Sunday, April 30, 2006

Major Alabama Political Action Committees

David White of The B'ham News provides a super nice summary of the many PACs in Alabama. I'll give it to you in print view. Scary way of doing business since PAC to PAC transfers allow money to be hidden. Simple disclosure seems foundational yet Alabama politicians continue to pander for votes on "family values" and other distractions rather than tackling real reform. Peace ... or War!


Friday, April 28, 2006

Truman Capote Exhibit Opens in Monroeville

Garry Mitchell o the WaPo reports "Alabama Literary Town To Open Capote Exhibit" referencing of course Monroeville.

Rare family photos and a collection of writer Truman Capote's letters to his favorite aunt in Alabama -- on topics ranging from Harper Lee to Tallulah Bankhead to his longing for down-home butter beans -- are going on permanent display in Alabama's literary capital, where the writer spent some of his boyhood.

The collection is a coup for the town that was spun into memorable works by Capote and, under the name Maycomb, by Lee, his childhood friend and neighbor. It was assembled by Capote's cousin Jennings Faulk Carter, who donated the collection to the Monroe County Heritage Museums for an exhibit that opens April 27 in Monroeville's Old Courthouse on the town square.

I'm ready to go! I've recently watched Capote and want to learn more about the man. Peace ... or War!


NCLB "Highly Qualified" Teachers Scarce in AL

Bu$hCo's "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) is not the start of conservatism finishing off public education yet it might be the last straw. While the idea of having "highly qualified" teachers makes some sense, it is perhaps more form than substance. Still, it is interesting to see reporting by Greg Wright in The Mongomery Advertiser entitled "State fails to get best teachers" where he, in part writes,

When it came to getting qualified people to teach children essential subjects such as math and English, Alabama had one of the lowest success rates in the nation in 2004-05, according to U.S. Education Department data.

Alabama had teachers rated highly qualified in 82 percent of core academic classes such as math and English. That was below the national rate of 91 percent and ranks the state 39th out of 49 states and the District of Columbia. Figures for Delaware were not available.

Alabama children who live in poorer areas had even lower odds of having teachers who know their subject, the department said. For instance, 67 percent of Alabama secondary school core academic classes at schools in high-poverty areas had highly qualified teachers, compared to 84 percent in low-poverty areas, the department said.

This last paragraph was especially relevant for me. Teaching in a very poor school, even across the river in Georgia, makes me appreciate the demands those teachers and students and communities face. With Georgia paying a little higher than Alabama, the differences might be even more extreme. I personally favor a radical approach toward education with a dumping of the common canned curriculum and meaningless measurement supplied by NCLB. I'll explain, probably on Captain Plaid, how I'd do education if ever given the power. Peace ... or War


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tom Parker Slips the Noose on Ethics Charges

I'd previously posted on Tom Parker facing ethics charges for his newspaper opinion on the Alabama Supreme Court following the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court on not executing children. Today we learn that the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission has rejected the complaint. Tacky article at best. Peace ... or War!


Alabama Power Settles EPA/DOJ Pollution Suit

Going across the pond to The Guardian, relying on AP reporter John Hailprin, we see that Alabama Power has finally been forced to deal with pollution concerns. Although the Bu$h administration has hardly been agressive in dealing with any pollution concern I am pleased to see some action in this area. Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

An NRA Shill - Another Reason to Reject Riley?

I've already posted a scolding on Goat Hill passing the ridiculous NRA sponsored "self-defense" legislation, with Governor Riley apparently supportive and certainly signing, even if the pandering politicians would have likely pushed this disaster on regardless of his position. Yet pandering is part of the process it appears. The National Rifle Association has announced that it will endorse Riley in the general election this year. In accepting the endorsement, Governor Riley disengenously claims,
"Ladies and gentlemen all across the country, and it has been for a long time, there has been an attack, an attack on our rights to own and bear arms," Riley said. "Well, if you grew up in Alabama, that is a way of life. It's part of our culture."
I know this is part of the ReThuglican playbook Governor yet this is a LIE! Quit lying! Stop the madness and get real. The GOP and the NRA and the Religious Right and ... has to be challenged for their LIES. Their slick marketing and direct mailing and ... would make Karl Rove jealous, although I expect Karl often helps them in their efforts. While polls are not looking good for the Democrats this fall, with Lucy not running a campaign worth a darn it seems as she's even with The Don, I'll pull the lever under the Rooster this fall. Your LIE above is reason enough. Peace ... or War!


Monday, April 24, 2006

Sinners in the Hand of an Angry GOP?

I'm reading that the White House and the ReThuglicans are heading right for the base in the face of the 2006 elections as the GOP leadership knows that if the Democrats get control of either chamber then the game is up. Leadership shifts and subpoena powers will allow a complete investigation of the Bu$h cabal. So we can expect "family values" to be part of the push. So it is interesting to see "Red state depravity" from today's Anniston Star. I also understand a strong correlation exists between education and progressivism. Peace ... or War!


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Criminal Justice Reform - "Ignore the Demagogues!"

Surely no Alabama Politician down at Goat Hill would "ignore rationality and practicality for political purposes" as suggested by The Hunstville Times. In their op-ed from Friday the 21st of April, David Prather gives us "Real prison reform" where he, in part, writes,

Too many women are behind bars - and too many men as well.

Alabamians like to put criminals behind bars. Politicians know this. So they enact laws that put people in prisons and jails more easily and keep them there longer.

Putting more people in prison isn't cutting the crime rate, though. It is, however, increasing dramatically the costs of warehousing criminals.

But Alabamians don't want to pay higher taxes to run the prisons. That's leading to an inevitable confrontation between jurists, both federal and state, and corrections officials, both state and local. It's a good bet it also will inevitably lead to mayhem and worse at overcrowded facilities that are inadequately staffed. ...

But there is the larger issue that involves both male and female prisoners: There's no need for a great many of them to be housed, fed and clothed at public expense. It would be far more effective, and far cheaper, to have them on parole or under house arrest or re-entering society under reasonable supervision.

To do that, though, politicians are going to have to get enough nerve to say that rehabilitative efforts for nonviolent criminals make more sense than throwing the book at them and putting people in prison who don't need to be there to ensure public safety. ...

One effort referenced by Mr. Prather is the DOJ's Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System. Worth a visit to this detailed study yet I'm linking to the summary. On Tuesday I posted on a meeting in Randolph County dealing with these same issues. The meeting often came down to limited funding and canned materials as we even do alternative sentencing, and surely education, on the cheap here in Alabama. Peace ... or War!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Gerald Dial Single-handedly Talks Alabama Center for Rural Development to Death

Clay County's DINO Gerald Dial is singled out for his inexcusable actions in amending to death an effort to establish an executive agency like every other Southern state uses to help rural areas. The Mobile Register Op-Ed from the 20th of April points out that the Alabama Development Office has had their chance to help our 1.2 million rural citizens. Additionally, studies and common sense shows that rural areas have special circumstances that require a different approach than what ADO offers. It is time the 13th had a Senator that was not a tool of the Big Mules but rather looked out for the branchheads. I'm not sure what the Governor's position was on the CRD but given that he's also from Clay County I think he has some 'splaining to do as well. Gerald Dial's time for excuses has long ago passed. Peace ... or War!


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Does AVALA Again "Confuse" Comp and Tort Law?

The Montgomery Advertiser, in their April 20, 2006, edition printed a "Letter to the Editor" titled "Lawsuits scare away business prospects". The letter was from Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse Board Member Kerry Kelly. I'll come back on a day when I have time and destroy their arguments with FACTS but for now I'll tell a story from "back in the day".

Perhaps eight or ten years ago, even back before the 1999 reforms when Alabama had been painted as "Tort Hell", a local car dealer brought an AVALA speaker to a civic club in which I was involved. The man gave his apparently canned talk referencing how businesses are not coming to Alabama due to our out of control juries and trial lawyers and ... He actually said something like "If these factories think their workers are going to sue them every time they get nicked up and a jury is going to write them a huge check and then they also have to be worried about punitive damages and contingency fees of up to 50% where the jury knows this and that and ... then they aren't about to bring a business to Alabama."

I was of course practicing law, seldom if ever doing "tort" cases, and maybe I was out of uniform or perhaps this "suit and a speech" clown had not been told the Roanoke Lions Club had been infiltrated. I asked him something where he repeated what he said. And then again got him to clarify about fears of workers suing their employers and the punitives and fees and a..." Total certainty on what he was shilling to these suckers.

When I simply reminded him that workers compensation laws applied to employee injuries and that no jury was involved and the judge simply applied the law to what the evidence seemed to suggest and that fees were capped at 15% you could see the fear in his eyes. I immediately challenged him to explain why he was LYING to this audience. Then I asked him if LIED every time he came to talk to an audience such as ours. Game, set, and match. He literally refused to talk to me after the meeting. I just wish I had a tape and I could show the rest of Alabama how this lying and sneaky and nasty AVALA works. One of these days I'll try to track the money. I bet it goes all the way to BCA and AMA and US Chamber and ...

I'm sure I'll get a chance to write again on "tort reform" as President Bu$h is shilling "junk lawsuits" and "defensive medicine". Let the lies begin. Peace ... or War.


A Tip of the Tam to The AJC's Mike Luckovich

The AJC's Heather Vogell reports "AJC cartoonist Mike Luckovich wins 2nd Pulitzer". More of his work can be found on The AJC's Opinion pages. I've been working in Georgia for nearly five years now and I've bought an AJC nearly every morning that I've crossed the river. I've enjoyed his work and will continue to thank him for helping us think. Having him working out of the AJC is especially enjoyable. Peace ... or War!


Alabama's favorite theocrat can't count or ...

Kim Chandler of The B'ham News reports "Moore accuses Bush of trying to stop him from winning primary" with Alabama's favorite theocrat seeminly demonstrating that he can't count past Ten. As in commandments of course. CROD member Roy Moore claimed,

"This visit is political payback in exchange for his complete cooperation with George W. Bush and shows his great concern for the upcoming primary election on June 6. Both the state Republican leadership and now the president himself have wrongfully attempted to interfere in this Republican primary and it won't work," a statement from Moore's campaign read.
One recent poll has you down by 44% and Bu$h is down to 33% approval from a poll released today by Faux News. Your former colleague Justice Woodall claimed just recently that you had but an "average legal mind" but surely you learned to count.

I'm thinking the Clone War is about over. Thanks for entertaining us for a while Roy, Tom, ... Peace ... or War!


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bu$hCo Talks Technology & Teachers in Tuskegee

Erica Pippins of The Montgomery Advertiser tell us "President Bush talks technology in Tuskegee". Only serios Red States might have their GOP leadership appear with Bu$hCo with his poll numbers in the tank. In "Pink States" candidates run the other way when Dubyah comes calling. Bob Riley and Mike Rogers must be feeling rather safe.

I've long ago decided that The Decider in Chief believes the talk is more important than the walk. Why else would you tell some Maryland kids just yesterday that science is a "cool subject" and yet have the worst record on supporting science in the modern presidency? I don't have enough time to drop all the links of respected scientists and organizations taking you to task. About the only "professional" you have listed to is Dr. Bill.

Bu$hCo has once again relied on "hunches" rather than research/facts as your plan to rush "science and math professionals" with minimal training in pedagogy into a modern American high school might not look real pretty or be effective. "Fuzzy math" and "junk science"!

You've cut overall funding in K-12, college tuition costs and student loan interest charges have gone through the roof, NCLB is a total disaster driving good teachers from the profession, ... Heck of a job Bushie! Peace ... or War!


If the Klan built a new Klavern building would it actually use Undocumented Labor?

The only reason I ask is that one of my students, who swears he lives near the Klan HQ over here in West Georgia, told me that this group is using Latino labor in their new building efforts. Should the story be true as to ethnicity, with me having no doubt that the KKK is alive and well in Heard County despite their ommission from this map from the SPLC, these workers could very well be American citizens or possess a valid green card. At least this kid's tale let me lay into this nasty hate group with a vengeance. Georgia has just passed the toughest legislation on providing social services to undocumented people. I've found Heard County to be hardly the most "progressive" community plus did not think the Hoods would really want to use Hispanics yet ... Lots of paradoxes here.

Yet I have no doubt that the Bu$h administration and other Big Mules are looking the other way on businesses that hire undocumented workers. Enforcement has simply been a joke on the labor side since Dubyah rode into to town. The Christian Science Monitor described it in ther editorial from today as "Wink, wink" with a direct hit on the lack of resolve on the employer end being why reform 20 years ago did not work. Does anybody in DC have the political will to accomplish real reform? Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2008 Olympics - Simultaneous Shilling Shoe In

Admittedly the 2008 Olympics are not going to have this event. Plus the Olympics are being held in Beijing so I doubt this Good Free Market American Patriot would go to The People's Republic of China, even if the PRC now owns most of our debt thanks in large part to his comrades of conservatism screwing up the surplus trends from essentially eight years of sanity. But if they did have shilling as an event, we'd have a possible champion right here in the South.

Conservative Tool Jim Wooten dropped an opinion today that at least should go into the "Shilling Hall of Fame". With my emphasis supplied, here's what he wrote,

In his final year as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush is going down swinging.

Faced with a state Supreme Court ruling that a school voucher program for children in chronically failing schools is unconstitutional, Bush is putting it on the line in his last year as governor, trying to convince the Florida Legislature to amend the state constitution.

Bush's efforts there offer a lesson to those who seek to provide parents alternatives to traditional public schools for their children.

The lesson is that any reform of public education that involves something other than pouring more tax dollars into it requires resilience and, as with the war in Iraq, a willingness to change tactics in response to entrenched opposition. When one approach is blocked, try another. ...

The Florida Supreme Court — the liberal Florida Supreme Court that forced the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the state's hanging chad election controversy in 2000 — struck down Opportunity Scholarships affecting about 700 children in January.
The Tool even got a dig in at Democrats in the Georgia House blocking legislation to "change twelve" words as they "locked down as a voting bloc". Jim, do you write your columns straight from the talking points they send you? Do you weave the same old arguments from the voucher boys with those from the Bu$hCo boys and your other patrons to get essentially the same old same old agenda? I'll return for the snark and the facts as I'm tired (Some folks don't get paid to pander!) and need some rest. Good night Jim. I'll see you soon. Peace ... or War!


Monday, April 17, 2006

How to Run These Foxes Out of Our Henhouse!

Phillips Rawls of the AP appears in The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer with “Alabama no battleground in fight for control of Congress” and I’m a bit frustrated. Not really at Mr. Rawls I guess but there are so many things that could have made it into this work. Even the few folks that actually read anymore might not know things they ought to understand.

… John Giles of the Alabama Christian Coalition claims “It’s the strength of the candidates.” …

David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, said none of Alabama's congressional incumbents have been tainted by scandal and are considered vulnerable. But the Alabama Democratic Party is carrying out the strategy of the party's national chairman, Howard Dean, to try to place a Democrat in every race to wave the party's flag even if there is no likelihood of winning, he said. … Democrats signed up to challenge all of the Republican incumbents except Rep. Spencer Bachus of Birmingham in the 6th Congressional District."

They're good people, but they will be underdogs," said Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. The reason they're viewed as underdogs is money. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had a strategy not to target Alabama," said Turnham, who became the party chairman after running unsuccessfully for Congress.

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, said she would have loved to have found strong candidates to put up against the two Democratic incumbents, but with the GOP already holding five of the seven seats in the U.S. House, the party's best use of its resources was to focus on other races. …

Can’t anybody mention gerrymandering by packing, cracking, and kidnapping? Districts have been made so refined that the party in power in the state can often craft “safe” districts whenever they get power rather than just every ten years. The idea that the Big Mules on Goat Hill are going to hammer out a Texas stunt like Hot Tub Tom DeLay is probably not realistic but nationally it is happening. Software is out there that makes it cheap and easy now. The Department of Justice is filled with Bu$hCo cronies that will overrule the professionals even. These seats are hardly hard to fight for and in fact I’d argue that Joe could have easily won his race if the Democrats had helped him just a little more. Don’t get me started on how the GOP can overspend. They will play dirty, even against Vietnam Vet and triple amputee Max Cleland from next door in Georgia! They have a built in organization via the fundamentalist and Dobsonites. They have tons of influence with the media.

Professor, Spencer Bachus and several other Alabama Republicans have had at least minor scandals but rather his district is probably the safest one in the state. With him in line for the Finance Committee the Big Mules would have spent whatever it took to get their boy back. There is plenty of scandal with The Rubber Stamp Congress and Bu$hCo so please remind the average Joe and Jill Sixpack here in Alabama.

Ms. Cavanaugh, I’m glad you made it back from your non-political appearance on Faux News and Surly Sean Hannity regarding the Limestone County teacher in the Principal’s office at West Limestone High School over his showing a controversial video. One might have mentioned your scandals?

God’s Warrior John Giles wants to talk of the strength of the candidates. This manipulative Pharisees is very tied to scandal just across the river in Georgia with his old buddy Ralph Reed. We’ve got DeLay’s boy Scanlon, who was once Riley’s boy, linked in with Reverend Ralph. You don’t want to gamble on Alabama citizens fixing our racist and outdated and dreadful 1901 Constitution but you’ll take gamblers money.

No issues or policy but plenty of politics. We have to run the Foxes in the Henhouse out. And the way we do that is to confront them on their lies and corruption and cronyism and policies and … The Medicare mess is due to Big Pharma and Big Insurance writing the legislation! Secure voting, Dubai World Ports, border and port security, education, Katrina, fair trade, civil rights, environment, NSA spying, Iraq, offshoring, leaks, Bin Laden still being loose, torture, frayed foreign relations, National Guard deployments, Veterans, Abramoff and K-Street, tax cuts to the wealthy, health care, jobless recovery, fiscal responsibility, oversight, energy … the ReThuglican have lots of ‘splaining to do. Republicans have stolen the South and part of Governor Dean’s strategy is to get alternative ideas out. Joe Turnham is correct in admitting that the DNCC has bailed out on the money but to have another person claim that the DNC plan is to have a fifty state strategy seems like we are disorganized. Will Rogers was right maybe? At least we could have talked about how freeing up Alabama money is going to let it be spent in increasingly competitive races.

Joe, we can do better. Raise hell and call these outlaws on their hypocrisy and foolishness. Give a follow up to anybody that will let you. Lucy and other state and local candidates can at least partially benefit from the national problems the ReThuglicans are finally reaping. They’ve sowed but we’ve got to reap. I’ll help in any way I'm able but you’ve got to lead. Peace … or War!


Educating the Haves & Have Nots Plus the Tools

With perhaps a little too much emphasis on the wealthy, Brendan Casey, a writer living in Sandy Spring, gives us via the AJC “The cult of the child : They're the elite; they're spoiled; they run the show . . . and ruin it”. The work resonates with me in seeing how a great nephew behaved just yesterday. “What part of no don’t you understand.” My ten year old is hardly perfect but damned if he will ignore me. I’ve failed in several ways as a parent but my boy knows to behave with some measure of decorum. He knows I will remind him when he needs it. I will also offer that many middle class and poorer people lack skills or class. Some are working so hard to pay the bills and keep up with the consumption that that hurts their kids. However, I personally can usually deal with a poor or regular kid far more effectively than a prince or princess. Do you think these kewl kids are going to grow up to be solid citizens?

Jim Wooten of the AJC writes “Give education an overhaul — after election” where he almost gets it. Love the realization that educators have reaped but can seldom change societal choices (read the opinion for some good language … and Jim I’d love you to experience the real world in the schools for a few days) even if maybe you and I would differ on some of the causes. But then the AJC’s Conservative Tool heads in the wrong direction. He’s either on the payroll or his politics are one of the many legacies of the late Mr. Joyce? However you’ve been blinded by the right, your “key” is just small “tax credits” and/or “business scholarships”. Break the model indeed but then organize publicly funded schools where they can work. First of all we can quit using an industrial model designed for a hundred years ago. It will cost some money Jim! And tap into the natural desire of humans to learn. It is messy. You can’t always measure and methodize for canned curriculums hawked by the big money textbook companies. You’ll want to accuse the lefty class of wanting to have the kids just sit around and do “whatever”. So I’m not real optimistic that you’ll buy in to this solution. But I think the bottom line is that there’s money to be made in your beloved market.

Cynthia Tucker of the AJC gives us “Idle black men, tragically, aren't just a stereotype” but she seems to contradict your prior support for higher wages. Ms. Tucker could surely afford to pay more than $6.00 an hour, and even if it is your mother’s money and house, the right thing to do is pay a living wage.

I watched you yesterday on the Chris “Tweety” Matthews Show and you are talking of your young relative going to Brown and openly admitting that you are part of the elite. You seemed to agree that hyper-competitive students are generally from the top of the food chain.

You make Auburn University proud often but please walk the talk, even in Monroeville, and certainly in The ATL. The lack of drive and initiative in these men/boys is perhaps related in part to our school problems. All but the most dreadful can learn both academics and social graces and morality and … But even low skilled and lazy kids and men might not want to work for those wages. It is a shame that this is reality in America and I am frustrated as well that we can’t seem to get a handle on things. I of course find it easy to blame those with the power yet know these guys have to do their part as well.

“Permanent underclass” might be true but that accepts that we can’t change. The thing is that you can maybe help with the fixing at your high position at the AJC. Don’t excuse globalization. Recognize it is here, even embracing certain facets at times, but fight the abuses it sometimes exacerbates. Be careful and crafty but always write with courage. Write and talk about education and other Progressive ideals. Justice!

Friday’s B’ham News Op-Ed “Bearing the torch for poor children” creates a huge problem for school reform with their writing. The News wrote in part, with my emphasis supplied, the following:

The schools, including Birmingham City’s Councill Elementary School, destroy the long-held assumption by some that because so many of their students live in poverty, they aren't capable of learning as well or as much as other, better off students. Sadly, many of the people who believe such a thing teach at, or have children attending, poor schools. They have allowed themselves to be strangled by what former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus called the "tyranny of low expectations."
It is ironic that the Mabus quote was seemingly given as his view that these low expectation were as a chain around his and our state. Malbus is or at least was a Democrat, yet a child of privilege, who was out of office after one term when he dared just slightly raise taxes for better schools. Of course private family issues might not have helped him any as well. I feel your pain. I’ve also heard a version of the quote, dropped by Bu$hCo rather often, in the form of “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. Regular readers know my own “low expectations” of anything from the Bu$hCo cabal.

The serious damage by the editorial is done by outright stating that poverty does not have a role. Any responsible editorial should have used alternative language. Poor children have significant barriers that influence their learning. Certainly poor kids can learn, often despite our industrial and increasingly conservative models. “Destroy the long-held assumptions” my A##! It is long-proven research and foundational fact! To have you shilling these right wing talking points really disappoints me. Maybe you’ve been influenced by what ails poor Jim Wooten above? He’s been doing his part regularly in the ATL. Maybe you got sloppy? Maybe …? But there is no “maybe” that poverty/class influences the attitudes and habits and exposure to stimulations and diet and … and that these barriers then will continue to impact a child’s learning.

Principal Steve Brown at this elementary school talked of a seven year effort to change attitudes of staff and parents and likely the whole community. To celebrate what these kids/parents/educators have achieved is grand yet you’ve placed the torch in the hands of kids and those adults that care enough to be involved in their lives. They have enough to do meeting the requirements to disaggregate the data required by Bu$hCo’s NDOBLB (No Data Obsessed Bureaucrat Left Behind) which is the final intrusion of corporatism into public education. Many people reading your editorial are going to focus on this false information. You are either shilling or being sloppy but the certainty is that this will make it all the harder for Alabama Progressives to create real reforms.

Tying all of this together has been work plus I probably took longer than I needed. Could have been grading papers or working in the flowerbeds or … but I took time to do this as it makes me feel like I’m doing something positive. If I can do my little part to help create a community where learning and engagement is sought as the ideal then I’ve done something worthy. These journalists and pundits are paid for providing reasoned reporting to our region and beyond.
Progressives have to speak more and work harder since we have so few funded entities helping us work the refs.

The first link to Casey’s work discourages me in that wealthy folks were described as addled and not raising the kind of kids that will care once they are grown. Chasing the dollar and their kewl kids. Wooten is and will remain a conservative tool I fear. Ms. Tucker could have approached her writing in another way. I know it is hers and that she might not always need to come with an agenda but this was an opinion. Shame on The B’ham News! It is hard enough to do Progressive work and we don’t need major media outlets for our region carrying the water of the Conservatives.

I’ve tried to silence The Mighty Wurlitzer enough for now. Peace … or War!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Which Media Should Alabama 8th Graders View?

For this first paragraph only, DO NOT CLICK THE LINKS! provides a slide show titled "American Civics II" and via we can see a video labeled "Topless Car Wash". From their titles alone, one might think that at least one would be appropriate for an 8th grade class in a North Alabama High School named West Limestone. It is a science class taught by Steve White. Which one might be appropriate? You can look and especially think now, as you really ought to before you making any decision.

Mad Michelle Malkin gave her "Unhinged Teacher of the Week" to Steve White calling his actions "the latest government education outrage from Alabama" Congrats for the snaps Steve but it takes little to get Ms. Malkin stirred up. Especially if she can use the angle to stack cheese. This is of course the loony that wrote a favorable book on Japanese CITIZENS being placed in concentration camps in the early years of WWII. Her Asian ethnicity helps her in her shrill shilling of GOP talking points. I think the editor for her work has lately been Box Turtle Ben of WaPo infamy.

Kelly Kazek of The Athens Herald reported "Demo candidate accused of showing Bush-bashing video to his students : Parent says West science teacher showed eighth graders video with obscenities"

The Athens Herald editorial on the issue is entitled "Questions need answering about video incident" with the only question seemingly being asked being what punishment, if any, was handed out by the school system. The editorial reads in part,

...we received a copy of Carroll’s two-sentence statement Friday: “The matter at West Limestone is a personnel issue and has been dealt with. There are no additional comments.” By state law, personnel matters concerning school faculty, administrators and staff may be handled internally and kept confidential if they concern “the good name and character” of the person involved.

However, in a public school board meeting in December, Carroll recommended the board fire a bus driver who allegedly said the phrase “p—-ed off” and the d-word to students on the bus. The board voted not to terminate the driver.

We want to know how a teacher playing a song with the word “a—hole” seen and sung 20 times and the s-word once to a science class of eighth grade students differs from the bus driver’s uttered phrases. Now that the matter and the name of the person involved have been made public, there is no reason not to disclose what happened in that classroom and how it was handled. ...

Kelly Kazek and Sonny Turner reported at the Athens Herald a piece entitled "West teacher subject of new complaints" that,

Christy Jackson, whose son is in White's eighth grade science class, ... also made her son say “John Kerry rocks” before leaving class one day.The clip ... also included the s-word and showed someone “flipping a bird.”
Additional reporting by Kelly Kazek is entitled "Student: Clips show drinking, partial nudity" where "Bobby" and his mother Christy Jackson are the identified sources. Ms. Kazek writes,

The clips typically came via e-mail to White’s classroom computer, he said. Other clips the boy said he has seen in class include, in his words:

• “A girl with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other with her bikini top pulled down. It showed everything but it had a little star over the nipple. It said ‘Alabama fan’ at the bottom.”

• “A guy with a clear glass of beer, drinking from, like, a tube from a keg. He would drink and as he would get full, he would throw it back up and it would go back into the tube and he would drink it again.”

The class also saw clips of The Fruitcake Lady, an elderly woman character who appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to dispense “naughty” advice, according to the show’s Web site.

• Bobby said in a Fruitcake Lady clip “about a month ago, in one of them, they would ask questions like, ‘My boyfriend’s cheating on me, what should I do?’” The teen said the character would then begin cursing and saying what she would do to a cheating boyfriend.

Bobby said the videos and filmstrips took precedence over schoolwork in White’s class. “I’ve never, all this year, had a decent science class,” he said. “Even if you could pass up the videos, you weren’t learning anything.”Bobby said he knew his mother would not approve. “She would not want me watching this,” he said. “I didn’t really hesitate to say anything to her about it.” Bobby said he would not mind giving his name if not for his mother’s concerns.“I’m not worried about it at all,” he said.

Bobby asked if he could say one last thing about the filmstrip describing President Bush and his administration in vulgar terms.“I think this one about President Bush, whether you like his values and opinions and morals, he’s still the president of the greatest country in the world and you shouldn’t disrespect him,” he said.

Young "Bobby" I will write later yet right now I'll suggest that Mr. Bu$h has shown disrespect and in fact utter contempt for our Constitution and this nation's citizens, plus basic rights of any human being on this earth. Also, there's a big chunk of the world that does not accept American "exceptionalism". In fact some even resent the hell out of it. I'm sorry I dropped a "worty dird" on you and I'm sure you never hear any profanity in a high school. That being offered, I agree that perhaps some of your teacher's actions do need examing and I'll do this before I wind up this increasingly long post.

Even more reporting by Kelly Kazek entitled "The Creator of controversial filmstrip asks teacher ‘What were you thinking?’" provides a rather complete update in pointing out that White had been given a formal letter of reprimand. The feedback section for creator "aV guy" has a few interesting comments (Some on the March 22, 2006 portion linked to above and others that you can find to the left. Also, DON"T LOOK BOBBY AS YOU"LL SEE SOME REALLY FOUL LANGUAGE .... plus some dreadful typos!) such as

What a bunch af ASSHOLES to publish such garbage ! This is our American President ! A total lack of respect for ourcountry, the office of President, and self respect for themselves could only be at the root of this tactless display ! Regardless of who the president is, which party he represents, he is still the President of the United States of America, the greatest country on earth. My turn for a question- Where are the ASSHOLES that were going to leave this great country if George Bush were to be elected to a second term? The scum sucking assholes are all show and no go ! Good-bye Seam Penn, Jane Fonda, Alec Baldwin and the like, keep your word, LEAVE- permently- I for one will help finance your one-way trip to your home in Afghanistan or Iraq.... good ridance.. GO ... PLEASE ! Maybe someone will have the chance to breathe the good air you don't deserve ! GOD BLESS THE USA, her people and her leaders !- DK, Texas (DK leaves us, and I'll circle around to this one for certain, with a quote that this generous man attibutes to Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father, reading "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.")

HEY #10! Yeah, the one who called us a bunch of whiny cunts and defends Shrub by saying that being President is such a hard job- Were you that understanding of Bill Clinton, when he was doing a GOOD job of protecting us from terrorist attacks AND balancing our budget AND doing it all with the existing laws and the support of the free world?No, you were there cheering during that pathetic Republican coup attempt called an Impeachment. Because you're an ignorant redneck who hates America and all we stand for.- WPD, California

The ideas of the people who made this filmstrip are far beyond my realm of reasoning & thus I can only describe it [& them] as totally DISGUSTING!!!!If this is how these people feel about Bush with all of the good he's done, they must love that drunken bum, Ted Kennedy with his Chappaquiddick 'incident' let's hope all their red noses burn like Hell!!!! Anyone UNpatriotic enough to believe this junk should not be allowed to live in the USA, but thank G-d, they have President Bush to protect their right to do so!!!!And, if they really hate it SO much.....there's still room left in the Al Qaeda Camp, just for them!!!!SRH[A VERY Patriotic Republican American who is VERY Right Wing & proud of it!!!!]- SRH, Rhode Island

The "You're An Asshole" one was preaching to the chior with me since I already knew that most republicans, heterosexists and religionists are. There are a few good people in each of those three groups I just mentioned, but unfortunately not nearly enough to make any difference.I wouldnt vote for anyone in ghe current White House regime for dog-catcher.- D.H., America

Such a fitting tribute to a group of "assholes" that all should be six feet under instead of the 2000 plus true american heroes that layed down thier lives on fake intelligence but did it for the love of this country. Karma is a bitch and there will be a day that everyone of these "assholes" will have to come to terms and pay for what they have done.- dc, florida

It is a daily grief to live in a state where your sisters and even some of your friends voted for this child of Barbara & GHW. I do not know how they insulate themselves from the horror of their own tenure in the White House-- which saw the FIRST invasion of Iraq on behalf of an oil interest--much less the willing deceit of their son in unlawful ascent (twice) to the office of the president, and the depravity of his soul in the foundation and fueling of a web of lies and secrecy. The worst of all, however, was knowing that he actually won on the votes of so-called Christians who were sucked into the republican strategy to go to the polls and vote against gay and lesbian citizens of this country. They weren't voting for him so much as they were voting against same-sex marriage, because they were told that was what the election was all about. Ignorance and fear. Apparently it is the winning ticket. And they will be using it again in the Fall 2006 elections because, at this moment in time, the Democrats also are neither smart enough nor brave enough to stand up and tell the truth.- thh, the blue center of a red state

Also, Ms. Kazek tells her readers that Mr. White is now on administrative leave while new allegations are being investigated. She writes,

Limestone County School System administrators Wednesday discussed the investigation into allegations that White showed additional obscene clips, including one of an sexually explicit animated chip (sic? - likely a typo of "clip") of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. No action was taken Wednesday but an outcome was expected today. White has not returned calls.

Ms, Kazek gave holocaust denier David Horowitz space to shill his books and talking points however on "academic freedom" She did not mention his She gave his Center for Popular Culture ink. This organization is funded by the various Scaife Foundations, the Coor's Castle Rock Foundation, ... plus Fox News "Hannity and Colmes" and even Governor Riley to express his outrage. "Beyond you" indeed Governor? Maybe Michael Scanlon could explain? Yet, referencing the filmstrip creator's website commenting she does not supply a URL or link or ...

Holly Hollman of The Decatur Daily reported "Teacher who showed students offensive Bush video is candidate for state office". She reported the clip was shown right before Spring Break with no explanation given. Ms. Hollman wrote in part,

... It refers to a country at war, the poor getting poorer and jobs moving overseas. Then it shows a color photo of President Bush with a profane caption.

That upset some parents, who complained to school officials about the content of the clips featuring Bush, members of his administration and his supporters.

Other captions, some containing profanity, are shown under photos of Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, Vice President Dick Cheney, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. ...

Parent Christy Jackson, whose son saw the film in White's class, said she thinks the motivation was political. Jackson said White is anti-Bush.

Jackson said she is upset because she wants her son to respect other people's religion, beliefs and political views.

Pam Wallace, chairwoman of the local Democratic Executive Committee, said she is in Montgomery and had not heard about the incident. "So I don't see how I can comment on it," Wallace said.

Jim Burden, chairman of the local Republican Party, said, "It bothers me that he took his political opinion into the classroom. That's not what we're paying him to teach. He should be teaching students how to make gold out of lead and stick to science."

District 4 Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, who is seeking re-election, said this is "absolutely not appropriate material" for eighth grade or high school. "I know he's my opponent, but I would say this about any teacher who showed something like that. You shouldn't use your position as a teacher to influence children about your political opinions," Hammon said. "That is wrong. He's abusing his authority."

Hammon said legislators are debating getting the Bible taught in schools as an elective, and "we sure don't need to have to come back and battle over stuff like this getting in the classroom."

Hammon said the school system needs to reassure parents that "this won't happen again."

I found this Easter edition editorial from The Decatur Daily rather interesting,

..."unless" is mighty because it trumps all other. Time marches forward unless we accept the renewal offered to us through the death of Jesus, a renewal whose power we saw, and see, through the resurrection. Death comes ever closer unless we accept a renewal that rebukes the hurry of time, that topples the temple of the finite.

We are so immersed in the temporal, we so often "hurry up please" for time, that we struggle to recognize the gift that undoes time. Like Cleopas on the road to Emmaus, we can't see renewal when it stares us in the face.

But the rebirth promised by the resurrection is real, indeed far more real than football or overdoses or cancer. Those realities are fleeting; the reality bestowed upon us by a man in pain and slumped on a cross is eternal. God forecast the renewal offered through his son with Abraham, whom God "reckoned righteous." He let Abraham rewind to a point before sin. He let Abraham accomplish what eludes us in daily life. God washed out Abraham's past sins.

Almost as implausible, Jesus washed out our finiteness even as he understood it. He understood our fear of hunger because he fasted. He understood our thirst because he went without. He experienced our pain, and our fear of it, as the thud-thud-thud of a hammer pierced his living body with nails.

He understood because, out of his love for us, he experienced it. And, of course, he experienced death. He dragged his cross toward death, soldiers and Pharisees reminding him, "Hurry up please it's time." He locked himself in linear time from birth to death so he could make our time his, and so he could kill it by dying himself. He wept with us for Lazarus, consuming himself with our grief and denying himself the escape from mortality that God withheld until Easter morning.

We hope you have a wonderful Easter. Enjoy the colors of Easter dresses and dogwood, of blue skies and green grass. Soak up the beauty and pleasure that, while finite, bring joy. But don't immerse yourself entirely in that pleasure, or in your grief. Through his death and resurrection, Christ washed out the limitations of a life that ends with death. He promised us renewal.

Wow! I'll drop the post but it is a work in progress. I need to stew on this one. Peace ... or War!

Update - I've stewed a bit and even contacted a single source that lives up that way. I understand the school system is looking at the hard drive and servers to see what nasty deeds Mr. White has been up to. I also need to remind you that I tried my darndest to teach 8th graders for four years and tackled efforts with 9th-12th graders in this last year. I'll write on my personal experiences and ideas later.

I'll do this sort of in order according to the post and then also in my stream of consciousness style. First of all, "Bobby" has likely seen a few beer advertisements, perhaps even from Anheuser-Busch and Coors. Second of all, The Fruitcake Lady is hardly on the edge appearing on the Jay Leno show.

Young Bobby, I've been in the trenches with 8th graders and I'll offer that "Mother would not approve" is seldom a consideration. Indeed, she might not and perhaps you are a model student dedicated to advancing your education. Not having a serious science class per your description might be Mr. White's fault or maybe he's doing the best he can with what he has been given or ... I just don't know. Yet it would be interesting to observe these classes and talk to some of Mr. White's teachers. Maybe he's a "moonbat lefty" and maybe you are a "mama's boy" but I'm betting there's more to the story.

Mr. White should have not shown the ***hole video. Perhaps to an older or more sophisticated class. I've previewed and let my kids "opt out" when I've been on the edge. Mr. White might be trying to connect with the class. I know 8th graders seem to enjoy gross and tastless humor. He seems to enjoy humor and in today's classroom it is good to laugh to keep from crying.

I already mentioned that Bu$h might merit some disrespecting. As a science teacher, Mr. White might be especially frustrated with this administration. I'll give you just a few "Bobby" ... Let's start with CBS News "Rewriting the Science". Even though I know you think cartoons are a waste of your time and are greatly offended by profanity I'll send you to Current's "I'm Dreaming of a Warm Christmas". There's also the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Nation gives us "The Junk Science of George W. Bush". Even the Libertarian leaning Economist provides us "Science and the Bush administration : Cheating nature?"

Many profesional educators are also very frustrated with the Bu$hCo No Child Left Behind legislation, which I've labeled as No Data-Obsessed Bureaucrat Left Behind", and his Department of Eduation. Indeed we've had this trend toward even more conservativism in education around for years. Neil Bu$h certainly has been in the corporate education mix as well. Heck, you don't even have to be family to get help via Bu$hCo if you are a supporter. Alabama has always found frustrations with DC bureaucrats. This legislation is simply a disaster. Plus it was sold on a lie, a bit of fuzzy math at best. (Sort of like a war in Iraq that has killed and maimed thousands and cost at least a trillion. This misguided and mismanaged war has alienated our allies, pushed some fence sitters over the edge, and provided recruiting fodder for jihadist for years to come.) Yet there are options to NCLB. Son/Folks, I simply don't have time or space to tell you what would perhaps really work yet if you are interested I'll be happy to share.

I gave you a heads up on DK from Texas and his quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father. Jefferson, certainly among the first American lefty enlightenment thinkers, was actually not a Founding Father, which is generally reserved for those that drafted the Constitution, in that he was in France, you know he's a Commie now hanging out with the French, when The Constitution was drafted. Indeed he crafted the Declaration, an idealsitic document built on Enlightenment ideas. The irony (You do undertand the concept of "irony" don't you DK?) is that this quote "Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism" is actually attributed to Howard Zinn, a flaming lefty.

I also found some irony in the local GOP chair speaking of creating gold from lead. At least that works in conservatism taking over the public schools. Yet he might see his party and other opportunist teach the Bible in school so "alls well that ends well".

Finally the editorial mentioned Pharisees. A little irony there I'd offer. While I love the idea of erecreation as to the editorial I'd refer you to Captain Jimi. You guys are hardly putting the fun in fundamentalism with your literalism. And while I guess that your approach might satisfy some local legitimacy I do wonder if it is appropriate for the free press to give us such blatant Christian dogma.

Here's the bottom line from the Captain ... Mr. Wilson failed to use the best judgment perhaps yet I'd almost bet that his kids are mostly OK with his approach. Playing off kids' natural distrust of authority has served me well. I've hardly ever if used Jib Jab yet Current's SuperNews has been effective in teaching at times. Today's kids enjoy being entertained and they respond to this sort of material more than many might imagine. I have no idea who this teacher is and yet I natually empahize. Here's why ...

It is right before Spring Break and the natives are restless. This teacher is passionate. He's entertained somewhat by contact with the outside world via e-mail. He is teaching in a poor school. He's a smart guy that thinks from a liberal perspective. He might believe that the idea of industrial education where young adults are placed in seats inside a cement block room is hardly ideal. He is worn out from wrestling with bureaucrats and bozos and ... So he takes a few minutes to "entertain" even without previewing the clip. Bad idea. Lack of discretion. Perhaps forgetting these kids are so young in that he's been seeing more and more adult behavior as the line between child and adult can seem blurred. So he goofs up.

We've now got an opportunity to shill our talking points. Messy issues and it takes time to figure them out. I've actually spent a few hours playing with this post. No profit and no agenda beyond writing and learning/sharing. Might have helped me more than others yet I'll share. Education young Bobby is about exposure to ideas that force us to examine the world around us. A perfect paradox is the idea, per Bertrand Russell, that as we become educated we examine the world in which we've been educated. If teaching is simply transmission of knowledge then you can have that done via a computer or some related approach. Teaching and learning is more art than science, even in a science class.

Worst administration ever! But conservatism as a whole has proven a disaster! Progressive ideals are the answer! Peace ... or War!

Update - April 17, 2006 - News Hounds has posted how the Alabama GOP was summoned for "non political " commentary for Faux New Vanity Hannity. WAFF48, an NBC station in North Alabama, owned by Raycom Media, reports "Tough tenure laws protect trouble teachers" yet the artcile sources simply talk of due process and the idea that law has been followed so far. WAFF48 also posts "Mother says teachers actions forced her daughter to leave school" with the student's mother, Mandy Wilson, claiming "He says that he hates teaching. He hates being there. He doesn't like the students. He calls them immature, idiots, stupid."

Context might explain as every teacher I know has tried to rally the troops in perhaps what seems harsh. I'm leaving the classroom as I don't always like the student's behaviors, how they've been prepared before I get them, the limitations on my creativity, conservatism's hold on education, dreadful parenting, challenges of "learning" in a concrete block room, ... plus I can do more from outside the tent I hope to help our children and their children and ...


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tacky Whacky Tom Parker Earns Entry to Team Tartan's "Crazy as a Run Over Dog" Club!

Alabama's perhaps most judgemental Judge Tom Parker is of course seeking to move up to the Chief Justice slot on our state Supreme Court. Today our "Mini Moore" is knocking down the wall (as in the wall separating government and religion) to gain entry to Captain Plaid's Hall of Shame in that you are undeniably "Crazy as a Run Over Dog", perhaps even challenging initial member Ann Coulter for dominance of this certifiably cracked pack. You'll likely be able to ally yourself with CROD alumni such as your mentor, Alabama's favorite theocrat Roy Moore. Georgia's combative Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is being considered of course for entry yet you'll likely not get her support. Of course Angry Ann might not either.

Via the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, AP reporter Phillips Rawls informs us "Hugo Black's induction into hall of fame draws Parker criticism". Mr. Rawls writes in part,

Hugo Black is still controversial in his home state 35 years after his death, with state state Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker criticizing the Alabama State Bar for inducting the former U.S. Supreme Court justice into its hall of fame Friday.

Parker issued a statement calling Black's induction into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame a "shameful disgrace to the people and state of Alabama." He said Black "personally launched the war to kick God out of the public square in America."

Parker, a Republican candidate for chief justice, also criticized Republican Chief Justice Drayton Nabers for participating in the event at the state judicial building. Parker's statement got distributed at the induction ceremony, where three other prominent Alabama legal figures were inducted along with Black.

That Justice Black is "controversial", even in his own hometown in Clay County just over the river from the Tin Shop, is more of an indictment of some ignorant people in Alabama than Hugo Black. The Alabama State Bar Hall of Fame needed Justice Black. The South and indeed the nation needs more Hugo Black and less Stripsearch Sammy and Surly Scalia and ... Plus I'm sure that our world can stand no more Bu$hCo. Senator Black would be shocked at The Rubber Stamp Congress allowing this cabal to ignore our Constitution!

ASB Executive Director Keith Norman's gave a rational reply to Judge Parker's political stunt which was indeed made all the more tacky being done on "Good Friday". You'd think a God-fearing Christian zealot of his standing would have more class. However, Tacky Whacky Tom learned at the foot of the "master of morality". Reverend Roy used "religion" to get all the way on and off the Chief Justice bench so I guess you figure it might work for you as well. Your Dixie Taliban antics are really making Alabama look even more backwards! And the scary thing is that so many of your ilk are seemingly seeking to take this from the courthouse to the White House! Peace ... or War!

Update - Easter Sunday - I hope Roy and Tom don't lean over and tell God I'm working! I was doing an email and ran across a post on a local op-ed claiming "secular socialists" were working to keep Roy Moore out of power. This same op-ed took on Hugo Black in two places. Coincidence or co-ordination?


Friday, April 14, 2006

Delta Pilots Might Take One for the/our Team

MSNBC gives us the report that Delta and their pilots union may have reached a deal that will at least (for now?) avoid a total collapse of the Atlanta-based carrier. The "tea" I write of would be the other workers such as ... flight attendants, mechanics, suppliers, our region, ... And of course there's the lenders holding all these folk's mortgages and loans. I know Delta has lots of paper out there as well! I expect their families likely enjoy a fair wage earned for services rendered. Their kids will need savings to get their own education. These pilots and Delta folks pay taxes and spend in our economy. The bottom line for The Captain is that our society is connected and we are all in this together! Whatever happens with Delta it is the PEOPLE and not the profit from the product!

I remember a quote that went something like "You don't have to be a player in capitalism to lose at the game." I'm not a socialist yet seeing businesses bomb and suck down people reminds me that the wide open market has truly harsh consequences at times.

I know Delta has taken hits that were not all their fault and yet I still think poor management has to be faulted. Southwest seems to be making money. In their mission their leadership writes,

We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.

I just don't think Delta management has figured this part out. Profits alone are not the focus of good businesses and yet smart people lead their companies to higher profitablity and true achievements of worth through treating their people fairly. I'll leave you with a few quotes that I stumbled upon in my search for the one I likely mangled above. Peace ... or War!

"Personally, I'm in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions of society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism, we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control." Noam Chomsky

"The basic difference between the period after 1973 and the previous period is that the nation's equalizing institutions - unions, public education, the welfare state broadly defined - were much weaker in the present period." William J. Wilson


Thursday, April 13, 2006

PAC Men - Alabama's Bob Riley, Mike Hubbard, and Richard Shelby

In a follow up to an earlier post here, today we have Brett J. Blackledge and Mary Orndorff of The Birmingham News reporting "Convicted lobbyist gave to 4 state PACs". This article is involving Michael Scanlon who was formerly the press secretary for Bob Riley early in his term in the U.S. Congress. Scanlon was also later a staffer of Tom DeLay. What a mess! Government of the people managed by the Big Mules. Peace ... or War!


North Alabama Congressman Bud Cramer Awakens

Brian Lawson of The Huntsville Times reports "Cramer: Bush leaks 'troubling' : Secrecy has hurt relationship with Congress, he says" with the Captain wondering "What took you so long?". I know you need to keep the Bu$hCo cabal somewhat happy to bring home the bacon for the Rocket Boys but this is long overdue. I guess now that you've got another two years without opposition you can speak a little more directly. Demand accountability as you can now stand up to the Rubber Stamp Congress. Peace ... or War!


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Politics Does Injustice to Alabama Appellate Courts!

Reform in seating and retaining appellate judges in Alabama might be boosted by the reports of a tacky e-mail from Champ Lyons III, son of Alabama Supreme Court Judge Champ Lyons Jr., to his father's opponent, Ben Hand of Opelika. Phillip Rawls of the AP via is reporting "E-mail offers glimpse into Alabama judicial campaign" and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer is carrying the same piece.

With a totally deserved tip of the tam to Wheeler at Alablawg, I can send you to Politics in Alabama for allegedly the entire e-mail. Good comments even if some seem a bit odd. And the wheeling and dealing in the Lyon's correspondence plus the link to Truth about Tom Parker, even if partly true, infuriates me.

I'm still terrified by radical judges like Roy Moore and Tom Parker. I also remain a touch disappointed in my friend Ben Hand making seemingly harsh statements on "activist" judges (click here for my take on "activist" judges) but I think he did the right thing to forward this e-mail across the state. I expect III is deep into his daddy's doghouse!

The Alabama State Bar has taken an active role in creating effective and fair processes that will not involve dreadful behavior such as illustrated above.

Our citizens deserve good judges that will simply follow the law and not go after the money and engage in unseemly political posturing. Peace ... or War!


Alabama Poverty Project Tackles Myth of the "Undeserving Poor" in Alabama

The Montomery Advertiser gave editorial space to Richard T. Crow, Interim Director of The Alabama Poverty Project, today. The Alabama Poverty Project's webpages has a "Myths and Facts about Poverty and Welfare" section that is closely related to this editorial. Peace ... or War!


Will "The Heart of Dixie" Matter in National Politics?

Although we are regrettably one of the reddest of the Red States, it might be that Alabama would have a vital role in selecting Presidential Nominees. David White of The B'ham News is reporting that the legislature has passed nearly identical bills that would set Alabama's Presidential Primary on the first Tuesday in February. Although I'm a touch concerned about the $3.5 million this will cost, it appears the Governor isn't. Alabama would be right there with South Carolina (if the current order holds!) making out state an early test for candidates in the South. This might help bring some Progressive and Populist ideas to our state! That is if the Democrats will start truly running on these ideas instead of trying to come off a Republican Lite. Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Right Wing Reverend Rick Scarborough & Alabama

"Reverend" Rick Scarborough's "Vision America" is actively recruiting "Patriot Pastors" across America. The Reverend is a rising star in the religious right. He has formed The Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Reformation dedicated to "stopping activist judges". Tom DeLay has seen Scarborough rally behind him using language such as "I believe the most damaging thing that Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ ... "

Captain Jimi has blogged in the good Reverend several times in the past including his contrived "War on Christians" and just today on his connections to a Georgia Tech student and other persecuted "Christians" suing for the right to be intolerant. For some better coverage on the "War on Christians" try Media Transparency and USA Today and People for the American Way and ...

In the course of scratching around on Reverend Scarborough, I've found several connections with Alabama. Here we go ...

First of all, his organization posted a piece lamenting that the recent Alabama church fires were not being treated as "hate crimes" when the Southern Poverty Law Center and others from "the left, which prefers to cast Christians as victimizers, not victims ..." The author is the token right wing tool for the Boston Globe Jeff Jacoby. Your arsonists turned out to be mostly students at Birmingham-Southern, a Methodist liberal arts school with a very solid academic reputation. I guess you could blame in on the "liberal" arts connection "Reverend"? They were drinking so maybe it was "demon alcohol"?

Appearing on The Foundation for Moral Law, Inc., apparently maintained by or for Alabama's favorite theocrat Roy Moore, site are various banners of Vision America and even one for their "Values Voters' Contract with America". Scarborough has been very involved in shilling for/using Roy Moore and even saying Moore hasn't "much choice" but to run for Governor. This crazy right wing tool "Reverend" Scarborough even suggested that Justice Gorman Houston, a good man that I know personally, was a "Judas".

Alabama has plenty of our pharisees without any additional help from a Texan like "Reverend" Rick Scarborough. Peace ... or War!


Monday, April 10, 2006

Judge Sue Bell Cobb - Alabama's Next Chief Justice

Judge Cobb's website is still being polished up yet there's enough there to merit a visit. I've met her, heard her speak, read some of her work, know she has worked hard for The American Cancer Society, ... and truly hope she'll be considered for this position. Alabama needs Judge Cobb! Peace ... or War!


Alabama Housing Market - Living On the Bubble?

Interesting reporting oufrom The Mobile Press-Register by Andrea James on the idea that home values in Alabama increased by $24.00 per day in 2005. Citing FDIC stats, Ms. James reports that the media price of a home in Alabama is $134,000.00. Peace ... or War!


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Big Mules Mask Money by PACs - Riley Gets Most

Brett J. Blackledge and Tom Gordon of The Birmingham News gives us "PACs often mask who's behind gift : Riley ahead in fundmaking race with major PACs backing". Darn good reporting! While I am often at least marginally sympathetic to the goals of AEA and Alabama Trial Lawyers and even some other special interests, and can accept that they have First Amendment protection for their efforts, full disclosure seems foundational in a democracy. If the average citizen can learn who is writing the checks ($8.8 million so far in campaign donations in Alabama!) and pulling the strings (as in to PAC to PAC transfers and ...) then perhaps we'll start getting some results off Goat Hill that aren't for the Big Mules. And why isn't Lucy feeling the love from these groups? Peace ... or War!


Anniston Star Scolds Bu$hCo's Jeffy B. Sessions!

The Anniston Star gives us an April 7, 2006 editorial entitled "Sen. Water Carrier". The Star, responding to the recent hearing on Russ Feingold's censure resolution, opines,

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, joined the chorus, aggressively slapping back at the suggestion that Bush has done anything wrong. He belittled the reaction to the news of Bush’s spying program as a "national spasm," warning that "it is time for some in this Congress to get over it."

If it’s possible, somebody should pull Sen. Sessions back from the brink. Loyalty is one thing. Looking the other way is quite another. Want to get your ticket punched for the senatorial hall of shame? Just keep on heading down the path Sessions is on.

"Our president is an honest man, a candid man, a strong leader. And the people of America know it," Sessions said.

We know Sessions is a loyal Republican. We know loyalty is highly prized by this White House. But we know Sessions’ career in politics will probably last longer than the 33 months remaining in Bush’s second term. Perhaps he should ask the "honest" and "candid" president when he plans to come clean for his comments of March 17, 2003: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapon ever

Oppose the censure measure if you like, senator. Just give us a legitimate reason why talking about it is so wrong. This is a democracy. People will disagree. The beauty of our system is that we can have these debates out in the open for the world to see. We are stronger because we can air our differences and practice the art of compromise. Well, some of us can.

I've of course been scolding Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for some time here and even wrote him a note on Feingold here and ... The only good thing to come out of his office is Stormie and Scarlotte. Peace ... or War!


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Alabama Republican Women Gone Wild!

The Alabama Federation of Republican Women might be a good example of the appearance of "grass roots" in the GOP. They are part of the National Federation of Republican Women that seems especially well coordinated with the ReThuglican Party. Worth a visit to each. The funding and coordination is likely part of The Mighty Wurlitzer that we often ignore.

With a tip of the tam to Wheeler at Alablawg, Kelli Hewett Taylor of the Birmingham News gives us "Prevent babies' citizenship ... Group wants illegal immigrants' `anchor' citizenship removed" reporting that the AFRW wants to amend the 14th Amendment. Ouch!

Family values, leave no child behind, compassionate conservatism, ... but it apparently comes down to money doesn't it ladies? Or is it that these are "brown" children? I can't help but wonder how many of you GOP gals might have been fine with illegal immigrants doing landscaping or cleaning or contruction work or ... around your homes. Perhaps you have gained financially with your own business or your husband's or ...? Just a guess there has been some interaction with the "brown" people from the South. Comprende?

Immigration reform is a legitimate concern yet perhaps you'd be more effective is dealing with employers actually hiring their parents. Enthusiastically enforce current laws, secure the border as best as we can, provide a mechanism for those currently here and contributing to become citizens, but leave these kids alone please. Peace ... or War!


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Amen! Tax Relief for Poor On Way to Governor!

John Davis of The Montgomery Advertiser reports the tax reform legislation has cleared the Alabama House. About damn time Goat Hill! Special snaps to Montgomery Representative John Knight! Peace ... or War.


Activist Judges Often Ignore the Will of the People!

It is seemingly effective politics in this Reddest of Red States to rail against "activist judges legislating from the bench" and "ignoring the will of the people". This is especially so if they are federal judges. George Wallace taught them that trick! Yet the B'ham News Op-Ed from today reminds us that Alabama trial judges can and often do ignore the jury recommendations of life without possibility of parole to order the State of Alabama to kill people. Like the editorial author, I'm not a fan of the death penalty, even in cases as extreme as the News reports, yet the intellectual inconsistency of many "hanging judges" seems to be present. I'm sorry! I forgot that "intellectual" can't apply to some candidates such as the one that wants Alabama to kill kids even if The United States Supreme Court has ruled against that barbaric practice. And there's also everyone's favorite Theocrat Roy Moore. What a state! Peace ... or War!


"Pig Book" Shows Alabama Got Less Pork in 2005

While I posted recently on the fact that Alabama is doing rather well at the trough, Sean Reilly of The Mobile Press-Register reports "Alabama share of federal 'pork' plunges". Mr. Reilly writes,

Even as congressionally driven "pork" spending continues to climb overall, Alabama's share plunged by 41 percent this fiscal year, a watchdog group reported Wednesday.

After receiving $345.2 million in fiscal 2005, Alabama is now getting $203 million, according to the latest "Pig Book" tally from Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based organization critical of pork expenditures.

The drop occurred despite a 6.2 percent increase in pork spending nationally this year. In all, lawmakers ordered $29 billion in funding for thousands of politically favored projects, including ...

Senator Shelby was especially weak this year in bringing home the bacon since he has shifted away from chairing the transportation appropriations sub-committee. You can review the "pig Book" data on your own at CAGW. Peace ... or War!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Should Cynthia join Ann & Roy in the CROD Club?

I've previously posted on Ann Coulter and Roy Moore being "crazy as a run over dog" yet I've nearly decided Cynthia McKinney is also worthy of admission. I've listened to Ms. McKinney's fracas being discussed on Ed Norton's PBS "News and Notes" and read several news articles yet Cynthia Tucker makes a lot of sense, as she usually does, in her AJC editorial from today. She opines,

There is a lot of bad news in black America.

After a decade of rising affluence, poverty (among blacks and whites) is on the upswing. Marriage is out of fashion, but diabetes, hypertension and heart failure are not. We die sooner than whites. And black men remain disproportionately shut out of the mainstream — unemployed, on drugs, in prison.

So if black activists and political leaders are looking for matters crying out for redress or reform or fairness, I could give them a list. Cynthia McKinney's complaints would not be on it.

If you're going to call a press conference and muster such prominent supporters as Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, you ought to be sure the issue is important enough to command national attention. You should save that sort of clarion call for the most serious matters — renewing the Voting Rights Act or raising the minimum wage so that more black men can support their children. The precious spotlight of national news coverage should not be wasted on a spoiled and demanding congresswoman who thinks she's the Soul Queen of Capitol Hill.

Nor should the Abrams tank of political warfare — the charge of "racism" — be rolled out to fight every minor battle. Racism is a shadow of its former self, but it lives yet. You see it in the high rates of harsh discipline meted out to black boys in public schools. You can also see it in the disproportionate numbers of black men sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit.Certainly, the legacy of racism is alive and well. You can see it in the self-destructive behavior of so many young black men — the internecine violence, the distorted self-esteem, the worship of thug culture. You can see the legacy of racism in the enduring rates of poverty and poor health among black citizens.

But McKinney's trumped-up charge of racism merely cheapens the term, so that it's less effective when it's needed to discuss genuine discrimination. ...

Last month, The New York Times ran a front-page story outlining the dire social and economic prospects for young black men. According to a number of recent academic studies, black men, despite the obvious successes of a few, are falling further and further behind, locked in place as a permanent underclass. "Especially in the country's inner cities, the studies show, finishing high school is the exception, legal work is scarcer than ever and prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined," the article said.

I waited for somebody to call a press conference. I waited for Jesse and Al to take to the streets demanding public policies that would bring black men into the mainstream. I looked for responses from the usual suspects — the NAACP, the Urban League and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I heard nothing.

But a misunderstanding between a second-rate member of Congress and a Capitol Hill police officer has apparently become a full-blown crisis. So maybe I'm wrong about all of this. Perhaps I just need to adjust my perspective.

Perhaps the fact that one-third of young black men have police records is not a problem. Maybe the fact that 70 percent of black children are born outside the bonds of marriage is no big deal, and a 72 percent unemployment rate among black male high school drop-outs in their 20s does not signal a crisis. Maybe the serious decline in the marriage rate among black adults does not suggest the demise of a community.

No, indeed. The biggest problem facing black America involves a white cop who wouldn't give a black woman her props.

I have seen interviews in the past and certainly recently of Ms. McKinney where she came across very poorly. For some time I've tried to give this woman the benefit of the doubt. I will wait for further information about the incident in DC and agree that perhaps the police officer could have handled it another way. Still, I expect Congresswoman McKinney should have as well. Perhaps her skin color or change in hair style had something to with the fact she was not recognized. Indeed Capitol Hill cops should know members of Congress. But she's hardly placing herself in a good light with her recent actions. Democrats, uhm, "We can do better!". Peace ... or War!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay takes Bachus and ... $$$$ and Runs

Now that "Hot Tub" Tom DeLay has taken one for the GOP team in TX-22, Alabama perhaps need to be reminded that Vestavia Hills U.S. Representative Spencer "Sushi" Bachus has given at least $10,000.00 to Tom DeLay's legal fund. An April 26, 2005 piece in Public Citizen provides
But Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) found a way to circumvent the House rules, according to the Public Citizen analysis. He made one $5,000 contribution through his leadership PAC and a second from his campaign fund. That $10,000 total contribution makes Bachus the largest congressional contributor to DeLay’s legal defense in the last three months.

"Political shenanigans" facing the Bug Man motivated Spencer "Sushi" Bachus to cancel his B'ham campaign fundraiser for The Hammer once he was nailed with indictments. Several other Alabama GOP "representatives" likewise were showing The Hammer the love. This B'ham News report by Mary Orndorff reports that

All five Republicans from Alabama have either accepted campaign funds from DeLay's political action committee or made contributions to DeLay's legal defense fund, or both. Bachus' campaign fund and his leadership PAC each gave $5,000 to DeLay's legal fund earlier this year; Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, are listed as $5,000 contributors; and Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, gave $1,000.

Including Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth, all five Alabama Republicans have accepted campaign contributions from DeLay's political action committee over the years. The largest recipient is Rogers, who accepted $10,000 for each of the past two election cycles and also for the next one in 2006 for a total of $30,000.

Family values and good Americans! Of course Spencer "Sushi" Bachus then picked the right horse in the House Majority Leader battle which will likely assure Bachus the Chairperson slot on Finance. Peace ... or War!


Alabama Foster Parents Deserve More $$$

Although the piece is mostly focused on children in therapeutic settings, those with super serious issues, Kim Chandler of The B'ham News gives us a good review of the whole funding process for foster parenting. DHR is poor-mouthing and Governor Riley's budget did not provide the extra money. Peace ... or War!


Monday, April 03, 2006

Auburn's Chris Porter Back in the Slammer

A sad story broke this weekend about former Auburn basketball star Chris Porter. The Montgomery Advertiser/Dothan Eagle is reporting Porter is once again facing criminal charges, this time involving a DUI and a misdemeanor drug charge. Long ways from the cover of SI! Hope this man can get his act together. Peace ... or War!


Pork Politics - Alabama is #12 per capita!

The Anniston Star gives us "Pork Pride" today pointing out that once in our history admitted liberals were expected to go to DC and bring home the bacon. Apparently "conservatives" are as well, all the time running on small government rhetoric. I've previously pointed out that Sushi Hating Spencer Bachus blames bureaucrats for the need to earmark pork. It amazes me that people run for a position leading our government when they don't like or trust government. Peace ... or War!


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Know history to avoid being surprised!

Chairman and Publisher H. Brandt Ayers of The Anniston Star once again provides our region with rare insights into real concerns. Not perfectly crafted, which I'll address later, but surely close enough to where I hope folks will read and ponder, although most of the people that can and will do that sort of thing aren't really the concern I'd suggest. Mr. Ayers, in his "End of the rich man’s era?" jumps rather quickly into an idea that

We may be about to turn sharply on socio-political hinges to the urgent concerns of the average citizen, much like a similar swing in the decade and a half following the turn of the last century.
Sharp swings are often where lots of people are harmed so I would hate to see that occur. Yet, given the direction of the GOP Rubber Stamp Congress and the Bu$hCo cabal plus organizations like ALEC prepared to bring even more Big Mule Protections into the states, I fear it may very well take a crumbling before Joe and Jill Sixpack will wake up. And even then will it be too late? Mr. Ayers knows his history and weaves his understanding nicely into this and other work. I know we often tell our youth that studying history is to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past but I'm becoming more accepting of the idea that learning it really is so you'll not be as surprised when the inevitable occurs.

Mr. Ayers continues with

Middle-class Americans today tighten their belts, hope they don’t get laid off by merger or outsourcing and shake their heads in resignation as ExxonMobil swims in profits of $36.1 billion and awaits a share of $7 billion in tax breaks.

Small-town merchants, the core of Main Street values, watch with the resigned calm of men facing a firing squad as Godzilla-Mart approaches to swallow them, starving local radio stations and newspapers dependent on locally owned advertisers.
True enough for the middle class squeeze plus I've also blogged on the damage deregulation has caused local media. The one area where I was concerned about Mr. Ayers' editorial, not based on what he thinks as I know he's an enlightened man, follows, the emphasis being supplied by this blogger, when he writes

It is tempting to believe that the weight of the war and the real-world, street-level worries of working and middle-income citizens could be resolved in a burst of reform brought on by a new Congress and president.

Modern life, however, is more complicated. The old monopoly trusts could be broken up, freeing competitors and adding jobs, but we don’t know how to regulate the global marketplace of our time or how to find a productive place for its victims.

Our homes, our neighborhoods and especially clerks in gas station grub marts —combat soldiers of the retail world — are under constant threat by what seems a permanent black male underclass drawn to crime and drugs. Even such eminent black scholars as Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson think there may be a cultural reason for so many young black criminals, but the point is that no one knows.

The current leadership doesn’t seem to care about the victims of the global economy or the pathology of young black males. It is fixed on war, vaporous "family values" and tax breaks for Big Oil and the rich.

Much of the above is indeed dead on yet his venture into Professor Patterson's work, a recent NY Times editorial of his perhaps stoking Mr. Ayers' fire (unfortunately now probably locked behind their damned Select feature), gave me cause for pause. I often fear the neo-confederates that seem to often take offense to The Star's tolerance, plus others lacking in refinement on race, such as many of The Freepers, could use portions of writing such as "constant threat by what seems a permanent black male underclass drawn to crime and drugs." in less that ideal ways. Having the anti-intellectual racist or even worse pseudo-educated neo-con actually cite a scholar at Harvard, that bastion of liberal elitism, might however be an especially tasty irony. I am admittedly learning as I continue to blog how difficult clear and concise writing can be. I have an eternity to go before I am even close to the quality of most authentic journalists.

Further commentary on Dr. Patterson's work(For the record I found his NYT op-ed very rewarding and also rather frustrating!) may be found at TPMcafe.

Kudos to Mr. Ayers for his work and his The Anniston Star! Peace ... or War!