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New Leaders Council Names 2013 Fellows

NLC training 2012

NLC Fellows at a training in 2012 – photo courtesy NLC-Louisiana’s Facebook page

Louisiana’s chapter of New Leaders Council just announced the 2013 class of Fellows for what will be their 4th annual statewide institute. The impressive, diverse group includes educators, attorneys, business and non-profit leaders, public servants, activists and social entrepreneurs.

Since 2010, NLC has conducted progressive leadership training for small groups of emerging young leaders. There is a rigorous selection process for the free program which is part of national network of chapters. In the Institute, Fellows meet monthly over five weekends to learn “political entrepreneur” skills – which emphasizes the application of risk-taking in the civic arena to achieve political goals.

NLC has a likewise impressive list of backers and alumni. The national alumni page includes current and aspiring elected officials, including State Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge who was part of the inaugural Louisiana class in 2010. Donors include former Governor Kathleen Blanco who also served as the chapter’s initial honorary co-chair.

While NLC has been operating across the country quietly since 2005, people are starting to take notice. In fact, last Sunday, the discussion on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show included New Leaders Council. Washington Monthly also published an article in September that sums up NLC’s work well:

The NLC is strikingly different from the typical DC think tank or policy shop focused on electioneering or fighting in the cable news trenches. For the last six years, its main operation is to run a kind of mini-graduate school in cities across the country for up-and-coming progressive political entrepreneurs, or “Fellows,” as they call them. In five weekends over five months, a class of around twenty fellows take classes in things like business, media and communications, campaign management, or political strategy. These fellows then serve as a network of communication and support as they move into their careers throughout the country.

And the NLC’s goal is not just to build a stable of potential congressional candidates—it has its eyes on every potential position of influence nationwide: city councils and school boards, boards and chairmanships of corporations, and of course state and national elected offices. The idea is to “infiltrate and take over all the levers of power—public and private, national and local,” says the NLC’s Executive Director Mark Riddle.

While local media and political commentators write off Louisiana as a permanent conservative stronghold, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact progressive groups like New Leaders Council can have.

Naming Names, Senate Edition

(Reposted and updated to reflect the Senate’s shameful vote.)

Bobby Jindal’s school vouchers bill passed the Louisiana State Senate easily – see the roll call vote to know how your legislator voted.

This bill is the opposite of progress – yet 6 Senate “Democrats” voted in favor. We don’t know what motivated them, but we can guess.

Politics. Money. Re-election. Selfishness. Fear. General spinelessness. Any other guesses?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t their conscience. No one with a good conscience can vote for a bill that robs money from the public education system in Louisiana – that gives taxpayer-funded handouts to the rich and makes inflated promises of hope to the poor. This vote is inexcusable.

Without further adieu, let’s see the roll call of Democrats who gave Bobby Jindal a sweeping victory (and dealt a major blow to our public schools) on his landmark education reform legislation.

BOBBY JINDAL DEMOCRATS

Troy Brown of Napoleonville

Elbert L. Guillory of Opelousas

David R. Heitmeier of New Orleans

Jean-Paul J. Morrell of New Orleans

Gary Smith of Norco

Greg Tarver of Shreveport

DuBos: Pro-Segregation Bill is Wrong for Louisiana

Clancy DuBos said it best on WWL today:

This reminds me of a time when state law also did not protect black people. State lawmakers back then tried the same thing that Senator Crowe is trying now — to use discriminatory state laws as an excuse for violating federal laws.It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.


Progressive Louisiana Republican?

I never thought I would write the words in the title consecutively. But one Republican legislator is showing that he’s not your cookie-cutter conservative nor is he a pawn of the Jindal machine (like almost all Republicans and many Democrats in Baton Rouge today).

Ladies and Gentlemen…meet Joe Harrison:

Joe, as we will appropriately call him, has been a leading voice of common sense and reason against Jindal’s attack on public education. As the article on NOLA.com called to our attention this morning, Joe has offered The Harrison Plan for education reform – a stark contrast to the Jindal plan and the the only tangible alternative offered thus far (that we know of). Ok, Democrats, pay attention.

Joe’s plan has 6 parts across 7 bills:

  1. Team teaching for K-4 – While it may be impractical to require that the same teachers follow a group of students for 5 years straight, his heart is in the right place as far as fostering a system in which teachers develop close relationships with kids. And I like the idea of partnering teachers with differentbackgrounds or areas of expertise. It is good to see a proposal that puts the focus back in the (public school) classroom.
  2. Mandated parental involvement – While this won’t always work, I think the idea is a good one. I’m not sure you can make a parent care if he or she doesn’t already, but it is important to find ways to get public school parents more actively involved. Overall, I doubt a bill like this would ever pass.
  3. Integrated school-based healthcare – The cycle of poverty is a big cause of poor performance in schools across Louisiana. Many children need a combination of health and social services, as the problems they face in these areas are directly related to how prepared they are to learn at school. So, it only makes sense that these services are offered on campus.
  4. Integrated school-based social services – See above. It also makes sense to package these services because of the potential cost efficiencies for the taxpayers.
  5. Requirement that school districts spend at least 80% of MFP on classroom instruction – As Joe says, “It’s as simple as ABC and 1,2,3.” Far too much is spent at the district level on administrative costs. This bill would force local school boards to put the money where it can best help students.
  6. Mandatory inclusion of the “founding principles” in high school history courses – This is a nonstarter. For starters, the term “founding principles” can mean different things to different people. I’m not sure what the thought was here, but I do agree that we need to beef up civics education.

Regardless of the details (or as some of our legislators would say, “irregardless”), the focus of the Harrison Plan is on improving public schools in practical ways. This is what education reform should be about — not about giving taxpayer dollars away to the private sector. Kudos to Joe for his courage and leadership! We need more folks like him in Baton Rouge.

Affordable Care Act Unlikely to Be Struck Down By High Court

With the stroke of a pen, Barack Obama expanded healthcare for millions, cut long term costs, and made insurers work harder for us.

As the Supreme Court enters the second day of oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act, tea baggers are praying and hoping that the Court takes a turn for political hackery. Unfortunately for those poor souls, it doesn’t look likely:

National Journal surveyed former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who have argued cases before the high court about the health care law, and the consensus was that the Affordable Care is likely to prevail. One respondent said, “I don’t think this case will be nearly as close a case as conventional wisdom now has it. I think the Court will uphold the statute by a lopsided majority.

Constitutional Law expert Jack Balkin has even stronger words:

The challengers to the health care mandate have filed their Supreme Court brief – the definitive statement of the case against the mandate, drawing on the strongest arguments that have been made against it by advocates and federal judges, and authored by conservative superlawyer Paul Clement. It is astoundingly thin and weak. A standard admonishment to young lawyers is that they should address the very strongest arguments on the other side, instead of substituting weak caricatures of their opponents’ views. Yet the brief does this repeatedly.

…As I’ve noted in a different context, when a lawyer as good as Clement makes arguments this bad, it tells you a lot about how desperate his case is.

Read Balkin’s piece in its entirety. If the Court upholds the law, grab the popcorn because a conservative immolation of epic proportions is on the way.

Meanwhile, erstwhile Democrat turncoat AG Buddy Caldwell is in DC to “observe” the arguments at the Supreme Court:

This will literally help shut this country down,” Caldwell said at the Supreme Court.  “We absolutely cannot suffer this kind of devastating loss for our economy.”Caldwell says the constitution doesn’t authorize Congress to force citizens to buy a product or service from a private, for-profit enterprise.

Of course, Caldwell doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about at all. Turning to a much brighter legal mind, Balkin counters:

As I’ve explained elsewhere, the argument for the mandate’s constitutionality is very simple. Congress has the power, under the Commerce Clause, to regulate insurance, and so to mandate that insurers cover people with preexisting medical conditions. (The brief does not dispute this.) Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, it may choose any convenient means to carry out this end. The mandate is clearly helpful, and may even be absolutely necessary, to Congress’s purpose. Therefore it is constitutional. Full stop.

The Court will likely announce its decision at the end of their term in June or July.

CenLamar & Breitbart

Our friend Lamar White, Jr. was called a putz late last night by conservative commentator and hell-raiser Andrew Breitbart.

Breitbart dropped dead at age 43 about an hour later. 

Lamar wrote about it tonight:

The crazy, incredible thing about the Internet and social media is the way in which it democratizes the free and open exchange of ideas. Like him or loathe him, Andrew Breitbart understood this; he embraced it, as unwieldy as he sometimes was. … As it turns out, his last “public” battle was with me, and his last public statement was to me.

Read the rest of Lamar’s story. 

Blue Mondays – 2/20/2012

Greetings All,

I appologize for not posting as much as I should.  But we have been busy kicking of our 2012 season of Blue Mondays.  Below you can find the full episode that was released this past Monday.  Every other week we have a new show and I will be posting them here as well but we would also appriciate a “LIKE” over on our show page here.

Let us know what you think!  Our YouTube Channel will also have shorter clips from the show and you can find that here.  Let us know what you think and what topics you would like to see us cover in the future!

Crawford Opts Out, No Challenger for Fleming in LA-4

Louisiana’s 4th congressional district has been represented since 2009 by John Fleming, a physician and Subway sandwich baron from Mississippi. He is best known for saying really stupid things and being completely out of touch with average people.

For example, does anyone remember how much he needs to feed his family each year? Anyone? Bueller?

If you said $200,000, YOU’RE RIGHT! (He said it all on live television – more at TPM.) To Fleming, class warfare means pesky sandwich artists having the gall to ask for health insurance or other benefits.

Let’s also not forget his wonderfully eloquent ramblings on the godless socialism of democrats – and of course his political partnership with conservative moral champion David Vitter -

We are either going to go down the socialist road and become like western Europe and create, I guess really a godless society, an atheist society. Or we’re going to continue down the other pathway where we believe in freedom of speech, individual liberties and that we remain a Christian nation. So we’re going to have to win that battle, we’re going to have to solve that argument before we can once again reach across and work together on things.

And to add insult to idiocy, the honorable congressman apparently doesn’t know the difference between real and satirical media outlets. He stood strong on his Facebook page against Planned Parenthood’s new $8 billion “Abortionplex” as reported by The Onion.

Wow.

So, the good ‘ol resurgent Louisiana Democrats have a candidate, yes?!

No.

First, it was rumored that Bossier City trial lawyer Kyle Robinson was considering the seat. Then he “told friends” he wouldn’t.

Next, former Shreveport fire chief Brian Crawford was said to be considering the race. Some reports said he was being courted heavily by Democratic officials in Washington, D.C., and Crawford himself even contributed to the speculation by releasing a statement:

While I would be humbled for any national party to consider me a worthy candidate, ultimately, it would be the great people of our City, District, and/or State that would be the ultimate influence on any decision I would make, now or in the future to seek elected office. It is in that light, of local interest and growing concern, that I am presently evaluating the level and quality of representation we currently and have experienced in Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District.

Some say Fleming would have a big race on his hands should the attractive and hard-working Crawford decide to jump in. Everyone loves a hero, right?

But, alas, the Daily Kingfish has learned that Crawford has decided not to challenge Fleming in this year’s congressional race, citing family concerns.

So where does this leave Democrats? Back at square one, it seems.

More importantly, where does it leave people who live in the 4th district? Stuck with an out-of-touch, ultra-conservative member of the 1% for at least 2 more years.

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