Greetings From New Orleans

My name is Peter Athas and I have been blogging out of New Orleans as Adrastos since 2005. Yup, that’s right after the Federal Flood. I currently contribute to Humid City and am one of the primary bloggers at the best little liberal blog in America, First Draft.

I am delighted to be invited to do my thing here at the Daily Kingfish. For those of you who have no idea who I am or what my thing is, I am essentially a satirist. I enjoy poking a stick at the powerful, pompous, and humorless. That is one of many reasons that I follow Louisiana politics so closely. If you don’t see it as a comedy, it will drive you insane. In short, I make my points through humor, and hopefully you’ll laugh, but if you don’t I’ll throw more shit up against the wall and see how much of it sticks.

I am a transplanted Louisianian. My first wife was from Alexandria and we moved here so she could attend LSU Law School. She was from a politically active family: the late great Congressman Gillis Long was a close family friend. I got to know Mr. Long very well, and learned a lot about Gret Stet politics from him. He was one of the last populist/progressive pols to thrive outside of the state’s bluer areas. He liked to say that the secret of his political success was constituent service,  doing the right thing, and getting stuff done without caring about who got the credit. A stark contrast to the craven pandering of our current Governor who I *always* call PBJ.

I graduated from LSU with a degree in history, moved to New Orleans, and got a JD  at Tulane Law School. I wasn’t cut out for the law. So, I have focused some of my time and energy on civic activism and trying to make my adopted hometown a better place. The results have been mixed, but I was one of the founders of the Rising Tide Conference, which is still afloat as of this writing.

Things are about to get interesting in Gret Stet politics as the weasely and dull incumbent Governor fades from the scene. I hear he spends a lot of time boring people in Iowa and New Hampshire these days. The odds of PBJ getting the GOP nomination are purt near nil but he could wiggle his way into the second slot on the ticket. He’s an annoying little pest and that may happen just to shut him up.

I plan to spend some of my time here writing about New Orleans politics and how it affects the state. We just had a rather interesting municipal election, which I’ll get to at some point soon. I have somewhat mixed feelings about Mitch Landrieu as Mayor BUT would love to see him run for Governor. He’s the only Democrat who has a shot at keeping Bitter Vitter out of the Governor’s mansion.

Here’s one more thing that might be of interest to y’all. I am a member of the Spank sub-krewe of Krewe du Vieux. We are the first parade of the Carnival season and the only substantial group to march through the Marigny and Quarter. And satire is our game. My original sub-krewe PAN celebrated Louisiana’s colorful history of competent corruption with this theme in 2007:

PAN poster 07

This year Spank commented on the gentrification of New Orleans with this theme:

Dizneylandrieu Map 1

Dizneylandrieu Map2

Btw, I gave one of the maps to Dizneylandrieu to Mitch’s CAO Andy (Zack’s Dad) Kopplin at the Thoth parade and he thought it was hilarious. Good to know that the Mayor’s people have a sense of humor.

Okay, now that I’ve waxed nostalgic, check out my post on the Edwards Congressional candidacy at First Draft.

I’m pleased to be joining the Daily Kingfish team and am ready, willing, and able to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted or something like that.

That is all.


Hilariously, Bobby Jindal Attempts To Use “Science” To Defend His Failed School Voucher Program


Hilarious indeed.

Originally posted on CenLamar:

On Monday, Governor Bobby Jindal- Louisiana’s Sarah Palin- published an opinion piece for The New York Post, a once-venerable American institution founded by Alexander Hamilton and now owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian entrepreneur who also owns  The Wall Street Journal , Fox News, and a majority stake in the Republican Party.

Despite the fact that Jindal is now in the middle of a busy legislative session, which, as anyone from Louisiana can tell you, consumes almost every second of the Governor’s schedule, he somehow managed to find time for the good people of New York City. He may live in Baton Rouge, but he can see Manhattan from his house mansion. And as he explains in his editorial, he is deeply concerned that their new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is actually doing what voters elected him, in a landslide, to do. Mayor de Blasio, audaciously, ran and was…

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He’sssss baccckkkkkkkkkkk…..

Putting aside the should he, shouldn’t he aspects of this election, the key point is: He. Can. Not. Win.

This is not 1991. Garrett Graves is not David Duke (we think). (Maybe Graves is Buddy Roemer).

But there’s no David Duke in the GOP field that’ll allow Edwin the win the “moderate” middle and carry him into a “vote for the crook, it’s important,” style situation.

Ain’t going to happen in 2014.

Louisiana CD6 is one of the country’s most Republican districts. In fact it is the 21st MOST Republican district (out of 435 districts nationwide). See the Cook PVI here (R+24 for the link-averse). Only Steve Scalise’s Putin-esque R+26 is more Republican in Louisiana. Willard “Mitt” Romney won LA06 66%-32%. You’re welcome.

Edwin Edwards is not 15 points more “moderate” than Barack Obama, let alone 30, even if he is 15 shades whiter (not saying Louisiana Republicans oppose Obama because he is black, but mostly because BENGHAZI!!!!!! no doubt).

LA06 is 71% white. Let’s pretend that Edwin wins his customary share of African-American vote (at least 90%). He’d be well-positioned to make the run-off (although the district votes even WHITER than registration). Some older whites like him, and there’s a ton of nostaligia amongst some who remember the good-ole-times of the Edwards hayrides. But, our guess is those voters are basically a rump of their former self, mostly having defected to the GOP at this point. Hence, whatever he drags with him into the runoff will be his last stand.

A Republican will win this in the fall. Which would have changed exactly zero things than if EWE hadn’t run in the first place. 

Mitch Landrieu Bests David Vitter In Latest LAGOV Poll

POLLS! With only 585 days until the Louisiana Gubernatorial primary, let’s go ahead and speculate!Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 9.12.55 PM

Sure, we have at least two candidates that have actually declared their intention to run. But several others are circling, and so their names will be thrown into the hat for consideration by the pollsters and prognosticators. LaPolitics reports on such a speculative affair by Louisiana State Medical Society and PhRMA (big doc and big drugs). LET’S GO TO THE TOPLINES:

Our Mitch for Gov Logo

Yes, we made this. Yes, you may use it.

— Landrieu, 33 percent
— Vitter, 25 percent
— Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, 11 percent
— Treasurer John Kennedy, 9 percent
—State Rep. John Bel Edwards, so far the only major Democrat declared for the race, 8 percent.

And there you have it. Mitch Landrieu is out-polling David Vitter in this mock jungle primary. Yes, that’s worthy of a little bit of a “interesting,” even this many days out. With his sister on the ballot (and looking like she’ll be in a very tough race), Mitch Landrieu seems unaffected by those headwinds and benefits from a decisive victory in the New Orleans Mayor’s race. More from the poll:

f the election for US Senate were held today, and the choice was between (ROTATE) Bill Cassidy, the Republican candidate and Mary Landrieu, the Democratic candidate, who would you vote for?

Mary Landrieu 45- Bill Cassidy 44 [tightening from 53-39 in January]

In the race for Attorney General 2 Republicans may run, but no Democrats have announced yet. In this election would you vote for (ROTATE: Jeff Landry, a Republican candidate, Buddy Caldwell, a Republican candidate), (ALWAYS LAST:) or would you vote for the Democratic candidate?

Jeff Landry, the Republican 15
Buddy Caldwell, the Republican 23
Generic Democrat 33
That AG’s race is VERY interesting for a Democrat. That’s an automatic entry of a Democrat into a run-off, which would certainly stir things up. More to come on this one…


Lame Duck Dynasty

It appears the only thing Bobby Jindal cares about these days is the millionaires at Duck Dynasty and the billionaires who fund Right-wing SuperPACs. Other than that, he’s checked out. Two years left in his term and he’s already a Lame Duck.

Looks like the Democrats noticed Bobby wasn’t around much. And they’ve pounced:

“I call upon the governor to stay in Louisiana this year,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, who has said he plans to run for governor next year.

Read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, Civic Action is turning up the heat on Bobby’s absurd rejection of the Medicaid Expansion from Obamacare:

Medicaid Expansion is Pro-life by Dayne Sherman

March 9th, 2014 - Original here.

To truly be pro-life is to respect the lives of all people: the unborn, newborn, children of all ages, mothers, prisoners on death row, victims of crime, immigrants, poor people and old people.Focusing only on one group, the unborn, and neglecting people from birth to death is a tragedy and a moral abyss that harms the living.

So how can Gov. Bobby Jindal, a snake oil salesman and a fake, who is only trying to raise money and steal votes from the unsuspecting, call himself Catholic and pro-life while at the same time rejecting the federal Medicaid expansion?

Your guess is as good as mine.

The program would provide comprehensive health insurance to 250,000-450,000 Louisiana citizens, many of our neighbors and friends. It would cost Louisiana just a fraction of the expense and could quite possibly save our local hospitals from financial meltdown in the coming years. It will boost the economy and create jobs here in the Bayou State.How Gov. Jindal can reject healthcare for nearly 1 in 10 citizens and not get called a monster is hard for me to understand.

This mystery seems to puzzle Louisiana’s newest House Member, Republican Vance McAllister. You will recall he was elected in a landslide last November after the “Neil Deal” blew up in Jindal’s face like a scene in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.Such a fiasco happens often to the Boy Wonder, of course. Jindal wanted to make headlines leaving a bi-partisan meeting at the White House recently, and he jumped to the microphone and droned on like a nervous junior high debate team member on espresso. He didn’t want to be seen as a buffoon, which is exactly what happened. Jindal is like Pee-wee Herman acting all John Wayne. It came off as a disaster and moved him not one centimeter closer to his real goal in life: to become King of the World, though winning POTUS will do in a pinch. He embarrassed himself and Louisiana.

But back to the Neil Deal. It was a purported scheme to have US Rep.Rodney Alexander quit his seat in Washington to take a job as head of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs in order to pave the way for mortician and Jindal goon State Senator Neil Riser to become Alexander’s anointed replacement. However, voters revolted in the 5th District and elected businessman McAllister. Let’s not fail to remember that McAllister had never run for public office or even stepped foot in D.C.

Stephanie Grace of The Advocate newspaper quoted McAllister in a recent column. McAllister is totally right on the Medicaid expansion: “I thought, ‘You know what, I’m not going to skirt the issue. Republican, Democrat, it don’t matter. Those working poor have paid that money in. That money’s going to Washington. It’s their money,’ ” he said. “For me to say I’m against Medicaid expansion makes me the best congressman California and Massachusetts could ever have, because that’s where that money’s gonna go.”

He went on: “It’s about doing what’s right. You keep your people healthy, they’ll continue to work. They’ll do better,” he said. “The money’s there. As a business guy, I don’t like Gov. Jindal standing up there and trying to use political points” to argue that the state can’t afford the small fraction it would eventually have to pay to draw down billions in benefits. “It don’t take Einstein to figure out that’s a pretty darn good return on your investment.”

Rep. McAllister, a conservative, told the truth. And I don’t care who you are or what kind of ideology you espouse, the federal Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do for Louisiana. Without fighting for it, I don’t believe you should call yourself pro-life.

Jindal: AWOL in the battle for “religious freedom”

Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

By Robert Mann

Considering the passion Gov. Bobby Jindal devoted to his big speech on religious liberty earlier this month at the Ronald Reagan Library, you’d think he would have been all over the airwaves this week.

Surely, if Jindal really believed what he said about a “silent war” on religious liberty, he should have publicly begged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to sign legislation, passed by her state’s legislature, to permit business owners to deny service to gays, lesbians and other people on religious grounds.

Brewer, of course, vetoed the legislation after it became a national embarrassment to the Republican Party and cast Arizona in a most-negative light. Even the NFL threatened to pull next year’s Super Bowl from the state. In the end, Brewer had no choice but bow to the will of her state’s business leaders and reject to this morally repugnant bill.


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Legislators thinking for themselves: A revolt in Jindal’s ranks?

Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter

By Robert Mann

Tuesday’s Baton Rouge Advocate did not deliver good news to Gov. Bobby Jindal. Does he have a budding revolt on his hands? (In other states, this is known as “legislators thinking for themselves.”)

Does the small spark of independence we’re seeing portend a difficult legislative session for Jindal this spring?

Here’s why there may be some cause for concern (or celebration, depending on one’s point of view):

In a front-page story about the growing costs of the state’s TOPS program, Jindal’s handpicked House Education Committee chairman, Steve Carter, implies that nothing will change with the state-funded college tuition program until Jindal quits taking orders from the widow of late Louisiana oilman Patrick Taylor.

Here’s how reporter Koran Addo reports it:

Another problem is that TOPS, in its current form, has one very strong supporter in Phyllis M. Taylor, chairwoman of the Patrick…

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Why I Will Vote For Representative John Bel Edwards (After He Clarified His Position On The War On Drugs)

Yesterday, I published an essay titled, “Why I Can’t Vote For John Bel Edwards (Unless He Changes His Position On The War On Drugs).” Representative Edwards, for those of you who may not know, is a two-term Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and, thus far, the only Democratic candidate in next year’s gubernatorial elections.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was troubled by a pre-filed piece of legislation that was co-authored by Representative Edwards, House Bill 103 (or HB 103). HB 103, which is also co-authored by Republican Representative Franklin Foil, as I explained in my previous post, purports to dramatically increase the mandatory minimum sentences in cases involving intent to distribute Schedule One opiates, particularly heroin, and opium derivatives, quadrupling the current minimums and mandating, instead, 20 year sentences, though it seems to reserve a probationary status after five years.

I want to make this abundantly clear: I am vehemently opposed to the continuation of one of the most expensive and most destructive wars in American history, the War on Drugs. Our laws are antiquated and broken, and because of our zeal in “fighting” this war- a war that targets, almost entirely, American citizens engaging in “consensual crimes,” we continue to exacerbate and perpetuate enforcement against primarily poor, minority Americans who simply do not have the prerequisite financial resources, the support network, or the education to seek specialized treatment. Instead, in our new age of privatized prisons, inmates are economic commodities: the more, the merrier.

Heroin is a particularly insidious and dangerous drug, and perhaps ironically, its danger is often a result of a complete lack of oversight, controls, and regulations. In other words, its illegality makes it exponentially more dangerous.

Opium, it’s worth noting, was the first drug to be banned as “illegal” in the United States, more than a century ago, primarily as a reaction against Chinese immigrants and their opium dens in California. And here we are, a century later, still attempting to eliminate a drug that will not relent. Something is not working.

Since the late 1970s and beginning, in full, during the 1980s, legislatures throughout the country began passing mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenders. The worry, as I appreciate it, was the discretionary sentencing by judges didn’t send a strong enough message. Reformers wanted coherence and simplicity.

As we have learned during the last thirty plus years, these mandatory minimum sentences have done almost nothing to curb or prevent drug use or drug dealing. To be sure, however, there is data suggesting that draconian laws against one particular type of drug only resort in wide-scale substitution. When, in the early 1990s, we focused on prosecuting crack cocaine, the price of crack increased and the price of heroin dropped. Suddenly, heroin was, again, the drug du jour. Recently, as the price and penalties of marijuana have increased, many users began smoking chemical combinations, like K2, and even bath salts, over-the-counter mixtures that were far more harmful and entirely more deadly (no one has ever overdosed from marijuana).

I think it is critical that we finally begin to re-examine our pedagogical and ontological understanding of drug use, drug possession, and drug distribution: How do we educate society on the phenomena of drug dependency? What really motivates this almost basic and almost universal proclivity that we share toward addiction? How can we best address the spectrum of addiction, everything from coffee and cigarettes to alcohol and cocaine and heroin? What role does access to health care play in this discussion? Are people without health care more likely to become addicted to illegal, dangerous drugs? Are people with health care more likely to become dependent on dangerous pharmaceuticals? Qualitatively, what is the difference, if any, between a poor person on speed and a wealthier person on Adderral? Or a poor person on heroin and a wealthier person on valium or Oxycontin?


Yesterday, I spoke with Representative Edwards, and though we disagree with one another on the merits of his proposed legislation, I found him to be a profoundly genuine and earnestly receptive guy, a rarity in politics. He explained to me his concerns: Recently, the local Louisiana media has focused on a rash of heroin overdoses in Louisiana. (No, this has nothing to do with the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman; they pre-dated his high-profile death by months). The stories are both heartbreaking and eye-opening.

I cannot fault Representative Edwards for seeing this problem and feeling compelled to address it. As he pointed out to me, the vast and overwhelming majority of heroin dealers are not actually heroin addicts; for them, this is a business. And they are peddling toxic, highly-addictive illegal drugs and selling them indiscriminately.

I think we should fundamentally rethink the regime we have established with regard to illegal drugs and that there is a simple and obvious way to neuter these drug dealers without needing to pass ever-increasing Draconian laws about sentencing, laws that seem to only benefit the balance sheets of private prisons. I also expressed to Representative Edwards my concerns about the statutory construction of the term “possession with intent to distribute,” because I believe that it has less to do with “intent,” as we generally understand the word, and more to do with quantity. Because of this, we regularly charge and sentence people who struggle with drug addiction as if they are drug dealers, which seems antithetical to the widely-held belief that prison for addicts should be focused on rehabilitation, while prison for dealers should perhaps be more concerned with retributive justice. Representative Edwards assured me he would look into the possibility of strengthening the statutory definition of “possession with the intent to distribute,” and I appreciated his candor and his consideration; this would be huge. If a conviction on “intent to distribute” requires more than a measurement of quantity and also requires a showing of actual “intent” or mens rea, it would go a long way in ensuring that our laws are more fairly and equally applied.

Finally, I think it’s worth noting, to his credit, that Representative Edwards supports changing existing law in order to ensure that second and third offense possession of marijuana are treated as misdemeanors, not as felonies. This actually makes him one of the most progressive elected officials on this issue in the entire State, and it’s not a minor issue.

Again, we may disagree on the efficacy of mandatory minimums for heroin dealers; I still would prefer a different schematic. But I don’t fault his ultimate intention and his commitment, as expressed to me, to ensure that any law like this would target opportunistic black-market drug dealers who earn their living selling deadly drugs that, for the most part, are grown and sold in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan (Representative Edwards didn’t add that last detail; I did. But it’s true. 80% of heroin comes from Afghanistan).

I spoke too soon about Representative Edwards. He is a politician who listens, who engages, and who truly seems to appreciate a robust conversation on policy, without any sense of pretension or arrogance. That’s a breath of fresh air.

He earned back my vote through the sheer force of his decency and respect.

Bobby Jindal Definitively Proves That Bobby Jindal Is A Liar


As if you needed more evidence.

Originally posted on CenLamar:

Way back in 2008, Politico columnist and part-time Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the controversial Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) into law. For those who may be unfamiliar, the LSEA allows public school science teachers the ability to lie to students about science. It’s an insidious, absurd, and likely unconstitutional law that undermines the integrity of Louisiana public education in order to advance and legitimize Christian dominionism . It was written by a creationist “think tank” based out of Seattle. And it was enacted, perhaps ironically, by Bobby Jindal, a Rhodes Scholar with a degree in Biology from an Ivy League school.

Laws like the LSEA have fostered and enabled a climate of religious intolerance; they have served as a permission slip for public school teachers to bully and proselytize to students, as evidenced in the recent case in Sabine Parish. There, an 11-year-old Buddhist child was humiliated and bullied…

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