By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  The only thing we know for sure about the 2016 presidential election is that Obama is not running.  (Wait, we do know that, right?)

The pundits have been buzzing for months about whether Mitt Romney will try one more time in 2016; adding some flame to the fire is Romney’s conversation with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Wallace tried to nail Romney down on a commitment to run and couldn’t do it:

WALLACE: Governor, let me — let me look to the future because voters seem willing to give you another chance. There was a “USA Today” poll just a couple weeks ago of Iowa voters in which you swamped the field there. You had 35 percent. Huckabee was second with 9 percent, and the rest of the field trailed after that. And recently, you gave an interview, and when asked about running again, you gave a whole lot of reasons why not, but then you also said circumstances can change.

Question, what does that mean?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, I spoken on this topic so many times. I don’t really have anything new to add, Chris. I’m not running. I’m not planning on running.

And yet, there’s still the “is he, isn’t he” dialogue.

Althouse has parsed the whole conversation and she thinks he’s running:

It’s time for someone else… but what if no one else materializes? What if the baton just lays there, unpicked up? Is he willing to pick it up? He says “time” twice, speaking in the present tense, but that leaves it open that some time from now, if no one else comes forward, he will be there, ready to serve. He would love it!

Wallace takes another approach:

WALLACE: You mentioned Hillary Clinton. Do you think you’d make a better president than Hillary Clinton?

ROMNEY: No question about that in my mind. The American people may disagree with me. But, look, you’ve got to get this economy going.

At this point, I think I said out loud: He is running. He’s making a pitch for why he’s better than the presumptive candidate of the other party. And he’s raring to go…

Marc Thiessen thinks a Romney run would be a terrible, no good, very bad thing:

Why would Republicans want to relive that debacle? Mitt Romney is an utterly decent man who certainly would have been a much better president than Barack Obama. But he was given a golden opportunity to save the United States from a second Obama term and blew it.

Do Republicans really want to count on him to save the United States from Clinton’s first term?

Well, what are the other options?

Cameron Joseph at The Hill looks at some “dark horse” options which include Mike Pence, John Bolton, John Kasich, and Dr. Ben Carson.  I’d call those veeeeryyyy long shots.

A recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll has Romney far and away the favorite Republican candidate in Iowa.  The next best option appears to be Huckabee.  When you look at the other possible contenders it looks like the same stable of tired old horses.

Speaking of tired, old horses, it also looks like if Clinton wants to run she has it all locked up.

Mitt Romney weighed in on Hillary, too:

You’ve also got to have people who’ve actually run something. The government of the United States is the largest enterprise in the world. You watched a president who just doesn’t understand how to make an administration work, how to interact with Congress, how to get things done. You have to have those things.

I don’t think Hillary Clinton has that experience. And I look for instance at her record as secretary of state, look, her record is Barack Obama’s record in foreign policy. And it’s a disaster.

The president went to Egypt and said we’re going to have this new wonderful relationship with the Muslim world, and now, the Middle East is burning. The president won’t even call the invasion by Russia into Ukraine an invasion. Look, if you can’t — if you can’t speak decisively, you can’t be decisive.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two peas in the same pod. And the American people have tasted that and have said, look, that’s not a good taste. It’s not right for the American people.

And so…where does that leave the Republicans?  Rand Paul?  Marco Rubio?  Ted Cruz? Paul Ryan?  Jeb Bush? Bobby Jindal?  Rick Perry?

Who will rise from the pack and assume the mantle of leader?  From where I sit, I’ve got grave doubts about most of the oft-mentioned names.

To be honest, I’m disgusted with them all.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — It seems like Senator Mary Landrieu just can’t catch a break; every week a new scandal.  She’s still battling the negative image of Flight Gate and now, as it turns out, she has a residency problem.

The Washington Post (of all things!) broke this story Thursday:

In Washington, Sen. Mary Landrieu lives in a stately, $2.5 million brick manse she and her husband built on Capitol Hill.

Here in Louisiana, however, the Democrat does not have a home of her own. She is registered to vote at a large bungalow in New Orleans that her parents have lived in for many decades, according to a Washington Post review of Landrieu’s federal financial disclosures and local property and voting records.

On a statement of candidacy Landrieu filed with the Federal Election Commission in January, she listed her Capitol Hill home as her address. But when qualifying for the ballot in Louisiana last week, she listed the family’s raised-basement home here on South Prieur Street.

Well, which is it, Mary?  And did you note that “she and her husband built…” part?  It’s no temporary condo she’s camped out in up in D.C.  That sounds pretty permanent to me.

On the heels of the Post story, the New York Times picked up the story the next day:

Bernie Pinsonat, a Louisiana pollster, said the question of Ms. Landrieu’s residency reminded him of a similar episode involving another Louisiana Democrat, former Senator John B. Breaux. Mr. Breaux had prepared to run for governor in 2007 but then abandoned the effort after the state attorney general refused to declare him a Louisiana citizen under the state’s Constitution.

“I don’t need a poll to tell that it doesn’t sit well with voters when public officials vacate Louisiana and don’t really live here anymore,” said Mr. Pinsonat, who works for both Democrats and Republicans. “I don’t know what will happen, but I don’t think it’s a positive revelation for her.”

And really, the New York Times story is particularly bad:  I can’t tell you had badly I DON’T want to know about Katrina Mary’s sleeping habits with her husband, but according to the Times article, we are to believe that when in Louisiana she returns to South Prieur Street and sleeps in a single bed in her childhood bedroom.

Seriously?

Now, former challenger Paul Hollis has filed suit over the residency issue and challenger Rob Maness has also cried foul:

Just hours before Friday’s 4:30 pm deadline, Republican candidate Rob Maness filed complaints with four Louisiana parish District Attorneys asking them to file legal challenges in state court to Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) candidacy in the November general election.

Mary’s biggest voting bloc comes from the New Orleans area where her family is entrenched and well known; her brother is the current mayor of NOLA.  But the rest of Louisiana is pretty tired of her and her long tenure in Louisiana.  She votes with Obama 97% of the time and in Louisiana Obama has a 55% disapproval rating.

Mary’s only prayer in Louisiana seems to rest on the hope that the Republican contenders in the primary split the vote enough for her to earn over 50% which is why some have called for the weakest link, Maness, to pull out of the race.  Of course, Maness is a Tea Party fave and has the endorsement of Sarah Palin, so he probably is in for the long haul, but his numbers are grim.  If Maness stays in, it won’t matter much if Mary charters planes to fly across New Orleans – she’ll win.

With that in mind, the scandals for Mary need to keep on coming.  She’s in one of the most vulnerable positions of her entire career.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride for her.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  I noted with some interest this week the suit between a California teacher and her union; Rebecca Friedrichs and ten of her colleagues are suing the NEA and its affiliate, the California Teachers Association to “obtain freedom from compelled support for unionism.”  Alec Torres wrote about this suit in December:

Over the past 26 years, Rebecca Friedrichs has been forced, as a condition of her employment, to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a private organization whose actions she largely does not support. As an elementary-school teacher in the Savanna School District of Buena Park, Calif., she has more than $1,000 automatically taken out of her salary every year and given to teachers’ unions. Faced with year after year of compulsory payments, Friedrichs is now on a path to end this union coercion.

California is not a “right to work” state and so Ms. Friedrichs and other teachers in her state are compelled to join a union.

A California teacher has filed a lawsuit against her union that claims she was cut off from benefits and from having a vote on the contract because she did not want her dues spent on political causes she did not support.

“There’s this undercurrent of fear and intimidation,” said Rebecca Friedrichs, whose suit seeks an exemption from union financial obligations since she is receiving no benefits from the union–political or non-political. “If you’re not in step with what the union’s doing, if you stand against it, you’re not a part of the club. You’re bullied. It’s very intimidating.”

In addition, she objects to the union’s involvement in political activities such as lobbying:

“What troubles me is the union is so involved in politics that they use our money to put a lot of those government officials into their jobs. Now the union is bargaining with officials who have been put in their spot by union money, and they’re union-friendly,” she said. “You have union-friendly officials on the other side, and taxpayers aren’t represented, and they’re bargaining with taxpayer money. I think that’s political.”

The suit, which you can read here,  hopes to overturn the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

For my part, I’m very sympathetic with Ms. Friendrichs.  I live in Louisiana and I have the right in my state to be a member of no union whatsoever if that’s my choice.

When I started teaching 18 years ago, I was young and stupid and joined NEA because my principal at the time said it was a good idea and that everyone should be a member of a “professional organization.”  I signed right on up and paid hefty dues that were drafted right out of my check every month.

I never thought much about it after that.

But in 2011 I saw the light; I got an email from NEA saying that not only were they endorsing Obama in 2012 (again) but that individual member donations to their PAC would be doubled to ensure his re-election.  I literally got nauseous and got on the phone to drop my membership as fast as I could.

I moved my membership to a non-political professional organization that focuses on education and teacher support rather than funding charlatan politicians.

Friedrichs believes that most teachers are apolitical and that the unions have lost focus:

Friedrichs said that the union might have an easier time recruiting teachers if it served the interests of the students, rather than its own coffers.

I don’t know about the apolitical part, but I agree with her that the purpose of the NEA should not be to handpick candidates or coerce affairs outside of the needs of the teachers and students.  As I said, they lost me when they took my dues to fund their own candidate choice, one to whom I was totally opposed.

I hope Friedrichs and her colleagues win their suit and that forced union membership dies.  It’s an infringement against one’s very basic right of free speech and choice.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – It hasn’t been a good week to be Mary Landrieu; she’s getting bad press throughout the state and now nationwide over her abuse of taxpayer funds to pay for her fundraising jaunts.  There are at least two events now in question that the Landrieu campaign must reimburse.

The distance from New Orleans, LA to Lake Charles is only about 205 miles.  In early November 2013, Senator Landrieu caught a ride on Air Force One with Obama from Washington to NOLA; Obama was on his way there for a fundraiser and she rode along.

In the second instance of what is now being called “Flight-Gate”, Landrieu billed taxpayers over $5,700 to fly from Shreveport to Dallas in September – about 300 miles.  The official story on that one is that she used a charter flight to get to Dallas so she could pick up a connecting flight and a fundraiser just popped up.  You know, fundraisers do that.  They just happen.  Conveniently.

When Senator Landrieu hitched that ride back to New Orleans in November, she had no intention of going to Obama’s fundraiser; it was just a cushy mode of travel for her to get back to a fundraiser of her own.   This, in and of itself, is a problem.

In New Orleans, she and Obama parted ways; he went to his fundraiser and she chartered a plane and flew 205 miles over to Lake Charles to get to her fundraiser.  The round trip charter flight cost taxpayers over $3,200.

CNN broke the story last Tuesday and, embarrassed, Landrieu’s campaign claimed it was all a big mistake, it wasn’t her fault, and that the charter company had billed Landrieu’s Senate office rather than the campaign.  It’s a good effort – the Blame-Someone-Else method works pretty well for Obama, so I can see why Landrieu would try it.

Landrieu spent more than $3,200 in taxpayer money to fly 400 miles round trip from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per person fundraising lunch with hundreds of women, according to Senate records and Landrieu campaign information. It is illegal to spend government money campaigning.

Landrieu’s campaign spokesman, Fabien Levy, said in a statement that the charter company mistakenly billed Landrieu’s Senate office instead of her re-election campaign. Levy said the campaign noticed the error a few weeks ago and asked the company to refund the Senate office and bill the campaign, which the company did. Levy said Landrieu’s re-election campaign paid for the flight August 4, almost nine months after the November 8 trip.

It took them nine months to figure out this “mistake”?  Not very good bookkeeping, is it?

Using taxpayer money for campaigning is a rookie error; Mary Landrieu has been in political office since 1980 (that’s 34 years!) starting out as a Louisiana Representative and then she served eight years as Louisiana State Treasurer where one would assume she might pick up the fine details of campaign finance somewhere along the way.

And what of that flight with Obama in November?  Senator Landrieu’s reason for returning to NOLA in November was to attend a “long-standing” campaign event in Lake Charles.  So she used Air Force One to get to a campaign event?  And that’s ethical?  Why shouldn’t she have to pay back that money, too?

It’s an issue that bears investigation.

Senator Landrieu is already fighting the image of Frequent Flyer Mary and has racked up some $47,000 in charter flights for “official Senate duties” – a problem Senator David Vitter doesn’t seem to have:

For instance, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, spent $47,000 on charter flights in 2013, including a $5,500 round trip flight between New Orleans and Lake Charles, La., 200 miles to the west. Landrieu spokesman Matthew Lehner said chartering planes allowed the senator to reach more areas of the state more quickly.

“This alleviates the need for multi-day stopovers and maximizes the senator’s interaction with her constituents,” he said.

But Republican David Vitter, the other Louisiana senator, reported no charter flights. His spokesman, Luke Bolar, said the senator always flies commercial and drives rather than flies around Louisiana.

And if all this kerfuffle wasn’t enough to give Katrina Mary a major headache, Representative Bill Cassidy announced that his campaign now boasts a larger war chest than that of the Landrieu camp.

Rep. Cassidy sent out an email Thursday which announced that his campaign has $5.6 million on hand.  The same day, the Cassidy campaign also sent out an email criticizingv Landrieu who “illegally billed taxpayers $5,700 for a flight from Shreveport to Dallas for a campaign fundraiser last September.”

Rep. Cassidy cited this Senate travel ethics rule:

Expenses for mixed purpose travel must be pro-rated on a reasonable basis to accurately reflect the purpose of the trip.

The Landrieu campaign only agreed to reimburse charges after they were caught.

Make no mistake, this scandal will cost Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.  She’s in a very close race as it is, and with $5.6 million dollars at their disposal, the Cassidy campaign is going to hammer her hard on this one.

Most people in Louisiana were sick of her after Huirricane Katrina, then the Obamacare kickback came along, and now this.  Nothing against Col. Rob Maness, but if he’d pull out of this race I think Cassidy can defeat Landrieu and that would be good for Louisiana but even better for the rest of the country.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Steve Eggleston wrote earlier this week on this blog about the fast approaching death of newsprint and reported on several media spin-off deals.  It’s an interesting read.

The fall of the newspaper is sad to me.  With it comes the fall of the old-fashioned journalist.  The newspaper guy.  The shoe-leather-journalist is the guy with the steno pad in his hand, or a note pad in his shirt pocket along with a couple of pens.  He’s probably got a tape recorder in his other hand, or maybe an app downloaded on his phone that records.  True journalism is a dying art.

Some, like Stacy McCain, continue to plug away at it and are willing to jump in the car and go wherever the story takes them.  It’s a dying art.

With the fall of the newspaper we rely now on digital media for our news, for the most part.  The internet has replaced the thick newspaper that used to lie at your curb every morning.  Remember paper boys?  They rode bikes with canvas bags over their handlebars; the bags were loaded down with newspapers they had picked up at a drop-off point somewhere.  Eventually, as America spread out into suburbs, the paperboy on a bike was replace with a paperboy in a car.  I was nearly decapitated one morning as our delivery guy whizzed my Sunday edition over the roof of his car with lethal accuracy.

I loved settling down to a real newspaper every morning with a cup of coffee, the ink smearing my fingertips black.  I used to read three papers a day – I subscribed to our local paper, the USA Today, and The New York Times.  That’s back when they were all worth reading.  I’m dating myself.

A couple of weeks ago I bought my first local paper in probably three years.  It was smaller than I remember – much smaller.  It was thinner, too.  In fact, I did a double take through the paper to be sure it was all there.  Once I removed the grocery store circulars and the box store ads, there wasn’t much left to see.  Even worse, the whole thing cost three times more than it did three years ago.

From a practical perspective, it makes perfect sense why the physical newspaper is fast becoming a relic from the past.  In a world where news breaks on Twitter in 140-characters, where Drudge plays with our perception of the news, and where Facebook makes sharing stories instantaneous, how in the world could a lowly newspaper compete?

Be that as it may, I still miss the paper and ink.

By Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —   Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is demanding answers.

Governor Jindal, angry at learning via a website that Louisiana is now housing over 1,000 Central American illegals, has fired off a letter to the Obama administration demanding answers.

He’d like to know, among other things, where the children are:

Jindal wants to know where the children are living, the timeline for determining their ultimate status and whether the federal government plans to kick in dollars for their education and health care. He also wants to know how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decided where to place them.

These are legitimate questions.  Louisiana schools are starting over the next couple of weeks and presumably these kids will be enrolling in school, some possibly even participating in the “free lunch” program.

Also of specific concern to Governor Jindal is the Louisiana hurricane season which runs from June 1 through November.  Here, in Shreveport, Hirsch Coliseum was contacted about housing some of the illegals although it was not an “official” inquiry according to Chris Giordano of the Louisiana State Fair who owns the Hirsch.

What is stunning to me is that Barksdale Air Force Base was contacted about housing these kids.  Barksdale’s Global Strike Command has been proposed as a four-star command which raises the profile of the base significantly.  It would be most unlikely, given the sensitive nature of the mission and the strategic aircraft on base, that the base would be able to house these kids.

Though Jindal found out about the illegal Louisiana migration via a website, there does seem to be some dispute or confusion about how many there actually are.  The website lists 1,071 in Louisiana, but Senator David Vitter contends that there are over 3,000 illegal immigrants in the state.

As Congress flounders then goes on recess, Obama prepares to tackle illegal immigration through executive order.  Nothing good can come of this.

Love him or hate him, Rick Perry is right to stand up and attempt to defend the border.  Perry has called up his National Guard and vows that other resources are available to him as needed to control the flood of illegals coming into the country.  Candy Crowley asked Perry about the cost of deploying the National Guard to the border but in the overall scheme of things, it’s probably a cost well justified.  Governor Perry contends that crime has skyrocketed in his state.

Possibly Governor Perry and Governor Jindal need to get together and coordinate a plan to protect both states.

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

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Sarah Palin is an eternal optimist.

In her most recent Facebook post, she challenges The Washington Post (and the mainstream media) to “get back to work.”

Looking back to the days of Watergate and true investigative journalism, Governor Palin writes:

Today, you’ve fallen like a lead balloon. Whereas you once doggedly covered the 18.5 minute gap in Nixon’s White House communications, you’ve virtually ignored the Obama Administration’s 1.2 million minutes of deleted communications by just one of the agencies under Obama’s executive branch. I’m speaking of the Lois Lerner IRS harassment-of-conservatives scandal wherein Lerner “lost” pertinent email communications. You’ve allowed Obama to skate with his proclamation that absolutely no wrongdoing occurred at the IRS, “not even a smidgen.”

The list of Obama abuses and impeachable offenses is long. I challenge you to lift a finger and help protect democracy, allow justice for all, and ensure domestic tranquility by doing your job reporting current corrupt events fairly. If not, you prove yourselves incompetent and in bed with Obama, not caring one iota about media integrity.

Well of course they don’t care about “media integrity.”  And by “they” I am referring to legacy media in general.  They proved long ago that there would be no investigation or challenging of Obama.  This president has never produced the most basic documents pertaining to his background to include his education papers and records which one would think would be pretty good considering he is supposed to be the smartest president evah.

I think this beating of the “impeachment” drum is pointless.  Of course the man is incompetent and of course he should have been impeached long ago, but I don’t see any future in such an action at this time.  It won’t get him out of office.

What we, as conservatives, need to focus on is taking the Senate and holding on to the House.  We need to concentrate on stopping the damage.  Cauterize the wound.

You can be sure the media will cover the vacation to Martha’s Vineyard and the parties with celebrities even if they could care less when it comes to finding answers about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the VA scandal, and the IRS/Lois Lerner mess.   Michelle’s most recent magnificent dress must be covered.  Fashion icon!  Trust the legacy media to focus on what’s important….no?

Governor Palin’s optimism that the Post will rise to her challenge is admirable, but probably ill-fated.  Small bloggers have been working to expose this man for the feckless incompetent dimwit that he is since 2008; it would be truly refreshing, albeit shocking, if the legacy media did the same.  I’m not holding my breath.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — I’ve been following the border crisis story with interest for some time now, and as I was doing some research for a post on SIGIS yesterday, a disturbing pattern began to emerge.

Not that it’s any surprise, but the feds are, almost without exception, extremely secretive about where the illegal Central American refugees are being relocated.  Not just that, but it seems that the entire “medical screening” process has “broken down.”

What to make of this?

In many cases local and state governments aren’t even being consulted or made aware of incoming aliens (and I call them illegal aliens because they aren’t, in fact, refugees as defined by federal code.)

Consider this letter written last week by Florida State Surgeon General John Armstrong; an excerpt:

The Florida Department of Health has received unconfirmed reports that the federal government is bringing unaccompanied minors from the border to Florida today. On July 17, we received unconfirmed information that dozens of children were being brought by plane into Miami on Friday. This same day, ABC news reported that “the federal government is so overwhelmed by the current tide of migrants crossing the border it cannot provide basic medical screening to all of these children before transporting them, often by air, to longer-term holding facilities across the country.” (Feds Struggling to Cope with Medical ‘Breakdown’ at the Border, ABC News, July 17, 2014.)

Many of these people are coming across the border with contagious illnesses and in some cases the agents working in these refugee centers aren’t going home to their own families at the end of the day in order to avoid spreading disease to their own children:

Multiple sources working out of Border Patrol stations throughout Texas have reported that due to fear that their families will contract one of the many diseases being seen at the facilities in a large number of the thousands of men, women and children coming across the border on a daily basis, many of the agents are no longer returning home when their shifts end. Unwilling to expose their own children to a host of highly contagious diseases, agents are reportedly renting rooms in local motels (at their own expense), rather than returning to their homes.

It’s not just the state of Florida that is concerned; in Louisiana, Representative Fleming and Representative Bill Cassidy are among members of the state’s congressional delegation that have requested health status information and have attempted to find out how many and where any of these immigrants are being placed in Louisiana.

So far, the government isn’t saying much about where these illegals are going or about their medical status.

The eruption of weekend protests across the nation indicates that most Americans want these questions answered before these people take up residence in their neighborhoods or enroll in the local schools this fall.

And despite the kumbaya-they’re-just-innocent-children attitude of people like Amelia Ruiz Fischer at the Texas Civil Rights Project

“What it really comes down to is xenophobia and racism,” said Amelia Ruiz Fischer, a lawyer at the Texas Civil Rights Project, a nonprofit law firm that works on issues including immigration. “That might sound like a pretty extreme way to characterize it, but why else would you not want children who are not public safety risks and who are fleeing their countries trying to save their lives — why else wouldn’t you want them housed?”

…I think most parents want to first ensure the safety and health of their own families.  The government now needs to take this concern to heart as well.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As reported here a few weeks ago, Michael Vick came to Shreveport last night to record a comedy show at The Strand Theater.  When news of the event first broke, local animal rights, animal rescue, and animal advocate groups were outraged that the esteemed and venerable Strand Theater would allow the convicted animal abuser through the doors.

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(Photo courtesy of Bo Spataro)

Emily Daye set up a Facebook page “Protest Michael Vick Coming to The Strand Theater” (the page was deleted after the event) which generated a great deal of interest not just locally, but around the world.  Over 700 people vowed to protest Vick either in person or in spirit. Group members from all over the world changed their avatars yesterday to an orange ribbon protesting animal abuse.

Local debate about Vick’s appearance quickly grew heated in the weeks leading up to the event; many tried to make it a racial thing.  It seemed to me that the media was fanning the flames.  One of the issues the protest organizers took close to heart was that Vick never actually served time for animal abuse:

Local activist Lindsey Fertitta wrote:

I hear all the time that Vick served his time for his crimes but that’s the thing, he never served a day in jail for his involved with the dog fighting ring.  He served his time for Federal Racketeering ONLY and was found in contempt of court for lying to the judge. He plead “Not Guilty” to Animal Cruelty despite all the evidence that proved he was guilty on the heinous acts.

Another group, one supporting Michael Vick and advocating forgiveness, also vowed to show up at the protest.  Their main contention was that Vick “served his time” and should be forgiven.  The “Michael Vick Forgiveness Rally” garnered about thirty supporters in front of the theater last night; some hinted at racial undertones in the protest against Vick:

“The truth is, it’s the venue. The Strand versus the Municipal,” said Marcus Franklin, standing with the Michael Vick Forgiveness Rally. “Most African-Americans have their shows at the Municipal Auditorium.” He said a sign held by someone across the street, who was white, saying “Why Strand Why?” sent a message that carried racial undertones.

By the time of the protest, about 30 people attended the Forgiveness rally at show time while those who showed up to protest Vick’s appearance numbered just over 100.

To me, the real story is that with all the vitriolic words and racial tension leading up to the event, in the end it came off perfectly peaceful and worked just as things like this should.  Both sides were able to express their opinions, nobody got hurt, and most amazingly, at one point the two groups came together:

 

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Coming Together. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Fertitta)

Loraine Guerrero with the Protest Vick group said afterward:

Last night there were a very few who tried to make our peaceful protest into a racial thing. Well we want to let you know that the majority of the protesters on the other side of us were not supportive of this racial thing. They were very warm and friendly. They even came over and offered us water and hugs, telling us that everyone has the right to their opinion and they respected that, as do we. Thank you to all of those that offered us understanding ( and water on such a hot day) .

Regardless of how you feel about Michael Vick and what he did, and whether or not he has paid for it, it’s wonderful to know that free speech is still alive and well; even though some people tried to incite violence and hate while hiding behind their computers, when it came down to it, everyone exercised tolerance and understanding on both sides.

A beautiful thing.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

 

FORT SMITH, AR – I am on my way back to the deep South after a family vacation to the heartland of America; we went to the Midwest where in Iowa, for example,  many people don’t answer their phones because “it might be a politician.” They have answering machines still screening their calls. It’s a way of life.
Over the past ten days I have talked to people in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas, not to mention my home state of Louisiana, and I see a real pattern of frustration with big government and frustration with not only this Obama administration, but in general with the way this country is headed.
People in the heartland of America are hurting. While I certainly don’t pretend to speak for the Midwest in general (because there are definite pockets of liberalism – especially in college towns) what I saw and heard tends to give me hope that the tide is turning. People seem to be realizing that Obama and Hillary are not working in their favor.
In Texas, for example, I spoke to a woman who used to have health care coverage through an independent plan and now does not have any medical coverage; she signed up for Obamacare but her doctor won’t take it. She’s almost eligible for Medicare but who knows who will take that. In the meantime she has nothing.
And she is very nervous. Mind you: her previous coverage was just fine, thank you. Then Obamacare changed everything.
As I moved more to the Midwest, I saw more and more people who were hurting for different reasons. In the farming communities I saw people struggling to survive as their small towns dry up. The culprit there is not Obamacare but it’s a more entrenched problem: hyper-capitalism. Even in the smallest town in Iowa, for example, the downtown of the town is shuttered while on the outside of town, closer to the interstate, the Wal-Mart (aka: China goods) is thriving.
The mom and pop stores are gone. That means American jobs are lost.

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Cows

In the heartland, the little grocery stores, drug stores, and community center shops where one used to meet friends, socialize, shop, and visit, are dying; people go to WalMart.
To me, it’s just sad. I drove through countess towns over the past ten days where shops are shuttered and people have vacant looks on their faces as they ponder what the future holds for them.
As small businesses are swallowed up by corporations and corporations move operations overseas to strive for the almighty dollar and make a profit, the fabric of America is coming unraveled.
I wish more people would come out of the skyscrapers, cookie-cutter suburbian homes, and the cities, and visit small town America. It’s a beautiful place. When is the last time YOU stood in a pasture as rain fell about you and curious cows walked up to you to see what you were doing there?
When is the last time you went to a Farmer’s Market in a little town? One that had maybe ten tents but it was the best they could do and everyone not only knew each other but knew each other’s parents and grandparents; where you felt a sense of connectedness?
The heartland of America is alive and well; they are struggling and they are hurting, but there is a spirit there that will never, ever die. In those small towns? tThey are fighting against WalMart when they can; when they can they support the local guy. There are local franchises and companies that are making jobs.
And as far as that Obamacare business? From the signs I’ve seen, the heartland is done with that. They’re ready to get back to their roots and take care of themselves.
We still have a long row to hoe, but I think that the Mother Ship America is ready to right herself and set sail on a course of a prosperous future: one of self-reliance, small government, and independence. The only problem, of course,, is getting the left and east coast to figure out that there is more to America that Starbucks and subway transportation.
Much more.
Come to the heartland and see what real America is.

 

Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport