HITHER AND YON: Trump 8, Hillary 0 As Louisiana’s Electors Cast Their Votes

There wasn’t much of a controversy as the eight Louisiana electors met at the state capitol today to cast their votes to make Donald Trump the next president of the United States.

All eight had pledged to vote for Trump, all eight had been deluged with obnoxious, pushy, ill-reasoned and sometimes even threatening e-mails, letters and phone calls amid what can actually be termed an attempted coup by the Democrats, and all eight fulfilled that pledge.

There was one person in the state senate chamber who booed when one of the electors announced his support for Trump, and then quickly shut up as the room shot him disapproving glances. That was the extent of the acrimony inside the building.

And outside, there was this…


Around the country, as of this writing the meetings of the Electoral College have gone similarly. The height of the drama appears to have come from Minnesota, where a Democrat elector attempted to vote for no candidate rather than for Hillary; he was quickly disavowed and replaced with an alternate, who promptly cast a vote for Clinton and all 10 of Minnesota’s electoral votes went to her, and in Maine, where a Democrat elector voted for Bernie Sanders.

Trump will easily surpass 300 electoral votes and end up within a vote or two of the 306 he earned on Election Night.

And if the Democrats weren’t selfish idiots, they could have had an opportunity to perhaps shake loose enough electors to deny Trump the presidency in favor of another Republican. As the CATO Institute’s Michael Cannon wrote two weeks ago in the Washington Post

Democrats’ best chance to prevent Donald Trump from assuming the presidency is instead to do the unthinkable: Throw their support behind another Republican, such as Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

Whatever reservations Republican electors may have about Trump, empty entreaties from Democrats are unlikely to sway them. Even if 37 Republican electors voted for another Republican, the GOP-controlled House would likely select Trump anyway.

The only way Democrats stand any chance of persuading Republican electors to abandon Trump is with a dramatic gesture of true bipartisanship. If all 232 Democratic electors pledge to reach across the aisle and vote for a Republican alternative to Trump, it would take just 38 GOP electors to make that person the next president.

If Clinton announced she is releasing “her” electors and asked them to vote for a credible Republican alternative, she could plausibly deliver all 232 Democratic electors. She might even secure similar pledges from House Democrats in the event the election went to the House.

Finding 38 Republican electors might then be easier than Democrats think. In 2012, Romney won a larger share of the popular vote (47.2 percent) than Mr. Trump did this year (46.2 percent). There are 35 Republican electors from states where Romney got more votes than Trump (Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Utah, Wisconsin), and at least 120 others from states where Romney won a larger share of the vote. That’s more than half of Republican electors. Texas has 38 electors all by itself.

That wouldn’t have worked, either, in all likelihood, but it would have at least lent some credence to the narrative that Donald Trump is so terrible as to be outside the acceptable political mainstream. At least the Democrats could say they weren’t trying to attempt a coup d’etat by stealing power they lost in the election.

But that’s beyond the current capabilities of that party.

Our congratulations, and sympathies, go out to the electors and alternates in Louisiana who endured as many as 90,000 e-mails apiece demanding they vote for someone other than Trump. Hopefully their ordeal, and the harassment attendant in them, is over. And hopefully the FBI and Justice Department will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law the cretins who sent them death threats. That kind of behavior is beneath a constitutional republic such as this one.

The Advocate had a long piece Sunday written by Gordon Russell and Maya Lau about the Louisiana Department of Corrections, and how between former Angola Prison warden Burl Cain and current DOC head Jimmy LeBlanc there is a fairly extensive good-old-boy network of people making a killing off incarcerating people in this state.

Over the past quarter-century, Cain and LeBlanc have populated the ranks of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections with friends and relatives, in positions high and low. Other kin and allies have found success in the private sector, supplying goods and services to an archipelago of prisons in a state that keeps more people behind bars than any other.

A series of scandals that began last year has shaken up a department that has historically kept its business outside public view. Cain, warden of Angola for two decades and perhaps America’s most famous jailer, retired last year amid questions about his business ties to advocates for two state inmates. Other scandals have ended the careers of Cain’s eldest son and daughter-in-law.

But LeBlanc has hung on. In reappointing him as corrections chief earlier this year, freshly minted Gov. John Bel Edwards made an extraordinary bet that LeBlanc can clean up the corruption that largely occurred on his watch.

And that’s only the beginning. Edwards views the veteran corrections chief as the ideal man to lead a once-in-a-lifetime makeover of his department, an ambitious effort to end Louisiana’s 18-year reign as America’s prison capital. It would be a remarkable achievement, given that some of LeBlanc’s key allies have benefited from the explosive growth in the state’s prison rolls.

The story does a great job of documenting how there’s a network of close to two dozen friends and family members of the Cains and LeBlancs either working at DOC or holding contracts from it. And given the well-reported torrent of scandalous allegations within the department, it seems scandalous in itself that Edwards would keep LeBlanc on board as the head of the department while he purports to clean it up.

But the thing to understand is that Edwards isn’t interested in cleaning up anything at DOC, and retaining LeBlanc is the unmistakable signal proving it. What Edwards wants to change is the total number of people incarcerated in Louisiana; he wants that number reduced by a sufficient amount such that Louisiana no longer has the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the nation.

And while that’s a laudable ambition, one supposes, it has very little to do with whether Louisiana has an honest or effective corrections department, or whether Louisiana enacts and implements policies which serve to reduce the number of lawbreakers in our midst who need to be incarcerated.

It’s well worth reading, but one gets the impression that rather than offer a quizzical tone about LeBlanc’s retention in the face of a need to clean up a department whose corruption he’s benefited from it might have been a bit more accurate to question whether Edwards isn’t merely paying lip service to reform while maintaining the status quo.

Particularly since Edwards’ family has had a stranglehold on the sheriff’s department in Tangipahoa Parish for decades – and presumably has made a fortune on incarcerating criminals during that time just like lots of other sheriffs have done.

Meanwhile the Times-Picayune’s editors have proven once again they’re not the sharpest tools in the shed

The NBA granted the All-Star game to New Orleans months after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order protecting state workers and state contractors from being fired, discriminated against or harassed based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.  The governor’s executive order, the director of an LGBT advocacy group said, made Louisiana “a little island in the deep South,” and the NBA’s decision to move its big game from Charlotte to New Orleans was an indication that discrimination costs as much as inclusion pays.

But since signing the executive order in April, Gov. Edwards has had very little cooperation from other Louisiana officials.  In fact, he’s been opposed by the state’s grandstanding Attorney General Jeff Landry and by more than a dozen of the state’s lawmakers. And on Wednesday a Baton Rouge judge ruled that the governor’s executive order was unlawful.  In his ruling, Judge Todd Hernandez of the 19th Judicial District went further than the attorney general was even asking him to go.  Mr. Landry’s legal team had indicated in court that the attorney general would be satisfied if just the transgender protections were removed, that is, that Mr. Landry wouldn’t object to an executive order protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual people from discrimination.

But Judge Hernandez ruled against the entirety of the governor’s executive order, which means that state employees who love people of the same sex can be legally discriminated against and fired for that reason alone.

Louisiana can do better than that.  Louisiana should do better than that.  The governor is expected to appeal the ruling, but lawmakers could make such an appeal unnecessary by embracing the simple concept that no state workers and no state contractors should be fired because of their gender identity or their sexual orientation. If people are fired or denied promotions, then it should be because they’re incompetent or because they haven’t performed well enough to advance.  If people aren’t hired, it should be because they’re not qualified for whatever positions they seek.

What a complete swing and miss.

The issue in last week’s complete courtroom beatdown suffered by Edwards at Landry’s hands has nothing in particular to do with gay rights. It has to do with the governor’s executive overreach and the affirmation of our crucial principle of checks and balances – something which is a great deal more important than NBA all-star games and stupid leftist boycotts. If it’s good law to engage in protection against discrimination of gay people in state government, then let there be a bill brought on the issue and let there be a debate in the legislature about it. So far, when that debate has been had the cultural Left has not won it, and so far the cultural Left has not shown itself to be a sufficient electoral force to produce a legislative majority willing to make a protected class out of gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities.

We call that constitutional government, and representative democracy. It is far more important to preserve than the liberal pieties the mediocre editorialists at the Times-Picayune – Tim Williamson, president, David Francis, publisher, Mark Lorando, editor, Terri Troncale, Opinions editor and Jarvis DeBerry, Deputy Opinions editor – seem to think are paramount. If the paper was worth the dead trees it’s printed on three days a week, today’s editorial wouldn’t be about the necessity to change the law Edwards broke in promulgating his executive order, it would be instead praising Hernandez for recognizing the importance of the constitutional process in making policy.

Perhaps that’s over their heads. But with Donald Trump about to take office, maybe leftists like Williamson, Francis et al will rediscover the fruits and benefits of limited government.

And to clean something up from last week, Charlie Melancon said he was forced out as the head of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, rather than leaving on his own…

Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries secretary said Friday he’s being forced out of his Cabinet position by Gov. John Bel Edwards, months into the secretary’s work to correct widespread financial problems identified by auditors.

Charlie Melancon said he was asked by Edwards’ administration officials, not the governor directly, to leave the office in mid-February and he agreed. He said he wasn’t given a reason for his forced exit in conversations with Edwards’ chief of staff, Ben Nevers, and the governor’s executive counsel, Matthew Block.

“You serve at the pleasure of the governor, and if they want you to resign, you don’t have to have a reason,” Melancon said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If through the chief of staff and the governor’s executive counsel he asks that I resign, I resign.”

The Edwards administration said Melancon has been let go because of a difference in management styles, which translates into Melancon was a political liability Edwards didn’t think he could afford any longer.

But in case anyone thinks Melancon’s ouster changes any of the things which made him unpopular in the first place, think again. The two issues which enraged so many recreational fishermen and small commercial fishermen in the state about Melancon – first, fighting against a bill in Congress that would put the state in charge of red snapper management rather than continuing the corrupt federal policies which enable a small number of commercial fishermen to control the bulk of the annual harvest, and then second, killing the TAG Louisiana program which enables fishermen to assist in gathering data on the health of the state’s fisheries at negligible cost to the state – are not going to see any major policy changes.

Particularly in the case of the red snapper management. One has to recognize that Edwards secured max-out donations from a large number of the “Sea Lords,” the large commercial fishermen who benefit from the federal red snapper policy DWF seeks to preserve. In other words, it’s Edwards’ position DWF has taken, not Melancon’s. Melancon’s replacement will have the same policy, and be unpopular for the same reason.

By the way, we’re told to be on the lookout for one of two Democrats to replace Melancon. One is state representative Gene Reynolds of Minden, whose district went heavily both for Trump on Nov. 8 (65-33) and for John Kennedy on Dec. 10 (63-37) and is starting to see some writing on the political wall, and the other is Foster Campbell – who is vested in the state’s pension plan and wants a richer salary upon which to base his retirement on. Public Service Commissioners only make some $45,000 per year, while the DWF job pays…considerably more.

Campbell doesn’t need the money. But he would appreciate the prestige. And he and Edwards owe each other favors, so for the extra loot he can get after two years on the job, he’d be glad to stick it to the recreational fishermen.

For Today’s Last Thing, since this is the last installment of Hither And Yon before the Christmas Holidays, we take you down to New Orleans for the sights and sounds of Celebration In The Oaks at New Orleans’ City Park…

Merry Christmas, everybody!

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