By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – When Pete invited me to join his writing team he said, “You can write about whatever you want to…” within reason, of course, and most of the time I write about politics because that’s just what I do.  But something else has been on my mind this week so I hope you’ll indulge me this brief deviation from politics.

April is Prevention Against Cruelty to Animals Month so I want to take a moment to acquaint you with a local case that has captured the hearts of my local community.  Meet Braveheart (there is a happy ending, so keep reading):

September 11, 2013 a dog was found in an abandoned storage locker in Shreveport, chained to a car and likely moments away from death.  The hottest day of the year in September in Shreveport was on September 3 with 103 degrees; typically we have many days over 100 degrees around that time of year.  Can you braveimagine what the temperature must have been in that storage locker?  There was no ventilation, no food, and no water for the dog;  he was just waiting to die.

The owner of the storage property went into the unit because the renter had lapsed on his payments.  When he went in he saw what he thought was a dead dog.  It was only when he went to remove the body that he realized this dog was alive.

The following narrative of what happened next is from A Voice for Braveheart:

“He was only hours if not minutes from death as he could only move his eyes. He was rushed to the vet and somehow survived. Someone that played a critical role in his recovery stated ‘human hands did this, human hands should fix it’. He was given life saving medical care immediately and a miracle happened, he began healing. He was named…….Braveheart.

After a 2 week stay at the ER clinic he came to stay with our family. He only weighed 8 pounds when he was found.”

A number of local organizations and people worked hard to save Braveheart’s life, among them Bo and Ronda Spataro who agreed to foster Brave during his recovery.  Ronda works as a vet tech at the clinic where Brave was ultimately treated and she fell in love with him, as did her husband.  Ronda was able to take Brave to work with her and he was given aggressive, around the clock care.  But the story did not end there.

Braveheart’s condition when he was found was thoroughly documented through medical records and photographs.  The photographs are very difficult to look at.  Even with all that evidence, however, the city decided they needed to take Braveheart from his foster family and place him in the animal shelter as evidence.  The Spataros were devastated.  Braveheart had already become a part of their family.  Local news station KTAL was there when Braveheart was seized and captured incredibly emotional video as the puppy is taken from the Spataros and placed in the back of an animal control truck.  Through her sobs, Ronda gave Braveheart a kiss and told him, “I promise I’ll get you back…I promise.”   It was a promise she was later able to keep.

ronda

It was all one step too much for the community who reacted in outrage and planned a protest at the shelter.  Bo Spataro writes:

“There was an unnecessary custody battle with animal control when they were asked to start an investigation into the abuse/neglect of Braveheart by public outcry. It was quickly won, again by public outcry. [Brave’s abuser was identified and] charged with felony cruelty to an animal. We formally adopted Braveheart from Caddo Parish Animal Shelter after his abuser surrendered ownership. He has been assigned legal counsel and we have been attending his court dates. He has plead not guilty and the ADA has informed both the judge and defense there will be NO plea deals. The judge has also agreed to a sentencing hearing if he pleads guilty. This type of abuse to any animal with no meaningful penalty needs to be stopped.”

The picture taken at that joyful reunion between Braveheart and his new family still brings a tear to my eye when I look at it.

brave1

Bo tells me that the original ADA has been transferred and there will be someone else prosecuting the case; we can only hope the new prosecutor is also tough against animal abuse.  We may find out this week.

For Braveheart, there is a happy ending; Bo again:

“Braveheart is now doing great and has made nearly a full recovery. He still has some emotional scars that may never go away, but overall, he knows he is safe now. He knows he is loved now. You can see his whole story at A Voice For Braveheart. He is still supported by TSR La Baby Mommas rescue in Shreveport, La and attends events to promote “Adopt, don’t shop”, spay/neuter programs, pet education and animal abuse awareness. Although Brave was originally intended to be a foster, we knew differently after he was suddenly taken from us during the custody battle. We knew immediately when we got him back, we would never let him leave our home. He is a part of our family and he has found his forever home.”

As I said, there is a happy ending.

Look at Brave now:

brave4

The next court date for Brave’s abuser comes up this week and the community will be supporting Braveheart and the Spataro family in a quiet, respectful presence in the courtroom.   A while back someone asked Bo if it wouldn’t be an important statement if he took Brave into the courtroom with him and Bo had a wonderful answer that could not have been more perfect.  He said he would never consider doing such a thing because he does not ever want Brave to have to look into the eyes or ever see his abuser again.  All he should know from now on is love and security.

Again, as April is Prevention Against Cruelty to Animals Month, I ask you to take a moment and read Brave’s story.  This isn’t just a local news story; there are stories like Brave’s all over the country.  Please donate to your local animal rescue organizations and always adopt, don’t shop, when you’re ready for a pet.  Work in your communities to strengthen laws against animal abuse.

To me, the story of Braveheart shows the best and the worst of human nature.  I can’t imagine leaving a puppy chained to a car in a hot storage building in over 100 degree heat with no water just to die.  That is an abominable act.  But I also think that there are more of us on the other side – on the side of love and compassion.  Thank goodness for people like the Spataros who will not only fight to save a dog from a situation like that and then go on to share their story and work as ambassadors for good.  Braveheart now attends many adoption events in the community and goes to local schools to help educate kids about caring for pets.

Thanks for indulging me on this non-political post, but I really wanted to share this story with you.  If we don’t give a voice to abused and mistreated animals, who will?

You can follow Braveheart’s continuing journey here.

 

(Note:  I redacted the name of Braveheart’s alleged abuser in the post above because although he is formally charged he is not yet convicted.)

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and has three rescue dogs.

By Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — A couple of weeks ago I posted that it had been “a tough week to be Mary Landrieu.”  I probably should have waited until this week to use that title.  There seems to be very little good news for the embattled Senator in the news this week.

Early in the week Clare Foran at The National Journal wrote about the abandonment of Senator Landrieu by the environmentalists.  “They just can’t stand her stance on global warming,” Foran says.

In the past year, only one environmental organization has donated to her campaign. The Baton Rouge-based Center for Coastal Conservation gave Landrieu a $2,500 nod, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense Fund have handed over a combined contribution of exactly nothing. All three groups declined to comment on the record when asked whether they would endorse Landrieu.

Louisiana is peppered with oil and gas wells; we have just under two dozen petroleum refineries.  And Landrieu is savvy enough to know that these are important jobs votes in her pocket.  She has to walk a fine line.

Which brings us to what is really going on with Mary Landrieu’s campaign.

Louisiana attorney, and occasional fill-in host for local conservative talk show host Moon Griffon, Paul Hurd has a post at The Dead Pelican which makes very clear the challenges Senator Landrieu faces and what her campaign staff is attempting to do about it:

The Landrieu machine’s new snake oil is the assertion that Senator Landrieu is too valuable to Louisiana and the Oil and Gas Industry as the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee to let her get beat and have the Energy Committee controlled by pro-energy independent Republicans. This is the new political Hadicol being sold to the masses in Louisiana.

As we all know, Landrieu has a new plum position as head of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The Washington Post sang the same tune about the angry environmentalists back in February:

Landrieu favors building the Keystone XL pipeline, protecting tax breaks or incentives for oil drilling, and placing limits on the power of federal agencies to set mercury or carbon dioxide guidelines for coal-fired power plants. Wyden takes the opposite position on all those issues.

Landrieu supports giving oil companies the right to export crude oil as well as natural gas, while Wyden supports giving natural gas export permits on a case by case basis and does not have a public position on crude oil exports.

The Louisiana Democrat helps maintain the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, but she is closer to the oil and gas industry than most other members of her party.

Au contraire, says Paul Hurd (emphasis mine):

Let’s look at voting record of Senator Landrieu and the members of the Senate Energy Committee, grouped by Democrats in control now, compared to the Republican members who would gain control of energy policy with the defeat of Senator Landrieu. One way to compare voting records is to use scorecards of business and the radical conservationists to see who supports energy growth and who does not. The League of Conservation Voters is a typical, extreme environmental advocacy group that takes every stand possible to prevent America from producing clean, abundant and American energy. Its Action Plans includes “Speaking out against the XL Keystone Pipeline,” “Protecting Us from Toxic Coal Ash” and “Support for Climate Change Action.” Their position is unrepentant destruction of the hydro-carbon based energy industry in America, and that means the destruction of Louisiana’s economy.

In contract, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a middle of the road, pro-business lobbying group that recognizes the need for clean and affordable production of energy in America to support our own economic growth and avoid shipping energy dollars to China and the Middle East to fund our global adversaries. And for Louisiana, royalty checks spend just fine in Louisiana.

Each of these groups provide a scorecard for the votes taken by our federal Congressmen and Senators. What these scorecards show is clear and remarkable. The average rating by the League of Conservation for 2013 for the twelve Democratic members of the Energy Committee is an astounding 91%, while the ten Republican members average a Conservation Voter rating of only 16%. In contrast, the Chamber of Commerce provides an average rating of the Democratic members of the Committee of 50%, while the Republican members of the Committee score an average of 91%. In short, these ratings by business and environmental groups show that continued Democratic control of the Senate Energy Committee promises Louisiana and America continuing government suppression of independent energy production in Louisiana and in America.

What all this means is that Mary Landrieu knows that she is in trouble.  She is scrambling to do whatever it takes to deflect discussion of her Obamacare vote even to the point of now trying to act like she wants to amend it.  She’s spent the better part of 18 months trying to distance herself from the Obama circus.  It’s not working for me.

Remember in April 2010?  She was “a vociferous defender” of Obamacare and even told one Morgan City businessman who was worried about having to lay off employees to “live with it.”  But now we’re supposed to believe she isn’t happy with it.

Quite honestly, I wish she’d read the Obamacare bill before she took that $300 million kickback for it.  Vote for it now and fix it later?  Nah.  I don’t think so.  That’s just transparent politicking and I’ve no respect for that.

And now we’re supposed to believe she is a vociferous defender of Louisiana’s oil and gas industry.

Riiiight.

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By  Pat Austin

Hillary Clinton is still being coy about a 2016 presidential run.  When asked at a student conference in Tempe, AZ this week, Clinton said she is “obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions.”

I think it is inevitable that she will run; I think the inevitability of it is too much for her to resist. Assuming that, it seems more important than ever that we remember Benghazi 2011 and continue the fight to determine what really happened there.  It is certainly an issue that will come up should a Clinton 2016 campaign actually happen.

There are still far too many questions about what really happened in Benghazi.  What we know for certain is that four Americans were killed in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

We know that in the aftermath, then U. N. Ambassador Susan Rice made the Sunday talk show rounds for the purpose of reiterating the administrations talking points that the Benghazi attack was the result of an obscure YouTube video.

Recently, Donald Rumsfeld spoke to Breitbart TV and placed the blame for Benghazi right where it should have been all along:  on Hillary Clinton:

In this instance, there was widespread knowledge, as was pointed out by Congressman Issa, the British knew that there were al-Qaeda threats, and they pulled their people out because they knew they couldn’t protect them.”

“Our people knew there were al-Qaeda threats, and they not only did not protect them, but they didn’t pull them out. That, in my view, is a neglect of important responsibilities. The idea that it falls to someone down the line, I think, is a misunderstanding. Clearly, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the person responsible.”

 It is unconscionable to think that she is somehow not responsible for the death of those four men in Benghazi.  How is it possible that she was unaware of the lack of security at the consulate?  At best, if in fact she had no idea, it is a dereliction of duty on her part and should certainly preclude her from consideration as our Commander in Chief.

The entire Benghazi fiasco was a shameful enterprise from beginning to end; why was that consulate in place at all?  Why not in Tripoli?  Why were we using unarmed Libyans to guard the consulate?  How were they supposed to ward off an attack with bats?  Why were requests for increased security ignored?

For her part, during Congressional testimony Secretary of State Clinton denied knowledge of any cables requesting assistance.  Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) posed the question:

McCaul:  …Similar to September the 11th, 2001, there were warning signs prior to Benghazi September 11th. There was an April 6th, 2012 crude IED thrown over the wall of the U.S. facility in Benghazi. On May 22nd, 2012, Red Cross building in Benghazi hit by two RPGs. The brigades of the imprisoned Blind Sheikh took responsibility for that attack. On June 6th, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was targeted by an IED (inaudible) a big hole in the perimeter wall. Again, the Blind Sheikh brigade taking credit.

And then on August 16th, we have this cable that’s been widely reported — a classified State Department cable warning that the Benghazi consulate could not withstand a coordinated attack. And the regional security officer believed our consulate could not be protected at an emergency meeting less than one month before the attack on 9/11.

A contingency plan was supposedly drafted to move the operations to the CIA annex about a mile away from the compound. This cable is presumed to have been shared by senior staff. It was sent to your office. It was sent to the NSC. And even on September 11th, the day Ambassador Stevens was killed, he personally warned about, quote, “a growing problem with security in Benghazi and growing frustration with security forces and the Libyan police.”

Were you aware of this cable — this August 16th cable?

CLINTON: Congressman, that cable did not come to my attention. I have made it very clear that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level where the ARB placed responsibility. Where, as I think Ambassador Pickering said, “the rubber hit the road.”

How is that possible?

Taken in conjunction with Clinton’s infamous “What difference, at this point, does it make,” it’s easy to understand why she never saw a cable, never followed up on it, and to this day passes the buck to others.

In recently unclassified documents, it is clear that the Benghazi attack was not about a video at all. General Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, made it clear that his command considered it “a terrorist attack,” information he shared with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Yet Susan Rice went out and told the American people this was about a video.  Why was Susan Rice even out on the talk circuit at all?  Shouldn’t that have fallen to Secretary of State Clinton?  Could it be that Clinton just didn’t want those video clips used in Republican ads in 2016?  When asked, Rice said that Clinton had had a bad week, been under stress, and therefore she willingly picked up the slack.

Just the kind of woman we need for president, eh?  Lies to Congress, ignores cables from diplomatic outposts, passes the buck to underlings, and collapses under stress.

I doubt very seriously that Clinton was asked about Benghazi in Tempe this week.  While one young student asked, “If you don’t represent women in politics in America as a future president, who will?” I really wish she had asked “If you don’t tell us the truth about Benghazi, who will?”

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

It has not been a particularly good week to be Mary Landrieu.  Two statewide polls have found that the incumbent Senator is running behind challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Hickman Analytics has Cassidy up 46-42 while earlier this year Rasmussen conducted a poll and found Landrieu trailing Cassidy 44-40.

Rabid Democrat and NOLA contributor Robert Mann suggests in a column this week that Landrieu may lose her election, but it won’t be because of her Obamacare vote.  Obamacare, he brightly contends, “is working”!  In fact, he says, Democratic candidates should campaign full throttle on Obamacare!

 

Wonderful advice, I think:

Perhaps one lesson for Landrieu and other Democrats is that they must effectively and aggressively champion the health care law to the party’s base, not just meekly defend it

Absolutely excellent advice. I hope all the Democrats across the nation campaign on Obamacare.  Really, I think that would work out very well.

Voters in Louisiana are tired of Katrina Mary and her Obamacare kickback.  Louisiana Purchase Mary had a backroom deal in the Obamacare vote in which she was bought for $300 million in Medicaid funding and also got national Democratic support for her brother’s mayoral campaign.  Mitch Landrieu won his mayoral race in February with 64% of the vote.

Mary Landrieu has won three Senate elections in Louisiana; she’s been there since 1997, which is quite long enough, I think.  While she does have serious name recognition in Louisiana I think that this time that won’t work in her favor.  Rep. Cassidy is the first real serious challenger for Landrieu.  As Brian Hughes at the Washington Examiner points out, Landrieu has always had weak opponents and has still managed to barely squeak out wins.

After her Obamacare vote her poll numbers plummeted.  Despite Bob Mann’s head-in-the-sand perspective (“The very idea that Obamacare is unpopular is wrong,” he says!)  Louisiana voters in the majority dislike the monstrous bill and many of us recognized early on that it was doomed to failure because of its overreach into our lives and because of the lies around which is was sold (“You can keep your doctor!).  Really, who ever believed that one?

All that being said, Landrieu will not go without a fight.  She has taken out lots of ad time and will have much nationwide Democratic support (translate: dollars) behind her.  Rep. Cassidy will need financial support and a good turnout to defeat her.

But, I think it can be done.  It’s time for Landrieu to consider retirement.  I’m sure Obama will have a nice ambassador job for her somewhere.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

Among the many topics covered during CPAC this year has been a good, hard look at Common Core.  Here, on this blog, Lady Liberty does an excellent job covering Common Core topics.  From my point of view, I’m glad to see CPAC and other conservative groups taking a hard look at the monstrosity that is Common Core.

My perspective is that of a classroom teacher; I teach high school English.  While I recognize that the stated intentions behind Common Core are good, I’m not sure I trust the stated intentions.  The oft quoted rationalization behind Common Core is that schools should be teaching the same basic standards across the country:  a kid in Alaska needs to know long-division at the same time a kid in Florida does.  Theoretically this will help kids who move from one school or state to another..

That being said, there’s a whole lot more to Common Core as we all know.  Michelle Malkin has done an excellent job in bringing much of this to light, as has the Heritage Foundation, among others.

My gripe with Common Core at this point is personal.  I resent that it takes all of the decision making out of the hands of the classroom teacher and the local school districts.  Case in point:  for years in tenth grade English I have taught To Kill a Mockingbird.  With the advent of Common Core, TKAM has been bumped down to the ninth grade reading list.  I’m told that “really it’s an eighth grade level book.”  It seems that the Lexile level of To Kill a Mockingbird just isn’t high enough (rigor!) for tenth grade.  Last summer we were given a new reading list from which to choose new novels.  For tenth grade the list is a selection of “world literature” which includes titles such as My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Hosseini, and The Life of Pi by Martell, among others.

Oh, there’s a few classics still there such as The Grapes of Wrath.and Twelve Angry Men.  But, if we’re going to talk about Lexile levels and complex, rigorous text, Twelve Angry Men is not exactly difficult reading.  When I brought up this point, it was suggested that it’s not just the text itself that must be rigorous, but “what you can bring in and do with it.”

Which brings me back to To Kill a Mockingbird.  Why can’t a teacher of any grade level for that matter bring in complex side readings to raise the rigor of any text?  Furthermore, what of the teacher who has a high school class with an average reading level of about fifth grade?  Not that we need to teach down to that, but how frustrated is a kid with a third grade reading level going to be trying to read The Grapes of Wrath or One Hundred Years of Solitude?

As another example, Julius Caesar is not on the reading lists anymore at all.  In tenth grade it’s been replaced with Macbeth (which previously had been grade 12) and the twelfth grade Shakespeare is now Hamlet (which kids will read again in college.)  I’m told this is non-negotiable.  I’m told that Macbeth is more rigorous than Caesar.  Did Shakespeare really sit down and decide to write Macbeth at a higher Lexile level than Caesar?  I’m dumbfounded.

There is an entire generation of kids that will now never know what the ides of March means.

The point of all this is simply that all of this decision making is no longer in the hands of the districts or the schools themselves, not to mention the teacher.  Among the many problems with Common Core, it treats kids as if they are all the same and function on the same level.  Many of the novels are new “touchy feeley” nonsense or are just downright inappropriate as we have seen.

Am I bitter because they’ve ripped my beloved To Kill a Mockingbird from my chalk covered fingers?  You bet I am.  I’ll continue to fight for the American classic until my dying breath.  And I will continue to fight for excellence and high standards in education as well.  But the bottom line in all of this is that the federal government should have no say in the matter.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By Pat Austin

I’m missing Ronald Reagan today.

It seems inconceivable to me that we have fallen to such low regard in the world, with our weak, inept leaders, that Russia is once again spitting in our face and laughing behind our back.  It could not be more clear that Vladimir Putin thinks that President Obama is a schmuck who is so self-absorbed with his own celebrity and so far diminished as a leader that all pretense of peace and goodwill are now out the window. I dare say that Putin would not have taken the aggressive steps he is now taking if we had a strong, effective leader like Reagan at the helm.

A couple of weeks ago, Peggy Noonan wrote:

The world is watching. Part of the story in Ukraine is that the people are rebelling against their elites, which have cozied up to Russia for their own purposes. We won’t be seeing less of this kind of thing in the future but more. Don’t we want to be understood to be on the right side of that battle?

You can thank the Obama voters for this new aggressive Russia: the kumbaya-singing, hand-wringing, peaceniks who are so determined to make sure America is not seen as an occupier and a bully.  “Why should we care what happens in Russia?”, they think.  They can’t see the connection.  Certainly Obama can’t see any need to intervene; remember Iran in 2009?  Obama would not dare do anything (but blather in televised speeches on his way to a fundraiser) about Russia’s power grab in the Ukraine lest he be perceived as a war-monger.

Noonan, again:

I think our leaders are now so anxious about appearing to support entangling America in another conflict that they’ve become afraid to voice full-throated support for those who fight for principles completely in line with our own—the right of people to choose their own economic and governmental arrangements, and their right to resist any illegitimate limiting of their freedoms.

Certainly between John Kerry and Barack Obama, Putin must be quaking in his “fur-lined boots,” as Charles Krauthammer said this week.  While Obama pretends to be “gravely concerned” over Putin’s aggression, John Kerry is talking with George Stephanopoulos and declaring that “all options are on the table.”  Certainly Putin is not in the least concerned that these two clowns will fight over Crimea.

Obama and Putin have always had … let’s just say an edgy relationship.  Rather like two men playing a game of Rook while smoking cigars and sipping wine.  But Putin has never been deluded by Obama like many American voters have been.  Putin has always seen Obama for the weak, spineless pseudo-leader that he is; Obama has always wanted to be perceived as cerebral and intelligent:  smart power!  But right now, today, Putin is the one who appears stronger.  And Obama voters are getting exactly what they wished for.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”

Ronald Reagan would weep if he could see this.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.