Archive for January, 2009

A slip of the tongue from Louisiana GOP chair Roger Villere?

January 30, 2009

From the Times-Picayune:

WASHINGTON — Republican National Committee members from the 14 Southern states voted by acclamation today to hold their quadrennial Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in early April 2010.

Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere called the conference the “kickoff to the election cycle for 2012, and we expect all major presidential candidates to be there, including our own Gov. Jindal.”

But Jindal keeps insisting he’s not running for President in 2012. So which is it?

Gov. Jindal is busy, busy, busy

January 30, 2009

With that looming budget deficit and an April legislative session right around the corner, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal is leaving no stone unturned. He’s rolling up his sleeves, applying some elbow grease, putting his nose to the grindstone, and spending chunks of his work week …

… Attending out-of-state fundraisers for his 2011 re-election campaign!

As the Times-Picayune and Associated Press note, Jindal’s taken campaign fundraising trips to Mississippi, San Antonio and Houston. How do these fundraisers benefit Louisiana citizens? Don’t worry, Gov. Jindal always pledges transparency, as he notes here:

Today, it is more critical than ever that governments function at the highest level of integrity and efficiency in order to fairly meet the needs of its people. Accordingly, it is a necessity that government operations be open and transparent to the public.

So, about those out-of-state trips:

The fundraisers were described in his official schedule only as “private events” for Jindal’s re-election campaign. Melissa Sellers, Jindal’s communications director, declined to share more information about where the events would be, who is hosting and how much is being sought from potential donors.

This is another chapter for the ever-growing “Bobby Jindal – do as I say, not as I do” archives.

You’d think he’d have a handle on the budget process by now

January 28, 2009

With Gov. Bobby Jindal’s background, he should have a keen understanding of the state budget and the budgeting process. Jindal’s a Rhodes Scholar, and his previous government experience includes his tenure as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. And of course, Jindal’s just completed a year in office as governor.

So as the state faces a potential $2 billion shortfall, why does Jindal want to pay outside consultants to assess the process for state construction funding requests?

Republican Hunter Greene, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, is openly opposing the Jindal administration’s latest perplexing move. From The Advocate:

Greene said there was no discussion about hiring an outside consultant when the Legislature approved legislation aimed at putting controls on the state construction program. “We have a hiring freeze. We are trying to cut the budget,” Greene said. “We have got to find ways to make up the difference yet we are going out there and adding new costs.”

Considering that Jindal’s top administration officials received eyebrow-raising salary increases when they were hired, someone in Team Jindal must surely be able to step up to the plate to help figure out the issue. Especially when Jindal’s talking about significant cuts in education and health care, but he isn’t considering a reduction in his administration salaries.

House Democratic Caucus Chairwoman questions David Vitter’s Clinton votes

January 26, 2009

Count Democratic state Rep. Karen St. Germain amonkaren-stgermaing the critics of Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s recent votes against Hillary Clinton. As The Advocate reports, St. Germain wonders about Vitter’s motives:

St. Germain pointed to some of the bipartisan support the former New York senator gained as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state selection.

“Sen. Vitter’s votes against Sen. Clinton send the wrong message to Washington, D.C., about Louisiana’s priorities. Important decisions loom regarding health care, education and our economic struggles,” St. Germain said in her statement. “I urge Sen. Vitter and the entire Louisiana delegation to reject purely partisan politics, and vote in the best interests of Louisiana and the country.”

Weekend trifecta on Gov. Jindal

January 26, 2009

Gov. Bobby Jindal keeps making headlines, but not for flattering reasons. Saturday’s Daily Advertiser editorial notes that Gov. Jindal would have been wise to produce some tangible results before doling out huge salaries to his top administration officials. The Advertiser doesn’t stop there:

Sadly, this isn’t the only time the Jindal administration has asked Louisiana to do as he says, not as he does.

Our reform governor, who put real muscle behind ethics legislation to clean up Louisiana’s image, demands transparency in government. However, his administration opposed legislation that would have imposed the same open-records legislation on the Governor’s Office that most other public agencies have to live with.

The rationale is that his office needs to keep documents private under the doctrine of executive privilege. However convenient the claim might be for the governor, it does little honor to government transparency or even to the goals of his own administration.

Maybe if Gov. Jindal spent more time here at home in Louisiana, he could address these issues. Instead, he continues jetting around the country for purely political reasons. The latest example is Jindal’s confirmation as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s RCCC’s headline speaker for its March 24 fundraising dinner. The Advocate is keeping tabs on Gov. Jindal’s far-flung speaking engagements:

The governor is rapidly becoming the go-to person on the conservative fundraising circuit.

In a little more than a week, he will speak at a $60-per-person dinner for the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C. The foundation describes itself as a think tank.

Jindal also made a recent trip to Iowa, which has one of the earliest presidential caucuses in the country.

In a brief commentary, lanewslink.com notes:

“We think the Governor may want to rethink the ‘I really am running for President circuit ‘ until he solves the $2 billion budget hole problem.

The Governor had better pay attention to the ones who elected him before his next job hopping adventure gets him in trouble here at home. That question was posed at a meeting of the Baton Rouge Roundtable recently and the answer was a unanimous ‘stay home for now Bobby’ response.

Finally, C.B. Forgotston uses Louisiana Department of Civil Service data to show that Jindal’s “hiring freezes” are a p.r. snow job.

David Vitter votes against women’s legal right to equal pay

January 23, 2009

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed the Senate last night – despite Louisiana Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter’s vote against it.

“David Vitter needs to explain to the women of Louisiana why he doesn’t think they deserve the right to fight for equal pay,” says Britton Loftin, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Why does he want to make it harder for women who are victims of wage discrimination?”

The legislation is named after Lilly Ledbetter, the former Goodyear Rubber and Tire Company worker who had discovered that she was earning less than her male counterparts at Goodyear for equal work. Her case eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against Ledbetter and her claim since she didn’t file it within 180 days of Goodyear setting her pay scale. (Which, of course, would have been impossible for Ledbetter, since she didn’t find out about the pay discrepancy at Goodyear for years.)

But her fight for the rights of women across Louisiana and America continues with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It passed the U.S. House last week – with no thanks to Louisiana Republican Congressmen Charles Boustany, Steve Scalise, Rodney Alexander, Bill Cassidy, and John Fleming, who also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“Even when women have documented evidence of pay discrimination, David Vitter and his Louisiana Republican colleagues don’t support them,” says Loftin. “It’s unconscionable.”

David Vitter again votes against Hillary Clinton

January 22, 2009

Yesterday in the Senate, Louisiana Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter was one of only two votes against Hillary Clinton’s confirmation as Secretary of State. (The final vote tally was 94-2.) It follows his previous lone ‘no’ vote on Clinton last week in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During yesterday’s vote, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain noted, “We had an election and we also had a remarkable and historical time yesterday and this nation has come together as it has not for some time. The message the American people are sending us right now is they want us to work together and get to work right now.”

But Vitter isn’t listening. He’s making it clear that he has no interest in bipartisanship or real change, and only cares about his own self-interest. Because of his prostitution scandal, he’s using empty political posturing as evidence of his ‘values.’

Noteworthy editorials from Monroe, Abbeville and Baton Rouge

January 22, 2009

President Obama didn’t carry Louisiana, but in the wake of his election and inauguration, there have been a number of thoughtful newspaper editorials urging all Louisiana citizens to rally behind Obama as he tackles the serious challenges facing the country. Monroe’s News-Star:

If Barack Obama in action matches Barack Obama in words, America will be in good hands.

On a frigid January day, the 44th U.S. president surely warmed some iced-over hearts by speaking his fidelity to the Constitution, alluding to the New Testament, acknowledging our enormous debt is the product of bad choices, promising to restore the nation’s infrastructure, suggesting he will end failed government programs and vowing to defeat terrorism.

“…part of being an American is accepting majority rule, acknowledging the transfer of power, and giving the new leader a chance where it is deserved. Borrowing a line from President Lincoln, the newly elected president-elect noted that as a people we are not enemies but friends. That is true. There is more that unites us as Americans than divides us. As a people, we should welcome our new president to office, and pray that he will be wise and safe.”

And Business Report editor J.R. Ball shows admirable editorial integrity and independence in his column this week. Business Report is owned by former Bobby Jindal campaign treasurer and chief Jindal/McCain cheerleader Rolfe McCollister, but that didn’t stop Ball from proclaiming his willingness to give President Obama “a fair opportunity to lead this nation.” Ball also notes:

To me, the apogee of Obama’s address came about halfway in, when he said, “As for our common defense, we reject as false choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, … faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

Sadly, this country abandoned many of its fundamental ideals (the right to privacy and human rights head the list) under George W. Bush, doing so in the name of public safety in a post-9/11 world. This is the biggest blight on W’s legacy.

Nations have always had disagreements with U.S. policy, yet we remained the planet’s most admired nation because, prior to Bush, we refused to compromise our core values. If Obama does nothing else, his term as president will be a success if he restores our credibility on this non-compromising front.

On a quasi-related note, the most unexpected editorial of the week comes courtesy of the Abbeville Meridional, which has a severe case of buyer’s remorse over its previous two editorials endorsing George W. Bush.

The Jindal/Obama comparisons

January 21, 2009

As President Barack Obama begins his term, one of the interesting things to watch in coming months and years is whether Republican pundits and officials will continue comparing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to Obama. In last Sunday’s Advocate, its Capitol News Bureau Chief Mark Ballard examines the GOP’s touting of Jindal – and matches the claims against Jindal’s legislative record:

Regardless of how historic the moment Tuesday, history ultimately will judge whether Obama – and Jindal – are brave enough to risk pushing proposals that actually change things.

Obama is just starting.

Jindal entered his second year last week. His chief success – so far – has been spin.

The column focuses on Jindal’s continued shell-game with budget numbers and the road ahead for the governor’s health care initiative. For anyone interested in digging beyond the platitudes that Jindal offers to admirers like Cal Thomas, it’s an incisive analysis. The full column is here.

It’s official: Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States

January 20, 2009

In his inaugural address today, President Barack Obama issued a call for personal responsibility, and offered eloquent examples and reminders of the core values that have shaped America’s enduring and greatest triumphs: hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism. With our nation at war and facing an economic crisis, and much tough work ahead to solve domestic and foreign challenges, Obama urged Americans to come together and “reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

The full text of the speech – eloquent, moving, forceful when needed — is here. But for sheer nuts-and-bolts pragmatism on the inner workings of government, this section stood out:

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Here’s the video of his remarks: