Thursday, March 30, 2006

Shame on Alfa! Shame on Alabama!

Constitutional Reform is dead for this session. Kudos to Auburn's Ted Little for the effort! And shame on Alfa yet of course they have little if any shame left to shoulder. Read this
The Alabama Farmers Federation, commonly called Alfa, has been among the strongest opponents of wholesale constitutional reform. Freddie Patterson, the group's chief lobbyist, smiled Wednesday when asked about Little's failed effort.
"We just believe that a constitutional convention in 2006 or 2007 would be as dominated by special interests as the convention of 1901 was -- just different people for different reasons," he said.

Sooner or later! Alfa/Farm Bureau has used the branchheads for the benefit of the Big Mules for long enough. Peace ... or War!


Bama's # 3 in loving our Bu$hCo!

With a tip of the tam to Kos, here's a map image showing the current levels of support for Bu$hCo. Here's a survey of state support with the numbers. Notice how Dubyah has reversed his numbers in only a few states. Right now only Utah and Wyoming has him polling higher. Peace ... or War!


The AJC's Jay Bookman Listens to Our Elders!

I've been enjoying Jay Bookman's work in the AJC for some time. Today's "The dismay of our elders sums up U.S." is especially solid! Looking at the future of the nation, working off some e-mails he gets from older Americans, he gives us in part,

The real problem runs deeper, much deeper, and at its core, I think, lies the fact that out of fear and laziness we insist on trying to address new problems with old ideologies, rhetoric and mind-sets. ...

Our public discourse — which ought to be the source of renewal and energy in a democracy — has been stripped of meaning, with rudeness now mistaken for eloquence and anger substituting for insight. ...

The words vary from author to author, but the sentiment does not: "This is not the country I wanted to leave my grandchildren . . . Is this what we sacrificed so much for all those years? . . . I really don't understand how it has come to this. . . . We took for granted that in America it would always be better for the next generation, but I can't see that's the case anymore. . . . Where did we go wrong?"

These people are concerned not for themselves, but for what they may soon leave behind. And that concern for the future is all the more remarkable because it is so rare among those of us who are their children and grandchildren.

Unlike our elders, we refuse to tax ourselves to pay for our wars, our roads, our government. We elevate leaders who promise us tax cuts and free services and cheap oil and the strongest military in the world, and we shun any who dare to suggest that sacrifice might be necessary for such things.

Of course, as a nation we have faced worse. The generation that endured the Great Depression only to be hit with World War II had to confront challenges that make our own pale in significance.

Good piece from this good writer. I'd add that I also feel so little faith in our nation's ability to solve problems that face us. Truly leadership will come only when we have an informed and engaged public sending the right folks to DC or Montgomery of Atlanta or ... Jay Bookman beats on the GOP often, appropriately so I'd add, yet today he is an equal opportunity editorialist. Both parties are seemingly stuck in old ideas and rhetoric, twisted around modern circumstances to which they really don't fit.

Given my education background I often turn to our failures here. Yet so much of those limitations are understood by my interactions with parents, colleagues, friends, family, ... when I realize the basic level of ignorance so very common in our society. I am truly amazed at the level of isolation and misunderstanding about government, policy, learning, and the like. It seems that the level of basic knowledge of the world is going backwards rather than forward for the masses.

The Romans used "bread and games" to satiate their crumbling society. Today the U.S. has "bread" in the form of cheap consumer goods and easy credit. It's "games" via American Idol and 24 hours sports and ... American anti-intellectualism has long run deep yet, as one of my Dad's helpers around the farm used to say, "It's getting worser and worser!".

I'll leave you with some quotes that I've tried to share with my students through the years.
“The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves.” - Dresden James

"Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles." - Abbie Hoffman

"The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity, since the tastes, knowledge, and principles of the majority form the tribunal of appeal." - James Fenimore Cooper

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment." - Robert Hutchins
Peace ... or War!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

So We Need More Killings in Alabama?

Having read the statutes on self-defense, and handled several cases, even winning a few, Alabama already has solid laws that allow a person to protect themselves and/or their loved ones ... in public places or otherwise. Here's the general law as it stands today!

Code of Alabama, 1975, as amended, Section 13A-3-23
Use of force in defense of a person.

(a) A person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose. A person may use deadly physical force if the actor reasonably believes that such other person is:
(1) Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force;
(2) Using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling; or
(3) Committing or about to commit a kidnapping in any degree, assault in the first or second degree, burglary in any degree, robbery in any degree, forcible rape or forcible sodomy.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if it reasonably appears or he knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety:
(1) By retreating, except that the actor is not required to retreat:
a. If he is in his dwelling or at his place of work and was not the original aggressor; or
b. If he is a peace officer or a private person lawfully assisting a peace officer at his direction.

So for the Governor to now be in a position to sign off on this disaster created by the NRA really bothers me. We have plenty enough killing! I agree that at times "some folks just need killing" as Tom Radney argues like no other counselor I've seen while still couching it as "self-defense". To remove the duty to retreat in public when it can be done safely (which of course usually works better for bystanders!) seems hardly wise. We teach our kids to avoid trouble and learn that at times avoiding a fight is the best idea. I certainly don't want to walk my child out of the Big Box Mart into a gun battle that could have been avoided ... or at least saved for a more private setting.

I've handled a murder case where a person shot a bystander. Most folks can't shoot worth a damn under pressure and I think the last thing we need is some macho half-wit slinging lead around me or my family. Watch and hide on this one if it becomes law ... as somebody innocent is going to die because Goat Hill politicos were pandering to the gun vote!

Human life is especially precious as a fetus in Alabama! Peace ... or War!


Roy Moore Is Also Crazy as a Run Over Dog!

Like his fellow traveler on the fringes of lunacy Ann Coulter, Roy Moore is absolutely "crazy as a run over dog". That there are folks wanting to run for the Big Bench in Alabama as Mini-Moores really scares me. My friend Ben Hand is running and now there's Hank Fowler.

The Birmingham News gives us "The Mark of the Beast" (I wish I'd thought of that!) today in response to Roy's wing nut conpiracy theories. Get him Ron Sparks!

Does it mention this in Revelations Reverend? A theocrat wearing a tin foil crown? Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jim Wooten is RIght and Still Wrong

Jim Wooten, one of my favorite targets, does at times tell it like it is. Today, in his common calls for taking public funds and putting them to work in "the market", Mr. Wooten writes "Schools need more than just a tweak". Wooten does at least partly speak the truth when he writes

I'm past blaming teachers or even administrators. Some are good and some are lousy, the same as editorialists and used-car salesmen.

Schools have become the catch-basins for everything broken in society. When children are brought into the world without the slightest thought of providing them a two-parent home, every void in the child's life, from discipline to socialization, passes to the classroom.

Combined with the requirements do-gooders heap on schools — mainstreaming the disabled and children who don't speak English, along with the usual assortment of gifted, average and slow-learners into one classroom — and it's a wonder anybody learns anything.

Add to it increasingly litigious parents and children with video-game attention spans and it's dramatically clear that the system is broken in a way that more money and rejiggered funding formulas can't fix.

That Jim is past blaming teachers and administrators seems hardly to resonate with some of his past writing. And "do goooders" really don't do the harm you suggest. Reduced class sizes, support staff, time to plan, better resources, less poverty, parents that are not working around the clock to keep food on the table, less hassles with goofy parents/kids, ... Indeed many teachers work hard despite the bureaucrats, and I think many of those nasty pencil pushers are at the federal level with your President behind these ideas. No Child Left Behind is an absolute disaster, as is most of the conservatism that has reached into education these last few years. Your above remarks are true Jim yet your solution is failed logic and flawed policy. Peace ... or War!


Would Corporates Use Paleos? You Betcha!

I’ve been thinking a good bit on the immigration issue yet I’m still deciding how I’d solve. I even watched a portion of the hearing on immigration legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. I received a forwarded email with the following writing of Hugh McInnish of Huntsville Alabama that has shown me the nastiness of winger “thinking” on the issue. I think it might help illustrate the level of the far right’s influence here in Alabama, one of reddest of the Red States. My brief efforts to gather background make me wonder just how linked are so many of the participants, both minor and major. This group appears to me as serious ultra-conservatives. Maybe they are paleo-conservatives? However they should be labeled, I’m more than a little uncomfortable at their extensive reach into Alabama. I’ll offer commentary after the material is presented as I obtained it.

The McInnish Newsletter
Commentary on Alabama Politics from a Conservative Viewpoint
America in the Balance
ByHugh McInnish

I am hopeful that the outpouring into the streets of an estimated 500,000 illegal Mexican aliens this past weekend will do the opposite of what the outlaws expect. I hope that millions of legal Americans, native-born and naturalized, will see in these dynamic videos that we have seen just how far the absurdity of our immigration policies have gone. If seeing those Mexican flag-waving hordes doesn’t bring our “leaders” to their senses (ordinary Americans have been in possession of their senses all along.) it will be difficult to hold back the despair.
Below is a fax I have sent to out (sic) friend Senator Jeff Sessions. He is on the pivotal Judiciary Committee and has a good record in respect to illegal immigration. Still, he needs to know that we are behind him.
Below is a fax I fired off to him today. I hope that you will do the same thing. Please fax or call. You can call one of Sessions’ state offices, or call Washington. Go to his web site and you will see all the numbers.
It’s time for patriotic ardor!

March 27, 2006
Senator Jeff Sessions
Washington, DCFAX (202) 224-3149

Dear Jeff,
I am appalled at the images we have seen this weekend of the illegal Mexican hoards marching in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Incredibly they are demanding that the Government excuse criminal behavior. I suspect, and I fervently hope, that everyone will see this outrage for what it is, and that, contrary to the expectation of the organizers of these gangs, it will stiffen the resolve of those arguing for sanity. I pray that this will be our long-needed fire bell in the night.
I thank you for your votes against the illegal lobby, and I ask you to please fight against any bill that has so much as a hint of an amnesty provision in it.
I think it not an exaggeration to say that the fate of the country hangs in the balance. More, much more, is at issue here than wages, employment, the purported need for chicken-pluckers, and even short-term humanitarianism. I say it bluntly: cultures are not equal. The Mexican culture is as apart from our culture as the night is from the day. Any who would argue otherwise would only expose himself as a fool. To allow millions of these miscreants to remain here would move our culture toward theirs, and would ultimately produce the tragedy of bilingualism.
And from there? Language is the great unifier of a nation, and if we have two languages we may expect to dissolve into two nations. Any who might doubt this should count the Mexican flags being waved by the demonstrators as they marched this weekend. I will stop there, but it’s not hard to imagine that the chain reaction would continue. And if our American culture should ever go, certainly Western Civilization will go with it.
Thanks for the work you are doing, and all the best,


I’ve scratched around a bit and here is what I have been able to find out regarding Hugh McInnish. He is involved with and his bio from that site reads as follows:

HUGH MCINNISH WAS BORN IN 1934 in Union Springs, Alabama (pop circa 3,500 in 1930, 1960, and now) and grew up there. He has a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama and a Master's degree in Mathematics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

He has lived in the Huntsville area since 1964, where he worked for the Army in the Star Wars and other defense programs. He retired in 1993.

Hugh is a lifelong and strongly committed conservative. He has twice been a candidate for Congress, coming within 23 votes of winning the Republican nomination on one of those occasions. Together with three colleagues he is now opening this conservative web site, named, with the motto "We publish what others suppress."

For a number of years Hugh wrote a weekly column for the old Huntsville News, and from one of the stories that he pursued came the book which he wrote, An American in Exile. Written under Hugh's pen name of Thomas Franklin, it is the tale of Arthur Rudolph, the former NASA scientist who was stripped of his citizenship and banished from the country for war crimes allegedly committed during the war.

Hugh's wife Martha is a graduate of Judson College, and is a teacher and school counselor. Together they have four children and three grandchildren.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Susy Buchanan gives us some insight into Hugh McInnish, and apparently a goodly section of Alabama, with her Sweet Home Alabama: Frightened right-wingers gather to keep the 'Cradle of the Confederacy' safe from leprosy, pedophiles, Spanish and rampant godlessness. With an apology toward Georgia’s D.A. King, McInnish has written at VDARE. D.A. King is identified with the Nativist Movement and VDARE has been tapped by the SPLC as a “hate group”. Peter Brimelow started the Center for American Unity in 1999 and a portion of that effort created VDARE.

Returning to McInnish, he has served on the Alabama Course of Study Committee for Social Studies where he was thankfully in the minority and somewhat frustrated based on his writings appearing on McInnish would likely be supportive of Russ and Dee Fine, Birmingham talk radio personalities, and their Voice of Alabama efforts. McInnish has a website entitled CurbAEA where he rails against the evils of taxes, The Alabama Education Association and … yet begins presently with his wife ruminating over Thanksgiving. How touching!

Explaining the title of this post, I found it interesting that Gary Palmer of The Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative “think tank” affiliated with The Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is also published on, and is perhaps involved with,
Organization like The Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) have noted the rise of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). People for the American Way and Mother Jones and Source Watch and … have given us insights into ALEC. There’s even an ALEC Watch site! This organization is clearly corporate funded and yet their operative in Alabama works with the paleo-conservatives where he can perhaps inflame that arm of the right. Surely the immigration issue is one where corporate America might think very differently than do the Nativist.
Strange bedfellows! It seems to be more common among real partisans. I generally think most Progressives simply share policy and leave the ideas to be considered. Maybe that is why our ideas so seldom make it into actual legislation these days. I'd still want to avoid the gaming and posturing that has allowed the Right to gain such a hold on our Nation. I can however hope to expose the Right's misguided ideas and often nasty tactics. Peace ... or War!


Monday, March 27, 2006

Letter to Senator Hank Erwin and Representative Nick Williams on Their Rapist Rights Bills

I've emailed the above "servants of the people" of Alabama in regards to their rapist rights legislation. Feel free to do your own. Here's what I've sent Senator Erwin and Representative Williams, copied to John Giles at the Alabama Christian Coalition:

Dear Senator Hank Erwin and Representative Nick Williams,

I noted today that you two servants of God have each introduced a rapist rights bill in the Alabama Legislature. Senator Erwin, as a graduate of Southwestern College and Dallas Theological Seminary, and Representative Williams, as a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center, I suppose you both believe in the inerrancy of God’s word.

Since you consider a woman’s womb as merely a vessel to carry a child to term, I wondered when you stand on the eminent domain legislation that seems to be an issue across the Red States. I guess obtaining ownership of a woman’s uterus is hardly the same as the government taking ownership of real estate. God’s Favorite Theocrat Roy Moore clearly thinks it inappropriate to have the State take private land for public purposes, even when the land is paid for at often above market prices. Perhaps you could suggest fair compensation for women that are required to serve as the state’s property as they carry rapist children to full term?

I also wondered when you’d be introducing legislation requiring the stoning of ornery children (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21) or punishment for those that plant two different crops in the same field or wear blended fibered clothing (Leviticus 19: 19)?

Thanks for your service as God’s messengers and arbiters of our morality here on earth. Until the Rapture, I remain sincerely, Captain Plaid

CC: John Giles, Alabama Christian Coalition

I'm wondering how this fall's state election will fall out given this on the table yet I know the real work is at the national level. Stripsearch Sammy might not be enough yet this next slot on the Supreme Court is critical. Peace ... or War!


An Alabama Rapist Rights Bill?

I posted at Captain Jimi on proposals to bring South Dakota's draconian, and likely unconstitutional, ban on abortion to Alabama. I guess I'll need to get a graphics guru to fix an Alabama version of the above! John Giles is a poster boy for abortion. Peace ... or War!


"Don't Shred Our Constitution" e-mail sent to Senator Sessions on FISA and Censure and ...

I posted over on Captain Plaid regarding an e-mail I sent to Jeff Sessions. I polititely begged him to take a stand for our Constitution and Bill of Rights against the Bu$h administration as to their illegal NSA warrantless domestic wiretapping. Although I've called his office on the issue of censure I also ask him to at least consider allowing the Feingold Resolution to continue. I have also watched a little of Jeff Session's performance today on the Senate Judiciary Committee via C-SPAN. His ideas on immigration are way out of the mainstream it appears. It seems to me his colleagues think he's a lightweight yet perhaps I'm reading my own feelings into what I see. Peace ... or War!


Win-Win with Alabama's Forever Wild Program

The Mobile Register reports new purchases of Southeastern Alabama lands via Alabama's Forever Wild program. The opinion piece points out also that the state also obtained a federal grant, presumably reviewed according to competitive standards, that assisted in one purchase. The Register writes,
A constitutional amendment approved by 82 percent of voters created Forever Wild in 1992. The amendment gives the program 10 percent of the state's royalties from offshore natural gas leases (which yields) about $15 million a year. ... Forever Wild provides funds for the state to conserve Alabama's outdoors for environmental reasons and for public use. Statewide, the program has helped purchase 110,000 acres since 1992. ... With the purchase, ecologically important land is not only conserved, but it also is made available for outdoor recreation by the general public. That's a win-win combination.

Great program! Progressive! Forward thinking! Environmentally sensitive! Is this really Alabama? Peace ... or War!


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Roy Moore - Mad Candidate Alert!

I'd previously posted on Alabama's Mad Cow Scare yet Roy Moore has now waded into the issue with wing nuttiness that would make any John Bircher proud. Kim Chandler of The Birmingham News serves up "Moore says mad cow timing odd" with our little theocrat Roy Moore reported as saying Friday "it was a "strange coincidence" that mad cow disease was found in Alabama just as government officials want to start an animal-identification system." Peace ... or War!


Justice for Jimmy Lee Jackson!

Kenneth Mullinax in today's Anniston Star serves up "Justice for Jimmy Lee Jackson: After 41 years, feds should launch thorough probe of Marion shooting" where he informs us of his work to have the U.S. Department of Justice do a complete investigation of this young man's death some forty years ago. I was born in October of 1965 yet I've studied the movement and wish I could have been alive to participate in those surely amazing years. Jimmy Lee Jackson, plus the people of Alabama and beyond, deserve a complete understanding of the events leading to his death. For background consult the following: The Star's John Fleming did a solid piece on Jimmy Lee Jackson back in 2005. Sojourner's carried Mr. Fleming's work to a larger audience. NPR carried coverage of his work. Peace ... or War!


Right Wing Operative Bolts Mobile for DC?

Quin Hillyer of The Mobile Register has exited stage right. Very right! He's off to The American Spectator as a top brass editor. That this "thirty year veteran of the conservative movement" leaves us with an indictment of our 1901 Constitution, Alabama's regressive tax policy, Goat Hill's "parliament of whores legislature" ... ought to make us realize that these concerns are really not an idealogical issue.

His last column, admittedly a bit dated now, is entitled "One last look at what's right and wrong with Alabama". This piece is perhaps an idication of how effective the Right has been in placing operatives across the nation. Although the Spectator (Prowler?) has fallen somewhat on hard times these days perhaps Mr. Hillyer is being rewarded for a job well done. Heading off to greener pastures he manages to get in one last plug for The Alabama Policy Institute. "Imagine that?" and "I wonder why?" immediately crosses my mind ... and then my keyboard.

Lke so many of these ultra-conservative "think tanks" or "advocacy organizations" such as The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, and The American Family Association with their structures and efforts at least somewhat linked, API is affiliated with The State Policy Network. Committed to the "free market", privatization of government services, viruntley anti-union, hostile to public education, favoring even more deregulation, the SPN is tied to The Castle Rock (Coors) Foundation and other right wing groups.

It appears that the Right is using state-based organizations and local/regional "journalist" more and more. That the Right still plays "poor outsider" yet is so linked into power structures is especially frustrating. Part of the reason for taking up blogging is to try to confront their efforts. Peace ... or War!


Bachus Blames Bureaucrats for Pork Politics

I've posted before on Sushi Bashing Spencer Bachus (R-Vestavia Hills) and his increasing power in the U.S. House. Representative Bachus hates raw fish yet he loves pork! Mary Orndorff of The Birmingham News gives us "Alabamians in Congress adept at securing cash" and "Earmarks' backers say U.S. law is on their side" with her colleague Tom Scarritt opining, rightly so I'd add, that "Earmarking should be open process". Ms. Orndoff quotes Mr. Bachus as,

"Either a bureaucrat is going to make a decision how to spend it or your elected member of Congress. I guarantee you're going to do better with your elected representative that lives in your district and listens to you every day and knows what your needs are."

Bureaucrat? Listens every day? Knows what your needs are? Even your beloved President Bu$h (see addendum below) admits earmarking practices "avoid the discipline of competitive or merit-based reviews". Yet you defend legitimate questions with a slap at "bureaucrats"! Reminds me of George Wallace and his rants against pointy headed briefcase carrying intellectuals and those limo liberals and ... It does seem that Bachus, like much of the modern GOP, has little trust in government. Maybe he's like Grover Norquist who wants to get government small enough to drown in a bathtub. Or like that paragon of virtue Tom DeLay and his good friend Black Jack Abramoff. Or Barbara Bu$h. Or Dubyah's Uncle Bucky Bu$h. Government is good when you and yours are involved but otherwise it is bureaucracy run wild.

The idea of public service is simply foreign to this group. You send some money home to make sure folks stay off your case, laud your efforts with free press to assure you'll remain in power even though your district is reather non-competitive, accumulate big business/banking money and soon you will probably Chair the Finance Committee, let your senior staffer Warren Tryon play "Mayor of Capital Hill", likely scratch another's back when they need a favor (and on Finance you'll surely get some requests) and ... You'll come back home and blame the Leftist for taxing and spending recklessly. When questioned about a real concern however you just blame the bureaucrats. Priceless! Peace ... or War!

Addendum - I'd just as soon cut off a leg as to see Bu$hCo with the power to drop a "line item" veto on anybody that dares cross him. We know Rovian tactics are about dirty tricks on enemies and strong arming allies when they deviate the slightest from the White House spin. If they are so hard on their "friends" imagine what they do their enemies!


Friday, March 24, 2006

Progressive Health Care Reform in Dixie

I posted over on Tin Shop Tartan a piece on the idea that solving local health health issues really must come from DC. My poor local rural area has a small community hospital doing all it can to hang on yet I am surely worried. The national health care mess is hardly getting better. Our health case costs continue to rise much faster than earnings. Wages are hardly keeping up for many Americans even without health care realities. Many employers are now screaming about the costs of health care and might align with some groups that have not been traditional allies to seek a solution via national approaches. Additionally, the less than ideal reality of attacking problems via treatment rather than prevention seems misplaced. All of this is weighing heavily on many of the lefty community. Universal and portable health care makes sense. Progressive solutions and resource that I found might help somebody else so please help yourself. Peace ... or War!


The Anniston Star Suggests A Better Resolution

This editorial from The Anniston Star hits the nail on the head. Alabamians need to know the history of the Jim Crow South and unjust treatment of many of our citizens. The Miami Herald also weighs in with a question on whether Ms. Parks ever pardoned Alabama? Also, is a mere pardon really appropriate when a person did nothing wrong? The Miami Herald's Rhonda Chriss Lokeman's reasoning might be as good as any yet I still prefer the approach offered by The Anniston Star. Peace ... or War!


Roy Moore On "Sense and Judgment"

Roy Moore placed a letter to the editor in The Montgomery Advertiser to try to clarify his recent comments on not trusting voters with choosing delegates to a Constitutional Convention. He writes,
Actually the people are the "sense" of this state and we should leave it to their good judgment. Professional politicians and special interest lobbyists never work for the good of the people. ... Likewise, special interests are trying to rid our state of the Constitution which has preserved our rights for over 100 years. Those out to change it have an agenda.
An Advertiser Editorial from today has a tolerable analysis of Moore's "logic". I appreciate one point especially when they write,
Moore is right about one thing; special interests are far too powerful now. But the point he so conventiently misses is that the only way to ever significantly change that situation is by changing the state's outdated constitution.

"Conventiently misses" my behind! Only a Big Mule could accurately claim the 1901 Constitution has preserved "our rights". Roy Moore is hardly a "Big Mule" in his role as God's Defender. He's a reactionary embarrassment to this state. Like many Holy Warriors, his outrageous statements about homosexuals from the bench illustrate that his fundamentalism limits his seemingly already limited intellect. Roy Moore often uses populist rhetoric and yet he's apparently so misinformed that he doesn't realize the 1901 Constitution was designed to prevent populists from ever being able to mount a challenge to the powerful in the state. Duh!

Alabama's citizens have a long history of electing idiots so nothing will surprise me yet Riley crushing Roy Moore is one thing I'm surely looking forward to seeing. Peace ... or War!


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Say it 'aint so Ben!

My right wing friend Ben Hand is getting back into the political fray it seems. He's one of the nicest wingnuts I've ever been around. Funny! Smart! Decent! But wrong! Papers are reporting that he's going to run against one of the Alabama Supreme Court Justices that voted to remove Roy Moore's 5300 pound Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the Justice Building. This is course after a special ethics court booted his buddy Roy Moore off the Supreme Court's Chief Justice bench for failing to follow the law. Roy Moore and the Radical Right are not good for Alabama and our nation! That Ben, a solid man except for his politics, feels compelled to use this "logic" as his rationale for running disappoints me. And helping out Tom Parker is just "icky" Ben! Imagine if a defendant in Wedowee ignored Judge Hand's order with their own "interpretations" of the Consitution. I expect he'd have them cuffed and stuffed post haste. I'm a card carrying member of the ACLU and intend to do everything I can to keep Ben laboring in the trenches in Lee County and East Alabama. Peace ... or War!


Roy Moore Doesn't Trust Alabama People!

John Davis of The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Alabama's former favorite theocrat Roy Moore, seeking the Governor's Mansion, believes that Alabama voters don't have enough sense to select Constitutional delegates if in fact a Convention were to ever occur. Of course Roy Moore wants Alabama to continue using the 1901 version written by and for the Big Mules. Since even the Left Coast New York Times know Roy Moore has little hope of winning this race it might not matter what he thinks. Peace ... or War!


Police Hardly Hampered! Just What is "Liberal"?

Mike Linn of The Montgomery Advertiser should have perhaps used another headline than "Police searches could be hampered" when he decribes the ruling in Georgia vs. Randolph. Additionally, I'd like him to define "liberal" judges! That label is surely thrown around by politicos and pundits and apparently now journalists with perhaps little hesitation. If Lt. Drinkard of the Montgomery PD wants an opinion from Attorney General Troy King then there is surely no harm. Still, an actual Alabama District Attorney agrees the case means nothing as to restricting law enforcement in their responding to domestic violence cases. So why the headline?

That Chief Justice Roberts elected to write his first dissent on this case was odd. Justice Souter rightly described the concern raised by Roberts as a "red herring". Maybe there is much to read into how the Justices jabbed at each other a touch in the case?

Returning to the issue of "liberal" judges, Mr. Linn should possibly point out that the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court which affirmed the ruling of the Georgia Court of Appeals in reversing the trial court's denial of Mr. Randolph's Motion to Suppress. Also, only two current Justices were appointed by Republican Lite Bill Clinton with Justice Souter appointed by Bush the Elder. Have you been reading Alabama Supreme Court Judge Tom Parker's attacks on the Supreme Court Mr. Linn? Or listening to "Reverend" Pat Robertson, who apparently thinks the Supremes have six "liberal" judges?

Simple case it seemed to me. When I heard some prior coverage of the case I felt the Court would likely reach this decision. Since I rarely get a win in politics it does me good to get one right in the judicial branch. Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mini-Moore Tom Parker Faces Ethics Issues

When in doubt in Alabama politics ... blame the ACLU, even if they aren't involved. This past January, Associate JusticeTom Parker wrote an opinion piece in the B'ham News after the Alabama Supreme Court reduced the death sentence of Renaldo Adams to Life Without Possibility of Parole. Does anyone else besides me and Michelle Pilecki think of "activist judge" given his actions? The Court appropriately followed the directives of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Roper vs. Simmons yet Judge Parker railed against "five liberal judges" that want to "turn us into another San Franciso". Would that they could! Imaginary battle with the ACLU per the B'ham News. Tom Parker is simply a straight wingnut and a testament to what Alabama voters are prone to elect. Scary times! Peace ... or War!


Bu$h and the Big Mules Lose One

Kudos to Alabama-rooted Janice Rogers Brown (even though I was hardly thrilled when she was placed on this Court) and other Federal Appeals Court Judges that backed down the Bu$hCo cabal's willingness to further ruin our environment. Alabama Power lost this one, even with a reactionary Bu$h appointee like Judge Brown writing the opinion, and The Anniston Star is right to praise this Court for having the courage and reasoning to "clear the air". Peace ... or War!


Alabama Poverty Project

Be sure to drop by the Alabama Poverty Project. Some good folks are involved in this effort so I'm sending you to the "About" page first. Wayne Flynt is a truly grand man and his pastor at Auburn First Baptist James Evans is also involved in the effort. The Education and Poverty Facts are especially relevant for my present teaching efforts across the river in Georgia. Peace ... or War!


Jim Wooten Needs New Source & Topic!

The AJC’s Jim Wooten is back to citing partial or even flawed research to advocate for even more conservatism in public schools. He’s lately seemed top have fallen in love with Jay Green of The Manhattan Institute. Dont't do it Jim! It's a trap! I just recently scolded Jim and then soon after did another post lamenting that several readers had fallen for his ideas “hook, line, and sinker”.

Here’s an alternative view by Nathan Newman entitled “The Right Wing War on Public Schools” for anybody that stumbles across my post (I am still waiting on a reply from Mr. Wooten and Ms. Cynthia Tucker at the AJC!) provided by Progressive Legislative Action Network. One link dropped in by Mr. Newman is to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities where Kevin Carey’s gives us “Education Funding and Low-Income Children: A Review of Current Research”. Some months back The New York Times reported on the success Raleigh, North Carolina was having with “income integration” where their schools are being structured so that no more than 40% of students would come from low-income homes. Test scores, and I hardly think they always are great measures of learning, seem to show something good is resulting. The Century Foundation’s Equality and Education Project is also a solid resource with reform resources and suggestions plentiful.

Jim Wooten is wrong. Vouchers will help few and harm many! Mr. Wooten continues to come across as a shill for the right on something that he is seemingly not qualified to address. At best he is twisting or misinterpreting some rather complex research ... yet it might be that he’s just recycling garbage from these “think tanks” that are so very well funded by the right. Alternatively, his love for "the market" might be clouding his thinking. The danger is that he influences readers that will allow further harm to fall upon our children and society. Peace … or War!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bu$hCo Running Our Ranch To Ruination

In an issue that has seen little ink (or server space) it seems in Alabama I was pleased to read this editorial piece in The Hunstville Times. The plan clearly favors the Northwest to the detriment of the South! Plus selling off land is usually a "Damn poor way to run a ranch!" indeed! Peace ... or War!


Outstanding in his Field - Farming for Change

Old farmer joke perhaps yet a classic. Mark Bevis is practicing sustainable agriculture up in Pleasant Valley. Today Mr. Bevis gives us a thought provoking piece in the Anniston Star. A must read! I'll drop links to his cooperative, plus some other links he provided, over on Marque Stuart. Kudos! Peace ... or War!


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Packed Prisons Pollute Environment

With our harsh criminal justice system and limited environmental sensitivity, there is nevertheless a rare intersection of these Alabama traditions reported today in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer by Samira Jafari of the Associated Press. The piece is titled "Growing inmate population means more waste in Alabama's rivers" and it is downright disturbing to see how various authorities are more concerned with the DOC's funding problems than the environment. Everything has a cost. "Lock them up and throw away the key!" could be reserved for the "worst of the worst" yet the trend continues to be the opposite. Sending a minor thug or thugette into the DOC often assures they'll be serious trouble once they get out. We starve the DOC of funding yet want them to reform our inmates on the cheap. Sewage in our rivers and sewage in the society when these folks eventually walk out the door. Great job Alabama! Really doing that long-term thinking and problem solving! Peace ... or War!


Regular Folks Get a Tax Break!

Although Alabama politicians are posturing over the credit for the legislation, it appears that 80% of Alabama tax payers are getting a tax cut. Gearing the legislation mostly toward those making under $30,000 per year, no benefits are given to anybody making more that $100,000 in a year. Going from an initial taxing start of $4600 to $12,600 for a family of four is hardly a Robin Hood plan yet is a step in the right direction. Peace ... or War!


Does Media Ownership Limit Progressivism?

I posted a long piece today at Tin Shop Tartan on the possibility that the new Telecommunication Legislation that is eventually coming out of DC might be something that makes localism even harder to accomplish. I figure the same is true, on perhaps a different scale, for our region. Using Atlanta, Birmingham, and Montgomery (with the Captain slam in the middlein the "Boonie Triangle"!) these markets matter. The more powerful radio stations that reach me, and much of my South, are likely controlled by one of the large "oligolopolies" that own or run most media outlets. Atlanta's Cox Enterprises is a national media powerhouse. They have a huge hold on Atlanta and the South via the AJC and other major plus some minor outlets. Big Mules ... on Steroids! Progressive ideas are so rarely heard in the mainstream media, this being especially true in the Deep South, and I can't see groups oriented toward profits making leftist ideas on wealth/poverty and the like a big priority. It would not be a stretch to suggest they might very well silence or at least limit the flow of these approaches to the masses. Peace ... or War!


Friday, March 17, 2006

Jim Wooten's Wrong Thinking

Jim Wooten gives us his “Right Thinking” on Friday, March 17, 2006 that again shrills plenty of right wing talking points and foolishness across the South. I've admittedly started enjoying tackling his "thinking".

Today the AJC allows Mr. Wooten to tell his readers much malarkey. His comments are followed with my views and a few resources. I do think I could crush him with some more time but I do have other tasks. He gets paid for his "work".
Headline on proposed widening of I-75 between I-285 and I-575: "Will 23 lanes be enough?" Good question. Better make it 27. By 2030, traffic on that section of highway is expected to increase from 347,000 vehicles per day to 401,000. The Smart Growth crowd thinks that highways cause congestion — meaning, I suppose, that if we don't widen it, the projected 401,000 vehicles won't materialize.
Actually Mr. Wooten these cars might not materialize if Smart Growth concepts were implemented. Alternative transportation is just one of several ideas! They have several approaches yet planning is a critical part of whatever solutions are out there. Smart Growth, and other such organization as well, has apparently reasoned through the available data and learning. This is seemingly beyond your ability if all you've done is twist a mischaracterization from what they've suggested. My do you enjoy a straw man!

Georgia wins Kia. Marvelous. Cost $400 million. Had the state been willing to forgo another $312 million, the entire corporate income tax could have been eliminated, benefiting every business in Georgia.

The annual revenue of the state has averaged $15 billion for the last few years. The tax is only 6% on income generated within the state of Georgia. I hope you’d expect your Big Mule buddies to make up the difference individually rather than doing so on the backs of the working man? Or do you follow the increasingly tainted Grover Norquist's "drowning theory"?

HBO's new series is one guy "married" to three women. And why not? Once marriage is something other than one man-one woman, all options are in play.
Polygamy began with certain Mormon groups but has been banned for ages. It is still in Utah and a few other locations via some “fundamentalist” Mormons. Maybe at least they watch decent TV? Why don't you contact Mitt Romney as he can explain when the LDS quit the practice of polygamy? Romney is not big on "Big Love" either. "Help! Mom! Hollywoods in my Hamper!" author Katherine DeBrecht might need some help with her next kiddie crusade Jim?
Want to know how far out national Dems have drifted? Senators should allow a vote on U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's resolution to censure President Bush for wiretapping suspected terrorist calls to people in the United States. Let's see how many Democrats are willing to associate themselves with Feingold's nuttiness.
Nuttiness? Although one poll had more Americans favoring censure than not a Rasmussen poll still had 38% favoring censure. There are plenty of smart and reasonable folks across the political spectrum that know Bu$h violated the law. On warrentless wiretaps, torture, etc. Russ Feingold show us that he is courageous not nutty. And are 38% of Americans nutty?

No, no, no, Steen Miles of Decatur, state Senate author of a resolution to honor Jane Fonda. It's when Democrats are in power that resolutions honor Fonda. When Republicans are in power, as they are, it's Ronald Reagan.
Senator Miles husband did two tours in Vietnam and he supported her idea. Her now deceased brother came home from Vietnam yet he never recovered mentally. Her daughter and son-in-law are in the Middle East now with their military commitments so Mrs. Steen is caring for their children. Read the Senator’s speech for yourself where she withdrew her resolution after being asked to do so by Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda's work to reduce teen pregnancies and donating her money and time to various worthy causes can’t cover her for something she has apologized for over and over? I thought you wingers believed in forgiveness? Incidentally, did you serve in the National Guard after Vietnam Jim Wooten? How many family members of yours are serving in the military now?

By CBS' reckoning, a prime-time production depicting couple- and group-sex at a teen party is educational because it "featured an important and socially relevant story line warning parents to exercise greater supervision of their teenage children." Educational? The back-to-life Federal Communications Commission's not buying the message-to-moms line. Every station that carried it, all 111 of them, is fined $32,500 each. Government can't change the anything-goes culture at once. But it can with a thousand affirmative efforts, like this.

Jim Wooten knows the FCC is headed by political appointees. The latest Chairperson, Kevin Martin, has a strong tradition of conservatism and was a darling of the anti-indecency crowd. The FCC also seems to get most of their complaints via the Parents Television Council. Estimates are that 99% of the complaints come via PTC. This organization has ties to various conservative groups with their own L. Brent Bozell (William Buckley’s nephew!) also being the founder/leader of the Media Research Center. It is odd that Mr. Bozell can be non-partisan when he is at PTC and not so when he is at MRC! Almost as odd as the apparent fact that Fox has most of the filth. Where’s the outrage Vanity Hannity and … While I agree that plenty of junk is out there on the airwaves, the fact is that your beloved market forces are at work here. Scold the corporations that control the GOP maybe? Also, I thought parents were responsible for making the right decisions for their kids? School choice is cool and smart and ... but parental control over the media in their own homes isn’t realistic. Government can hardly do anything right according to you wingers yet now you’ve got them tasked to “change the anything-goes culture”. Aren’t you supposed to be sort of a Libertarian Jim?

A "Jim Wooten Watch" might be a good blog for somebody with talent and time. In the meantime I'll try to do what I can to help out. Peace ... or War!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I rest my case on Jim Wooten's shilling!

I posted just yesterday on the AJC's Jim Wooten being a tool of the right. And today's AJC had enough response to allow me to rest my case. Two "readers" offered in part, with my emphasis supplied, the following,
Education: Responses to Jim Wooten's column "More money won't make schools better,'' issue, March 14
Spending more fails to boost results
People do love to throw money at problems --- but how it is spent is at least as important as how much is spent, and it is misspent constantly in education.
Special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds can be used only for buildings, so instead of sprucing up what we already have, we build new and probably unneeded buildings. School systems are also top-heavy with administrators, who then complain about mandates limiting class size. If a few of them were returned to classrooms at appropriately lower salaries, it would go a long way toward improving student-to-teacher ratios.
We could also look to Japan and Western Europe, where they have wonderful education systems and spend much less than we do.
In education, as in most things, money means power, not necessarily results.
EDWIN WILLIAMS Williams is a French and history teacher at Valdosta High School.

Legislators stumble over twisted logic
Now that Jim Wooten has proved that more money for education doesn't improve outcome, Gov. Sonny Perdue should veto the ridiculous bill requiring schools to spend 65 percent of their funding in the classroom. This bill would mean that funds for libraries, transportation to and from school and on field trips, school lunches, extra intervention programs such as remediation, and presumably building new facilities must be taken out of the remaining 35 percent. The kids can have
top-of-the-line computers, but not a roof that doesn't leak.
Ironically, another bill awaiting the governor's signature will make that 35 percent threshold impossible to meet. By requiring smaller classes without consideration for extenuating circumstances --- such as lack of space for more classrooms, and without additional state funding --- the Legislature apparently intends to force school systems to go on a building program of massive proportions.
Maybe the legislators need remediation in logic.

Mr. Williams, you surely know the European and Japanese systems are in no way related to "one size fits all education" that we attempt in the USA! Not even close! And the Europeans and Japanese spend in a different way that we do. I've had a teacher from Europe in my home plus I've read research and other works explaining their approach. If you have examined their objective approach then you'd perhaps know how unfair your logic is. Apples to oranges sir. We try to educate the masses and they separate the wheat from the chaff.

Ms. Knight, Jim Wooten has "proved" nothing beyond that he is willing to shovel what he is handed by certain right wing groups. I agree that the arbitrary 35% spending cap is poor policy yet hardly due to any "fact" or "logic" presented via Jim Wooten. I fear he is incapable of the same.

Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Riley Gets GOP $600K via His Former Aide Now Tied to Indicted GOP Leader Tom DeLay and ...

Bob Riley's former press secretary Michael Scanlon moved on to more power with Former GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay AKA "The Hammer" of Sugarland, Texas. Facing criminal charges for money laundering in Texas, the former exterminator is also in a serious fight for Texas District 22. Then Scanlon headed for the real money hooking up with K- Street uber lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Bob Riley, when seeking the Alabama Governor's position against Don Seigelman, who ran on and then lost with the idea of bringing the lottery to Alabama, got a lot of love, $600,000.00 worth in fact, from his former aide. The Republican Governor's Association did not report the donation due to a "bookkeeping error". Or maybe they can go with an "accounting error"?

Black Jack Ambramoff and Michael Scanlon have entered plea deals and are singing yet I have seen little if any coverage from Alabama media on the questionable contacts these outlaws had with our Governor. And Riley is still in the mix with the money changers in the temple! Good Christians all the way around! Peace ... or War!


Baxley in Branchheads! But the Big Mules?

Lucy Baxley is working the small towns and rural areas with a mixture of faith and farm girl. That is critical yet I still want to see her nail down some Big Mules beyond AEA and Alabama State Employees and traditional allies of the Democratic candidate. Lucy ought to be able to fend off The Don yet he remains a very capable campaigner. Peace ... or War!


Alabama Progressives Need College Dropouts

Not college as in higher education. Nearly every measure reveals the strong correlation between education and receptivity toward Progressivism although I'd argue anybody that hears us and actually ponders our ideas can know we make sense. It is rather the archaic way we elect our President. Over on Captain Plaid I tackled today's New York Times editorial on reform of the Electoral College. The piece is very relevant to Red State resistance fighters that we Progressives often must travel as. If our citizens here in Dixie never hear Progressive thinking as are often best presented via the national stage, then we will continue having limited success. We know House Districts are drawn to assure a result consistent with Department of Justice requirements and that our Senate seats will remain long shots for the good guys/gals. It is a grand idea I think! Peace ... or War!


Conservative Tool Jim Wooten on School Funding

The AJC's Jim Wooten gets ink in the Journal-Constitution at least three days a week. For me he usually seems as a Libertarian-oriented moaner and groaner. Still, his idea might cross the river, and indeed the battle may be fought in the states, so I'll join the discussion. As a teacher and critical thinker I hope I'm as qualified as Mr. Wooten.

Today his column is worthy of a link as it demonstrates how the GOP's Mighty Wurlitzer works. He tells us "More Money Won't Make Schools Better" and admittedly any educator knows that it is not simply funding. As his authority he simply serves up Jay P. Greene, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, as the author of an "important education reform book" published last year, "Education Myths". Green appeared recently before the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an Atlanta think-tank. This is a group that is now tied to Townhall which is/was a project of The Heritage Foundation. Getting in a dig at "judical activism" to boot Mr. Wooton paints with a very broad brush. And tainted paint! Still he's hardly the only time Mr. Greene has gotten an audience. ABC's John Stossel had him help out with his 20/20 Special "Stupid In America" plus other "authorities" affiliated with The Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, etc. The AEI has been desribed as the leading neo-conservative group in the US. We know how well Iraq has been working out for the neo-cons so now they want to "save" education! Some of these "think tanks" have been described as "deep lobbying". Deep indeed! And Jim is showing that he is a "tool" of the tanks.

Here's a Kos Diary from DeweyCounts that seems a good response to begin. And there's this from Truly solving the many, many problems facing public education are complicated and I don't think I'll take time to attempt ... at least not yet! The Center for American Progress has some good starting ideas. As a bottomline, Jim Wooten's shilling is certainly not part of a serious solution and yet he influences policy with his "talking points" put to paper. Peace ... or War!


Monday, March 13, 2006

Corporate Welfare Good - Poor People Welfare Bad

News of Kia locating their first United States manufacturing facilty in West Point, Georgia is positive. Alabama will of course benefit in some tangible ways. That cheaper money and limited labor protections helped attract Kia to the South doesn't thrill me however. Nor does an incentive package worth $410,000,000.00 yet I'm not generally against welfare. Just working from the $259,000,000.00 state money gives estimates of $88,000.00 per job from this Ledger-Enquirer view on the deal. Complicated economics! And giving away the farm might not really be that wise in the long run for the South.

The Manufacturer in August of 2005 gave us, with my emphasis supplied, the following,
Interestingly, one of the major reasons the South is so attractive to foreign automakers—the economic conditions that create a perfect storm of financial advantages for incoming plants—could also hold the region back in the longer term. The fact is, Alabama is still, well, Alabama. “You also need to look at the economic outlook for Alabama as a whole,” warns Goepfert. “It’s a little blip right now, playing catch-up to the rest of the nation. But its overall structure and trends are not that favorable: the population trends, the economic outlook in the big picture—beyond just automotive—is structurally just not as good as it could be.” Barkai agrees. “Maybe there’s a great diversity or polarity within the state, and there’s some pockets of qualified labor and higher education, but it is pockets,” he says. Huntsville, AL, is one of these pockets, he says. As a result of the space center there, a number of other manufacturing industries have sprung up, including a successful medical instrument industry. But it will be a while before the state as a whole becomes such a manufacturing breeding ground. Still, many analysts are keeping an eye on the South to see where all the “insourcing” is heading. “It certainly is interesting activity, because it puts [the South] in the limelight, it helps with jobs, and so on,” says Barkai. But, in the short run, IT vendors, suppliers, and other industries that support these manufacturers should wait and see. Instead of the future of the auto industry, the “insourcing” phenomenon could turn out to be merely a drive-by.

The questions of incentives is actually before the Supreme Court now. What happens to the deals already cut if the Court upholds the lower court is a mystery to me. Still, the fact that corporate welfare is so easily accepted deep here in the Southern Red Sates when we treat our poor people so badly on welfare and taxes and .... just doesn't make much sense. Also, my spies report that many of the Korean manager class will expect to live in Auburn as their city schools have a very solid reputation. Plus Lee County, especially around Auburn University, is considered to be more international than most of Alabama and Georgia. So at least good schools and tolerance and ... had a role in this "success". Peace ... or War!


Mad Cow, Avian Flu, CAFOs ... Anybody home?

The third case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States has been confirmed here in Alabama, hardly the ideal thing given the desire of many beef producers to tap back into the Japanese/Asian markets. At this point seems to provide the most complete coverage. With bird flu looming perhaps some nice factory farm hogs will be the protein of choice. Concentrated animal feeding operatons (CAFOs) are becoming common in Alabama and across the nation and they can simply be an environmental disaster. As for Alabama's first mad cow incident, it appears that a small operation, the exact location undisclosed, purchased a "downer cow" less than a year ago. The animal is apparently old enough to have been around before the ban on "protein supplementation" began in 1997. Determining the animal's history is made difficult with the lack of tracking procedures. The cattle industry, hardly a uniform group with producers and packers often having multiple voices even among their own, has at times supported, supported limited reforms, and resisted changes, especially Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). USDA's National Animal Identification Plan speaks of phased in reforms and future plans.

Recognizing that regulation and government can be positive, as opposed to what seems like the knee-jerk tendencies from the right wing, the Captain certainly sees the benefit of leadership on this issue. Disruptions in the market that could result from BSE here in Alabama may very well hurt the folks in the branchheads and perhaps even the Big Mules. Let us hope that ALFA and some other agriculture groups will step up to the plate on BSE. I often ask right wingers how their beloved market can deal with circumstances so I'd love to hear how they'd tackle the above issues. GOP talking points don't exactly work here do they? C'mon Conservatives!

At the national level the GOP controlled Congress has also been in line with the radical right's resistance to Progressive ideas. Bu$hCo has demonstrated incompetence and idiocy over and over yet Avian Flu has hardly surprised anybody. Of course Bu$hCo is on the move so we've got our fingers crossed. Rummy will have made enough on TamiFlu where he could personally buy armor for the army he went to war with. The Bu$h administration's environmental record is especially dreadful yet in Alabama we hardly expect better. Peace ... or War!


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Rising Tide Seems Rather Slack

I posted at Captain Plaid a response to today's Washington Post opinion piece on the twenty five year plus gap of the haves and have nots. Kimble Forrister of Alabama Arise claims just today, in a perhaps last ditch effort to accomplish meaningful tax reform at the state level, that "The top one-fifth of Alabama earners have enjoyed 60 percent income growth in the last 20 years." Unfortunately I expect Goat Hill stays in line with those 130,000 Big Mules making over $100K per year rather than the 1.1 million Alabamians that earn less. They've learned to take care of the ones what brung them. Peace ... or War!


Alabama Appeals Court Election Reform

The Alabama State Bar has provided leadership in this important issue facing Alabama yet the B'ham News acknowledges that in Alabama we take what we can get. Unfortunately in Alabama we get "jurists" like Tom Parker. That this wing nut now sits on Alabama's Supreme Court is my Exhibit A. Peace ... or War!


Spencer Bachus - Sushi Basher

The B'ham News reports that Vestavia Hills U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus hates sushi. That treasonous Bill Maher probably likes sushi. He also pokes fun at out of touch DC yet his senior staffer Warren Tryon has been labeled as the "Mayor of Capitol Hill". He and a group of Alabama bankers were in Las Vegas on the dime of Independent Community Bankers of America when he and his delegation apparently damned near starved. I hope Mr. Tryon got better food on all his many trips. With a 94 rating from the American Conservative Union we know you are a true believer Red State Republican but is nice to see you remind your constituents. If he would help out east Alabama's Highway 431 with his position on the House Transportation Committee we'd be certain that he could get cooked food if he visits our neck of the woods. I know we are out of your district but we'd even fry it Spencer! Open Secrets shows Congressman Bachus rather flush with business money. In fact the ICBA gave Representative Bachus ten large for this most recent election cycle. Finance/Insurance/Real Estate gave the Congressman over three quarters of a million. Bachus was even able to spare $10,000 to help out his buddy Tom Delay with his legal troubles. Congressman Bachus will likely soon be chairing the House Financial Services Committee with his support of new Majority Leader John Boehner yet we know you'll still have Alabama's interests in mind since you dislike eating bait. Your district is so lily-white, as in your beloved Cahaba lily not, safe that you were only challenged by a minion of Alabama's favorite theocrat Roy Moore in the last election so why waste the ink Spencer? Peace ... or War!


Friday, March 10, 2006

Shakedown by The Don?

Lucy is perhaps feeling the love with breaking news via the B'ham News that Richard Scrushy describes his lottery contribution to Don Seigelman as a "shakedown". Might reverse those poll numbers? Peace ... or War!


ReThuglicans Count on Catholic Vote

I think Alabama has only about 6.7% of her citizens affiliated with the Catholic Church and yet this Glenn Greewald post can also relate to our many evangelicals. Referencing a particularly nasty blogger's attack on the very idea that Democrats might be people of legitimate faith, Glenn writes,
Their blog is undoubtedly a harbinger of the gutter tactics that will be used this year by Rove and the GOP, who -- I hope Democrats are appreciating -- are not going to simply allow Democrats to waltz into control of the House (with the subpoena and investigative power it entails) without a vicious fight that recognizes no limits.

I also expect this to be a vicious year. Exhibit A might be Liddy Dole's quasi-racist attack on Harold Ford to our North in an effort to keep Representative Ford in the House. Truth be told he's DINO or at least close. Yest and still, for the time being at least, that might be the best we can get in Volunteer Land. Peace ... or War!


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Drunken Methodist Urban Youth Prey On Baptists!

Liquored up probably, three (two enrolled and one formerly enrolled) students at Birmingham Southern have been charged with setting a string of fires at rural Baptist churches here in Alabama. Apparently children of privilege, the young men were viewed as goofy and a bit wild yet harmless by their peers. With two of these boys aspiring actors, the first fire was supposedly done as a "joke" and then later fires set to cover up their crimes. Since they are under age 21 they are eligible for Youthful Offender status yet they may have a tough row to hoe. Their people better lawyer them up solid and get ready to pay some serious restitution to keep this trio from winding up with the Alabama DOC. From the looks of these goofballs they'd likely have an especially rough time in prison. Justice must be served and yet these boys, like many other youth in Alabama that aren't white and apparently wealthy or at least comfortable compared to many, might merit at least somewhat of a break. Yet the thing that bothers me the most, and what might kill their chance for YO, is trying to cover it up by doing further harm. We all do stupid things when we panic yet I can't imagine anybody setting more fires. Mercy might be all they have going for them. I hope their victims, and even eventually these little thugs, can recover from these senseless acts. Birmingham Southern seems to have responded appropriately by suspending the two students still enrolled and I appreciate their offer to help make things right. Kudos also to the law enforcement effort. Sounds like good old fashioned shoe leather solved this one! Damn shame and I hope these kids are catching hell from their folks and friends! Peace ... or War!


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Poor Perhaps but Prosperous Precisely

Governor Riley and Republicans like Mike Hubbard and apparently much of the Black Caucus have gotten behind an idea to raise the standard income tax deduction for Alabama tax returns. This proposal would apparently benefit the poor yet also some rather affluent Alabamians. The Montgomery Advertiser offers,
The compromise income tax plan would increase the standard income tax deduction from $4,000 to $7,000, increase the personal exemption from $1,500 to $1,700 and the dependent exemption from $300 to $1,000. It would be phased in over a five-year period. The compromise would cap the personal exemption at individuals who make over $100,000 a year and for couples filing jointly making more than $200,000 a year.

In Alabama the average individual hardly makes 100K or the average family 200K per year! AEA, hardly the ideal special interest group in Alabama at times, clearly sees the loss of education funds as a legitimate concern. We certainly need reform yet it seems the plan today is going way beyond relief to the poverty class. Maybe that is what it takes in today's political world yet this plan seems far too broad and it also puts our already low education funding at risk. Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Intersection of Poverty and Environmental Harm

I've added Grist to my Highlander Resources over at Captain Plaid although I'd discovered this sharp site some time back. One especially cute thing they have up in an interactive neighborhood showing contrasts for the haves and have nots. They have a detailed series up on the intersection of economic and ecological survival that seems very solid. Alabama makes the series with our many poulty houses yet much is relevant with all of our poverty. Peace ... or War.


US DOJ Grant Funding to Alabama for Women Prisoner Transition Yield Limited Success

Carla Crowder of the Birmingham News reports a disturbing lack of success in reducing Alabama's incredibly large female inmate population. The article begins,
The U.S. Department of Justice gave Alabama $1.3 million in 2003 to help 160 serious or violent female prisoners re-enter society. The grant is soon to expire, having assisted only 69 women home from prison. Meanwhile, $650,000 remains unspent, the women's prison population is at a three-year high, and the state is paying a private company almost $3 million a year to house female prisoners.
I know from personal knowledge that Pardons and Parole has some solid people, and unfortunately some not so talented, yet surely we can expect more than this article reveals. If my math is right that a little over $9,000.00 per woman released but unfortunately only forty five remain in society. That gets us up to almost $15,000.00 per success. Still perhaps a bargain as that is likely less than the cost of incarcerating yet I can't help but think we can do way better. Serious and violent inmates are a tough task in getting back into society, especially if they've been in the system for a long time, yet it seems like the funds are not being used with a full effort. Of course we can also see how advanced Alabama is when they chain women prisoners down during delivery of children. Goat Hill ... are you listening? Peace ... or War!


Monday, March 06, 2006

Bama Big Mules Block Bible Bill

Amy Sullivan of Washington Monthly came down to Alabama to see how a proposed elective course teaching the historical and cultural influence of Bible in public high schools was treated up on Goat Hill. She writes in "When Would Jesus Bolt" about Dr. Randy Brinson, one of the supporters of the proposed legislation. Dr. Brinson, a physician from Montgomery, and his wife Pamela created Redeem the Vote in 2003. Of course, as I expect most readers know, the GOP killed the legislation with the help of the Christian Coalition, Concerned Women of America, and the Eagle Forum. Would be a shame to have much critical thinking and any leftist theology in the classroom. A portion of Ms. Sullivan's amazing writing on Dr. Brinson appear as,

"With such an impressive showing his first time out and direct access to young evangelicals, the most coveted of resources, Brinson could have been on track to become a major player in the Christian Right. The old guard—figures like James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Don Wildmon, James Kennedy, Phyllis Schlafly—are all in their 70s; the future of the movement lies with people like Brinson, who are 20 or 30 years younger and have credibility with the grassroots. So when religious conservatives convened a meeting at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington a few weeks after the election, Brinson was invited. The room was full of men who had played some role in keeping the White House in Bush's hands. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention sat at Brinson's table. Rick Warren, author of the bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life, wasn't far away. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) came over from the Hill to talk with the group. The mood was celebratory, but with an aggressive, hostile edge. They had won, and now they wanted to collect.

The main item of business that day was what to do with Santorum's colleague, the pesky pro-choice Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.). Specter held a crucial position as chair of the Judiciary Committee and had recently outraged this group by telling the press that he would apply “no litmus test” to judicial nominees. Now they wanted him gone, ousted, stripped of power. When, in the midst of escalating rhetoric, Brinson spoke up to suggest that perhaps punishing Specter wasn't the wisest decision, the idea wasn't well received. “That,” he says, “was my first inkling that I wasn't one of them.” If being a player in this world meant calling for the heads of moderate Republicans and ginning up fake controversies like a supposed “war on Christmas,” Brinson wasn't terribly interested.

Not long after, while Brinson was still turning the taste of disillusionment around in his mouth, a Democrat called from Washington. The immediate post-election conventional wisdom was that Democrats lost because they couldn't appeal to so called “moral values” voters. Democrats immediately embarked on a crash course in religious outreach and sought out people who could teach them about evangelicals. Brinson, who had caught the attention of the Democratic youth-vote industry, seemed like an obvious choice. As for Brinson, when the Democratic chief of staff on the other end of the line asked whether the doctor would be willing to meet with some Democrats, he thought about his recent experiences with the other side and decided “maybe it wouldn't be so bad to talk to these Democratic people.”

In quick succession, the lifelong Republican found himself meeting with advisors to the incoming Democratic leaders—Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)—field directors at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and aides to Howard Dean at the Democratic National Committee. What they found is that their interests overlapped: The Democrats wanted to reach out to evangelicals, and Brinson wanted to connect with politicians who could deliver on a broader array of evangelical concerns, like protecting programs to help the poor, supporting public education, and expanding health care. It had seemed natural for him to start by pressing his own party to take up those concerns, but Democrats appeared to be more willing partners. They even found common ground on abortion when Brinson, who is very pro-life, explained that he was more interested in lowering abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies than in using the issue to score political points.

Those Democrats who had initially been wary about working with a conservative evangelical Republican from Alabama found Brinson convincing. They also realized that conservatives had done them an enormous favor. “Listening to him talk,” one of them told me, “I thought, these guys bitch-slapped him, and he's willing to play ball.”

At about this time, with Bush just entering his second term, his support among evangelicals began to slip. They had turned out in record numbers to give him nearly 80 percent of their votes. And for what? Conservative evangelicals didn't like the fact that their demand to oust Specter was ultimately denied. Nor were they pleased that the Harriet Miers nomination had been bungled after it was peddled to them as a way to put one of their own on the high court. The Abramoff scandal didn't help either, with its manipulation of Christian Right leaders to support gambling interests and email messages referring to evangelicals as “wackos.”

For their part, more moderate evangelicals soured on Bush for many of the reasons that lowered his approval ratings across the board: an unpopular Social Security plan, a lack of progress in Iraq, and the failed response to Hurricane Katrina. ...

Big business v. believers ... The newly converted are the most zealous, sharing the good news with gusto to any and all comers. Every few days, Randy Brinson calls me with another revelation. Republicans? “The power structure in the Republican Party is too entrenched with big business. It's not with evangelicals—they're a means to an end.” The Christian Right? “They just want to keep the culture war going because it raises a lot of money for them.” Abramoff? “Evangelicals were being used as pawns to promote a big money agenda.” His fellow evangelicals? “Can't they see that Republicans are just pandering to them??” He once was blind, but now he sees."

Ms. Sullivan also offers up the reality that the GOP is nervous about losing their edge with moderate Christians. She writes,

"The holy skirmish down in Alabama, with its “GOP blocks votes on Bible class bill” headlines, may seem like just a one-time, up-is-down, oddity. But it's really the frontline of a larger war to keep Democrats from appealing to more moderate evangelical voters. American politics is so closely divided that if a political party peels off a few percentage points of a single big constituency, it can change the entire electoral map. To take the most recent example, African Americans, who represent 11 percent of the electorate, cast 88 percent of their ballots for Democrats nationally. But Bush was able to get those numbers down to 84 percent in key states like Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2004—and kept the White House as a result. Republican strategists recognized that a significant number of black voters are very conservative on social issues but have stayed with the Democratic Party because of its reputation for being friendlier to racial minorities. The GOP didn't need a strategy to sway the entire black community; it just needed to pick off enough votes to put the party over the top.

Democrats could similarly poach a decisive percentage of the GOP's evangelical base. In the last election, evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted for Bush. That sounds like a fairly inviolate bloc. And, indeed, the conservative evangelicals for whom abortion and gay marriage are the deciding issues are unlikely to ever leave the Republican Party. But a substantial minority of evangelical voters—41 percent, according to a 2004 survey by political scientist John Green at the University of Akron—are more moderate on a host of issues ranging from the environment to public education to support for government spending on anti-poverty programs. Broadly speaking, these are the suburban, two-working-parents, kids-in-public-school, recycle-the-newspapers evangelicals. They may be pro-life, but it's in a Catholic, “seamless garment of life” kind of way. These moderates have largely remained in the Republican coalition because of its faith-friendly image. A targeted effort by the Democratic Party to appeal to them could produce victories in the short term: To win the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry needed just 59,300 additional votes in Ohio—that's four percent of the total evangelical vote in the state, or approximately 10 percent of Ohio's moderate evangelical voters. And if the Democratic Party changed its reputation on religion, the result could alter the electoral map in a more significant and permanent way.

That's why, insiders say, the word has gone forth from the Republican National Committee to defeat Democratic efforts to reclaim religion. Republicans who disregard the instructions and express support for Democratic efforts are swiftly disciplined. At the University of Alabama, the president of the College Republicans was forced to resign after she endorsed the Bible legislation. A few states away, a Missouri Republican who sponsored a Bible literacy bill came under criticism from conservatives for consulting with Brinson and subsequently denied to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter that he had ever even heard of Brinson. But as for Brinson himself, he's already gone. “Oh, they're ticked at me,” he says. “But it's because they're scared. This has the potential to break the Republican coalition.” ..."

Truly the evangelical movement, if it will awaken to the reality of the modern ReThuglican Party and their false "culture war" rhetoric, can find a ready home in the Progressive Community. While being the abortion issue can be a tough piece, for both sides of the divide, I'll still say leftists and evangelicals have way more in common than differences. Read the article. Ponder on it. Peace ... or War!