the EITC.

This makes me kind of ill as an abstract matter, and gives a whole new meaning to the term “corporate welfare.” But it’s especially egregious in a state like Louisiana, with a horrendous budget shortfall, and even violates Jindal’s own principle that cutting back on refundable tax credits (e.g., credits from the business inventory tax) doesn’t violate his no-tax-increase pledge.

I’m not saying Bobby’s taking this inconsistent and politically damaging position strictly out of solicitude for Duck Dynasty; he’s slippery enough that there are usually multiple reasons for every objectionable thing he does. But on the other hand, when Mike Huckabee was going out of his way to pander to the Robertsons in his recent book, he didn’t have tax credits to hand them either, did he?

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 4, 2015

May 6, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Corporate Welfare, Tax Cuts | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just Differing Species Of The Same Family”: ISIS And American Conservatives; If It Looks Like A Duck And Quacks Like A Duck…

Look who just banned teaching evolution in schools:

The extremist-held Iraqi city of Mosul is set to usher in a new school year. But unlike years past, there will be no art or music. Classes about history, literature and Christianity have been “permanently annulled.”The Islamic State group has declared patriotic songs blasphemous and ordered that certain pictures be torn out of textbooks.

But instead of compliance, Iraq’s second largest city has — at least so far — responded to the Sunni militants’ demands with silence. Although the extremists stipulated that the school year would begin Sept. 9, pupils have uniformly not shown up for class, according to residents who spoke anonymously because of safety concerns. They said families were keeping their children home out of mixed feelings of fear, resistance and uncertainty.

I know we’re not supposed to say this out loud because it’s so outrageous to suggest that ISIS and American conservatives might have anything in common. And obviously the level of outrageous and murderous violence perpetrated by ISIS has no parallel in the American political system–but that’s also because of the secular counterweight of civil society and constitutional democracy. Culturally, there are a lot of striking similarities between the conservative reactionary ethos in both the western and the Islamic worlds.

Hate evolution? check.

Hate sexually liberated and empowered women? Check.

Love guns and hate gays? Check.

Hate big liberal government? Check.

Believe that society should be organized according to religious principles and that secular people should have no right to curtail religious “freedom”? Check.

Want to empower down-home rural principles against those corrupt city bubble dwellers? Check.

Believe in eye-for-an-eye retributive justice? Check.

Love to sport big Duck Dynasty-style beards? Check.

Just how much quacking do we need to see here before we acknowledge they’re just differing species of the same family of ducks?

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 22, 2015

February 23, 2015 Posted by | American History, Conservatives, ISIS | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Unprofessional, Backwards And Unethical”: The Alabama Threesome; A Judge, His Bible And Bigotry

Power can be hoarded by the mighty or stolen from the innocent. Power provides the ability to choose… but has a proclivity for corruption. The use of power is not to be taken lightly, for it is never without consequence.

— Emily Thorne (Revenge)

Though protagonist Emily Thorne from ABC’s hit drama Revenge is just a fictional character, those words resonated with me when I first heard them.

There are those with immense power that choose to abuse or misuse that power in order to advance their own ideology, careers or agendas — all while negating the oaths they swore to uphold. In the end, justice is the first casualty, and the innocent suffer.

Roy Moore, Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, is that person who violated his sacred oaths. Justice Moore issued unethical statements on gay marriage — despite it concerning a case that is still ongoing, and one that could come to him. In a letter penned to the governor of Alabama, Justice Moore said:

As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.

Moore continued with:

I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity… Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.

Are these the words of a state’s highest judge, or of an unprofessional, backwards and unethical right-wing fanatic?

Justice Moore is no stranger to controversy. He was removed from his post as Chief Justice in 2003 for disobeying a federal ruling that he remove a 10 Commandments monument that he had ordered installed in the judicial building.

Justice Moore also issued a very controversial opinion in the case of D.H. vs. H.H. where he voted for an abusive father to be given full custody of his children, rather than their lesbian mother.

He was elected to the highest judicial position in his state, and yet, he treats it like a church pulpit without regard to something called separation of church and state, or the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. You, Mr. Moore, are wrong when you claim that Alabama’s constitution is superior to federal law. Any first-year political science or pre-law student would be able to tell you that.

A person like Justice Moore is a threat to the very fabric of American society. This extremism should never be accepted or tolerated. When one holds the position of Chief Justice of a U.S. State, one would hope that the elected official would put what is legal, constitutional and right above their misguided, extremist or religious beliefs.

Marriage equality is coming to Alabama, Judge Moore. Not you, nor your unethical behavior, nor your piousness will prevent equality and love from prevailing.

Since the Chief Justice doesn’t seem very enlightened on matters concerning the law, and his antiquated beliefs are clouding his judgment, I would be more than happy to educate him on the legality of his position, and several other laws he might not be well-versed in.

Since making time for such a splendid learning session would probably interrupt his Duck Dynasty marathon, Bible speed-reading session or bedtime tales from Fox News, I recommend the Chief Justice run to his local Barnes&Noble store and pick up a paperback copy of Constitutional Law for Dummies. Trust me Judge Moore, it will be the best $20 you spend this year.

 

By: Izak Pratt, The Blog, The Huffington Post, February 9, 2015

February 10, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Marriage Equality, Roy Moore | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Color Blind Lie”: The Same Lie White Racists Have Been Telling Themselves For Centuries

I grew up mostly in East Texas. To give you an idea of the politics of the area, I lived in the district that is currently represented by Louie Gohmert. During that time, I knew all of two black people – my grandmothers’ maids.

When I was about 10 years old, a group of black men in Jonesboro, LA (less than 150 miles from where I lived) organized Deacons for Defense and Justice – eventually sparking a showdown with the KKK that resulted in federal intervention on behalf of local African Americans. I never heard a word about it until I watched the movie – Deacons for Defense – a few years ago.

That’s how I was trained to literally be color blind.

I thought of that when I read this interaction Molly Ball had with former Louisiana Governor Mike Foster about why southern whites are leaving the Democratic Party.

“I don’t think it’s racial,” Mike Foster, the Republican former two-term governor of Louisiana, now 84 and retired, tells me, without my having asked…”You know, the races have gotten along down here for years. Look at what’s happening in Ferguson right now. We don’t have a bunch of people running out in the street hollering about that.”

“I think what has changed it is that this is a hardworking state. People work hard, and they really don’t take to people who are on the dole,” he continued. “You’d better not be supporting people who are sitting on their front porch while I’m trying to work! You drive around these small communities, you see a lot of able-bodied people sitting around, when you know there’s work to be had …. That’s the only thing I can figure. This part of the country, people have been raised by families who worked very, very hard. But now we’ve got a president who loves to sit down every day and see how much he can give away of what they make.”

Those sentiments aren’t new. We heard pretty much the same thing from Duck Dynasty’s Phil Roberts about the Jim Crow era in Louisiana.

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field …. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

If I had the patience to do the research, I’m sure I could find quotes from plantation master’s who also claimed their slaves were “happy slaves.” Its all part of the same lie white racists have been telling themselves for centuries.

And it leads right into the lie that – while those black people were happy when they were slaves/terrorized by Jim Crow – now they’re all just sitting on their porches collecting goodies from the black guy in the White House while the rest of us white folks work hard (could Lee Atwater have summed up the Southern Strategy any better?)

Nope, nothing racial about that at all.

Pundits all over the spectrum are suggesting that Democrats need to reach out to people like this. Until they can identify their self-interests in a form other than these racist lies, I’m not sure that’s going to be possible.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 7, 2014

December 8, 2014 Posted by | Louie Gohmert, Racism, Southern Whites | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Religious Conversion Therapy”: The Duck Caliphate Of Phil Robertson

Appearing as a guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox News television program Tuesday evening, Duck Dynasty’s patriarch and chief duck caller, Phil Robertson, shared with us his prescription for dealing with the ISIS threat.

“I’m just saying, convert them or kill them.”

On first hearing Robertson’s strategy, my thoughts turned to wondering what religion Phil had in mind for these sick creeps more interested in murder and money than they are in religion.

Would, say, a conversion to Hinduism do the trick for the duckmeister or, being the committed Christian that he is, did Robertson require that the conversion be to his own Christian faith?

My answer would arrive soon enough as Robertson pronounced, “I’d much rather have a Bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ. ”

Well…gee, Phil. I was kind of hoping that if these brutal murderers were going to see the light and move from their perverse and evil behavior to a more peaceful existence filled with good will toward all men, you might point them towards Judaism. You have to admit it would be a far more dramatic conversion and make one heck of a splash given the thousands of years of bad blood between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East.

But then I got to thinking, what if these extremist sickos—and that is all these murderers posing as religious zealots actually are—were to find out that, through the years, there have been extremists in all faiths who have done extraordinary evil in the name of their professed religion?

Do you really imagine, Phil, that they would not gravitate to the extreme interpretations they would create in their newly-found religion in order to get back to what they do best—murder and rape?

What if this year’s brand of terrorist murderers were to discover that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on and so forth, can be—and have been—twisted over the years to form the basis of extremist action where, at the end of the day, innocent people are murdered in the supposed name of those religions?

Would Duck Diver Phil be happier if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—the maniacal, self-appointed Caliph of the all-new Islamic State—traded in his black mask and automatic weapon for the flowing robes and torture racks of Torquemada? Would it, somehow, be better if Al-Baghdadi, in the name of his newly adopted Christian religion, proceeded to purge the Middle East of Jews if they refused to convert as was the fashion in the days of Torquemada?

Remember, Phil, a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist.

Assuming Mr. Robertson is willing to accept a mass ISIS conversion to Judaism, would he be cool with these whackjobs turning themselves into the Brit HaKanaim (translation: Covenant of Zealots), the radical religious Jewish organization that sought to wipe out secularism in Israel through terrorism designed to impose Jewish religious law in the early days of Israel’s existence?

Again, Phil, a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist.

Or maybe Robertson would go for a conversion of the forces of ISIS to Buddhism so they could join up with the Buddhist extremists currently terrorizing minority religions in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Once again, Phil….just in case you haven’t gotten it…a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist.

Sorry Phil, old pal, but while you may be able to take the religion out of the terrorist via a good old fashioned Bible reading, you just aren’t likely to take the lust for terror out of the terrorist simply by changing his religion. There has always been—and I fear always will be—those in almost every religion who seek to impose their “rightness” on others who disagree through various means, including torture and murder.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 3, 2014

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, Phil Robertson, Religion | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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