Democratic Louisiana flag
Volume 1, Number 28
By Democrats For Democrats
September 6, 2010
What Did Jindal Know and When Did He Know It?

As a person who does not live on the coast and no longer works in the oil patch, I have been able to watch with a certain detachment the machinations of Bobby Jindal's attempt to wring a national political resurrection out of the mess that has been the BP Gulf Gusher.

But, his actions against the moratorium on deep water drilling have betrayed a cynicism that is in some ways breathtaking in its scope.

He may have crossed a line, though, when he had his attorneys file an amicus brief in the suit against the moratorium which appears to contains a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.

The claim is that thousands of jobs had been lost to the moratorium by the time the brief was filed in Judge Martin Feldman's court on June 20. The records of the Louisiana Workforce Commission say this was not true.

The question then is this: Who was responsible for the inclusion of that claim in the brief?

From the beginning, Jindal's response to the moratorium has been driven by political considerations. Was that motive behind the inclusion of that statement in the amicus brief? Was the court viewed as just another forum for a rally — with the same standard of truth?

If it's a crime to lie to FBI agents, is it an actionable offense to include false information in a court filing?

Here's the link to the archive page.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Stagg, Editor

The 'Real' Woody Stands Up

By Jean Eagle, Contributing Writer

Following his defeat in the race for the 6th District U.S. House seat in 2008, Woody Jenkins has directed his energy to publishing his newspaper, the Central City News, which focuses largely on local issues in that East Baton Rouge Parish community.

In the current issue, however, Woody provides a reminder of why the prospect of his holding state or national office alarmed so many Louisianians. His editorial, “’Sudden Change’ from The Obama Presidency”, is a bizarre journey into one of many rightwing minds unhinged by the election of 2008.

Woody feels that “there’s something very disturbing about the presidency of Barack Obama, and it’s not just his far-left political agenda.” (This will be news to many progressives who supported a single-payer health care system and other initiatives that the President has compromised on.)

Woody offers four theories for why the President is behaving in ways that seem strange to him, including “not running for re-election” at this point. Each is pretty other-worldly, but No. 2 illustrates how delusion and the denial of reality can intertwine to create an inverted mirror-image of reality: “[In 2012], Obama will use his most powerful tool to insure his reelection…That tool is national security and his position as Commander in Chief. He can manufacture a crisis or take a real crisis and turn it to his advantage.”

Earth to Woody: This already happened – but the President in question was George W. Bush. Former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has admitted publicly what astute observers had already charged in 2004 – the White House was directing the issuance of terror alerts for no credible security justifications during the campaign, exploiting the country’s fears and its most serious of issues for their own political advantage. The Iraq War could be seen as another instance of this strategy.

The rest of the strategies involve global scenarios that seem to hint at Obama being the Anti-Christ, without coming out and stating it. It’s sobering to think that Mr. Jenkins came very close to being Louisiana’s U.S. Senator in 1996. The possibilities, in hindsight, were truly apocalyptic. 

Opponents of the Obama administration's moratorium on deep water drilling have bemoaned the economic impact of the pause on employment in Louisiana. In June, Governor Bobby Jindal ordered that an amicus brief be filed in the lawsuit against the moratorium. In that brief, the governor's attorneys claimed that thousands of jobs had been lost to the moratorium at that point (less than a month after it was imposed) and that thousands of jobs were threatened by allowing the moratorium to stand.

The feared job losses have not come. And, Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) weekly reports show that Jindal's brief was wrong about the thousands of jobs that the governor's attorneys claimed had already been lost due to the moratorium by late June. Did the Governor and his attorneys not know what LWC's weekly reports were showing? Or, was this like his berms project, where (in that case the scientific) evidence was willfully ignored?

On page 4 of the state's 17-page brief, Jindal's attorneys declared:

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) administers Louisiana's unemployment compensation system, its workers' compensation program and its workforce programs, including job training and work search services. Because of the moratorium, many thousands of Louisiana workers have lost their employment and many more are at risk of losing it in the near future. All of the programs administered by LWC have been and will be heavily impacted by its effects. (Emphasis added)

Every Friday, the LWC issues a news release containing the number of new unemployment filings and puts the number in context: LWC compares that week's number to the previous week; compares the number to the same week of the previous year; provides a four-week moving average; and provides a total number of active unemployment claims in the state and compares that number to the previous year, and a four-week moving average for total claims.

Nowhere in the LWC weekly reports issued between the Department of the Interior's declaration of the moratorium (May 27) and the June 20 court filing by Jindal's attorneys is there any mention of any impact on new unemployment claims filings related to the moratorium. Other issues are mentioned at times, like seasonally increased claims resulting from the end of the school year or a transportation equipment disruption which led to a one-week spike. But, the moratorium is not mentioned in that period of time.

Nor has it been mentioned in any of the LWC weekly reports issued since the Jindal court filing.

In fact, based on the numbers generated by the LWC — not the rhetoric coming from Jindal, top LWC management, and other opponents of the moratorium — the deep water drilling moratorium has been a non-event in terms of Louisiana employment.

Follow the Numbers

What follows is a listing of the numbers in each weekly report issued by LWC, starting on April 5 and running through September 3. This provides information on new unemployment claims in the weeks leading up to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, through the May 28th imposition of the moratorium, through the dates of the court hearings, through the Rally for Economic Survival, up to the most current report issued by LWC.

A link to each announcement is included. The image at the top of this column charts the numbers for new claims and the moving average.

The weekly reports make clear that there has been no surge of job losses attributable to the moratorium. In fact, while other causes for new unemployment claims are mentioned in some reports, the LWC reports are notable for what they do not mention — the deep water drilling moratorium.

If the deep water drilling moratorium was causing unemployment in Louisiana, these are where the numbers would first appear.

LWC April 5 report: New claims — 4,120; four-week average — 3,988 (This report was filed on the Monday after Easter based on numbers from the previous week).

LWC April 9 report: New claims — 3,689; four-week average — 3,908.

LWC April 16 report: New claims — 4,661; four-week average — 4,067.

LWC April 23 report: New claims — 3,989; four-week average — 4,115.

LWC April 30 report: New claims — 4,982; four-week average — 4,330.

LWC May 7 report: New claims — 4,574; four-week average — 4,552.

LWC May 14 report: New claims — 4,480; four-week average — 4,506.

LWC May 21 report: New claims — 4,584; four-week average — 4,655.

LWC May 28 report: New claims — 4,645; four-week average — 4,571.

(There's more. Click here to continue reading.)

Bobby Jindal will be heading to Minnesota in a week where he'll headline a fund-raiser for a Republican candidate for governor.

Yes, the Governor is off running for president again. His book will be out in a few weeks and, having rehabilitated his prospects somewhat among Republicans with his hectoring from the shore during the BP Gulf Gusher, Jindal will no doubt soon be filling the airways with his talk about the 'Louisiana Way' — or whatever the guy who actually wrote the book came up with.

But, there is trouble on the horizon and it begins in River City. While the governor went coastal during the last session, he left most of the heavy lifting to Angelle Davis and Scott Angelle. Davis was Commissioner of Administration, but announced her departure within days of the end of the session.

There was speculation that her departure had something to do with the way the budget deal went down at the end of the session. In the weekend before the session ended, Jindal swooped into the Capital and sided with the Senate in softening budget cuts for the fiscal year that we are now in. The Senate and the Governor robbed every Peter to pay every Paul.

By all accounts, the cupboard is bare heading in to the next session (which also happens to be an election year).

There is a projected shortfall somewhere in the range of $2 Billion.

House Speaker Jim Tucker told the Monroe News Star last week that the coming budget mess is largely of Jindal's own making.

"We knew this was coming," Tucker, who spoke during a Monroe Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, said in an interview with The News-Star. "We've been trying to manage this in the House for three years, but we were rebuffed by the Senate and the governor."

Jindal understands and his new Commissioner of Administration, Paul Rainwater, has ordered state agencies to come up with budgets that reflect a 35% cut in funding. That is no typo.

Jindal the national Republican remains committed to not raising taxes. Jindal the Louisiana Republican Governor facing re-election next year is going to have to figure out a way to sell the idea that gutting the state's infrastructure and dumping state workers by the thousands is the way to build a promising future for Louisiana.

We know no one in his administration will tell him he's nuts. Will anyone who helped elect him do so? Is there no sense of buyer's remorse with this guy among those in business, higher ed and healthcare?

How the Stimulus is Changing America — and why Republicans hate it!

By Jean Eagle, Contributing Writer

Is it possible to have a rational discussion with the GOP about any of the major initiatives of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress? The cultivation of hatred for the Stimulus Bill, like the health care bill, has relied on a willful ignoring of its provisions and impacts. 

As always, it’s useful to draw a distinction between the rank and file GOP, most of whom have had their perceptions of the Stimulus Bill shaped by Fox News, along with Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, and their local clones. The narrative that they have imbibed is that the Stimulus (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA) has been a pork-laden failure that ate up almost a trillion of their tax dollars.

But the GOP Congressional leadership has a different reason for maligning the Stimulus – the possibility that it will succeed in its aims. Foremost among those is to reform how government operates, in particular how it implements large, ambitious initiatives carried out in the public interest. A key part of the initiative is to redesign America’s energy system. 

A recent article by Michael Grunwald in the August 26 issue of Time magazine provides a fascinating look at what the GOP – and much of the media - has ignored about the Stimulus. In “How the Stimulus is Changing America,” Grunwald points out that most media coverage has focused on the recovery aspect – in short, the jobs created by the bill in the near-term. He looks at the reinvestment portion – 16% of the bill that could, in his estimate, help reshape the country’s future.

The recovery portion of the Stimulus is not insignificant: “Yes, the stimulus has cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, bailed out every state, hustled record amounts of unemployment benefits and other aid to struggling families and funded more than 100,000 projects to upgrade roads, subways, schools, airports, military bases and much more.” 

But the reinvestment aspects of the bill constitute, in Grunwald’s view, “the most ambitious energy legislation in history.” $90 billion is directed to clean energy, including development of “smart grid” capacity for the country’s electrical system (something the GOP refused to carry out while they controlled Congress during the Bush years.) Grunwald describes the $8 billion for high-speed passenger rail as the “boldest federal transportation initiative since the interstate highways.” 

Even more alarming to the GOP leadership is the process that Obama and Biden included for carrying this out. Far from the pork-fest that they’ve portrayed, the Act is earmark-free. A Recovery Board and agency watchdogs scrutinize all expenditures, which are selected through competitive grants. Every contract and lobbying activity is posted on the site, with quarterly updates on where the money went. 

There have been a few – surprisingly few – scandals about where local and state officials tried to direct Stimulus funds. Many projects proposed by those local and state interests have been rejected. Grunwald describes the process as “a test-drive for a new approach to government – more transparent, more focused on results than compliance.”

The contrast with the GOP’s way of operating couldn’t be more vivid – think back to the massive and uncontrolled dispensation of federal dollars under Homeland Security, where states like Wyoming received more funding and projects than many large metropolitan areas with a higher risk of terrorist attacks, or to the billions funneled to contractors in Iraq that were never fully accounted for. 

The question hanging over the real accomplishments in the Stimulus Bill for reinvestment, as well as recovery, is whether they will be continued. A GOP Congress will no doubt try to repeal many of the ARRA provisions at the same time that they seek to undo the health care reform bill. They’ll be fighting against government effectiveness just as fiercely as they’ll oppose a revamped energy system.

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