Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chicken Boxing and April Fools' Day

Stuck on Stupid in Louisiana 

Dayne Sherman
April 6, 2014
Column / 650 words

On April Fools' Day, the Louisiana Legislature was in session. Perhaps the apex of legislative insanity ensued on April 1 when our elected officials debated the legality and ethics of “chicken boxing.” It was not a joke.

Yes, chicken boxing became both a great occasion for humor and an embarrassment to the state. News outlets nationwide picked up the story. Sen. JP Morrell (D-New Orleans) proposed legislation to close the loopholes in the state cockfighting ban. Slick and enterprising fowl breeders bypassed the fighting cock prohibition by using sparring “gloves” during rooster bouts. In other words, they've turned the birds into boxers instead of fighters.

This is the logic of Louisiana politics on public display.

No doubt, when the legal authorities aren't watching, the gaffs and knives come out and cockfighting is back to the bad old days.

Undone by Morrell's attempt to make cockfighting paraphernalia illegal, Sen. Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas), a rising star in GOP politics, defended the practice of chicken boxing, which he understood to be well within in Morrell's legislative sights. Guillory, a man with an unparalleled love for the photo-op, posed for pictures while holding little rubber boxing gloves fitted for roosters.

Guillory, an African-American, was a Republican but then switched parties in order to win his seat in a heavily Democratic district. Last year he switched back to Republican with much fanfare. He is also a man who made headlines a year ago for his praise of witch doctors as a rationale to keep Louisiana's embarrassing creationist K-12 “science” law on the books.

Indeed, the debate over chicken boxing will continue, as will Louisiana being the laughingstock of America.

However, we have another debate that is to me just as insane as boxing birds, perhaps worse.

Rep. Chris Broadwater (R-Hammond) is on the defensive about HB 244, the “gun shows on college campuses bill.” The proposed law, according to Broadwater, is simply a gun safety bill.

I have read HB 244 bill, gotten an email and a text message from Rep. Broadwater regarding the bill, and read articles written about the bill.

Two facts come to mind. First, there is NOTHING in HB 244 to prevent gun shows on college campuses or even in the facilities of the elementary and secondary laboratory schools at SLU, Southern University, and LSU. If Rep. Broadwater had wanted to prevent “gun shows” from occurring, he could have written into the language allowing for no more than two or three guns to be auctioned or sold at events.

Second, if Rep. Broadwater wanted to make a real statement promoting campus safety, he could have stopped any and all groups from selling or auctioning guns on campus under the Gun Free School Zones Act.

This did not happen. We now have a bad bill that makes a bad statement. We can do better.

I am proud of SLU professor Dr. James Kirylo and the SLU faculty senate for making a strong statement against gun sales on college campuses through a recent resolution. In a climate of fear created by Gov. Bobby Jindal's assault on higher education, it is courageous when college employees take a stand on an important issue. LSU's faculty senate is scheduled to take up a similar resolution soon.

We don't need to get stuck on the words “gun shows” or “gun auctions.” Likewise, let's not get distracted by “chicken boxing” or “chicken fighting.” Who cares?

At the end of the day, all of this is a bunch of foolishness as Louisiana continues to go to the birds. We have elected officials who make it April Fools' Day all year long here in the Pelican State. Unfortunately, we allow them to bring embarrassment to the state when we create an atmosphere of disaster by voting them into office.

Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.
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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gun bill loaded by a gallery of rogues

Another bad bill on the Bayou

Dayne Sherman
March 23, 2014
Column / 675 words
 
 
I am rarely surprised by the antics of the Louisiana Legislature. This session is by no means an exception.
 
There is a bill banning the personal ownership of various snakes. Then there are numerous bills related to the Common Core, an education curriculum that is not well thought out and is backed by vulture capitalists. I wonder how many of the legislators now up in arms about the Common Core can read their own legislation? Probably few.
 
Locally, we have our own Bad Bill on the Bayou, Rep. Chris Broadwater's HB244. It allows colleges and universities to “lease of property... to nonprofit corporations or associations to hold fundraisers that include the auctioning and sale of firearms.”
 
In other words, selling guns on campus.
 
The bill rolled through the House with 90 yes votes and only two souls had enough guts to say no. In some ways, I respect both yes and no votes, but there was a large peanut gallery of absent votes, often a way to avoid being held accountable for taking a stance.
 
All of our nearby representatives were on board. What a shame.
 
The bill is currently pending Senate referral next week. So it goes from one rogues' gallery to the next with hardly a hiccup in the process.
 
Part of the pretense for the law is to raise money for cash-strapped institutions. Louisiana is ranked number one in America for cuts to higher education. With Gov. Jindal's heart set on destroying Louisiana colleges and universities, cutting funding by 80 % with his lapdog legislators doing whatever he desires, there is no doubt that campuses will either receive lower funding during the next fiscal year or stay just as bad off as before.
 
An exasperated university faculty member wanted to know what's next? An escort service (prostitution) coordinated by college campuses to raise funds?
 
Please, supporters and friends of “sinatorDavid Vitter, don't answer the question.
 
Even Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster is shilling for the gun bill. Really, Mayor? Is that the legacy you want to leave for your three lackluster terms in office?
 
The real question is not why a Republican or a Democrat files foolish bills. If a voter does not understand the bill writing process, I will explain it in one sentence: A special interest group corrals a “bill mule” to carry the legislation they have written or want written, usually with promises of donations, and the legislator, or “bill mule,” files the bill and carries it through the legislative process.
 
No, the real question is how citizens should respond?
 
To start, they should think through the implications of bills and what they do long term. I believe HB 244 will lead to college campuses without gun restrictions.
 
In the case of Rep. Broadwater's bill, how will parents of K-8 students at the Southeastern Louisiana University Lab School feel about guns being auctioned inside the Kiva, a nice sized room for a gun auction if there ever was one? Will they want their children seeing gun dealers and cops packing assault rifles to be auctioned on campus?
 
How will college faculty, staff, and students react when they learn that their formerly Firearm Free Zones are no longer that at all? Will they rally statewide to fight the bill?
 
When it comes to active civic engagement by Louisiana citizens, there are more absentee votes than anything else.
 
I am a hunter. I love to hunt and would rather be hunting or fishing than writing a column on a bad bill. I just wish we could bring a little common sense to gun legislation. Unfortunately, I am not expecting common sense to rule as long as special interest groups often outside of Louisiana own the legislative process.


Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
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***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***


Monday, March 17, 2014

Open Letter - American Association of University Professors

I voted for the Organizing for Change Slate

Dayne Sherman
March 17, 2014
Letter / 200 words

Dear AAUP Members:

Today I placed my ballot in the mail for the AAUP 2014 election.

After some thought, I decided to back the Organizing for Change Slate (Rudy Fichtenbaum, President Hank Reichman, First Vice President, Susan Michalcyzk, Second Vice President, and Michele Ganon, Secretary-Treasurer). See more about the Organizing for Change Slate here: https://sites.google.com/site/aauporganizingforchange/.

Dr. Fichtenbaum reached out to me and asked for my support, which I gladly offered after reading the platform and accomplishments. I understand that he has had to clean up many problems from the past, and I want to give the group more time to work.

On the other had, I tried to reach out to Dr. Cary Nelson on May 2, 2012, by e-mail. We'd met briefly at the AAUP meeting at Tulane University. I asked to interview Dr. Nelson, and I'm still awaiting a reply. I'm not at all surprised by the silence.

To me, we can continue the slide toward irrelevance or attempt to make a change. This is why I am supporting the Organizing for Change Slate, and I hope you will consider doing the same. Please feel free to forward this e-mail.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Dayne Sherman
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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Watch your Billfold; Legislature in Session

As the Worm Turns in Baton Rouge

Dayne Sherman
March 15, 2014
Column / 850 words
Published in several newspapers & blogs

On Monday, March 10, the Louisiana Legislative session began. Surely it will not be as acrimonious as the 2012 session, a time when school teachers gathering at the State Capitol were treated like animals at the hands of Governor Jindal, Speaker Chuck Kleckly, and some members of the House Education Committee. You will recall this is when the governor pushed his education “reform” agenda in marathon meetings.

Why did the 2012 session kick the teachers in the face? Governor Jindal thought he was going to be Vice President of the United States. He had to show that he could go complete imbecile in order to achieve this goal. With the help of ALEC--who paid off some of our local legislators with campaign cash--they forged ahead with unconstitutional education reform that has mostly failed to meet court muster since.

I have to give props to Mitt Romney: He had the wisdom to keep Louisiana's Boy Wonder off the GOP ticket. I respect Romney's judgment for that much if nothing else.

But all is not love and light this year.

One major battle will be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Senator Ben Nevers and Representative John Bel Edwards both have common sense bills to implement the federal Medicaid expansion for Louisiana citizens.

On the other hand, Representative Jerome “Dee” Richard, an Independent from Thibodaux, usually a reasonable man, is trying to enforce Tenth Amendment rights regarding the ACA. He calls denying the health law a “States' Rights” issue, and does not want to implement the ACA in Louisiana.

Whenever I see someone calling for "State's Rights," why do I also see images of George Wallace, German shepherds, fire hoses, and billy clubs? The Medicaid expansion is absolutely a part of ACA. Indeed, the ACA brings no caps on medical benefits, children on family insurance plans until 26 years old, free preventative care, 80 percent of premiums going to actual medical care, and on and on. I hardly think Louisiana needs to stand in the hospital door and declare: "Bad healthcare now, bad healthcare tomorrow, bad healthcare forever!" 

Let the States' Rights foolishness fall away into the dustbin of history.

Speaking of tomfoolery and downright idiocy, I wonder if the proposed secession city of St. George in Baton Rouge will spill over into this year's legislative gathering? I and others have dubbed this proposed municipality “St. George Wallace.” The effort is being led by Senator Mack “Bodi” White, my state senator, a true dim bulb if Louisiana has ever had one in public office. Why is it that every time I see a photo of Bodi White I think of the late brute Bull Connor? Maybe it is because they are both good Methodists. Who knows?

Perhaps the most heat and least light will come from the battle over the Common Core, a national curriculum that has been panned from both the left and right as out of touch with real classrooms, real teaching, and real students.

Liberals and conservatives have lined up against it with sharpened pitchforks. In the middle is Governor Jindal. He has backed it 100 percent through his little education troll, State Superintendent of Education John White, but Jindal has been sheepish about the whole thing. I suspect Jindal will sacrifice White over the Common Core before the session is over.

The Common Core is great in theory and bad in practice. It's mostly a cash grab by companies and pushed by vulture capitalists like Bill Gates. Dr. Diane Ravitch, a leading education historian, recently said, “The billionaires will get bored and find a new hobby. Maybe yachting or polo ponies.”

Let's hope so.

When it comes to higher education funding, don't expect much. With 80 percent of state funding cut from college and university budgets, the campuses are heading to insolvency. The state lacks higher education leaders with enough fortitude and political juice to make funding improvements happen. As long as TOPS pays the tuition bill, there won't be much in the way of help coming from the public either.

At the end of the day we have a governor who has left the state a fiscal disaster by cutting taxes, destroying services and infrastructure, and buying politicians through privatization and the funding local pet projects. Over 100 years ago an astute political observer said, “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” This is certainly true in 2014.

According to reports, during the first week of the session Jindal campaigned in New Hampshire, an early presidential primary state. Hardly a coincidence. We all know his heart is not in Louisiana. So be wary, be awake, and be vigilant. With Bobby Jindal in office and his legislative lapdogs at his feet, Louisiana could be annexed by Vladimir Putin's Russia before we read about it in the morning newspaper.

Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.
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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
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***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Medicaid Expansion is Pro-life

How Jindal Harms the Living
 
Dayne Sherman
March 9, 2014
Column / 700 words
Published in several newspapers & blogs

To truly be pro-life is to respect the lives of all people: the unborn, newborn, children of all ages, mothers, prisoners on death row, victims of crime, immigrants, poor people and old people.

Focusing only on one group, the unborn, and neglecting people from birth to death is a tragedy and a moral abyss that harms the living.

So how can Gov. Bobby Jindal, a snake oil salesman and a fake, who is only trying to raise money and steal votes from the unsuspecting, call himself Catholic and pro-life while at the same time rejecting the federal Medicaid expansion?

Your guess is as good as mine.

The program would provide comprehensive health insurance to 250,000-450,000 Louisiana citizens, many of our neighbors and friends. It would cost Louisiana just a fraction of the expense and could quite possibly save our local hospitals from financial meltdown in the coming years. It will boost the economy and create jobs here in the Bayou State.

How Gov. Jindal can reject healthcare for nearly 1 in 10 citizens and not get called a monster is hard for me to understand.

This mystery seems to puzzle Louisiana's newest House Member, Republican Vance McAllister. You will recall he was elected in a landslide last November after the “Neil Deal” blew up in Jindal's face like a scene in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Such a fiasco happens often to the Boy Wonder, of course. Jindal wanted to make headlines leaving a bi-partisan meeting at the White House recently, and he jumped to the microphone and droned on like a nervous junior high debate team member on espresso. He didn't want to be seen as a buffoon, which is exactly what happened. Jindal is like Pee-wee Herman acting all John Wayne. It came off as a disaster and moved him not one centimeter closer to his real goal in life: to become King of the World, though winning POTUS will do in a pinch. He embarrassed himself and Louisiana.

But back to the Neil Deal. It was a purported scheme to have US Rep.Rodney Alexander quit his seat in Washington to take a job as head of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs in order to pave the way for mortician and Jindal goon State Senator Neil Riser to become Alexander's anointed replacement. However, voters revolted in the 5th District and elected businessman McAllister. Let's not fail to remember that McAllister had never run for public office or even stepped foot in D.C.

Stephanie Grace of The Advocate newspaper quoted McAllister in a recent column. McAllister is totally right on the Medicaid expansion: “I thought, ‘You know what, I’m not going to skirt the issue. Republican, Democrat, it don’t matter. Those working poor have paid that money in. That money’s going to Washington. It’s their money,’ ” he said. “For me to say I’m against Medicaid expansion makes me the best congressman California and Massachusetts could ever have, because that’s where that money’s gonna go.”

He went on: “It’s about doing what’s right. You keep your people healthy, they’ll continue to work. They’ll do better,” he said. “The money’s there. As a business guy, I don’t like Gov. Jindal standing up there and trying to use political points” to argue that the state can’t afford the small fraction it would eventually have to pay to draw down billions in benefits. “It don’t take Einstein to figure out that’s a pretty darn good return on your investment.”

Rep. McAllister, a conservative, told the truth. And I don't care who you are or what kind of ideology you espouse, the federal Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do for Louisiana. Without fighting for it, I don't believe you should call yourself pro-life.


Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman
***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Saturday, March 1, 2014

MacAdam/Cage Sued for Fraud, Files Bankruptcy

Or, How to Rob an Author

This is only a brief overview.

In 2003, I made the mistake of signing a predatory contract with MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Inc. They published my novel Welcome to the Fallen Paradise in 2004. 

In January 2014, MacAdam/Cage filed a very interesting Chapter 7 Bankruptcy document. I am a creditor. See the 140-page filing here: 

http://media.publishersmarketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/MacAdamCagebankruptcyfiling.pdf 

More interesting to me, however, is that MacAdam/Cage was sued for fraud about two weeks prior to the principals signing the bankruptcy documents. Is this a coincidence?

See Dorothy Smith v. Emeigh Poindexter et al:

http://www.plainsite.org/dockets/index.html?id=3185683

Quote: "Fraud, Complaint Filed By Plaintiff Smith, Dorothy As To Defendant Pointdexter, Emeigh As The Personal Representative Or Trustee Of The Estate Of David Pointdexter Macadam/cage Publishing, Inc. Backlist Holding Company, Llc Walsh, Patrick Bailey, Brooks Summons Issued, Judicial Council Civil Case Cover Sheet Filed Case Management Conference Scheduled For May-07-2014 Proof Of Service Due On Feb-03-2014 Case Management Statement Due On Apr-14-2014"

I have no way of knowing the veracity of Ms. Smith's claims.

For the record, I have not received one penny of royalties from MacAdam/Cage since 2005, and I never received a penny from ebook sales either, which I believe may well be a publication in violation of rights to the work. See Author Edward Cline's perspective and fight for his ebook rights.

Over time, I found MacAdam/Cage's unethical business practices to be something akin to a Nigerian e-mail scam. That is my opinion.

I believe writers and booksellers should know what happened at the publisher. Many authors are fighting to have their rights reverted. I am fighting. Bet good money on it.

Dayne
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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
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***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fighting Injustice at Southern University

On Student Protests
Dayne Sherman
February 24, 2014
Op-ed column 
450 words

I like to see college students protesting injustice. So it was encouraging to hear about Southern University students up in arms after the shenanigans surrounding the effective firing of Chancellor James Llorens.

When students are engaged it shows they care. I don't, however, want to be guilty of throwing cold water on student fire. But it seems the protests happened in the wrong locale and toward the wrong leaders.

Sit-ins on campuses are nice, good theater. But if you want to know who is really hurting Southern University, it's Gov. Bobby Jindal.

At the end of the day, Southern University is facing insolvency. Reinstating Llorens for another year won't change that in the least.

One of Gov. Jindal's floor leaders in the House, Rep. Steve Carter from Baton Rouge, expressed fake frustration in The Advocate: “We have to find a governor that prioritizes higher education. The governor is the key … we have an opportunity as a group to make sure the candidates who run for governor list higher education as a top priority.”

Carter has been like a rose tattoo on Gov. Jindal's posterior.
But he wants everyone to forget his solidarity with the Jindal regime. This shows that things are starting to heat up in legislative districts, and some representatives are dreaming of voters with short memories when it comes to the devastating cuts to higher education.

Let me clear: The vast majority of Louisiana Republicans in and out of politics would be happy to see Southern University and all other HBCUs closed. This sentiment is embodied in Gov. Bobby Jindal, the public face of the GOP in Louisiana.

I'm no fan of System President Ronald Mason or James Llorens. As longtime Southern professor Sudhir Trivedi wrote recently, “He [Llorens] has been the most incompetent chancellor we have ever had. This is evident from the probation imposed upon us by SACS in December 2012 and the censure imposed upon us by AAUP in June 2013.”

The big problem for Southern University is at the State Capitol. That's where the nonviolent action needs to take place. That's where the real problems can be solved.

The sit-ins need to be at Jindal's office, fourth floor, Louisiana State Capitol. He's never there, but he'll get the message from his lackeys. The rest of the state and nation will, too.

Keep standing up by sitting down, but make sure you are a few miles south of Scott's Bluff when you protest. 


Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman
***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***