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18 October 2003

Someone explain this to me 

A headline in this morning's paper reads:

Area could become supercomputer

It's actually a pretty interesting story even if I don't fully understand the concept of how a city can be a supercomputer.

Is the Jindal campaign this desperate? 

Yesterday I wondered about an alleged "push poll" being conducted by unnamed pollsters supporting Kathleen Blacno. It turns out that it was just more whining by the whining whiner Mike Foster and his candidate Bobby Jindal. It seems that any poll that doesn't show Jindal in the lead is suspect, so Foster and Jindal spent Thursday attacking the credibility of a respectable pollster.

Yesterday they backed off their criticism when Kennedy released his methodology to defend himself. The reporting comes from the pages of The Daily Advertiser:

Jindal’s campaign issued a news release criticizing the Kennedy poll as employing “push questions” and implying that it was not objective.

Both later tempered their remarks to say they were not questioning the integrity of the Pensacola, Fla.-based pollster who began his career in Alexandria working for the late U.S. Rep. Gillis Long and former Republican Gov. Dave Treen and who now polls for the national Republican Party.

. . .

Kennedy’s clients include some prominent Republicans, including John Georges of Metairie, who briefly considered running for governor; Fred Hebee, who was Foster’s choice to be U.S. attorney in New Orleans; Coleman Adler and Bill Goldring, all of New Orleans. Shreveporter Gus Mijalis had been a client at one time.

The group includes wealthy players who backed various candidates in the Oct. 4 primary and include some of Jindal’s supporters.

“Members of the business group have spoken directly to Bobby Jindal and offered access to the survey data,” Kennedy said. “Furthermore, the Jindal campaign has pushed the numbers from our previous surveys, including even today on their Web site, when they were showing Jindal doing well.”

. . .

His most recent poll first asked voters the preferences before any of the issues were tested.

Once voters expressed preferences, the poll probed their feelings, finding that Blanco’s experience worked to her advantage, while Jindal’s supporters liked him being a Republican and a new face.


It seems too early for the Jindal campaign to be getting desperate enough to complain about pollsters and negative advertising that isn't really happening, but that looks like the case anyway. As Jindal says on his own website, "There is nothing more dangerous than a politician who is falling behind."


Blanco strikes back 

Just after I spent an hour at Mel's Diner talking to friends about how Blanco needs to come out hard against the disgusting rhetoric of Mike Foster, I find out that she has already responded to his sexist attacks against her candidacy. Check out this report from The Advocate:

"The question in many people's minds today is, 'Who speaks for Bobby Jindal? Bobby or Gov. Foster?'," Blanco said.

"Maybe I've been debating the wrong candidate. They should put their heads together and decide who they should send to the next debate," Blanco said.

Foster's comments show the Jindal campaign is "out of control" and that the governor is one of its major problems, she said.

"It is the oldest and most repugnant kind of bigotry against women," Blanco said. "Ever since women began running for public office, they have battled (that) type of bigotry."

Foster's comments are a "shameful reminder" of the notion that a woman is ineffective without a man behind the scenes telling her what to do, she said.


Foster went to David Tyree's worthless call in show to defend himself Friday afternoon. By the quotes in the morning's paper his excuses seem pretty half-assed though:

"I never said she was incapable," Foster said.

In fact, Foster said, Blanco insulted him at Friday's press conference. He blamed the Blanco campaign for inflating the incident.

"I can see everybody sitting around the backroom trying to make something of this," he said.

Foster denied saying Raymond "Coach" Blanco, an administrator at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, would run the state if voters elected his wife governor.

"What I said about Coach is true; he loves this (political) stuff," Foster said.


If you don't remember what Foster said about Blanco on Thursday afternoon, here's a reminder:

Foster said:

· Blanco's husband, Raymond, will run the state and her administration if she wins

. . .

When one caller predicted that Blanco would duck a debate Foster's trying to set up on his weekly show, Foster said "she could always send her husband, he's one of the biggest politicians in the state."

If Blanco is elected, Raymond Blanco will run her administration and the state from behind the scenes, Foster said.

"He will be the most powerful man in the state. I promise you that," Foster said after the show.


I'm very happy that Kathleen Blanco plans to make an issue of Foster's cynical attacks against her campaign. These kinds of press conferences remind voters that she is tougher than she appears. Everytime she stands up for herself (she did it in the last primary forum when attacked by Atty. General Richard Ieyoub) in tight spots she picks up new voters. Foster is trying to use his radio show to bully her into submission and she doesn't appear to be laying down for it. Cheers to Kathleen Blanco tonight; this story is fantastic news to those of us who dread a Jindal governorship.

17 October 2003

Get ready for the attacks from the GOP 

Now that Blanco is leading in the polls it looks like the GOP is looking for an excuse to go negative against frontrunner Kathleen Blanco. They've found it if this press release is any indication. Yesterday's Mike Foster radio show could be a signal that Jindal proxies will be handling all the attacks in an effort to insulate Jindal from any backlash. If you're curious about the ad that has so offended Jindal's campaign, they helpfully include the full text (sorry about the caps):

WE HAVE TO CHOOSE A NEW GOVERNOR FOR LOUISIANA AND IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE LOOK PAST THE TV
COMMERCIALS, AND INTO THE LIVES AND CHARACTERS OF THE
CANDIDATES. THE CLOSER YOU EXAMINE THE RECORDS, THE
BETTER KATHLEEN BABINEAUX BLANCO LOOKS. SHE
UNDERSTANDS REAL PEOPLE BECAUSE SHE IS ONE OF US. SHE
HAD A FULL LIFE BEFORE SHE EVER RAN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
-TEACHING SCHOOL, RAISING 6 CHILDREN, AND STARTING HER
OWN SMALL BUSINESS. SHE UNDERSTANDS STRUGGLE AND THAT
THE PROBLEMS THAT THE GOVERNOR MUST DEAL WITH ALL HAVE
HUMAN FACES. SHE KNOWS THAT PEOPLE AREN'T STATISTICS
OR NUMBERS, AND YOU DON'T CRUNCH PEOPLE, YOU HELP
THEM. NOW KATHLEEN IS IN THE FIGHT OF HER POLITICAL
LIFE AGAINST THE HAND PICKED CANDIDATE OF THE RIGHT
WING REPUBLICANS, BACKED BY MIKE FOSTER, THE
REPUBLICAN WHITE HOUSE, AND THEIR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
THEY ARE CONFIDENT THEY WILL WIN, BECAUSE THEY HOPE
THAT WE WON'T VOTE.
SO LETS SHOW THAT THEY ARE WRONG,
AND GET ORGANIZED TO WIN. KATHLEEN BLANCO NEEDS OUR
HELP, BECAUSE HER FIGHT IS OUR FIGHT TOO.


I emphasized the parts that are apparently offensive to the Jindal campaign as negative advertising. Frankly I don't see how this is any worse than Jindal's ads all over talk-radio that railed against "liberal values" and questioned why "liberals were scared of the Ten Commandments." Those ads didn't mention any opponent by name, but certainly tied Democrats in the race to some spooky liberalism that was trying to corrupt good, hard-working Christians. This ad seems like simple turnabout to me. It paints a right wing agenda that lacks compassion and is funded by millionaires. Both are appeals to emotionalism, but the Blanco campaign wasn't the first one down this road during the campaign.

The press-release tries to point out some hypocrisy in the Blanco campaign since she said she had been attacked and wanted to run a clean campaign, but it looks like the Jindal camp is just trying to get off the hook for what will probably soon devolve into the usual Louisiana mud-slinging. Maybe they should call Suzy Terrell before they get too deep in the swamp.

"Greyhound" of the skies has shoddy security 

I don't know what to think about this story. It appears that some folks got on to Southwest Airline planes and left bags full of box-cutters, bleach, and clay in an attempt to show that their security measures weren't really working. One or more of the planes was at the New Orleans airport when the offending items were discovered. Looks like it's time to start taking the train. . .

Letter from Prison 

There was very little reaction among the big state dailies today regarding the big interview that Edwards did from the federal prison and aired on CBS last night. I managed to find one story out of New Orleans, but that appears to be it.

My own impression is that Edwards seems to be handling himself pretty well. It would be nice to get even a hint of remorse from him for the terrible way he conducted himself as the state's most high-profile representative, but who has ever really known a politician to show remorse for much of anything? It seems ridiculous to picture Edwards in his khaki jumpsuit washing windows around the prison, but that's the image I'm left with after watching the interview. Fortunately my CBS affiliate managed to land an interview with Edwards' gorgeous wife Candy, who looks just fine despite the absence of her seventy some odd year old husband. She said she visits him three times a month in Texas, but that leaves her a lot of free time. If you're reading Candy, I've got a lot of free time too; send me an email if you're interested in hooking up at the Rice Festival near your hometown this weekend. . .

Governor Raymond Blanco 

Mike Foster attacked Kathleen Blanco in the most cynical way a female politician can be attacked yesterday afternoon on his radio show. He continued to make comments regarding Blanco's husband and the smear that he would control the governor's mansion.

You can read about it here and here.

The goods on the story are in The Advocate:

When one caller predicted that Blanco would duck a debate Foster's trying to set up on his weekly show, Foster said "she could always send her husband, he's one of the biggest politicians in the state."

If Blanco is elected, Raymond Blanco will run her administration and the state from behind the scenes, Foster said.

"He will be the most powerful man in the state. I promise you that," Foster said after the show.


I honestly have no idea how many people around the state listen to Foster's idiotic ramblings every Thursday, but this kind of talk from the Governor is despicable. Foster should be ashamed of himself, but over the years he's proven that he really doesn't have any shame so I doubt he even gave his comments a second thought.

To be fair Foster made a number of other criticisms about Blanco, and among them was vague reference to a push poll conducted on behalf of Blanco that asked a question that may have had some racial overtones (paraphrasing, "would you vote for a funny-looking guy whose name you can't pronounce"). This alleged push poll hasn't been reported anywhere that I can find, but if there's truth to the story then Blanco needs to find out who did it and make sure they are not associated with the campaign in any way and make damn sure that they cut it out. This is the kind of cynical politics that our leaders need to avoid. I really don't like to hear about these things, but I'll still give the Blanco campaign the benefit of the doubt.

As for Foster's comments though, I have very little patience. This kind of sexism should be dead by now, but it's not surprising from a good ole boy like Mike Foster. In the end this kind of negativity could make people more sympathetic for Blanco and win her some votes. Also, Blanco's campaign had a good response to Foster by saying that a Jindal governorship would leave Foster in the Governor's mansion. Jindal needs to put the reigns on Foster now though.

Kennedy's poll puts Blanco over fifty percent 

It appears that Gannet news services are the only people publishing the results of Verne Kennedy's poll this morning. Also politicsLA.com,who are looking more and more like shills for Jindal and the GOP everyday, don't link to it anywhere in their morning roundup of political articles from around the state. Have no fear though, I'll pick up the things they leave behind.

You can see it here. Here's the heart of the matter though:

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco was ahead of Bobby Jindal in a new independent poll of voters who cast ballots in the Oct. 4

primary.

Pollster Verne Kennedy of Pensacola, Fla., found 48 percent for Democrat Blanco and 41 percent to Republican Jindal.

But when Kennedy asked the undecided 11 percent which candidate they would favor if they “just had to say,” another 4 percent went for Blanco and 1 percent for Jindal, giving her 52 percent to his 42 percent.

. . .

Among whites, 53 percent favored Jindal and 36 percent Blanco. Among blacks, 77 percent favored Blanco and 9 percent Jindal.

When Kennedy factored the poll to reduce black participation in the election to 24 percent from the 28 percent reflected in the poll, he forecasted Blanco at 53 percent to Jindal’s 47 percent. When he reduced black participation to 20 percent, Blanco still led Jindal 51 percent to 49 percent in the forecast. Black participation in the primary is estimated to have been 24-25 percent.


It's important that this poll is conducted by an independent pollster since we've seen two polls released by the competing campaigns over the last two weeks. Also reducing black participation to 20% is important because it's unlikely that even the relatively low turnout of blacks in the primary can be sustained by Blanco considering they aren't being as actively courted in this race without candidates like Leach and Ieyoub to make appeals in that direction.

It's all good at this point for Blanco though. You'd like to see her get her numbers up, and I'd like to see a pollster ask the questions "Who did you support in the primary?" and "Who do you support now?" That way we can figure out where Ewing's relatively conservative vote is going. Why don't I get input with these pollsters?

16 October 2003

Back to reality 

After these two games Fox can kiss all those great ratings goodbye. I guess we don't have to worry about the collapse of the space-time continuum anymore.

Live from Alcatraz. . . 

WAFB Channel 9 in Baton Rouge will air the first interview with Edwin Edwards since his incarceration tonight during the six and ten o'clock broadcasts. Apparently the former governor has lots to say about the governor's race (please, dear God, don't let him endorse Kathleen
Blanco tonight) and the ongoing effort to get him released from jail. This seems like it could be interesting, so I'll be watching for those of you who live in parts of the state that don't get Baton Rouge broadcasts. They'll probably put some clips on their website once the six p.m. newscast airs, so check there when you get some time.

Update @ 3:20 pm: It appears that the interview will appear on the CBS Evening News at 5:30 central time and then local LA affiliates will pick up their sloppy seconds. Now everyone can see it; it's not exactly an exclusive for WAFB though is it?

I love to say I told you so 

Here's Bayoubuzz.com pundit Jeff Crouere licking his chops at the prospect of an open Senate seat in 2004. Soon maybe they'll start openly asking Breaux to retire so they can have something to write about other than a presidential election for the next twelve months. Note in the column that I neglected to mention the two House seats that would be up for grabs if Vitter and John face off for Breaux's seat. Those are three high profile elections that I would love to look at, but for gawd's sake let's stick to the governor for now folks.

But there's less tar with the filters. 

Michael Kinsley has an excellent column in Slate this week about Bush's problem with the media not reporting the good news in Iraq. Here are some key quotes, but go read the whole thing yourselves:

Bush . . . will have a campaign war chest of $170 million that he can spend in the next year delivering any message he wants, completely unfiltered. Who can top that? Well, until recently there was Saddam Hussein. He could talk as long as he wanted and Iraqi television never cut away for a commercial, let alone bring on annoying pundits to pick and pick and pick. And the next day's Baghdad Gazette would publish every single word, also without any tedious analysis. A few others, such as Fidel Castro, still have this privilege. I was under the impression that George Bush found this distasteful—the sort of thing one might even tighten a boycott or start a war over.

George W. Bush doesn't really want people to get the news unfiltered. He wants people to get the news filtered by George W. Bush. Or rather, he wants everyone to get the news filtered by the same people who apparently filter it for him. It's an interesting epistemological question how our president knows what he thinks he knows and why he thinks it is less distorted than what the rest of us know or think we know. Every president lives in a cocoon of advisers who filter reality for him, but it's stunning that this president actually seems to prefer getting his take on reality that way.


It's really hard to say it much better than that.


Halloween comes early. . . 

Does anyone else find this picture of Pope JP II as creepy as I do?

Interesting column out of Shreveport 

Dan Turner writes an interesting column about the endorsement race for the gubernatorial candidates in The Shreveport Times. A lot of it is about the "up is downism" that occurs to voters when someone like Richard Ieyoub, who was extremely critical of Kathleen Blanco during the primary, gives their former target an endorsement. You don't need to read it unless you really want to, but this line at the end sums up why all the craziness among Democratic primary infighting might not matter when all is said and done.

But as one long-time political pundit put it, "I swear to you, if you hide a straight razor in a large room, and lock a Republican in there with the lights out, he'll come out of there bleeding profusely."

The question is, would he come out elected?


The LA GOP does seem to screw themselves over and over again when they find any advantage. Their ineptitude (is that a word?) is legendary in the state, so the next month has great comic potential.


Three major elections in three years? 

Louisiana political junkies who enjoy elections for their own sake are desperate for John Breaux to retire this year. It would mean three elections with some pretty serious national implications over three years, and who doesn't like the national attention? Especially since Louisiana's political culture seems to have come so far over the last decade (okay, maybe that's a reach, but the days of Duke and Edwards are undoubtedly long-gone). That's why there have been so many stories like this one lately.

John Breaux hasn't really raised much money for a reelection campaign that probably isn't coming. He says the lack of fundraising doesn't matter because he could raise what he needs pretty quickly anyway. There's also the small problem of unseating him even if he doesn't raise very much money. He's virtually unbeatable versus any politician in the state so this money issue isn't very important. Although there has been plenty of speculation over the past six months. I don't know much about it one way or the other, but these stories don't usually appear out of thin air so I think there is probably a lot of truth to them.

Money talks 

There is lots of talk about a Blanco fundraiser held by Senators Breaux and Landrieu, and fmr. Senator J. Bennent Jonston in Washington D.C. this week. This is the kind of story that political reporters love because of the apparent hypocrisy (Blanco has been critical of Jindal's out of state fundraising) but probably won't resonate with voters at all.

It's been my impression that most voters just tune out when it comes to issues of finances. The numerous stories in The Advocate about Jindal's fundraising failed to ever take hold, so I don't see how this will make much difference either. Especially since Blanco's criticism of Jindal's out of state solicitations have been mostly under the radar and very mild.

15 October 2003

Thank God for Harry Shearer 

Mickey Kaus directs us to a recording of Harry Shearer's radio show sketch "Rush to Recovery." Was Rush's voice a model for Principal Skinner? Hell, I don't know, but you'll find it difficult not to laugh all the way through it. The link is at the end of his post about the sudden compassion conservatives have found for drug addicts.

State newspaper roundup 

Sorry about getting to this later than usual, but that last post took a little longer than I thought. Here are the stories about last night's debate from some of the newspapers I generally read.

Interestingly The Pic had a very different take on the debate than me or most others, saying the candidates "clashed on several points." That's news to me, but go read what they have to say for yourselves.

Also, cheers to The Advocate for attempting to take on the voucher issue, but they don't go into great detail beyond what the candidates themselves said. Will someone please help us understand how the candidates differ on this issue without solely resorting candidate talking points?

Gannet's capital bureau reporters continue to mail it in relying on the subjective judgment of a single elementary school teacher for analysis of the candidates' positions. Her name is Tracy Bock and they provide no background or credentials besides her identity as a teacher. Maybe there's more there, but I can't find it.

Go see what they have to say yourselves.

Michelle Malkin, there you go again 

This morning Michelle Malkin spends a lot of time calling Adam Cohen and the The New York Times racist but then grossly misrepresents the things that Cohen wrote. This is no surprise from a hack like Malkin, who is usually so desperate to criticize the SCLM (so called liberal media for those who haven't read Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media) that she'll omit context and selectively quote just about anything in print.

The Advocate runs her column this morning under this headline "N.Y. Times, liberal media run over Bobby Jindal."

Lying liar Malkin writes,

The condescension of The New York Times toward minority conservatives is so thick, you need a Cuisinart electric carving knife to slice it.


On Oct. 12, Times editorial writer Adam Cohen penned a hit piece masquerading as a profile of Bobby Jindal, the remarkable Republican gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana. Cohen began by noting that while Jindal's primary night victory celebration the previous weekend was attended by a diverse mix of whites and Indian-Americans, "there was scarcely a black reveler there.


A quick read of Cohen's piece hardly makes any criticism or condescension by pointing this out, rather he's saying that it's very different considering LA's racial history that the biracial politics of the night weren't black and white, rather they were Indian-White. Here's Cohen (and this is in his opening paragraph, which is hardly a good sign for the rest of Malkin's gross distortion of Cohen's piece):

The election-night blowout at the Astor Crowne Plaza in the French Quarter last weekend was something rare in Republican politics: a truly biracial event. But even though 33 percent of Louisiana � and 67 percent of New Orleans � is black, there was scarcely a black reveler there. The mix of people celebrating Bobby Jindal's first-round win in this year's governor's race was an unusual one: whites and Indian-Americans.


Cohen is hardly chiding Bobby Jindal for not reaching out to black voters, he seems to be saying that in a city where a large majority of the population is black, it's strange that a biracial event wouldn't include them. Pointing out an anomaly is harly condescension and it's certainly not laced with the racism that Malkin wants you to believe.

Malkin continues:

Cohen sneered at Jindal's "almost freakishly impressive resume."

. . .

If a young, minority Democrat candidate possessed such a striking record, Cohen almost assuredly would have described it as "extraordinary" or "prodigious." But since the resume belongs to a conservative who happens to be pro-life, pro-school choice, pro-gun rights and pro-free market, "freakish" is what came to Cohen's narrow mind.


Read the complete quote from Cohen:

California's new governor has been grabbing all the headlines, but Mr. Jindal's odyssey has been nearly as remarkable. At the age of 32, he has an almost freakishly impressive r�sum�: at 24, he was running Louisiana's hospital system. But perhaps more notable, in a state where an ex-Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, David Duke, made a real run for the governor's office, Mr. Jindal is the dark-skinned son of immigrants from India.


I wouldn't call that sneering. He calls Jindal's "odyssey . . . remarkable." The use of "freakishly" isn't making any particular point either. I frequently use freakishly as a synonym for extraordinary or as any way to describe someone as out of proportion to their peers. It's not exactly derogatory, no matter how much Malkin wants you to believe it is.

Malkin also makes a lot of hay about the following:

None of Jindal's policy accomplishments matters more to Cohen, however, than this: He is "the dark-skinned son of immigrants from India."

Dark-skinned. It wallops you in the head like the high fastballs being pitched at Fenway Park.

. . .

I searched Nexis for any reference to Jindal's opponent's skin in the Times and the rest of the media. Grand total: zero. There were, however, three other references to Jindal as "dark-skinned."


As you can see above the dark-skinned quote comes from Cohen's reporting about Jindal's candidacy specifically after discussing former gubernatorial candidate and klansmen David Duke. These issues have to be discussed to understand why Jindal's candidacy is remarkable. Malkin is willfully ignorant during her entire column as to the history of Louisiana politics so she can further her party's agenda which pretends there is some wide-ranging media bias against conservatives. And as for that Nexis search it's absolutely useless. I wonder if she searched for the references to Blanco as the first female candidate for governor in Louisiana. When she does will she pen a diatribe against the reporter's sexism? Who knows, Malkin makes stuff up all the time, that would be no different.

Here she goes again:

Liberal bigotry subsists on the oxygen of sanctimony. Thus, Cohen informed us that it is not he who is racist, but the entire South, which has been "historically fixated on blacks and whites, (and) has had trouble knowing what to make of people who are neither.


Cohen doesn't call the entire south racist. Malkin misses the point since Cohen's statement is talking about the way race has been discussed in the past. His point is valid. Southerners have little experience understanding the needs and political realities of Asian immigrants. When there has been such a divide over the historical treatment of blacks, southerners have largely ignored the discussion of other minority groups. This isn't calling the south racist. Cohen doesn't impugn anyone in his column as a racist.

Malkin again,

Cohen suggested that black gubernatorial candidates have lost in Louisiana because white voters remain racist, but that if the "dark-skinned" Jindal wins, it won't be because white voters are now color-blind, but because Jindal is a politically white, "hollow symbol" of inclusion. . .

Such chutzpah the Times has to preach to the rest of us about racial inclusion! For a look at whom the pasty-faced Mr. Cohen parties with every morning, check out the photos of all but one of the 15 ghost-toned, porcelain-skinned and moderately marshmallow-colored Times editorial board members at http://www.nytimes.com/ref/opinion/editorial-board.html.

To quote Mr. Cohen, there's scarcely a black reveler there.


Cohen specifically states in his reporting that, "Blacks who have run for governor in recent years got less than 35 percent of the vote. It may be that they were too liberal, but it may also be that the state remains resistant to a black governor." Cohen leaves either possibility open, but anyone who has watched LA politics over the last decade knows that Cleo Fields and Bill Jefferson are particularly more liberal than Edwin Edwards (they may not be as politically adept as him either), but the reason they weren't as acceptable as Edwards to the statewide voting public has a lot to do with their race. Malkin doesn't want to tell you about that though.

She's an absolute hack. You really have to read both columns in their entirety to see it for yourself. So go check them out if you have a little time. Let's hope The Advocate gets some letters pointing this out, but I doubt it since they don't publish Adam Cohen in their pages. Instead Malkin will succeed again in misleading thousands of readers, pushing her tired agenda, and helping to sustain the ignorance of a population that desperately needs intelligent and informed political debate.

14 October 2003

Who is handling the press releases for the Blanco campaign? 

Even though I find the commentary on PoliticsLA.com thoroughly useless, it's still an invaluable resource for someone without media credentials or the keys to a newspaper press room. They post all the electronic press releases they receive, so when I link to one it's nearly always via their website.

Tonight I find the good news that Blanco has been endorsed by former candidate for governor Richard Ieyoub and the AFL-CIO. Now this is hardly news. It was only a matter of time before they endorsed Blanco's campaign as the parties and their traditional interest groups coalesce around the runoff candidates. What I'd like to know is who wrote the headline of the press release. Go see it for yourself. It reads "Blanco receives endorsement from Ieyoub, Big Labor."

Now I don't know about you, but I've always thought of attaching big to any interest group ("big oil," "big energy," et al.) as a rather derogatory way to describe said interest group. Maybe this says more about the politics of Kathleen Blanco (or at least the public relations person in her campaign) than anything she's said in a debate or on the campaign trail just yet. Where oh where have all the liberals gone?

Impressions from tonight's debate 

I'll start by saying that I thought the Lt. Governor performed considerably better tonight than she did in previous meetings with the larger primary field. She seemed much more composed and less nervous about her purpose and candidacy. As I wrote earlier I thought she might benefit from the low expectations people had for her, and that was almost certainly the case from my end. At events earlier in the campaign she seemed to physically shake when asked to defend some of her positions and when she was delivering prepared remarks like opening and closing statements. At one point a friend asked me if she had Parkinson's disease because she seemed unable to control her hands and voice.

Maybe the numerous forums during the primary helped her to reach a comfort level in front of the camera that she hadn't developed yet, but there was no question that she improved her debate skills in the two weeks since the last time the candidates appeared on television together.

With that said, the candidates are still doing very little to distinguish themselves from one another. Instead of "Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal" tonight we saw "Pleasing Moderate Jindal," who didn't talk about the problems with evolution or putting the Ten Commandments in schools (It's possible I missed the discussion on this since I received a phone call mid-debate that made me miss about ten minutes, if he brought this stuff up or was asked about it please email me, or I'll probably see it in the paper tomorrow). Instead most of the questions from the panelists were about specific programs and spending plans.

Jindal predictably spent a lot of time reminding viewers about the sixteen page plan (if you use a dialup be careful because it's a .pdf file and could take a while) he has for improving education and probably repeated the talking point "every dollar spent saves nine" about twelve times during the debate. Jindal could probably stand to loosen up on all the policy talk and try to engage the voters on at least some emotional level. Especially in a forum like this that focuses on one aspect of the state, it's hard to keep answering questions without saying the same exact policy bullet points every five minutes. I found myself constantly drifting in and out of his answers. At least "Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal" who appeals to conservatives via talk-radio commands my attention even if it is in anger.

None of this is meant to say that I found Blanco particularly more appealing. She still doesn't seem quite willing to spell out the specifics of most of her policy proposals (with the exception of the much-maligned "every seventh grader gets a laptop computer" which she was questioned about and suspiciously pulled out a visual aid for a new proposal for something that looks like a really crappy personal [somewhat]digital assistant). She addressed vouchers and said that she would only support them if they exhausted all means of attending to the needs of the affected children through the public school system and suggested that schools accepting vouchers would have to maintain "similar" levels of accountability that failing schools can't meet. This seems like a sensibly moderate position to me, but it's short enough on specific baselines outlining when all means have been exhausted to help me understand how it's different from Jindal's position. She tried to say why hers was different, but Jindal deflected the distinction.

Attention newspapers: the future of vouchers is a pretty serious issue, maybe in your morning papers you can help the voters to understand where the two candidates come down on vouchers, because if you don't some extremely partisan group like All Children Matter will get into this and distort the issue so out of proportion that voters might never understand it.

Overall Blanco really just seemed to couch her remarks in the language of compassion while Jindal spoke as though her were giving the state a power-point presentation. This is a very superficial way to decide who to vote for in the state's highest office, but if the candidates won't discuss why they are different (and I believe they approach problems from very different perspectives) then there is no other choice but to decide who you like more. That's probably a good strategy for Blanco since she's developed a level of trust with voters around the state over the last twenty years, and the more her and Jindal sound like they believe in similar visions she could win by default.

That strategy does have the potential to backfire on Blanco though. It's always possible that she'll sound so centrist that farther left people like me just stay home and watch football rather than hit the polls for someone they feel abandoned by. I wouldn't do it because I very much fear for the future of our state under Jindal's leadership, but I also approach voting from considerably different perspective than most other Louisianians. Anyway, let me know what you guys think.

Reminders 

Louisiana readers should remember to watch tonight's debate between gubernatorial runoff candidates on their local public television stations. It should send a signal to the voters about how each candidate will approach the campaign for the rest of the race.

Also, tomorrow is the last day to register to vote if you want to be able to pull the lever for governor in November. Go do your civic duty. . .

I'll have my impressions of the debate up on the blog sometime this evening. Until then enjoy your evening.

Blanco leads in Democratic Party poll 

The state Democratic Party polled likely voters and found Blanco leading 41% to Jindal's 35%. When they factored in the question "which candidate are you leaning towards?" Blanco leads 47 to 39, with the rest still undecided.

You can see the press release here and the only story from the state that I could find which mentioned it here. That story is about the debate to take place on most LPB stations around the state but manages to work the data in when discussing Blanco. I hope that Blanco looks better in these debates than she has in the previous forums that included more candidates. It's possible that she's better suited for the two-person forum, but I don't see how she'll be able to compete with Jindal's fast talking, "I have a twelve page program" technique.

With that said she could benefit from low expectations about her debating abilities and Jindal still has the potential of suffering from the Gore-effect (looking like he's bullying his opponent with his intellect in true nerd-like fashion). Whatever the case it should be interesting tonight.

Non-Stories and football analogies 

I can't quite figure out why this story was on the front page of The Advocate except to assume that there really aren't a whole lot of stories about the governor's race to print this week. It seems like a cheap shot by the Baton Rouge newspaper to create a story out of thin air about Jindal's supposed secrecy regarding his campaign. Most people understand that well-run campaigns don't tell the press about their tactics unless they want to. So The Advocate trying to take some issue about Jindal not discussing his campaign strategies and mailing lists seems a little petty, especially in light of Jindal's recent decision to discuss his contributions more openly.

Jindal responded to some question about the apparent secrecy at The Baton Rouge Press Club with this silly statement though. "We're not going to give out detailed campaign tactics. It would be like the LSU Tigers -- and admittedly, they may have done this based on their performance -- giving their playbook to the Florida Gators on Saturday."

It's not really like that, but Bobby Jindal handled the question as well as could have been expected. The Advocate published numerous stories about Jindal's finances during the primary campaign, let's see if they continue to make this new discovery of Jindal campaign secrecy over the next month.

No liberals allowed! 

Remember this post about Blanco not standing with Buddy Leach when he offered her his endorsement? Now "Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal" wants to make sure the public knows he never once considered asking "Angry Populist-Man Buddy Leach" Buddy Leach for his support.

In fact Jindal just called Leach because he, "wanted to congratulate Buddy in particular for running what was from my candidacy was a positive campaign and never engaging in personal attacks on me -- but I never once asked for his support," Jindal said.

Of course I don't doubt that Jindal ever seriously considered soliciting the support of the now defunct Leach campaign, but these are the kinds of political pissing contests that are tons of fun to watch develop. It's also great to see Bobby Jindal run like a frightened child from the prospect that he might have had anything to do with Foghorn Leghorn stunt double Buddy Leach. Maybe we should call Al Sharpton and ask him to issue a press-release which says Bobby Jindal has a lot to offer the black community.

13 October 2003

I guess I should have stayed another night in New Orleans 

The news is slow tonight, which is a shame since I've been spending half the night on the computer trying to find interesting and relevant news to provide to the dedicated ten or fifteen readers who regularly check in here. Click around the blogs and newspapers on my reading list and you'll likely find just what I have for the last two hours: more deaths in Iraq (which I usually don't post because it seems a little unseemly); Bush as Jesus; and the usual coterie of bloggers asking for money.

The good news is that I got to watch a pretty fantastic baseball game (you've never seen a knuckleball until you've seen Tim Wakefield throw one) while surfing and the guy responsible for getting my fantasy football team wins over the last few weeks had another great game.

I'm pretty beat up after a rough weekend so I'm hitting the sack early. I can assure you there are no trips to New Orleans in the near future so regular posting is a lock for the rest of the work week (but I could be in Beaumont for my bro's Oktoberfest this weekend, just a day trip this time though, no extended stay partying for a while for this old boy). Tomorrow I install paypal. . . [insert sarcastic smiley type emoticon here]

Hatchet-man Castellanos is handling Jindal's advertising 

AP Louisiana reporter Adam Nossiter continues to produce great stories about the political machinery of the respective candidates for governor. This week he looks at the man behind Jindal's two-faced advertising blitz. On television we generally see moderate Bobby Jindal, who "talks too fast, but that's because [he] has a lot to say." Meanwhile in radioland, Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal (I've decided to refer to his radio persona as "Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal" until the race is over--shortcut key here I come) is railing against Hollywood's evil liberal values and those Christ-hating liberals who are "scared of the Ten Commandments."

It turns out Alex Castellanos' firm is designing the Jindal ad-campaign, and despite Jindal's primary night promise to keep it clean, he's been demonizing liberals--although no other candidate by name--for two months. Nossiter describes a few of the nastier campaigns that Castellanos has been involved in, so his firm's entrance into the Jindal camp should be suspect.

It's an interesting story, so go read it and let me know what you think.

Two hours I'm not willing to give away 

Mike Foster has invited gubernatorial candidates Bobby Jindal and Kathleen Blanco to take the reigns of his show in the interest of promoting their respective visions for Louisiana. I honestly can't think of a worse way to spend a Thursday afternoon than listening to the pontifications of either of these candidates. This is not to say that either is a bad choice for governor (although in the interest of full disclosure I'm definitely not supporting Jindal), just that they may be two of the most boring people in the history of Louisiana politics. I'll admit that it would be interesting to see what the whackos who generally call in to talk radio might ask the candidates in the way that a thirty-car accident demands a little rubber-necking by passing drivers, but that's an interest that most people are ashamed to admit. We'll see as this develops.

Fetishists unite! 

If you're interested in the ill-fated Kenner fetish convention get on over to Yat Pundit who takes you through all the "ins and outs" of the Kenner leather-clad set.

Returning soon 

I'll be home in about three hours, posting should return to normal then. Sorry about the hiatus. It's a good thing I don't get paid for this.

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