By Rodney Allen
After two failed Special Sessions, a third Special Session of Lousiana’s Republican-controlled Legislature finally resulted in a half-cent sales tax “increase” marginally sufficient to prevent another disastrous round of Bobby Jindal-style budget cuts to public education and healthcare, The tax “increase” was actually just the restoration of half of the one-cent sales tax that reached its expiration date this year. So what actually happened in the third Special Session was a half-cent tax cut.
The majority of Louisianans–including many Republicans–heaved a sigh of relief at this sensible, modest revenue-raising action in Baton Rouge. As one legislator put it after the measure passed, “The ghost of Bobby Jindal has finally left the [Capitol] Building.” One Louisiana Republican who didn’t approve of the measure, however, was Sen. John Kennedy, who will probably run against Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2018. Kennedy decried the tax in his “Opinion” piece published in the Natchitoches Times on July 7-8, claiming the tax “increase” could have been avoided if not for massive Medicaid fraud in our state. Kennedy didn’t offer any proof of the existence of massive Medicaid fraud, but he seemed pretty sure it must exist. After all, a Democrat is the current governor of the state. Apparently, Sen. Kennedy hopes to become the Ghost of Jindal “Future” by becoming governor and cutting taxes further, no matter how much more damage that does to our battered education and healthcare systems.
Sen. Kennedy hasn’t been content just to advise Louisiana citizens on taxes, however. On July 3-4, our Senator was in Moscow. The Moscow in Russia, not Idaho. He and five other Republican Senators traveled to Putin’s autocratic kleptocracy state in “hopes of meeting personally with Putin,” as Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama put it. But, alas, Putin was too busy (presumably plotting more murders of his internal and external enemies, stealing more money from the hapless Russian people, and plotting which eastern European country to invade next) to meet with Six Distinguished Senators from the United States of America. So Sen. Kennedy and his GOP colleagues had to be content with a meeting with the Russian Duma, and with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister. There’s a video of Kennedy patiently awaiting his turn to shake hands with Lavrov, one of the Russians who helped steal the 2016 Presidential election for Trump. (Even the Republican majority Senate Intelligence Commit Report released on July 3 admitted the Russians plotted and executed a massive cyber attack on America by illegally stealing DNC emails, planting thousands of false stories in social media about Hillary Clinton, and secretly meeting with more than a dozen of Trump’s most senior staff, including Sessions, Kushner, Flynn, Paige, Cohen, Manafort, Gates–who later repeatedly lied about having done so.)
But there was Senator Kennedy in the Kremlin, patiently waiting his turn to shake Sergi Lavrov’s hand like a Boy Scout tickled pink to be getting a merit badge for knot tying. Ethical knot-tying, perhaps. But surely Sen. Kennedy went to Moscow to blast Putin for having successfully interfered in our most defining democratic tradition–free and fair elections? Nope. Kennedy said nothing of the sort. Did Sen. Kennedy confront Putin’s number-one man Lavrov over Putin’s helping the Syrian dictator Assad murder hundreds of thousands of his own people, some of them with poison gas? The Russian Putin stooges in the Duma said Syria “never came up” in a two-hour meeting with Kennedy and his GOP delegation. As Senator Shelby said, “We didn’t come here to accuse anybody of this or that.” While the Senators were in Russia, Trump was giving one of his profane pep rallies in one of “his” red states. To the delight of the crowd, he ridiculed those of us who find his sycophancy to Putin appalling: “They’re so worried, they say ‘But Putin was KGB! Putin was KGB!’ But Putin is fine–he’s fine! We’re all just people!” Trump and the GOP are openly flirting with treason by giving aid and comfort to American’s most powerful enemy. And Sen. John Kennedy has gone “all in” on that dangerous gamble with his groveling trip to Moscow.
Perhaps the plan was to appease Putin who could end Trump’s presidency at any time by leaking to the world press a few strategic documents concerning Trump’s unrealistically profitable real estate deals with certain Russian oligarchs. And now John Kennedy apparently wants to be governor of Louisiana. Will Louisiana’s voters willingly be Jindal-ed again? And worse, will they elect a governor who shamelessly went to Moscow as a representative of the United States of America to faun over the world’s most dangerous, ruthless, and ambitious dictator? Rodney Allen is a retired teacher and author of books on Louisiana novelist Walker Percy, novelist Kurt Vonnegut and screenwriter/directors Joel and Ethan Coen. He lives in Natchitoches.