Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What do Bama GOP's Platform Reps worry about?

Mary Orndorff of the B'ham News reports Alabama Republicans send social conservatives to GOP platform debate. The piece explores the possibility that "Sen. John McCain's more moderate positions on things such as stem cell research or global climate change could spark a debate." To the left appears Dr. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa who is the Representative for Alabama's 63rd House District. I'll confess he'd escaped my notice.. Thanks Goodness for The Google!

The following interview by Maria Hinojosa of PBS in their Taxing the Poor effort from April 11, 2008 reveals plenty.

"If they really are poor ..." and "may not be poor in spirit" and "not being able to buy the conveniences you think they ought to have" truly gets my Scots up. Doc's got so much on his mind to make regressive taxation not high on his list of things to worry about? Huh? The PBS link above has a video that's worth clicking through to see more. That Ms. Hinajosa brings up the phenomenal subsidies Alabama has given to some very profitable corporations is so appreciated. Amen!

Quotes from both Bama GOP head Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn are provided as well as some references to St. John's positions on various issues. Dr. Bentley is quoted in part in the Orndorff piece as follows:
"I still think we need to continue to support our conservative base, especially pro-life and family values."
Martha Stokes of Carrollton, described as "a retiree who is attending her first GOP convention" yet apparently connected enough to serve on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Authority, is the other social conservatives referenced in Miss Mary's reporting. I also quickly learned that Miss Martha was a Bu$h elector in 2000 and 2004. Miss Martha, just a 'little ole retiree', is quoted as saying:
"I really want to keep a very conservative platform, especially on the social issues."
As to the stem-cell research quandary, Ms. Ordorff writes:

Bentley said he opposes federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, and he would balk at platform language that would endorse it.

"I'm a physician, and I'm pretty conservative, especially on life issues," Bentley said. "It's hard to be a physician and not be for life, but I'm also for research. There are a lot of scientific studies going on that are not necessarily embryonic, and we need to put a lot of money into that."

As to climate change Ms. Orndorff reports:

Bentley said it's not an issue the platform committee should spend much time on.

"I think it's mainly elitist groups that are interested in global warming," he said. "Average Alabamians and Americans aren't interested in global warning."

At the end of the reporting on the GOP, a quote from Mike Duncan, the chairman of the Republican National Committee in Washington, is shared.

"I'm confident at the end of the day we're going to have a platform that accommodates the party at this particular time," Duncan said. "I'm not concerned that it's going to change dramatically over where we are as a party that believes in less government, lower taxes, individual responsibility and a strong national defense."
I'd have appreciated Mary Orndorff asking these two, especially Miss Martha, how she thinks things worked out for "social conservatives" during the Bu$hCo years.

As for Mr. Duncan's claims, I'd suggest "accommodates the party" could be seen to be "whatever it takes to get these Bible thumping rubes" to continue voting against their economic interests yet his brand of right wingery might very well lean toward social conservatism. I'd also have liked to have seen some fleshing out of the fact that government spending, especially that via privatization for profit, has exploded under Bu$hCo. The fact that taxes have been cut for the fat cats rather than the regular folks might have been worth exploring. The "evolution: of St. John's position on the Bu$hCo tax cuts for the top brackets might have been worth a look, What "individual responsibility" means remains unclear. What a strong national defense exactly means also remains out there.

Dr. Bentley waffles a little on the stem cell issue, so I'll hope for hope. The best approach I'd suggest is to push forward on both embryonic and adult cells. The reason there are "a lot" relates to the funding that has been out there. Those that we've lost and will lose, or will merely suffer more, because of your "culture of life" can judge you Doc. The embryonic line that made the cut because they were already destroyed had serious flaws. While some adult cell research is promising few serious scientists would suggest we'd not be way ahead but for reactionaries ruining our efforts.

With all the above out of my system, I couldn't help but note this successful physician (the largest dermatology practice in the South!) throwing around "elitist". "Average" Alabamians or Americans might not be interested in "global warming" but even your own Southern Baptist denomination recently noted concerns. His political backers, the usual suspects indeed, are here yet given his likely wealth I suppose it might not matter.

I'd expect Mrs. Stokes might be doing OK as well but the main beef I had was that Mary Orndorff didn't tell her whole history. She's a solid reporter I think yet I've been giving her more attention after she recently missed the mark in describing Karl Rove's recent "testimony to Congress."

Finally, I couldn't help but note that Dr. Bentley's four sons are named John, Paul, Luke, and Matthew. No Mark? John Gunn

UPDATE ~ August 13, 2008 - Doc Bentley thinks "it's mainly elitist groups that are interested in global warming" and that "Average Alabamians and Americans aren't" yet I find three news pieces in just today's state papers that suggests otherwise. The Anniston Star's editorial On the energy bandwagon: Southern governors' plan reminds us of what regional cooperation on energy solutions might accomplish. That federal funding is an issue is certain. Our universities certainly have a role in seeking remedies. Bryan Lyman of the Mobile Press-Register files State high in carbon output where he explains Alabama ranking 13th on the list of states. About 31 tons of carbon are generated for each resident of the state as compared to the average of 20 tons per citizen nationally. I guess Alabama Power is an "elitist group" as they surely seem interested in the prior piece plus most certainly Mr. Lyman's Alabama Power looks for new ways to make coal work.

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