Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2010

DOES JINDAL KNOW WHAT HE'S DOING?.... We learned something important and unexpected on Thursday night, when CBS News reported that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), for all his rhetoric about an insufficiently aggressive response to the BP oil spill, has chosen not to exercise his authority to dispatch thousands of National Guard troops to the coast. The Obama administration authorized Jindal to use 6,000 troops to respond to the disaster, but Jindal only dispatched 1,053 -- less than a fifth of the available total.

Asked to explain why he wouldn't want every available person on the scene working, Jindal claimed he's forbidden from deploying more because it's up to "the Coast Guard and BP" to "authorize individual tasks." That turned out to be untrue.

Yesterday, the governor came up with a new rationale.

Following a CBS News Investigates report that Gulf coast governors haven't been fully utilizing the 17,500 National Guard troops authorized by the federal government to help them with the oil spill, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's office offered a tart response.

In a statement sent to ProPublica, Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said that Louisiana would "call up more National Guard troops as the Adjutant General tells us he needs them."

But this actually raises more questions than it answers. First, if Jindal is waiting for word from Louisiana's Adjutant General, why was the governor's initial response a different story altogether? Second, in Louisiana, the Adjutant General answers to Jindal, not the other way around. If the governor wants every available resource on the coast, helping with the response, why is Jindal waiting for a request that seems obvious, when it's within his authority to simply give the order?

The only rationale explanation I can think of here, is that the governor is afraid 6,000 National Guard troops working along the coast might discourage tourism, so he's willing to settle for a weaker, slower response to the spill. I'm not saying that is the reason, but I'm trying to imagine why the governor would deliberately choose not to send every available person, and this is the only thing I can think of. That Jindal is changing his story, and that his second attempt is hardly better than his first, is a bad sign.

If reporters covering the spill pursue this aggressively, it could be a major headache for Jindal.

On a related point, the New York Times reports today that the Louisiana governor, practically from the beginning of this disaster, has "often disregarded" his administration's "own plans and experts in favor of large-scale proposals that many say would probably have had limited effectiveness and could have even hampered the response."

It's starting to cast an entirely new light on why Jindal has been so aggressive in blaming others for an inadequate response -- perhaps he's trying to deflect attention from his own mismanagement.

Update: To clarify, the CBS piece refers to 17,500 National Guard troops, while the angle referring to Jindal points to the 6,000 figure. The larger total is the number the Obama administration has made available to the region, and the 6,000 is specific to Louisiana.

Steve Benen 8:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

"perhaps he's trying to deflect attention from his own mismanagement"

No, he's doing a shitty job on purpose, because he doesn't believe that government (including his own state's) can do anything positive, so he screws around, and gets to blame Obama in the process. This way, he gets to run around saying government can't solve anything, and appeases the radicals within the GOP.

Posted by: Hunter Gathers on June 26, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I cruised dr biobrain's blog, and another explaination is: They really are that stupid.

Posted by: bigutah on June 26, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

-Or maybe it's another instance of the Peter Principal. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 26, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

It's fascinating what you can discover when you are practicing real journalism. What is troubling is why did it take so long for this little tidbit about Jindal and the national guard troops to be uncovered. I blame the lazy media stenographers and the Obama administration for not getting the facts out. This puts a whole new light on those emotional press conferences from Jindal. Got hypocrisy?

If the half term governor tweeted and insult about President Obama today the media would pounce and report every word. Palin tweets and the media repeats. Focusing on the facts, not so much. I am still waiting for fact checking and truth telling to become cool again.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on June 26, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

J) Commander-in-Chief. The governor shall be commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the state, except when they are called into service of the federal government. He may call out these forces to preserve law and order, to suppress insurrection, to repel invasion, or in other times of emergency.

According to the Louisana Constitution, Jindal is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the state.

http://senate.legis.state.la.us/documents/constitution/Article4.htm#§5. Governor; Powers and Duties

Posted by: flyonthewall on June 26, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Jindal:
Don't blame BP.
Obama sucks, he can't fix the Gulf.
Government sucks, it can't fix the Gulf.

How about you look in the mirror - Jindal, YOU suck! YOU'RE not doing everything YOU can to try to help out.
Shhhh... Don't disturb the Governor, he's praying for God to heal the oil spill.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 26, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

I appreciate your pointing us to the CBS story. However, the same story states that that same under-utilization of deployed Guardsmen is occurring in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida (all of whose governors are also Republicans) as well. Is Jindal getting the attention here because he's been the most public of the governors with his complaints? Or is similar "confusion" occurring with the others as well? Or what?

Something remains unexplained that either extends beyond whatever explains Jindal's behavior or also explains the other governors' underutilizing of the Guard.

Posted by: John B. on June 26, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

"The only rationale explanation I can think of here, is that the governor is afraid 6,000 National Guard troops working along the coast might discourage tourism, so he's willing to settle for a weaker, slower response to the spill. I'm not saying that is the reason, but I'm trying to imagine why the governor would deliberately chose not to send every available person, and this is the only thing I can think of."

I think that's a major reach- Louisiana tourism is toast anyway at this point, and a few more guardsmen isn't going to change that. The real explanation is the probably the most simple one- this is a huge disaster, and dealing with it is hard. The easiest thing for Jindal to do is keep finding new reasons to complain, making the federal government play whack-a-mole with his complaints so that he can keep avoiding the blame- just so happened they got this mole before it went under, and he got caught.

Posted by: RS on June 26, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Gosh, here's another possibility. Maybe all these Republican governors don't want to deploy National Guard troops to help improve the situation because they really don't want the situation improved. Kind of like what Republicans in Congress are doing regarding the economy and jobs. The good of the country, or even their own states, always takes a back seat to political benefit.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on June 26, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

He is going to run for President and he wants this to be Obama' Katrina

Posted by: sharon on June 26, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe all these Republican governors don't want to deploy National Guard troops to help improve the situation because they really don't want the situation improved.

And maybe they all met in private and conspired. Isn't this what ReBPublicans seem to claim, conspiracy?

Posted by: flyonthewall on June 26, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Is Jindal getting the attention here because he's been the most public of the governors with his complaints?"

surely because Lousiana has been getting most of the oil (so far); and better media attention, either because of that, or is it better food/night life than in other affected states?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 26, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting photo of Jindal in the NYT article. He looks like King Canute ordering the oil away from the shore and is being every bit as effective as the King was.

The entire clean-up is mostly about theater and scoring political points. The critical thing is to avoid getting photos of oiled pelicans on the front page and making sure every aerial shot of oil includes some boom.

Posted by: Maineiac on June 26, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

And maybe they all met in private and conspired.

No one said anything about a conspiracy. All it takes it blinkered self-interest, no matter how idiotic. See Barbour, Haley.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on June 26, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

They couldn't care less about this spill. It's all about doing the GOP work - blame the government and hit Obama. When there's no journalism anymore, the public buy it all.

Posted by: impik on June 26, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

As a part of my job, I was required to take Emergency Management seminars regularly. There is a Local - State- National network of consistent structure and planning in every state except Louisiana. Although the specifics differ, the methods are the same: written plans including the activation of resources at each governmental level as well as the relationship between and the authority at each level. Louisiana’s parish system of government is unique in the 50 states and those parishes are fiefdoms onto themselves. Jindal uses the state’s disjointed governance, lack of preparedness and unwillingness to embrace safeguards to spin the situation into Big Government failure. This state is firmly planted in the 19th century.

Posted by: Diane Rodriguez on June 26, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

So, does an authorization from the President mean the NG units will come under Federal control and be paid by the Federal Government? The LA NG can be called up for state actions, but, that means, the state has to pay them for the extra duty. If the Feds will be on the hook for the pay, I can't see why Jindal is delaying, except for political advantages, discussed above by several poster.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 26, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Sharon. Jindal is running for president and is dragging his feet because he wants to do everything he can to make Obama look bad.

Posted by: Margaret on June 26, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Diane Rodriguez, so you are saying that Louisana comes the closest to the supposed Republican ideal of having as big a share of government power reside at the local level?

No wonder the state is so screwed up.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 26, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

If reporters covering the spill pursue this aggressively, it could be a major headache for Jindal.

I think he is safe, then.

Posted by: qwwerty on June 26, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I won't specualte about this issue, but I recall Jindal taking some liberties with the facts in recounting his actions in 2005 to push an "anti-bureaucracy" agenda. In particular, he mentioned an incident with the Jefferson Parish sheriff Harry Lee that evidence strongly suggests simply didn't happen.

Posted by: Michael on June 26, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Someone here said it was Obama's fault for not calling out Jindal. I say nonsense. If certain Democrats hadn't come out on tv decrying Obama's response to the spill, then maybe the media would focus on Jindal's mismanagement. And when I say certain Democrats, I mean JAMES CARVILLE. Does anyone know of him criticizing Jindal, 'cause I haven't heard it.

Posted by: Alli on June 26, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

"The only rationale explanation I can think of here, is that the governor is afraid 6,000 National Guard troops working along the coast might discourage tourism, so he's willing to settle for a weaker, slower response to the spill. I'm not saying that is the reason, but I'm trying to imagine why the governor would deliberately chose not to send every available person, and this is the only thing I can think of."

Tourists don't go to Louisiana for the beaches. Most of the coastline is marsh. The only beach I ever went to as a child, Holly Beach, wasn't very nice. The water was muddy, the mosquitoes plentiful. And it's really hard to get tar washed up from the offshore rigs off your skin.

Posted by: Tim z bazin on June 26, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Is Jindal getting the attention here because he's been the most public of the governors with his complaints? Or is similar "confusion" occurring with the others as well? Or what?

No. Jindal is getting the attention because 1.) he's lying about something that can be easily checked and 2.) he's not doing all he can do to fight this 'war on oil spills'.

Posted by: John Henry on June 26, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

The missing piece in this Gulf Coast puzzle is who are the private contractors, the ones hired by BP to both oversee the clean-up of the tar-balled beaches and handle security?

Why would the Republican Gulf Coast governors flood the coastal disaster zones with state national guard personnel and equipment, especially if this public action would interfere with the profit-making of these for-profit private contractors and sub-contractors? (This would also explain why respirators aren't being issued to clean-up crews or even security personnel...the cost of respirators cuts into the profits of whomever is behind this).

And you can bet that crony capitalism is at play in this, with for-profit privatization trumping public and environmental health (doesn't it always, at least in the minds of Republicans?), similar to what happened along the Gulf Coast following (and even during) Hurricane Katrina.

Presumably, BP is footing the bill for the entire clean-up cost of their Gulf oil disaster. If Republican Gulf Coast governors sent in every state national guardsman available, then I've read that BP would reimburse the states for this expense. Does this mean that BP, along with these Republican governors, prefers that Gulf Coast states AREN'T fully involved, even if supposedly fully reimbursed later for any state's resources used? Why?

And who exactly are these private for-profit contractors and private security personnel that I've seen journalists either trying to interview on the beaches or get past to conduct interviews? Logo-less jumpsuits? Stone-walling "public interest" journalists? Threatening workers with the loss of their jobs if they talk to the press? Refusing respirators? Blocking private-citizen volunteers from the beaches?

Shades of both the aftermath and what happened during Hurricane Katrina, privatize, privatize, privatize, orchestrated with help from crony Republican politicians along the Gulf Coast, but this time run by a multi-national ultra-conservative-run corporation (BP) instead of by a Republican-controlled White House...with Democrats currently in the White House and in Congress seemingly at a loss in understanding (and dealing with) what is going on.

The $20 billion escrow fund is a good start, but if Democrats don't make certain that this fund ISN'T politicized by BP and corrupt Gulf Coast Republican politicians (i.e. privatized solely for for-profit gain by conservatives) then this money will be pissed away in the Gulf, like the billions of dollars that were pissed away following Hurricane Katrina (which, BTW, still hasn't been fully investigated).

Posted by: The Oracle on June 26, 2010 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Anderson Cooper has Bobby Jindal on nearly every night on AC 360 and treats him like some kind of saint. And this isn't the first time Jindal's actions haven't matched his deeds.

He parroted the Republican party line about how terrible Obama's economic stimulus package was, and then he showed up at projects funded by the stimulus for photo ops where he could be seen handing out giant Publisher's Clearing House sized checks he dishonestly wanted people to attribute to his own beneficence.

But you won't hear any of that from good ole Anderson, who ought to rename his dog and pony show "Republicans on Parade," since most of his guests are hard right Republicans who troop in before the cameras to attack the president for the oil blowout catastrophe that their anti-regulatory zeal made inevitable.

Posted by: Lon on June 26, 2010 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I really think this spill is now an integral part of his 2012 plans. But will the American public go for a guy who looks like he escaped from the set of Slumdog Millionaire? (Most Indian Americans are quite handsome, but Jindal looks like a scruffy ruffian).

Posted by: bob h on June 27, 2010 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe that you guys are giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt that they are normal humans.

They want power back, nothing short, they want their kickback, the family member cozy deals, and the millions when they get out. Nothing more, nothing less.

If that means the country fails economically great, if that means a terrorist attack killing American, GREAT, if that means we can use the destruction of our Gulf Coast, so be it. They love nothing but themselves and hate everything and everyone that dosn't agree.

Posted by: JB on June 27, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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