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5 Things To Remember About Bobby Jindal

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal became the latest entrant in the bloated GOP primary race. While it can be hard to distinguish between the different players in this congested contest, Jindal stands out from the pack for the following five reasons.

1. He participated in an exorcism.

This really happened, according to an article written by Jindal himself in 1994 and published in the New Oxford Review. In the article, titled “Beating A Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare,” Jindal recounts an incident involving a college acquaintance he calls Susan, who began behaving strangely, so he did what any rational person would do — assumed she was being possessed by “some strange evil force.” Since the preacher “denied our request for assistance,” Jindal wrote, he and his friends commenced “chanting, ‘Satan, I command you to leave this woman,'” and eventually vanquished the beast.

2. He has contempt for “science.”

When it comes to denying science on climate change Jindal has the bonafides he needs to make a dent in the Republican race, and then some. After new FEMA rules were enacted, requiring any state seeking federal money for disaster preparation to summarize the future hazards facing them, Jindal blew his top, because, you see, FEMA explicitly asked states to mention “changes in weather patterns and climate” that pose a threat. Speaking on Fox News in March, Jindal decried this as an example of “inmates running the asylum,” “coercion,” and an attempt to force climate skeptics to “submit to [Washington’s] liberal ideology.”

It doesn’t stop at climate change. Jindal, a conservative Catholic and by his own admission not an evolutionary biologist, passed a law that inserted creationist teachings into the science curricula of Louisiana schools. Taking the same weaselly false-equivalence tack as other “intelligent design” merchants, Jindal said: “I want my kids to be taught about evolution; I want my kids to be taught about other theories.”

3. He’s got the Duck Dynasty demographic in the tank.

Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame endorsed Jindal’s candidacy, calling him a “good man,” a “Godly man,” and “one of the smartest persons I’ve ever known.”

When the show’s star Phil Robertson made controversial remarks about gay couples (he compared homosexuality to bestiality and said HIV was God’s punishment), Jindal defended him.

4. He is opposed to marriage equality.

It’s basically the price of admission to the GOP race to come down hard against equal rights for LGBT citizens. Even so, Jindal has gone above and beyond, making “religious liberty” the focus of his first campaign ad in Iowa.

The ad features Jindal giving a graduation speech at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, using the familiar, thinly veiled rhetoric that lauds “religious liberty” as a shield that protects anyone wishing to discriminate against same-sex couples from the passage of new laws or the rulings of the country’s highest courts.

“America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America,” Jindal said (a line he recycled in his announcement speech Wednesday night).

5. He doesn’t have a chance.

So with other, better established candidates espousing the same views on social issues, the same strident science denialism, and the same meritless bombast on the evil of Obamacare, what does Jindal have going for him? Nothing really.

According to an analysis in FiveThirtyEight, Jindal missed his shot when he didn’t enter the race in 2012. Now his polling numbers in his home state are in the gutter, and he’s just another clown in the car.

Illustration: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

5 Lowlights From CPAC 2015 (So Far)

Screenshot: YouTube

Screenshot: YouTube

The 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference still has more than a day to go — but it’s off to a tremendously weird start.

While the conference has featured plenty of valuable speeches and events for right-wing activists, it has also been filled with the type of odd moments and outbursts that have come to characterize right-wing gatherings.

Here are five of the lowlights:

Sean Hannity’s Creepy Joke
Fox News host Sean Hannity pumped up the crowd with his Friday morning speech about how liberals are stupid — his words, not mine — but one of the jokes that he told to the “young, good-looking crowd” fell completely flat.

“I can look out in the crowd, I kinda have Fox X-ray vision, and I can see that some of you women, you don’t even know it yet, but you’re pregnant,” Hannity said. “It’s not your fault. It’s not his fault.”

It was weird — and foreshadowed some even weirder sex talk later in the day.

Scott Walker’s ISIS Plan
During his speech on Thursday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker explained how he would defeat ISIS: By crushing them like they’re kindergarten teachers.

“I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threats from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil,” Walker explained. “We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Surprisingly, this was not the first time that Walker compared peaceful protesters to ultraviolent terrorists.

Meanwhile, in the convention hall, Walker’s tough talk had the crowd chanting, “Run, Scott, run!”

Donald Trump’s Birther Obsession
Reality TV star Donald Trump is still pretending that he may run for president — but his CPAC speech provided a handy reminder of how well that would go for him.

Trump’s address was well designed for an audience that has always mistrusted President Obama’s soaring rhetoric (“Common Core is bad. Bad! Second Amendment is good!” Trump declared at one point), but as usual, the Donald couldn’t resist a good birther crack.

That’s right: According to Trump, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Donald Trump are all birthers. Trump is just better at it.

Rick Santorum’s Awful Joke
Trump wasn’t the only CPAC speaker to try out a birther line. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum tried to bring up the conspiracy with a touch of humor.

“In fact the president’s popularity is so bad around the world today that I heard this report from a source that the Kenyan government is actually developing proof that Barack Obama was actually born in America,” Santorum said.

About three people laughed.



Phil Robertson’s Strange Speech
No CPAC speech so far has been stranger than the stem-winder uncorked by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who was awarded the conference’s “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award.”

Robertson’s half-hour speech began as a sermon in defense of religious liberty — and then skipped the rails when he began ranting about sexually transmitted diseases.

“110 million Americans now have a sexually transmitted illness,” Robertson warned. “I don’t want you, America, to get sick. I don’t want you to become ill. I don’t want you to come down with a debilitating disease! I don’t want you to die early! You’re disease-free and she’s disease-free, you marry, you keep your sex right there. You won’t get sick from a sexually transmitted disease.”

Predictably, Robertson thinks that America’s STD problem is liberals’ fault.

“It’s the revenge of the hippies!” he raged. “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll have come back to haunt us.”

Robertson’s speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention should be a blast.

Vance McAllister Considers Comeback After Consulting God, Constituents

In another display of excellent decision making, Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) — otherwise known as the Kissing Congressman — is considering reversing course and pursuing re-election in the fall. The disgraced congressman, who made headlines earlier this year when a video showing the married father of five locked in a passionate embrace with a staffer was leaked, has apparently made adequate apologies to his wife and to God, and has received the green light for another campaign.

Polling also played a role in McAllister’s change of heart; private surveys released earlier this week actually show McAllister as the frontrunner in Louisiana’s 5th congressional district. Conducted by the Glascock Group, the latest poll shows McAllister with a slight 26.1 to 25.6 percent edge over state senator Neil Riser, a former opponent. Riser has since decided against a campaign, however, leaving McAllister as the only candidate with considerable public support.

Then again, Zach Dasher — a member of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family — recently announced plans to run for McAllister’s seat, so maybe there will be some stiff competition after all. Dasher, the nephew of Phil Robertson — the “Duck Commander” of the family, who is famously close with McAllister — is a 36-year-old father of four with no political experience, but plenty of reality TV support. In a statement, Dasher emphasized his religious-right bona fides, saying, “Man is made in the image of the Almighty God. If we are afraid to say that, then we don’t have a case for liberty.” He went on to proclaim his position as “a strong supporter of the Second Amendment [who] favors adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and a strong U.S. military.” 

Glascock’s poll also listed McAllister as both a Republican and a Democrat, following rumors of an affiliation switch, but McAllister reaffirmed his dedication to the GOP in a statement earlier this week. “I believe in pro-life, I believe in a strong military, in a smaller government, I believe in a free enterprise system,” he assured constituents. “Those are all core values of the Republican Party … and I’ll always be a Republican.” Apparently, one of the core values of the Republican party is not fidelity.

Of course, McAllister has never completely ruled out a potential re-bid for Congress. “If there’s a possibility that the people want me to do another political office, again,” he said in May, “maybe I’ll do it.

Now, it would appear that the people have spoken.

McAllister may be taking his cues from another famously scandal-ridden Louisiana politician. In 2007, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) was revealed as a client of “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Vitter admitted to his dalliance with prostitutes, and like McAllister, apologized to his wife and to God, asking his constituency for forgiveness. 

Though the scandal was expected to sound the death knell for Vitter’s political career, the senator not only managed to escape with his career intact, but also went on to win a landslide re-election in 2010. Vitter, one of the few prominent politicians to support McAllister during his scandal, is now the frontrunner in Louisiana’s 2015 gubernatorial race.

While Vitter is a prime example of a scandal success story, his situation is the exception, not the norm. According to a Washington Post analysis of 38 political sex scandals over the past four decades, only 39 percent of House and Senate members involved in such a sticky situation won re-election. The rest lost, resigned, or chose not to run again. Even more troubling for McAllister, the rate of re-election for scandal-ridden members of Congress has plummeted since Bill Clinton’s impeachment; just 20 percent have held on to their seats after a scandal since 2000.

Chart via Washington Post

Chart via Washington Post

The odds are against McAllister, but that won’t stop him now.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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5 Republican Leadership Conference Speakers Who Should Embarrass Republican Leaders

Donald Trump

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Bachmann, Cruz, Robertson, Trump, West… the Republican Leadership Conference is getting the band back together!

For the low, low price of $189.00, right-wingers of all stripes can enjoy three full days of presentations by conservative firebrands at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this weekend. And the lineup does not disappoint.

In a list that reads like a “who’s who” of Tea Party Republicans, the bill at this year’s conference shows just how sharp a right turn the Republican Party has taken in recent years. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is set to kick things off Thursday evening, followed by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and rising Tea Party star Ben Sasse (R-NE).

And that’s just the opening-day appetizer.

As an organizer of the event described it in 2011, the RLC is “designed to showcase the top Republican leaders and ideas in the country — to talk about limited government, fiscal responsibility and rebuilding the American economy.” Apparently, the Republican Party is now being led by reality stars and Michele Bachmann.

Here’s a look at five speakers who will get a shot at remaking the Republican Party in their own intellectual image this weekend:

Phil Robertson

Duck Dynasty

AFP Photo/Dimitrios Kambouris

Undeterred by the scandal surrounding his homophobic and racist comments, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has seized on his persona as a straight-talking, evangelical Southerner who speaks to the heart of the American conservative. On Thursday, he’ll have the opportunity to speak to his supporters face to face at the conference.

One can only hope Robertson’s address will turn to his thoughts on homosexuality, which he previously spoke about in a widely read interview with GQ. In that piece, Robertson told Drew Magary:

It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus, that’s just me.

I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” he explained, when asked about homosexuality and sin. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Donald Trump

To kick the fiery rhetoric meter up to 11, the conference will welcome the country’s most famous birther to address the crowd on Friday. If this year’s CPAC event in Washington, D.C. was any indicator of what to expect from The Donald, he’s not going to be timid.

At CPAC, Trump offered this theory about immigration reform: “Immigration, we’re either a country or we’re not, we either have borders or we don’t; you have a border, you have a country and if you don’t have a border, what are we, just a nothing? A nothing.”

Allen West

Allen West 427x321

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

At this point, it should not be a surprise that former congressman Allen West fits right in with the Republican “leadership.”

In recent weeks, West has been up to his old tricks as a right-wing blowhard. Last week, he questioned the patriotism of wounded veteran and current U.S. congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed Duckworth to the new Benghazi select committee.

“I just don’t know where her loyalties lie,” West said of Duckworth. “You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing. And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party.”

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Likely preparing for another presidential run, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is sure to raise a few eyebrows if he speaks about what separates him from other potential GOP candidates.

In the 2012 presidential race, Santorum distanced himself from the average GOPer, saying about birth control: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.”

“Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay,” he piled on. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Michele Bachmann

Finally, the RLC will welcome Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Bachmann, who plans to retire at the end of her current term, will nonetheless continue to guide the party down her own ideological path, it seems. (She is speaking at the RLC!)

That path includes conspiracy theories. Plenty of them.

There was the time she suggested that Hillary Clinton paid off ex-CIA acting director Michael Morell — because his Benghazi testimony did not match Bachmann’s theories about the attacks. Or when she argued that President Obama was actively supporting al Qaeda, which she used as evidence to prove the world is coming to an end.

Or her speech at CPAC, in which she shared her thoughts about immigration reform. “Wall Street and big business” are “clamoring for amnesty” in order to turn the U.S. into “a country of dependency and the welfare state,” Bachmann said.

So, with that, welcome to the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference. And welcome to the future of the Republican Party.