Former NFL great and Baton Rouge football legend Warrick Dunn has something to say in the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting of six police officers in the capital city, and not just because of his exploits on the gridiron. Dunn’s life was forever changed when he was just 13 years old; that was when his mother, BRPD Cpl. Betty Smothers, was gunned down by a pair of thugs in a late-night robbery.
So the loss of BRPD officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola is something that goes right to Dunn’s heart. For that reason, a Facebook post he offered last night is well worth repeating…
My heart breaks for the the families of the law enforcement officers who have lost their loved ones. I have been in similar shoes – it will change their lives and leave them all reeling with questions for years to come. It is a shame – so many officers who are out there on the front lines have tremendous heart for what they do. These acts of violence don’t solve anything and if my voice can add to the movement to stop it – then I’d consider that a good thing. I struggle emotionally to understand why and how police officers are being targeted in the way they are.
The reality of our world is that there is a lot of unrest in our communities, particularly where police shootings are happening. Of course this takes me back to when my own black mother was ambushed and killed – by a black man. And all of this comes at a terribly personal time for me. This week, I will attend trial for a re-sentencing hearing for my mother’s murder – which happened 23 years ago. I hate to even think of what this entire ordeal will cost our community but I know – it is too much. And even though my Mother lost her life all those years ago, the men who were tried by a jury of their peers have been kept alive by a prison system that has seen to their every need. Something that was denied to my Mother.
We can’t just sit around and talk about how horrible all this is – we have to do something. And that means it ALWAYS starts with the individual.
One of the things I am doing is taking the role of fatherhood very seriously so I can raise a son who makes a positive contribution. I am striving to be there for him emotionally, physically and intellectually. I want to give him something I never had because statistics prove it makes a difference when a child has an active father in his or her life. And we have to do more to build empathy in children so they have a hard time treating one another badly. It all starts with kids so we have to do all we can to care about kids. Especially kids at risk for never learning how to socially and emotionally relate.
Another thing we can all do is stress to our elected leaders to look at the issue of guns in our country with serious eyes and intent instead of as a political stand-off. And then we have to give justice a chance to work. When people are intentional in the use of guns against others – we have to make sure the message that crime doesn’t pay – means something. Today I confess I wonder about that because from my view with my Mother’s trial, justice has failed our family – but I believe we can and must do better.
We also have to ensure that the laws on the books are enforced. Of course I know there are officers who do not do the right thing – that is true in every profession. But when murder is a planned event – the rule of law should matter and loopholes or sophisticated lawyering have to stop. Why have laws if we aren’t going to enforce them?
I feel close to this subject – it has touched me very personally. I speak for no one other than myself and I support law enforcement. I also support the community of Baton Rouge because they were there for me and my family. If I could have any effect, I’d ask the community to stop the violence, to cool down and to come together to figure this out. There is nothing we can’t do but we have to work together to make something positive come from yet another tragedy in my home town.
This isn’t a great day for a smorgasbord of Louisiana political news, as the shooting has sucked all the oxygen out of the room where our normal subjects are concerned. We did find this, though – it’s Jim Beam’s column for yesterday’s Lake Charles American Press.
There was a time when Beam postured himself as an objective, or even conservative, political columnist. That time has passed, and he’s let slip the mask – he’s a Democrat, and a partisan one at that.
The column is about the supposed competition between Billy Nungesser and Jeff Landry for the title of Republican standard-bearer. And after trashing Nungesser for making statements about Democrat voter fraud and repeating the overblown charges about Nungesser’s involving himself in a shaky and perhaps ill-advised effort to facilitate an oil deal with the Iraqis as part of economic development efforts which are outside of his portfolio as Lt. Governor, Beam then turned his guns on Landry for his performance in the legislative sessions of the spring…
Meanwhile, Landry is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to demonstrate he’s the new conservative standard bearer for the state GOP. One of his most ambitious power-grabs was an attempt to separate his AG budget from those of other statewide elected officials.
The ultra-conservative Republicans in the House were willing to play Landry’s game, but a saner Senate derailed the whole idea.
Where Landry really goes all out to enhance his standing is through his public relations operation. The AG’s office has sent out 76 major news releases since Landry took office, one every 2½ days. No state attorney general in recent history comes even close.
Landry let it be known early in his short tenure that it’s his right to proceed over all legal issues and cases in state government. He scolded the governor for not following the constitution. He praises court and legislative decisions he likes and blasts those he doesn’t.
And then, Beam really let Landry have it over last week’s news that he was heading up the resuscitation of the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, the PAC founded by Sen. David Vitter aimed at supporting Republican candidates for the state legislature which was mothballed amid Vitter’s unsuccessful run for governor last year.
One would think that Republican elected officials seeking to (1) grow the GOP in the state and (2) build a power base among other elected officials would be recognized as fairly normal fare. Somehow this was displeasing to the grizzled veteran columnist of Calcasieu Parish…
The self-promotion effort reaped its biggest dividend when Landry became the figurehead of the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, an organization founded by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, a decade ago. The political action committee had a big hand in helping elect the most obstructionist Republicans in the Legislature.
Landry denies he’s planning to oppose Edwards in the 2019 governor’s election, but don’t bet any money he won’t do it.
In the interim, Landry has made it clear the Vitter organization is going to evaluate the performance of all GOP members of the Legislature. Those who voted for some taxes in the first special session have already come under heavy fire from ultra-conservative organizations.
Landry said, “I don’t have a problem to challenge people who are labeled Republicans in the Louisiana Legislature when they fail to heed those Republican principles.”
If you think Landry sounds like another no-tax hardliner like former Gov. Bobby Jindal, give yourself a deserved pat on the back. Landry and Vitter are close, and Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, was responsible for the party backing both Nungesser and Landry last fall.
Democrats may take some comfort from the alliance between these GOP hardliners. Vitter is cut from the same cloth, and he didn’t fare so well in the 2015 gubernatorial sweepstakes.
Landry hasn’t done anything wrong in helping to re-start LCRM. There are lots of people on the Right in the state who see the current freshman class of Republican legislators, which is the only class in the Legislature not affected by LCRM’s efforts to promote conservative candidates, as a hideous bunch of unprincipled RINO’s. Those people look at some decidedly un-Republican voting records and see those legislators as badly representing conservative districts; and that performance to date shows the necessity of a strong organization paving the way for consensus toward conservative public policy solutions among our elected officials.
The state legislature was making lots of progress toward that end up until 2015, and LCRM was part of that mix. When it went away the progress stalled. For Landry to throw his weight behind restarting it is a service to those who share his beliefs, whether he benefits from those actions politically or not.
The only folks who would begrudge that are partisan Democrats. Beam, for all his longtime protestations to the controversy, can’t deny he is one anymore.
Readers of the American Press can act accordingly.
How about a Today’s Last Thing? We need something light after all we’ve been through. So we’ll just show you a cat riding along on the back of a moped…