Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Listen As I Barely Suppress My Rage

Posted in Barack Obama, media, politics by allisonkilkenny on March 3, 2009

podcastlogoThe excellent Michael Tisdale was kind enough to recently have me on his podcast, The Podcast Where Dignity Lives w/ Tiz.  

Michael runs KemoCity.com, which you should all check out because he’s rad, the website is rad, the podcast is rad, and you should be supporting independent podcasts because you’re smart and hate corporate media — right?

I come in about halfway through the episode (around 20:00,) and I use the word “retard” 5 seconds into my interview. I apologize in advance.

We discuss President Obama’s address to Congress, the mainstream media (who I may or may not call a bunch of liars,) and Bobby Jindal, who I definitely call a liar. I also try to figure out what I’m doing with my life during the interview, which is neat and real.

I hear I’m on the show next week, too, so I’ll be sure to put up that clip when it airs.

The Ecstasy and the Agony

Posted in Barack Obama, corporations, Economy, politics by allisonkilkenny on March 1, 2009

Frank Rich, NYT

BARACK OBAMA must savor the moment while he can. It may never get better than this.#mce_temp_url#

As he stood before Congress on Tuesday night, the new president was armed with new job approval percentages in the 60s. After his speech, the numbers hit the stratosphere: CBS News found that support for his economic plans spiked from 63 percent to 80. Had more viewers hung on for the Republican response from Bobby Jindal, the unintentionally farcical governor of Louisiana, Obama might have aced a near-perfect score.

(Illustration by Barry Blitt)

(Illustration by Barry Blitt)

His address was riveting because it delivered on the vision he had promised a battered populace during the campaign: Government must step in boldly when free markets run amok and when national crises fester unaddressed for decades. For all the echoes of F.D.R.’s first fireside chat, he also evoked his own memorably adult speech on race. Once again he walked us through a lucid step-by-step mini-lecture on “how we arrived” at an impasse that’s threatening America’s ability to move forward.

Obama’s race speech may have saved his campaign. His first Congressional address won’t rescue the economy. But it brings him to a significant early crossroads in his presidency — one full of perils as well as great opportunities. To get the full political picture, look beyond Obama’s popularity in last week’s polls to the two groups of Americans whose approval numbers are in the toilet. There is good news for Obama in these findings, but there’s also a stark indication of the unchecked populist rage that could still overrun his ambitious plans.

The first group in national disfavor is the G.O.P. In the latest New York Times/CBS News survey, 63 percent said that Congressional Republicans opposed the stimulus package mostly for political reasons; only 17 percent felt that the Republicans should stick with their own policies rather than cooperate with Obama and the Democrats. The second group of national villains is corporate recipients of taxpayer money: only 39 percent approve of a further bailout for banks, and only 22 percent want more money going to Detroit’s Big Three.

The good news for Obama is that he needn’t worry about the Republicans. They’re committing suicide. The morning-after conservative rationalization of Jindal’s flop was that his adenoidal delivery, not his words, did him in, and that media coaching could banish his resemblance to Kenneth the Page of “30 Rock.” That’s denial. For Jindal no less than Obama, form followed content.

The Louisiana governor, alternately smug and jejune, articulated precisely the ideology — those G.O.P. “policies” in the Times/CBS poll — that Americans reject: the conviction that government is useless and has no role in an emergency. Given that the most mismanaged federal operation in modern memory was inflicted by a Republican White House on Jindal’s own state, you’d think he’d change the subject altogether.

But like all zealots, Jindal is oblivious to how nonzealots see him. Pleading “principle,” he has actually turned down some $100 million in stimulus money for Louisiana. And, as he proudly explained on “Meet the Press” last weekend, he can’t wait to be judged on “the results” of his heroic frugality.

Good luck with that. He’s rejecting aid for a state that ranks fourth in children living below the poverty line and 46th in high school graduation rates, while struggling with a projected budget shortfall of more than $1.7 billion.

If you’re baffled why the G.O.P. would thrust Jindal into prime time, the answer is desperation. Eager to update its image without changing its antediluvian (or antebellum) substance, the party is trying to lock down its white country-club blowhards. The only other nonwhite face on tap, alas, is the unguided missile Michael Steele, its new national chairman. Steele has of late been busy promising to revive his party with an “off-the-hook” hip-hop P.R. campaign, presumably with the perennially tan House leader John Boehner leading the posse.

At least the G.O.P.’s newfound racial sensitivity saved it from choosing the white Southern governor often bracketed with Jindal as a rising “star,” Mark Sanford of South Carolina. That would have been an even bigger fiasco, for Sanford is from the same state as Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the junior high school student who sat in Michelle Obama’s box on Tuesday night and whose impassioned letter to Congresswas quoted by the president.

In her plea, the teenager begged for aid to her substandard rural school. Without basic tools, she poignantly wrote, she and her peers cannot “prove to the world” that they too might succeed at becoming “lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president.”

Her school is in Dillon, where the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, grew up. The school’s auditorium, now condemned, was the site of Bernanke’s high school graduation. Dillon is now so destitute that Bernanke’s middle-class childhood home was just auctioned off in a foreclosure sale. Unemployment is at 14.2 percent.

Governor Sanford’s response to such hardship — his state over all has the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate — was not merely a threat to turn down federal funds but a trip to Washington to actively lobby against the stimulus bill. He accused the three Republican senators who voted for it of sabotaging “the future of our civilization.” In his mind the future of civilization has little to do with the future of students like Ty’Sheoma Bethea.

What such G.O.P. “stars” as Sanford and Jindal have in common, besides their callous neo-Hoover ideology, are their phony efforts to portray themselves as populist heroes. Their role model is W., that brush-clearing “rancher” by way of Andover, Yale and Harvard. Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father’s inability to pay for an obstetrician, you’d never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford’s first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his “family’s farm” taught him “about hard work and responsibility.” That “farm,” the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.

G.O.P. pseudopopulism ran riot last week as right-wing troops rallied around their latest Joe the Plumber: Rick Santelli, the ranting CNBC foe of Obama’s mortgage rescue program. Ann Coulter proposed a Santelli run for president, and Twitterers organized national “tea parties” to fuel his taxpayers’ revolt. Even with a boost from NBC, whose networks seized a promotional opening by incessantly recycling the Santelli “controversy,” the bonfire fizzled. It did so because — as last week’s polls also revealed — the mortgage bailout, with a 60-plus percent approval rating, is nearly as popular as Obama.

The Santelli revolution’s flameout was just another confirmation that hard-core Republican radicals are now the G.O.P.’s problem, not the president’s. Rahm Emanuel has it right when he says the administration must try bipartisanship, but it doesn’t have to succeed. Voters give Obama credit for trying, and he can even claim success with many Republican governors, from Schwarzenegger to Crist. Now he can move on and let his childish adversaries fight among themselves, with Rush Limbaugh as the arbitrating babysitter. (Last week he gave Jindal a thumb’s up.)

But that good news for Obama is countered by the bad. The genuine populist rage in the country — aimed at greedy C.E.O.’s, not at the busted homeowners mocked as “losers” by Santelli — cannot be ignored or finessed. Though Obama was crystal clear on Tuesday that there can be “no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis,” it was telling that he got fuzzy when he came to what he might do about it. He waited two days to drop that shoe in his budget: a potential $750 billion in banking “asset purchases” on top of the previous $700 billion bailout.

Therein lies the Catch-22 that could bring the recovery down. As Obama said, we can’t move forward without a functioning financial system. But voters of both parties will demand that their congressmen reject another costly rescue of it. Americans still don’t understand why many Wall Street malefactors remain in place or why the administration’s dithering banking policy lacks the boldness and clarity of Obama’s rhetoric.

Nor can a further bailout be easily sold by a Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, whose lax oversight of the guilty banks while at the New York Fed remains a subject of journalistic inquiry. In a damning 5,600-word article from Bloomberg last week, he is portrayed as a second banana, a timid protégé of the old boys who got us into this disaster. Everyone testifies to Geithner’s brilliance, but Jindal, a Rhodes scholar, was similarly hyped. Like the Louisiana governor, the Treasury secretary is a weak public speaker not because he lacks brains or vocal training but because his message doesn’t fly.

Among the highlights of Obama’s triumphant speech was his own populist jeremiad about the “fancy drapes” and private jets of Wall Street. But talk is not action. Two days later, as ABC News reported, the president of taxpayer- supported Bank of America took a private jet to New York to stonewall Andrew Cuomo’s inquest into $3.6 billion of suspect bonuses.

Handing more public money to the reckless banks that invented this culture and stuck us with the wreckage is the new third rail of American politics. If Obama doesn’t forge a better plan, neither his immense popularity nor even political foes as laughable as Jindal can insulate him from getting burned.

VIDEO: Bobby Jindal: Chronically Stupid

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on February 28, 2009

Update (May 6, 2009): Amity Shlaes linked to this article in her most recent Bloomberg.org article. I respond to her accusations that bloggers are afraid to debate here.bobby-jindal-blog.jpg

Note from Allison: The stupidity just keeps rolling in, and I’m loving it.

Talking Points Memo

Well, it just gets better and better. As you know, we’ve been tracking the debunking of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tall tale about being right there on the front lines fighting government bureaucracy with Sherif Harry Lee while the boat rescues were still taking place in the aftermath of Katrina. Well, today, the New Orleans Times-Picayune has a gentle but pretty clear run-down of what happened.

In so many words, in Jindal’s speech Tuesday night he said he was there and part of the story as it unfolded — Sherif Lee was trying to mobilize civilian boats for roof-rescues and government bureaucrats wouldn’t let them head out without proof of insurance and registration. Lee put his foot down and dared the bureaucrats to come arrest him. And when Jindal put his foot down too Lee said they should come arrest Jindal too.

Only, Jindal’s staff now admits that that actually didn’t happen. Instead of being there and being part of the story, Jindal’s reps now admit that days later Jindal overheard Lee telling the story to someone else. And Jindal retold the story he’d been told while inserting himself into it as part of the story.

It’s not really any different from a lot of tall tales we’ve probably all heard at one point or another when someone takes a fun story they’ve heard and retells it making themselves one of the central characters.

Now, Jindal’s reps are still in high dudgeon over this, saying Jindal was totally on the level, claiming some mix of it not making any difference whether Jindal made up his role in the story or not or that what Jindal actually said was never meant to imply that he was part of the story rather than someone who heard about it later. But that’s pretty preposterous if you look at what Jindal actually said.

But now there’s this. TPM Reader EA just flagged this youtube video that appears to show Jindal telling the same story last year, only with even more embroidery about his own part in the drama ..

Watch the video here

(more…)

VIDEO: Bobby Jindal, Liar

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on February 27, 2009

Talking Points Memo

bobbyjindalLooks like the game is up.

Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night — about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn’t actually, you know, true.

In the last few days, first Daily Kos, and thenTPMmuckraker, raised serious questions about the story, based in part on the fact that no news reports we could find place Jindal in the affected area at the specific time at issue.

Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee “during Katrina,” and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn’t have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, “that’s ridiculous,” prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.

But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone “days later.” The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.

This is no minor difference. Jindal’s presence in Lee’s office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story’s intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn’t there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.

There’s a larger point here, though. The central anecdote of the GOP’s prime-time response to President Obama’s speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the premise.

Late UpdatePolitico‘s Ben Smith has updated his post with the following:

UPDATE: I’d initially misunderstood Sellers to be saying Jindal and Lee didn’t meet while rescue efforts were still underway. In fact, she said, the conversation took place in the aftermath of the storm, but after the boat incident.”Bobby and I walked into harry lee’s office – he’s yelling on the phone about a decision he’s already made,” Jindal chief of staff Timmy Teepell recalled. “He’s saying this is a decision I made, and if you don’t like it you can come and arrest me.”

Teepell said the exchange took place in the week following Katrina, when Jindal visited Jefferson Parish multiple times.

“He was boots on the ground all the time,” he said.

This doesn’t seem to bear on the key question. As we said, the key elements of Jindal’s story were that he was in Lee’s office during the crisis itself, and that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. Neither of those things was true, it now seems.

Late Video Update: Here’s the relevant section of Jindal’s speech.

(more…)

Bobby Jindal’s Weird Past

Posted in politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on February 26, 2009

Max Blumenthal 

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Did you know about the exorcism? The name that came from The Brady Bunch? Those and other surprising facts about one of America’s fastest rising young politicians.

Last night, on the evening of President Barack Obama’s first major speech, the Republicans put forward Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the face of the opposition, tapping him to deliver their response. As a 37-year-old Indian-American Rhodes Scholar, the first-term governor presented a deliberate visual counterpoint to Obama. His folksy speech last evening is meeting with mixed reviews. But with GOP politicians already jockeying for the 2012 primary, Jindal is emerging as a top contender.

“From the insiders I’m talking to, Jindal’s in the top three, right next to [Sarah] Palin and [Mitt] Romney. He’s the rock star of the Republican Party right now,” says Jeff Crouere, the former executive director of the Louisiana GOP and host of daily political talk show Ringside Politics.

“Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe…”

But as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.

Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal laterwrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”

Jindal’s Hindu parents were non-plussed. “My parents have never truly accepted my conversion and still see my faith as a negative that overshadows my accomplishments,” he wrote. “They were hurt and felt I was rejecting them by accepting Christianity… I long for the day when my parents understand, respect and possibly accept my faith. For now I am satisfied that they accept me.” (In a subsequent interview with Little India, Jindal claimed his parents were “very supportive. They felt like it was important that I was embracing God.”)

During his years at Brown University, Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”

While under the supposed control of satanic demons, Susan lashed out at Jindal and his friends. “Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.”

Toward the conclusion of what Jindal called “the tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange and evil force,” Jindal and his friends forced Susan to read passages from the Bible. “She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Over and over, she repeated “Jesus is L..L..LL,” often ending in profanities,” Jindal wrote. Finally, evil gave way to the light. “Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed ‘Jesus is Lord.’ With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, ‘Has something happened?’”

During the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, the campaign of Jindal’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Kathleen Blanco, attempted to inject his religious views into the race by running an ad promoting a website called JindalonReligion.com, which featured his essay about participating in an exorcism. However, Jindal immediately fired back, denouncing the commercial as an assault on his faith and on the deeply religious culture of Louisiana. “Jindal turned that one around and tried to play the victim before [the Democrats] could get any traction,” Crouere told me. “Then the Blanco campaign just backed off”

Though Crouere is a Republican, he harbors strong doubts about Jindal. To him, the young governor is still too green for the national stage. “I just find it odd that the GOP seems to have as its savior a guy who has been in Congress for three years and governor for one year,” Crouere said. “The same criticism that was leveled against Obama for being untested could easily be leveled against Jindal.”

Because Obama entered the presidential campaign without an extensive political track record, the video histrionics of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright, remained unexposed until the middle of the Democratic primary. Could similar exposure of Jindal’s tales of “spiritual warfare” complicate his ascendancy as well? “The Louisiana Democrats don’t really have their act together, and weren’t able to get the word out,” Crouere remarked. “I still don’t think a lot of people are aware of the nature of Jindal’s religious background.”

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is due this spring. Contact him at maxblumenthal3000@yahoo.com.

Bobby Jindal Stocks “Marriage Commission” With Anti-Gay Crusaders

Posted in civil rights by allisonkilkenny on January 6, 2009

Bilerico Project

bobby-jindalLouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is often cited as a rising star in Republican politics. One of the party’s most visible state executives, he has worked hard to endear himself to the GOP faithful, and has been widely mentioned as a possible White House candidate in 2012. And, true to form for some of those who seek to carry the Republican mantle on a national ticket, he is already beginning to pander to the most extreme factions of his party and his state.

In December, Jindal announced the formation of the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family, billed as “an entity within the executive department that serves to propose programs, policies, incentives and curriculum regarding marriage and family by collecting and analyzing data on the social and personal effects of marriage and child-bearing within the state of Louisiana.”

In other words, Jindal’s Commission is going to be looking at – and making recommendations regarding – marriage and family issues within the state. And a quick look at some of those appointed by the Governor to serve on the panel leaves no doubt that, in the end, the line-up will do nothing more than promote an extreme, anti-gay agenda that sets back, blocks and battles any attempts to recognize or respect Louisiana’s same-sex families.

Among those who have been appointed by Jindal to serve on the Commission are Tony Perkins (who hails from Baton Rouge), the president of the anti-gay advocacy group known as The Family Research Council . . . Gene Mills, executive director of the far-right Louisiana Family Forum . . . Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund . . . and numerous members of the clergy. All, Jindal has said, “have significant academic and/or professional expertise” on issues of marriage and family.

And each has a long history of spouting anti-gay rhetoric, too.

Perkins and Mills, especially, are vociferous anti-gay advocates, and have been the driving forces behind attempts to ban legal protections for same-sex couples. And on his website, Mills promotes publications with titles such asMorally Straight, Protect Your Children, and Three Myths About Homosexuality. All are inflammatory, inaccurate and outrageously biased papers that demean and degrade lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. (The Family Research Council’s list of similarly harmful publications is too long to list in a single blog entry.)

Every family in Louisiana should be alarmed by Jindal’s “Commission.”

Following the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and a successful bid to strip same-sex couples of adoption rights in Arkansas, there is little question that Perkins and Mills, especially, will push for similarly anti-gay measures in Louisiana. By giving the movement to deny lesbian and gay couples adoption rights a facade of credibility via a gubernatorial panel, the two will no doubt use the resulting recommendations to spread inaccurate, unproven and harmful rhetoric about the issue . . . and then push their anti-gay agenda in the legislature, and at the ballot box.

Governor Jindal is setting Louisiana up to be one of the next battlegrounds in the fight for family equality.

Following his decision to roll-back an LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination order implemented by his predecessor, the Governor is now taking another, unmistakable step to the right in an attempt to shore up a base he believes he may need down the road.

The truth is that Perkins and Mills are no experts on our families. Their appointment to the Louisiana Commission is a thinly veiled attempt to tip the panel to the far right and begin the process of eroding civil liberties in the Bayou State.

On November 5th, many LGBT families rightly feared that he vote tallies on election day would lead to further attacks on our rights. Jindal has wasted no time in proving that prophecy to be true. By shoring up extremists’ support for a potential White House bid, he has put the safety, and rights, of Louisiana families in jeopardy.

Tell Governor Jindal to put families first and remove anti-gay bigots from his Commission. Call the Governor’s Mansion at (225) 342-0991.

“Reform,” Bobby Jindal Style

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 17, 2008

James Rucker

Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox


We may be on the brink of inaugurating a Black president, but the miscarriage of justice unfolding in Louisiana with the case of the Angola 3 tells a different story about race, power and accountability in our criminal justice system. At the top of the food chain is self-styled reformer and the GOP’s supposed answer to Obama,Governor Bobby Jindal.

Albert Woodfox has spent the last 36 years in solitary confinement — 23 out of 24 hours each day in a 6×9 cell — for the murder of a white prison guard, a crime he didn’t commit.

Despite increasing evidence of Woodfox’s innocence, the State of Louisiana is digging in its heels. They’ve pushed back against a federal judge who has overturned Woodfox’s conviction and ordered his release. The reason is becoming crystal clear: It’s not because they believe that Woodfox or the other two people referred to as the “Angola 3” murdered anyone. It’s because the three men were organizing within the prison for better conditions, an end to sexual abuses, and the fair treatment of inmates. Apparently, in Louisiana, seeking justice means you deserve to be framed for murder and locked away forever.

James “Buddy” Caldwell, the state’s Attorney General, has led the state’s fight and Burl Cain, the warden at Angola, is acting as Caldwell’s henchman. Ultimately, it’s Governor Bobby Jindal who is giving them cover despite being presented with all the facts and being asked repeatedly to intervene. So much for the promise of Jindal and his self-description as a “reformer.”

A look at recent proceedings shows that the desire to keep Woodfox behind bars has nothing to do with whether Woodfox is guilty or innocent. Cain has made it clear that he doesn’t care. Cain wants him behind bars for no reason other than the fact that Woodfox has been a force for reform from within the prison walls. Says Cain, “The thing about him is that he wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant.” Cain has said that even if he knew Woodfox hadn’t killed the guard, he would still want the man isolated. “I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize the young new inmates,” Cain said. It’s not that Woodfox is dangerous. It’s that he is unrepentant in organizing inmates to achieve a basic sense of decency and livable conditions.

Several months before Judge James Brady overturned Woodfox’s conviction, more than 25,000 ColorOfChange.org members appealed to Governor Jindal to get involved. The head of the state legislature’s judiciary committee, Cedric Richmond, delivered the petitions to Governor Jindal and requested he intervene. Around the same time, Congressman John Conyers, chair of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, met with both Woodfox and Herman Wallace (one of the other Angola 3) and has publicly called for intervention. Jindal’s response has been utter silence.

In recent weeks, as pressure has mounted for Woodfox to be released, Caldwell, the Attorney General, has gone deeper in attempting to demonize Woodfox. He has taken to publicly referring to Woodfox as a “serial rapist,” a completely unsubstantiated claim. Once bail was ordered and it was expected that Woodfox would be released, Caldwell’s office clandestinely contacted members of the gated community where Woodfox was supposed to live, telling them that a murderer would soon be living among them. Woodfox had been planning to live with his niece. She and her family have now been subject to harassment, and the option of Woodfox living with her has been made virtually impossible.

We’ve seen unequal and unfair justice before in Louisiana. We can just look back at the case of the Jena 6 a year and a half ago. In that case, six black boys were charged with second-degree murder at the hands of a District Attorney who threatened that he could “take away [the students’] lives with a stroke of [his] pen.” The threat followed black students protesting the hanging of a noose above a “white tree” at their school, with the charges coming after a racially-charged fight characterized by some as a school-yard fight, where the victim was white.

In the case of the Jena 6, there was an outcry from across the country, culminating in a march of more than 20,000 in the town of Jena. While leaders across the country decried the injustice in Jena, surprisingly, Jindal called those protesting “outside agitators” — a phrase that echoed racist Southerners’ response to Civil Rights-era organizing efforts.

While Governor Jindal claims to be a reformer and has his eyes on the White House, his silence in the Angola 3 case and his language around the case of the Jena 6 tell a different story. His idea of “reform” seems more like an empty slogan and catchy rhetoric than something he’s willing to put into practice. Perhaps it’s time to confront Jindal and ask him what his idea of reform looks like.