By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Mary Landrieu’s most threatening challenger didn’t show up for the debate at Dillard University last week.  On Thursday, Senator Mary Landrieu and challenger Rob Maness joined forces in hammering Republican Bill Cassidy who attended his own campaign event in Alexandria.  Maness and Landrieu took turns taking pot-shots at Cassidy:

Landrieu:

“Our opponent that is not here tonight, I used to think he was kind of afraid of me because I can be a little tough at times,” said Landrieu, a Democrat. “He’s afraid of the people of our state.”

Maness:

“No amnesty, no pathway to citizenship. Both of my opponents support either amnesty for illegal aliens or a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens,”

Cassidy was not present to refute the claims.

When approached about his absence, Cassidy said “a debate about a debate is silly.”  He does plan to attend the LPB debate Tuesday.

Meanwhile, at the debate that Cassidy skipped, both Landrieu and Maness weighed in on Obamacare:

Landrieu asserted, “[t]he Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it is working in many important ways.”

Maness, appearing in his first political debate ever, countered, “Obamacare is an abomination. One of my top priorities,” he added, “is not to repeal or defund it, but pull it out by the roots because it’s a job killer.”

People in Louisiana are talking about Obamacare this week as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, among other companies, announced double-digit rate increases:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, the state’s largest provider, filed papers that it is moving forward with its original plan to increases rates between 18.3 percent and 19.7 percent for policyholders in its Blue Saver, Blue Max and its Multi-State individual health plans. The plans cover 52,638 people.

In addition to BC/BS, Humana and Vantage plan to raise rates.

Mary says it’s working, though, no matter how expensive it is.

Maness stands little chance to win the election; his poll numbers are still dismal.  Every vote for Maness likely is a vote for Landrieu in the end result as each Maness vote would probably be a Cassidy vote were Maness not in the race.  Cassidy could win the election outright if Maness were to withdraw – an unlikely option.

Landrieu and her long-time Louisiana political machine are not to be trifled with and Cassidy should refrain from playing silly games with her.  Flipping that seat from blue to red is more important than any campaign event Cassidy thinks he might be more important than a public debate.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — The headlines read like Richard Preston’s 1995 non-fiction best-seller The Hot Zone

I read that book back in ’95 and have never forgotten it; I couldn’t find my copy this week as Ebola news started breaking from Dallas, so I downloaded it to my Kindle for a re-read.  I’m not alone – the Preston book is ranked #211 on Amazon right now.

This AP article reads very much like part of Preston’s book.  It’s terrifying.

What is equally terrifying is David Axelrod attempting to reassure me that the federal government has got a handle on this.

Seriously?

On Meet the Press this week, a smug and condescending Axelrod attempted to shut down Joe Scarborough when he voiced concerns that the government might be downplaying reason for concern:

The trouble began when Scarborough explained how he felt the government was deliberately downplaying the danger of a wide-scale Ebola outbreak in America. “This is a fire from hell, and if you think the Atlantic Ocean is going to stop it from coming over here, you’re kidding yourself,” he said, quoting an American doctor who survived the disease.

“I don’t want to disagree with Dr. Scarborough,” Axelrod said sarcastically, adding that health professionals in the U.S. government “have no motivation to mislead the American people.”

An offended Scarborough hit back. “I don’t understand that ‘Dr. Scarborough’ comment, I’ll be really honest with you,” he said. “This is a serious issue.”

I understand the need to reassure the public and I understand the need to quell panic, but some honesty and responsibility would be refreshing, for a change.

I mean, when you see crews power-washing Thomas Eric Duncan’s Ebola vomit off the parking lot presumably into the municipal water supply, it’s difficult to feel that people in charge have a real handle on how serious this could be.

When the feds are more cautious about cleaning up a mercury light-bulb than Ebola vomit, I’m a little worried.

They tell us that there won’t be an epidemic; no problem whatsoever, because it’s not that contagious.  You can only get it through transfer of bodily fluids.

That’s what they told us about HIV, too.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

SHREVEPORT — In our weekly Mary Landrieu report, we note that Keg-Stand-Mary thinks you need to just “get a life” if you were offended by her assist for a 28-year old guy doing a keg stand at last week’s LSU-Mississippi State game.

In a news conference this week, Mary said:

“They need to get a sense of humor, and they need to get a life — it’s just the way we roll,” the Louisiana Democrat said Monday during a news conference at the State Capitol…

Indeed, in an informal poll by the Times-Picayune, 49% of those responding don’t have a problem with a U.S. Senator funneling beer into a dude’s mouth at a tailgate event as he holds himself aloft by his hands on a beer keg.  38% think this is poor behavior for a Senator.

It IS Louisiana, after all!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

But seriously, Mary does have a voter problem; Louisiana political columnist Elliot Stonecipher takes a look at what he calls “the Maness effect” on the race in his column this week.  The conspiracy theorists wonder if Maness was “encouraged” to run by enemies of Rep. Bill Cassidy to split the primary vote thus giving favor to Landrieu.  Sarah Palin has come out for Tea Party favorite Maness, but Maness is still polling below 10%.  Even as Mary Landrieu fades in the wake of Residence-Gate and Keg-Gate, Cassidy is moving up in the polls while Maness stays about the same.

Stonecipher sees more noble motives in Maness:

Rob Maness is, as was the case from the moment of his entry into this race, the campaign’s designated spoiler. I do not believe he understood or expected such. Neither am I aware of any evidence that, as some politicos contend, Maness was recruited for this race by political enemies of Congressman Cassidy.

At the start, Maness, I prefer and choose to believe, felt he could run second to Senator Landrieu in the primary election, then go on to succeed her in the United States Senate. He and his supporters have steadfastly campaigned with the commitment and urgency befitting what they see as a winning cause.

The Democrats, for their part, see a path to victory as long as Maness stays in the race:

In Louisiana, Democrats believe their best shot at emerging victorious in the race is to win outright in November, taking advantage of a split between Cassidy and his main conservative foe, tea party challenger Rob Maness.

“The only pathway Republicans have to victory is through a runoff. We have a pathway to victory without a runoff that’s just it,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk.

The runoff — which would presumably unite Republicans behind one candidate — becomes a much more dangerous proposition for Landrieu and her party.

Which is why this blogger suggested weeks ago that Maness bow out.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

 

SHREVEPORT — In one of those “you’ve got to see it to believe it” moments, former Herman Cain spokeswoman and Louisiana girl Ellen Carmichael tweeted out this photo of Senator Mary Landrieu helping a guy get his buzz on in a keg-stand.

The photo was taken just prior to the LSU-Mississippi State football game Saturday during the tailgating festivities. kegstand1

What was she thinking?

Where was her press person?

I don’t know; maybe it’s a move intended to make her look “cool” and “hip.”  It’s not as if the fellow was underage; he reportedly is in his “late twenties” and enjoying the game with family and friends.

If you want to drink from a keg while standing on your head, I guess that’s your business; and what are the odds of a Louisiana senator coming along to help you out?  What are the odds of her actually sticking the spigot in your mouth for you?  The odds of it hitting Twitter are pretty easy to figure out.

Tim Murphy, writing for Mother Jones, gives props to Landrieu for her keg stand assist

The pressure mounts, again, for a keg stand. A chant begins. “Mary! Mary! Mary!” The senior United States Senator from the great state of Louisiana picks up the nozzle of the keg, and…does not do a keg stand. But she does help a purple-shirted bro do one. So, points for that.

I guess Landrieu is trying to appeal to the younger voter.  This move probably won’t win her any votes among the teetotalers or those who are concerned about binge drinking on universities.  But it will certainly appeal to that “Rock the Vote” crowd that fainted and swooned over Obama in 2008.

Hey Louisiana:  there’s your U.S. Senator.  Is that the best we can do?

She’s clearly desperate.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  In a Friday news-dump report, Senator Mary Landrieu’s office issued a report indicating that the Senator has indeed been guilty of scamming taxpayer funds to finance her campaign jaunts to the tune of almost $34,000.

The review, which was released four days after her self-imposed deadline of Sept. 8, found that the senator took 43 trips, which amounted to 136 campaign functions, that were paid for by funds meant for official business only. Eleven percent of the total amount Landrieu’s office paid for chartered flights should have been paid out of her campaign funds, the review found.

Landrieu’s office said she fully reimbursed the Treasury with campaign funds and has notified the Senate Ethics Committee of the errors. She also said in a statement that she’s implemented a new bookkeeping system to prevent similar errors from happening again.

Senator Landrieu blames the mess of “sloppy bookkeeping” and says she takes “full responsibility.”

“They should have never happened, and I apologize for this,” Landrieu said. “A new system has been established that has been successfully used by a number of senate offices to provide a safeguard from this happening in the future.”

One wonders why she wasn’t using this wonderful new bookkeeping system all along.

One also must wonder how long this practice would have continued had she not faced pressure from challenger Bill Cassidy for her Senate seat.

Louisiana Republican Party Executive Director Jason Dore points out the obvious: while Katrina Mary blames sloppy bookkeepers, these flights go back years.  She’s the only constant factor in this equation:

“With 43 illegal flights and more than 100 campaign events, this was clearly policy of her office to use taxpayer means whenever possible to attend events,” said Louisiana Republican Party Executive Director Jason Dore. “Mary’s staff has changed. The donors have changed. The one thing that has been constant is this is Mary Landrieu’s office. She’s the one responsible for this practice going on in her office.”

Louisiana voters seem disgusted with her politics as usual methods and she continues to sink in the polls.  It’s still a critically close race and one can never underestimate the Landrieu machine in Louisiana.

Landrieu may not be out of hot water on this deal yet, either; Reince Priebus wonders how much interest she might owe on all this money.  Certainly one would expect she might have to pay interest on using taxpayer money for personal reasons all these years.  That would land some people in jail, after all.

 

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

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.