In the 2020 election, extreme reformers failed miserably. Some House Democrats, such as House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), were furious with the far-left members of their party gaining control of the airwaves and promoting such messages as “Defund the Police” and “End Cash Bail.” They believe this rhetoric cost Democrats many contested congressional seats. In the wake of riots and out of control crime in many urban areas this year, voters sent a message that public safety is a major concern, even in the most liberal areas.
For example, earlier this year, New York had to scale back criminal justice reforms enacted in 2019. At that time, their state legislators passed a measure that eliminated all forms of cash bail for non-violent offenders and forced prosecutors to turn over all evidence within two weeks of arrest.
The result in New York was predictable as repeat offenders released into the community committed horrific crimes. Not only was the public upset, but the prosecutors and police were upset as well. Eventually, the reforms were changed, led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both liberal Democrats. Thankfully, cash bail was returned for a variety of crimes, while prosecutors were given over a month to provide their evidence. The new rules went into effect in July of 2020.
In the most liberal state in the nation, California, voters passed a variety of criminal justice reform measures in November. Thus, funding will be shifted from police to social services, oversight of law enforcement will increase, sentences will not be increased for petty crimes and parolees will be given the right to vote. However, on one issue important to extreme reformers, the voters were clear, cash bail, which guarantees that defendants appear in court, will remain.
In a lopsided vote, 56.4% of California voters rejected Proposition 25, which would have ended cash bail and replaced it with an algorithm threat assessment that would determine whether or not a defendant would be a flight risk or show up for court proceedings. This new process would have possibly cost the taxpayers of California hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. More importantly, it would have subjected the citizens to unnecessary danger. There would be no assurance that the defendants would appear in court to answer the charges against them. Many fugitives would become wanted fugitives under this new system, which is comparable to what happened in New York.
In New Orleans, Louisiana’s most liberal city, voters soundly rejected candidates running on an extreme reform agenda promoted by a group called PAC for Justice. This is notable because Republicans only comprise 10% of the electorate in New Orleans.
The motto of these seven progressive candidates was to “Flip the Bench.” All the candidates were previously public defenders and supported a platform that included eliminating or reducing the use of the bail system, removing discretion from judges to hold defendants pre-trial and ending any fees or fines paid by defendants who plead guilty or are convicted for their crimes.
Of the seven candidates, only two were victorious, and it is entirely possible that the reason for their victory was not their affiliation with PAC for Justice. According to Gambit Weekly, both victorious candidates started campaigning two years before the election and had earned support from many organizations and stakeholders far beyond the “Flip the Bench” campaign.
The five candidates supported by the PAC for Justice lost even though they outspent their opponents by a wide margin. Another factor that may have impacted the outcome for the “Flip the Bench” slate was that the founder of the movement was Norris Henderson, who was convicted of a heinous crime and has repeatedly claimed that he was innocent and exonerated. Despite his controversial background, he was able to solicit massive donations from philanthropic groups and major donors from across the country.
Along with the PAC for Justice, two other progressive organizations, Working Families Together and NOLA Defenders for Equal Justice, lent their support to the seven “Flip the Bench” candidates. The groups financed slick mailers, billboards, and a coordinated media campaign for these candidates. On Election Day, paid workers distributed professional flyers at high traffic spots and near voting precincts.
Despite a huge financial advantage, five of the seven candidates running on this ticket lost, with a meager 37% average vote total. These candidates advocated such extreme positions that they were not supported by the leading Democrats in New Orleans such as Mayor LaToya Cantrell and U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond.
A major reason for their defeat was a third-party campaign which highlighted the background of Norris Henderson in a series of social media ads, as well as television and radio commercials. In their TV commercials, viewers were reminded that Henderson was found guilty of murdering a teenage girl while she was riding her bike to school. Instead of being wrongly convicted as he claimed, the ads emphasized that he was convicted twice of the crime and never exonerated. It asked voters to “remember the Flip the Bench candidates who have forgotten Henderson’s murder victim.”
Another factor in the election was the rapidly rising crime rate in New Orleans. The murder rate in 2020 will far exceed last year’s total. In fact, the 2019 murder rate was surpassed in September of this year. With crime on the increase, even the voters of New Orleans, which are overwhelmingly Democratic, did not want to support “Flip the Bench” candidates because they advocated extreme positions that would not hold offenders accountable.
With such decisive results in New Orleans, California and other areas, voters have sent a clear message to political leaders and future candidates. While voters want a justice system that is fair and constructive, they will not embrace an agenda that lacks accountability.
Measures such as defunding police, ending cash bail and removing discretion from elected judges to keep communities safe are not supported by a substantial majority of voters. This is true even in California and New York, our most liberal states, and in New Orleans, one of our most liberal cities.
Over the last few decades, Americans have enjoyed an ever-increasing love affair with the games of college and professional football. Eventually, the National Football League (NFL) surpassed Major League Baseball to become the country’s top sports attraction.
Unfortunately, in recent years, political activism has interfered with Americans being able to enjoy the game. It started to move in a disturbing direction in 2016 when San Francisco Forty-Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest during the playing of the National Anthem before the start of each game. His kneeling protest was adopted by other players, causing an uproar in the country. The practice continued in 2017 but diminished during the last two seasons.
Everything changed with the death of George Floyd in May of this year. Street protests have led to shootings, rioting, looting and the destruction of property worth billions of dollars. Even more troubling, police officers and protesters have been injured and killed.
These protests have migrated into many sporting events, including the game of football, both in the NFL and in the collegiate level, where the top conference is the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The current policy of the SEC is for all players to stay in the locker room while the National Anthem is performed, but the protests have been expressed in other ways.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s Ole Miss vs. Florida match-up, players and coaches took a knee “to acknowledge the unrest in our country surrounding the treatment of African Americans. We will continue to support social justice efforts as members of the Southeastern Conference and members of our respective communities.”
Vanderbilt University players displayed social messages on their helmets. There are 15 approved messages, including “Black Lives Matter,” and “No Justice No Peace.” Players for the universities of Georgia and Arkansas wore “equality” patches on their jerseys.
While college football players protested, NFL players have spent the past several weeks expressing outrage at police brutality and the treatment of African Americans in our country. The league decided to play the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the “Black National Anthem,” prior to the start of all the games during the first week.
During the first few weeks of the season, a variety of players have protested either by remaining in the locker room during pre-game ceremonies or by raising a fist or kneeling while the National Anthem was performed. These actions were approved by the NFL, which changed its stance on the issue.
In fact, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized for the league. He said, “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
Along with Goodell’s apology and on-field symbolism, the NFL became financially involved in the issue by pledging $250 million in donations over a ten-year period to combat “systemic racism.”
Undoubtedly, these actions are popular with players and those who believe in social justice activism. However, there are plenty of fans who feel otherwise, and will take out their frustration by not watching football on television.
Diminished ratings will severely hurt the NFL during this pandemic because the league’s revenues will be much lower since stadium attendance is either extremely limited or not permitted at all.
As the 2020 season has now moved into week three, it seems that television viewers are leaving in droves. For last Thursday night’s NFL game, the television ratings sank to a four year low with only 5.43 million viewers, barely edging the viewership for the ABC show Celebrity Family Feud.
This entire year has been a ratings disaster for the NFL with both Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football experiencing massive declines in viewership.
There is a simple explanation for why this is occurring. Millions of Americans want to watch football as a distraction from their everyday troubles. For these viewers, the last thing they want is to be reminded of the national political battles on the football field or during league sponsored lectures masquerading as commercials.
If athletes want to get involved in politics, they should run for elected office. If they want to be involved in the criminal justice system, they should become police officers, lawyers, or judges. If they want to become social justice warriors, they should sign up to work as counselors or volunteer with a community based non-profit organization helping those in need. Otherwise, they can play football, or other sports, and do their activism on their own time, as opposed to doing it while hard working Americans are watching on television.
Unless the NFL and college football change course, the television viewership will never return to full strength. In fact, it is already too late for some viewers left forever because of their disgust with the politicization of athletics.
This exact scenario worried the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, who speculated that the activism may hurt the NFL’s football ratings. He noted that the majority of his team’s fans recognize “what this great country is and what this flag stands for.”
Yes, Mr. Jones, not only your fans, but most NFL fans also appreciate the greatness of this country and our American Flag. As we can see from the decline in ratings, social justice activism is not as popular as good old-fashioned patriotism.
It is an uneasy scenario for any Louisiana resident. Imagine you are heading to a hospital for medical care. Since you are heading right to the hospital, that probably means it is for an emergency. A team of doctors, nurses, and support staff check you in, figure out what’s wrong, and deliver the time-sensitive treatment you need; as they do, you’re thankful that you have health insurance which covers emergency treatment.
Unfortunately, when you open your mailbox a few weeks later, you discover an outrageous bill for some aspect of your hospital visit, such as the charges for the emergency room doctor or the anesthesiologist. This bill is not for a co-pay, or payment against your deductible, but the full price tag of that service. It could be thousands of dollars in charges for health care services that you were sure would be covered.
This situation is what is called surprise medical billing. For more than one year, our U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy has been working tirelessly to generate support among his colleagues to stop it. Not surprisingly, the insurance industry is fighting back. Their high-priced lobbyists are targeting Senator Cassidy to weaken his bill, known as the STOP Surprise Medical Billing Act.
Surprise medical bills are most often the result of a billing dispute between insurance companies and the doctors and hospitals who deliver treatment. In theory, these disagreements should not negatively impact the patient, but the reality is quite different as too many people are getting stuck with exorbitant bills.
When insurers refuse to cover an out-of-network provider, patients get caught in the middle. This is one of the problems addressed by Senator Cassidy’s STOP Surprise Billing Act. It would remove patients from the dispute completely. Due to this benefit and many others, Cassidy has recruited 30 bipartisan sponsors for his legislation.
In fact, Senator Cassidy is spearheading the effort to end these surprise attacks on our pocketbooks by adopting Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR), which encourages all parties to come together for arbitration. Hopefully, insurers and healthcare providers will come to an agreement; however, if they cannot resolve the dispute themselves it gets decided through an independent mediator. Everyone gets fair treatment.
This commonsense approach is being opposed by insurance companies, which are funneling millions of dollars into lobbying efforts. Their self-serving goal is to create a system that benefits them, and their leading proponent is Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). He is pressuring our Senator Cassidy to abandon IDR for a system of reimbursement that favors rates set by the insurance company.
Their favored approach is known as “benchmarking.” It sets reimbursement rates for out-of-network providers to in-network reimbursement rates. It also grants complete negotiating leverage to insurance companies.
Under this plan, emboldened insurers would have the ability to drive down reimbursement rates and put enormous financial strain on doctors and hospitals. Rural and urban health care providers, who do not have enough resources to make up for the lost revenue, would become particularly vulnerable.
If enacted, Senator Alexander’s plan would threaten countless doctors and hospitals with the risk of financial ruin. In addition, at the time when Americans need healthcare the most, hospitals may be forced to close and salaries for critical care workers may be cut as much as 20 percent or more. Most importantly, it will lead to less access to healthcare for patients.
Amid a pandemic, Alexander’s plan is not a solution. Instead, it will make our current crisis much worse.
We must encourage Senator Cassidy to hold firm to his current legislation, which has a companion bill in the House. His approach is the best for patients, healthcare providers, and insurers. It is time we solved the problem which is negatively impacting so many people in Louisiana.
IDR is the “fix” forward to protect patients from surprise medical bills while keeping secure the health access and affordability our families need. Please tell Senator and Dr. Bill Cassidy to stand by his bill, which ends surprise medical billing the right way.
Americans used to be able to enjoy sporting events without being lectured about their political beliefs. It used to be a nice diversion from the pressures of everyday life. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Today, sports are just one more area of life that has been overtaken by social justice warriors.
In the two months since George Floyd was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, the world has changed significantly. For example, major businesses in America are fully onboard with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as almost 300 top corporations have pledged support for the cause. Even though the founders of BLM admitted their “Marxist training,” no corporations have backed down from supporting the controversial aims of the organization.
The woke social justice warriors also control Hollywood, the media, most politicians, and the entire world of professional sports. On the opening night of Major League Soccer, players wore BLM shirts and either knelt or raised their fists during the National Anthem. African American driver Bubba Wallace drove a BLM car in NASCAR, which banned Confederate flags at their events.
Across the woke world of sports, fans will witness a variety of social justice messages this year. They will be featured on jerseys and, in the case of the NBA, the words “Black Lives Matter” were painted courtside in Orlando.
The NFL will surely see plenty of kneeling during the National Anthem this season. Also, in week one, the “Black National Anthem” will be played for audiences prior to the National Anthem.
The latest professional sport to begin an abbreviated season is Major League Baseball (MLB). This season, support for BLM will be widespread. The Boston Red Sox proudly displayed a Black Lives Matter billboard near Fenway Park.
Gabe Kapler, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, expressed support for his players kneeling during the National Anthem. According to Kapler, “I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well.”
Several Giants players knelt while the National Anthem was played during an exhibition game. It seems likely the kneeling will continue. Several members of the Cincinnati Reds also knelt during an exhibition game.
In response, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!” While the President obviously is speaking for millions of Americans, his views are not shared by MLB. The organization tweeted “It has never been about the military or the flag. The players and coaches are using their platforms to peacefully protest.” Another MLB tweet read, “supporting human rights is not political.”
Some MLB fans may disagree, for the league did not feature many kneelers prior to this season. This will be a new cause for MLB players this season and it remains to be seen how fans will react.
Will all this social justice messaging be well received by average fans? It will be interesting to see if ratings decline like they did in the 2017 NFL season when players started to kneel during the National Anthem. This year much more is happening after the George Floyd incident, but the question remains, are sporting events the appropriate forum?
As usual, Democrats will stop at nothing to blame President Trump for almost everything. With the world anxiously watching the spread of the coronavirus, the Democrats have decided that President Trump is responsible. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are blaming the President for not allocating enough money to combat the spread of the disease.
The initial request for $2.5 billion in funding will be used to fight the spread of the disease in the country. Not surprisingly, Democrats want to allocate more funding because they believe spending more money is the answer to almost every problem. Typically, the solutions do not come from spending more money, but spending the funds in a wise and efficient manner.
There has been one death in the United States attributed to the coronavirus and 22 have contracted the disease. Fortunately, most of those afflicted with coronavirus are recovering. In a country of 330 million people, it is a very positive development that the spread of the disease, at this point, has been very limited.
Of course, this good news has not stopped Democrats, like presidential candidate Tom Steyer, from making asinine comments. He believes the President’s response to this health threat has been weak and delayed and that it will result in a Hurricane Katrina type of political disaster. On Friday, in an email to supporters, Steyer claimed “we are witnessing a total failure on the part of the White House right now that risks a Katrina level disaster for our country.”
For those of us who survived Hurricane Katrina, it is disgraceful for any politician to use such a tragedy to score political points. The deadly storm killed over 1,800 people, but it was a disaster that was man-made in many respects. The federal levees designed to protect New Orleans failed and 80% of the city flooded. It was a failure at all levels of government: local, state and national.
In contrast, President Trump has acted aggressively to deal with the coronavirus threat. He wisely shut down travel from China in January, despite criticism that it was a racist policy. According to Vice President Mike Pence, “It simply had never been done before by any previous administration.” With the outbreak spreading, the President has also issued travel restrictions to Iran, Italy and South Korea.
He established a task force in January to handle issues resulting from the coronavirus and has appointed Vice President Pence to oversee the federal government’s response. The task force has been meeting regularly and issuing recommendations to the President. On Monday, he will be meeting with the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies on ways to expedite the development of a vaccine to combat the coronavirus.
Instead of focusing their ire at President Trump, who has been moving rapidly to deal with the crisis, Democrats and all Americans should be furious at communist China. The disease started in their country. It may have resulted from a leak from a microbiology laboratory in Wuhan, China, not in a food market as initially advertised. China has not been forthcoming with details on the origin of the disease and have not allowed representatives of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) access to their country to assist in fighting the spread of the virus.
Communist nations like China are historically secretive and repressive. Conspiracy theorists may even see some benefit for China to have this disease spread in their country and throughout the world. The massive protests in Hong Kong have stopped, while world economic conditions have deteriorated. If this leads to an economic downturn in the United States, it may harm the political standing of President Trump. With a weakened economy, the Democratic presidential nominee may win in November, a result that will certainly not displease the communist leaders of China.
They dislike Donald Trump because, unlike previous Presidents, he stood up to China on important economic issues. He has demanded trade deals be renegotiated and that tariffs be placed on Chinese goods. If he is replaced by a Democratic President, business as usual with China will resume and the communist nation will continue to enjoy the benefits of unfair trade deals and business practices. Prior to President Trump, our horrific trade agreements allowed the Chinese government to realize tremendous profits that were used to modernize their military and build their country’s economy.
It is essential that the American people do not blame President Trump for what China has done and do not listen to shameless Democrats who are trying to use this threat to their political advantage. It is another reason why the stakes are extremely high for not only our country, but for the entire world, in this upcoming presidential election.