I heard Bobby Jindal was a big hit at the Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington DC on Saturday night. Supposedly his speech was hilarious–comedy gold. Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times gave it a rave review:
WASHINGTON–Proving once against that there are second acts in politics, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was a big hit Saturday night at the 128th annual Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, more than making up for his disastrous 2009 State of the Union speech.
Which of course he used as fodder, since the best political humor is self-deprecating– and Jindal had an abundance of material.
Noting that some people ask him if he intends to run for president, Jindal said, “My answer is I have no plans to run. I have made that clear over and over again. In Iowa. In New Hampshire and in South Carolina,” he said, naming the states with the first caucus and primaries.
After all, he said with faux modesty, “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion and a funny name have to get elected president of the United States.”
The crowd roared.
“The truth is, I am too skinny to run. At least that’s what my friend, Chris Christie, keeps telling me,” Jindal said of the overweight New Jersey Governor, also mentioned as a 2016 prospect.
On a roll, Jindal went on to compare himself with Obama and mock his own party.
He said earnestly that Obama and he had the “exact same campaign slogan years ago but unfortunately UPS sued both of us and made us stop using it. You remember our slogan, ‘What can Brown do for you?”‘
“Speaking of brown, I was hoping to see my good friend, John Boehner, here tonight,” Jindal said of Boehner, the House Speaker who is always tan. “We actually go to the same tanning salon here in Washington.”
Har har har. Are you laughing yet? Me neither. But it apparently went over big with the pols and journalists at “white tie and gown affair.” Chris Cillizza was so impressed with Jindal’s comedy routine that he requested and got a full transcript from the Governor’s staff. Here are a few more choice howlers:
They say this is a place where you can come and tell jokes about the President…poke fun at yourself…set political ambition aside and just generally say anything you want.
Kind of like the Romney campaign.
I spoke to Mitt the other day…told him that I was doing the Gridiron dinner…he said that 47 percent of you can’t take a joke.
Great to see the new Senator from Massachusetts – Elizabeth Warren. My staff tells me we’ve got a lot in common.
Well from one Indian politician to another, I want to wish you all the best in your new job.
I ran into Joe Biden earlier today. I don’t think he recognized me though. He asked me to go get him a Slurpee.
You know, sometimes I wonder where we would be without Vice President Biden. And then I realize: Pretty much exactly where we are right now.
I figured Jindal would take the opportunity to joke about the disaster area back in his home state–that giant Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish. I searched through the whole transcript, but there was nary a word.
But a funny thing happened while Governor Jindal was in Washington DC. Environmental activist Erin Brockovitch paid a visit to Assumption Parish.
Relief is a word frequently heard around the Assumption Parish sinkhole, but as Bayou Corne residents will tell you, it’s not a word they use to describe their attitudes. But now the now 8-and-a half acre sinkhole has caught the attention of California based environmentalist Erin Brockovich.
On Saturday, hundreds of Bayou Corne residents packed into a community meeting to hear what Brockovich and California based attorney Tom Girardi plan to do to help them out.
Girardi has offered his legal services to any resident who decides to take further action against Texas Brine and all parties responsible for their troubles over the past seven months. Brockovich says litigation, if things come to that, could take months or even years to resolve. She says her role, as it has been for nearly two decades in dozens of cases like this one, would be to keep the community united.
“We as states all over America, need to be paying more attention to what the corporations are doing…old records, what we need to do to come in and see that disaster before it happens…and not wait until after it happens and then go and argue on the legislative floor for the, what, next two or three years,” said Brockovich.
Brockovich said before Saturday’s meeting, they were representing 50 residents in the Bayou Corne area. After the meeting dozens more stayed behind to decide if they would join the lawsuit.
Suddenly Bobby J. has decided he’ll go visit the sinkhole in his state for the very first time since the hole opened up last August. The announcement was maid in an “e-mail statement,” so it’s not clear if the Governor was actually in Louisiana at the time.
Something tells me when Jindal shows up, the residents of the area won’t be laughing.
Time to do your day job, Governor.
I have some interesting links today–some of them a couple of days old, but even if you’ve seen them, they bear repeating.
First up, there’s just one more day until the first presidential debate. I just can’t wait to hear those “zingers” Mitt Romney’s advisers told the NYT he has been practicing for months.
Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy.
Since August? I hope they haven’t gotten stale. Apparently they’re hoping Obama will have another “likable enough” moment. I doubt that will happen, but we’ll see.
Frankly, as Ezra Klein writes at HuffPo, Romney would be better off to forget the zingers and develop more popular policies.
Behind in the polls and facing mounting panic among his donors, Mitt Romney is readying his secret weapon for the debates: Zingers….Pro tip: If your strategy to turn the presidential election around relies on Romney’s sense of comic timing, you might want to prepare a Plan B, as well.
The idea that this election can be reshaped by a zinger speaks to a deeper problem in the Romney campaign’s fundamental view of the race. As they see it, Obama’s record is an obvious disaster and their job entails little more than pointing that out over and over again. That the polls haven’t seemed responsive to this theory hasn’t dissuaded them. The new explanation for Romney’s difficulties is that the media are in the tank for Obama and that’s why the Romney campaign’s message isn’t breaking through.
But, Klein says, Americans know the economy is bad, but they also think it would have been worse if John McCain had been elected, rather than Barack Obama. Check out the chart.
Anna Marie Cox also addressed the “zingers” story at the Guardian.
The Romney campaign, having already proven able to discover impressive new ways for a nomination to blunder (my jaw still involuntarily drops a little when I hear the phrase “47%”), they have now added yet another type of podiatric wound to their catalogue. According to a report in the New York Times on Saturday, Romney’s staff “has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August.”
Already an awkward presence, Romney seems particularly susceptible to the tense stillness and deathless pathos that accompanies a dud punchline. Picturing the forced jocularity around the campaign headquarters has its pleasures, specifically the idea of Mitt trotting out well-worn jokes with the panache of a Catskills stand-up:
“Take my economic policy … please!”
“How lazy is half America? So lazy …”
“Any car-elevator owners in the audience tonight?”
But there’s an awful flipside: my God, what if he actually tries one of them?
Whether you wince or guffaw at the image of Romney attempting and failing to “zing” the president, probably says more about your tolerance for the humiliation of others than your political sensibilities. You’d think covering politics would have inured me to it by now, but in real life, I can’t even watch “American Idol”. I will view the debate on Wednesday through the spaces between my fingers, with a desk nearby to bang my head against.
What I really wish is that Romney would follow Donald Trump’s advice. According to TPM, Trump tweeted that Romney “should ask Obama why autobiography states “born in Kenya, raised in Indonesia.”
Romney will definitely have to watch his tone though, based on the results of a focus group study that TPM reported today. And Republicans will have a hard time saying this one is biased, because it was done by Haley Barbour’s company.
Barbour’s firm Resurgent Republic conducted focus groups of blue collar voters in Ohio and suburban women in Virginia who supported Obama in 2008 but are now undecided. Both are swing demographics that Romney is working to win over in order to flip each state from blue to red.
Their findings? Voters are a lot more willing to believe attacks based around Romney quotes than they are on Obama quotes.
“Whenever we showed direct quotes from President Obama over the last few years, voters consistently say that this is probably taken out of context and they don’t seem to hold that same standard with Governor Romney,” pollster Linda DiVall, who conducted the Virginia focus groups, said in a conference call announcing the findings Monday.
She added that while their reaction struck her as “a little bit unfair,” it was nonetheless “American voters’ right to do that.”
Pollster Ed Goeas said his own Ohio focus groups elicited similar responses, which could make things harder for Romney as he seeks to reverse his comments that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves “victims.”
It sounds like these swing state voters have figured out that Romney is a lying liar who only cares about the needs of the top .01 percent. Voters just aren’t as stupid as the Romney campaign thinks.
Did you see the tough op-ed Harry Reid wrote for the Las Vegas Sun on Sunday? He really ripped Romney a new one.
We learn the most about someone’s character not from what he does when he knows others are watching but from what he does when he thinks they aren’t.
We’ve learned an awful lot of troubling things about Mitt Romney recently. First, his sweeping, closed-door condemnation of President Barack Obama’s supporters revealed the disdain he has for half the population he hopes to serve. Then, the limited tax returns Romney selectively released confirmed that he’s willing to share information about the time he’s been in the public eye and running for president, but not the time he was running the corporation he touts as his sole qualifying credential for the highest office in the land.
When he thought no one was listening, Romney accused 47 percent of Americans of not taking responsibility for their lives, painting them as lounging in government dependency — a conclusion he reached because, for various legitimate reasons, they are exempt from paying federal income taxes.
Romney stands not only on shaky ethical grounds in making that indiscriminate generalization — he’s also on flimsy factual footing. The 47 percent Romney derides as self-pitying “victims” includes seniors who live on a fixed income thanks to the Social Security they paid into and earned over a lifetime of hard work, our troops in combat zones and veterans who have fought for our country. It includes students studying to get the skills that will win them the jobs of the future and decent Americans actively looking for work because their jobs were outsourced by companies such as those Romney specialized in developing. Most of them pay plenty of payroll, property, local and state taxes.
Reid goes on to beat Romney over the head with his secret tax returns one more time. Go read the whole thing if you haven’t already. Reid is turning out to be the Democratic attack dog of the 2012 campaign season.
Just one more Romney link: Romney would put states in charge of federal lands. James Bruggers, a Kentucky reporter who covers environmental issues full-time writes:
Our public lands are a birthright, held in trust for each one of us and managed by a set of laws that were worked out through compromise by Congress and various presidential administrations going back generations.
They provide places for us to hike, ride our mountain bikes, horses, camp, hunt and fish. Many are managed for multiple uses, and they also allow for cattle grazing, timber harvesting, oil and gas development, mining and skiing.
Romney, however, has said he would change all this, putting states in control of lands now under the stewardship of such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, who are charged with making sure all Americans have a say in their management. Often this gets reported simply as an expansion of oil and gas development on public lands, a simplification that fails to acknowledge just how radical of a shift in public policy it would be to turn over federal lands to state control.
From a Romney white paper:
States will be empowered to establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders, excluding only lands specially designated off-limits;
• State regulatory processes and permitting programs for all forms of energy development will be deemed to satisfy all requirements of federal law;
• Federal agencies will certify state processes as adequate, according to established criteria that are sufficiently broad, to afford the states maximum flexibility to ascertain what is
I still remember how shocked I was when I heard Romney say this in the Nevada primary debate. This is a huge issue as far as I’m concerned. American is still a beautiful country with many unspoiled wilderness areas. It is vital that we protect those public lands–they belong to all Americans, not to individual state governments.
Here’s another environmental story on the attempts to block the Keystone XL pipeline: BREAKING: Blockader Locks to Underground Capsule to Protect a Family Farm. It’s a live blog of the “Tar Sands blockade.” Here’s their Facebook page.
From Firedoglake blogger Kevin Gosztola:
A Tar Sands Blockader, Alejandro de la Torre, locked his body in a concrete capsule buried in the path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to stop a small family farm in East Texas from being destroyed by construction. He blocked demolition for at least six hours before police were able to break off a chunk of concrete is arm was in and arrest him.
Police confiscated cameras of Blockaders that were there to film for Torre’s safety. Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ramsey Sprague reported they wanted to keep cameras on him as long as possible but police intimidated observers and took the cameras.
Last week, TransCanada supervisors encouraged police to use torture tactics on protesters to stop their nonviolent direct action.
Sprague recounted the brutality, which was “astounding.” Shannon “Rain” Beebe and Benjamin Franklin locked themselves to TransCanada machinery to stop clear-cutting. The police hung them with their arms behind their backs. They put pressure on their shoulder with their arms twisted. They pepper sprayed a tube connecting their arms. They twisted a tube cutting off circulation to their hands. (One protester is seeking medical attention for nerve damage.)
The police used tasers and planned to keep using tasers on Beebe and Franklin until they released. Cameras were supposed to be on the scene to film the action, but police were directed by TransCanada supervisors to run off those with cameras so they could commit brutality without people seeing video evidence on the evening news.
Continuing the environmental theme, pioneering environmental activist Barry Commoner died on Sunday.
Scientist and activist Barry Commoner, who raised early concerns about the effects of radioactive fallout and was one of the pioneers of the environmental movement, has died at age 95.
Commoner died Sunday afternoon at a Manhattan hospital, where he had been since Friday, said his wife, Lisa Feiner. He lived in Brooklyn.
Commoner was an outspoken advocate for environmental issues. He was one of the founders of a well-known survey of baby teeth in St. Louis that started in the late 1950s. The survey assessed the levels of strontium-90 in the teeth and showed how children were absorbing radioactive fallout from nuclear bombs that were being tested.
The survey helped persuade government officials to partially ban some kinds of nuclear testing.
Feiner said Commoner had “a very strong belief that scientists had a social responsibility, that the discoveries would be used for social good and that scientists also had an obligation to educate the public about scientific issues so that the public could make informed political decisions.”
Commoner took on that role of educating the public, writing books on environmental issues. Among his works were “Making Peace with the Planet” and “Science and Survival.” He made the cover of Time magazine in early 1970 and ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1980.
Finally, here’s a little bit of schadenfreude for you. Bloomberg reports that New York is “suing JP Morgan for fraud over mortgages securities.”
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank, was sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over claims that the Bear Stearns business the bank took over in 2008 defrauded mortgage-bond investors.
Investors were deceived about the defective loans backing securities they bought, leading to “monumental losses,” Schneiderman said in a complaint filed today in New York State Supreme Court.
“Defendants systematically failed to fully evaluate the loans, largely ignored the defects that their limited review did uncover, and kept investors in the dark about both the inadequacy of their review procedures and the defects in the underlying loans,” Schneiderman’s office said.
Schneiderman in January was named co-chairman of a state- federal group formed to investigate misconduct in bundling of mortgage loans into securities leading up to the financial crisis. The group includes officials from the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI and other federal and state officials.
Poor Jamie Dimon. Why don’t people respect his “success?”
Those are my suggestions for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
Just a few quick links for you tonight. First you may have already seen this news: Keepers mourn a small death on a blue blanket as zoo ponders cause of cub’s death.
This highlights the difficulties with keeping the Panda population going. Cub’s Death Reveals How Little Is Understood About Pandas
The giant panda cub that died Sunday morning had uneven coloring and hardness in her liver, officials at the National Zooin Washington said Monday.
That information came from a preliminary necropsy, but it was not a conclusive cause of the sudden death of the 6-day-old female cub, who was heard grunting just 17 minutes before she was found lifeless, zoo officials said. Final results of a full necropsy will not be available for another two weeks.
The cub’s sudden death came as a dispiriting shock to the zoo, which has invested millions of dollars in efforts to propagate the beloved but endangered species, and it opened a window into the fraught world of captive breeding.
“Conservation is a life and death business,” said Pamela Baker-Masson, associate director of communications for the zoo. “This one was particularly devastating for us.”
Susie Madrak has some bad news: Suicides Now Leading Cause Of Injury-Related Deaths In U.S.
This doesn’t surprise me in the least. But we don’t talk about things like this, now that everyone’s been promoted to the middle class:
An extremely disturbing new study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that suicides have replaced car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S. This is partly because deaths from automobile accidents are down — that’s the good news.
But the truly catastrophic news is that the suicide rate has increased dramatically: between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, deaths by suicide went up by 15%, and deaths from poisoning increased by a whopping 128%. Moreover, researchers say that many of the poisoning deaths, which are labeled as “accidental,” may actually be intentional. According to the study’s author, Professor Ian Rockett, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University, “Suicides are terribly undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe.” He added “there may be 20 percent or more unrecognized suicides.”
Just last week someone I know lost the second of two friends to suicide. It is something that has been a lot over the last few years here in Banjoville. Two of the kids in my daughter’s class have lost parents to suicide…
After reading about this, the following picture showed up on my RSS feed: Suicide Rations: 1945 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
March 1945. “Tuskegee Airmen series. ‘Escape kits’ (cyanide) being distributed to fighter pilots at air base in Ramitelli, Italy.” Theodore G. Lumpkin Jr., seated, with (L-R): Joseph L. “Joe” Chineworth, Memphis, Class 44-E; Robert C. Robinson, Asheville, Class 44-G; Driskell B. Ponder, Chicago, 43-I; Robert W. Williams, Ottumwa, Iowa, 44-E. Gelatin silver print by Toni Frissell.
From suicide rations to zombie bees: Zombie honeybees discovered in Washington state
A novice beekeeper in Washington state said this week that he’s found evidence that a parasite which takes control of honeybees much like an imagined “zombie” virus is spreading into new areas, according to The Seattle Times.
The so called zombie bees, or “zombees” for short, are created by a type of parasitic fly called Apocephalus borealis. It injects its eggs into a host, usually bumble bees, and the larvae eat the creature from the inside. Infected bees fly around erratically at night and eventually die.
Beekeeper Mark Hohn told the Times that he noticed piles of dead bees for several days in a row before it occurred to him that he might be witnessing the start of the actual “zombie apocalypse.”
I will end this thread with a quick clip that explains my title tonight…Burning Down Hot Topic – Video Clips – South Park Studios
Back when I was the dark brooding kid in black, smoking cloves in the halls of Jefferson High School, we had to get our outfits from the vintage shops and goodwill. Anyway, have a great evening! This is an open thread.