The Bayou BriefThe Bayou Brief – Nevertheless, we will Progress! The Bayou Brief is Louisiana’s news site for long-form stories with a Progressive focus. There are three basic types of stories produced by The Bayou Brief (my categorization, not theirs): Cultural/Louisiana, Goverment, and “Red Meat” for Democrats/Liberals. FULL DISCLOSURE: Lamar’s publishing the first chapter of my forthcoming book, Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store, on Wednesday. The concept for The Bayou Brief dates back to December, 2015. Lamar organized a group of progressives involved in media/communications to kick around ideas, in the wake of the election of John Bel Edwards as Governor of Louisiana. Yes, we’d chosen a Democrat, but the media in Louisiana was still overwhelmingly conservative The Bayou Brief offers progressives in the sate a place to read solid news and features, coming at issues from a progressive perspective. This is a Big Deal, and that’s why we discuss it today. You know you need a Bayou Brief coffee mug in your life. While you may read other sites, your support progressive journalism in Louisiana is essential.
Grits Bowls at Wakin’ Bakin’Wakin’ Bakin’ on Banks Street in Mid-City New Orleans. Wakin’ Bakin’ is by far my favorite breakfast place in New Orleans. “Holy Cluck!” – a Breakfast bowl with grits, swiss cheese, the Holy Trinity (sauteed onions, green pepper, and celery), topped with two eggs. The Breakfast Bowl is the most popular item on the WB menu. So, they start with a base: grits, hash browns, or black beans. Add a meat (bacon, breakfast sausage, hot sausage, chorizo, chicken. Add cheese if you like, cheddar, swiss, pepper jack (occasionally they’ll use brie on a daily special bowl). Top with two eggs, any style. This bowl has grits, chicken, swiss cheese, the Holy Trinity, and two eggs. Delicious!
Republicans truly don’t care if people die unnecessarily.
Republicans care more about the wealthy
I heard a story from a Facebook friend this morning, about how a family member needed medical assistance while traveling in Europe. It’s one of dozens of stories I’ve heard from friends over the years. Teens who don’t hydrate properly to professional colleagues who have serious medical problems while away from home. Stuff happens. All the stories have the same ending. Whether or not the patient pulls through, there’s no charge for the medical services provided.
Healthcare on vacation
Americans regularly do not understand how this works, because the overwhelming majority of them do not travel outside the United States. When they go to the mountains, the beach, or the city for vacation, they take huge financial risks. If something happens and a family member needs assistance while away from home, it’s likely they’ll get emergency treatment. But what about the dehydrated teen, or the smaller child who has a fever? How about the mom who develops a UTI, or other infection on the road? At home, you go to the doctor, and you pay the co-pay set up in your insurance policy. So, you’re at the beach? Suddenly you’re “out of network,” and you are on the hook for the full cost of that IV for your teen, or the antibiotics that will treat that fever or infection.
Now, the family’s got a decision to make. While the ill person ride it out, should the family have to decide if that’s necessary?
In Europe, this is a no-brainer. You got to a doctor. You get help. You get on with your life.
This is the part about ACA that Americans who have no serious travel experience don’t get. They don’t realize the smoke screen insurance companies put up to avoid paying up. Europe removed that smoke screen. They set up “public option” system. You’re from Amsterdam and you get sick in Eindhoven? No problem. You’re from Glasgow and your kid needs that IV in London? They get it.
Who pays the bills? They do! They pay taxes to cover the system. Americans’ refusal to pay taxes of any kind is why we fail.
Revisionist History is a problem for everyone.
As a former History teacher, I take a conservative approach to revisionist history. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in calling out the Holocaust Deniers, the Sandy Hook Truthers, and other such idiots. It’s the statements of lower impact that are thorny. Came across one of those yesterday, when a commenter said, “Democrats could have passed single-payer [health insurance] in 2008.”
A number of issues here. I’ll come back to the “2008” reference last.
Revisionist History – the ignorance of the Bern-it-downers
We hear this foolishness from #nonpartisanprogressives. They declare a pox on both parties. It’s possible the OP is just an uneducated/unaware individual, who heard someone else make this statement, and now they’re parroting it. This is more than possible, given the extent to which Berners of all striped parroted the lies of the Republicans about Clinton last year. It would not surprise me to learn that someone like Sarandon or Stein said this, and now the parrots go off. Angry people get angry, and there’s often no dealing with them. We see this regularly with Catholics, on the abortion issue. Close-mindedness is certainly not limited to any particular ideology.
ACA before Stimulus
Could the Democrats have passed single-payer in 2009? Doubtful, for a number of reasons:
- The economy was a hot mess. President Obama and his team decided that passing his very-successful economic stimulus package was a greater need, out of the gate. Keeping Congress focused to accomplish something is tough on a good day. Throwing two huge agenda items at them at the same time risks the failure of both. Obama went for the economy first. Given that one of the biggest raps against the Clinton campaign last year was a lack of a clear.focused, economic message, this decision made a lot of sense.
- Healthcare took time. One of the biggest arguments against TrumpCare was how quickly “repeal and replace” happened. Paul Ryan handled it badly for Team Trump. President Obama took the time to put ACA together. Teams were working on healthcare in the White House while the public face of the administration worked on the stimulus. It takes time to put a big package like healthcare reform together. They listened, kicked around ideas, and considered what would and would not pass muster, even in a Democratic-controlled Congress. This sort of thing doesn’t get done overnight. Adults know this, but #nonpartisanprogressives think there’s a magic wand that makes things happen.
- The ACA required compromise. Ironically, the Affordable Care Act was initially a compromise proposal. It was created by the Heritage Foundation. Newt the Gingrich offered it in 1993. It was a counter to President Clinton’s single-payer proposal that year. The dynamics had changed significantly by 2009. The ability of Gingrich to defeat “Hillarycare” outright in 1993 emboldened the Republicans. They believed they could beat back any future attempts to take down the industry. President Obama recognized that. His team put forward a variant of the Heritage Foundation’s plan. ACA kept the insurance industry intact, giving it a better chance to pass. That’s how compromise works. It’s what adults do. Still, #nonpartisanprogressives wrap themselves in purity.
The Public Option
- Obama’s proposal had a “public option” component. Many believe (as do I) that the public option was a bargaining chip. When the Dem leadership in both houses began to whip votes, it was clear that both caucuses didn’t have the fortitude to vote for the public option. You take what you can get. Adults don’t run home crying; they make the best out of the situation. They don’t try to Bern down the house.
- Final passage of ACA was a still a near-run thing. The Dem caucuses had the votes to pass in both the House and Senate. The Senate filibuster was the main problem. Obama’s team knew 60 Senators was a problem. No way the public option was going to survive that process. Dems liked the private insurance framework. Those holding out for local pork got things thrown at them. Had Obama taken the all-or-nothing stance of #nonpartisanprogressives, the whip count was more like 56-58 votes.
So, I’m simplifying a lot here, and I welcome comments elaborating on specific points. I stand by the notion that the public option was dead on arrival when ACA was pitched.
Yet, we’re almost eight years on and the left’s purity police are making claims that are patently wrong. They don’t rise to the level of Sandy Hook Truthers, and that’s the problem. A crazy spouting such incredibly stupid things is easily dismissed. Revisionist history with respect to policy wonkery just doesn’t stand out in the same way. The #nonpartisanprogessves in the lead or in the punditocracy know this. Their followers most likely don’t.
This is is why there’s no compelling reason to try to bring #nonpartisanprogressives into a coalition. We’d love it if they stopped throwing rocks and grew up, but it’s not necessary to push the Republicans out. Their penchant for revisionist history makes things worse.
Anyway, I said I’d come back to the “2008” thing. This is a common mistake. Of course, the president starts his term on January 20th of the year after the November election. In a serious discussion, however, most folks care when it comes to dates. Of course, #nonpartisanprogressives aren’t serious. That’s why many of them voted for Stein. She said the many things she said that were factually inaccurate. The “2008” sort of error indicates someone who doesn’t take any of this seriously. So-called leaders engage in revisionist history because their people won’t call them on it.
Twitter can be silly sometimes
1. I was critical of an aggregation of Twitter stuff that a friend put together and shared here on Facebook. I was rude in my comments.
2. While it was inappropriate for me to be obnoxious on another’s page, I still firmly believe that using twitter to blog is ridiculous.
3. Instead of composing a proper thesis and discussing it, the tweet-blaster gives us 140 characters at a time, like leaky faucet.
4. notice that these “thoughts” aren’t even 140 characters, because when you come to 130ish, you need to stop to move on to the next one.
5. the argument for doing this is, your audience is on twitter. I categorically reject this. It’s an excuse to be lazy, lowering the bar.
6. I wanted to say “it lowers the level of discourse” on that last “tweet”, but couldn’t. It ran the message over 140 characters.
Take a breath…this isn’t Twitter, after all.
7. So-called writers who take to twitter in this fashion rely on others to aggregate the blast into a coherent form. That’s unreliable.
8. A couple of weeks ago, I saw E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post re-tweet the FIFTEENTH part of some NYT gal’s tweet vomitus.
9. He said, basically, “here’s some stuff to read, go find this woman and read the rest of what she had to say. Assuming you can find her.
10. Have you noticed that, at the beginning of each of these “tweets”, I lose two characters in the hopes this “essay” stays organized?
11. This isn’t how thought leaders work. This isn’t an acceptable way to grow an audience. Thought leaders establish a premise, then they
12. (see what happens when you hit the 140-character wall in mid-sentence?) Now your next tweet looks feckin stupid, and you lose the reader
13. Thought leaders, like Jamelle Bouie of Slate, write essays that provoke thought and comment. Here’s his latest.
14. Bouie isn’t looking for a cheap appeal to someone with a minute and a half to glance at their phone. He wants to discuss an issue.
15. Reject tweet blasts. Don’t pander to the people who do them.
Jerome Smith was a young civil rights activist and Freedom Rider in 1963. Arthur Schlesinger, in his book on RFK, recalls that CORE described Smith as a young man beaten more than any other CORE worker at the time.
Jerome Smith stood up to RFK
It was no surprise to anyone that Smith had no kind words for Bobby or his brother:
“Mr. Attorney General, you make me want to puke. I don’t care what you think, and I don’t care what your brother thinks either.”
Smith was a man of the streets, not academia, or the entertainment world. He’d been in the streets, on the buses, working to register voters and advocate the cause. In the 1963 meeting Jarvis DeBerry mentions in his article about the film, “I Am Not Your Negro”, he was arguably the wokest person in the room.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but having seen “Hidden Lines” last weekend, it’s time I did. The movie is about Baldwin, so it’s not surprising that some things get left on the cutting room floor. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Jerome Smith (assuming they shot his remarks at all. Jarvis explains it:
Because that section of the documentary focuses on Baldwin’s friendship with the playwright Lorraine Hansberry and her premature death at 34, it is Hansberry’s disgusted response to Kennedy’s hemming and hawing that is given attention. But Hansberry’s decision to snub Kennedy by standing up, bidding him goodbye and exiting the room wasn’t the most demonstrable display of disgust. The most disgusted response, which isn’t in the documentary, came from New Orleans’ own Jerome Smith.
So, it’s no deep conspiracy that the woke young man got left out of the documentary. He just got overshadowed. I learned something new today, that Smith was from New Orleans. I’d not read Schlesinger’s book (it came out in 1978) when I was teaching American History in the early 1980s. I certainly would have highlighted this encounter, if for no other reason, because Smith was a local guy.
Now I want to go back to the classroom. Gotta win dat powerball.
(cross-posted to NOLA History Guy)
Joe McKnight was shot dead in a road rage incident on December 1st of last year. The shooter, Ronald Gasser, was originally arrested for manslaughter. That’s mainy because Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand never met a white guy with a gun he didn’t like. A grand jury saw things differently, however, and indicted the shooter Gasser with second-degree murder. That’s a distinction with a difference, because second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence. Gasser’s looking at life as a plantation slave.
Joe McKnight – murder victim
This is serious business, and the JP DA’s office must clean up the public relations mess Normand left them. Gasser, can afford private counsel. They’re hard at work, making motions to suppress evidence:
Among several claims, the motion states Gasser’s confession was not obtained “freely and voluntarily, but (was) made under the influence of fear, intimidation, threats or other duress, or because of promises or other inducements.” The motion also claims Gasser was not read his Miranda rights, and that investigators seized evidence without issuing a proper search warrant.
This is pretty much pro-forma for defense attorneys. It’s going to be tough for them to convince the court that a guy who started his self-defense claims as soon as he got out of his vehicle was intimidated or coerced.
Sheriff Normand can’t help himself
Of course, the Sheriff tossed the ADAs on the case under the bus:
“Our arrest is only as good as a prosecution,” Normand said. “We accomplish nothing if we make an arrest and we can’t put ourselves in the best posture to reach a successful prosecution.”
Yessir, that’s cooperation to get criminals off the street, I tell you. While Normand’s latest presser was a far cry from his December temper tantrums about social media, he really needs a PR consultant. He needs someone who will tell him to shut up and maintain his dignity. Jefferson Parish is already a #shitshow of politicians who don’t know how to act.
Still, at this point, things look good in terms of justice for Joe McKnight. Gasser is not an appealing defendant, even though he’s a white man who shot a black man.
Chris Roberts can’t help himself
Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts has been unable to get any traction on ousting Parish President (and admitted sexual predator) Mike Yenni for months now. It was revealed last September that Yenni admitted to having inappropriate and sexually explicit conversations with a 17-year old. The young man was a senior at Jesuit High School at the time he and Yenni texted. After the original #shitshow the revelations caused, which also included members of the Yenni family, the incident fell from public view for the most part. Councilman Chris Roberts wants to change that.
Yenni went to ground
I’ll say this about my fellow Brother Martin High alum, Greg Buisson: He’s good at what he does. When local politicians need help after doing Incredibly Stupid Things, they call Buisson. His main advice to them appears to be very simple, Shut The Fuck Up. They go to ground and stay there. That’s what Neil Abramson did, after he became embroiled in a controversy over choosing the Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives last Spring. So, Yenni’s situation is exposed. He hires Buisson, and is told to go to ground. He stays out of the public eye until his advisor says the coast is clear enough to get back to work. Buisson must have decided this past week was the time, since Yenni appeared on a local talk radio show last Monday.
Chris Roberts and the recall
Westbank Councilman Chris Roberts doesn’t like Mike Yenni. Their animosity goes back further than when we all learned that Yenni wants to blow young men. Since the effort to recall Mike is halfway through and they have only amassed half the necessary signatures on the petition, Roberts decided to raise the awareness level of the scandal in the wake of Yenni’s radio appearance. Da Advocate describes the letter Roberts circulated:
The letter Roberts sent Tuesday gets more graphic than any media account of the text messages in question. Citing sources familiar with the texts, Roberts’ letter contains a reference to a form of oral sex Yenni is said to have offered to perform on the 17-year-old.
Graphic gay sex is not the sort of thing the Good Republicans of Jefferson. Roberts knows that.
Yenni Fights Back
Buisson knows how to push back. A letter released by Yenni claims that Chris Roberts wrote a bad check for $6500. That ups the ante from a debatable text conversation to check fraud. Thieving politicians are something the Good Republicans Of Jefferson like even less than blowjobs.
Pass the popcorn.
For some reason, Jetpack here on the site is pushing posts to G+ with very tight privacy. Working on that.