If you were going to quit your governorship in mid-stream, and you were a winger, who would you call? If you're Sarah Palin, add Rudy Giuliani (hopefully he didn't propose to her too much... or drool into the phone about how much she reminds him of his cousin...) Dick Cheney (who apparently discussed the ogre-like family's possible vacation trip to Alaska, during which 'm sure Sarah and her kin will keep their whale guns at the ready...) [sidebar: Jesus, Republicans are creepy!] ... and Florida's very own Charlie Crist to the list. Reports ABC News:
Palin's phone calls are shown on her official schedule for May 2009, obtained by Alaskan Andree McLeod through an open-records request with the state and shared with ABC News. McLeod has filed numerous open-records requests for Palin-related documents, as well as four ethics complaints against the governor and her aides.
"GOV: Telephone Call Into Governor Crist," reads a May 4 entry in Palin's schedule. A spokeswoman for Crist said she did not know who had initiated contact, or what the subject of conversation was to have been, but the two did not speak. "It was a courtesy call. They know each other, both being governors," said Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac.
Crist may have had his own reasons to chat with Palin: to promote his candidacy for U.S. Senate, which Crist launched one week after Palin's phone call. Nine days later, Crist announced an endorsement by Sen. John McCain, Palin's 2008 GOP ticket-topper.
So will the Barricuda endorse the tan guy in Tallahassee over the RedState base's choice, Marco Rubio, or will she "go rogue" again and oppose McCain's choice and add fresh drama to the Florida GOP Senate primary? (Hell, at least their party HAS primary drama ...) The plot thickens...
Conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie spells out the bottom line for the GOP and its many, many problems:
"The 'Rushification' of the GOP is the natural and inevitable result of the fact that those who are supposed to provide leadership -- Republican elected officials and party officers -- are doing little to bring the party back," said Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. "Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is no vacuum in nature as empty as the leadership of the Republican Party today."
Ouch. And the air head currently standing at the mouth of the vacuum is none other than our good friend Michael Steele, who is quickly turning out to be almost as golden for Democrats as El Rushbo himself. Steele has quickly gone from the Great Brown Hope of the GOP (oh, sorry, that was Bobby Jindal...) the Great Black Hope of the GOP, to a national punch line (even Morning Joe got at him on Wednesday.) And Politico reports that besides providing endless hilarious sound bites for the ankle biters online, such as myself, and on late night TV, Steele isn't even getting his organization together. So much for the logic in making him RNC chair just because he's not white ...
If you’re baffled why the G.O.P. would thrust Jindal into prime time, the answer is desperation. Eager to update its image without changing its antediluvian (or antebellum) substance, the party is trying to lock down its white country-club blowhards. The only other nonwhite face on tap, alas, is the unguided missile Michael Steele, its new national chairman. Steele has of late been busy promising to revive his party with an “off-the-hook” hip-hop P.R. campaign, presumably with the perennially tan House leader John Boehner leading the posse.
At least the G.O.P.’s newfound racial sensitivity saved it from choosing the white Southern governor often bracketed with Jindal as a rising “star,” Mark Sanford of South Carolina. That would have been an even bigger fiasco, for Sanford is from the same state as Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the junior high school student who sat in Michelle Obama’s box on Tuesday night and whose impassioned letter to Congress was quoted by the president.
In her plea, the teenager begged for aid to her substandard rural school. Without basic tools, she poignantly wrote, she and her peers cannot “prove to the world” that they too might succeed at becoming “lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president.”
What such G.O.P. “stars” as Sanford and Jindal have in common, besides their callous neo-Hoover ideology, are their phony efforts to portray themselves as populist heroes. Their role model is W., that brush-clearing “rancher” by way of Andover, Yale and Harvard. Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father’s inability to pay for an obstetrician, you’d never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford’s first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his “family’s farm” taught him “about hard work and responsibility.” That “farm,” the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.
Read the whole thing. It's more than worth it, and contains some sober warnings for President Obama, too.
The Daily Beast delves into the background of the GOP's Brown Guy Rising (hokey, Barney Fife speech the other day notwithstanding...)
... as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.
Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal later wrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”
So ... "Bobby" is so influenced by the teevee that he changed his name because of "The Brady Bunch" and came to Jesus because of a movie??? Yeesh. ... Okay, moving on. About that exorcism!
During his years at Brown University, Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”
While under the supposed control of satanic demons, Susan lashed out at Jindal and his friends. “Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.”
Michael Steele: taking a bad thing and making it worse
It was bad enough that Bobby Jindal absolutely sucked giving the Republican response to President Barack Obama's address to Congress. Now, Michael "the hip-hop chairman" Steele has taken the critique to a new low, with the help of a true idiot, Curtis Sliwa. From Ben Smith at Politico:
In an interview with Curtis Sliwa on ABC Radio last night, the host and RNC Chairman Michael Steele jokingly linked Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to the film "Slumdog Millionaire." Steele offered Jindal "slum love.
Here's the transcript:
SLIWA: Now, using a little bit of that street terminology, are you giving him any Slum love, Michael?
SLIWA: Because he is — when guys look at him and young women look at him — they say oh, that's the slumdog millionaire, governor. So, give me some slum love.
STEELE: I love it. (inaudible) ... some slum love out to my buddy. Gov. Bobby Jindal is doing a friggin' awesome job in his state. ...
Big up to Paul Krugman, who bitch slaps Country Bob Jindal's ridiculing of government spending on volcano tracking:
leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens. The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
Bobby Jindal and the perils of excessive folksiness
Jindal's folksy response to Obama, in which he calls himself a "pre-existing condition."
I know everyone wants to talk about President Obama's powerful performance last night in his non-SOTU SOTU address, but sorry, I just can't get Bobby Jindal's response out of my mind. Yes, yes, it was problematic in that it lacked specific remedies to our economic woes that could confer credibility on the party out of power or make America want to give the GOP another chance at leadership, which is the essential critique over at The Moderate Voice. Sure, it's insane and nihilistic, as David Brooks put it, to simply stand there and say "no, no, NO, let the country crash and burn while we pray for better days!" And yep, it "stunk on ice" in terms of delivery, as this booty-obsessed GOPer opined (one Republican strategist said watching Obama then Jindal was "like watching the Rolling Stones open for Air Supply." Ouch!) But WHY did it stink so badly?
In short: it's the GOP's obsession with appearing to be "just folks." They can't get enough of it. The party that since the late 19th century has represented big business, from Standard Oil to Halliburton to Lehman Brothers, has so denuded itself of a middle class message, that it is left to panhandle for lower middle class white voters in Appalachia and the rest of the NASCAR circuit. How to do it? By trying to marry the interests of poor whites to the interests of rich whites. Somewhere along the line, the GOP decided that the way to do that was to feign a king of false populism -- an "us against them" brocade that pits "real Americans" -- hardscrabble, indepedent folks who don't want no darned Social Security (as Joe the Plumber bravely asserted during the campaign) and don't need no government welfare disguised as "stimulus money" ... even though the states they live in are, to a one, net welfare states that take in more federal money than they pay in taxes.
The incredible trick of getting poor people to stand up for the rights of the rich -- sort of like getting the masses to storm the Bastille on behalf of Marie Antoinette -- is a neat one, performed in large part thanks to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which allowed people like Rush Limbaugh to own AM radio, a key transmitter of information to folks who still use rabbit ears on their television sets and prefer huntin' and fishin' to reading a newspaper.
The other way the GOP operates, is to create these characters -- people whose backgrounds suggest wealth, success and sophistication: a self-made governor of Alaska; a Rhodes Scholar, first generation American, 37-year-old governor of Louisiana; even the son of a president -- but whose demeanor suggests "aw, shucks, fellers, ahm just lahk you!" George W. Bush, Yale graduate, male cheerleader and scion of great wealth, purchased a ranch in Crawford just before running for president. Immediately upon leaving office? He and Laura moved into an exclusive, comfortable neighborhood of Dallas that had racial covenants in place just a few years ago. Nobody knows how intelligent Sarah Palin actually is, but during the campaign she came off as a cross between Ellie Mae Clampett and Donna Reed. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor Maryland, and now the Official Black Man of the 99 percent white Republican Party, feels the need to drop the word "baby" at the end of every sentence, and promises to give his party a "hip-hop makeover." And now, there's poor Bobby Jindal, an impressive man, if you read his resume, but whose demeanor and delivery last night were so stilted and ... hell ... just plain wierd ... that he has ensured only one thing: a cameo on South Park. Other than that? 2012 is a wash.
Watch: Bobby Jindal's Country Bear Jamboree:
Democrats have their folksy characters, too. Bill Clinton, who like Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar, is as folksy as they come. And even Barack Obama comes across as a purely suburban Mr. Rogers, which was part of his appeal to white voters. But both of these men were and are unafraid to flaunt their intellectual heft and command of policy. Meanwhile, the so-called "conservatives" of the GOP exhibit a disdain for anyone who sounds too smart or educated (essentially telling their least educated voters, "see, that guy thinks he's better than you...) And it seems, the Grand Old Party has developed a total aversion to actual ideas. Instead, what they're selling is the old salt of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! ... coupled with this strange, "aw shucks" pandering to a shrinking database of voters in a confined geographic area, and at a long-term demographic disadvantage. (Steele is even hinting that his RNC will sabotage the re-elections of the last remaining northeastern GOP Senators, as if a far right candidate could possibly win in Pennsylvania or Maine today.)
Unfortunately for the GOP, as one of the few authentic folksy guys in the party -- Mike Huckabee, who was rejected by the leaders of the right wing revolution -- might say, "that dog won't hunt." Not when most Americans realize that we desperately need more education, more intellectual curiosity, and less pandering to the lowest common denominator, in order to move the country forward.
The federal dole: the common denominator in GOP stim opposition
Let's see... our folksy friend Bobby Jindal doesn't want the stimulus money ... nor does the equally folksy Sarah Palin of Alaska, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Sonny Perdue of Georgia, and even some Democrats, like Phil Bredeson of Tennessee. Most of them say they only object to giving their unemployed residents increased benefits. But since they have now been informed by Chuck Schumer that it's "all or nothing," perhaps some of them will stand by their "conservative principles" and not take any of the dough.
Still, as many observers, including political scientist Larry Sabato, have said, it would be a lot easier to listen to that kind of fiscal "discipline" from people who weren't feeding so heartily at the federal trough. Because see, it turns out, the states that are turning up their noses at the federal dollars Obama is offering, happen to also be the states sucking down far more federal pork than, say, Florida, Michigan, New York or California, which send more taxes to D.C. than they get back (and where the governors have said, "yes, please show us the money."
According to the Tax Policy Center, here's how the numbers shake out, in terms of dollars received per dollar of taxes paid, in the latest year they have records for, 2005 (states where governors or Senators have taken a yay or nay position on the stimulus in bold*)
He looked shell shocked. He spoke in a monotonous, hokey voice, that reminded me of one of those old fashioned "Your body and you" films we were forced to watch in seventh grade. And that accent! I mean, the guy sounded like an Indian Barney Fife! But what was truly lame about Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's commanding address tonight was the content. In short: there was none.
Jindal invoked Hurricane Katrina (which caused billions of federal dollars to be sucked into his state) to pooh-pooh government spending. He then waxed creepy, referring to an "old saying" about half of Louisiana being "under water" and the other half being "under indictment." Sorry, but even so many years after Katrina, that under water shit's just not funny, man.
He snickered at investments in a new fleet of federal government automobiles that would ostensibly be built in Detroit ... hence creating jobs ... and high speed rail "from Las Vegas to Disneyland," which even if it were true, would also ... wait for it ... create (in this case, infrastructure) jobs.
He told hokey story after hokey story, about his dad, about the wonders of the supermarket, peppering a terrible speech with "Americans can do anything." It sounded like he should end each sentence with "Ma" or "Pa." Truly, this guy is the male Sarah Palin!
He invoked the shop-worn GOP tactic for appealing to ... well I'm not sure who at this point ... by droning on and on about slavery. As if! Barack Obama is already president, dude. Moving on, now!
He claimed Republicans in Congress "went along with" big government spending during the six years they controlled EVERY BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, instead of allowing his buddies in D.C. to take responsibility. And then he talked about re-asserting personal responsibility. Somebody get me a hammer for my head!
And those eyes! Staring, unmoving, into the camera... I felt hypnotized, and not in a good way...
If that guy is the future of the Republican Party, all I can say is Barack Obama: four more years.
Rachel Maddow's review was priceless: "bah bah bah ... I know I talk for a living, but I'm not sure I'm capable of doing what I get paid to do right now. I'm absolutely stunned."
I just wish Jindal's speech contained more substance.
Instead, the governor stuck to the tried-and-true attacks on Democrats as the spend, spend, spend party. That's basically true.
But what's the alternative from the GOP? Exactly how do Jindal and the Republicans want to get America out of its fiscal mess?
Look closely, and Jindal's speech contained little that shows he and his party have a lot of good clues about how to do that.
Yeah, well you should have seen it, brother! Even before Jindall got started, Chris Matthews muttered "Oh God..." (with the mic still hot...) setting up the hilarity to follow.
More Youtube fun. Jindal repeats debunked claims on high speed rail. Watch those eyes and tell me you are not entertained:
UPDATE: ThinkProgress compiles the Jindal pannery (from the Fox News panel, no less) and throws in some choice clips from Jindal Fife's little talk with America (and yes, he did call himself a "what folks in the in-SUR-ance industry call a 'pre-existing condition'...") God help us all...
I thought his delivery was weak. The content will play well with the party base but seems unlikely to expand it. . . . That said, it is hard for anybody to come out well from responding to a presidential speech to a joint session of Congress.
On the up-side, the Giant Fur Hat Lady, the Hair Tail off the Side Lady and Joe the Plumber's dad thought he was "exemPLARY." I suppose Frank Luntz can't afford to be picky these days...
Schumer to Jindal and Company: take it or leave it
The stimulus package is not an a la carte buffet, Bobby Jindal. Chuck Schumer informs the GOPers that if they don't want all of the money, they needn't take any of the money.
By the way, a Youtube commenter asks a salient question: since when is helping the unemployed "pork?"
Barney Frank added to the hardball tonight ... er ... on "Countdown" by mocking the Republican Naysaying governors by saying "some people define courage as a willingness to endure the suffering of others." He then asks what's with Jindal "denying working people who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own" unemployment benefits. He concludes: "if that's political courage, I hope they have more cowardice."
As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.
For instance, at least two governors have proposed rejecting a program to expand unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Economists consistently rank unemployment insurance among the most efficient and cost-effective fiscal stimulus measures; by one frequently cited estimate, it provides an economic return of as high as $1.73 for every dollar invested. Thus, by denying this provision for their residents, these governors are not just depriving some of the neediest Americans of relief in a dire economy; they are undermining the overall stimulative impact of the package.
So go ahead, Bobby. Reject the money. I double dare you...
Whether it's Michael "Bling Bling" Steele or Ken Blackwell or, for a moment at least, Sideshow Mel Martinez, the GOP is desperate to prove that brown people can be Republicans, too. The latest lone chip in the cookie: conservative superstar Bobby Jindal. Chris Cillizza tells of his wonders (and completely misses the story of how his swarthiness makes him more attractive to the GOP.) ... I wonder if Crazy as a Bedbug Alan Keyes ever feels shunted aside...