Archive for the ‘ President Barack Obama ’ Category

RACIST RERUNS

I find it interesting that so many people who deny being racists don’t know the definition of the word. Look it up.

Growing up as something of a redneck in segregated housing projects of the deep south, I was exposed to racism throughout my childhood and teenage years. My mama and daddy denied they were prejudiced. Yet I often heard them say, “I have nothing against negroes (or various alliterations), but they need to know their place.” And what was their place? I can’t count the number of times my mother referred to scientist and botanist George Washington Carver as a “good negro.” Her opinion was based on the myth that Carver only entered the homes of white folks through the backdoor and always insisted on eating in the kitchen.

I’m not being critical of my parents at this late date. This was the Dixie culture in which they born and raised. Their exposure to African-Americans was pretty much limited to maids and mammies. I could easily have developed the same attitudes. And did until I entered the military. And while overseas on Okinawa in 1954 or thereabouts, I became close friends with a young black man named J.J. White. In fact, we became barracks roommate—and by choice. This was only five years or so after the military was fully integrated and several of my white friends thought it strange that I chose to room with a black man. It was my first lesson that friendship doesn’t see color. Anyway, J.J. was a popular guy and I got to know a group of young blacks, discovering we had the same hopes and dreams. Thus I began seeing race in a completely different light than the place where I came of age.

The Okinawa experience was the beginning of my “enlightenment.” I’ve since had other opportunities to grow. As a “liberal” talk show host in the 1960’s and seventies, I became outspoken in my belief of equality. However, I didn’t know what I didn’t know—self-deception it’s called. Other chances for “enlightenment” happened in a painful way. In 1971, I failed a skid row audition and nearly destroyed my broadcasting career. Baton Rouge’s leading news and public affairs station fired me for delivering newscasts in unknown tongues. In other words, I was a drunk.

In search of a job, my reputation preceded me and I was about to give-up the news business. Fatefully, a black programmed radio station rescued me from oblivion. I was hired to start-up a news department and be the only white on-air person for the station.  It was an opportunity to learn a little about the black experience by reporting news from an African-American perspective. Forty-plus years later I’m still a work in progress. I’ve made some progress. Sadly, much of our nation doesn’t make any effort. The same cycle of racism and bigotry I observed in sixties is repeating itself. Indeed, recent tragedies and attitudes are a shameful reminder of the past.

In 1972, as I embarked on what is nearing 44 years of sobriety, I was rehired by the Baton Rouge radio station that fired me for being a drunk. Two weeks later, January 11, 1972, a race riot erupted near downtown Baton Rouge as police and sheriff’s deputies broke up a demonstration led by a black Muslim  group from Chicago. Two lawmen and two Muslims were killed. Thirty-one people were injured including a television anchorman who sustained severe brain damage that disabled him for life.

Eleven months later in Baton Rouge, November 16, 1972, two Southern University students were killed when deputies opened fire during a demonstration on the campus of the country’s largest historically black college. I was surprised at these two events, though not shocked.

While working at the black radio station, I met young angry African-Americans, several  of whom were Vietnam veterans. Their anger was simmering just below the boiling point because of a lack of job opportunities in Baton Rouge and a perception of community racism. Speaking with these guys was like hearing the antitheses of what I heard from many race-baiting white callers during my talk show days in the 1960’s.

Tragically, we now seem to be in rerun season.

In the wake of the Ferguson shooting death and the New York City choking death of black men by police, questions of racism are at the forefront of the news. Rhetoric abounds in the media and on the internet. Facts be damned. One of the most outrageous examples is a viral video titled, “The Real Michael Brown.” It’s a pretty horrible effort to provoke white anger. Yet, it is not a video of Ferguson’s Michael Brown but instead a video of a guy in California named Mike Brown.

Which brings me to President Barack Hussein Obama.

Nobody since Dr. Martin Luther King has been subjected to the kind of racism the President has faced. From the day he was elected, no good deed by him  goes unpunished. If he walked on water, opponents would claim it was a political trick. Incredibly, the critics deny being racists. Bullshit. From raising questions about his birthplace to accusing him of socialism to accusing him of being the anti-Christ to allegations of an “Emperor”complex, the unrestrained attacks on his character have been unrelenting. And anyone who denies that racism is the root cause of much the criticism is out of touch with reality. If an Emperor that many claim him to be, there would be mass hangings for insurrection.

Granted, President Obama has made his share of mistakes, but most the accusations leveled against him are born out of racism—pure and simple. Much of white America, especially south of the Mason-Dixon, cannot live with the thought of a black man being our nation’s leader. His presidency has revealed all the concealed racial prejudices of the past. Unfortunately, too many people are blind to their racial attitudes.

For a born and bred redneck like me, it took time and effort to learn the difference between racism and bigotry. The shame of our society today is the failure of folks to recognize their racism. “I’m no bigot but………” is an often repeated statement. Are they bigots? No in many instances. Racist? Yes.

Sadly, a majority of white Americans see the Caucasian race as superior to people of color. And that, my friends, is the definition of racism.

For folks interested in journalism and a little history thrown in, I recommend my memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger. I guarantee a lot of laughs as well as gaining some smarts about the horrible state of the news media. Available at bargain prices at amazon.com and independent books storestores including Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge.

BOBBY JINDAL’S IGNORANCE CONSPIRACY

Twenty years ago, then Congressman Dan Burton murdered a watermelon—shot that sucker with a pistol and scattered its seeds everywhere. The melon assassination by the Indiana Republican was one of the more bizarre events during the so-called Whitewater “scandal.” It was part of a full court press by right-wing loonies to link President Bill Clinton and his lovely bride, Hillary, to a cover-up conspiracy involving the death of White House aide Vincent Foster. The GOP selected Independent Counsels and several investigative agencies eventually concluded that clinically depressed Foster committed suicide. But even today, there are crazies running free from lock-ups who believe the Clinton’s conspired to murder not only Foster, but a bunch of other people classified as political enemies and/or folks able to provide incriminating evidence about all sorts of their alleged illegal activities.

Having spent a lot of time in my 30 year muckraking career investigating conspiracy allegations—including time spent snooping around Little Rock, Washington and other sites of the Clinton’s alleged evil-doing in the Whitewater hoax—I consider myself a semi-expert on the subject of nutty claims. Enough strange characters called or showed up on the doorstep to tell me wild yarns, none of of which contributed to my success in winning multiples of every major broadcast journalism award.

I succeeded by following a formula of simple logic in determining the truth or falsity of wacky stories. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Unless, of course, I learned the quacks were outright lies. And by and large I checked out most leads, no matter how bizarre.

Nowadays, far-right Republicans,  Tea Party zealots, Fox “News”  pundits, and hare-brained radio talk show hosts, the metaphorical ducks quack whatever the hell these guys and girls want to hear. In short, conspiracies emerge and persist based on lies and distortions, often in the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary. I have seen this first hand during many of my investigations—most notably Whitewater and the Mena myth. The right-wing tale links drug smuggler-turned-DEA informant Barry Seal to a vast CIA plot involving Bill Clinton, a couple of other Presidents and just about any government official who traveled within a thousand miles of the tiny Arkansas town of Mena.

The current crop of conspiracy theories about government cover-ups (specifically President Obama) is never-ending. They include the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, overreaching by the IRS in screening Tea Party related applications for tax exempt designations, misrepresentations by the Administration regarding Affordable Heath Care enrollments… and on and on it goes. But a recent plot that is difficult to write about with a straight face is the right-wing claims that Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy is aimed at enhancing the image of her mama prior to the 2016 Presidential election. No wonder Hillary believes she has been target of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

http://www.nationalmemo.com/congratulations-chelsea-new-conspiracy-born/

Actually, I’m jealous of people who  hallucinate stories. Wish I could have thought of such shortcuts during my reporting days. Instead,I spent all those years digging for documents, corroborating information and promising people to keep their names secret. But now that I’m retired, let me present my own, homegrown conspiracy theories. I feel free to make them up out of thin air. Or, perhaps, with a tiny grain of truth.

First. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is conspiring to ensure that his constituency is dumber than he is. The wunderkind Ivy League graduate, Rhodes Scholar, boy exorcist and all-around smarty-pants Governor has slashed education spending in the state, advocated teaching students that the earth is 6000 years old, and has equivocated on Louisiana adopting a Common Core curriculum. After all, it teaches kids critical thinking. And if young Louisianans begin thinking for themselves rather than allowing Rush Limbaugh and other nuts to form their opinions, Jindal and his right-wing  political cohorts will be looking for real jobs instead of spending time in the 32-story annex of the Baton Rouge zoo.

Here’s another conspiracy theory. Jindal opposes the state receiving  federal Medicaid funds in hopes that the uninsured poor will be too sick to go to the polls and vote for Democrats. What else can I make-up? Ah, yes. Just hallucinated that the absentee Louisiana Governor attends 12-step meetings in an effort to deal with twin addictions to collecting of accumulating frequent miles and his compulsion to chase network TV cameras. Enough about Jindal, though.

Let me move on to our whore-monger U.S. Senator David Vitter. His decision to run for Governor is a conspiracy to legalize prostitution in Louisiana. And how about the Koch brothers? Their company conspired to steal oil from Native Americans.

Oops! I messed up. That story is factually true. In fact, the Koch oil company paid millions in fines following a congressional investigation, an inquiry spawned by allegations made by a brother of David and Charles Koch. Bill Koch believe he was cheated by his infamous brothers in the division of the family fortune. Read all about these characters in a 2011 Bloomberg article.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html

Unfortunately, it seems I’m reaching a point of confusing reality with lies and/or half-truths, so I better close this post. Otherwise, I will begin believing my own bullshit and sending job applications to Fox “News” and/or other GOP related organizations.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics….and Me is available at amazon.com and independent bookstores (ISBN: 1-4392-3840-5). Also available on Kindle. The book is an account of my checkered career and is guaranteed to  provide plenty laughs and tears.

THE “60 MINUTES” FIASCO: BEEN THERE, SEEN THAT

The news media enjoys nothing more than beating up its own. And Sixty Minutes is no exception. Joining in the gang bang is unfair. But anyone who has read my blog knows I’m unfair. So I’ll join the fray.

Since 60 Minutes’ debut 46-plus years ago in September 1968, I’ve missed very few segments. My affinity for the program is enhanced by the fact  that several friends and acquaintances have worked with the show. Currently, two former colleagues during my ten year tenure as Senior Correspondent in CNN’s 50-member investigative unit are now award-winning 60 Minutes producers.

In the late 1980’s when I was Baton Rouge’s mini-Mike Wallace, the show’s then Executive Producer Don Hewitt opted not to hire me. Instead, I was recruited by CNN—the equivalent of the obscurity found in the federal Witness Protection Program. Don Hewitt, Mike Wallace and other 60 Minutes pioneers have since gone to the big network in the sky and the Sunday night staple has pretty much gone to hell.

An exception are segments produced by my friends, Graham Messick and Henry Schuster. Admittedly, I’m prejudice. But their journalism prizes supports my judgment. I only wish they were involved in producing Lara Logan’s Benghazi segment that was retracted because the principle source lied. The story apparently was not adequately fact-checked before airing.

Worse, Logan previously criticized the Obama Administration’s handling of Benghazi while speaking before a group in Chicago in October 2012 (a month after the terrorist attack).  ”When I look at what’s happening in Libya, there’s a big song and dance about whether this was a terrorist attack or a protest. And you just want to scream, ‘for God’s sake, are you kidding me?’” In other words, she had a strong point of view before producing the segment—a no, no in responsible investigative reporting.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cbs-news-and-reporter-lara-logan-face-brutal-criticism-on-flawed-benghazi-report/2013/11/11/b2f55d8c-4b1f-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

No doubt, many right-wingers share Lara Logan’s point of view—the most prominent being California GOP congressman Darrell Issa who has taken on the job of Republican ‘hit man” while obsessively trying to do in President Obama with endless investigations, including Benghazi.

Until he gained prominence in Congress, Issa was best known for beating criminal raps including multiple allegations of  Grand Theft auto and an accusation of torching a factory he owned to collect a fire insurance policy that had been increased by more than 400 percent three weeks prior to the blaze. Issa is not the kind of guy you trust to buy a cup of coffee with your Platinum American Express card.

Neither do I trust 60 Minutes now, and certainly not Lara Logan. But my faith in the granddaddy of television news magazine shows has been deteriorating for years. It’s selection of stories has become predictable. A hard news piece, a softer story and a profile.

The investigative prowess of 60 Minutes has always been overrated. The show often steals the work of other reporters and tells the story better than the original version. In some instances, especially books being promoted by CBS-owned publishers, the authors will be interviewed as part of segments.

Such was the case in the retracted Benghazi story. The main interview and principle source, Dylan Davies, is author of The Embassy House, an account of the tale he related to Lara Logan. Though not disclosed in the segment, the book was published by Simon & Schuster, a CBS subsidiary. So much for full disclosure. The publisher has recalled the book from stores.

The question now is what happens to those responsible for the 60 Minutes debacle? Hopefully not the fate of 60 Minutes 2, the weekday spin-off that was abandoned after airing the true story of military malingering by George W. Bush while protecting the U.S. from an invasion by Mexico when he served as a pilot in in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Turned out that CBS anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes were suckered by a counterfeit document purportedly outlining details of Bush’s misdeeds. Sloppy reporting. Overreaction by CBS which was under pressure from Republican bigwigs. And according to Mapes, the network is still trying to cozy up to the right-wing.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Former-60-Minutes-Producer-by-Media-Matters-Benghazi-Attack_Conservative_Media_New

And that brings me to the headline of this post—my own experience with news magazine blunders. In 1998, our Special Assignment Unit produced a segment titled Valley of Death, more widely known as the Tailwind story. It was the premier piece on our new magazine program, NewsStand: CNN and Time on Assignment. The story accused the American military of using the nerve chemical Sarin during an evacuation in Laos of  a super-secret army unit from that was overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers.

I was not involved in producing or reporting the Tailwind segment. But our boss assigned me the task of trying to save it after CNN came under attack from the Pentagon and national news media, which piled on the network in the same manner as happened to CBS following the Bush story and the Benghazi report. Unfortunately, our segment was beyond salvation.

However, my reporting uncovered information suggesting that the story may actually have been accurate in some respects, but inaccurate in identifying the secret military unit involved and the place where the nerve chemical was used—Cambodia, not Laos. But CNN wanted no part in following the story. I was told to forget it—a prelude to my early retirement five months later.

As I related in my memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, an epidemic of shrunken testicles spread through CNN’s executive suites in the wake of Tailwind resulting in the firing of two producers of the segment, the resignation our boss, Pamela Hill,  and the early exit of on-air correspondent Peter Arnett.

For those of you who have read this far, a couple of minutes later shouldn’t make much difference so I will include an excerpt of the book about the tiny balls of the folks running CNN at the time.

Twenty-five days after NewsStand’s disastrous debut, CNN President Tom Johnson fired April Oliver and Jack Smith. He also announced the resignation of Pamela Hill. The reasons were stated in a Tailwind critique.

“A decision was made by CNN to broadcast accusations of the gravest sort   without sufficient justification and in the face of substantial persuasive information to the contrary.”

The report was co-authored by CNN General Counsel David Kohler and Floyd Abrams, one of the nation’s leading First Amendment lawyers. It was released so hastily, a speed typist may have been recruited to put it in final form. Kohler was an anomalous critic. He gave final legal clearance for the segment.

I agree there were serious flaws in the “exposé.” But April Oliver, Jack Smith, Dave Kohler and others reviewing the supporting material believed the story to be accurate. Sources were considered reliable, particularly Admiral Moorer. But faith in sources can be perilous. Oftentimes, journalists unconsciously discount exculpatory inconsistencies. A firing offense? In the imperfect craft of investigative reporting, mistakes happen. Indeed, CNN’s post mortem admitted as much on its first page.

“Our central conclusion is that although the broadcast was prepared after exhaustive research, was rooted in considerable supportive data, and reflected the deeply held beliefs of the CNN journalists who prepared it, the central thesis of the broadcast could not be sustained at the time of the broadcast itself and cannot be sustained now.”

“Now” was a Monday morning meeting of quarterbacks. The admission that April and Jack did their best but reached the wrong conclusions isn’t reason sufficient to ruin careers and reputations. They were casualties of an inordinate level of journalistic cowardice. Rather than retract and apologize for imperfect reporting, April and Jack were hauled to a sacrificial altar. It was a rush to judgment to protect the network’s image.

Peter Arnett, the on-camera face of Tailwind, survived the initial cleansing. But not without insult. His minimal involvement resulted in a sharp public rebuke from Tom Johnson, who said it was unconscionable for a reporter to front a story that he failed to research. The statement was remarkable in its ignorance. TV correspondents consistently parrot the work of producers. If all news personalities did their own reporting, 60 Minutes would be on the air about once a year.

Nobody knew this better than Tom’s co-executioner, Rick Kaplan. As a former Executive Producer of ABC’s Prime Time and other personality-driven news programs, Kaplan supervised high-profile journalists who were often parachuted into stories at the last minute. Yet, he made no effort to defend Arnett. Nor did he defend producer Jack Smith―the man who years before, gave him one of his first television jobs. Worse, Jack found out he was fired in a Special Assignment conference call. Despite a promise by Tom Johnson that Jack and April would have a chance to review the critique, the hatchet fell without so much as a courtesy call.

For all intents and purposes, NewsStand was history after the Tailwind episode. It continued on for a few months, but lacked any substantive investigative reporting. Presumably, 60 Minutes will survive the current scandal. That is good news. Even at its worst, it is still better than other magazine shows.

The bad news is 60 Minutes is now what it is.

John Camp’s critically praised memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me, is available at amazon.com in either book or Kindle format, and at independent bookstores. It offers plenty of laughs, inside secrets of TV “journalism” and  brutal honesty about his battles with alcohol. The book is an account of a 30 year prize-winning investigative reporting career and the characters he encountered during the heyday of TV muckraking.

SEARCHING FOR OBAMACARE ANECDOTES

Let me say up front, I don’t have a clue whether the Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare—will succeed or fail. Neither does anyone else. But on both sides of the aisle in Congress, there is hope. Most Democrats hope President Obama’s signature legislation succeeds. Most Republicans hope it fails. 

With the Administration’s website failures, the GOP is taking every opportunity to discredit a program designed to provide health care to millions of uninsured and/or under-insured Americans. That brings me to the role of the mainstream and not so mainstream media, both of which love conflict no matter the issue.

In college journalism classes—so I’m told since my only visit to these classes has been to lecture—budding reporters are encouraged to use anecdotes to explain complicated issues. ”Real life” yarns humanize stories making them easier to understand. But there is supposed to be context. That’s where the media fails, especially faux news organizations like Fox “News.”

A case in point is the recruitment of interview guests like a woman invited on several Fox programs to tell how she is losing her private coverage, causing her health insurance premiums will skyrocket if forced to enroll in the government program. It’s a true story. To a point.

The woman’s current insurance is virtually worthless, covering fifty dollar visits to doctors, generic prescriptions and not much else.  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/10/28/three-fox-news-shows-called-fla-obamacare-detractor/?tid=hpModule_6c539b02-b270-11e2-bbf2-a6f9e9d79e19&hpid=z10

If this outspoken critic  of Obamacare falls and breaks her arm on the way to be interviewed by Fox and Friends, how friendly will the embecilic co-hosts be? Will they pay her bills? Her insurance company certainly won’t. It’s not part of the coverage.

Nor is fairness part of the Fox “News” coverage. That’s why the Republican Propaganda Network is viewed by folks who have never seen a half-full glass.

CNN makes an effort to be fair. But for the most part, it only manages to be stupid. As I’ve said many times before, I regularly feel the need to deny that I spent a decade with CNN as the network’s Senior Investigative Correspondent. Those were the days, my friend. But no more. CNN now devotes itself to being fodder for comic commentators like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/jon-stewart-cnn-good-or-bad_n_4177084.html

For the past couple of years, I’ve conducted classes for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, an LSU continuing education program known as OLLI. The subject of my classes is television news. Or what’s left of it. In the early minutes of my first class every semester I explain that we will be discussing “context,” the most important element in news reporting. Yet, it’s the missing link in contemporary television “journalism.”

Instead of context, TV viewers and to a lesser extent, newspaper readers are subjected to superficiality. There are two words that are a tip-off of lazy reporting, “could” and “may.” In reporting on the uncertainty about the success or failure of  Obamacare, we see the words often, mainly in speculative stories that are short on corroborating evidence to support the speculation.

I will therefore use the words in proper context. Obamacare “may” fail. Or it “could” succeed. Who knows? Certainly not the journalists, pundits and politicians, most of whom can’t wait to say, “told you so.”

While we wait for the end result months down the line, people on both sides of the health care issue rattle on, each offering individual anecdotes that in the broader context tell us nothing.

Although I’m covered by Medicare, Obamacare has added to my knowledge. I’ve come believe the greatest invention in all of mankind is the television mute button.

John Camp’s critically praised memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me, is available at amazon.com in either book or Kindle, and at independent bookstores. It offers plenty of laughs, inside secrets of TV “journalism” and  brutal honesty about his battles with alcohol. The book is an account of a prize-winning investigative reporting career and the characters  encountered during 30 years of muckraking.

BOBBY JINDAL PROPHESIZES GOP FATE

Bobby Jindal, allegedly the Governor of Louisiana despite spending more time collecting frequent flyer miles than governing, has gone beyond his Brown University exorcism ceremonies and become a prophet. Following the 2012 presidential election, Governor Smarty-Pants predicted the Republican Party was in danger of becoming the “Stupid Party”—a prophecy that was fulfilled this week by the GOP’s decision to shutdown of government because of opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Even though Obamacare so-called was passed by both houses of Congress four years ago and its constitutionality upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican Representatives continue to kick and scream while rolling in the aisle of the House, thus leading Democrats to hope that a few of their red state colleagues will turn blue. Or at least a lighter shade of red.

I don’t ordinarily recommend serial adulterer Newt Gingrich as a political guru. He has said and done enough stupid things to qualify as a leader of the Stupid Party. But the former Republican Speaker knows what happened to his party following a government shutdown in 1995 and 1996. It was a boon to Democrats, who took control of both houses of Congress. And President Bill Clinton was re-elected despite ongoing bogus scandals stemming from partisan Whitewater-related investigations.

Most remarkable about the current debacle is the influence of the Tea Party, a minority of American malcontents, loudmouths and racists who have managed to elect a few Representatives in gerrymandered congressional districts. Based on the potential fate of many moderate Republicans who support the government shutdown, the GOP is in danger of becoming not only the Stupid Party, but rather the Kamikaze Party.

Either way, Jindal’s label of Stupid Party is evolving much faster than he expected. However I can’t give him too much credit as a prophet. After all, he was elected in a state where 29-percent of the Republicans recently told pollsters that freshman U.S. Senator Barack Obama was somehow responsible for delays in providing assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Hey, neighbors, I hate to mention a little technicality. But George W. Bush was President in 2005. Details, details. Who cares? Certainly not the Republican Party.

That’s why in 2016, the GOP may need a prophet to lead them. And Bobby Jindal has volunteered again, again, again………..

Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com book or Kindle, and at independent bookstores. It offers plenty of laughs, inside secrets of TV “journalism” and  much more. It is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) prize-winning investigative reporting career and the characters I encountered during 30 years of muckraking.

BOBBY JINDAL EXPOSES MEDIA INCOMPETENCE

Because of a conflicting personal project, I’ve stayed away from my derelict gunslinger blog for a few weeks. However, I can’t resist commenting on the failure of the national media to fact check Bobby Jindal’s recent proclamations as they relate to his performance as Louisiana’s Governor.   

In criticizing fellow republicans, Governor Smarty Pants seems to have adopted Forrest Gump’s mantra, ”Stupid is as stupid does.” He exempts himself, although the word, “stupid” is appropriate in describing many of Jindal’s policies in governing his homestate—at least when he bothers to visit the capitol city of Baton Rouge. The fulltime frequent flyer and part-time exorcist seems intent on leading Louisiana back to the bad old days, which in my opinion, qualifies his governing as stupid.

During Jindal’s five years as governor, he has cut funds to education and health care, played games with the state ethics code, avoided transparency in his administration, alienated teachers and state employees, made a concerted effort to reduce the overall quality of life of the poor and elderly, and thrown up roadblocks to scrutiny by the timid local media that has been remiss in holding him accountable for his actions.

Ironically, Jindal relentlously stalks the national media. In the aftermath  of hurricanes, oil spills and other Louisiana catastrophes,  television photographers and network reporters have to hide from the governor. However, in recent days Jindal has been on a roll by getting extensive coverage for his provocative warning that the GOP must “stop being the stupid party.” And after getting considerable attention for similar remarks following the presidential election, Jindal has begun to sound like a wind-up doll by repeating himself over and over again.

His self-promotion reached a high point todayby writing a Washington Post op-ed commentary claiming that Louisiana and other states were being overwhelmed by the anticipated expense of Medicaid following the implementation of Obamacare.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bobby-jindal-to-fix-medicaid-listen-to-governors/2013/01/28/ff5c8e5e-6711-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html?hpid=z2

Jindal cares so much about this issue that last July he inexplicably turned down federal funds to help Louisiana’s Medicaid program. 

http://theadvocate.com/home/3307312-125/jindal-move-causes-stir

After all, the governor is a man of principle. That is if the definition of principle is hypocrisy. The truth of his rejection is he expected Mitt Romney to win the election and end Obamacare—”on day one of presidency,” Romney regularly proclaimed.  

Jindal’s alleged principles have been a huge setback for Louisiana. In a state facing a major budget crises Jindal went so far as to reject federal stimulus funds in 2009.

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/jindal_rejects_32_million_in_s.html

So far, the so-called mainstream media has given Governor Smarty Pants a free ride—notable exceptions being his embarrassing 2008 response to  President Obama’s state-of-the-union speech, and the frequent comic commentary about Jindal’s attempted exorcism of a sinful woman while he was a student at Brown University. The free ride may be ending though. Most recently, Paul Krugman made note of Jindal’s regressive proposal to abolish income tax in Louisiana and increase sales taxes, which have the greatest impact on low income folks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/opinion/krugman-makers-takers-fakers-.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Despite the low state of the state of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal continues to live under the delusion that he will one day be a viable candidate for the presidency—presumably President of the United States. But before he throws his hat into the ring, he should speak with a fellow Ivy Leaguer and Rhodes Scholar named William Jefferson Clinton. 

Unlike Jindal, Clinton was a actually a good Governor—one of the best in the history of Arkansas. However, when he sought an unlikely promotion to lead all 50 states, Clinton learned that the national media can be awful nasty. After his public policies more or less passed muster, reporters zeroed in on Clinton’s personal morals and business activies. Hello Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky and other alleged Bill Babes. And welcome to Whitewater Estates, the two-bit real estate development which launched a $70-million bogus investigation that amounted to nothing more than a waste of taxpayer money. Indeed, a team of closet pornagraphers led by Christian crusader Kenneth Starr were never even able to answer the lingering question of whether blow job is two words or hyphenated.  

I doubt that Governor Jindal will be vulnerable on moral issues unless they involve his failure to abide by the teachings of Jesus to help the poor. And since Jindal’s career has always been at or near the public trough, he will probably be exempt from questions about business dealings. That means he will have to answer for his failures as Governor.

Given his record in Louisiana, a serious presidential run will afford the national media an opportunity to overcome its incompetence by digging in Jindal’s record as Louisiana’s chief executive.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and  much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career and the characters I encountered during 30 years of muckraking. 

BOBBY JINDAL, BOY GENIUS IN HIS OWN MIND

My momma described many people during her lifetime as being “smart, but without an ounce of common sense.” No doubt, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is smart. After all, he is an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar, which suggests he has an ounce or two of common sense.

Nonetheless, he seems to jump a few steps beyond sensibility. In some respects, Governor “Smarty Pants is like a failed meat cutter who decides to take up brain surgery without bothering to attend medical school. After pushing through legislation that butchered Louisiana’s education and health care systems, as well as carving big holes in numerous other quality of life programs in the state, Jindal now proposes solutions for the nation’s “edge of the cliff” budget woes.

http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/bobby-jindal-opinion-fiscal-cliff-diving-84647.html?hp=l1

Given Jindal’s record as Louisiana’s absentee Governor, what makes him think he has solutions for the country. Yet, he hangs on to the delusion of becoming President. Most recently, he was sucking up to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson who invested $150-million in losing Republican candidates—foremost being Mitt Romney.

http://theadvocate.com/home/4608068-125/jindal-meets-with-casino-magnate

Adelson embraced Romney to lead the country after his first choice, serial philanderer Newt Gingrich fell by the wayside as a result of his own considerable weight. Now comes Jindal begging for campaign mone. About the only thing  he has in common with Adelson is supporting losers.

Louisiana’s fulltime frequent flyer and part-time exorcist was the first prominent Republican to jump on the off-key presidential bandwagon of neighboring Texas Governor Rick Perry. Like most voters, Jindal soon discovered that Perry’s band was completely tone deaf  and when Perry departed the campaign to take more music lessons, Jindal attached himself to the former Massachusetts Governor Romney—at least until Romney lost.

Not one to defend losers, Jindal verbally dumped on Romney and other GOP candidates.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/268633-jindal-republicans-need-to-stop-saying-stupid-things

I don’t know when Governor Jindal’s presidential delusions first took hold. Maybe they connected to the hallucinations of deranged radio ranter Rush Limbaugh—the ex-disc jockey and pillhead who is taken seriously by a venting segment of society that finds relief from their anger, fears and frustrations by listening to his hate-filled talk show. Limbaugh casually mentioned Jindal a couple of years ago, apparently causing the Louisiana Governor to become so excited he probably wet his smarty pants.

The Limbaugh plug was enough to send Jindal on a quest to set a world record for accumulating frequent flyer miles by speaking before republican gatherings far and wide—with or without invitations. His meddling in an Iowa state Supreme Court election prompted the Des Moines Register to suggest that he get his skinny ass back to Louisiana.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/charlie-mahtesian/2012/10/jindal-takes-heat-for-campaign-travel-137801.html

Sadly, Jindal’s national political ambitions have caused him to become a stalker of television cameras—except when he is asked for interviews on controversial state policies by Louisiana newspaper and television reporters. Instead of answering questions face-to-face, he puts out news releases. How he gets away with such evasions puzzles me.

In my day many years ago as Baton Rouge’s mini-Mike Wallace, I would have been following Jindal to the ends of the earth for comment. And that was not necessarily of my own choosing. The people I worked for insisted that reporters confront politicians on important public policy issues. The same was true at CNN and other venues where I worked in my thirty year muckraking career.

Times have drastically changed. Lack of accountability now feeds the fantasies of self-important politicians like Bobby Jindal, who believes his alleged genius allows him to leap from meat cutting to brain surgery with no steps in between. 

A majority of voters may not be as smart as Bobby Jindal. But fortunately, they sure as hell have more common sense.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career.

TAKE THAT RUSH, SEAN, GLENN AND FOX “NEWS”

I promised not to gloat after the presidential election. But I can’t resist saying, “I told you so.” Actually, my prediction was conservative—290 Electoral votes compared with 303 presently and a likely total of 332 when Florida finishes its count.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked (not too often) about my absence from the derelictgunslinger blog. The short answer is I don’t like declaring rain is wet. Anyone viewing these posts knows my politics. So why aggravate my wing-nut family members and friends. Better to let the outcome speak for itself. And besides, this blog was mainly created to sell  my non-best selling memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger. Please buy the damn book and make me happy—though I can’t imagine being much happier than I was at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

In the aftermath of the election, there is no need now to worry about  offending friends and far-right members of my family, several of whom make Ann Coulter and Michele Bachmann look like bed-wetting liberals. Most of them are already apoplectic about President Obama’s re-election. I only wish they would stop throwing out words like socialism, communism and marxism—terms they are too ignorant to define in terms of Obama’s policies. If these folks looked inward, they would discover another word that describes their attitudes toward the president. Racism.

Much of the winger post-election whining deals with minority influence on the outcome and the disproportionate number of votes they cast for the president. A coalition of African Americans, Hispanics and women (if, in fact, they are considered a minority) undoubtedly played a major role in Barack Obama’s re-election. But how about the minority class to which I belong? Angry white southern males.

Born, bred in the deep south and now living in red-state Louisiana, I’m a double minority—a liberal “yellow dog” democrat. Worse, I no longer shoot unarmed animals, cast for fish or drink whiskey straight out of the bottle—activities that are all part of my past. Nor am I angry at anyone. At least today. But as evidence of my southern heritage, I still stuff myself with gumbo, fried seafood and chicken, and in the privacy of my home, I’ve been known to loudly fart and belch—much to my wife’s chagrin.

Although my confession is slightly embarrassing, it is certainly not as disgraceful as the actions during the election of cycle of many prominent pundits, public figures and so-called journalists. Fox “News,” aka the Republican Propoganda Network, is of course in a class by itself. I don’t begrudge the First Amendment freedoms of its stable of lunatic commentators to express opinions—no matter how bizarre. However, the network reaches the level of disgrace when it tries to pass off political propoganda as news. And that happened frequently during the presidential campaign.

But no need to belabor criticism of Fox “News.” I’ve beat that issue to death ever since this blog was started. Nor will I devote many more words to ex-disc jockeys Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others of the their ilk like “birther” Donald Trump, who is often given time on Fox to humiliate himself. All the aforementioned characters personify the failure of the nation’s mental health policies of deinstitutionalzation of the marginally nutty, a thin line these guys tend to cross on a daily basis.

In handing out disgrace plaques, Louisiana Governor Bobby (Smarty Pants) Jindal deserves special recognition. Hopeful of a high post in a Republican Administration, the part-time exorcist and fulltime frequent flyer abandoned the state he was supposed to lead to travel for days on end as a Mitt Romney surrogate. Jindal did accomplish one goal. He ensured his legacy as the worst governor in Louisiana’s history. And that is saying a lot.

I guess the one piece of bad news that comes out of the election for Louisianans is the fact that Jindal will be around for another two years to continue devastating the states education and health systems and reducing  the quality of life in taking the state to third world status. 

But despite all that happened during the election campaign, one disappointment stands out for me—the full page newspaper ads by the Billy Graham Crusade that were in effect an endorsement of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. Long ago, Billy Graham stated in an authorized biography—A Prophet with Honor—that his support of President Richard Nixon taught him to avoid becoming publicly involved in partisan politics. The book was written by Rice University sociologist Dr. William Martin, a leading expert on evangelism and a friend of mine from the days when I was doing exposés about spiritually exploitative TV preachers. 

The recent ad was allegedly signed by Billy Graham—a spiritual leader I’ve always admired. And it probably expressed his views on gay marriage and abortion accurately. Still, I have a hunch the world famous 94 year old evangelist was victimized by son, Franklin, a 60 year old hemorrhoid on his daddy’s ass. Franklin has made a career of creating discomfort for the evangelist. So my disgrace plaque goes to Franklin instead of his father.

That said, I’m just glad the campaign is finally over. Though it will take time, I hope all the sore losers will finally shut the hell up. And if we are lucky, let us hope during the president’s second term for the departure of a couple of U.S. Supreme Justices responsible for the Citizen’s United decision that put unlimited secret money into political campaigns.

Don’t you know that all these big Romney donors are experiencing PESD—Post Election Stress Disorder. That makes me happy.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career.