08 November 2003

From the Swift dept. 

Josh Marshall has a modest proposal. This is actually a pretty ingenious idea to end this ridiculous "politicization of intelligence" flap.

Kevin Drum has more; and it's layed out in user friendly columns.

Everybody loves lawyers 

The Advocate maps out the candidates' positions on "frivolous lawsuits" in their Saturday edition.

Predictably Bobby Jindal favors sanctioning lawyers who file frivolous claims while Blanco wants to "create a new review panel where businesses can appeal what they consider frivolous suits."

This kind of panel is similar to the way malpractice cases are handled in medical suits.

My take on this is pretty simple, and it's a big reason I'll generally support Democrats over Republicans. There are already plenty of existing barriers to frivilous claims that recriminate the person filing the claim and not the lawyer. The chance of a countersuit and the costs of filing claims in court are enough to make many reconsider filing unless they have a case. By punishing lawyers for advocating the claims of clients without the legal expertise to pusue their own actions, there is too much danger in brow-beating lawyers away from taking on legitimate suits. Abuses of the system are a necessary byproduct of the only civil recourse citizens have to protect their property, health, and happiness.

The rhetoric won't work if anti-litgious Republicans said they wanted to sanction the people themselves who file frivolous claims. Lawyers are much easier to demagogue than a mother who can't get her insurance company to pay for her child's cancer treatment and needs to take them to court.

Thank you, Laura Maggi 

The T-P has an excellent story up looking at the candidates and their approaches to management, particularly in regards to the current health care woes of our troubled state. Frankly it's not very kind to Blanco's "Health Summit" idea, suggesting pretty clearly and correctly that it's been done before and that most health care providers and workers already know what the problems are. In Blanco's defense some argue that the scale of the operation she is proposing is larger and more far-reaching than anything in this state so far. It is an excellent story and just the kind of thing I've been looking for for a month now.

Noticeably absent from the piece is a consideration of Jindal's plan for the health care crisis, but the article was supposed to be about management, so I'll forgive Laura Maggi that absence. I do hope that someone will take a hard look at Jindal's plan though. It's very easy to say you are a problem solver with the answers to all the state's woes. However, all the details in the world don't matter if your answers are wrong.

It's definitely nice to see substantive pieces regarding the candidates after the silly bickering that's been going on for the last month.

Bad news for Blanco, cont'd 

I meant to include this in the last post, but I'm a little tired so forgive me.

By most accounts Blanco needs heavy turnout and a massive shift in the momentum of this race to win next weekend. Obviously both these aspects are yet to be decided, but signs aren't good for the turnout scenario.

Mike Hasten reports:

A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats are voting absentee for next week’s general election, registrars of voters said, and some parishes have more people voting absentee this time than they had a month ago.

But that doesn’t mean more people will be going to the polls Nov. 15, registrars said. Some parish officials, especially St. Landry Parish Registrar John Alcee Moreau, are predicting a much smaller turnout.

“We’re predicting a turnout of 27 percent, about half of the 53 percent we had in October,” Moreau said Friday. “St. Landry has only the two statewide races and five council seats. Interest in those races is not as high as it was for the primary when there was a lot more on the ballot.”

. . .

Secretary of State Fox McKeithen, who predicted a much higher turnout Oct. 4 than the actual count, sidestepped a number for next week’s election and settled for “less than the 49.5 percent in October."

Granted this story hinges on a lot of anecdotal evidence and gut feelings about what turnout will look like next week, but I can't see any reasons to suspect that they are wrong. I know quite a few people who are very engaged in politics and elections who just don't seem to care one way or the other about how this race turns out. It's not surprising when the two candidates major differences are over who attacked who first.

More polls 

Louisiana Gannett newspapers commissioned Mason-Dixon Research to conduct a poll this week for the gubernatorial election, and it seems to have similar results as most other polls I've discussed on this site. Jindal leads by eight points, leads across most regions (except Acadiana), leads among men, performs better than your average Republican among black men, and performs better than your average Republican among white women. Blanco's favorable rating is stuck at 47%, although this isn't a tracking poll, so it's unclear how Mason-Dixon would have pegged Blanco's favorable rating before the rash of advertisements against her character as a "negative campaigner." Also, this poll was conducted Tuesday through Thursday, just when the heavy Blanco advertising got kicked off. It's possible any change in public opinion that could be occurring wouldn't register in this poll. Of course, that could be a lot of wishful thinking on my part.

The print edition is better because of all the good pie charts breaking opinion down by region, race, and gender. They didn't put these online at Acadiananow.com though. If you live in a town serviced by a Gannett paper you might try and take a look at the print for a better view of what's going on.

07 November 2003

Somehow I missed this one 

I missed out on the news that the Pakistani American Congress has put their considerable political weight behind non-Indian candidate Kathleen Blanco.

M. Ashraf Abbasi, president of the Pakistani American Congress (PAC), said Jindal is "a highly prejudiced person, who could be a future threat for Pakistani interests in the U.S."

He appealed to the Muslim community to vote for rival candidate Kathleen Blanco. The election will be held on November 15.

"Blanco is a close friend of Pakistani community," Abbasi said. "She understands our issues and supports our cause. She is in favour of immigrants - opposes discrimination in any form or fashion, is against profiling on the basis of religion, looks or ethnicity.

According to this story they have apparently raised fifty thousand dollars for the Democrat's campaign. There's nothing like international geopolitics playing out on the local scene in Louisiana. I'm sure the the substantial Pakistani presence in Louisiana will surely carry Kathleen Blanco to victory.

What the hell is this about? 

Via Kos, we get a link to this post at political wire.

I received an interesting article written in December 1994 by Lousiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal (R) for the New Oxford Review, an "orthodox Catholic magazine." The piece is titled "Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare" and is about one of Jindal's friends from Brown University getting possessed by the devil. In the article, Jindal suggests that he too came under attack by the devil.

Kos suggests anyone who has nexis that might be able to dig up the text of the article should get back to him.

Blanco profile 

Chris Fink takes a healthy look at Kathleen Blanco's claims to fame and finds her to be just about what everyone else has said she is: hardworking; not a risk-taker; a staple of the Louisiana political scene in the last twenty years but well-distanced from the scandals of the eighties and nineties.

He balances his story by considering that Blanco, who has moved up from one office to the next during her political career, might be inconsistent in charging Bobby Jindal with not sticking to a job for the long haul. He also questions what accomplishments Blanco can claim during her legislative stint. At the very least there could be things you might not already know about Blanco, so read it and decide for yourselves.

Negative ad roundup 

This is never going away, so we should all just accept it. I suppose I could stop linking to the stories, but I can't bring myself to ignore news on the gov race. Sigh, here are your links to all the big stories about the candidate's meeting on Mike Foster's radio show yesterday. What do you think these articles focus on? If you guessed Blanco and Jindal's schoolyard squabbles over negative advertising, then you guessed right.

The most interesting story to cover that no one is talking about comes out of a quote in The Advocate, where Blanco proved she has a better command of the English language than our president (sound on that last link):

Blanco said she's now convinced that Jindal's suggestion for a truce was not an honest request but a ploy to attack her.

"I'm a little reluctant to go along with any of your suggestions because it's, 'Fool me once, shame on you -- fool me twice, shame on me,' " Blanco told Jindal during the radio slot usually used for Gov. Mike Foster's weekly call-in show.

Another story comes from Gannet's capitol reporter Mike Hasten. Another column unfortunately missing from The Advertiser online is also by Mike Hasten and he considers how the campaigns have denigrated into name calling and childish disputes. We seem to be on the same wavelength brother, but I guess 'most everyone is by this point.

Party official warns of intimidation 

In a story that unfortunately isn't online at 2theadvocate.com Marsha Shuler from their capitol bureau reports today that LA Democratic Party Chairman Mike Skinner "called on the US attorneys in LA to guard against voter intimidation" during our runoff election.

The letter came because of the report of "poll watchers" intimidating voters in predominantly black precincts in Mississippi during their election Tuesday. Josh Marshall alerted us to that Tuesday evening and has the initial letter which tipped him off to the story (that's pdf for dialup users who don't want the wait). Considering how often Jindal wants Blanco's proof that he doesn't want blacks to vote, here's some that proves most other Republicans don't want it. This happens in elections all over the south. Suppression tactics were rampant through New Orleans during last year's Senate election. I hope Jindal really is different from most Republicans, but his party has a lot to answer for.

06 November 2003

Nuestro Padrino 

Digby has a good post up exploring the relationship between conservative extraordinaire Grover Norquist and the patron saint of the GOP.


Thanks to David at The Swing State Project for adding me to his blogroll under Louisiana. You're increasing my traffic friend, and for that you can have some of mine. It's a good site that's doing it's damndest to "analyze the key swing states in the 2004 Presidential election." I hope I can help you with my overly agonizing Louisiana coverage.

It appears that it didn't come without some advertising by Michael in the comments at David's site. Thanks for that too my friend. You're words are kinder than I deserve.

Jindal widens margin 

Bobby Jindal has increased his lead to seven points in the latest tracking data from Verne Kennedy's always available Marketing Research Insight poll, and he is still inching closer to the coveted fifty percent mark.

He is at 49% to Blanco's 42%.

I've been a well of pessimism for the last couple of weeks and these numbers aren't helping things a bit. I'm still convinced that it's possible for her to turn this thing around, but something has got to change. She is bleeding support from the throat lately. She's got $2 mil in the bank, it's time to put it to use.

Thanks to my readers at LSU for the tip on this story.

Update @ 6:05 pm: corrected a link issue, shaky hands make strange typos. Update 2 @ 8:12 pm: okay the link really works now. I have trouble actually linking to LSU: it's in my blood.

We quit 

After NOLA mayor Ray Nagin's endorsement of Bobby Jindal his entire advisory committee on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered Issues quit en masse

Here's a part of their statement:

Mr. Jindal has ignored numerous requests over the last three months to meet with representatives of our community to discuss issues, including economic development and civil rights. . . . It is unconscionable and incomprehensible to us that the Mayor of Louisiana's most richly diverse city would not only condone candidate Jindal's actions, but would support his exclusionary campaign with an endorsement.

The first time I discussed homosexual politics on this blog I dismissed Jindal's snub of the gay and lesbian group who eventually endorsed Blanco. I didn't make much of it as discrimination, because I figured not meeting with a group isn't exactly discrimination. I was also a little confused that Blanco who offers so little to the gay community in the area of actual policy positions earned their unqualified support.

I won't deny that I have a bit of a tin ear when it comes to gay political issues, but their statement clarifies exactly why they are so upset about Jindal. In retrospect I suppose it is discriminatory that his campaign would exclude them from the process completely, particularly in light of the fact that Foster has been ignoring the gay community in LA for eight years now. I don't think this will have much of any real impact on the governor's race, but it will hopefully be a deserved black eye on Nagin's mayoralty in New Orleans.

Update @ 3:54 pm: corrected misuse of their/there. I hate when I do that. Please torture me relentlessly when you notice it.

Sometimes I criticize my own team 

More bad press for Blanco regarding her advertising today.

Two stories out of New Orleans and Baton Rouge bring up an ad by Blanco which is very critical of Jindal; calling him a tool of Foster, a threat to health care, and against blacks voting.

Blanco says she was right to break her pledge because Jindal had already done so.

At this point it doesn't matter who started it. Both candidates sound like spoiled junior high schoolers who are about to be punished for pulling each other's hair. It makes them both look bad and it would be easier and better for the voters if it just stopped. This ad in question seems like a pretty bad one to me though. It's certainly the most critical thing I've seen come out of Blanco's mouth since this race kicked off. Unfortunately, it's probably the least fair too.

I'm down with the criticism of Jindal on health care policy. He will make cuts, he will lay off nurses, and we'll probably see lots of cuts in services. I think those are very fair and Jindal should be made to answer for them. However, although I agree that generally Republicans don't want blacks to vote, it's hard to lay that charge on Jindal, since he has very clearly made considerable effort to reach out to black groups across the state. I may not understand what they see in his candidacy, but that doesn't change the fact that he's trying to get their support instead of suppressing their vote like other Republicans across the south have done.

All this is getting pretty boring, and I hope it ends soon. It's the news cycle from hell as Blanco and Jindal throw back claim after claim that everything is the other guys fault. I didn't start it. S/He did it first. Let's try to talk about something else for once.

Who cares about the truth? 

Scott Dyer has an article which lays out the criticisms against Jindal today in The Advocate.

It's about as good as you'd expect from a newspaper these days, which, frankly, isn't great. I don't fault Dyer for this, in fact I think he's been one of the better writers that's been covering this election. The problem is that the criticisms are only addressed by quotes from people involved in the campaigns in question and a few people involved in the industries (health and higher ed--okay that's not really an industry, whatever. . .). There is very little independent analysis on the part of the author to discuss the merits of the criticisms. That's what is desperately needed in political coverage, and it's increasingly difficult to get it from newspaper writers these days. In the desire for objectivity certain common sense observations that reporters are in the position to make when covering a story are thrown out the window.

Oh well, go read it anyway. He reports, you decide.

Thank you Verne Kennedy 

I couldn't be more happy that Kennedy is releasing his tracking poll numbers to the press now on nearly a twice-weekly basis. Today John Hill lets us know that Jindal received a three point bump after the Nagin endorsement.

Have no fear Blanco supporters, says political analyst Wayne Parent. Hill quotes him here:

“People are making up their minds, and we see a small Nagin bump for Jindal,” Parent said. “But this race is still a toss-up. It is highly competitive, and it could go either way.”

As usual it all hinges on the black vote. Some observers believe that the Kennedy poll could be overestimating the support of blacks for Jindal, which wouldn't be atypical. That seems like wishful thinking to me. At some point these endorsements have to carry some weight, and even if it's only a small percentage of the vote, that's all it really takes. I agree it's still a toss up, but Blanco is facing a Pickett's Charge with the bad press, late start since the primary, and momentum that Jindal's got. She will need to make some bold moves that could work or end up disastrous. Get to it Kathleen.

No excuses now 

Blanco has raised $2.8 million since the middle of September, has about $2 million on hand going in to the final days of the campaign. She doesn't have any excuses left. If she can't use this kind of money to get her campaign the jump start it needs to put her on top she has only herself to blame.

I expect lots of television ads over the next week and a half. Don't let me down.

What the fuck is wrong with our leadership? 

Thanks to Michael for this link.

I heard about this on the radio while painting my sister's mother-in-law's kitchen earlier today and somehow completely forgot about it. As far as I can tell not many others on the left coast of blogistan have really brought it up yet. What's the hold up fellas? This is huge. . .

Essentially the story states that the Iraq war could have been averted through intelligence back channels in the Pentagon. Saddam wanted to make peace but was ignored. Here's the lede in the Times:

As American soldiers massed on the Iraqi border in March and diplomats argued about war, an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal.

Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct an independent search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.

(all emphasis mine)

To be overly fair to the administration the story suggests that the administration found the secret back channels suspect, and avoided them because of that. But it looks to me like these desperate communications were offering just about everything the White House said they wanted out of Iraq during the runup to the war. They apparently offered American led independent searches for weapons and they offered elections. Were there any other war aims? Well, there was that whole Iraq is connected to terrorists thing, but without WMD what would nonexistent connections to Al Qeada have mattered? Michael says it best, "it really was a war of convenience."

Josh Marshall has something of interest regarding the story behind the story here. Here's part of what he has to say:

Let's say I'm a career defense bureaucrat struggling to get my security clearances restored because it's very hard for me to be a defense bureaucrat without them. And let's say one of the reasons I can't get them restored is because of some unauthorized contacts I had with a Lebanese-American businessman under investigation for running guns to Liberia. And let's further add to the mix that my whole mess with the security clearances is part of a larger struggle between different factions in the national intelligence bureaucracy. Oh, and one last thing: let's say I'm a protégé of Richard Perle.


Now, if I'm on the line for these unauthorized contacts with the gun-running businessman, wouldn't it be a lot harder to punish me for it if it looked like that contact almost allowed me to secure a deal that would have averted the need for war?

And if that's the case, wouldn't it be cool if my buddies and mentors went to the press with the story of how I almost saved the day?

Okay, so TPM pours some cold water on a lot of the fantasies I was just starting to have of whistle ass being thrown out on his backside before even the election was necessary, but there has to be something to this story. At the very least it reinforces the notion that there is a major turf war going on in and around the White House. This turf war brought about the Iraq war and failed to prevent it when there was a chance to achieve our middle east objectives without the bloodshed and death that is now commonplace. Like my title says, "what the fuck is wrong with our leadership?"

05 November 2003


All in all the Lafayette Dean meetup was small but lively. All of us there shared a deep dislike and distrust of President Bush, and the folks older than me appeared to be very involved in different activist and civic groups. One Dean supporter actually got himself on the ballot and ran for governor, but was eliminated during the primary. His name is Mike Stagg and you can see his website here. He was among the more quiet people in the group, which (besides his lack of name recognition) might have had something to do with his failed campaign. By the look of his website he seems at least as qualified as Bobby Jindal; he even hiked a thousand miles to try and pick up votes for his bid for the mansion.

Watching video of Howard Dean and Joe Trippi imploring us to give money and vote against federal matching funds for the Dean campaign was probably as boring for everyone else as it was for me. The only real grassroots kind of stuff we did was write letters to Democrats in Iowa asking them to support Dean in the caucus next year. Also, they've decided to put together a booth at Downtown Alive the weekend after the gubernatorial election to register voters and ask for Democrats to sign the petition to get Dean on the ballot in the primary for our Congressional district.

It was interesting even though a little less exciting than I expected. Now I'm off to see my friend's band, The Lost Bayou Ramblers, at a local bar. It's mostly Cajun music, which isn't really my thing, but I'm on the list and want to see my pal beat the drums for a while, and the beer helps. So I'm off.


I decided that I'm going to the Dean meetup tonight almost completely based on the fact that Dean said he wants to appeal to people who fly the Dixie banner. There's no question that his defense last night during the debate was near worthless (when asked how he could be sensitive to black issues after talking about Confederate flag flyers he answered that lots of white people in the south need health care and access to better education). I don't know if Dean has what it takes to take the presidency back from George Bush, but I certainly am willing to hear what his supporters in this area have to say and see what they look like.

I doubt if Dean would get my vote in a primary, but my impression is that any candidate who recognizes that middle and lower class southern whites could be a natural fit for the Democratic Party at least earns my respect. I see that Greg over at the Talent Show agrees with me, but ol' Digby's got other things in mind. I'm not going to get involved in this fight except to say that whole thing has probably been blown way out of proportion, since Dean clearly wasn't saying he wanted to start celebrating the Confederacy. Recognizing the need to appeal to new voters is something the Democratic Party doesn't seem to grasp though, so good for Dean.

Update @ 5:57 pm: Mary has something to say over at her place too. It seems that the southerners (with the exception of John Edwards) can see through the other candidate's naked attempts at scoring political points, but the liberal elite on the west coast and northeast just don't get it (insert more sarcsam here).

Update 2 @ 6:08 pm: Jack Straw, guest posting at Daily Kos, presents the raw data for the growth of meetup signees for Dean, Clark, Kucinich, and Kerry. It appears that Dean's growth is strongest whenever he is in the news, whether for positive or negative reasons. I should note that I've been signed up at meetup for Dean for at least three months now (probably longer, though I don't really remember when I put my name on the list), but this will be the first meeting I attend. I'm also signed up with the Clark meetup, but they never contacted my email address for the November meeting in Lafayette or I missed the email, either is entirely possible.

Here comes Amway 

It was only a matter of time before these guys got involved in the gubernatorial election.

I've posted on Dick DeVos twice now. It appears he will use his money to promote Jindal's candidacy and further promote vouchers in LA. Because of this it's important to know who the man is and what his connection to Jindal is outside of their mutual support for the destruction of inner city and rural public education (note the half-hearted sarcasm in that last statement).

First, DeVos is the former chairman and son of the founder of Amway, a direct marketing company based out of Michigan, where DeVos' wife also used to chair the state GOP. While DeVos was running Amway the company was shepherded into the Indian market largely through the efforts of an Indian company called the Jindal Group. Specifically the Jindal Group subsidiary creation Jindal Photo Film is one of the flagship products of Amway India.

Now I assume it's probable that with a billion people in India, Bobby Jindal has no relation to the Jindal Group. Just like a thousand Breauxs in Louisiana can't claim any direct relation to our senior Senator but on a hugely multiplied scale. However, if DeVos is getting involved in this race to support Jindal as some kind of payback for business favors that people indirectly related to the gubernatorial candidate did for DeVos, the voters should know about it. I can't go any farther than these wild and somewhat paranoid speculations (and possibly irresponsible), but there are surely people with resources in the state's newspapers who can, and I hope that they at least explore the possibilities. It would at the very least be a strange coincidence for the DeVos name to cross paths with the Jindal name in such significant settings entirely by accident, but I won't rule that out either. This is my last word on the subject though. I can't go any farther than this and I won't let myself get worked up over something that is in all likelihood nothing more than an out of the ordinary occurrence. I just hope someone out there is making sure it's not something more.

Breaux not set to leave just yet 

The senior Senator from Louisiana dampened speculation that he would retire in the middle of his term if Blanco wins the governor election next weekend. This is good news for Democrats who hope he won't retire period for another six years. With the retirement of numerous Democratic Senators on the way, the chances of retaking the Senate is becoming more and more difficult, and a Breaux retirement would only add to that.

Also, I've always felt a little uneasy about politicians who retire from office in the middle of their term so a chosen successor can run for the same office with the benefit of incumbency. I wouldn't change my feelings about that if it happened to help Democrats. So go ahead and stick around Senator Breaux, you're the most popular politician in the state and a very powerful force in the Senate, milk it for all it's worth.

Bowing before the sugar gods 

Let me say first that I don't think a little protectionism here and there for different industries is all bad, especially when that industry is so important to our state and provides jobs for thousands in south Louisiana, but the fact that candidates for the relevant offices that have something to do with the future of that industry have to constantly pander to their every need is a little shameful.

Last year in the Senate runoff Mary Landrieu gave sugar producers a taste of the power they wield when she ran an ad that suggested Bush would lift tariffs on imported sugar from Mexico and kill the LA sugar industry. Many political observers believed this was the issue that won reelection for the Senator since it reinforced the perception that Terrell couldn't stand up to Bush on an issue that was important to Louisiana.

Now they're trying to extend that political influence on to a governor's race and they found they can do whatever they want. Like I said, I'm all for protecting the sugar industry because of the jobs they provide, but a little debate on this issue would probably be a good thing. Steel tariffs protecting producers in the US steel states of the northeast and midwest are hurting the port of New Orleans, and that has dock workers complaining about anti-trade policies of the current White House. A consistent message regarding trade from the gubernatorial candidates would ideal, but pandering to the different industries of the state means they're likely for trade as far as steel goes but anti-free trade for things like sugar and crawfish. That's not a logical or sustainable position.

Let's just vote already. . . 

More stories on negative campaigning in today's papers. T-P, Advocate, and Gannett.

The Pic and Advocate's coverage is very unflattering to Blanco, suggesting that she's pulling her complaints of attack ads by third parties out of thin air. From Baton Rouge:

The Republican Governors Association responded later Tuesday, saying that Blanco is wrong and the only ads they've paid for are positive ads.

A check of the association's Web site shows two ads, both promoting Jindal. Neither mentions Blanco.

Blanco said after the news conference Tuesday that Jindal and his supporters from outside his campaign are running a "very smart, very slick" campaign that makes Jindal out to be the victim of negative campaigning.

"The people of Louisiana are so smart" they'll figure out the Jindal campaign and vote for her, Blanco said.

I imagine that it must be very frustrating for Blanco to try and dig herself out of the hole she's in right now, but she really is making things worse for herself when she can't get the names right of the organizations that are running these attacks against her. We all know that the most effective attacks on her candidacy has come from Mike Foster, and she should harp on that whenever she gets a chance, since he comes out looking like a bully and she ties Jindal to a relatively unpopular state politician.

The Pic's election notes section is very difficult with the Lt. Governor:

Unable to document her claims that a "Republican truth squad" has run negative ads about her in the governor's race, Democrat Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday that she is confused about who's running the commercials. "There are so many parties that are running ads now," Blanco said. "You know, it's gotten very confusing." Blanco originally accused GOP candidate Bobby Jindal of joining with a "Republican truth squad" in running negative TV commercials. She later said she had not seen the ads herself and that she was using the term to refer to all third-party groups running ads. On Tuesday, she accused the Republican Governor's Association of financing ads against her. Blanco again provided no evidence of such an ad,

The Gannett reporter actually manages to get a look at the real story that is exemplified by Blanco's stumbling over who is attacking her. Third party advertising confuses the process and voters, who can't easily identify what comes from a particular campaign and what doesn't.

In a post yesterday I mentioned an ad paid for by "Friends of Bobby Jindal." The average voter probably can't distinguish that ad from any other that is actually paid for by the campaign, except that it's very clearly an ad that attacks Kathleen Blanco, so if you've followed the election you can be absolutely positive that it's being run by a third party.

Blanco and Attorney Gen. Elect Charles Foti, who was the target of some pretty nasty third party attacks himself, courtesy of a GOP group dedicated to getting Republicans elected on the state wide level all over the country, spent yesterday talking about the need to make third party advertising more transparent, especially those groups that come from outside of the state, which for some reason have less accountability to the Ethics board than do those who are in state.

Anyway, I can always get behind measures that open up the books for public scrutiny over election participants. Moneyed interests running dishonest campaigns all over television threaten our ability to choose candidates effectively, and some accountability measures for these interests would help change the campaign process for the better.

04 November 2003

Extremely large numbers and great ideas. 

A Timothy Noah piece at Slate considers Charles Murray's new book (title too long) about the major breakthroughs in the arts and sciences since 800 B.C.(E.) According to Noah, he names only fourteen "great ideas" during the period:

Artistic realism; Linear perspective; Artistic abstraction; Polyphony; Drama; the Novel; Meditation; Logic; Ethics; Arabic numerals; the Mathematical proof; the Calibration of uncertainty; the Secular observation of nature; and the Scientific method.

Frankly I'm surprised meditation found it's way up there, and I'm more than a little shocked that it was a breakthrough that occurred sometime after 800 B.C.(E.) I imagine that people were meditating in some way or another long before even early civilization sprang up in Mesopotamia 6000 or so years ago. I guess I'd have to read the book for my answers, but that's not really what I found interesting about the column.

Noah somehow parlays the start of what could have been a very interesting column into a report on a couple of Berkeley scientists who are trying to quantify the total amount of information created over the last three years. I guess I only find this interesting because I am absolutely fascinated by large numbers, and this is among the biggest number I've ever seen discussing something so easy to conceptualize. Noah only presents the number for all the information saved or communicated electronically in 2002, but it's a very hefty 23 x 1018 bytes. That's 23 exabytes for the tech geeks who talk about puny gigs and megs all day (or 23 quintillion bytes for those who can't figure out the notation). That's a real mouthful. Oh well, it's interesting to me. . .

Bad news in Kentucky 

Via Kos we get the first bad news for Democrats in the off year elections. It appears that Republican Ernie Fletcher has defeated Democrat Ben Chandler by ten points in the Kentucky gubernatorial election.

It's a very tight race in Mississippi between Haley Barbour and Ronnie Musgrove and too early to call.

Where's Drudge with his infamous exit poll results to tell us the story in Jackson?

I love sitemeter 

I can't quite figure out why Timshel is the first site to come up when you search "kathleen blanco bitch" at msn search, but I hope the researcher found all the information they needed and maybe knocked the chip off their shoulder.

More negative nonsense 

In the debate Sunday night both candidates agreed to stop running advertisements that mentioned the other candidate by name. It's not really likely to stop negative campaigning, but of course symbolism is all that matters in politics these days.

Blanco specifically discussed an apparent ad being run by "The Republican Truth Squad" (is that a Donald Luskin outfit?). The problem is that it appears that no such ad ever existed. Blanco seems to be confused with a nasty phone call blitz that attacked her personally in the runup to primary voting. The Pic's Jan Moller is on the story.

I'm glad to read this story though, because it allows me to discuss something that I found interesting last night. Despite this so called pledge an ad was still running last night that was paid for by "friends of Bobby Jindal" which was another one of these "Blanco is going negative" commercials. I know it takes a while to get these ads pulled, but I'm curious if Jindal will claim that he can't do anything about these third parties who want to see him in to the Governor's Mansion.

That's really beside the point though. I was at a local bar watching Monday Night Football last night with a friend when the ad ran five or six times over the course of the game. My friend who has followed this election like any normal person would (read: a whole hell of a lot less than me, but enough to have seen one or two debates and minor newspaper coverage) said that he was baffled by the constant commercials claiming that Blanco has been on the attack. He had never seen Blanco attack Jindal and thought the Jindal ads stank of dishonesty. This friend of mine is no liberal (probably best characterized as libertarian with some strong inclinations towards the Democratic Party on some issues and the GOP on others). I wouldn't describe him as typical because he's probably smarter than your average television addict. Anyway, this is clearly anecdotal, but I wonder if the average viewer who sees these ads isn't taken aback by the fact that they've never really seen Blanco "attack" Jindal.

Nagin's endorsement news 

The T-P has an excellent article online examining Mayor Ray Nagin's endorsement of Bobby Jindal. An interesting aspect raises questions about the political pressure put on Nagin by some in the Louisiana Democratic Party establishment:

In recent days, Nagin said he faced considerable pressure from the state Democratic power structure to go with Blanco, citing U.S. Sens. John Breaux and Mary Landrieu in particular.

Without naming names, Nagin said Blanco supporters attached words like "risk" and "consequences" and "repercussions" to the prospect of his backing Jindal.

"They talked about this not being in the best interests of the city of New Orleans and that they would let people know that," Nagin said.

Using what he described as the "hip hop vernacular" favored by his teenage sons, Nagin hinted that Blanco's backers issued threats, indicating that "if we get in we're going to basically ice you out."

Blanco denied making any threats of retribution for the Jindal endorsement, but a spokesperson for her campaign posed a good question regarding it:

That certainly was never said by Blanco," Teddlie said. "She would never do anything vindictive. I think she's puzzled that he would endorse a candidate supported by this administration, which has never exactly been a friend of New Orleans," he said, referring to Gov. Foster.

The Advocate, which has yet to make an endorsement, has another editorial today which basically says that all these endorsements don't really matter at the end of the day.

But voters might also care as little about endorsements. The mayor endorsed Democrat Randy Ewing in the primary, and Ewing finished out of the money in fifth place.

It's a good thing if, as Nagin said, voters are moved more by candidates and issues than by endorsements and parties.

Although this year's election is not one of the most heated Louisiana has seen, it still has points of interest. And, after all the politics is done, the voters will be electing a new face in the Governor's Office. They won't be electing Nagin, Breaux or any other high-profile endorser.

The Baton Rouge paper has been a bit of an enigma in this race. It seems like their editorial board is split between Blanco and Jindal, which would explain why they've kept out of the endorsement game. Early in the race they made a big stink about Jindal collecting contributions from Tom Benson, pushing a story that no one really seemed to care about. Now they write an editorial that paints Jindal as the outreach candidate who crosses bridges and defies the stereotypes (which he admittedly is doing even if I can't understand how he is any different from any other Republican. He seems to be a straight down the line ideologue by my measure. Is it because of the Rhodes scholar background?)

Where have all the cool kids gone? 

I have two comments about this:

It's either incredibly lame because hip people don't need to declare it on a once trendy baseball jersey undershirt, or National Review is now engaging in a marketing ploy so deeply ironic on so many levels that the collective head of liberalism may very well explode.

I got directed to this insanity because I'm addicted to Tbogg.

03 November 2003

Hopping on board the Crazy Train 

Verne Kennedy released the tracking data from his poll to the media today and we find that as of November 1 Blanco had turned Jindal's lead completely around. She's leading 45% to 41%, but Jindal is just within the margin of error. Without seeing the data from the polls I'm wary of speculating on why this has happened, but my guess is that Blanco's criticism of Jindal on health care has been giving some voters pause about their support for him. Also, she has released a slew of ads over the last week including a spot where the very popular John Breaux gives her a ringing endorsement.

At the very least it appears the Lt. Governor has turned up the juice on her campaign, and I suspect we're seeing that reflected in this poll, though I wouldn't have expected it to be this dramatic.

Update @ 8:04 pm: Here's the John Hill story on Kennedy's numbers. An interesting quote examines how opinion among blacks has changed over the polling period and what the Nagin endorsement could mean for Jindal.

Jindal has also dropped from getting 14 percent of the black vote to 10, he said.

Kennedy had polled the possible impact of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin 's endorsement of Jindal prior to its announcement Monday morning. "It will be a positive among white voters in the New Orleans area, but a negative among North Louisiana whites. North Louisiana doesn't know Nagin. They think of him as just another black New Orleans mayor."

And here a pollster confirms my initial opinion

"I think the real campaign is just starting, because she's on the air," Kennedy said. "She was basically dark for almost three weeks. It's never good for a campaign to do that."

Jindal's runoff television campaign began immediately after the primary. "For more than 2-1/2 weeks, he had the playing field to himself, and he did move," Kennedy said.

"She now has her campaign moving and it is back to a very close race," Kennedy said.

WW shrub D? 

How will Democrats ever defeat the King of the Jews?

link via Altercation.

Nagin Endorses Jindal 

Not much left to say about that. Here's the story. I'm not surprised, and now it comes down to Blanco doing some serious campaigning in NOLA to ensure the necessary support from the black community there to nudge her towards fifty percent. She's fighting an uphill battle at this point, but it's not out of reach for her.

Free advertising 

Along with Michael and the 2 millionth weblog (which I thought I added to the blogroll last week [guess I forgot to republish]), there are two new additions to the daily reading list. They're a couple of fascist types conservatives, but they seem to be worth looking into for a different perspective on Louisiana issues. The first is Ken Wheaton, an Opelousas man made good in New York, who rightly took me to task over at Mary's place before the weekend. Next make sure to check out the Sarcastic Southerner, blogging out of Baton Rouge and dishing the inside dirt on politics in the state. He's a GOoPer but deserves perusal anyway.

Taxes still an issue 

The Advocate's Scott Dyer reminds us that Jindal promised to never raise taxes and the Blanco won't make that same promise.

Blanco said she doesn't favor raising taxes, but she refused to rule out that possibility.

"I'm also committed against raising taxes, but I also live in a reality, and I know that if education and health care are ever deeply threatened, we're going to look at it (gambling taxes)," Blanco said.

But if that happens while she's governor, Blanco plans to raise taxes in a fair manner, without targeting the gambling industry or any other industry, she said.

Continual stories that paint Blanco as someone who wants to raise your taxes will kill her. It's funny that Jindal has made this pledge to never raise taxes and still has Foster's support after the Governor's high profile shaming of the "tooth fairies" during the debate over the Stelly Plan. It appears that Jindal himself is a tooth fairy. He believes we'll be able to pay for all the entitlements and needs of the citizens by simply eliminating waste, increasing efficiency, and managing federal funding better. The GOP has been making these promises to pick up votes for years, but in the end the only solution is to slash spending programs that lower and middle classes have come to depend on or raise taxes somewhere. Even the paragon of conservative values Ronald Reagan had to raise taxes during his two terms as President. I don't trust people who will so glibly promise something so unbelievable. It's this kind of talk that is at the heart of what irks me so much about GOP rhetoric.

More campaing news 

Adam Nossiter does a bit of analysis for the AP on how the candidates have changed their tune as the primary and runoff have developed. He notes that Blanco completely reshaped her rhetoric regarding the state's charity hospital system and Jindal has generally left his once constant reminders of working in the Bush administration by the wayside. The column is good if only because it uses the word "hobgoblins" with aplomb.

The Advertiser also runs a questionnaire with the candidates' responses on issues of education. These things always seem like lazy space-filling to me, but I'll link to them anyway for people who really don't know where the two candidates stand on vouchers at this point.

Finally, the AP appears to be pretty busy with this election today. A writer filed a report from Blanco's weekend Acadiana trip. A note preceding the story assures Lafayette readers that they'll be filing a report from Jindal's campaign in the next week, so don't fire off pro-Blanco bias letters to the editor just yet. Anyway, the story is a good one because most voters really don't get to see candidates on the campaign trail any more. Television has made the kind of door to door and community to community campaigning that used to be a staple of local politics nearly obsolete. It's nice to read about these trips when you can, and the story gives a good indication of why Blanco has been elected to office in the past when she seems so uncomfortable on tv. Just go read it.

Debate and conquer 

I'll admit that I didn't see the entire debate last night, but my impressions of what I did see were very different than the various accounts I read this morning. The papers alone would have you believe that it was a constant fight between two candidates who hate each other, but my impression was of a more dignified meeting between politicians who are obviously critical of each other, but who are trying to be polite in their differences and keep the focus on their respective campaigns.

You be the judge though, here are the stories I read this morning in the papers at my doorstep.

I did think the pledge to avoid using your opponents name in advertising was funny. I don't know why people think you can't negatively campaign against a candidate without using their name. Also no matter what Kathleen Blanco does I'm sure it won't take but a few days before Jindal goes to the airwaves with spots claiming that Blanco broke her pledge to run a clean campaign for the rest of the runoff. The line will be "Why can't the Lt. Governor just focus on the issues?"

There has been some call for more debates between the candidates from columnists in The Advocate and on some online sources, but I don't really see the point now. People who are following the election already know the ins and outs of the positions of the candidates, and now even the debates themselves descend into discussions of the campaign process with the constant talk of negative advertising. Some in-depth coverage from news sources of the candidates and their positions would be great over the next two weeks, but I'm not holding my breath for that. Until then, maybe it would be better if the candidates just ran their own campaigns; met with voters and avoided meeting with each other. It would make for a cleaner--though admittedly less interesting--campaign.

02 November 2003

Back for the homestretch 

Okay, so it's pretty nice to come home and watch the Saints win no matter how poorly their offense played. Then I read about more news of the Blanco bounce that I alluded to on Friday that I missed while in self-imposed blogger exile for the weekend. Like I said Friday, it really isn't much, but it's nice to see that the pendulum was swinging back towards the Democrat after a week of increasingly bad news.

The story I mentioned in an earlier post regards the gubernatorial candidates, their faith, and how it shapes their political agenda and the campaigns they run. The piece if fair to both candidates though it closely scrutinizes their positions for consistency. It's also the kind of story that makes me feel so absolutely out of touch with LA conservatism. Here are some quotes:

The commandments, he said, are universally accepted morals endorsed by many religions, and therefore not an exclusive endorsement of Christianity. Jindal, however, said he does not support the Alabama judge's flouting of a federal order to remove the monument.

This quote ran just after a discussion of a Jindal radio ad in which he suggests that the Ten Commandments should be displayed in more public buildings. I don't think this is a really big deal, but the idea that the Ten Commandments are nothing more than a set of morals that are endorsed by many religions is absolutely ludicrous. Christianity and Judaism are not many religions. And the express command that there is only one God who should be worshipped is the clearest endorsement of a particular religion that I think you could probably find just about anywhere. If ever there was a clearer case for keeping the Ten Commandments out of court rooms and public buildings, it lies in the first commandment. If people want to debate whether or not we are a Christian or a secular nation, that's fine, but don't pretend that the Ten Commandments are some kind of neutral expression of values and not an endorsement of a particular religion (Would Bobby Jindal's Hindu parents agree that the first commandment is a neutral expression of values that they share?).

Like I said though, I don't think that's a big deal, but it does indicate just how craven some people can be (not necessarily Jindal, but if the shoe fits. . .) when it comes to using religion for political gain. Also discussed in this article is how quickly candidates who wear their Catholicism on their sleeve for all to see will so quickly cast aside the Church's teachings to support the overwhelmingly popular death penalty.

They offer different reasons, however, for their support. Jindal said his view squares with the position of the Catholic Church. He compared the Catholic teachings on the death sentence to the idea of a "just war."

"What the Holy Father said was that capital punishment can be allowable, as long as it's not used frivolously, that it must be reserved for the most heinous of crimes," he said.

Jindal misquotes the pope, said Archdiocese of New Orleans spokesman William Maestri. He cited a Vatican statement saying that capital punishment should be used only in cases where society cannot be protected by other means, such as imprisonment, and that the advanced state of today's penal systems, particularly in Western nations, makes such cases "practically nonexistent." The pope makes no exception for particularly heinous crimes, Maestri said.

Blanco concedes that her support of capital punishment differs from the church. "The church has been known to be out of synch with the common good," she said. "The state has the responsibility to stop evil in society. . . . And I want to have the ultimate protection from the most sinister elements of society."

Jindal is pretty well shot down by the Archbishop with his truly bizarre claim that his support for capital punishment is somehow an extension of Vatican pronouncements on the subject so I won't discuss it further. Blanco's position is equally as strange though. Is the Church only right when a position isn't politically taxing? I don't know anymore.

The lesson to be learned from this piece is a simple one. Religion is basically personal when it comes to politicians, because they could never be elected if they remained consistent in their public views and the views that any particular religion they claimed as their own professes. Personally, I think the appeals to the spiritual sides of voters is deeply dysfunctional for these reasons. I'm glad when politicians go to church, and I'm glad when I know they pray or find guidance in a higher power or from wherever that may be outside of the self, but I really hate the religious pandering that accompanies politics these days. It's truly shameless and demeaning to the various spiritual messages. Politics always demeans and dilutes spirituality. That's why our founding fathers believed in the principles of a secular society. They wanted to preserve the rights of the faithful, instead when politicians turn what's spiritual into political fodder everyone suffers. It's too bad voters are so easily moved by the cheap rhetoric.

Saints Win and other observations 

It's a good day in la casa de Prado this afternoon since the Saints eked out a victory in the waning seconds of their contest against the hated Tampa Bay Bucs.

There's all kinds of great political news in the newspapers today, and I should get some posts out on them in the early evening. Until then, read these stories from the T-P for further discussion. I expect to have some comment on them later.

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