Monday, March 31, 2008

Love and loss so I'm liable to soon be gone a while

This image is perfectly perfect as it captures two themes. I am reflecting on an amazing man and a precious sister who is about to have to let him go. Struggling with prostate cancer has been their life these recent years. Yet they've been a wonder to behold. Their life and love has been something I've at times been jealous of. They each found their perfect partner while in school at Auburn University and proceeded to raise two fine children that have become solid adults of their own. My nephew and niece have married well and started families of their own, the niece even marrying "The Republican" who I can't help but still like. My sister and her husband have been very involved in their little church and community down in South Alabama for thirty or so years. When our mother died when I was but thirteen they took me in for almost two years. Words can't convey the kind of people they are.

On a selfish note, this man is yet another surrogate father I've had to give up within the year as my best friend's father unexpectedly died this past August. I miss him for my dear friend of course but also for his wife, who I'll label as a surrogate mother of mine. He was a special man that influences me even today, as does my brother in law.

I can accept death. I've surely seen enough it seems, often from the damned cancer, and yet I grieve for those left behind. My sister and my best friend's mother both love the men they made their lives with and I know the long road ahead for both of these tremendous women. To lose what you love doesn't diminish the love but you'd still like to have them with you I'd think. I hope I'll not have to find that out for many, many years.

Now for the good news. I'll start with something my brother in law relayed to me via my sister this weekend when I told them the good news. "Now John will have someone to grow old with." That somebody is going to be my wife. We are/were to marry Friday and then spend a long weekend up on one of the Puget Sound islands above Seattle. We've been together, on and off, for nine or so years now. We should have married long ago and if I hadn't been scared and also rather an ornery ass we'd have likely done so. Given the delay, I suppose with trouble back home, and notice I didn't use "home" this time, we can work toward another date or place should that be required. If now or later, I'll still be so very sad that while I marry my one true love to see my sister have to let hers go on without her. They are both people of strong faith yet loss is still real on this earth.

So I'll likely be AWOL for a few days yet perhaps not just yet. I wanted to drop a post in case the blog sudenly goes blank. I'm not a religious man so save your prayers if they are for me. But there's a kind, smiling, tall man who loves to turkey hunt almost as much as he love his God and family. That's my brother in law. He and his deserve whatever you can give them.

However, the bride and I will take a smile and congrats for our marriage. We'll have to be apart far more than I'd like over these next few years as she will remain in the promised land of Auburn, Alabama for at least a little longer. But I'm hers and she's mine. Our love will last. And we will grow old together. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of April 2, 2008 - My sister's husband has just died. Their courage, effort, and grace in these last few years have been so impressive. I'll be flying home in the evening to arrive in Atlanta early Friday morning.

John Kyl and George Will play defense with offense

Not the the Huggy Bear embrace of Arizona's Senior Senator of course yet Arizona's Junior Senator John Kyl loves him some Bu$hCo as well. Kyl is actually more of the movement conservative set than St. John has ever been, at least until these last few months when he's become John McSame.

Blue Texan via FireDogLake posts George Will And Jon Kyl Blame Housing Crisis On “Marginal”, “Poor”, “Minorities” — And Of Course, Democrats where they might have given the DFHs a lesson on how to handle situations where one would normally think hunkering down for the storm might be wise. In the comments Spacefish notes that Neil Boortz was using this theme recently and suggests the talking points are making the rounds.

I guess Alfonzo Jackson didn't them with this noted in Pete Yost's reporting:
Asked about the problems with subprime mortgages last June, Jackson insisted that many such borrowers were not unsophisticated, low-income people but what he called "Yuppies, Buppies and Guppies" — well-educated, young, black and gay upwardly mobile achievers — with expensive cars who bought $400,000 homes with little or no money down.
Ruh Roh! The "unwashed masses" aren't to blame? Thanks goodness Alphonso got in a lick on the black folks and the homos. All right wingers know it couldn't be the corporations and conservatism.

John Kyl, and Huckleberry Graham, is of course rather infamous for lying in an amicus brief to the Supremes. He was willing to mislead the Supreme Court on an “extensive colloquy” that never occurred so reckon he'll be willing to lie to George Stephanopoulos and the American public?

As to George Will, he actually made me lie once. George Will knows little about working in education yet he's perfectly content and able to advance conservatism, driving me to parenthetical pursuit of his wrongness. In early February George Will was talking up the rhythms of the modern economy telling his readers that market corrections were "constructive".

The bottom line for this post is that many pols and pundits on the right seldom if ever give an inch. I'll openly accept both parties have responsibility for the deregulation debacle yet I think Dubyah was doing as much to push the "ownership" society theme as anyone. With Alan Greenspan propping Bu$hCo up so that Americans wouldn't feel as pinched the die was cast. The idea that Democrats have had much if any power these years is flawed as well. But any of this stop these two? Nope, they pushed on with the frames that they and theirs respond to. And it keeps on working. It's time to give them a dose of their own medicine. John Gunn

Bu$hCo Housing Secretary headed to his house

This image of Dubyah and soon to be former HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson is almost as classic as the one of Bu$h and John "Huggy Bear" McCain. I first posted on Secretary Jackson back in late January. He made it a little over two months yet AP's Pete Yost reports Hud Chief Resigns Amid Criminal Probe. Dave Montgomery of McClatchy Newspapers notes "Jackson's departure further erodes the inner-circle of Texas friends and confidantes who followed Bush to Washington (such as) White House political guru Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and high-ranking State Department official Karen Hughes." The Reign of Error of the Mayberry Machiavellis is drawing to an end. And none too soon. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening on March 31, 2008 - Smintheus on Daily Kos celebrates One crook down while also providing us a solid overview of this Bu$hCo operator.

Former Bama JuCo head Roy Johnson cuts deal

Brett Blackledge of the B'ham News reports Former 2-year college chancellor Roy Johnson enters formal guilty plea in federal court. He pled to each and every one of the fifteen counts and "he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as they continue their probe of a corruption scheme that tapped more than $18.3 million of taxpayer money from the two-year college system." I bet there's is even more serious sweating going on up on Goat Hill now that the deal is done. If $18.3 million was in fact involved there ought to be plenty of people facing troubles. John Gunn

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Don Siegelman coverage ~ The B'ham News is crowing and The Decatur Daily is speculating

On a recent Daily Kos post I asked How will Alabama's media explain Don Siegelman's release? Well, they are hardly eating crow if the B'ham News' A federal appeals court ruled former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman can stay out of prison for now and may have valid grounds to appeal his public corruption conviction is representative. They opine:

His release is no affront to taxpayers or to justice, assuming the court didn't give Siegelman any consideration it wouldn't give any other defendant. ...

The bigger issue is whether Siegelman's conviction will stand. ...

But it's foolish to predict victory for Siegelman at this point. ...

That doesn't mean the 11th Circuit has made up its mind. ...

In our view, Siegelman's actions leading to this case didn't serve the taxpayers' interests at all, and his justifications of those actions reflect a terribly cynical and sad view of political service. His actions as part of this criminal case haven't always reflected well on him, either.

With all the clamor about injustice in this case, a number of people already have decided Siegelman didn't get a fair deal. But the legal process must take place apart from the political sideshow that has accompanied so much of this case. It's important to note that most of the talk about political conspiracies and Karl Rove schemes hasn't come in court filings, at least so far.

But because so many of the political allegations have taken on a life of their own, the appeals court has an extra-important role to play in ensuring the federal government took no improper shortcuts and that the case against Siegelman can withstand scrutiny.

To get in a few licks after what they've done to Don seems rather shameless. How they manage to try to stand up for "the taxpayers" seems odd. How they remind us that the appeals process isn't certain seems like a way to merely fill space. What I'd have liked them to do is look through how they've opined about this case from the get go. They are due some crow eating but we get more crowing.

Finally, I'm somewhat troubled by the Decatur Daily's Politics put Siegelman in prison, politics get him out. Their pointing out that two Clinton appointees (see update below) ruled in his favor simply offends me. Do they really impugn these Judges' integrity so cavalierly? That's totally out of bounds. That they just label Judge Mark Fuller a Republican bothers me as well. He's an active Republican with ties to the Defense Department and GOP Congressman Terry Everett plus ... but they seem to be painting with a very broad brush. "Whether the threat of the government not allowing Mr. Siegelman out to testify had anything to do with his release is speculation." So why did this make it into print? I don't follow this paper very often so I'm not sure they've covered this case or politics in general.

Thank goodness for The Anniston Star. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ March 31,2008 - No eating of crow from B'ham News but the Mobile Press-Register's JD Crowe draws up Siegelman the Avenger giving The Don prison tats and muscle. Very cute.

UPDATE ~ April 3, 2008 - Bob Martin tells us "The two United States Circuit Court judges who signed the order were Susan Black, who was appointed to the court by President George H. W. Bush, and Stanley Marcus, appointed by President Bill Clinton. " I failed to try to verify The Decatur Daily's assertion and have yet to verify Bob's. However, his specificity makes me think he's right. As is so often the case, it would appear Alabama papers go out of their way to accept and even outright spin GOP talking points.

Bama JuCo mess still appropriately being covered

I thought I'd blogged on Jennifer Washburn's University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of American Higher Education previously yet apparently I've not. This book has been on my wish list for some time however. I'm an educator at heart. While hardly a fan of the excesses of capitalism I am equally bothered by corruption. And it would appear we've got a good dose of that in Alabama.

Brett Blackledge of The B'ham News, who else regular readers or those in the know might ask, is back in the saddle with Records show Alabama State Sen. E.B. McClain got paid from state grants he sent to nonprofit group. I'd built off his earlier work when I mentioned Senator McClain's latest woes in a December post.

While Senator McClain may have committed ethical and perhaps even criminal acts by getting paid via grants he helped secure, Rep. John Rogers and his bride were also cashing checks from Sam Pettagrue's "non-profit" named "Community Resource Center" which was later changed to "Heritage of Hope".

There's also a mention of former Governor Don Siegelman's aide and then ADECA director Nick Bailey, who of course in currently in the can after cutting a deal and tossing Don under the bus. The article indicates
Nick Bailey, who was then Gov. Don Siegelman's ADECA director, sent an e-mail to an agency employee in early May 2001 asking her to "check on a grant thru Knight for Sen. McClain, re: a community resource center." Within a few days, Pettagrue received the grant.
The "thru Knight for Sen. McClain" likely doesn't help Rep. John Knight, who I'm a fan of for his efforts on tax fairness, in the best light yet that's Nick Bailey's correspondence.

Then Senate General Fund Budget Committee Chairman Roger Bedford also was mentioned for approving ADECA funds through Lawson Community College that wound up with the Pettagrue non-profit. I'm fond of Roger the Dodger as well for his often relatively Progressive positions yet accept that he's had a few "stumbles" along the way. Blackledge writes
McClain, however, requested a $200,000 grant through Bedford in December 2001, records show. He made the request in the name of Lawson State Community College.
That "through" is Blackledge's own it would appear but I still don't like the way it reads. I surely hope Brett's not part of the "team" that some fear are looking for heads of Alabama Democrats to hang on the wall.

There's more in this sorry saga.
McClain helped Pettagrue's nonprofit tap into state two-year college funding in 2003 after the ADECA grant program ended. The two-year college funding continued into 2006 for the nonprofit, totaling more than $310,000, records show.
It looks like Roy Johnson talked after all. Good grief! Certainly I think there are questions about the way these investigations are being carried out, most notably in how the Middle District's Alice Martin is going about her work. Her effort to serve subpoenas while the Alabama legislature was in session was most improper and clearly grandstanding. The early morning raid on Rep. Sue Schmitz's home was even more outrageous. I'll let Bob Martin of The Montgomery Independent bring you up to speed on Alice Martin.

While this mess might have a bonus for some of the GOP persuasion to discredit the Democratic Party in Alabama, it is also appropriate for digging to continue. I started this post noting how higher education might be corrupted when corporations get involved, not that we don't see corporate corruption in plenty of other places, yet I'm perfectly steamed over what appears to have occurred up on Goat Hill and around this state with our JuCos, ADECA funds, non-profits and the like. Here's hoping Brett Blackledge and others will keep scratching about.

If public education funds in this state have been used in this manner then this former teacher is flat out disgusted. People that hear or read about this sort of thing will naturally lose trust in what good can come from grant programs and government in general. Alabama has enough to try to overcome without this.

Additional damage can come if in fact the GOP is able to effectively get voters to associate the Alabama Democratic Party with corrupt politicians. While I'm often a fierce partisan, I'll admit there's plenty here that disturbs me about several Democratic "leaders", both past and present. However, the policy positions of the GOP seldom if ever appeal to me and I'd like to think I'm sophisticated enough in being able to figure out who to vote for anyhow. Then again, I often don't have candidates I care that much for anyhow. There are exceptions of course.

I've long believed the Alabama Democratic Party needs to so ofter stop trying to be Republican Lite yet they may also want to cull a few from their ranks. A purge may be long overdue. Throw these jokers under the bus if they've done wrong. John Gunn

Lame photos soon coming to my lame blog

Why now is an especially proper time to buy a camera will be revealed soon yet I've been wanting one for a while. This tiny Sony DSC-W55 will be my very first digital. Eventually I'd like to get a digital version of something like the Canon EOS Elan IIe 35mm SLR that some jackass stole from me back in 2001 but I'm optimistic this little gem will serve me well. I've bought a Lowepro case for traveling about town and a ACU padded pouch that is woven onto my body armor. While I'll likely never be able to share such top drawer photos, or writing for that matter, that Glynn Wilson routinely does, his latest Ospreys Mating in Broad Daylight being simply amazing, I'll do what I'm able. John Gunn

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Will Phil Gramm's deregulation debacles, crony capitalism, and ... affect St. John McCain?

Politico's Lisa Lerer gives us McCain guru linked to subprime crisis but she also shares his cashing in with UBS. She covers his work with St. John to defeat Clinton's health care plan back in the early 1990s. She doesn't mention his and especially Mrs. Gramm's involvement with Enron. I can recall getting furious with then Senator Gramm about something he said on economics way back in the day. I recall it was something that a kid in high school economics would have known was flawed yet this Ph.D. holder was pandering to the right wing free market Friedmanites. Phil was also an ornery cuss when he was a Senator to boot. It's bad enough to look at Huggy Bear's War Cabinet yet his economics team may be just as flawed. John Gunn

"First Europeans" arrival a million plus years ago

James Owen of National Geographic News shares "First European" Confirmed to Be 1.2 Million Years Old. James Randerson, science correspondent for The Guardian, delivers additional coverage via Fossil find could be Europe's first humans that features a nice reconstruction of what "Homo antecessor, or pioneer man, a possible ancestor of both our own species and Neanderthals" might have looked like. Newsweek's The First Europeans by Sharon Begley is also worth a visit for reminding us "The oldest known hominid fossils in Eurasia were found in Dmanisi, Georgia, and have been dated at 1.8 million years." I wonder how my son's former "science teacher" or BC Tours would handle this? I bet they'd use the "test of faith" and/or "Noah's flood mixed up the layers" approach. Any other ideas? John Gunn

The Economist ~ How Brits and Yanks differ on ...

In The Economist's Britain and America section Anglo-Saxon attitudes are examined. Notice the huge differences as to religion and values. Just where are the "Godless liberals" in America? The Brits, even their Conservatives, will apparently go to hell and not have to wait in line. I also noted Republican's attitude about climate change is also rather far to the right. Perhaps the lack of a strong secular society fits with the idea that "God" is actively riding herd over his/her creation? Then again, Pastafarians generally accept the earth's temperature is rising in an inverse relationship with the number of pirates. RAmen. John Gunn

Friday, March 28, 2008

Does Joe Sixpack really live in bliss?

If ignorance is bliss then I expect plenty of Americans are rather blissful. I've had the theme of "just trying to have some understanding is hard work" before yet this uptick in violence in Iraq has me thinking of how poor old Joe Sixpack is likely lost.

The above image is from State and is titled President Bush Meets with His Eminence Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They had a meeting, their second in fact, back in December of 2006. Dubyah described Hakim as "one of the distinguished leaders of a free Iraq (who is) involved with helping the new government succeed." PBS has an interview from December of 2003 with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim that is worth reading for insights into the man, his Badr Brigade, Iraq, etc.

Greg Bruno of the Council on Foreign Relations gets space in today's WaPO to explain why the fighting is at least in part a power struggle within the Shiite community in Iraq. He writes:
Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and associated militant wing, the Badr Brigade, have a history of clashes with Sadr's Mahdi Army. In a November 2007 report, the International Crisis Group assessed the rivalry as a class struggle between "the Shiite urban underclass," represented by Sadr, and wealthier Shiites in Baghdad and the holy cities, represented by ISCI. Washington has thrown its weight behind Hakim, who has close historic ties to Iran (including siding with Iran's mullahs during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War). Some observers see the recent violence as an attempt by Hakim to reshape the political landscape ahead of provincial elections (VOA) slated for October 2008, while Sadr's militia has returned to arms as a countermeasure.
Close ties to Iran? I thought the Bu$h administration, certainly Dead Eye Dick, was freaking out about Iran. Strange bedfellows indeed.

I'm also struggling with the reporting of Steven Lee Myers in the NYT titled Bush Says Iraq Has Reached ‘Defining Moment’. The first line, with my emphasis supplied toward the end, reads, "President Bush strongly defended Iraq’s prime minister on Friday at what he called a “defining moment” for the Baghdad government, saying the United States supported its offensive against a Shiite militia and would provide any military assistance that was sought." The "a Shiite militia" might be revealing in that some are at least tolerated, even ones who have a history with Iran. Seems like nuance on top of nuance yet not so for Bu$hCo.

Also, I learned today that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has given "Shiite extremists", certainly those in Basra and perhaps even elsewhere, until April 8th to lay down their weapons. Wonder if that delay has anything to do with General Petraeus appearing before Congress on that day and the next? Dan Rather's thoughts on this perhaps being the future of Iraq seem relevant as well. Sonni Effron of the LA Times is pointing out that last week the reduced violence was being hailed as progress and yet now the fighting is. And if in fact Maliki did roll into Basra without so much as a heads up then that hardly seems like he's working with Washington.

How complicated. How challenging. I can't imagine how Joe keep up. Can he be expected to understand any of this? I'm not sure if the mass media and other resources for information can explain this so that pretty much anyone could. Via "the internets" you can dig, seek context, ask questions, and the like. Yet that's not likely to be at the top of priorities for many Americans and certainly not for Joe Sixpack. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Just after midnight on 29th of March, 2008 - Atrios says, "The message that low information voters need to hear is that Democrats want to get out of Iraq, and Huggy Bear and the Republicans want to stay there forever." I think some low information voters are lazy and/or stupid yet others are just too damn busy trying to make a living, take care of their family, ... to have to work so damn hard to get good information. Some are products of poor schools and/or sorry parents. "Ignorant" doesn't always reflect a "bad" person.

UPDATE #2 ~ Early morning og March 29, 2008 - Kevin Drum has a helpful summary of the folks involved in the lower part of Iraq.

Bu$hCo admits FDR's New Deal is still working!

I couldn't help but think of Richard Viguerie's Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause when I read The Anniston Star's Editorial Saved by the New Deal: Conservatives and policies. The Star is dead on yet "conservative crazies" will never, ever admit that their foolishness is flawed. They'll blame Bu$hCo for not being conservative enough. If and when St. John McCain loses it is because he wasn't conservative enough. It is never the view they hold but rather people or politics or ... I've blogged on Richard Viguerie previously in case you need an update. He's a classic in that he's able to blend his movement conservatism with some profiteering. At least conservatism is able to generate something constructive. And don't buy Dick's book please! John Gunn

UPDATE ~ High noon on March 30, 2008 - AP/MSNBC's Most sweeping changes since Great Depression: Proposal will give the Federal Reserve new regulatory power had me thinking tht perhaps Bu$hCo's Treasury Department was showing some courage on the issue. Why the Paulson Plan is DOA by Michael Mandel in Business Week brought me back to reality. Finally, Loren Steffy, the Houston Chronicle's business columnist, serves up a skewering of "Manhattan Paulie". Is this guy the Wolcott of Wall Street? He writes
Through it all, Paulson brushed aside worries about the housing market and the economy until they became a well-developed crisis. With Bear Stearns facing collapse, Manhattan Paulie finally donned his hero's hat, ready to whip up a regulatory response. In that, he offers sound reasoning. If Wall Street is going to benefit from the Federal Reserve's support, as banks do, then it should have to submit to the same regulations as banks. Perhaps the swinging pendulum knocked some sense into his gleaming noggin.

Darcy Burner gets WaPo coverage on page A3

Above we've got Dubyah and Dave Reichert. While Representative Reichert tries at times to distance his efforts from the current administration, he, like the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, certainly have to accept their role in this mess he is about to leave us with. He'll also call in Bu$hCo to help him raise some campaign cash. That enabling role for Dave Reichert goes well beyond Iraq yet it's a good place to start. Darcy Burner is certainly going to make sure voters in Washington's 8th have a clear choice for new leadership come this November. Today she recieved page A3 coverage from the WaPo's Paul Kane with 42 Democrats Vow a Drawdown in Iraq If They Win Seats. I'll question however the following assertion he made:
Rejecting their party leaders' assertions that economic troubles have become the top issue on voters' minds, leaders of the coalition of 38 House and four Senate candidates pledged to make immediate withdrawal from Iraq the centerpiece of their campaigns.
There are plenty of problems to hang around anybody from the GOP right now, the economic troubles being at the top of the list. I'm not sure that Democratic leaders have made this decision but Mr. Kane is likely better informed than me. If that's true, then it might be that once again the "leaders" in my party are ready to squander opportunities. It could be that Darcy Burner is showing even more courageous leadership by setting a course that's different from the strategists that so often derail Democratic candidates. John Gunn

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nine months with Feds but Don walks tomorrow

Justice was delayed but Don Siegelman finally got at least a little. CNN, MSNBC, the Gray Lady, ... all report that he's being cut loose pending his appeals. Clearly he's no flight risk and the 11th believes "substantial questions" about his conviction have been raised. Take that Judge Mark Fuller! Via the NYT you can actually read the Court's opinion. It reads well for what's there and also for what's not. They don't go so far as using "learned trial judge" (which is a way that appeals courts at times identify "the jackass who screwed up") yet it is always significant to reverse a matter that's mostly left with a trial judge's discretion. The 11th just couldn't give Judge Fuller's "reasoning" the normal pass.

And to think the Mobile Press-Register tried to defend the denial of the normal bond pending appeal as being backed by "sound legal arguments". Asking why it took so long for Judge Fuller to actually explain his reasoning, only doing so because the 11th forced him to, twice actually I think, wasn't tackled by the MPR. The B'ham News opined "there's precious little reason to believe justice wasn't served when a jury found him guilty" as well. Apparently, the claim from David Prather of the Huntsville Times that Don is "relatively guilty" wasn't considered by the 11th Circuit. Reckon the three Newhouse Advance Publications papers will feature an eating of crow in the morning? Or will they rely on more sleights of hand?

State Representative Mike Hubbard, the chairman of the Alabama GOP, had the gall to suggest "It would be premature to turn this development into anything other than a formality." (A formality? Is that sort of like you telling people that you'd serve no more than one or two terms when you first ran Mike?) When Don gets to DC for a little chat with Congress perhaps that will merit something a little less haughty from the right wing apologists and operators. I get 333 Google hits via Google News for the story of his release so it would appear there is some interest out there.

I'm so happy for Don and his family. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Attorney General Michael Mukasey's timing couldn't have been better as he "vowed anew Thursday to crack down on crooked politicians and public officials, dismissing critics who accuse the Justice Department of letting partisan loyalties interfere with corruption cases."

UPDATE ~ March 31, 2008 - Rep. Artur Davis has sent Rep. John Conyers, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, a letter expressing concerns about Don Siegelman testifying. At one point I understood Don was ready to appear and yet even then I wondered if that was wise. Congressman Davis points ou the dangers of him testifying given the ongoing nature of his case.

How'd "relative insularity of the state GOP" occur?

I'm rather certain I've used this classic from Ward Sutton before. I think it applies to what Danny at Doc's Political Party wrote that follows:
The real story here in Alabama may be the relative insularity of the state GOP from the troubles affecting the national GOP. Bush may have “just killed the Republican brand,” but not so much in Alabama. For example, while Bush’s approval rating nationally is 30% in a recent Fox poll and 29% in a recent CBS poll, his approval rating in Alabama is a relatively remarkable 44%. Our Republican senators Sessions and Shelby garner 60% and 59% job approval ratings, and Republican Governor Bob Riley polls a most impressive 69% approval rating. In Alabama, it is the Democratic Party that is taking hits for its connection to the two-year college scandal, though it remains to be seen to what degree this will affect any election.
The Alabama Democratic Party is all too often wrapped up in conflict, cowardice, caution, cronyism, and confusion. The default position is Republican Lite for many of the "leaders" so that may very well explain why the GOP's numbers remain relatively high here in Dixie. Instead of going after the Republicans, our "leaders" tend to be "centrist weenies". And that's on a good day. On the other days, they roll along in that strange arrangement where the AEA and ADC seems to pretty much call the shots. Neither group troubles me in principle but more so in principal.

As long as our "leaders" think and perform like Joe Turnham and Nancy Worley and Joe Reed and ... I suppose the Alabama GOP will remain in relatively good shape. If you can't bloody a radical nitwit like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III then there's little hope for this bunch that can't shoot straight. John Gunn

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

About that gun control issue ...

It would appear that yesterday's post titled Duck the NRA and GOP? Understandable but ... was timely. AP/MSNBC reports AK-47-type guns turn up more often in U.S.: Marked increase of weapons traced, entered into federal database. Language in the article that I noted follows:

... Since 1993, the year before the ban took affect, ATF has recorded a more than sevenfold increase in 7.62x39mm guns — which includes the original Russian-made AK-47 and a variety of copycats from around the world. The number of AK-type guns rose from 1,140 in 1993 to 8,547 last year. ...

The numbers corroborate what police chiefs around the country have been saying: AKs and other so-called assault weapons are terrorizing their communities and endangering their officers. ...

With AK-47-type guns used in wars and insurrections all over the world, some 250,000 people are said to be killed by such weapons each year, and more than 75 million are believed to be in existence. ...

The AK is an amazing piece of machinery. I was in fact thinking at times of that very rifle this evening while I was setting up a new rack from mostly Tactical Tailor components. As to that weapon however, I'm not so sure that anybody needs one outside of a rather select group. Could regular folks use and enjoy them. Maybe? But I'd make people jump through some serious hoops to get and then use one.

Enter the NRA. They say, as they always do, the following:

The National Rifle Association says the focus must be getting criminals off the streets, not more legislation.

"The basic reason why gun control laws fail is that they require the cooperation of a very unlikely source, and that is criminals," said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. "Each time you pass a gun control law, the only people that are going to be affected by that law, the only people that are going to follow that law are law-abiding Americans."

So why not at least narrow the field Andrew? I'd like to think Americans could understand some simple reasoning on the matter of "gun control" and yet right now many in the Democratic Party are satisfied to just let the GOP own the issue by not engaging them on their rather irresponsible approach to the legitimate question of why so many of these killing tools are out there on our streets. Expose their radicalism for what it is and maybe then we'll start piling up some serious wins. John Gunn

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Duck the NRA and GOP? Understandable but ...

David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers asks Why have Clinton and Obama ducked gun control issue? and actually deliver a rather solid view into the political realities of the issue as it stands today. I'm often a Russ Feingold style Progressive and generally think the 2nd Amendment applies to individuals. Senator Feingold offered back in 2004 the following:
I have never accepted the proposition that the gun debate is a black and white issue, a matter of ``you're with us, or you're against us.'' Instead, I have followed what I believe is a moderate course, faithful to the Constitution and to the realities of modern society. I believe that the Second Amendment was not an afterthought, that it has meaning today and must be respected. I support the right to bear arms for lawful purposes--for hunting and sport and for self-protection. Millions of Americans own firearms legally and we should not take action that tells them that they are second-class citizens or that their constitutional rights are under attack. At the same time, there are actions we can and should take to protect public safety that do not infringe on constitutional rights.
That works for me. In Mr. Lightman's reporting, the idea of "common sense" and "reasonable" kept showing up. I think that's because many in the Democratic Party approach the issue more out of what is smart policy rather than smart politics. The GOP tends to go at plenty of issues from what works on the political end rather than on the policy side of the mix. And the fantasy that "liberals want to take our guns" is surely one of their best sellers. Do some liberals want to take their guns? Well, admittedly a few might. But most want to apply some common sense to problems and challenges that face our society. With the NRA and other gun lobbies fighting even moderate reforms tooth and nail, I'll surely stack those on our extreme end up against the one's in the "you'll take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers" camp.

I recall back in 2006, when I helped in the Jerry McNerney for Congress campaign, we got in mass mailing postcards from various gun owners that had apparently been generated via some gun magazine or club. They were asking some rather loaded and perhaps even disingenuous questions but I surely wanted to generate a response and in fact tackled that effort. My draft reply never made the cut as a way of responding to their questions as pretty much everyone agreed those votes were likely not going our way. I'll share it if I could but I seem to have misplaced that darn thing.

Progressives have let the GOP and NRA and ... take charge on this "gun control" issue. But it's way past time we fought back. Indeed we'll never get those way out on the fringe but reasonable people can and will support our Party if we'll just do a better job of defining our position. Now is as good a time as any to push back against the GOP's foolishness. Jujitsu politics anyone? John Gunn

Monday, March 24, 2008

A new gig for son's former science teacher and ...

I'm a little ways into Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design by Michael Shermer and so far so good. I recently got some attention back "home" from a post relating climate change and the Southern Baptist Convention. I added some dictum about a former "teacher" of my boy exposing, and at least for the time being winning him over I regret to admit, him to "young earth creationism" even though he's in a public school. I've found her a better way for her to walk her walk.

ABC's Brian Rooney and Melia Patria provide Because the Bible Tells Me So?: During Private Museum Tours, Denver Children Learn About Creationism. They don't link to BC Tours but I will. There is also a video clip from Nightline that runs about eight minutes. Seeing those children being led about that museum will likely haunt me for some time. "T-Rex was vegetarian because at the time of the Creation, there was no such thing as death, so a T-Rex could not have eaten meat." is just one example of what Bill Jack and Rusty Carter are telling these poor kids and their true believer parents. They seem like such normal, nice people and yet they are apparently bent.

My suggestion for this "teacher" back "home" and any others of her faithfulness, certainly those that are on the public teat, would be to start up something like this. Capitalism solves everything doesn't it? She can drive up to McWane in B'ham and do her thing there. Bill and Rusty are even prepared to teach her how their system works it would appear. John Gunn

Who you calling fundamentalist Bob?

There's S. Fred Singer over to the left. He was referenced as authority by Bob Norman, perhaps this one serving on Auburn's City Council and/or serving as an Elder with Covenant Presbyterian Church and/or selling real estate for First Realty and/or ... yet I'm hardly certain, who wrote a Letter to the Editor in the March 12, 2008 Opelika-Auburn News that was titled It’s fashionable to be skeptical of fundamentalists, isn’t it?

As a contrast with Al Gore and others' “Church of Man-Made Global Warming” he offers up Dr. Singer and points readers toward a Hillsdale College's Imprimis article for a "free exchange of ideas surrounding this issue". You'll have to work to find it but it's there where he uses "scaremongers" and "propaganda" and ... to describe what he claims are "irrational and scientifically baseless climate fears". I'm, however, still unable to find any "free exchange of ideas" Bob. This is Hillsdale College after all.

Hillsdale is consistently in YAF's Top Ten Conservative Colleges after all. I've posted on YAF before in case you need a reminder of that organization's bona fides. As to Hillsdale, among their graduates you'll find Blackwater's Eric Prince (here's another recent MoJo piece on the Prince) and former Indiana Representative Chris "Count" Chocola, one of the many Bu$h buddies we (and Dubyah!) helped retire in 2006.

I go to their Hillsdale's Center for Constructive Alternatives and I get to see a picture of Dan Quayle. Their National Leadership Seminars have involved a reliable list of right wingers with a few rare exceptions. Hillsdale's Charles R. and Kathleen K. Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence seems like another effort of foundation money to influence an agenda supportive of conservative views. Their recent free seminar in San Diego had Dr. John Eastman, Henry Salvatori Professorof Law and Community Service, Chapman University School of Law among its speakers. That's Chapman Law, home of the learned Hugh Hewitt.

Mr. Norman also mentions Dr. Singer's work with George Mason University, another favorite of those leaning right, especially of the Libertarian variety. You suggested we ought to be "following the money" didn't you? Looks like there's some sweet endowments and the like to be gathered from holding the right, as in right-wing, beliefs.

As for climate change, recent posts here, here, and here and ... can shed more light on what I'm thinking yet all pretty much deal with the push back from those on the right as they try to get regular folks thinking there is a uncertainty on climate change. Astroturfing is bad enough yet to use the academy is all the more bothersome. I'm worried about the lack of action on climate change and accept that the scientific community thinks we have a problem.

I'm willing to admit that I'm part of Al Gore's church I suppose. Who'd have thought I'd ever be a fundamentalist? If that means holding to "an intransigent set of beliefs" then I'll beg to differ. All I seek to do is keep an open mind and learn. I hold my beliefs tentatively as that's perhaps the mark of a liberal mind. Do you do the same Bob? John Gunn

B'ham News ~ Alabama needs DNA testing reform

The Birmingham News gets it right with Alabama is one of only a handful of states without a law to help wrongly convicted people get access to DNA testing. Our Legislature should change that. That they scolded Governor Riley is also noted. They've done this at least once before as to the case of Tommy Arthur so there's a trend here. In this latest, they wrote:
In the case of Death Row inmate Thomas Arthur, for instance, Riley has seemed to run through a series of excuses not to order DNA testing - none of which hold up to close scrutiny.
That's kind actually as merely routine scrutiny isn't required to see that our Governor is playing politics (I'm tough on crime!) with a man's life. What ought to be an easy decision as to Tommy Arthur is apparently too much to ask of Bob Riley. John Gunn

Anniston Star saves me a post on GA's Regents

To the left you'll see one of Georgia's most infamous Governors, namely Eugene Talmadge. He's barely mentioned in the editorial to follow yet my having taught Georgia History for so many years I can hardly avoid not noting him. This Time piece from way back in 1946 on the death of the "Wild Man from Sugar Creek" is a good read. Note the "God Bless America" in his hands. His battle with FDR over the New Deal was perhaps a vision of things to come in the South.

Today's Anniston Star editorial titled The two-year college showdown: Let's examine Georgia model possibly saves me from a post I'd promised in Are we meeting the needs of citizens or capital? where I questioned why ACHE was so determined to align our educational efforts with the needs of industry. I wrote:
... I'm also thinking ACHE ought to be replaced with something like a Board of Regents like Georgia uses. Decision and policy making is all the more difficult given Alabama's organizational structures. We also ought to give PK-12 to the Alabama Board of Education and take the JuCos away but that's another post for another day.
And what did The Star suggest?
In Georgia, the two-year colleges are treated like colleges — not as extensions of K-12. And in Georgia, instances of political interference in the activities of the Board of Regents are rare. And they usually fail.
There's plenty more they could have offered up but the point is well taken. In this battle between AEA and Chancellor Bradley Byrne, who let's recall was a rather big time player in the Alabama GOP, is simply smothered with politics. It's pretty much a battle of the Big Mules. Either way this all shakes out I fear the real losers will remain Alabama's young people and the state as a whole. John Gunn

Sunday, March 23, 2008

John McCain's FCC Letter was a "Purple Cow"

Joshua Green's McCain's Purple Cow in The Atlantic is a solid examination of St. John's rather bold actions on behalf of Paxson Communications. I've posted before on his relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman and once again I'll state that I don't care if their contact had a sexual facet. Why Senator McCain wrote the FCC Commissioners for Bud Paxson might have been for rides on his jet or his generous contributions or ... rather than attentions from his lobbyist.

Here's a critical portion:

Most of the letters the FCC receives are not acted on. McCain’s letters were. So the first thing that should stand out about the Paxson case is not the FCC’s eventual ruling but the fact that McCain sent six letters and wrote to each of the commissioners individually (this is unusual) demanding immediate action.

The second thing that was unusual was the legal situation. Paxson was asking the FCC to allow an educational license to be purchased by a commercial interest. The FCC had never allowed such a deal.

The third thing that should stand out is the unusual breakdown of how the FCC voted. Susan Ness, a Democratic commissioner, took the rare step of breaking with her fellow Democrats and voting with the Republican commissioners to approve the Paxson deal.

Mr. Green ends with
The point is not that what McCain did in the Paxson case was scandalous or illegal. But he clearly intervened in the regulatory process by using the full weight of his political capital to take something that had been stuck at the bottom of the pile and move it to the top. In the same way, politicians use to earmarks to ensure that whatever bridge, road, study or other projects they favor get special treatment. At a fundamental philosophical level, McCain’s regulatory earmark does not differ meaningfully from the earmarking he has spent a career railing against. The Times did not sufficiently nail the sex angle to make it an issue in the presidential race. But in the long run, piercing McCain’s image as a principled reformer could wind up being more damaging.
Amen! Yet I'm figuring the free ride will continue for St. John. John Gunn

Tip of the Tam ~ AFL-CIO's John McCain Revealed

Very clever and well delivered, the AFL-CIO's John McCain Revealed is surely worth visiting. Their whole Working Families Vote 2008 is for that matter. I particularly like the Issues section. A vibrant labor movement can do much for our nation and this may be especially so in this election year. John Gunn

Here's a neat new tool ~ Poll Daddy

Poll Daddy might be useful though I seldom get enough traffic for results. The free version will work for this cheap Scot. John Gunn

Rep. Barney Frank will try to legalize marijuana

The Boston Globe reports Rep. Frank says he'll file bill to legalize marijuana. On the Bill Maher show this weekend, "Frank said he thinks 'its time for the politicians in this one to catch up to the public. The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly.' He told Maher he'd call the bill the 'Make Room for Serious Criminals' bill. A tip of the tam to Barney Frank for consistently demonstrating personal and political courage. I've been slack on posting on our other "Forgotten War" - The War on Drugs - but I'll try to do better. John Gunn

Coverage of Cheryl Sabel's support of "A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq"

Jill Nolin of the Montgomery Advertiser dares to do some reporting and serves up Congressional hopeful backs end of Iraq war. The piece provides a link to http://www.responsibleplan.com/ and she gave Cheryl a chance to even talk about the plan. I've yet to see many of the other papers in South Alabama or the Wiregrass cover the plan so this is a positive. I did, however, note an Editorial in The Dothan Eagle this Friday that was titled Our view: No cause for celebration that might suggest the powers that be there would be sympathetic to Cheryl's responsible and Progressive campaign. Reckon what Bobby Bright thinks of the plan? John Gunn

UPDATE ~ I noticed Cheryl and Bobby have another Democratic candidate in the race and again it is Jill Nolin delivering. William Boyd "does not support abortion. 'If you're a Christian and you believe in the word, then the word pretty much speaks for itself,' he said." Huh? He's ran against Bobby Bright before. That Montgomery Mayor's race saw Bright get 22,932 votes to Boyd's 720.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The latest excuse for missing White House emails

I've previously posted here and here on the missing White House emails. Pete Yost of AP reports that Bu$hCo is now claiming various hard drives were tossed and that it would be too "costly and time-consuming" to try to recover them. Trying to claim this bunch didn't know how archive emails is audacious enough yet their thinking citizens and media might actually buy these lame excuses is even more bold. Then again, perhaps not? John Gunn

America public need scolding on the 5th anniversary of Iraq's invasion

I have long believed it is perfectly patriotic to weep and gnash teeth about what all is wrong with one's government and society. Barbara Ehrenreich, working off the wisdom of Brit Samuel Johnson, is said to have said, "No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots." If the above quote is so, and I think it is, then David Michael Green has surely done his duty. His Happy Anniversary, America! How Lethally Stupid Can One Country Be? is angry and accurate. Here's the money quote:
Without question, it helps an awful lot - if you're just Joe Sixpack, out there trying to figure out international politics in-between a long day's work, helping the kids with their algebra homework, and the Yankee game - to have a checking-and-balancing Congress, a responsible opposition party, and/or a critical media helping you to understand the issues accurately, rather than gleefully capitulating to executive power at every opportunity. But that by no means excuses a public who were fundamentally far more lazy than they were ignorant or confused.
Ouch! I recalled with my dearest recently how we watched that first debate between Al Gore and Dubyah way back in 2000. We remembered how we felt like Al Gore simply crushed Bu$h. She reminded me of her saying she sort of felt sorry for him as it was so apparent he was in way over his head. And yet the American public, with a little help from the Supreme Court and ..., managed to choose Bu$hCo twice. Selling war to a citizenry that had bought the Bu$hCo brand was just too easy.

Professor Green is right to suggest many in Congress, some in the Democratic Party, and much of the media shares the blame yet I can accept him putting a good portion of the responsibility squarely on the American citizenry. I doubt it will get much better unfortunately and yet I'll do my part to create positive change. That's what patriotism requires after all. John Gunn

Alabama's 5th CD may get another "Blue Dog"

I must 'fess up that I know little about Parker Griffith. Apparently he's rich as Roosevelt and a fast riser in Alabama politics. He's entering the 5th Congressional race (and Susan Parker isn't!) to replace the retiring Bud Cramer. Although recently elected to the Alabama Senate, he's hardly a career politician. Dr. Griffith's medical and education background are likely positives. His real estate development and business experiences may help as well. Reckon the Republicans will still try to paint him as a Communist?

However, Senator Griffith starting out telling us that he wants to join the Blue Dogs (here's another site they've apparently got up on the internets) isn't a positive to this Progressive. I'm all for the idea of a "big tent" yet I do think the best way to deal with the GOP's radicalism is head on with pretty much utter contempt for "conservatism". I'm somewhat sympathetic to "fiscal conservatism" yet "welfare reform" and "bankruptcy reform" was a damned poor way to demonstrate that construct.

I also worry that Senator Griffith might think he'll need to demonstrate his commitment to "family values" but I'll wait to see how that shakes out. He's supposedly Episcopalian so he's likely not a Bible thumping nutjob. Let's hope his Rector doesn't show up on YouTube!

I might ponder on this some and get a better post up later but for the time being I'll just hope Dr. Griffith will avoid being a Republican Lite candidate. John Gunn

Consequences of Bu$hCo's "cowboy diplomacy"

Colum Lynch of the WaPo reports on a new book by Heraldo Muñoz, Chile's Ambassador to the United States, that likely only confirms what we know about Bu$hCo's dreadful diplomatic record. Mr. Lynch's Book Details U.S. Pressure On Allies Before War motivates me to read A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons yet I certainly hope those seeking the White House (or at least their handlers!) might also seek it out.

According to the piece, Mr. Muñoz claims "The rough-and-tumble diplomatic strategy has generated lasting "bitterness" and "deep mistrust" in Washington's relations with allies in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere". You reckon? And that's diplomat talking! Imagine what they really think! The next President will have much to repair but let's hope restoring our standing in the world is high on that long, long list of stuff Bu$hCo broke.

The image is from Time's cover back in July of 2006. The article the cover references is here and it remains a solid view inside the White House. They've perhaps received a little boost from "the surge" and yet Condi and crew still can't get much right at State.

I expect my frustration with this administration will remain for the balance of my years. I believe there's really no "end to cowboy diplomacy" as even if there's a significant shift in style from the next President the failures of Bu$hCo will remain with our world for many years to follow. John Gunn

Friday, March 21, 2008

David Neiwert on "The Media's Race Problem"

The image to the left is from the New Back Panther Party. In case you don't care to go to their own website, I'll turn to World Nut Daily to let those reasonable souls educate you why that matters as to Senator Obama's Presidential Campaign. There's also Faux News and other far right wing blogs to turn to to learn how to decide. The Southern Poverty Law Center can actually educate you on the NBBP in case that actually interests you.

The Media’s Race Problem by David Neiwert appears at FireDogLake and his own Ornicus. David has long been a voice I've valued.

But who will educate the media? David writes:
Their entire preoccupation, indeed, was with how Wright's remarks might discomfit whites -- while never examining the deeper questions of whether white complacence about race might be something worth challenging, as well as their own roles in failing to make that challenge. ... These are uncomfortable truths, of course, but they are also truths. And the media have as much a role in the failure of white Americans to honestly and forthrightly confront them.
Amen! Certainly I'm no fan of groups like the NBPP. But neither is Senator Obama. John Gunn

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bu$hCo's DOE Secretary Spellings Heads North

Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was in Alabama recently shilling for Bu$hCo and likely making sure the GOP was being well served. She's apparently going strong even way up north in Minnesota. Paul Kiel of TPM Muckraker reports Miss Margaret went all the way to Minnesota to announce a proposed pilot program for just ten states that will perhaps give them some relief from the dreadful No Child Left Behind mess her boss had saddled schools with.

Remarkably, Minnesota isn't even one of the ten states involved! It gets better. "None of Minnesota's Democratic lawmakers were invited to the event" yet Norm Coleman, right in the middle of a touch campaign to hold his Senate seat, was there on the dais with her. Miss Margaret was in the past willing to talk up Dubyah's, or actually movement conservatives', voucher foolishness even when her own DOE's research said it was of no real consequence so doing a little politics can't be too much to expect. (Margaret even had the DOE hide that same research that went against the voucher vouchers by the way!)

It would appear that the White House Office of Political Affairs (Can the acronym really be WHOPA?) is the only part of this administration that can do anything right. John Gunn

Cheryl Sabel for Congress website is up and ...

Cheryl Sabel has her campaign website up and running as she seeks the Democratic nomination for Alabama's 2nd Congressional District. She's clearly a solid Progressive and I'd like to to think she's got a decent chance of upsetting Bobby Bright. I've yet to find any campaign website for him yet considering he couldn't decide on running as a Democrat or Republican I expect little which might inspire me. Bright has openly declared he'll run as a Conservative so I hope Cheryl is willing and able to educate both Bright and any Republican Lite types that try to help him.

She's got to be assertive and take the fight to them. Some earned media and pressing the flesh will be required yet all that is for naught if she's not bold. Goldy at Horses Ass reports Cheryl has joined Darcy Burner and several other Progressive Democrats in pushing A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. dday at Digby's Hullabaloo takes us Inside The Plan.

While dealing head on with Iraq, not just where we are now but also how in the hell we got into this terrible situation, seems like a good place to start. However, I also appreciate that Cheryl is also considering wealth disparities, poverty, our prison-industrial state, universal health care, education, healthy foods, the environment, reproductive rights, economic uncertainty, the housing bubble, veterans/soldiers issues, torture/human rights, the rule of law, etc.

Please show Cheryl some love at Act Blue if so inclined. Thanks, John Gunn

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Did St. John McCain get "quid pro quo" from Alabama Governor Bob Riley?

Sunday's Montgomery Independent had a piece from Bob Martin on The John McCain/Bob Riley two step that is worth visiting. He informs us of an email from Black Jack Abramoff to Michael Scanlon on Monday December 09, 2002 11:58 AM that is rather revealing. By the way, will we ever get those White House logs? I'm rather certain I've posted on this (or at least the connection before) yet I'm in a rush tonight. I'll move along and perhaps revisit the post later. The guts of Mr. Martin's piece are as follows:

The quote above is a part of a Jack Abramoff e-mail that was uncovered by a Freedom of Information request from news organizations after it was suppressed by Sen. John McCain from the report on Abramoff and Scanlon's scam called "GimmeFive" that was aimed at ripping off Indian tribes. Both are now serving time. McCain also subsequently refused to make the email public after the report was released. Scanlon was an aide to Gov. Riley when he was in Congress.
This seems to merit some further reporting and some hard questions for certainly St. John and also Bob Riley. I'll not hold my breath. If St. John in fact "lost" this email then I'd like to know the how and why. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of March 20, 2008 - This old post from Captain Bama might be what I was thinking of as far as early efforts on the Riley-McCain quid pro quo? There are links within to other posts that try to cover the issue. Again, some questions remain but I doubt they'll be asked of either Governor Riley or John "Free Ride" McCain.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The WaPo's E.J. Dionne Jr. opens a can of "Whoop Ass" on Wall Street and "movement conservatives"

The Street on Welfare from E.J. Dionne, Jr. in today's WaPo was outstanding. He leads with, "Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy." And he keeps right on rolling ...

My favorite was perhaps
It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.
Ouch! Then again, the following 'aint bad.

As the economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted of the era leading up to the Depression, "The threat to men of great dignity, privilege and pretense is not from the radicals they revile; it is from accepting their own myth. Exposure to reality remains the nemesis of the great -- a little understood thing."

But in the enthusiasm for deregulation that took root in the late 1970s, flowered in the Reagan era and reached its apogee in the second Bush years, we forgot the lesson that government needs to keep a careful watch on what capitalists do. Of course, some deregulation can be salutary, and the market system is, on balance, a wondrous instrument -- when it works. But the free market is just that: an instrument, not a principle.

Another solid lick. But I expect Mr. Dionne knows we'll hear more of the same from the movement conservatives (he never uses that term yet I'm rather sure that's what he means) that control the GOP of today. After all, they've built their whole enterprise off myths like "free enterprise", "family values", "limited government" ... John Gunn

St. John needs Honest Joe's tip on Iran & al-Qaeda

Senator Obama's former pastor making some controversial remarks are I'm sure more important but Matthew Yglesais telling us that Senator McCain tried to connect Iran with al-Qaeda seems like it ought to get at least a little attention on the tee-vee. Matthew is building off A McCain Gaffe in Jordan from Cameron W. Barr and Michael D. Shear in the WaPo. Think Progress has more on the candidate that is pretty much running exclusively on his national security chops. Matthew's got him nailed with, "He's very sure that the surge is working, but doesn't understand the basic contours of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq?" Of course there's also some dispute about just how much Iran is actually helping but if they are then it's certainly not for a Sunni group. John Gunn

Dick Cheney still doesn't get it and never will

Hannah Allam and Laith Hammoudi of McClatchy report Cheney again links Iraq invasion to 9/11 attacks. Deep breaths ... he's out of DC next January, even if the damage he and his have done is ours to deal with for perhaps decades or longer. He'll likely never stop seeing the world in his own corporatist version of a neo-conservative frame of reference yet at least once he's back in Wyoming (and likely earning even more wealth on yet another trip through the revolving door back to various Big Oil and Mighty Militarism boards!) he'll merely be a private citizen.

Here's what Dead Eye Dick did and said this time:

Cheney, who spent the night at a sprawling U.S. base in the northern town of Balad, told soldiers they were defending future generations of Americans from a global terror threat.

"This long-term struggle became urgent on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. That day we clearly saw that dangers can gather far from our own shores and find us right there at home," said Cheney, who was accompanied by his wife, Lynne, and their daughter, Elizabeth.

"So the United States made a decision: to hunt down the evil of terrorism and kill it where it grows, to hold the supporters of terror to account and to confront regimes that harbor terrorists and threaten the peace," Cheney said. "Understanding all the dangers of this new era, we have no intention of abandoning our friends or allowing this country of 170,000 square miles to become a staging area for further attacks against Americans."

Certainly the "further attacks" portion of his statement seems clear enough. That he felt it necessary to tell the soldiers this fundamental lie is even more frustrating. I expect a good number were thinking WTF yet I'm only writing for myself and certainly for nobody else. That Saddam was contained and the UN inspections were working and Iraq had zilch to do with 9-11 is a given to pretty much the balance of humanity outside of the true believers. But Dick doesn't care. He's Dick.

From his "Energy Task Force" being made up of energy industry fatcats and then refusing to release the records of said group to the public to his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby leaking the name of a CIA agent to punish that agent's husband for exposing Bu$hCo's lies to dodging service in his generation's own war in Asia to shooting a man in the face to ... Dick Cheney has proven that he's without shame or decency. His record in Congress was one of extremism. His tenure at Halliburton and the like was one of questionable actions as well.

Deep breaths ... January can't get here too soon! John Gunn

Monday, March 17, 2008

John McSame? McCain War Cabinet is SOS!

Head over to Think Progress for their The Wonk Room to read a seriously disturbing examination of St. John's "War Cabinet". Looks like more of the "same old shit" to this country boy. Huggy Bear is using the PNAC and ... wisdom and approach just like Bu$hCo. John Gunn

Welfare for Wall Street? That's BS isn't it?

Dr. Dean Baker's The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer is yet another book I've missed. I've been reading him from time to time over at TPMCafe and American Prospect's Beat the Press and ... I really like what I'm getting. His Center for Economic and Policy Research is one place I need to spend some serious time visiting. Dr. Baker's recent A Stock Transfer Tax: The Right Medicine for Wall Street makes tons of sense in that idea alone plus it also provides a sweet alternative to a bailout for Bear Stearns that would work for most Americans even if not so well for the Wall Street fatcats.

Of course, Bu$hCo and The Fed have already jumped in to save the Wall Street bankers. They might have been late on Katrina and ... but be sure they will look after the Big Mules.

Also at TPMCafe, Dr. Jared Bernstein's Total BS on Wall St. is serving up some good stuff. Describing the Bear Stearns mess as a classic run on the bank, he wrote today:
... And lest we forget, none of this had to happen. Market capitalism, once again, totally overshot, taking a fine idea—providing credit so that folks who aren’t rich can own homes—and slicing and dicing it until no one understood the financial Frankenstein they’d created. The government and the Fed turned a blind eye, which was fine with the “innovators.” Now that the monster has turned on them, they’re running back to the gov’t to bail them out. ...
Amen! Paul Krugman thinks a bailout, a big one no less, is inevitable yet he's blunt in making sure we bail out the system not the people that got us in this mess. He writes:
As I said, the important thing is to bail out the system, not the people who got us into this mess. That means cleaning out the shareholders in failed institutions, making bondholders take a haircut, and canceling the stock options of executives who got rich playing heads I win, tails you lose.
Amen! Why "we privatize the profits and socialize the risks" is a question worth asking to some of these unreconstructed free marketeers that seem to so often run things in our country. I've used "knock the rough edges off the markets" for some time now as my bottom line. I suppose the idea of a bail out can at least give Progressives an opportunity to advance their ideas and to wallop some of the GOP's old reliables like whining about welfare, regulation, free enterprise, ...

The dollar is in a downward spiral. Oil is out of sight and heading higher I fear. The housing market is battered. A "credit crunch" may very loom to boot. Here's hoping for a FDR for our times. John Gunn

Let's not forget the lawyers on PCS inquiry on high collect charges from jail/prison phones

I applaud The B'ham News praising the Alabama Public Service Commission for making inquiries into the dreadfully high collect call rates for calls from Alabama jails and prisons. The income realized from the calls is significant. That families wind up paying them is true yet the B'ham News failed to mention that criminal defense lawyers, whether retained or doing indigent work, also get their share of these calls. Back in the day, I surely helped the Sheriff's offices out! Also, that the B'ham News admits "Alabama's Public Service Commission is seldom accused of being overly consumer-oriented" is another positive. John Gunn

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Preacher Wars ~ Specks vs Planks in the eye

Even if a recovering Southern Baptist I can still recall a little. And truly some of what I learned isn't always a negative. Let's look at Matthew 7:3-5 and see how it might relate to the Reverend Wright scandal.

I noted just yesterday how St. John's connections to John Hagee and Rod Parsley weren't comparable to Senator Obama and his own pastor for the undeniable fact that both, certainly Hagee, are found out in the heartland, in the corporate media, etc. Glenn Greenwald has plenty more and better to offer than I on this same subject with his Some hateful, radical ministers -- white evangelicals -- are acceptable.

Yet what about Tim LaHaye, who I show pictured here with Jerry Jenkins? Their Left Behind series is a staple for many Evangelicals and even those that just favor some end of the world entertainment. This dynamic duo has been covered by 60 Minutes as "The Greatest Story Ever Sold". Millions of books sold seems to certainly put them in the mainstream. They've even got a Kids Series for Christ's sake. I've often seen their products on the shelves of the Wal-Mart and library back "home" in rural Alabama. I noted via Captain Jimi that Tim LaHaye is married to Professional Concerned Woman Beverly LaHaye. I've often seen Concerned Women for America welcomed onto several mainstream media outlets.

So I thought I'd look for a connection with St. John. And darned if I don't find it, even if a bit strained, via "one of the finest minds of the 13th Century." Yes, Rick Santorum is still earning his keep with "the family". Steve Benen also reported on St. John's effort to reach out to the secretive Council for National Policy. Clinking through the list of folks that have spoken at CNP is revealing. For some background on this group, Marc J. Ambinder of ABC provides Inside the Council for National Policy: Meet the Most Powerful Conservative Group You've Never Heard Of. On page three of the internet version you'll find the following:

CNP was conceived in 1981 by at least five fathers, including the Rev. Tim LaHaye, an evangelical preacher who was then the head of the Moral Majority. (LaHaye is the co-author of the popular Left Behind series that predicts and subsequently depicts the Apocalypse). Nelson Baker Hunt, billionaire son of billionaire oilman H.L. Hunt (connected to both the John Birch Society and to Ronald Reagan's political network), businessman and one-time murder suspect T. Cullen Davis, and wealthy John Bircher William Cies provided the seed money.
Amen. Also noted is that "Christian activist Paul Weyrich took responsibility for bringing together the best minds of conservatism, and his imprint on the group's mission is unmistakable." The American Conservative Union is also a cooperative force in CNP according to Mr. Ambinder.

Returning to Tim LaHaye though is where I want to go. And once again the connection with John McCain is weak, at least at this point. I'd however like some enterprising reporter to try to pin down St. John on his views on Dr. Tim LaHaye or at least his type. Does St. John believe "that Christ will literally rapture His church prior to the 70th week of Daniel" and perhaps most importantly is is ready to help bring about that rapture via "bomb, bomb Iran"? Asking if Reverend Doomsday and his crowd are going to be riding shotgun with St. John seems reasonable enough given some of the questions Obama got as to Harry Belafonte. While once The Huckster had the LaHaye's endorsement, I'd like to know now if St. John will seek out and then get their support. Before he does Senator McCain should note that Tim LaHaye made it into The Atlantic and claimed the following:

Who can deny that their basic doctrines of “scientific humanism” or “atheistic humanism” currently dominate public education in America? This, more than any other factor, has relentlessly changed our “Christian consensus” into a “secular consensus,” producing the moral meltdown that is rapidly destroying our people and our nation’s freedoms, integrity, happiness, and even safety.

Reverend Wright posed questions about the 9-11 attacks being perhaps due to "America's chickens ... coming home to roost", giving NRO's K-Lo a case of the vapors as she described his remarks as "chiling". Is "humanism" not "a chicken coming home to roost" in LaHaye's world? Bill Moyers, in his 9/11 and God's Sport talk noted that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "went on television to proclaim that the terrorist attacks were God's punishment of a corrupted America" so I doubt it is a stretch to think Dr. LaHaye is following that theme. Again, Reverend Wright gets pounded while the right wing evangelicals get invited to appear on the tee-vee and sell millions of books. Huh?

Finally, does St. John support the work of the Institute for Creation Research that LaHaye and his Christian Heritage College, now known as San Diego Christian College, helped start in the early 1970s? This CBN piece plus this Think Progress report, not to mention his responses in certain debates, seems like he's trying to hedge on the issue.

Returning to Matthew 7:3-5, I'm just saying those in a lather about Reverend Wright while ignoring the radicalism of the acceptable and incredibly popular( and profitable!) right wing Evangelicals like John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell ... might ought to "first take the plank out of your own eye". John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Afternoon of March 16, 2008 - I put essentially this same post up on Daily Kos as that poll feature is really addictive. I noted this top drawer post from Devilstower on how Reverend Wright's words might be viewed. Devilstower is not defending everything he's uttered, nor am I.

UPDATE ~ Early evening of March 16, 2008 - M.J. Rosenberg's The Irrelevance of Obama's Minister looks at Billy Graham's close relationship with several Presidents, Honest Joe Lieberman's rabbi, ... to make his point. Well done!

UPDATE ~ Afternoon of March 23, 2008 - Roland S. Martin of CNN shares The full story behind Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s 9/11 sermon and it's a winner. Context is such an amazing concept. I wish others in his profession could so clearly state, and most importantly then demonstrate, "The point that I have always made as a journalist is that our job is to seek the truth, and not the partial truth."