Archive for February, 2009

Louisiana Democratic Party statement on Gov. Jindal’s Katrina/Harry Lee story

February 27, 2009

Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Scott Jordan has issued the following statement on Gov. Jindal’s Katrina/Harry Lee story from Jindal’s Tuesday night speech:

Gov. Jindal told the story in a way that made it sound like he was assisting Harry Lee in the sheriff’s office as rescue boats were being turned away – which the governor’s office now says wasn’t the case. The first responders’ heroism during Katrina is something that Louisianians hold sacred, and people are upset that Gov. Jindal framed the incident as if he was one of those first responders.

In case you missed it, here’s the background on the Katrina/Harry Lee story told by Jindal, from Politico.com.

A spokeswoman for Bobby Jindal now says the Louisiana governor didn’t intend to imply that an anecdote about battling bureaucrats “during Katrina” actually took place during the heat of the rescue effort or directly involved the governor, then a member of Congress.

The spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers, said the story Jindal told in his response to Obama actually took place some days later in Lee’s office, as Lee was recounting his frustrations with the bureaucracy to someone else on the telephone.

This is how Jindal told the story:

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I’d never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: ‘Well, I’m the Sheriff and if you don’t like it you can come and arrest me!’ I asked him: ‘Sheriff, what’s got you so mad?’ He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go – when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn’t go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, ‘Sheriff, that’s ridiculous.’ And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: ‘Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!’ Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

Jindal spokeswoman Melissa Sellers told politico.com, “It was days later. Sheriff Lee was on the phone and the governor came down to visit him. It wasn’t that they were standing right down there with the boats.”

She said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, “was doing an interview” about the incident with the boats when the governor described him yelling into the phone.

Louisiana Democratic legislators take a stand against Gov. Jindal’s opposition to the stimulus package

February 26, 2009

Yesterday on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Democratic legislators forcefully responded to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech and Republican response to President Obama’s speech to Congress. Reps. Austin Badon, Rickey Hardy, Reed Henderson, Sam Jones, and Pat Smith were there, joined by Speaker Pro-Tem Karen Carter-Peterson and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey. Coverage from media around the state:

Legislators criticize Jindal’s response:

Democratic legislators accused Gov. Bobby Jindal Wednesday of allowing his political ambitions to dictate his response to the federal economic package. The lawmakers vowed to thwart the governor’s decision to reject $98.4 million that would increase the number of people who can receive unemployment benefits.

“Gov. Jindal needs to take care of our house now and worry about the White House later,” said state Rep. Rickey Hardy, D-Lafayette.

Democratic lawmakers tell Jindal to focus on Louisiana:

The day after Gov. Bobby Jindal’s first televised speech to the nation, Democratic state lawmakers charged the governor with political posturing and said Jindal needs to focus on Louisiana, rather than Washington. The group of seven legislators criticized Jindal’s opposition to parts of the $787 billion federal stimulus package, joining national Democrats who say the governor is using the stimulus to further his own political career at Louisiana’s expense.

“Gov. Jindal is simply parroting the national Republican Party talking points and not acting in the best interests of the state of Louisiana,” said Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge.

Lawmakers respond: Democrats say Jindal wrong on stimulus:

The national stimulus package could create 50,000 new jobs in Louisiana, provide relief for farmers and fishermen, provide additional Pell grant money for college students, offer money to employ police officers and earmark $75 million for Interstate 49 in Louisiana, the Democrats said.

The stimulus package earmarks $35 million for an overpass along U.S. Route 90 at Patoutville in Iberia Parish, [Sam] Jones said. That would bring the intersection up to interstate standards as part of the conversion of U.S. 90 to Interstate 49 South. The package contains another $42 million for I-49 North, he said. “It doesn’t make sense for us to turn this money down,” Jones said.

Demos gear up to fight Jindal for stimulus money:

Setting the stage for a potential confrontation with the governor in the upcoming legislative session, several state Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday they plan to support a bill to expand the state’s unemployment benefits along the lines stipulated in President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. … Rep. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said Jindal should accept the money and new rules to help those out of work.

“It is insane. It is irresponsible,” Carter Peterson said of Jindal’s action.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech and Republican response to President Obama’s address to Congress: The reviews are in

February 25, 2009

The writing was on the wall before Gov. Bobby Jindal gave his speech and Republican response to President Barack Obama last night.

Over the weekend, Democratic Gov. Mitch Landrieu, along with Democratic and Republican legislators, held a teleconference call with reporters to point out Jindal’s conflicting positions on President Obama’s economic recovery package. Landrieu said Jindal needed to choose between representing the state of Louisiana or the national Republican Party.

“Those interests don’t always line up,” Landrieu said. “It puts the governor at risk of sending mixed messages. … Louisiana should be very aggressive in going to get this money.”

Two high-profile Louisiana Republicans – state Sen. Robert Adley and Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain – joined Landrieu to vocally petition Jindal to accept federal money that Louisiana desperately needs.

The stimulus package also includes $850 million in aid to farmers who suffered natural disasters, including those affected by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

“I’ve been asking for it with others since September,” said Mike Strain, commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, a longtime Republican from St. Tammany Parish.

Another prominent Republican, state Sen. Robert Adley, of Benton, said the federal stimulus money is not a handout. “Our issue is that it is tax money that has been sent there by the taxpayers of Louisiana and we should get our fair share,” Adley said.

Then Monday, The New York Times ran a blistering editorial that took Jindal to task for his political posturing – and his intention to turn down nearly $100 million in unemployment benefits for Louisianians who need help the most.

Imagine yourself jobless and struggling to feed your family while the governor of your state threatens to reject tens of millions of dollars in federal aid earmarked for the unemployed. That is precisely what is happening in poverty-ridden states like Louisiana and Mississippi where Republican governors are threatening to turn away federal aid rather than expand access to unemployment insurance programs in ways that many other states did a long time ago.

What makes these bad decisions worse is that they are little more than political posturing by rising Republican stars, like Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. This behavior reinforces the disturbing conclusion that the Republican Party seems more interested in ideological warfare than in working on policies that get the country back on track.

… Governors like Mr. Jindal should be worrying about how to end this recession while helping constituents feed and house their families — not about finding ways to revive tired election-year arguments about big spending versus small government.

But perhaps no one could have fully predicted that Gov. Jindal’s speech would be such a complete and utter disaster. Conservative commentator David Brooks noted, “Bobby Jindal gave what is possibly the worst response to a Democratic speaker in the history of democracy.”

And that’s just the start. The Boston Globe notes reaction from around the country:

“I’m afraid the manager was out on the mound before the end of the first inning,” [Pat Buchanan] said, adding that the general impression is that “this fella needs a little seasoning.”

National Public Radio’s Juan Williams said that Jindal’s presentation was “sing-songy” and that Jindal looked “childish” compared to Obama. “I think he had a really poor performance tonight, I’m sorry to say,” Williams said on Fox News Channel. …

“This was not Bobby Jindal’s greatest oratorical moment,” opined Brit Hume of Fox News.

Jindal “seemed more like a high school student giving a valedictory speech than a potential future leader of the party,” wrote Philip Klein of the American Spectator.

Quite a few fellow Republicans were not impressed.

“A lot of Republicans I am speaking with were expecting this would be like Obama’s moment in 2004” when he gave the “one America” speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, David Johnson, a Republican strategist who advised Bob Dole in 1988, told Bloomberg. “He bombed out.”

New Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said today he thought the speech was just “Ok.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines:

If you had asked me about the worst high-profile political speech I’d ever seen, I would have said it was John McCain’s effort last June, the one with the green backdrop, cringing smile, strangely awkward crowd and the whining “my friends, that’s not change we can believe in.”

Bobby Jindal’s effort last night approached McCain. I had never heard Jindal speak on a formal occasion, and he was bad. Bad message, worse delivery. Some of the harshest reaction came from conservatives who had hopes Jindal could be the party’s standard bearer.

The Chicago Tribune weighs in:

Now, with the nation’s economy beset by forces that are too large for the private sector alone to fight, the need for an effective government has never been greater.

So Jindal’s dismissing of government’s role seemed entirely out of touch with reality partly because he’s the governor of a state that suffered greatly after the federal government’s disaster-response abilities were allowed to erode.

But his remarks also seemed decoupled from the realities of the moment, a time when many Americans are turning to government for help, when even whole industries like banking and autos are coming to Washington as supplicants because the forces besetting them are larger than even the private sector can manage.

To fully appreciate the disbelief over both the substance and style of Jindal’s speech, here’s video of conservative David Brooks talking about how Jindal’s performance was “a disaster for the Republican Party”:

 

Democratic State Rep. Rick Gallot earns strong support for U.S. Attorney appointment

February 20, 2009

From The News-Star in Monroe:

Our new president would do well for the Western Louisiana District and for its 42 parishes by giving Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, strong consideration for appointment as a U.S. attorney.

Gallot, 42, is a Ruston lawyer who has earned the trust and admiration of his constituents as well as rickgallothis state House of Representatives colleagues. In Baton Rouge, he chairs the House and Government Affairs committee, demonstrating that he has earned the trust of the governor and the esteem of Gallot’s fellow representatives.

Our experience with Gallot, who comes from a well-respected Lincoln Parish family, is that he is candid, well-intentioned and honorable. He is a diligent public servant who has earned the respect of people of all political leanings, including area legislators. …

As senior senator, [Mary] Landrieu will likely hold strong influence over the president’s pick, as she works with Attorney General Eric Holder to offer recommendations for the position to President Obama. Good. She should be familiar with Gallot’s reputation as a dedicated public servant and as a man who, like the new president, makes good-faith efforts to cross party lines for just causes.

Other well-qualified applicants have come forth. That’s not a bad thing; the public is well served when many capable and attractive people want to serve. But by his record of service, experience in the law and demonstrated personal integrity, Gallot has proven he is fit to serve the president, our system of justice and the people of the Western District.

Gov. Dean points out Gov. Jindal’s grandstanding on the economic stimulus package

February 20, 2009

Last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Gov. Howard Dean was interviewed and talked about the grandstanding of a handful of Republican governors on the economic stimulus package. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s in that number, and Dean addresses Jindal’s posturing. “It’s just politics,” says Dean, and given the financial crisis, “It’s a bad time for politics.” 

Here’s the video:

Vitter, Cassidy blasted for putting Republican Party partisanship over the needs of Louisiana

February 19, 2009

The letters keep coming. From The Advocate:

Sen. David Vitter’s votes in the Senate are not helping working people who are losing their retirements, their homes and their jobs, including union workers at General Motors that he said should take a pay cut before he calls for CEOs to take a cut in pay and bonuses. …

Our new congressman, Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, seems to be catering to his Republican Party bosses from the start.

Our congressman voted against the stimulus package that would bring billions of dollars to our state.

The stimulus package included millions for Medicaid, and our good doctor congressman went along with the 100 percent Republican Party line and voted against bringing the needed funds to the 6th District. …

It seems to me it would be best for our 6th District that he represents if he could bring home our share of all those tax dollars being spent.

What good is a congressman who doesn’t look out for the needs of the district he represents?

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “ethics reform”: more lead balloon than gold standard

February 19, 2009

From Gambit Weekly:

It was his first special session, dedicated solely to ethics reform, which was Jindal’s top campaign promise. Within days, the governor got most of what he wanted, and he wouldn’t let us or Jay Leno or Fox News forget about it.

Then, three months ago, Jindal began concentrating on other priorities, like not running for president. Perhaps coincidentally, that was also when the Center for Public Integrity told Jindal to stop telling journalists that Louisiana had moved to the “top of the list” of the group’s annual rankings of ethics laws.

These day, Jindal’s “gold standard” looks more like a lead balloon. Just consider the shape we’re in:

• The new process for adjudicating ethics cases (along with the higher standard of proof required to prevail against public officials) has gutted the Ethics Board, and its new role is just now beginning to take shape.

• Lobbyists begin filing expenditure reports this week, but the Ethics Board has no personnel in place to verify the reports’ accuracy.

• Jindal ordered his cabinet officials last year to file annual disclosure forms by this January, then gave them four more months by issuing a superseding executive order.

Read the whole column here.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain praises U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon

February 19, 2009

Now this is what real bipartisanship looks like. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain recognizes the hard work of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, and thanks them for including Louisiana farmers in President Obama’s economic recovery plan:

“With the help of many others in Congress, Senator Mary Landrieu put together a package that will help the Louisiana farmers affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the Midwest farmers that were devastated by floods and the Texas and Oklahoma ranchers and foresters that were hit with drought and wildfire,” Strain said. “Senator Landrieu started working on this bill after Gustav blew through the state and we’re grateful she kept the farmers at the forefront in Congress.”

Strain also cited Representative Charlie Melancon for his work to further the farm disaster aid package.

On the other hand, note how Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who voted against the economic recovery plan — continues to put partisan politics over helping his constituents. Boustany organized a roundtable with farmers, but didn’t say a word about how President Obama’s economic recovery plan helps the farmers in his district.

Republican Congressman Charles Boustany champions bipartisanship to children – and conveniently neglects to talk about his own voting record

February 18, 2009

On President’s Day, Republican Louisiana Congressmen Charles Boustany gave a talk to elementary school students in Youngsville. In his speech, Boustany praised bipartisanship:

“When you talk to your rivals, you get all the ideas in,” he said. “President Obama is willing to listen to them. It requires a broad consensus, all ideas to build support.”

Boustany then told the assembled students that, “If you had an issue, and divided the room into two sides, neither side probably has all the answers. The best ideas are those that take a little bit from one side and a little bit from the other side. We need more of that.”

U.S. Rep. Boustany neglected to tell the students that he hasn’t voted for President Barack Obama’s initiatives a single time – and Boustany even voted against expanding the state’s health insurance program for children.

Louisiana citizens write in support of President Obama, and express their displeasure with the GOP and David Vitter

February 17, 2009

From Alexandria to Baton Rouge, Louisiana citizens are writing in to their newspapers and supporting President Obama – and expressing their displeasure with the Republican Party and Louisiana’s Republican legislators. From the Town-Talk:

Our nation is in serious economic trouble and requires the utmost attention from all Americans. The Republican Party must listen to all, not just a few senators from southern states.

Where were those senators like David Vitter when President Bush, who inherited a surplus but chose to spend the people’s money with no regards to our children’s future? … The arrogance of the Republican Party refused to hear the voice of their constituents. Absent was the courage of our Sen. Vitter to tell [President George Bush] that he was wrong and vote against policies that were not in the best interest of America.

Vitter is a “Johnny come lately.” Pride, sex and money will cloud one’s judgment. I supported Vitter, but will not next time. I strongly believe that marriage is between a man and his wife not a man and his prostitute. The women of Louisiana are to be outraged and need to send a strong message to Vitter and the Republican Party of Louisiana that family values and accountability should remain the cornerstone of Republican ideology.

And from The Advocate:

After reading today’s article regarding the “competition” U.S. Sen. David Vitter faces and his re-election possibilities, I was amused by Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat’s obviously uninformed comment: “I thought Vitter would have a tough time getting re-elected, but right now Obama is sent from heaven.” He alluded to the supposed negative publicity surrounding President Barack Obama and his stimulus package, and cited this as a reason Vitter would get re-elected.

Either Mr. Pinsonat is ill-informed or refuses to accept the actual facts, but a poll that was cited on all news channels Monday, Feb. 9, notes a 67 percent approval rating for how President Obama is handling the financial crisis.