25 October 2003

Jeebus, the blog world is difficult to navigate 

Normally I look at the newspapers first thing when I log on to the Internet and then start planning posts for Timshel. Tonight I'm online and I read this story in the Washington Post. I envisioned writing a post about the "through the looking glass" nature of the Bush administration, but I checked out Josh Marshall's site beforehand and realized that I was already behind the times. Anyway, this is the key quote in TPM's two posts on the subject:

The defenders of the White House now seem intent on lowering the bar to the most comical of levels, arguing that Saddam Hussein had not relinquished the “desire” or the “ambition” to have nuclear weapons. But by this standard (viz, Matthew 5:27-30) probably half the married men in America have cheated on their wives with Pam Anderson or Angelina Jolie. So I’m not quite sure what that proves.

What happened? 

Rockets slammed into the hotel that Paul Wolfiwitz was staying in . . . there were many injured, no reason to think the Deputy Defense Sec. is hurt at this point. Update @ 11:57 pm: Wolfie is fine but this was a serious attack on a distinctly American presence in Baghdad. Here is a link to an early report on the matter.

Queer eye for that Bush guy 

Hesiod over at Counterspin Central informs us that the GOP intends to make the gay marriage issue central to their electoral strategy next year and offers a counter-strategy to help the Republican's cynical exploitation of sexual politics backfire.

Because of your respect for the First Amendment, you also believe that passing federal laws, or a constitutional amendment to PROHIBIT those religious groups from EVER recognizing such unions is offensive.

Turn the Republican push to outlaw gay marriage into an anti-First amendment , and anti-democratic crusade. Say that everyone's views should be respected, and vigorous debate on this issue should be encouraged, not shut off by those who want to gain a cheap political advantage. Religious groups should have the right to change their minds.

This strikes me as a good and honest way to approach the issue that doesn't alienate the opposition so much as neutralize it. The most important factor is to avoid telling people whose deeply held religious beliefs compel them to oppose gay marriage that they are somehow bigoted. It's a very sticky situation, but in the end if Democrats approach this issue with tact and honesty it could end up being a winner for them and for gay people every where who really deserve better than to be exploited by Republican demagougery.

Calpundit is looking at the issue as well and there are the seeds of an interesting brainstorming session going on in his comments section.

Digby's Back! 

After taking too much time off, he's back to survey the lay of the land.

Jindal ads working 

In comments wp alerted us that Jindal's ads were doing their job by chipping away at the support of Kathleen Blanco, and this poll by Marketing Research and Insight's Verne Kennedy seems to confirm that. You can find the story by Gannett's John Hill over at the paper in my hometown. With voters who are leaning to a particular candidate figured in the results Blanco leads Jindal 47% to 45% (that's down from 48% to Jindal's 41% two weeks ago).

The strong committed vote for Blanco dropped from 36 to 30 percent, while undecided went from 6 percent to 8 percent. Those saying the were leaning to Jindal went up from 1 to 4 percent.

“We haven’t seen many Blanco ads and we see Jindal ads regularly. These Jindal ads are having the effect of Blanco voters having second thoughts,” Parent said. “She is going to need to win back some support to regain the control she had a week ago.”

Kennedy said the movement occurred many among white women, and the open-ended questions indicate the Jindal campaign ads have created some doubt that she is tied to old politics.

I don't know if that last bit about old politics is speculation on Kennedy's part or if he asked a specific question regarding Blanco and Edwards when he conducted the poll (no I'm not suggesting push polling by Kennedy, I understand that he asks those questions after he gets the respondents choice for gov). I suspect that he put it in a specific question, but these stories about polls are always just a little too light on the hard data for my tastes. Blanco needs to get it together and soon or she'll find herself on the wrong end of a phone call on election night.

Saturday news roundup 

The candidates met in Shreveport last night to engage in a little one on one action. Jindal and Blanco aren't pulling punches any more as they seemed to relentlessly criticize each other's record. Gannett's Mike Hasten paints a fairly unflattering portrait of Blanco's demeanor:

Blanco took every opportunity to knock Jindal, sometimes not answering the questions posed to her.

For example, when he asked her to name legislation that she had authored as a two-term legislator or proposed as lieutenant governor in the past eight years to solve the state’s problems, she said, “It’s not negative to talk about accomplishments or lack of accomplishments.” She also said, “I’ve lived a life that has never been challenged.”

Jindal sometimes used most of his allotted time trying to respond to Blanco’s criticisms.

The Advocate headlines "Candidates criticize each other," but Dyer's article is in the same vein as Hasten's using verbs like "blasted" and "lashed out" to characterize Blanco's attacks while giving perfunctory print to the criticisms made by Jindal (according to the story he was unsurprisingly critical of all of Blanco's negative advertising).

I can't find the T-P's account of the debate online, which isn't surprising given how much trouble I frequently have navigating Nola.com. Sometimes they don't get all their stories on the web, but I can't see much reason why this wouldn't be there.

Without having seen the forum last night I can't question the judgment of the reporters in these stories, but I'm inclined to trust their reporting anyway. My impression is that Blanco is trying to regain the upperhand since recent polling data and certain endorsements that I've spent too much time discussing have given the impression that she's slipping. If she can get Jindal on the defensive and force him to defend his supposed achievements at high levels in the state's bureaucracy (I'm still convinced that even a cursory look at the state of Louisiana's charity hospital system will reveal Jindal's achilles heel in this race, but Blanco's immunization statistic seems ineffective to me. Why not talk about laid off nurses and closed clinics?) then she can start defining the terms of the election again. She needs to keep people focused on her experience, blah, blah and all that stuff instead of asking her about meaningless connections to Edwin Edwards. It's a fine line she's trying to straddle right now though. If she is too critical then she confirms the way Jindal's ads are portraying her right now, but if she doesn't start taking the fight to Jindal's turf she won't be able to get the necessary fifty percent in three weeks.

24 October 2003

Planting the seeds of resurgence 

Thank God for the new Center for American Progress. Liberals desperately lack the machinery for distributing our message and vision to the citizenry, but with new progressive think tanks like The Center on the job we have some reason to hope for the future of the left. We don't have to be satisfied with the knowledge that we're always right anymore (note the mild sarcasm in that sentence before any readers from the other side get up in arms), because people are really starting to get it together. Check out this response to SecDef Donald Rumsfeld's "leaked" memo earlier this week.

For the curious. . .  

Slate's explainer answers the question, "What's up with this solar storm?", while CNN plays Chicken Little. For a good picture that puts the size of the solar eruption into perspective go take a look at DailyKos.com (for those of you who never saw a science textbook, don't worry Earth isn't really that close to the sun).

Are vouchers an issue now? 

After last night's somewhat beer fueled rambling about Dick DeVos, Amway, and a possible connection to the Jindal campaign, I find The Advocate exploring the candidates' positions on vouchers.

In a nutshell, Jindal wants to immediately explore a voucher plan for the state, and Blanco would only do it as a last resort. So despite my earlier reference to the issue in a comment yesterday the candidates are fairly significantly opposed to one another over vouchers.

The question still remains though, will these guys get involved?

Does Mike Foster have Syphilis? 

At least that would explain the rapid descent into madness that has occurred during this year's gubernatorial election. Apparently Foster really went off the deep end yesterday afternoon when talking about the "trough hogs" who contribute vast sums to candidate's campaigns so they can influence over the office. Hey Mike, you ever hear something about pots and kettles (you may have seen these implements on your plantation in Franklin)? Imagine this scene:

Foster made use of his airwave access to make a "hog call" to illustrate what he claims are the "trough hogs," those who make contributions to campaigns in an effort to influence candidates once they are elected.

"I just heard that Ms. Blanco said that Jindal was going to cut people just to be mean," Foster said. "Let me tell you what he did for me, he went after the crooks. He went after the ... trough hogs," Foster said while making grunting noises.

I hope he didn't pop a blood vessel with all the grunting. This may sound elitist, but how on earth does a man as seemingly refined as Jindal get along with this dope?

More on BOLD, or where I take a step back and manage to say something positive about the whole situation 

Scott Dyer gets into the nitty-gritty of the BOLD endorsement for Jindal (I'm really sorry about these one track mindsets I get into sometimes. . .) and finds that Blanco never really tried to secure their endorsement. According to the story the only time she sat down with BOLD was during a series of panels that primary candidates attended with different organizations around the state. BOLD did endorse Suzy Terrell in last year's Senate election, so crossing traditional party lines for the African-American group isn't completely unprecedented.

At the very least this strikes me as stupid politics for the Blanco campaign. It doesn't seem like it would have been too hard to woo this organization considering how little Jindal's party has traditionally had to offer them. Now while I don't like to see a constituency that my party needs to win elections start defecting wholesale to ideologues on the right, sometimes it's good for things to be shaken up a bit. It's better for everyone if minorities can feel comfortable voting for either party, so the fact that GOP may be reaching out to African-American organizations is welcome, I just don't understand yet what that appeal is. Perhaps it will be more clear as the election wears on.

Update@ 9:50 am: The story by Jan Moller and Brian Thevenot in the T-P is much better and manages to describe Jindal's effort to reach out to black voters much more thoroughly than the one I initially linked to in The Advocate

Update on the evening's poll results 

Bayoubuzz.com has the rundown (somewhat) of the results of the poll with pollster Bernie Pinsonat's analysis. Read the specific results for Jindal and Blanco (there has to be more to this poll than what is presented here, but it's the most I can find at this point and it appears to be no more than what was released to the press) here and Bernie's analysis here.

Holy shit?

Also from bayoubuzz.com, it appears that Jindal is picking up another endorsement from a group of black ministers in New Orleans. Why isn't Blanco reaching out to these groups? Is the vouchers issue a wedge against the traditionally Democratic support of the black community? Do I need to send the Blanco campaign an email telling them to start doing oppo-research on Dick DeVos former president of Amway (who introduced themselves to the market in India largely through the work of a company called the Jindal Group and their flagship subsidiary Jindal Photo Film) and now head of the pro-voucher group All Children Matter that has already claimed responsibility for the victory over soon to be former state legislator Bill Jones. In the All Children Matter Press release they make no secret that they planned to get involved in future Louisiana races. Is this one? Hell I don't know at all. I honestly doubt Bobby Jindal has any connection to the Jindal Group in India (after all their are a billion people in the country), but it would be quite a coincidence if the former head of Amway who quit the business to dedicate his life to promoting vouchers across the country and happened to have a special place in his heart for a certain Indian family by the name of Jindal for their help in introducing his direct marketing company to the second largest market in the world helped out an Indian-American running for governor of Louisiana who happened to have the same last name. I don't have the resources to go any farther in this kind of research, but someone should be looking into it. That means you state newspapers and Blanco opposition research team. People pay you to do this kind of stuff, so get to it.

This cannot be for real 

If you've been under a rock for the last two months you may not know that Mel Gibson is producing and directing a film version of the Passion of Jesus Christ. It has come under considerable scrutiny since the Anti Defamation League got involved to call into question the treatment of Jews in the film. The Vatican is still silent on the matter, though some rather high-profile Catholic leaders have felt free to come down on either side of the story.

Via Calpundit by way of Joe at Quaker in a Basement we find this story. It seems that the star of the movie (that would be the guy who portrays J.C. Himself) was struck by lightning during the filming. It's hard to ask for a clearer signal than that to close up shop and maybe start work on the next "Lethal Weapon" sequel.

23 October 2003

New Poll results 

A poll conducted over the weekend by Southern Media & Opinion Research, Inc. of six hundred likely voters found Blanco leading Jindal with 42.7% to Jindal's 40.something% (sorry, the results aren't online anywhere I can find yet, and I was in the middle of the dishes when the results flashed on my local news station). I suspect that Blanco's lead is within the margin of error, and there were around 16% still undecided. Without seeing any of the methodology or the sampling data I will say that Jindal is polling slightly better than I suspected. He appears to have already made up the six percent of the electorate that Downer collected (I'm sure that Blanco's Cajun roots have helped her collect at least some of that vote) and is most likely splitting some Ewing voters from the north with Blanco.

Keep in mind that the black vote is almost always underpolled this far before an election and that it still should be overwhelmingly in favor of Kathleen Blanco (BOLD endorsement or no BOLD endorsement). I'll be able to make a better assessment of these numbers when I read tomorrow morning's newspapers and get a feel for the method used to conduct it. Until then, enjoy game five of the World Series.

By the way, if you want to see the numbers for yourself I suspect that WWLTV.com or nola.com will put them up on their websites at some point tonight, so check in there while I'm mia for the evening.

BOLD to endorse Jindal 

Jindal is about to pick up the endorsement of a fairly influential black organization called the Black Oranization for Leadership Development. They endorsed Ieyoub in the primary and now will put their support behind Republican Bobby Jindal. BOLD does not carry much political weight, but their endorsement of a Republican does merit considerable symbolic importance. I mentioned in a post this morning that Blanco's support among the most natural Democratic constituency in Louisiana (African-Americans) wasn't particularly strong and that Jefferson's endorsement didn't exactly cry out that he would putting his machinery to work for the (let's face it, conservative) Democrat.

I'll admit that I don't know too much about BOLD, but this should be an embarrassment to Blanco. She should have no trouble at the very least a tacit agreement from black organizations that they won't endorse Jindal, but she couldn't do that. It should be interesting to read what's in the papers about this tomorrow morning. Until then I'll try to get a better picture of what BOLD is all about.

Final thought: Will the high-profile endorsement of a black organization alienate the voters "Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal" has picked up by his foaming-at-the-mouth commercials on right-wing radio? Would some of the Duke voters of 1991 who were starting to believe that Bobby Jindal was one of them now decide that now he's just another darkie because of his association with BOLD? We won't know the answers of these questions until election day, but the dynamics of this race just got very interesting.

Also, keep your eyes out for a poll being conducted by Bernie Pinsonat that should be released to the public at 6:00 pm today. I can't find which network is supposed to get the scoop, but bayoubuzz.com says seven state networks will get the drop on the results. If I can find out which ones I'll update the site as soon as possible.

Update @ 3:12 pm: I just spoke to someone I'm close to who has followed LA politics pretty closely for the last forty-five years or so and claims that BOLD is a group that is notoriously for sale to the highest bidder. I would imagine that matters more when a race includes multiple Democrats though, and not an ideological, movement conservative like Bobby Jindal. This is just kind of shocking to me at the moment. Still no word on the poll. If anyone knows who will be covering the results in their six o'clock report please let me know.

Somerby is on top of things today 

If you think NY Times columnist Paul Krugman is too shrill, then you're not reading enough of the links in my Daily Reading sidebar. Today's Daily Howler (if this is the only link you click on while perusing my site today then it's worth it) takes on the conservative revisionists who are trying to argue that the Bush administration never claimed that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was an imminent threat, most notably George Will, Andrew Sullivan, and Jonah Goldberg.

As Sully would say, "the money quote":

Boyer, at the Washington Times, seemed to think the concern was an “imminent threat.” And why wouldn’t he think such a thing? Here’s what his colleague, Joseph Curl, had reported just one day before:

CURL (10/6/02): President Bush yesterday said Saddam Hussein has a history of attacking his enemies first and could inflict “massive and sudden horror” on the United States, offering a new reason for a pre-emptive military strike against the Iraqi leader.

Mr. Bush said the Iraqi dictator has a “horrible history” of attacking his enemies first.

“We cannot ignore history. We must not ignore reality. We must do everything we can to disarm this man before he hurts one single American,” the president told hundreds of cheering police and National Guardsmen.

Gee! Any way you could think that Saddam posed a threat, or that the threat might be immediate? And was there any way to get that idea from Bush’s speech in Cincinnati, given just one day later? Here was Curl’s opening paragraph:

CURL (10/8/02): President Bush last night said Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is a “murderous tyrant” who could attack the United States “on any given day” using unmanned aerial vehicles loaded with chemical or biological weapons.

That was the opening paragraph, in the Washington Times, about Bush’s biggest fall speech on this subject! Of course Curl himself—at the Washington Times—had long thought an “imminent threat” was at issue. Here’s what he’d written weeks earlier:

CURL (9/21/02): Administration officials have in recent days ratcheted up talk about unilateral U.S. action in the event the United Nations fails to deliver the type of resolution Mr. Bush desires…[S]enior administration officials, including Vice President Richard B. Cheney, have laid out the case for pre-emptive strikes to deal with imminent threats to the United States.

Curl and his editors—at the Washington Times—thought Bush was bruiting an imminent threat. But now, your time is wasted—your discourse is turned into stupid clowning—as Will cuts-and-pastes what he’s handed. Just how stupid is your discourse? It’s stupid all the way to the ground.

Now Josh Marshall is in on the act. There's a free TPM t-shirt in it for the reader who submits the most damning administration quote arguing the Iraqi threat's supposed imminence. The last few months of GOP hacks justification and rejustification for the Iraq war has been mostly amusing, but at some point it has to end. Somerby doesn't have much hope for the ability of a failed press corps to resolve it's errors, but I'm not that cynical yet. I guess it's youthful idealism. . .

Late endorsements roll in 

The theme of the day for gubernatorial coverage seems to be endorsements. This comes on the heels of the endorsement by NOLA congressman Bill Jefferson of Kathleen Blanco (read about it here and here) and the endorsement of Bobby Jindal by former Governor, and brief 2003 candidate, Dave Treen and some North Shore legislators.

The Jefferson support for Blanco seems a little tepid in my view though. This quote from the T-P should bother Blanco supporters, "Although Jefferson mobilized his Progressive Democrats political organization for Leach, he said the state Democratic Party will take control of that effort for Blanco." It seems to me that Jefferson isn't really offering to work for Blanco, preferring to leave it up to the state party. Blanco needs Jefferson's full political machinery behind her to adequately motivate black voters in New Orleans in sufficient numbers to put her in the Governor's Mansion.

In case you thought these endorsements carried significant weight, The Advocate tempers the flurry with this editorial this morning. It's headlined "Endorsements won't win race," and you can probably just about imagine what it has to say. If you can't, just go read it and take it with a grain of salt. The Jefferson endorsement is important if she can parley that endorsement into real work by the Jefferson people in the city of New Orleans. It remains to be seen if that will be the case, but that doesn't make it particularly unbelievable.

Following up 

After The Advocate alerted us to the fundraising activities of former Edwards supporter Cary Goss on behalf of the Blanco campaign yesterday, Blanco went to the press and reminded them that you need look no farther than Jeff Parish Sheriff Harry Lee to find Edwards supporters of the same level involved with the Jindal campaign.

You may or may not know that Harry Lee is among the supporters of Edwards who has helped to spearhead the movement to grant clemency to the convicted and imprisoned former governor and he has conveniently given $5,000 to Jindal's campaign for governor and made a somewhat high-profile endorsement of the former LA hospital chief.

As I wrote yesterday we'll be seeing former Edwards people coming up in campaigns in this state for a long time to come because of the ex-governor's deep and wide political connections developed over three decades of political activity. I'm not surprised that it took the Blanco campaign all of three hours to respond to The Advocate's story linking her to Edwards people with finger pointing at the Jindal campaign. This should make the story go away, but we'll see.

Did I mention I was married? 

Well, I'm not married, but Gannett fronts some real creampuff profiles of the candidate spouses on the Lafayette newspaper this morning. If you're interested, which I am, but only in the sense that I can be interested in stories about cats being rescued from trees by firemen, you can read about Ray Blanco here, and about Supriya Jindal here.

I'll only make one comment about the substance of either of these profiles. I'm sure Supriya Jindal is a remarkable and dynamic woman, but I simply hated people like this in college:

When Supriya Jolly Jindal was a Tulane University student majoring in chemistry, she underplayed her intelligence to her friends.

“She would turn in a chemical engineering project and say, ‘I’m sure I failed,’ and then she would get the highest grade in the class,” said college friend Lisanne.

Atari Middle Age Riot 

For the (just starting to feel) old folks who remember playing Atari on televisions with honest-to-God dials and antennae (because it was too expensive to have cable in more than one room), Mary at Naked Furniture directs us to this story from Electronic Gaming Monthly.

It's too bad they didn't make the kids play either of my two favorite games of all time. Read about them here (a friend of my brother's who shall remain nameless actually marked his screen so that he always knew exactly where to jump so he could "land on top of the princess" when he "flipped" that one) and here.

Bonus Atari fun: This game may have been the first preparation for many young men and self-stimulation (if you've played it you know what I'm talking about, otherwise you missed out on one of the most physically challenging Atari games in existence).

22 October 2003

Shut your eyes and it will all go away 

There's been much hay made around the blogosphere over the fact that Bush has shut out the press from the funerals and return flights of the Americans who have died in Iraq. I haven't commented on it because I don't really know what to say about it. This seems pretty typical for the Bush administration, and I usually try my damndest to link to stories that haven't already been chewed up and spit out by the folks I read everyday. But Matt Bivens, who writes the [semi]Daily Outrage over at The Nation puts the whole thing into it's proper perspective. So go read him if you've got a minute.

George Washington: Founding Father/Deadbeat Dad 

You have to love a man who says goodbye to the Presidency of the world's first democratic republic to go home and run his own whiskey distillery. Recently historians discovered Washington's whiskey recipe and called in Jim Beam's master distiller to make the liquor at Mt. Vernon. It wasn't without some trouble though:

Today's top whiskey makers spent hours Tuesday mixing, heating and cooling Washington's "mash bill," or recipe, of rye, corn and malted barley. They then ran their creation through a copper still atop an open fire.

Dalton looked relieved after sipping the creation, which he called spicy and aromatic.

"I had concerns about it. I mean this is so primitive," Dalton said eyeing the outdoor flame and ancient-looking pots. "I thought it would be a little murky, but that's not the case at all."

They're planning to age the whiskey in two barrels for a couple years, and when they think it's ready, they will auction off an estimated 96 bottles of it to benefit the Mount Vernon estate.

The distillers did hit a couple of snags with their brew.

A special yeast that was shipped to Virginia from the Woodford Reserve distillery in central Kentucky died en route, so the whiskey makers had to pick up ordinary yeast at a suburban Washington grocery store.

Also, the team put too much of their concoction in the still during a test, producing a sample that "tasted like burnt toast, burnt rye bread toast," said Joseph Dangler, who makes Virginia Gentleman bourbon.

unsurprisingly drinkers around the country will finally find further justification for our habits, hell George Washington made whiskey, what could be wrong with it?

Imagine that, Democrats are fundraising for Blanco 

If you're running for governor of Louisiana as a Democrat, eventually you will have to work with some former Edwards supporters. It's easier to deal with the brief negative publicity than to avoid the ex-governor's people for the months of campaigning. And simply being associated with the former governor doesn't make you a criminal, though that may not matter in the eyes of voters. Today there's a story that places Kathleen Blanco at a fundraiser with one Cary Goss in a Baton Rouge Ruth's Chris Steak House (why wasn't I invited?) in The Advocate:

In 1998, Goss testified to a grand jury that indicted Edwards and several of his associates. Edwards eventually went to federal prison.

Goss introduced Edwards to a former state transportation worker who later pleaded guilty to a felony in connection to a conspiracy to wiretap FBI agents, his attorney said at the time. Goss was nothing but a witness, his attorney said.

Campaign finance records show Goss gave Blanco $2,500 in September, and two of his companies contributed earlier in the race. Premier Concrete Products gave $2,500 and Industrial Fabrics gave $5,000.

The direct connection to Edwards' conviction probably isn't a good thing, but at least he was testifying against Edwards and was not a target of the investigation (I know he could have testified to save his own ass, innocent until prove guilty though, right?).

Anyway, I don't think this is really such a big deal. For another ten or twenty years we'll still be coming across Democratic politicians in this state who have tenuous connections to the now federal inmate. Blanco has sufficiently insulated herself from the dirty politics of the past, and most voters will realize that despite some new fundraisers who may be showing up to solicit money for her.

21 October 2003

Jindal gets an early jump on his next career move 

Jindal's experience today in a high school classroom could be a signal of what's to come after he loses the election for Louisiana Governor. A.P.'s Adam Nossiter reports on Jindal's trip to McKinley High School. It seems like a fairly critical piece considering Nossiter's reminders that Bush isn't living up to his end of the bargain on Teach for America and Jindal's positions on creationism and stem cell research. You be the judge.

Jindal's campaign billed the stop at McKinley High School here as a teaching session in "Teach for America Week," devoted to highlighting the national service program that brings top college graduates to teach in inner-city and rural schools.

The program has been heavily cut under the administration of President Bush _ it recently failed to get an approximately $14 million federal grant _ but Bush, Jindal's former employer, wasn't on the agenda Tuesday.

Indeed, though Jindal quickly proclaimed his support for Teach for America, he didn't mention Bush, as he often does to older audiences, during the 45 minutes he spent with the students in Karen Sweeney's 10th grade biology class.

Nor did the college biology major do much teaching. He didn't address a subject of controversy related to the classroom that has touched his own campaign his support for "creationism," the doctrine that calls into question evolution.

. . .

Despite his interest in biotechnology, Jindal is against stem cell research, regarded by some scientists as one of its most promising areas, though opposed by others because it involves using cells from human embryos. President Bush is against this type of research, and the federal government has moved to restrict funding for it.

And if you thought the school was a good one, think again:

He restlessly moved up and down the students' dilapidated desks and chairs like a talk-show host, urging them to stay in school and to "take chances." With his trademark earnest demeanor, he listened intently to the student answers, then quickly shot back new questions.

To be fair to Jindal, his position on creationism in schools isn't quite as clear as Nossiter makes it out to be. There appears to be nothing about creationism in his education plan or in the section on "Faith and Values" on his website (those are both fairly long pdf. files so if you don't have Adobe Acrobat or are on dialup click on the links at your own risk). Also Jindal's responses on this CABL questionnaire don't mention creationism. I recall that the T-P reporter who questioned Jindal's position on creationism in a forum during the primary couldn't really pin him down. Jindal's position seemed to be that science textbooks should stress that evolution isn't necessarily the answer, but he avoided saying he supported teaching creationism in biology classes as a scientific theory on the origins of life. I did a Google search as well but can't find anywhere that Jindal actually supports this (only another Nossiter story about Jindal's "indulgent eye toward creationism," which is probably a more accurate description of his position at this point). His relentless pandering to the conservatives has blurred the lines on this issue though, so any help or recollection from you guys would be great here.

In the end this seems like a good campaign move for Jindal. The last few days have seen some silly bickering between the candidates, so to get coverage about a campaign stop at a public school should reinforce his mainstream media image as "Earnest Go-Getter Bobby Jindal," even if the report does contrast that with the "Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal," that talk radio fans have come to know and love.

If only Rush weren't in rehab 

I'd love to hear what he has to say about this. There's nothing more fun than listening to Reagan fanatics bitch about his treatment by the SCLM.

To see just how much Reaganiacs love their president check out these stories.

Update @ 10:29 pm: Reader Michael in comments forecasts this bit of news regarding St. Ronald in the not too distant future: "Ronald Reagan Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Conservative decry length of time between end of Central American conflicts and Nobel Committee's decision. 'The Contras and Mujahadeen were the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers,' Weinberger asserts, 'No, wait. Strike the part about the Mujahadeen'."

Dear Lord 

What have we done to deserve this?

via Tbogg

Killing me softly 

One of my pet issues on this blog has been the death penalty, so since I read this op-ed from the N.Y. Times I felt the need to pass along the link. Here are the key grafs:

In Tennessee, it is a crime to euthanize a cat with pancuronium bromide, but this doesn't stop the state from using it to execute condemned criminals. Because the drug paralyzes muscles but does not affect nerves, it may leave its victims wide awake but immobilized as they painfully suffocate. So prisoners' advocates and medical experts are now trying to persuade Tennessee — and the nearly 30 other states that use the drug — to choose different poisons for lethal injection, thereby bringing euthanasia protocols for humans in line with those for domestic animals.

And so continues the uniquely American habit of tinkering with the machinery of death. For the past century and a half, America's capital punishment debate has resembled a strange game of leapfrog: opponents of the death penalty claim that the current method, whatever it may be, is barbaric, which prompts capital-punishment supporters to refine that method or develop a new one.

. . .

it seems that many death-penalty opponents are realizing that technological leapfrog is a game they can't win, and are opting out of the latest debate. Amnesty International has issued this statement: "The search for a `humane' way of killing people should be seen for what it is — a search to make executions more palatable." In Nebraska, the only state with the electric chair as its sole method of execution, State Senator Ernie Chambers has vowed to fight any attempt to "make executions easier." He hopes that the United States Supreme Court will one day declare electrocution unconstitutional, leaving Nebraska without a valid execution law.

. . .

For too long, defenders of capital punishment, fearing that brutal killing methods might provoke public opposition, have found unwitting allies among their adversaries, anxious to relieve the suffering of the condemned. Now death penalty opponents are realizing that scientific execution methods, ceaselessly refined, simply mask the barbarity of killing.

I don't have anything to add to that. Go read the whole thing.

You know it's a slow news day. . . 

when you have to run this editorial.

October too soon for yule decorations

To be fair they are right, but do we really need this in the newspaper?

Bubbas for Jindal 

That's the new bumper sticker you can expect to see floating around the New Orleans area over the next month. The Jindal campaign has printed up a thousand of the stickers to promote their strongest constituency. I don't really know what a Bubba is, but I suspect they're roughly the same voters who propelled David Duke into a runoff for the governor's mansion in 1991. They wear lots of mesh-caps, but the kinds that read Bassmasters and can be bought in gas stations on the highway, not the kinds made cool somehow by the NFL draft and Ashton Kutcher. I could be wrong though, what do you think a Bubba is?

Candidate forum roundup 

The papers examine the candidates latest appearance in a forum broadcast via the Internet for Louisiana servicemen who are overseas. The Advocate focuses on issues of biotechnology and the LSU's role in state higher education. The T-P tells us of Blanco's further criticism of Jindal's role directing state hospitals. It is probably her sharpest attack of Jindal's record yet. The story ledes:

Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco leveled some of her sharpest attacks to date in the governor's race Monday, suggesting that her opponent, Republican Bobby Jindal, is responsible for the state's poor marks on many health indicators.

Jindal fired back by accusing Blanco of lying in a radio commercial and said her proposed solution to Louisiana's health care needs is unlikely to bear fruit.

The comments came after Blanco and Jindal met for the second of their five scheduled public debates before the Nov. 15 runoff, and they provided fresh evidence that the race between two candidates with a professed dislike for negative campaigning is taking on a feistier tone.

"Anybody who tries to tell people they have all the answers is fooling the public," Blanco said, referring to Jindal's penchant for promoting detailed, multipronged policy proposals as a solution to Louisiana's problems.

I think it's about time that Jindal took some criticism for the way he shepherded the state's health care system. The first week I started writing the blog I wondered why Democrats and Republicans in the primary weren't talking about closed clinics, hospitals, and the laid off nurses that come with them whenever Bobby Jindal touted his role as director of Louisiana hospitals. This is substantive criticism and should be fair game (Jindal should probably go after Blanco on the failed "corridor to Latin America" project that Blanco worked on during her terms as Lt. Governor). Hopefully with Blanco's new criticism we'll get someone in this state to put together some analysis of these issues in the newspaper, but I don't have a lot of hope for this kind of journalism since all newspapers want to cover is process and rarely go deeper into a story than the spokesperson of a given campaign and a political analyst.

A guy can hope. . .

20 October 2003


Christopher Hitchens is none too pleased with the beatification of Mother Teresa.


Atrios imagines that Hitch's ramblings about unproven assertions are actually about Bush.

More on race. . . 

Now a Jindal spokesperson has written to radio stations airing the aforementioned ad and requested they be pulled from the rotation. This is the full text of the request:

I write on behalf of the Bobby Jindal for Governor campaign. Last week Gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Blanco purchased air time on your station for an ad which claims that Bobby Jindal’s campaign was trying to discourage voters from turning out and voting in the November 15th election. The ad states that Bobby and the Republicans, “are confident they will win, because they hope that we won’t vote.”

Mr. Jindal and members of the press have asked that Ms. Blanco offer proof to back up this claim. To date, Ms. Blanco has been unable to do so. Mr. Jindal has, in fact, wholeheartedly encouraged all Louisiana citizens to exercise their right to vote.

Any candidate for Governor has a responsibility to the voters to be straightforward and forthright in everything they say, and this certainly must include advertising. I am confident that your station would not knowingly run a campaign ad that is demonstrably untrue. Therefore, I respectfully ask that you please pull the ad from airing on your station until such time that Lt. Governor Blanco can substantiate her claim.

Link via Bayoubuzz.com

First of all, the ad never states that the Jindal campaign is actively trying to discourage people from voting. It says, "they hope we won't vote." This spokesperson is demanding that Blanco's campaign substantiate a claim that they never uttered. The most amazing aspect of this fiasco is that the Jindal campaign makes this distortion apparent in all it's glory with their continued quotation of the ad in question. Do they not know how to use dictionaries at the headquarters or do they just expect us all to be so stupid as to not understand the difference between the words "hope" and "discourage"?

In my previous post I mentioned that the GOP almost always hopes that black voters stay home instead of participating in the electoral process because it helps them get into office. Unfortunately this sometimes degenerates into anti-democratic suppression. One of the uglier practices of contemporary politics was on display in LA during the 2002 mid-term elections when Mary Landrieu managed to scrape out a victory by getting out the black vote despite aggressive suppression measures organized by still anonymous parties (just scroll down and click on the links). Hopefully Jindal continuing to make an issue of this supposedly harmless ad will lead some enterprising LA political reporter to point out why GOPers usually don't want blacks to vote and what happened last December during the Senate runoff. Maybe it's time for a frank discussion about race in Louisiana. The Jindal campaign just seems interested in distorting the truth though, so don't count on it coming from their campaign.

Excuse me while I clear my throat 

It was a busy weekend so I didn’t get a chance to respond to this press release by the Jindal campaign Friday. Now Prof. Jeff Sadow, political scientist and PoliticsLA columnist is picking up on the Jindal-approved message and running with it.

Their charge is that Blanco is—gasp!—advertising on black radio and claiming that Jindal isn’t “one of us.” From their press release:

Bobby Jindal today called for Kathleen Blanco to reject the old style politics that have dominated Louisiana’s past, and to resist any future attempts to inject race into this campaign.
Blanco this week began running ads targeted at African American voters, which make the totally unsubstantiated and reckless charge that Jindal and the Republicans “hope that we won’t vote.” “This is a total fabrication, pulled from thin air”, said campaign spokesman Trey Williams.
The ad also states that Kathleen Blanco “understands real people because she is one of us”, whatever that means. “We are pretty certain that Bobby is a real person,” said Williams. “Kathleen Blanco owes everyone an explanation of exactly what this crazy charge means.”

The first charge is the most difficult one for the Lt. Governor to defend since lots of voters tend to detest identity politics, but Blanco is merely pointing out what everyone with half a brain already knows is true. Republicans don’t want blacks to vote in large numbers because when they do, Democrats win races. She’s not saying in her ad that the Jindal campaign is actively trying to suppress the vote, even though there is evidence that someone tried to keep blacks from going to the polls during the 2002 Senate race between Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Suzy Terrell. (you can read about these sad tactics here, here, and here, and here too (subscription required for that last one though, sorry). Maybe Jindal should prove that he really does want everyone to vote and he’ll send his volunteers into black neighborhoods and communities all over the state to get them registered to vote.

The second charge is absolutely ridiculous. The Jindal camp would have been better off with trying to charge Blanco with class-warfare, as the National GOP loves to do anytime Democrats talk about the Bush’s tax cuts. I don’t see anyway you can construe that line as racial, since all the players in question (black listeners, a white woman, and an Indian-American) are members of some kind of underrepresented “identity.” The “one of us” line is about a class identity that Jindal doesn’t fit into (he went to an Ivy League school, then to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, then almost immediately went to work for major politicos). The Jindal campaign is trying desperately to portray Blanco as a race-baiter, but the facts don’t support the charge. They seem to be the ones who are injecting race into this campaign. Maybe it’s to whip up support among that oh-so-popular angry white male vote that Jindal has been courting since day one with his Rush Limbaugh advertising plan. It’s part of “Definitely Christian Bobby Jindal” way, and it’s hardly surprising.

Enter Jeff Sadow. His column is headlined “Saying you're not negative while going negative doesn't equal a positive for Blanco.” It is a rant against Blanco’s supposed negative advertising that Jindal has been complaining about for a week now. Sadow calls it a question of Blanco’s “character” that she can “so extol virtues of a clean campaign while so brazenly going negative.” He offers up Blanco’s criticism of Jindal’s role in state health care office (a substantive charge on Jindal’s record) and then this new canard about race that I discussed above. If Sadow were at all influential I would be worried about this stuff, but I doubt anyone has really heard of him besides the largely conservative readership of politicsLA.com, so it is more than likely just preaching to the choir over there.

It is disturbing that people would so brazenly distort issues that are of such importance to the future of our state, but when you have two candidates who are almost desperate not to differ too significantly on the issues of the campaign, voters have nothing left to decide on other than which candidate is more emotionally appealing. The last week has given rise to a blizzard of press-releases and charge and counter charge of negative campaigning and bigotry. These things don’t go away without a commitment from the top, and neither Blanco nor Jindal appears to be interested in stopping it just yet. With four weeks to go things could get a lot worse. Maybe the Saints will keep winning and we’ll all just forget about it.

Jindal supporters to Foster: "Shut the hell up!" 

As Governor Mike Foster continues his descent into madness, the supporters of Bobby Jindal are pleading with him to just stay out of it. Jeff Crouere, who has a radio show that I've never heard, regularly contributes to bayoubuzz.com and usually seems pretty reasonable even if I don't agree with his politics.

This morning he sees what everyone else in the state has: Governor Foster's bloviating is going to be the death of Republican wunderkind Bobby Jindal.

Yet, at this juncture, Bobby Jindal would be wise to seriously limit Foster’s role. A recent poll showed that Mike Foster only has a 42% approval rating, the lowest of his tenure as governor. Furthermore, in the latest Verne Kennedy poll, Foster’s influence in Bobby Jindal’s campaign and potential administration is seen as a negative by 54% of those polled. Throughout the campaign, Bobby Jindal has had to handle questions about his young age (32) and his lack of experience versus Blanco. These questions continue to mount with evidence of Mike Foster’s active involvement in his campaign. Some claim that Foster would continue to be very active in a Jindal administration.

In my first week on this blog I predicted the Jindal should worry about the way the public perceives Mike Foster's influence on his candidacy. Jindal needed Foster's political capital and endorsement to get himself in the runoff, but now Foster has alienated too many constituencies to serve anymore use to Jindal. The longer Jindal lets Foster get away with inserting himself into the race as a proxy for Jindal, the harder Jindal will have to work to prove he is independent from the meddling soon to be ex-Governor.

We'll see if Foster keeps his mouth shut, but his past doesn't suggest that voters should keep their hopes up.

I can't believe it 

In the annals of the obvious, Gannett news LA political reporter John Hill comes up with a bit of political "analysis." The headline reads: "Ethnicity, gender play roles in La. gubernatorial runoff."

No shit. But that's the only real news about the race that I can find today. It's nothing you haven't seen before, so read it at your own peril.

19 October 2003


And they looked great in the process. I hope they keep this up with the Carolina Panthers coming to the Dome next weekend.

Newspaper roundup 

Spent time in Beaumont last night and didn't want to update on a dialup modem because I'm not patient enough. Now I'm back in Lafayette and want to get a few stories out before the Saints game at noon.

First the Sunday editions deal with the dueling mailing lists on their front pages this morning. Here's The Advocate, which makes notes of lots of former Edwards people (even the former governor himself) who are on Blanco's list. Jindal's list is impossible to search because names aren't alphabetized for some reason or another.

The T-P examines the claims made by the two candidates in two stories, both of which are worth a read.

Gannett services gives us the goods on the ethnic makeup of the major contributors to Jindal and Blanco, but there aren't really any surprises. Cajuns are giving to Kathleen Babineuax Blanco and Indians are giving (substantially more) to Piyush Bobby Jindal.

Finally Advocate managing editor Carl Redman inks a column praising the candidates for their promised commitment to education for the campaigns.

That's all for now. Saints at noon then some more posting in the afternoon or late night. Happy Sunday, and happy birthday to my bro in Beaumont.

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