Monday, October 31, 2011

Live Blogging Trick or Treating


So far not one kid.  Am I going to have to eat all this candy myself?

6:45:  We saw Captain America and a sperm walking across the street.  They didn't cross over.

6:55:  We had a cute gangster girl come by and hop out of her mom's SUV.  

7:10:  Yeah.  We're done.  When the carloads of 18 year olds that haven't even bothered to dress up start showing up, I'm done.  If you're going to go trick or treating, at least paint your face or get a mask.  Some attempt at a costume is mandatory.

Halloween isn't what is used to be.

Sad.

Halloween Fun With Mike the Tiger


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gov. Jindal Wants New $80 Million Slush Fund

Just as critics of the recently approved Amendment No. 1 predicted,, Governor Jindal is making plans to ask the legislative budget committee to establish a new slush fund for "economic development" when the Legislature meets next year.

The constitutional amendment, approved October 22, was approved by a 69.6% to 30.4% margin.  It changes the state Constitution to make permanent a four-cent cigarette tax, a tax increase that was to expire next year.  The Legislature had previously attempted to extend the tax as a separate measure, but Jindal vetoed it as a "tax increase."  The amendment also changes funding for TOPS, the Louisiana merit-based scholarship program which benefits about one-third of Louisiana's full time college students.

TOPS is funded through the general fund as well as through investment revenue generated from the Millennium Trust.  About 11% of TOPS funding came from the Millennium Trust last year (about $16.1 million).

The Millenium Trust was established in 1999 and  holds the proceeds of tobacco settlement the State of Louisiana receives.  The Trust funds TOPS and two other educational programs, one of which would receive the revenue from the four-cent cigarette tax.

Back to the Amendment: it takes about $40 to $45 million per year that has annually been deposited from the tobacco settlement into the base monies of the Trust and moves it straight into TOPS. The base amount of the Trust would be frozen.

The result is that funding for TOPS will rely less heavily on the general fund. 

The Public Affairs Research Council explains (emphasis mine):

This amendment and companion legislation would redirect annual tobacco settlement payments ($40-45 million per fiscal year) that currently are deposited into the Millennium Trust and place them directly into the TOPS fund, beginning with proceeds received after April 1, 2011. This change would provide a new dedicated revenue stream for TOPS. The proposal allows TOPS to receive two payments – totaling about $80 million – from the tobacco settlement during the current fiscal year and single payments in subsequent fiscal years
Of this amendment, C.B. Forgotston recommended a "No" vote:

It’s not about TOPs it is about giving more of our hard-earned tax dollars to the governor and the leges to waste. It really about a tax increase which can not be lowered or repealed without another amendment to the constitution which we will have to depend on the leges to put on the ballot.  This is a very poor precedent to establish in a state that badly needs tax reform.
We shouldn’t be forced to address two separate issues in one amendment. Tell the leges to do it right and stop playing games with our constitution.

Now that the Amendment has passed and the general fund will bear less of a burden to support TOPS, Jindal wants that $80 million for a slush fund for "economic development":

Jindal’s spokesman, Kyle Plotkin, said the governor will ask a legislative budget committee to approve money for economic development projects as needed from the $80 million.

When the Legislature meets next year, the governor will ask for the balance of the money to be deposited into an economic development megafund, Plotkin said.
The megafund is designed to provide incentives for businesses building large projects in Louisiana.

The plot thickens when you realize that Louisiana is facing a potential budget crisis contingent on the outcome of a lawsuit filed in response to the leges taking $198 million from the Rainy Day fund two years ago without replacing it.  Should the State lose that lawsuit, they'll have to pay back $150 to $200 million to the Rainy Day Fund, some of which would have to come from the $80 million slush fund.

Does it surprise anyone that John Alario was the sponsor of the Amendment?

It seems to me to be just a shell game with the State's money. 

I might be mixing apples and oranges here, but with the leges record of funding NGOs and designating pet projects for their districts with state money, something Jindal said he would NOT allow but certainly has (extensively), I'm not convinced that we need to designate another $80 million for anyone to play with. 

If the leges believe that a new fence in a private subdivision in New Orleans is a wise use of state dollars that "benefits the entire state," I can only imagine what they will decide to do with $80 million toward "economic development" or "incentives" to entice businesses. 


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Fall Fest Edition


Fall has arrived in north Louisiana, finally.  A decent little cold snap came through and I've pulled out the sweatshirts and put on a pot roast.  Further signs of the season appeared as I shopped for a few essentials at the grocery store this morning.  The "holiday baking aisle" has appeared, filled with marshmallows, candied fruit, evaporated milk, cans of pumpkin, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.  (Halloween hasn't even arrived yet, but hey, who cares?)

At Chez SIGIS this weekend we're keeping it low and quiet.  The next three weekends are pretty busy so we're resting up.  Next weekend, November 5, is the Michael Henry book signing at Barnes & Noble.  You don't want to miss that!  Friday and Saturday, the 4th and 5th, is the annual Main to Main Trade Days which runs for 35 miles from Springhill to Cullen, La.  (Milly Rose will be super busy!)  The week after that, November 12, is the Fasching celebration in Minden.  This year there will be ice skating, German food and entertainment, and a beer exposition (so you KNOW I'll be there.) 

Finally, the week after that, on Saturday the 19th, is the annual Highland Jazz and Blues festival.  The headliner this year is the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  More on that coming soon.

So.  We're resting up this weekend!

The Camp of the Saints graciously linked our Jindal post this week.  Bob also links to Stacy McCain's rant against the conservative establishment and adds his own two cents.

Chad Rogers at The Dead Pelican also linked my Jindal piece.  He's got more on The Alarios.

Right on the Left Coast is outraged over the political correctness police targeting Halloween costumes. 

Reaganite Republican has the bad news on Mitt Romney.  "The devil is in the details."

The Daley Gator is keeping up with the Occupy Wall Street rap sheet.

Doug Ross is keeping up with all the "government-authorized theft of taxpayer dollars in the name of 'green energy'".

Pundette is keeping up with Cain's ever morphing position on abortion.

The Other McCain is reporting from Annapolis this morning at the MDCAN.

PoliticalJunkieMom has her chips on Rick Perry.  Interesting!

Professor Jacobson is collecting Obama scandal stories.

Wyblog's Weekly Jobs Report informs that Whirlpool is cutting 5,000 jobs.  I missed that.

Pirate's Cove reports on Obama's willingness to meet (and negotiate) with Mullah Omar.  WTF?!

And finally, Pecan Corner is baking bread.  See?  Signs of the season! 

Off to sit on the deck, enjoy the fall weather, and make a dent in my reading stack.  Hit the links, people. 


Friday, October 28, 2011

Time to Melt the Phones in Louisiana


Via The Dead Pelican, the Louisiana Republican Party then, and now:



Many seem to be taking Jindal's recommendation of John Alario for State Senate President.

What's changed?  Besides the letter after Alario's name?

The Hayride is asking for statewide outrage.  Here's the contact list:


1st District – A.G. Crowe is the incumbent and likely retainer of the seat.
A. G. Crowe: 985-788-7551
“Nita” Rusich Hutter: 504-920-9020

2nd District – Republicans are longshots in this one.
Alfred “Al” Carter: 985-870-5548
Zaine “The Queen” Kasem: 225-747-6288

6th District – an open seat that will be Republican.
“Mike” Mannino: 225-261-8346
Mack “Bodi” White Jr.: 225-261-3903

8th District – Alario’s seat.
John A. Alario Jr.: 504-347-3556
You won’t likely get anywhere calling Alario and telling him not to run, and he’s unopposed, but this entry wouldn’t be complete without including contact information for him.

9th District – uncontested GOP seat.
Conrad Appel: 504-887-6026

10th District – uncontested GOP seat.
Daniel R. “Danny” Martiny: 504-464-9045

11th District – Jack Donahue is the incumbent.
“Jack” Donahue Jr.: 985-727-7949
Gary J. Leonard: 985-845-3766

12th District – Democrat Ben Nevers is the incumbent.
“Beth” Mizell: 985-839-3508

13th District – Dale Erdey is the incumbent.
Derek Babcock: 225-505-9505
Dale Erdey: 225-686-7405

14th District – Democrat Yvonne Dorsey is the incumbent.
Christopher Toombs: 225-590-1225

16th District – uncontested GOP seat.
“Dan” Claitor: 225-757-0159

18th District – uncontested GOP seat.
“Jody” Amedee: 225-647-1300

19th District – outgoing Senate President Joel Chaisson’s seat and a crucial pickup if Alario is to be prevented from getting the Senate presidency.
Garrett C. Monti: 985-240-4114

20th District – uncontested GOP seat.
“Norby” Chabert: 985-232-9882

21st District – open seat sure to go Republican (no Dems are running).
R. L. “Bret” Allain II: 337-828-9107
Darrin Guidry: 985-872-6658

22nd District – uncontested GOP seat.
Fred “T-Fred” Mills Jr.: 337-332-3475

23rd District – open seat that went uncontested to the GOP.
Patrick “Page” Cortez: 337-993-0603

25th District – uncontested GOP seat.
Dan “Blade” Morrish: 337-477-7754

26th District – uncontested GOP seat.
Jonathan Perry: 337-643-2057

27th District – open seat that went uncontested to the GOP.
“Ronnie” Johns: 337-625-4431

28th District – Democrat Eric Lafleur is the incumbent.
Paul “Doc” Miller: 337-331-2550

29th District – open seat; Democrat Rick Gallot is the favorite and inexplicably was endorsed by Jindal.
Tony “Bo” Vets: 318-419-2235

30th District – John Smith, a Democrat party-switcher, is the incumbent.
James David Cain: 337-328-7266
John Smith: 337-397-7222

31st District – uncontested GOP seat.
Gerald Long: 318-354-2879

32nd District – uncontested GOP seat.
Neil Riser: 318-649-0977

33rd District – uncontested GOP seat.
Michael A. “Mike” Walsworth: 318-614-0336

35th District – Bob Kostelka is the incumbent.
Harris Brown: 318-388-2500
“Jeff” Guerriero: 318-325-4306
Robert W. “Bob” Kostelka: 318-323-7591

36th District – uncontested GOP seat.
Robert Adley: 318-965-9513

37th District – open seat likely to remain Republican.
Barrow Peacock: 318-518-0812

38th District – Sherri Cheek is the incumbent.
Sherri Smith Cheek: 318-687-4820
Troy Terrell: 318-773-1111

39th District – Democrat Lydia Jackson is the incumbent.
“Jim” Slagle: 318-375-3536

Melt the phones!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Governor Jindal Causes Another Uproar With His Support of John Alario


Conservatives all over Louisiana are already upset with Governor Bobby Jindal just four days after his landslide re-election victory.  Jindal came out yesterday in support of Republican John Alario for Louisiana Senate President.  Never mind that Jindal doesn't get to appoint a Senate president; that is actually up to the Senate. Jindal wants his preference known.

(Not only that, but he's interjected himself into the House Speaker race, too.)

Most of the nation (who already believes Governor Jindal is the next great hope) will shake their heads at this...."What?  What's the big deal?  Alario's a Republican isn't he?"

Let me explain.

One of the chief objections to Alario is that he switched from Democrat to Republican in 2010 after 37 years in office.  Alario joined the Louisiana House in 1972 as a Democrat and served faithfully as a Democrat up until his switch in 2010.

As a matter of fact, Alario was House speaker for Governor Edwin Edwards (D) from 1992-1996;  even folks outside of Louisiana are familiar with Governor Edwards.  He was indicted in 1998 and finally convicted in 2001on 17 of 26 charges including racketeering, extortion, and money laundering, among other things.   Edwards was released from prison this year, just in time to marry his prison pen pal and third wife, Trina Grimes.  Edwards and John Alario remain close and Alario recently participated in a birthday bash/roast event for Edwards.  Edwards, by the way, is not impressed with Governor Jindal:

Edwards also said Louisiana's current Governor Bobby Jindal won't be able to solve the problems now facing Louisiana on his way to Washington, D.C.

"I think he makes a good governor for California, Minnesota, Florida, all those places where people have been putting up all that money concerned who the governor of Louisiana is."
Ah, but the sins of Edwin Edwards do not necessarily reflect the sins of John Alario, (even though my mother always told me I would be judged by the company I keep), and so back to Alario.

John Alario was quite open at the time of his party switch about the fact that the switch was motivated by political expediency:  (emphasis mine)

Alario said his switch was motivated by dissatisfaction with the national Democratic Party, which has seen many of its conservative Blue Dog members replaced by Republicans in recent years.  "I'm not angry with my local Democratic friends," Alario said. "I have an issue with the national Democratic Party and the direction it's going."

But Alario said state politics also played a role in the decision; specifically, a desire to be Senate president next year, when Republicans are expected to take majority control of the upper chamber.  "Whether I'm a Democrat or Republican or the Whig party, I'd like to be president of the Senate," Alario said. Switching parties "certainly plays into the politics of the situation ... it doesn't hurt to be in that party." 

In fact, Alario would be only the second Louisiana politician to be both president of the House and the Senate.  The late Senator John J. Hainkel, Jr. (who also switched to the Republican party) held both posts, and oddly, he was Speaker of the House when John Alario replaced him after Edwards was elected to his third term in 1983. 

Tangled enough yet?

Alario has other skeletons in his closet although nothing that he's ever been nailed for.  In November of last year the conservative Louisiana blog The Hayride described a flyer put out by the Louisiana Republican Party in protest of Alario:

The flyer went into detail about a number of shady deals Alario has been involved in, including his son’s rather resilient career as a government bureaucrat despite the phenomenon of state dollars at times being redirected to various bookies thanks to the younger Alario’s nasty gambling habit. It also included a reference to Alario’s involvement in the River Birch landfill debacle – a classic case of a political shakedown Alario was involved in.

But, as The Bayou Buzz points out, Alario has been convicted of nothing.

Governor Jindal has made a few missteps during his tenure so far, the most nasty of which is the legislative pay raise issue. In fact, during that mess many Louisianans participated in a grass roots campaign to rip their Jindal bumper stickers off their cars and mail them back to the governor (myself included).  The short version is that Jindal promised during his campaign not to raise leges pay and certainly not during their own tenure.  Next thing you know the leges voted themselves a pay raise and Jindal said he would not veto it because he needed their cooperation to pass his agenda.

The populace was outraged.

Outraged!!

After public pressure became insurmountable Jindal "changed his mind" and vetoed the pay raise.

Again, there have been other Jindal miscues but this one, this support of John Alario for Senate President, has many conservative bloggers and groups in a tither.

Jim Beam writes:

Why would Jindal even think of supporting a controversial lawmaker like Alario, who has directed millions of state dollars to his favorite projects in Jefferson Parish? 
Shreveport pollster Elliot Stonecipher:

To me, and to many others with my tenure, John Alario is easily recognizable as the last active political leader of the Edwin Edwards erea, a dark and painful chapter in our state's history.  that Governor Jindal picks him for such a key leadership position just after Mr. Edwards' recent prison release is ironic, yes, but more to the point, deeply troubling and disheartening.  Any claim by Governor Jindal that Louisiana has by his service turned the corner in "ethics" or anything else positive is, by our governor's personal action, now loudly refuted.  Our governor's unreserved pride in this selection is, well, incomprehensible. 


The Hayride:


That this is an uncommonly bad prospect should go without saying. Alario was Edwin Edwards’ Speaker of the House when the latter was busy stealing the state blind, and Republicans in Louisiana at the time considered him as signifying everything that was slimy and corrupt about Louisiana politics. The backroom deals, the Chicago-style pay-for-play, the lack of transparency and the petty agendas lending a Byzantine quality to the formulation of policy rather than the honest debate of substantive ideas were what infuriated Louisiana voters into getting rid of Democrats, and Alario was neck-deep in all of it.

But when it became patently clear that Louisianans no longer had any stomach for the kind of Capitol politics Alario’s Democrats had on offer, he simply switched parties. After all, his sheepish defenders say, his voting record looks pretty good for business and he can make the case that he was a conservative Democrat all along.

The Dead Pelican has more.


So far it seems like Senate republicans are falling in line behind Jindal although Senator David Vitter is in opposition.  The Hayride is calling for statewide outrage against Alario similar to the action that forced Jindal to veto the leges payraise.

It is up to the Senate to pick their own president but Jindal is inserting himself into the process and for what reason?  Compromise?  Political expediency?   Most conservatives feel that Alario represents a throwback to the "good ol' boy" politics of pre-Jindal Louisiana and that this will ensure that Louisiana has not, in fact, moved far beyond that after all.  Jindal can tout "ethics reform" all he wants (even though Elliot Stonecipher says thats a sham), but if he thinks that supporting the only active legislator still closely connected with Edwin Edwards and the old regime, one who clearly operates out of the old corrupt system of Louisiana politics, is the path to "gold standard" ethics, well, he might not be the Bobby Jindal the nation thinks he is.

Added:

  Jeff Sadow has comments as well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jumping Off The Cain Train

Herman Cain is feeling some front-runner heat.  He's running pretty high in some polls and is still riding the glory of the Florida straw poll vote.  But Cain is on defense today as "the architect," Karl Rove, comes after him with his whiteboard.

Rove was on Fox News this morning ticking off a list of Cain's misstatements

"Cain has had a number of misstatements; I mean, we've had abortion, we had earlier this year he didn't understand what 'the right of return' was to Palestinian demand for the right of return.  He recently said he didn't understand what neoconservatives were when it came to foreign policy.  He had a rather odd answer on Afghan policy, basically, "I'll figure it out when I get into office." The federal sales tax, the way he handled it in the debate, I think it has created an image of him not being up to the task...That's really deadly."

Rove didn't have room on the whiteboard to document Cain's statements about releasing Gitmo terrorists.

The brouhaha about abortion was when he seemed to be pro-choice:

No, it comes down to is, it’s not the government’s role — or anybody else’s role — to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.

Cain later back peddled and said he misunderstood the question and he is 100% pro-life.

Like Pundette, I find it disconcerting that Cain would misunderstand such a routine question:

But what bothered me about Cain's various statements about possible exceptions to the unborn's right to life was the incoherence of his answers to easy questions. This is a problem, regardless of his stand on abortion, hostage crises, or tax reform. It strongly implies incoherence of thought.
I'm not on anybody's train right now with regard to the Republican field.  I'm going to have to start winnowing them out though, and I'm cutting Cain loose. 

I'm not doing this based on anything Karl Rove said, mind you.  My misgivings about Cain go as much to his total lack of foreign policy experience as it does to his bungling of routine questions.  I'm about to decide that Cain will make a great addition to somebody's Cabinet but I'm cutting him off of my short list for the top prize.

Cain's demeanor is his best asset, as far as I'm concerned.  Mark Steyn lauded Cain's sunny disposition today but also said:

But the ‘stan shtick is a glimpse of the greater truth – that there are whole areas of public policy in which he simply has no interest. None. You ask him a question and from the recesses of his mind swim up half-recalled phrases from some panel discussion he caught once long ago, and he hopes he grabs the conservative line (“I’m proud to stand by Israel”, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”, “life begins at conception”, whatever) but just as often he doesn’t (with Gretchen Carlson this morning: “No, abortion should not be a part of the political discussion”).

To be sure, the field is filled with unlikeable choices and, just like 2008 it seems, we'll have to hold our noses and pick one of them.  Maybe this isn't as bad as all that but I'm ready to start thinning the herd a little. 

I'm jumping off The Cain Train and making more room there for Stacy McCain and Cain's other supporters.  He's a likable guy and highly amusing.  He'll do just fine in a Cabinet post.

Readings on Bobby Jindal

Over the weekend I alluded to, and quoted from, a National Review article about La.Governor Bobby Jindal.  The article has hit their homepage today so I want to go ahead and link to it.

Writer Jim Geraghty extols Bobby Jindal's virtues and his successes, but not everyone in Louisiana feels this way, which I'll work up for you in a later post.

I'll also point out Jazz Shaw's comments over at Hot Air on Jindal's re-election.

Both articles are worth your time this morning.

I know at least one person who didn't vote for Jindal.  If you're from Louisiana, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments about Jindal's work for our state.  Did you vote for him?  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Live-Blogging Election Results: Louisiana 2011 (UPDATED)

The polls close in just about thirty minutes and we'll be following the results as soon as returns begin to come in.

I don't think anyone doubts Bobby Jindal's re-election.  The Democrats all but gave up on this election and didn't endorse anyone.  There will likely be some protest votes - not everyone loves Jindal.  The most well known candidate is probably Tara Hollis, but again, Jindal will win this one easily.

The Lt. Governor's race will be interesting.  Billy Nungesser has been jamming my inbox all day with reminders to go vote.  He's worked hard to get out the vote and get his name recognition in the northern part of the state up.  He's running against incumbent Jay Dardenne.

The Secretary of State race pits Jim Tucker against Tom Schedler.

The Senate 37 race has been hot news in this part of the state and over in Bossier there are a number of City Council races, a sheriff's race, and state representative on the ballot.

Stay tuned for updates.

Here's the link to the Secretary of State page where you can watch results.  KTBS has coverage here.

Update:   Polls are now closed and early returns are coming in.  Jindal jumps to a huge lead immediately but, as predicted, the nine other candidates are gathering a few votes.  Of those, Democrat Tara Hollis has the most: 364 to Jindal's 2274 so far.

Update 8:15:   The Lieutenant Governor's race is back and forth so far.  Dardenne is currently on top with 6857 to Nungesser's 5217 votes.  Still early.

Update 8:25:  The Secretary of State race is hanging close, too.  Jim Tucker currently leads with 12270 to Schedler's 12233.  No Caddo or Bossier numbers yet.

Update 8:30:  Jim Donelon (R)  looks to be running off with the Commissioner of Insurance slot 23,685 to Democrat Donald Hodge's 9773. 

The proposed amendments are all close except for the first one which is leaning FOR at this time.

Can we just call the Governor's race?  Jindal running away with it.

Update 8:35:   If there's a race you want to know about, leave a comment and I'll include it in the updates.  Still no Caddo/Bossier numbers.  Jindal has 70% of the vote of the precincts reporting so far.  Jay Dardenne leading 55% to 44% of precincts reporting and Mike Strain seems to be cruising toward re-election with 73% of the vote so far in the Ag. Commissioner race.

Update 8:40:   In Senate 38 Sherri Cheek is leading 813 to 400 over Troy Terrell.  Nothing yet in Senate 37 or the Bossier races.

Update 8:45:   In the Lt. Governor's race, Dardenne is pulling ahead with 57% to 42% for Nungesser.  Still early.  Lots of precincts to go.

The Secretary of State race is holding close with 53% for Schedler and 46% for Tucker.

Update 8:50:  Numbers finally trickling in for Senate 37.  Barrow Peacock 129 votes to 79 for Jane Smith.  Very early.

In Senate 39, Lydia Jackson and Greg Tarver are close with 193 and 138 respectively.

Update 8:55:   In Bossier, State Rep. District 8 has Jeff Thompson with a narrow early lead over Lowrie:  363 to 348.

Got a request for Livingston Parish Sheriff's race:  looks like Jason Gerald Ard is leading with 64% over McMorris with 34%.

Update 9:00:  Nothing yet in Bossier Sheriff's race.  In Livingston Parish, the Parish President race is pretty close with Grimmer leading Ricks 45% to 41%.  Still early though with very few precincts reporting.

Dardenne and Nungesser are still battling it out with Dardenne on top with 56% to Nungesser's 43%.

Update 9:05:  In Senate 37, Peacock still leads (barely) over Smith with 160 votes to 134 votes.  There's a long way to go on that one!

Jindal currently has 68% of the vote to 16% by Tara Hollis.

Dardenne is still leading the Lt. Governor's race and Schedler currently leads Tucker for Secretary of State 51% to 48%.

Update 9:10:   In Livingston Parish, that Parish Prez race is still close with Grimmer leading Ricks 48% to 41%.  Your Sheriff's race over there looks like Ard is still leading by a wide margin.

We've still got nothing in the Bossier Sheriff's race.

Update 9:15:   In St. Rep. District 10, Gene Reynolds (D) jumps out in front of Republican Jerri De Pingre 46% to 26%.

Update 9:20:  Nothing on the Caddo Assessor race; the Bossier numbers are still slow.  In Senate 37, Peacock leads Jane Smith 3364 votes to 2225 votes.

In State Rep. District 3, Barbara Norton leads with 1280 votes to Lynn Cawthorne's 663 votes.

Update 9:25: In Senate 39, Lydia Jackson is leading Tarver 47% to 44%.

In Bossier, still nothing.  No numbers in the Police Juror races, Sheriff, or Assessor.  Nada.

Update 9:30:   Jindal is in; via the comments, Jindal just "tweeted" Thanks for four more years.  Via Shreveport Times and AP, Amendment 1 has passed.  Tarver and Jackson will probably face each other in a run-off.

Update 9:35:  In Bossier, finally, Julian Whittington is way ahead for Sheriff with 69% of the vote so far.  Edmiston is leading in the Assessor's race with 68% of the vote.

Update 9:40 :  Latest numbers in Senate 37 has Peacock with 3664 votes to Smith's 2608 votes.

Jeff Thompson leads Lowrie 52% to 47%.

Whittington is cruising to a win as Sheriff, it looks like.

In Caddo, Steve Prator has no competition for his re-election bid.

Charles Hennington looks to be back in as Tax Assessor with 66% of the vote.

Update 9:45:   It looks like Barbara Norton and and Lynn Cawthorne will have a run-off.  Norton leads with 44% of the vote to Cawthorne's 27.

Now it gets interesting.  The Secretary of State's site has crashed, as it always does.  Stay tuned.

Update: 9:50:  In House District 5, Seabaugh wins, crushing Cynthia Robertson.

In Senate 37, with 41% of the precincts reporting, Peacock leads Jane Smith 60% to 40%.

Update 9:55:   The SoS site is still down.

Update 10:15:  NOLA has Jindal's speech:

"Every time I run for governor the LSU Tigers win the national championship," Jindal told the jubilant crowd. "I'm not putting any pressure on them. I'm just saying."
In a more serious vein, Jindal, who recently turned 40, said that "I am truly humbled, honored by the privilege you have bestowed on me."

Still waiting for SoS site to get back up and running.

Update 10:25:  And we're back.   Senate 37 has Peacock with 3664 votes to Smith's 3224.  In Bossier City, Jeff Thompson leads 1982 to 1772 over Lowrie with 14 of 34 precincts reporting.

Update 10:30:  Looks like the Homestead Exemption for Disabled Vets passed overwhelmingly.

For Secretary of State, Schedler leads Jim Tucker 51% to 48%.  Here's hoping he can keep a website up and running without crashing on election night.

In Senate 37, Barrow Peacock defeats Jane Smith with 100% reporting 58% to 41%.

Update 10:35:  In a perfect illustration of every vote counts, Tommy Harvey lost his race by 4 votes for District 5 councilman in Bossier.  Jeff Thompson defeats Duke Lowrie for House District 8.

Final Update:   I'm wrapping it up for the evening.  Looks like in Caddo, Charlie Hennington wins easily over Royal Alexander.  I'm not sure why they haven't called the Senate 38 race yet - it looks like Sherri Cheek wins with 57% with all precincts reporting.

Check your local paper for full results in the morning. 

Overall, I'd say, a pretty good night!

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Louisiana Election 2011 Edition

I'm overdue for a FMJRA and so while I'm sitting here watching LSU pound Auburn and waiting for The Texas Rangers to pound St. Louis, why not take a whirl around the blogosphere and see what people are talking about?

In possibly the most bizarre story of the week, Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin's blog reports on "the Syrup Six":

Amid the chaos of war, economic hardship, moral decay, crony capitalism, graft and corruption, is there any more refreshing way to kick off a weekend than by finding out that there are still at least a half dozen members of the US Senate who haven’t lost track of the real problem? I’m of course referring to a scourge that is ripping apart the fabric of this nation: fake maple syrup...

That's sort of funny, really.  It explains why when we were in Jefferson last weekend at the Blackburn's outlet, there was a gentleman in there who held aloft a bottle of maple syrup to show his wife.  "Is it real, or fake, do you think?"  he asked, with amusement in his voice.  

American Power anticipates a smack down by Michelle Malkin of Bill Maher and "the progressive hacks."

The Pirate's Cove has another reason to hoard incandescent light bulbs.

Kick up your heels a little bit over at Paco's.

The Camp of the Saints refuses to accept the inevitability of Mitt.

Legal Insurrection has a report on OccupyDallas.

The Other McCain analyzes Rick Perry's new campaign strategy which seems to include dismantling everyone and turning negative.

Speaking of Herman Cain (and The Other McCain was in the above link), Pundette had a great column this week on Cain.  Pundette, like me, previously was looking seriously at Rick Perry.  And now?  Well, I don't think she's looking at Cain:

Cain's utter lack of knowledge disqualifies him for the office of president. And vice president, too, really. (Sure, he's vastly superior to the vile buffoon currently holding the office, but who isn't?)

Speaking of Joe Biden (and Pundette was...),  Bride of Rove has a thing or two to say about his "rape" comments:

Something tells me that Joe should stop promoting the “Jobs” bill as way to reduce the number of rapes here in the US. Work doesn’t stop a rapist from raping, it just limits the time a rapist has to case out victims and rape them. But if the rapist is hanging out with the OWSers, then the bounty of opportunities appear to be limitless AND, strangely enough, their activities are blessed by the head rapist himself, Obama.

I'm fascinated by the news that Andy did not vote for Bobby Jindal today.  I'm guessing Andy didn't read "The Storm-Calmer" in the latest print edition of National Review by Jim Geraghty in which Geraghty writes:

"Jindal's record has been exemplary:  transforming the state's reputation on ethics and corruption, enacting dramatic cuts in spending without provoking much public outcry, implementing careful reforms to Louisiana's unique traditional methods of provide health care, creating jobs, overhauling the state's schools, and finally, knowing how to deal with crises."
(Subscribe to the digital edition of NRO here).

And so, speaking of Louisiana's election day (and Andy was...), I'm signing off to get dinner ready, get ready for the Rangers game, and election night coverage.  LSU seems to have Auburn in hand.


Go Vote!

We've got several important local and statewide races today.  Be sure to go vote.  Polls are open until 8:00 p.m.  Turnout is expected to be moderate at he polls today, but when I voted at 11:00 this morning it looked pretty brisk to me.  Governor Jindal is expect to win re-election handily, but there are several other contentious races to be watched.

The Shreveport Times has an extensive elections page with candidate information and other coverage.

SIGIS will be posting results as they come in tonight.

Added:  My Bossier has excellent coverage of the Bossier side of the races.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can You Decipher the Proposed Amendments?

Who in the world writes these amendments?

Louisiana voters have five amendments to consider this Saturday.  This is the first one:

To dedicate funds for the TOPS program relative to the portion of the monies deposited in and credited to the Millennium Trust each year from the Tobacco Master Settlement, to provide that once the balance in the Millennium Trust reaches a total of one billion three hundred eighty million dollars, one hundred percent of the annual Settlement Proceeds shall be allocated to the TOPS Fund to support state programs of financial assistance for students attending Louisiana postsecondary education institutions; to provide relative to the rate of tax on certain tobacco products and beginning July 1, 2012, to dedicate such tobacco revenues to the Health Excellence Fund to be used for the purposes of the fund, including providing for the optimal development of Louisiana's children through the provision of appropriate health care and providing health care initiatives through innovation in advanced health care sciences; to provide for the deposit, transfer, or credit of certain monies in the Millennium Trust to the Health Excellence Fund, the Education Excellence Fund, and the TOPS Fund. (Amends Article VII, Section 10.8(A)(1)(c), (A)(2), (3), and (4), and (C)(1) and adds Article VII, Section 4.1)

I'll spare you the rest of them, but they are here if you can decipher them. 

A good grammarian is in order.

If you're confused on the amendments, bone up on what they're about here at The Public Affairs Research Council  (PDF - 23 pgs.)  and see their recommendations.  C. B. Forgotston also has recommendations.    Short, sweet and in plain English.

There are a number of other local and statewide elections this Saturday including Bobby Jindal's re-election bid and various Senate races.  Get out and vote before the LSU/Auburn game!

Local Authors to Hold Book Signing

Recently I recommended a new author to my reading readers:  Michael Henry.

Both stories are tightly spun and are impossible to put down once you've started.  Willie Mitchell is described as "the last elected white politician in Yaloquena County"; he is as intriguing and believable a character as I've seen lately.  He's likable and smart, yet has faults like everyone else.  He jogs, he shops at the Jitney Mart with his iPod and a tumbler of vodka, he's happily reunited with the love of his life after "three bad years" of separation, and he's smart as a whip in the courtroom.

I've now read three of his four books and want to reiterate my recommendation - Mr. Henry, and his son who co-writes with him, are fine writers.

And now, Shreveporters, you'll have the chance to meet Michael and William Henry at Barnes & Noble on Youree Drive, Saturday, November 5.  Mr. Henry has written to let me know that they'll be there signing books at 1:00.

You have to read them in order; I'm a stickler for such things.  Start with Three Bad Years, then At Random, and on to The Ride Along and D.O.G.s

I've just finished The Ride Along and think it is just as good as the first two, although I will say I'm still more into the character of Willie Mitchell more so than his son Jake.  Maybe it's an age thing; maybe I relate to him more.  But, the addition of Jake and the Special Forces operative David Dunne (Jake's mentor) is a natural progression of the story line and I'm good with it.  Mr. Henry promises that the next novel will center around Willie Mitchell and his hometown of Sunshine and I'm excited about that!  Willie Mitchell is a well developed character with enough faults and flaws to seem like someone you might actually know.

I've enjoyed the southern flavor of the novels and I like the fact that Mr. Henry is a local author.  I promise you, if you like John Grisham, James Lee Burke and/or Michael Connelly, you won't be disappointed. 

Start your Christmas shopping early and pick up signed copies of all four of the Henry novels!  As for the rest of you, Amazon is a wonderful thing and helps support this blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Your Hometown Show Features Milly Rose

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another Debate, Another Live-Blogging Event (UPDATED)

Since The World Series doesn't start until tomorrow (Rangers!)  I guess I'll watch and live-blog another Republican debate.  I know at least one person checked in last time, and I'm curious to see what it means when Perry says he's going to "break the rules."  Will he finally show a little spark?  I'm on the edge of my seat.

News today is that Herman Cain's architect for 9-9-9 is now advising him to drop the sales tax component.  I guess after Bachmann and others pointed out that it's an open line of revenue for Congress and opens the door to a VAT, well, it could be problematic.

Ed Morrissey has his eye on Newt, and as much as I hate to say it, he might be on to something:

Of all the other candidates on the stage, Newt Gingrich might be the one to watch.  He has slowly gained momentum by being among the most positive on stage (except to moderators) and demonstrating his encyclopedic knowledge and quick wit.  If it wasn’t for his personal baggage, he might already be the front-runner — and if both Cain and Perry stumble late, Republicans might be inclined to take on his baggage rather than hand Mitt Romney the nomination virtually unchallenged.
While you're waiting for the debate, be sure to catch Stacy McCain's American Spectator article today.  He's at the top of his game, AND he's in Vegas.

Debate begins at 7 CT.  C'mon back.

Added:  Bumping this back to the top.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, check out Michelle Malkin's handicapping of the field.  It's not pretty.

Also Added:  Ooops.  Is Herman Cain done?  This is a terrible answer.   This combined with the electrified fence theory of border control is pretty hard to overcome.

The beginning: At least Huntsman isn't in this one.  Bachmann is sporting her up-do tonight.

Candidate intros.  His daughter had surgery today.  Shout out.  Awwww.  Ron Paul:  "I'm the champion of liberty."  Alrighty now.

Herman Cain:  Married 43 years.  Wow.  That's a nice record.  He "solves problems for a livin'."

Mitt:  Touts his Olympic creds.    Rick Perry:  "A proven job creator.  A man who is about economic growth.  An authentic conservative, not a man who is a conservative for convenience."

Newt:  "Unlike President Obama, I'm glad to be in Vegas.  I think it's a great place to have a convention."  Heh!

Bachmann:  "This is one night when I hope what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas."

First question is about replaced federal income tax with a federal sales tax.  Bachmann gets first draw.  "Anytime you give Congress a brand new tax, it doesn't go away."  She has concerns that the 9-9-9 tax will go higher.

Cain responds.  "Read our analysis."  He says politicians don't want to throw out the tax code and put in something simple.  He says his plan will liberate American workers and businesses.

Santorum likes Cain's boldness, but Americans will pay more in taxes under Cain's plan, he says. 

Perry says "go to New Hampshire where they don't have a sales tax and you're fixin' to give 'em one."  He's got a strong answer here.  "Get Americans Workin' Again" count is one.

Cain talking about apples and oranges and loaves of bread now.  He's on the defensive.

Ron Paul calls 9-9-9 dangerous and regressive.  Ron Paul likes that a lot of people aren't paying taxes.  Ugh.  He says replace the income tax with "nothing."  Applause.

Lordy we've descended into a fruit bowl.  "No!  That's an apple."  We're replacing apples with oranges.  What?  Cain:  "That's apples and oranges!"  Romney:  "I'm going to be getting a bushel basket filled with apples and oranges because I'm going to have to pay both taxes."  Applause.

Romney is articulate in decimating the 9-9-9 plan.

Newt:  "I think Herman Cain deserves a lot of credit" for taking a risk with a big idea.  "He has us talking about something that at least matters," instead of the usual junk.  Newt says, however, it's much more complex than Herman lets on.

Newt favors zero capital gains and other focused cuts.  Something you can do very fast; 9-9-9 would take years to think through and do right.

Bachmann likes Reagan's "economic miracle."  She thinks every single American ought to pay something "even if it's a dollar."  She plugs her website.

Perry says "the nine we ought to be concentrating on" is the 9% unemployment.  This administration is blocking energy creation, he says.  "Let's have American energy independence!"  Applause.

Romney says energy is all well and good but manufacturing is important too.

Santorum has strong answers, but he just is milquetoast.  Dull.  He attacks Romney on ObamaCare, however and says Romney has no credibility on this issue.  Romney gets testy and reminds people that this is the 8th or 9th debate and he's written a book and he's quite sick of defending this position.  A war of interruptions erupts between Santorum (who reminds Romney that he changed his stance in his book).

Romney insists that RomneyCare is popular and works in his state but is not what he wants for the nation.  Santorum is still coming unglued.

Fireworks!

Newt tries to restore order.  "Candidly, Mitt, your plan is essentially one more big government, bureaucratic" mess.  "There's a lot of big government behind" RomneyCare.  Romney says they got the idea of an individual mandate from you [Newt].    Not true, says Newt.

Bachmann is screaming "Anderson, Anderson, Anderson!"  wanting some time.

He gives her some time.  She wants to point out the CLASS Act was thrown out because "Obamacare is so flat out unpopular."  Applause.

First commerical.  Whew.

Best commercial break Tweet:


Update 7:45:  To Cain, would you keep any part of Obamacare?  "No."  It's a disaster, he says.

HR3400, says Cain.  It passes market centered reforms to allow association health plans.

To Perry a question about the high rate of uninsured kids in Texas.  He says heath insurance in TX is just fine, thank you.  "We have a 1200 mile border with Mexico and a huge number of illegals."  He pivots the whole question to illegals.  He's screwed up here by talking about a magnet that draws illegals when his own tuition exemption is a pretty big magnet.  Perry attacks Romney and calls him a hypocrite for hiring illegals.

Perry is "breaking the rules" and gets boo'd.

"It's been a tough couple of debates for Rick" and he's getting "testy" says Romney.

Romney is all over this magnet thing and blasts Perry on the in-state tuition.  "If there is someone who has a record as governor who doesn't stand up to muster on illegal immigration it's you, not me."

Score.

Perry says he's against amnesty.  Perry is done.  He keeps interrupting Mitt who schools Perry on interrupting.  "If you want to be president of the United States you've got to listen" better.  Boy!

Mitt promises to put in place E-Verify ("which YOU opposed" he says to Perry).  He gets applause.

Anderson Cooper calls out Cain on the electric fence.  "Allow me to give a serious answer," says Cain.  Build a fence and boots on the ground in the more dangerous areas.  "We must shut the back door so people can come in the front door."  Enforce current immigration laws.  "Empower the states to do what the federal government is NOT doing in enforcing those laws."

Perry:  "Sure you can build a fence...but there's a better way.  Build a virtual defense border," not unlike what Cain said.  Use drones.  "Boots on the ground" (lord I'm sick of that expression.) 

Bachmann takes the high road and points to Obama's aunt and uncle who are allowed to stay in the country.  She says she can build a fence across the entire border.  Perry says yeah, you can do that but again, there's a better way.

Mitt says "turn off the magnets."  He lobs a shot at Perry that gets boo'd.

Perry:  "We have a federal government that has failed."  Perry says Mitt hired illegals when he had a lawn service that had an illegal working for them.  Perry is making a much bigger deal of that than it is or that Romney is actually responsible for and he's getting boo'd for it.  It's not working for him.

Mitt is killing Perry on the immigration issue.  His weakness so far has been on health care.

Ron Paul.  No fence.

Cain:  He gets a question on the 14th amendment but pivots to an economy answer.  9-9-9.

Perry gets the 14th amendment question.  He, too, pivots.  "You get to ask the questions and I get to answer like I want to."  Booo's.  "Get this country workin'" count is two.  Perry is blathering about mining and green energy boondoggles.  "Get Americans workin" double hit.  Up to four.

Perry does not support repealing the 14th Amendment.

Bachmann gets the same question.  Anchor babies.  Deal with it legislatively.

Santorum:  Nobody's talking about family, faith and marriage!  Latinos understand about families!

8:05:  Audience question is about the Yucca mountain repository:  Newt says we have to find a safe method of taking care of nuclear waste; the way we're doing it now is vastly more dangerous than Yucca mountain would be.

Ron Paul says 49 states shouldn't be able to dump their garbage in one state and Romney agrees with him.

Everyone else is pretty much in agreement on that.

A housing question:  Santorum points out everyone who supported TARP and points out Perry who shouts:  "WRONG" and Cain who mutters "Not ALL of it...".  Santorum calls them flip floppers.

Santorum says let the market work.

Perry rebuts:  "We wrote a letter to Congress acting them to act," not necessarily supporting TARP.  Santorum disagrees.  Perry says "I wasn't for TARP."

Cain says he supported the concept of TARP but didn't like "all the other things."

Bachmann's response to the housing question is something about women at the end of their ropes losing their houses.  She wants to talk to moms.  "Obama has failed you!"

8:15:   Ron Paul points out that the bail outs came from both parties.  He's going after "the Fed."

Discussion on OWS:  Romney "Obama has failed you."  Where have I heard that before?  "Americans are hurting across this country and the president is out campaigning!  Why isn't he governing?!"

Commercial break.  Sam Adams break.

8:40:  I was checking Twitter during the break.  Ed Morrissey notes that Perry has improved significantly which is not really saying much.

Cooper barrels right in with a Mormon question.  Santorum points out that he's a Catholic himself but that people should look at the character of the person.

Newt says "If the question is 'does faith matter' then absolutely."  He points out that this country was founded on religious principles.  "None of us should rush in judgment on others" in the way they approach God.  Newt says he'd really be concerned about someone who said faith wouldn't affect their judgment but basically it's nobody's business what your relationship with god is.

Perry says he could never separate himself from his faith. Perry says clearly he does not agree with the disparaging remarks made about Romney's faith.  All is well.

Question Bachmann:  Should defense be cut?  She points out the thwarted Iranian attack on the U.S. and Obama engaging American troops "in a fourth conflict" in Uganda.  She says the U.S. is disrespected in the world today because of Obama's failed policies.  "The president of Iran is a genocidal maniac!"  Great!

Defense spending is on the table, she says, but the president has spread us too thin.  We cannot cut it by 500 billion dollars.

Newt:  Washington is broken; look at the super-committee.  "We'll have to shoot ourselves in the head so when they come back with the idea to cut off our right leg we'll simply be grateful."  OMG.

Newt says, "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk."  He will not put the defense of the US next to some arbitrary budget number.  Applause.

Ron Paul - oh yeah, cut the hell out of defense spending.  Come home.

Ok here's the hostage question to Cain.  Will he clear this up?  Cain says "you would have to consider the entire situation.  I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists," but you have to look at all of the facts.  Not much better.

Anderson:  Isn't that negotiating?

Cain:  "We cannot negotiate with terrorists" which is where we have to start as a fundamental principle.  Hmmm.

Santorum:  No defense spending cuts.  "It is the first duty of the President of the United States to protect us."  This administration has had political objectives rather than objectives for success.  Bachmann is right, he says, Iran does disrespect us.

Discussion about foreign aid.  Paul wants it cut.  "Would you cut aid to Israel," Cooper asks.  Yep.  It doesn't help them, Paul said.  It makes them dependent.

Bachmann says she'd "never" cut aid to Israel; they're our great ally!

Cain says he'd never let Gitmo terrorists go, "that was not the intent at all."

Ron Paul brings up Reagan negotiating with hostages (Iran) and Santorum wants to say apples and oranges but he doesn't.  He says it was totally different.  Newt points out that Reagan thought the Iranian deal "was a terrible mistake."

Is Perry still here?

Last round:   Who can beat Obama is the new topic.  Romney has the best chance, according to polls, says Cooper.  Santorum:  Less than 50% of Americans can even name one of us, so it's irrelevant.  "No one in this field has won a swing state."  I have, he says.  I won Pennsylvania.  No one has defeated a Democrat in a major race - "I have."  Santorum is firing at all of them.  He has a sense of desperation about him.

Romney gets a rebuttal:  People are looking for someone to beat Obama and it's me!  I've spent my life in the private sector!

Perry: " If you wanna know how someone is gonna act in the future look at how they acted in the past."  Compares his jobs record to Romneys and says his record is much better. 

Romney rebuts:  "You were the chairman of Al Gore's campaign" and GWB was running.  Ouch.  Half the jobs in Texas, says Mitt, were created for illegal aliens.  "Incorrect!" says Perry.  Perry rebuts and names big companies that came to Texas and gets boo'd.  This audience is NOT Perry friendly.

Ooooo  and Romney steals the "Get America workin' again" line.

Cain:  I should be president!  Cain says Romney's experience is Wall Street and his own is Main Street.  Cain says he is a problem solver "who fixes stuff."

Romney:  "We both have a private sector background.  I've been CEO four times." 

Bachmann with the cake thing again:  "The cake is baked.  Obama will be a one-term president!"

Newt blasts Cooper for "maximizing bickering."  Newt wants 7 three hour debates with Obama.  Cool!  I'd watch that!

Well Anderson cut it off before everyone got to answer much to everyone's ire. 

Who won?  Nobody.  Seriously.  It was full of fire and bickering and much more interesting.  The audience was set against everything Perry said and boo'd him at every turn.  Romney took some hits, I think, on RomneyCare but Perry brow beat him with the illegal lawn service guy.  Overdone.  Herman Cain backed off from saying he'd release Gitmo terrorists but I think damage was done already on that.  The video lives.  Bachmann stayed steady and had a few good moments.  Newt remains quick witted and smart and bribes us all with a promise to mop the floor with Obama in 21 hours of debates.

Oh would I love to see that. 

Cull the herd.

Cat and Mouse

Watching Rubio grill Geithner is like watching a cat toy with a mouse before he eats it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Cain Train Plows Ahead

Herman Cain's momentum continues.  In today's Rasmussen poll, Cain takes the lead over Obama by a narrow margin:  43% to 41%. 

Can he get elected?  Do we really want him to?  There are doubts about that 9-9-9 plan.

CNN reports in their poll that two-thirds of Republicans and independents are undecided.  Two-thirds?!  I believe it, actually.

I'm undecided.

I'm reluctant to completely write off Perry.  There's another debate tomorrow night; while Perry has already said (and demonstrated) that debates just aren't his thing, I'm still hoping he'll do something brilliant. 

Stacy McCain is seemingly on The Cain Train and Stacy has good instincts.  He's the one who first pointed out Rubio to me.  And, Stacy is off to Las Vegas to cover tomorrow's Republican debate. 

But, still...

I have concerns about Cain.  I like him.  I think he'd be great in a Cabinet position.  I'm just not completely on The Cain Train yet.

So many Republicans are undecided.  It just reaffirms what I wrote a couple of weeks ago.  Republicans and conservatives in general are not completely content with the field; we'd like an amalgamation of qualities to create the perfect candidate! 

Pundette pines for Mike Pence.

I'm still wishing Marco Rubio was ready.

Meanwhile, Obama ramps up his Anybody But Obama efforts by climbing back on his Canadian made bus for a non-political tour in which he bashes Republicans for killing his jobs bill in the Democratically controlled Senate.

So.  Who's your pick?  Are you on The Cain Train?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas

 Correction:  It's been brought to my attention that I've misidentified a store in this post.  The store with the unfriendly proprietor is not Collectible Memories but is instead Jefferson Bottling Works (see the comments).  They're right next door to each other.  Apologies from SIGIS to Collectible Memories! 

Fall is the perfect time to visit Jefferson, Texas.

Steve and I have just returned from a 24 hour getaway that seemed like three days, and I don't mean that in a bad way.  Time just seems to slow down in Jefferson.  We did something this trip that we've never done before:  we spent the night at the historic Excelsior House hotel.  That's one thing about Jefferson that we love - its rich history.

We hit town about 12:30 yesterday after a scenic drive down La. Hwy. 2 which takes us on into Texas.  We like to go that way because it's a prettier drive than interstate and time wise not that much different.  We parked in front of the hotel on Austin Street and didn't get back into the car until it was time to head back to Shreveport.

The Excelsior House was built by riverboat captain William Perry in the 1850s and has been in continuous operation ever since.  There are only 15 guest rooms; you can take a virtual tour here and see how gorgeous it is.  Famous visitors include Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, George W. Bush, astronaut Jim Lovell, and Oscar Wilde.


The lobby is beautifully furnished with period antiques and has plenty of seating for guests or visitors to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.  There's a long display case along one wall with the guest registers of famous guests on display.


A plus:  the rooms have real keys!  I hate those plastic cards.  When you check in you get a key to your room and a key to the front door of the hotel because they lock it up at 9:00. 

We checked out our room and dropped off our luggage before getting lunch and hitting the shops.  To get to the second floor we had to climb a narrow, curving staircase which then deposits you on a long narrow hallway.  Steve said it reminded him of something out of Gunsmoke:


Our room was lovely;  it was long and narrow and furnished with antiques.


The bathroom had hardwood floors, a huge claw footed tub, and gorgeous milk glass lighting:


We took a quick peek at a some of the other rooms that were open.  This is the Ulysses S. Grant room (you can see it better on the virtual tour, above).


This was another of the deluxe rooms:


We sat on the back balcony for a few minutes...


...and finally headed out for lunch.

We ended up at The Hamburger Store on Market Street.  We'd heard the food was good and it's always crowded so that was a good sign.  What we saw when we walked in just blew our minds:


On every single wall in the place are dollar bills.  Decorated, colored, folded, autographed, you name it, dollar bills are stapled to the walls and are creeping across the ceiling.  You can read about the genesis of this tradition here.  The most recent estimate is that there is about $8,000 on the walls.


We amused ourselves while waiting for our food by reading the bills.  We both ordered cheeseburgers and fries; I got the bacon cheeseburger and Steve's was mushroom/swiss.  We both had raspberry tea.  The burgers were outstanding:


They had some beautiful looking pies but we passed on dessert.

Time to shop.  For the most part, the shop keepers in Jefferson are all friendly and always ready to visit with you, ask you where your from, and help you find what you're looking for if you need help.  Many of them have shop dogs or shop cats!

One of my favorite places to go is the huge antique mall at the end of Austin Street.  I think it used to be a feed mill; it's across the railroad tracks at the end of the dead end.  You can spend the entire day in there if you wanted to:


It just goes on forever:


I was thrilled to find this Pyramid pattern bowl in there.  Not a chip or scratch on it!


I thought these old canisters were cool:

 

They were about $40 and I didn't want them that bad.

But I did fall in total love with these jadeite canisters:


But, at $140, I had to leave them.  I loved that one of them says "Grits"!

We can never visit Jefferson without a trip to The General Store.


It's arguably the most crowded shop in Jefferson:


In fact, it was so crowded we were thrilled to discover later that evening (when I realized I needed a Diet Coke for in the morning) that they stay open until 10:00.  When we went back at 8:30 or so it was much less crowded and we could really explore.

They have lots of jellies, syrups, relishes and old fashioned candies, among other things.


They have a great Chow Chow relish that we always stock up on.  Between the crowded afternoon visit and the not crowded evening visit later, I bought two books (one on Jefferson history), salt water taffy, cranberry preserves, and some goat milk lotion.  Steve got his Chow Chow.

Throughout the afternoon we visited several antique shops.  There was one shop, Collectible Memories, on Polk Street, where you could spend hours digging through costume jewelry:


or staring into the display cases at all the interesting things...


...but of all the shops in Jefferson, I don't recommend this one.  The proprietor wasn't especially friendly and we noted that his prices were much higher than anyone else for similar items.

We wore ourselves out and took a break at Auntie Skinner's Riverboat Club in the late afternoon.  We sat at the bar and had a beer and rested up a bit.  We watched some baseball and talked with some other patrons for a while.  The bartender, Alice, provided excellent, friendly service and we spent an hour or so there before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.


We returned to Auntie Skinner's for a light dinner; I had potato skins and Steve had salad and buffalo wings.

The night was cool and clear so we took a long walk through town.  We met up with another couple who was also walking the same direction we were and we fell into conversation with them as we walked along.  Everyone we met in Jefferson, for the most part, was so friendly!  We peered into windows and planned our stops for the next day.

They were doing the annual Ghost Walk  so we kept crossing paths with this mob of people walking through Jefferson listening to the tour guide tell stories of haunted Jefferson. 

We returned to the hotel and sat on the upstairs back balcony overlooking the courtyard for a while, just listening to the sound of the trains rolling through town and the shouts and laughter of a couple of guys who were throwing a frisbee in the street nearby.

Day Two began with the Plantation Breakfast at the hotel.  I'm not much of a breakfast person but this was a memorable breakfast!  We were ushered through the french doors into an elegant dining room, again, furnished with beautiful antiques and a grand piano.  We were seated on the sun porch which had brick flooring and looked out onto the courtyard.  Our table was already set with fresh fruit and orange juice:


Steve says sometimes we act like "country comes to town" when we go places because we so enjoy the little details and effort that places like The Excelsior do.  We oooo and ahhhh over things.  I loved that the butter was in a nice little dish and not in a plastic rack in single serving pats covered in foil.  I liked that the jelly was served in a little jelly dish and not in plastic single serving squares.  Just the little things.

The server, who beamed with friendliness and hospitality, appeared and offered coffee.  Before long she brought out our food (you never saw a menu, this is just what breakfast is...):



Scrambled eggs, sausage, a thick slice of ham, and grits with cheese on top.  We had a basket of orange muffins and the most delicious homemade biscuits I've ever eaten in my life.  Like I said, I'm not a breakfast person, but I consumed the entire thing except for some of my eggs. 

We hit a few more shops...


...and bought a few things.

I got this pretty Mosser Jadeite cream & sugar set:


and I bought this red and white enamelware cup and dipper:


We got some other little odds and ends.  A crystal salt dish.  A Boston Terrier pin.

All in all it was a wonderful 24 hours and we're already planning our next trip.



Previously:
Take a Trip to Jefferson, Texas (2010)
Time Stops In Jefferson, Texas (2008)