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“Crossover In Louisiana”: Question Is Not Who Bobby Jindal Endorses, But Whether Either Candidate Would Accept His Support

Looking at the polls (there are now three of them) showing Democrat John Bel Edwards with a double-digit lead over U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the November 21 Louisiana gubernatorial runoff, you’d figure Republicans would be focused on a unity effort to bring Vitter’s defeated GOP rivals into the tent. If so, the effort suffered a blow this morning, when Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne endorsed Edwards in the runoff. Kevin Litten of the Times-Pic has some background:

Although Dardenne originally indicated he wouldn’t offer an endorsement in the general election, the source said his thinking on the subject evolved over time. Dardenne and Edwards had been talking since election day (Oct. 24), when Dardenne and Republican candidate Scott Angelle were defeated by Edwards and U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

“He went from ‘No I won’t’ to ‘I would if…’ to ‘I might have to,’ to ‘Let’s do this now,'” the source said.

Both Dardenne and Angelle, were the subject of withering political attacks during the primary launched by U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s campaign and the super PACS supporting him. Angelle struck back hard, and Dardenne complained bitterly about the ads during the last two weeks of the campaign during debates before running an ad criticizing Vitter in the last days of the campaign.

Dardenne finished fourth in the primary with 15% of the vote.

Vitter countered with an endorsement from former Gov. Mike Foster, who left office in 2004. You’d normally figure a big target of any Republican unity campaign would be the sitting two-term Republican governor of the state. But according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, Bobby Jindal is “not in a hurry” to endorse a successor:

Both candidates remaining in the governor’s race — Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter — have repeatedly criticized Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal on the campaign trail.

And it appears Jindal isn’t eager to pick which of the two he would prefer succeeds him in the Governor’s Office.

The National Review caught up with Jindal in Boulder, Colorado, on Wednesday and asked whom he prefers.

Jindal has frequently butted heads with both men.

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Jindal, who is running for president, demurred when asked if he planned to endorse in the race, NRO reports. “That doesn’t mean we won’t. But we haven’t made that decision yet.”

It’s no secret that Jindal and Vitter have an icy relationship. And as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Edwards has been one of Jindal’s most vocal opponents at the State Capitol.

The bigger question may not be who Bobby chooses to endorse between campaign events in Iowa, but rather whether either candidate would accept his support.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 5, 2015

November 7, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, David Vitter, Louisiana Governors Race | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Price Of Steve Scalise’s Silence”: Duke’d Out, The More He Keeps Silent, The More Credibility He Loses As Majority Whip

John Boehner was reelected House Speaker yesterday by his Republican colleagues despite some dissenting members. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, however, has been in a survival struggle since late December, when a brave, young blogger, Lamar White Jr., reported on a 2002 event in which the Congressman met with a white supremacist group formed by David Duke, Louisiana’s most famous closet Nazi.

Scalise quickly called the speech “a mistake I regret,” condemned hate groups and then hid in a cocoon of silence. As Boehner and other House leaders circled the wagons for Scalise, the silence stretched a week over the New Year’s holiday when media lights were low.

But Scalise’s silence made it worse for a Republican Party perennially accused of catering to bigots on the fringe by creating a news vacuum filled by Duke, a media hound wallowing in the newfound attention. Duke’s media appearances raise the stakes for Scalise’s long-term survival. GOP House members–like the proverbial Three Wise Monkeys who resort to see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak no-evil platitudes—waited for it all to go away. Politico has reported that some Republican donors see Scalise as damaged goods.

If so, he has his silence — on top of poor judgment — to blame.

Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, a black and the lone Democrat in the state’s congregation, did him a huge favor. “I don’t think Steve Scalise has a racist bone in his body,” he said.

If that’s the case, Scalise’s decision as a 37 year old state representative to accept the spring 2002 invitation from two well-known Duke operatives, Kenny Knight and Howie Farrell, to speak at Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization, makes even less sense.

Why did Farrell and Knight want him there? And why did Scalise agree to such a risky venue?

Scalise could have easily said, “Sorry, boys, this one’s too hot.” Or he could’ve given a more deceptive excuse. He knew that a public appearance with Duke could be disastrous.

Duke was a state representative whose neo-Nazi alliances were disgorged in media reports during his run for governor in 1991. (He lost in a landslide to Edwin Edwards.) Duke’s Nazi stigma made him toxic to most politicians. Scalise, 26, saw that.

But after winning 55 percent of the white vote, Duke had a database of supporters some politicians coveted. In 1999, Scalise was in the legislature when the media savaged Gov. Mike Foster over the news that he had paid Duke $150,000 for his supporters list in the 1995 election. Speculation raged that Duke agreed not to run as part of the deal, though it was never proven.

Foster wasn’t prosecuted, either, but the FBI began probing Duke’s fundraising. In the late ‘90s, he spent extensive periods in Europe, giving anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial speeches at neo-fascist venues. The FBI raided his home in 2000 with an affidavit questioning his use of $200,000 from his white supremacist fundraising.

That was news Scalise could not have missed. Scalise never would have spoken to EURO had Duke been there in person.

“Duke was in Russia—for his fourth visit since 1995,” wrote Leonard Zeskind, author of “Blood and Nationalism,” in an article for the Swedish Monitor, on Duke’s travels in the late 1990s. “He spent the next two years traveling across Europe (East and West) and the Arab countries of the Middle East. He established a home base in Italy. In France, Duke had his picture taken with Jean-Marie Le Pen.”

By speaking to EURO, Scalise did a favor to Kenny Knight, a former neighbor who has been falling over himself in the last few days by giving utterly contradictory statements to various media in a buffoon’s carnival of damage control.

Duke meanwhile crowed to the Washington Post that Knight “would keep Scalise up to date on my issues” – all while Steve Scalise kept mum.

The $150,000 Duke got from Foster could not have supported the European lifestyle; the sources of Duke’s money remain a mystery.

Scalise’s speech in 2002 lent some legitimacy to Duke, who spoke that day by video link from Russia. The juxtaposition planted a story of association on websites that touted both men for their talks. It all went unnoticed until the report by White.

Ten months after the speech, in March 2003, Duke came back to Louisiana, pled guilty to federal charges of tax and mail fraud, and agreed to a $10,000 fine for abuses of the nonprofit fundraising that facilitated his travel, including gambling trips to Gulfport and Las Vegas. He also admitted to filing a false income tax statement.

After a year in prison, Duke resumed his travels. In 2006, he spoke at a conference in Iran, maintaining his drumbeat: “The Holocaust is the device used as the pillar of Zionist imperialism, Zionist aggression, Zionist terror and Zionist murder.”

Meanwhile, Scalise moved up the ladder.

At a press conference today with Scalise, Speaker Boehner again defended him. Scalise spoke briefly, adding little of substance, saying that the people back home know him best.

“I reject any form of bigotry, bigotry of all kinds. I’ll refer you back to our statement. I think that’s where the story ends,” said Scalise.

But someone who knows Scalise from back home, Urban League President and former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, co-authored a letter to Scalise sent today from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington, and made available to The Daily Beast.

The letter seeks a meeting to discuss a pattern of Scalise’s votes on certain issues, noting that he was one of six state legislators to vote against a Martin Luther King holiday, and did so two years after his EURO appearance. “You apparently took a similar position involving the naming of a U.S. Post Office for Louisiana civil rights icon, the Honorable Lionel Collins,” the letter states, “a pioneering civil rights lawyer and the first African-American judge in Jefferson Parish.”

Who among Scalise’s constituents could possibly care if he supported naming a post office for a black judge who died in 1988?

Kenny Knight for one. And David Duke for another.

As New Orleans Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace recalls from a conversation years ago, Scalise touted himself as David Duke without the baggage.

Now, Duke is Scalise’s baggage.

Duke has jumped into field-day mode, rising to Scalise’s defense on CNN with Michael Smerconish. “I did not contribute to him, he did not contribute to me,” Duke said. He also bragged about earning a PhD, a point Smerconish did not question.

The “doctorate” Duke claims is from an anti-Semitic Ukranian “diploma mill” as described by the State Department.

“What Duke actually got at Ukraine’s Interregional Academy of Personnel Management is a ‘Kandidat Nauk’ degree, which ranks below a full doctorate,” wrote Heidi Beirch in a Southern Poverty Law Center 2009 Intelligence Report. “It was awarded to Duke for a thesis entitled ‘Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism’ and was the second degree given Duke by the university, which had earlier handed the former Klan boss an honorary degree.”

Duke is cynically making sport of Scalise by expressing his support for him, dropping hints of blackmail by naming other House members he claims to know, should Scalise lose his post.

“Scalise was ambitious to the point of reckless opportunism when it came to catering to Duke and his base,” says Tulane professor emeritus Lawrence Powell, author of “Troubled Memory,” a history of the 1991 election and its impact on a Holocaust survivor in New Orleans.

“If Scalise denounces Duke he may alienate some of his local base. But the more he keeps silent, the more credibility he loses as Majority Whip.”

In his brief appearance today, Scalise never mentioned Duke. Does he fear repercussions for doing so? Or has the see and hear and speak-no-evil stance of the Republican House persuaded him that he is in the clear?


By: Jason Berry, The Daily Beast, January 7, 2015

January 11, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, Steve Scalise, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , , | 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


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