Gov. Bobby Jindal Responds to President Obama

Mayor to quit over Obama watermelon e-mail

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - The mayor of a California city says he will resign after being criticized for sharing an e-mail picture depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year."

Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose issued a statement Thursday saying he is sorry and will step down as mayor at Monday's City Council meeting.

Grose came under fire for sending the picture to what he called "a small group of friends." One of the recipients, a local businesswoman and city volunteer, publicly scolded the mayor for his actions.

Grose says he accepts that the e-mail was in poor taste and has affected his ability to lead the city.

Located in Orange County, Los Alamitos is a 2 1/4-square-mile city of around 12,000 people.


Joe the Author, Plumbing New Lows in Interest

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post writes: Joe the Plumber (no longer a plumber; first name actually Samuel) popped into our town yesterday evening to sell his new book and to remind people that he's still a plain and simple guy. Mission accomplished, on at least one of his missions.

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border's bookstore to hear Joe speak. Joe addressed them from behind a lectern and with a microphone, but that seemed unnecessarily formal.

If you've already forgotten "Joe" Wurzelbacher, 35, of Toledo, Ohio, it just goes to show you how ephemeral the life of a plain-speaking, Republican Everyman is these days. Joe was the square-jawed guy briefly drafted by John McCain's campaign to be its Voice of Regular Folks. Joe got a couple of news cycles' worth of attention starting on Oct. 12 -- he remembers the date clearly -- when he was videotaped confronting Barack Obama about his small-business tax plans. He later called Obama's plans "socialism."
Now, only a few months later, he's kind of like a vestigial tail, a leftover artifact from a forgotten time. He's Clara Peller, Willie Horton or Gennifer Flowers -- names that are the questions in a "Jeopardy!" category called "Presidential Campaign Distractions." To his credit, Wurzelbacher is hip to the audacity of hype: "I get e-mails all the time from people asking me when my 15 minutes is going to expire," he grinned after his talk. "Sometimes they just write, '15 . . . 14:59 . . . 14:58 . . .' "

....Wurzelbacher was scheduled to speak and sign books for three hours, but the Joe Show was over in 55 minutes. Total copies of "Joe the Plumber" sold: five.

Read the entire Washington Post article here.

Bigot of the Week: Michael Steele

Okay, I was wondering what GOP bobble-head would insult Governor Bobby Jindal by comparing him with the characters of the Oscar winning best picture Slumdog Millionaire. Wow, that didn't take long. The Bigot of the Week Award goes to RNC Chairman, Michael Steele.

Michael Steele speaking for the GOP and the Republican Party showed his culturally insensitive behind when he linked Governor Jindal with the Untouchable caste of East India. Damn man, that would be akin to Governor Jindal calling Mr. Steele a "buckdancing coon" or a "watermelon eating Sambo."
Mr. Jindal could say to Mr. Steele: "Remember that little ditty that was so popular during the Tin Pan Alley Era: 'All Coons Look Alike To Me"? Or, what about that great children's novel by an English author during her tenure in India......"Little Black Sambo?" Governor Jindal could just say, "I'm just keeping it real my nigger." After all, isn't that the langage of the hip-hop crowd that you are trying to attract to the Republican Party?

Mr. Steele embarasses the whole black race. India is an old country, with old customs, folkways and morays. If he doesn't understand the difference between a fictional slum dweller and the Governor of the Great State of Lousiana then he should just hang-up his tap shoes.

From Politico: Steele offers Jindal 'slum love'

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?

STEELE: (laughter)

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. He's really turned around on some core principles — like hey, government ought not be corrupt. The good stuff ... the easy stuff.

Just when you thought the racist GOP couldn't get any worse, the Mayor of Los Alamitos, Dean Grose's e-mail included the above picture with a heading that read, "No Easter Egg hunt this year."

Keyanus Price, an African American, said she was appalled when she received an e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose's personal account that showed a picture of the White House with a watermelon patch imposed as the White House garden. "I think he's saying that since there's a black president, there will be no need to hunt for eggs since they're growing watermelons in the front yard this year," Price wrote.

She responded to the e-mail with: "Hey, that's not nice at all. Not all black people like watermelon… you should know better than that."

Grose replied: "The way things are today, you gotta laugh every now and then. I wanna see the coloring contests."

Price said Grose's response upset her more.

"As soon as I saw his response; that put me over the top because it was no big deal to him," she said.

Price and Grose have worked together in the past – they both sit on the board of the Youth Center, and she often works with city officials in the community representing her employer. The two have exchanged e-mails in the past.

The e-mail was sent to at least one other person, but the mayor said he isn't sure how many people received it. He said there is a "small group" of people he sometimes forward e-mails to.

In his apology to Price via e-mail, Grose wrote that he was not representing himself as a public official.

"It was not sent to a whole bunch of people, and it went through my personal e-mail," he said. "People e-mail things all the time, but that's not an excuse."

Peter Eliasberg of the ACLU said that while the mayor wasn't acting as a city official at the time, it doesn't mean that it was OK to send.

"Even though as much as we may always think they're always public officials, they're not always public officials; it's kind of going out as a private citizen," Eliasberg said. "That doesn't mean that she doesn't have every right to demand a public apology. It seems like it was pretty offensive." (Source: Orange County Register)


Rachel Maddow Reacts to Gov. Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal's Response to President Obama

Insane. Childish. Disaster. And those were some of the kinder comments from political pundits about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his response to President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on Tuesday night. Jindal, 37, a Rhodes scholar and son of Indian immigrants, is considered a rising star in Republican ranks and a likely 2012 presidential candidate. GOP leaders, looking for a fresh face for the party's image, tapped Jindal earlier this month for the high-profile task of rebutting Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress.

But in both style and substance, Jindal's speech has drawn flak from Republicans and Democrats alike.

His criticism of government spending for emergency economic relief has been widely panned, especially given his state's receipt of billions in federal assistance after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And Jindal's voice and earnest, awkward delivery have drawn comparisons to Kenneth Parcell, the geeky page on the NBC comedy "30 Rock."

Indeed, a new Facebook group titled "Bobby Jindal is Kenneth the Page" had already attracted more than 1,800 members Wednesday afternoon.

Republicans had high hopes for Jindal after his appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he delivered a forceful, concise critique of Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan and explained his decision to reject some of the money allotted for his state. He also impressed observers when he spoke to reporters after a meeting with Obama and other governors at the White House Monday.

Jindal spoke from the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge, and critics pounced on his remarks almost immediately, panning everything from his overly folksy demeanor to his complaint that Obama's plan to revive the economy was "irresponsible."

David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist who has criticized aspects of the stimulus plan, nonetheless called Jindal's arguments "insane" and tone-deaf given the dire economic challenges the country faces.

"To come up in this moment in history with a stale, 'Government is the problem, you can't trust the federal government' is just a disaster for the Republican Party," Brooks said. "It's not where the country is, it's not where the future of the country is."

Fox News commentator Juan Williams focused on Jindal's delivery.

"It came off as amateurish, and even the tempo in which he spoke was singsongy," Williams said, adding that the content of the speech was "very simplistic and almost childish."

Penni Pier, a political communication specialist at Florida's Nova Southeastern University, said Jindal's presentation was overly colloquial and his message of less government and more tax cuts was substantively thin.

"It sounded like the same old rhetoric — we had tax cuts the last eight years, and look where it got us," Pier said. "Jindal was also trying to be so familiar, he lost credibility. Obama is familiar, but at the same time always a statesman."

To be sure, Jindal had a tough act to follow in Obama, a naturally gifted orator whose argument for vast federal intervention to stem the nation's economic crisis was widely praised. A CNN poll taken after his speech found 92 percent of viewers had a positive reaction to it.

Rush Limbaugh, arguably the nation's most prominent conservative voice, defended Jindal on his radio show Wednesday while acknowledging that "stylistically," Obama had outshined Jindal.

"The people on our side are making a real mistake if they go after Bobby Jindal," Limbaugh said. "We cannot shun politicians who speak for our beliefs just because we don't like the way he says it."

Jindal was headed to Disney World Wednesday with his family for a vacation. But his chief of staff, Timmy Teepell, said his boss had prepared carefully for the speech and that his message was strong.

"It's a challenge for anybody to follow Obama. The guy is one of the most gifted speakers of our generation," Teepell said. "Bobby's his own harshest critic. He's always looking for ways to improve."

Confidence erodes in U.S. food supply

From the Star Tribune in Minnesota: Consumer confidence dipped last year with the outbreak of salmonella first linked to tomatoes but later tied to peppers. Confidence rebounded, the CFST found, only to nosedive to a new low with the peanut butter salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 500 and killed eight people, three of whom were Minnesotans. The findings should give the industry some food for thought. It's hard evidence that the peanut butter outbreak isn't simply the problem of one Georgia company. It has damaged the reputation of the entire food industry. Action is needed, lest the precipitous drop in peanut butter sales plague other products.

Recent developments in the peanut butter outbreak have pointed to critical areas for industry improvement. A New York Times story published earlier this month suggested major problems with the independent safety audit systems that the industry uses. Basically, companies providing audit services act as private inspectors. The president of the company that inspected the Georgia peanut plant -- AIB International -- told the paper that one of its inspectors gave the plant a "superior" rating. Another inspector said the plant met or exceeded expectations. Investigators since have documented slime, mold and roaches at the plant and ongoing problems with salmonella; the plant may have knowingly shipped product that tested positive for the bacteria. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently called for criminal prosecution of the plant's owners, and she's entirely correct. At the same time, the entire food industry needs to rapidly evaluate what went wrong with the auditing system and make changes so it doesn't happen again. Making audit reports public is one potential solution to improve accountability.

Another area that needs to be addressed is traceability. One reason that the peanut butter recall seems never-ending is that it's difficult to trace where commodity foods -- like large tubs of peanut butter used as ingredients in other foods -- have gone. Ideally, food safety officials would have issued one list of all affected foods and had stores and consumers clear them from shelves and pantries. They couldn't do that under the current system. Instead, officials have issued multiple updates as they've gone through the slow, laborious process of tracking the product's distribution. That's kept peanut butter recalls in the news, reinforcing consumers' negative attitudes about food safety. As the CFST data shows, the industry as a whole has a business interest in being able to quickly announce a complete, comprehensive list of affected foods. More important, there's a critical public health advantage to this. Quickly identifying dangerous products and pulling them from shelves saves lives. The industry has to do better.

Banking Bombs

Scary Food Supply

The New York Times' Editorial "Dangerous Food" posted on February 17, 2009 states:

The more investigators look into the latest food-safety scandal involving the Peanut Corporation of America, the worse it gets. It now appears that as many as nine people have died and 19,000 have been sickened after eating cookies, crackers or institutional peanut butter tainted with salmonella from a plant in Georgia owned by the company.

At a charged Congressional hearing last week, company executives refused to answer questions on the advice of their attorneys, but the questions told much of the story. “The food poisoning of people — is that just a cost of doing business?” one congressman asked. When another angrily asked the company’s president if he would like to try some of the recalled products, he refused.

The company is facing a criminal inquiry and has now filed for bankruptcy court protection. But it would be a mistake to view this as “an unconscionable act by one manufacturer,” as an official from the American Peanut Council, the industry’s trade association, said.

While most successful food producers are far more diligent — big name-brand peanut butter is considered safe, for example — American consumers have faced far too many food-supply emergencies in the last few years. Congress and the Obama administration must finally make food safety a serious priority.

The new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, is talking about creating “a modern, unified food-safety agency capable of reducing the risk of food-borne illness.” Many thoughtful food-safety experts have been calling for such an approach for years. Today’s patchwork system requires frozen pizzas to be inspected by two agencies: one if they’re cheese and another if they’re pepperoni.

A one-stop agency could take time in Washington. Until then, Mr. Vilsack should look at ways to strengthen current federal and state systems for avoiding food hazards. Congress needs to find more money for inspectors, especially at the Food and Drug Administration.

The F.D.A. also should have the authority to recall tainted food quickly, establish strict federal standards on cleanliness and create an advanced system for tracking foods so that any tainted products can be culled from the food supply more quickly. Finally, Congress should require a more efficient way to test food products and give government food inspectors the authority to review those results more easily.

What was particularly galling about the latest recall was how federal inspectors had to threaten to use anti-terrorism laws to finally gain access to the Peanut Corporation of America’s testing reports. Those reports showed how samples were re-tested if they were contaminated and how some products were shipped even before the tests showing salmonella had come in.

President Obama promised during the campaign to create a government that does a better job of protecting the American consumer. The nation’s vulnerable food supply is a healthy place to start.

Phony Baloney GOP

The jury is still out in the court of public opinion over Gov. Haley Barbour is right or wrong to join with a handful of other Republican governors in saying he will refuse a portion of the $787 billion federal stimulus package that would expand the state's unemployment insurance coverage.

The battle lines, however, are pretty clear at the State Capitol.

"There is some (stimulus money) we will not take in Mississippi," Barbour told CNN's John King on Sunday. "If we were to take the unemployment insurance reform package that they have, it would cause us to raise taxes on employment when the money runs out, and the money will run out in a couple of years."

Barbour joins a handful of Republican governors like Sarah Palin of Alaska and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana in rejecting federal money to expand unemployment insurance coverage.

House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, sharply disagreed with Barbour's take on the stimulus funds on Monday, telling reporters that Barbour's stance "bothers us greatly. Our neighbors, our friends and even family members have lost their jobs in this economic downturn through no fault of their own."

McCoy referenced the possibility of an effort by the Legislature to bypass Barbour should he formally reject stimulus funds.

Is accepting the money Barbour's call? Partly. The stimulus package legislation, on page 491 of Division A, clearly states that state governors must within 45 days of the bill being enacted certify that the state will request and use the funds, and that "the funds will be used to create jobs and promote economic growth."

But if a governor does not accept the money, the bill further empowers state legislatures to bypass a governor and to accept the cash "by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution."

Clearly, that's what McCoy means to try to do if Barbour formally rejects part of the funds. But Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant rebutted that threat: "I would resist any effort by the Legislature to override the governor's decision regarding accepting or declining the federal funds from President Obama's economic stimulus plan," said Bryant.

Make no mistake - this fight is far more about partisan politics than about policy.

Why? There absolutely no aversion in Mississippi among Republicans or Democrats to accepting federal funds - just as there isn't in Alaska or Louisiana. Mississippi's about the easiest girl in town on that score.

In terms of federal aid to states and localities received per capita, Governing magazine ranks Mississippi 3rd per capita at ($2,545) behind second-ranked Alaska ($3,552) and just ahead of Louisiana ($2,366) in 4th place.

Mississippi is just about the easiest girl on the block in terms of taking federal money. In the last two rounds of elections, Republicans bragged openly about how much federal aid they brought home to the state from Capitol Hill in Hurricane Katrina relief.

The pro-union National Employment Law Project challenged Barbour on his claims that of the $54 million offered to Mississippi under the bill, only $4 million would be available unless the state changed its law to expand eligibility to part-time workers.

NELP's co-policy director Maurice Emsellem told The New York Times Saturday that the stimulus package offered Mississippi $42 million for increased payments to unemployment recipients and $4 million for administrative costs without changing its policies.

In a state that clearly likes taking federal money and has a history of doing so with both hands, Barbour still has some work to do to sell his message to recession-battered Mississippi taxpayers that turning down federal help is smarter than taking it.

Or, the Democratic majority in Congress may well raise the price of political poker for Barbour and try to make stimulus approval an all-or-nothing proposition.


Race Cowards

The visceral response to the newly minted Attorney General Eric Holder's “coward” comments around the blogosphere and among pundits (on both sides of the aisle) proves Mr. Holder's point. The ginned-up outrage sounds phony and shrill. In the words of William Shakespeare “me thinks thou protests too much.”

The New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd shrieks: “We need leaders to help us through our crises, not provide us with crude evaluations of our character. And we don’t need sermons from liberal virtuecrats, anymore than from conservative virtuecrats.”
“In the middle of all the Heimlich maneuvers required now — for the economy, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, health care, the environment and education — we don’t need a Jackson/Sharpton-style lecture on race. Barack Obama’s election was supposed to get us past that.”
The talking head shows from the Sunday morning line-up on NBC, ABC, and CBS all addressed Mr. Holder's “coward” comment, as well as PBS's McLaughlin Group and the assorted 24-hour cable shows all broached the “coward” comment.

Chris Matthews threw a pint of gasoline on the fire with Pat Buchanan, who is never the voice of reason when it comes to racial matters and the extremely loquacious Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. At least David Gregory, who isn't the sharpest tool in the drawer, asked NPR's Michelle Norris during the roundtable discussion about Mr. Holder's comment. Of course, Michelle's answer was thoughtful and measured, so her segment is not available online to watch at MSNBC.com. If she would have said something stupid then that segment would have become viral, instead of deleted.

Mr. Holder's comments negate the media myth-making narrative of a post-racial society. America collectively as nation has a great deal to be proud of with respect to race, class, gender and religious tolerance. President Obama's victory last November is a testament to that fact. But, to completely deny the Republican radical, populist racial response to President Obama's candidacy is ludicrous and disingenuous.

The fever pitchforked crowds that swarmed at Governor Palin's rallies, the constant drumbeat of the conservatives charging President Obama with being un-American, not a natural born citizen, a communist, a socialist. The media lynching of Reverend Wright, with a continuous loop of “g—damn America” over and over again. Along with Michelle Obama's “terrorist fist jab,” and her “proud of America” comment.

How do the media overlook the racially charged assaults?

After Prop 8 in California, with its 7% black population, passed the gay pundits railed against the African American community, African American voters, and African American churches. The gay community waved their rainbow flags in the same manner of the Confederate flag at a Ku Klux Klan rally. Where was the post-racial media narrative when the gays bashed black voters? Where was the outrage?

Attorney General Holder's complete speech, not the “coward” soundbite, was good. Mr. Holder spoke calmly and rationally. Like an adult speaking with adults. Unfortunately, the childish shrills from the media pundits absolutely illuminates Mr. Holder's point.

We are cowards. It is positively amazing that the whole racially charged experience of the presidential election over the past two years was just a sidebar. Yes, President Obama won an historical election. We've come a long way, baby. But, the post-racial American utopia is still a mirage just over the horizon.