Bobby Jindal, the face of the new GOP, demonstrates how isolated the party has become

One of the rising stars in the Republican Party, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was tipped as a possible running mate of John McCain and is now seen as one of the main players in the party’s bid to rebuild for a congressional comeback in the mid-terms and to mount a challenge to President Obama in 2012.

On the face of it he’s a good candidate: Jindal is an able politician with a good record, who as governor in 2008 oversaw, with Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans, the huge evacuation and preparations that saved hundreds of lives during the landfall of Hurricane Gustav.

But underneath it all, Jindal is still in hock to the religious right.  He has opposed embryonic stem cell research, abortion, gay marriage, refused federal aid in hate crimes investigations, and promoted the teaching of creationism.  During his time as a student he attended an “exorcism”, a procedure in which a young woman was detained and assaulted by people professing religious motives.  Such characteristics, as Sarah Palin found to her cost, are only attractive to the Republicans’  base of religious extremists.  To everybody else, they raise serious questions about a politician’s fitness for office.

More recently, Jindal has made some more serious faux-pas, announcing that Louisiana would reject state unemployment relief provided by the federal stimulus package.  Thus in a state already hit hard by natural disaster, the most vulnerable families are placed needlessly in hardship by the stupidity of their own governor.  Governor Jindal was also chosen to make the official Republican response to Obama’s stimulus proposals.  He was severely criticised for his poorly chosen words, particularly in a clumsy aside, so mind-bogglingly stupid that it might have come from Senator McCain, about volcano monitoring.

This week Obama’s poll ratings improved, largely as a result of a rally among Republican voters. The GOP needs to get its act together.  Revisiting the follies of the old Republican party, in new clothing, will not work.

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State of ignorance: sex education in Texas schools

RH Reality Check yesterday carried an article on a report about sex education in Texas schools, titled “When In Texas: Just Say I Don’t Know”.  The result of two years work by Dr. David Wiley, a health education professor at Texas State University-San Marcos, and Dr. Kelly Wilson, on behalf of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, the report is a damning indictment of a woefully inadequate system.

The problem seems to be that Texas receives some $18 million in federal funds annually for a program which is known as “abstinence-only education“, but is actually composed of feeding children scare-stories about sex and telling them not to do it. The results of such institutionalized idiocy are easy to predict: young people have sex anyway but are ignorant and unprepared for the consequences. It appears that most of this lunacy is presided over by religious organizations whose record of stupidity on matters related to sex is second to none.

Hopefully this disgusting behavior will be stopped and religious organizations will be chased out of the field of education, to the benefit of the young people of Texas.