Rick Perry Jumps On Board The Jindal Hypocrisy Train

Remember those jumbo prop checks Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) was passing out in Louisiana? Money he was taking credit for even though it came from the federal stimulus, which he had opposed?

Jindal is not alone. His neighbor Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), who is facing a make-or-break primary campaign against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, has also bought a ticket for the stimulus hypocrisy train. (If you're more of a boat person than you are a train person, then call it the S.S. Crass Political Opportunism.) From the Houston Chronicle:

Gov. Rick Perry rallied opposition to federal stimulus spending, but he now is the manager of one of the biggest pots of federal gold in Texas: crime grants to local law enforcement agencies. And those grants have become an integral part of Perry's political machine.

Perry in the past has decided what law enforcement agencies receive about $23 million a year in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grants. Now, because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Perry will have an additional $90 million to hand out...

Every time Perry doles out the federal Byrne grants, he sounds like the money is his.

"Texas is tough on crime and remains dedicated to equipping our law enforcement with the resources necessary to protect our citizens and ensure the safety of our communities," the governor said while handing out $2 million of the federal money to East Texas communities last year.

Perry created a controversy this year when he rejected $550 million in federal unemployment compensation funds, saying it had too many "strings attached," but he later accepted more than $12 billion in stimulus funds to balance the state's budget.

It is worth noting that Gov. Secession is not representative of the average Texan. He won re-election in 2006 against three other candidates with only 39% of the vote.

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Jindal's Hypocrisy and Samuelson's Distortions: The Day in High-Speed Rail

Two important stories about high-speed rail today.

First, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) continues to choose politics over policy. A recap of what's happened so far: In February, Jindal mocked the stimulus for including money for high-speed rail, and declared his state would not accept stimulus funds. In July, he was seen distributing and taking credit for stimulus checks all around Louisiana. And earlier this month, his administration seemed set to request $300 million for high-speed rail from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. It seemed Jindal was publicly mocking the policy because it came from a Democratic president but was implementing it anyway because, well, good policy is good policy regardless of its source. Hypocrisy, yes, but at least economically and environmentally sensible mass transit was headed to Louisiana. Then again, maybe not. Today, this from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Two days after a national commentator [Keith Olbermann, apparently] mocked Gov. Bobby Jindal for possibly requesting federal stimulus money to build a light rail system between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the governor's transportation secretary wrote to President Barack Obama's administration saying Louisiana isn't interested.

"Please be advised that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will not be applying for the High Speed AARA funds," state transportation chief William Ankner wrote to his federal counterpart, Secretary Ray LaHood. Ankner was referring to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [the stimulus]... The news came as a surprise to business leaders who backed the idea and had participated in preliminary discussions with Ankner.

Sigh. When caught red-handed hypocritically playing politics with good policy and forced to choose between politics and policy, Jindal chose the dishonorable route and went with politics. To be fair, Ankner said the project would cost Louisiana $18 million a year beyond the stimulus funds - so I say, why not ask for the difference too? And isn't the timing kind of fishy?

In related news, Robert Samuelson has a Washington Post column today claiming that high speed rail costs too much money for too little return. He's right, it is costly, but Dean Baker does a solid job proving him wrong about the small return:

He tells readers that: "Densities are much higher, and high densities favor rail with direct connections between heavily populated city centers and business districts. In Japan, density is 880 people per square mile; it's 653 in Britain, 611 in Germany and 259 in France. By contrast, plentiful land in the United States has led to suburbanized homes, offices and factories. Density is 86 people per square mile."

The density for the United States as a whole would be relevant if the plans were to build a train network going from Florida to Alaska, but that is not what is on the agenda. Instead, the issue is about deepening and improving the network in relatively densely populated parts of the country, like Ohio (277 people per square mile), New York (402), and New Jersey (1134). The population densities of much of the United States are very comparable to the regions in Europe through which high speed rails travel.

High-speed rail: a key part of both combating climate change and putting Detroit back to work.

Cross-posted from Blue Moose Democrat.

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Handicapping the 2012 Republican field

Senator John Ensign of Nevada is coming to northwest Iowa today for stops at Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center and a famous ice cream shop in Le Mars before he delivers a speech in Sioux City.

The American Future Fund invited Ensign as part of a lecture series, and American Future Fund spokesman Tim Albrecht spoke to Radio Iowa about him:

Albrecht describes the 51-year-old Ensign as a "strong" conservative.

"I think that Senator Ensign will be able to introduce himself to a group of active conservatives who are thirsty for a new voice, a new person, to really pick up the banner and carry it on their behalf," Albrecht says.

Are conservatives "thirsty for a new voice," as in someone who hasn't already run for president? The Republican Party has a history of nominating presidential candidates on their second or third try: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain.

Ensign looks like a fairly generic Republican to me. He would need to do something to distinguish himself in the next few years to avoid becoming the Sam Brownback or Tommy Thompson of 2012.

UPDATE: Ensign gave Iowa Politics an interview:

"I'm not running for president," said Ensign, who's chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "What I'm doing is raising my profile. I believe we need new voices and fresh voices in the Republican Party who can articulate a message of our core Republican principles."

More thoughts on likely Republican presidential candidates are after the jump.

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Louisianans Deal Jindal a Political Setback

Via Ben Smith comes news from Louisiana that Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, whose once rising star has been fading since his abysmal and literally laughable rebuttal to Barack Obama's address to the nation, invested heavily in a special election held yesterday only to have his favored candidate lose -- and lose badly.

Baton Rouge lawyer Dan Claitor beat businessman and fellow Republican Lee Domingue -- the candidate with Gov. Bobby Jindal's backing -- to win the state Senate District 16 seat in Saturday's special election.

Claitor garnered 11,713 or 66  percent of the vote to Domingue's 6,114 or 34 percent, based on complete but unofficial election returns.

[...]

Jindal endorsed Domingue over two other Republican candidates prior to the March 7 primary election. Domingue had contributed $118,500 to Jindal causes, including $100,000 to a special committee formed to advance Jindal's political agenda.

Domingue used Jindal's  endorsement in campaign mailings. Jindal headlined a fundraiser for Domingue

[...]

Domingue had spent $429,709 to Claitor's $154,825 -- a total of $584,534 -- since they entered the race to fill a Senate vacancy.

Jindal's pick Domingue pulled in 34 percent of the vote during the March 7 round of balloting -- meaning that despite all of the help from the Governor, as well as a huge fundraising advantage, he failed to pick up any support over the past month. If Jindal couldn't move voters, particularly Republican voters, in a race like this, his political capital is likely much smaller than many previously believed. And with The New York Times today seriously undermining the silly rhetoric from Jindal that his state does not need the help of the federal government, this looks to be a bad weekend in what has been a bad year for Jindal's political career.

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Deep Thought

Why would we spend money on something called "volcano monitoring"? Hmm...

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Diaries

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