Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bu$h appointed judge calls bullshit on Bu$hCo

Miers and Bolten ordered to answer congressional subpoenas ... by Richard B. Schmitt of the LA Times will do for a jumping off read. I do think this ruling has to substantially boost efforts to haul Karl Rove's big butt before various Congressional committees so that he might evade questions about the politicization of the Department of Justice, including issues relating to Don Seigelman's prosecution. Glenn Greenwald does his usual fine job in explaining Federal District Judge John Bates' ruling. This judge trashed Bu$hCo's arguments and wrote a very strong opinion. Harriet Miers and John Bolten better start getting their stories straight. John Gunn

Bright Republicans are indeed fertile ground

A tip of the tam to Bobby Bright and his team for his "I'm a Bright Republican" effort. I do expect Bama GOP chief Mike Hubbard is having a spell of the vapors as he tries to link Bright to Nancy Pelosi. Again, what's wrong with San Francisco values? Mike and Jay Love know they need to rally the troops over in crazy base land yet I assure you great results can come from reaching out to "bright" Republicans.

I have plenty of family and friends in Alabama that routinely vote Republican. Some are idiots. Some are ill-informed. Others are fundamentalists (even a few that ranks as Dobsonites!) that have been brought up in very traditional views of faith. Some are long invested in GOP politics. Some can reason and reply if and when they talk to the black sheep of the family. I'm a proud Progressive and yet I often just avoid a discussion on politics as I frankly feel sorry for some that try to prop up this failed ideology. I'd like to think I could reason with some and yet I've not been willing to take the risk. However, I could see a few voting for Bobby Bright if that option were available.

So I certainly think Bobby Bright can take away from the reliable Republicans in Alabama's 2nd with his "I'm a conservative who is 'pro life,' 'pro gun' and supports a 'strong military' approach." Then again, I think an assertive Progressive that was unapologetic in his/her beliefs in a woman's right to control her own body, reasonable restrictions on weaponry, and a more complete method of projecting foreign influence could do even better.

The above is a picture of Jerry McNerney with Pete McCloskey. Jerry's Republicans for McNerney effort was a huge success in 2006 in CA-11. Mr. Pete and others engaged in The Revolt of the Elders that have increasingly become fed up with modern GOP are just some that are out there for the picking. Mr. Pete was the first Maverick when he took on Dirty Dick Nixon yet he came back decades later to do the same to Dirty Dick Pombo.

Truly bright Republicans might be easy pickings for not just Bobby Bright but also Josh Segal and Parker Griffith. It looks like even those in DC from the GOP are worried. John Gunn

What if John McCain is taking one for the team?

As Aides Map Aggressive Race, McCain Often Steers Off Course from the WaPo's Juliet Eilperin and Robert Barnes is a worthy read. I'm betting it is combination of age and attitude that makes St. John not content to parrot the line like Dubyah did in his campaigns. The GOP's frustration with Team McCain is indeed partly on doctrine yet it seems plenty just are content with "Just Win Baby!"

As for the title to the post, the question might be for which team he's doing the taking. Maybe he and his figure they are setting things up for 2012. Given the Reign of Error's damage, not to mention pretty much three decades of Republican Ruin, the next occupant of the White House does have a long row to hoe. The GOP will do what they can maybe to reduce the damage and perhaps pave the way for Mitt or Mike or ...

Another intriguing idea, and I'll 'fess up that I heard this on some radio clip I caught briefly yesterday morning, is that St. John is taking down the cabal that took him down in 2000. I surely think Al Gore would have been a much better President than St. John yet before he became Huggy Bear I do think he was at least somewhat The Maverick. Could he be thinking, "You nutjobs hosed me in 2000 by beating me with Shrub yet I'll get the last laugh! BWWAAAHHHH!"

Any thoughts? I am skeptical on St. John's taking one for the team as pretty much any long-time pol is ambitious enough to want the job. I'm not so uncertain on claiming that Team McCain's campaign does increasingly look dreadfully done. John Gunn

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Across the river for a damning Diebold documents

Documents show Georgia's Secretary of State knew of Diebold patch from Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story is where one ought to start. Common Dreams' Georgia's “Faith-Based” Electronic Voting System: Something's Rotten in the State by Heather Gray from 2004 is another jumping off place. I recall teaching in Georgia in the fall of 2002 when Max Cleland and Roy Barnes had relatively comfortable leads yet came up short against Saxby Chambliss and Sonny Purdue.. The arrogance of some of my colleagues in boasting of their "win" can hardly be overstated. I literally get queasy thinking of how some "educators" flitted about in their unsolicited gloating. I was troubled then yet need to drill down into these initial reports. If India can have a solid system then why can't we? John Gunn

Reckon how Bob Riley will handle PETA's letter?

I'm a complete carnivore and truly think my dry rubbed baby backs, Porter-soaked beer can chicken, mesquite smoked beef brisket, honey mustard slathered/asparagus-topped/walnut-laced salmon ... stacks up nicely against Dreamland or any other outfit. PETA has written a letter to Bob Riley urging him to adopt a vegetarian diet and then promote the same given that Alabama is among the fattest states. I'm no fan of factory farms and appreciate some of what PETA is suggesting yet I'm thinking lean meat, consumed in moderation of course, is perfectly healthy and ethical. John Gunn

Tommy Arthur gets stay; State can't find rape kit

I'm so pleased that Tommy Arthur has been granted a stay on his execution. I was frustrated all day by his pending execution. I've blogged on him before. Again, I don't know if he's innocent yet all deserve justice. Even the B'ham News agrees. "Clearly" seems clear enough! As does, "The case already contains enough odd twists to raise questions about Arthur's guilt." That the State can't find the rape kit is also noted. Maybe this is Bob Riley's real excuse for not ordering DNA testing? It seemed like an easy decision yet Bob Riley just didn't see it that way. If the State lost the evidence then they would seem to be appropriately toast. Don't kill in my name! I'll sleep better tonight. John Gunn

The party of fakes wants to campaign how?

The right wingers may be lying all the way to the bank with their negativity on steroids as of late in getting thousands of free plays for false accusations that aired only a dozen times as paid ads. Newsweek's Adrew Romano echoes this with his McCain's Savvy Ad Strategy. His "Sadly, however, a political ad doesn't have to be accurate to be effective. Just ask John Kerry." line is all too true I fear. Truthiness in a post-fact society surely can't be our lot in life.

Back in "the reality-based community", The Gray Lady scolds St. John with their Low Road Express label. The WaPo asks What electricity tax? They are simply making stuff up! Reality checks on Bu$hCo's offshore oil putsch seems related. Since so many of the 2004 efforts of Bu$h against Kerry are being repeated I shouldn't be surprised.

I appreciate, at least in part, how Team Obama is responding to Huggy Bear's negativity? And I like how Progressive Accountability quickly got up a comparison of Britney Spears and John McSame saying they both trust Dubyah. I can't help but think of the Paris Hilton Tax Cut given her cameo in the McCain ad. There's room here for a clever response.

I just can't fathom the audacity of movement conservatives. That Steve Schmidt is running the McCain effort after having provided artillery for The Governator in 2006 is especially rich. He's surely a celebrity I'd argue. The Gipper and Arnold's acting background is undeniable. That they both reached the Governor's office out there on the Left Coast is odd given how the right so often attacks California and especially Hollywood and San Francisco.

The GOP most recently gave us an inexperienced, poorly traveled, intellectual lightweight that held office in the state with the weakest Governor's powers of any in the union. They sold him as the man that would restore honor to the White House. After escaping prosecution for insider trading at Harken Energy, Dubyah then used his own Daddy Bu$h celebrity to get corporate welfare and a confiscatory land grab of private land to help him make millions on the Texas Rangers. That crony capitalism money was used to buy the spread at Crawford so the press could see Dubyah cutting brush and riding in a pickup truck. They sold us "a humble foreign policy" and "a Uniter not a Divider" but we got Commander Codpiece. Daddy got him in the Texas Air National Guard and he still was MIA while in Montgomery, Alabama. I see another opportunity here. Sic 'em!

Finally, the above image is one of just two that may be viewed here. Classy! John Gunn

Barack Obama's Chicago Law teaching career

The image is from the Obama Campaign and indeed I'd think this an image worthy of sharing often. I do love a teacher, especially one that seems more interested in teaching than publishing. That he seemingly loathed some of the academy minutia that has scared me away from the Ivory Tower makes it all the better.

However, serving up unmitigated hell on Conservative 101 tactics such as McCain says Obama would rather lose a war than lose an election is more critical. Huggy Bear's handlers have been going negative for some time yet St. John himself is getting rather bold. Sure, anybody with any willingness or ability to follow the stories know most of the allegations (such as recent lies over Senator Obama not wanting to visit wounded troops sans cameras) are wildly off base yet the GOP has long ago learned that many voters don't go that far. Once again ... if a Conservative attacks your character or patriotism then Progressive politicians, or even those close to that rare breed, must hit those attacking square in the mouth.

This older photo appears in Jodi Kantor's Teaching Law, Testing Ideas, Obama Stood Apart in the Gray Lady. This 1996 quote in a Chicago law paper was great and my hope is that he still understands this foundational truth:

“On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection.”

The piece seems balanced and is certainly a contrast with Dana Milbank's President Obama Continues Hectic Victory Tour. Mr. Milbank has long come across as rather smarmy to me yet I was disappointed. Perhaps Dana was trying to be clever? Maybe he's trying to court some on the right after his Hunter Orange classic after Dead Eye Dick shot a man in the face? Could it be that he's trying to make up for his Honorable Beach Babe effort where he wrote of Senator Obama's "well-defined pecs, his perfectly hairless torso ..."

Then again, he might have just been chasing one of the Conservative's standard approaches of attacking an opponent's strength. Obama's confidence and capacity are certain so the GOP knows they need to attack those appealing traits. In 2004 our own genuine war hero was "swift boated" for instance. Following the lead of Lee Atwater to Karl Rove to ... if you are going to campaign for the right you learn the value of pushing where your opponent is strongest.

Given the undeniably arrogant towel snapping frat boy leading the GOP and unfortunately our nation these last seven and a half years I find the irony almost beyond stomaching. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ August 2, 1008 - dday suggests Dan Milbank is winning "America's Next Top Clueless Pundit" award. Milbank is due a rebuke by both his own WaPo editors and their readers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm a fringe, dogmatic Far Leftist ideologue

I'll use this classic Ward Sutton toon for Glenn Greenwald's Things I learned today about democracy. If and when the Democratic Party's "leadership" will take a stand fully on Progressive values it will be far more difficult for those on the right to spin us. Until we do, I fear our long nightmare will continue. John Gunn

Those dirty f***ing hippies at The Rand Corporation!

The Rand Corporation is hardly a bunch of smelly bloggers yet it seems they are setting themselves up for the scorn of the right wing set with their How Terrorist Groups End. Then again, RAND told Bu$hCo's Rummy way back in 2003 that more troops would be needed for Iraq. If and when true Progressives ever seize the reins of power in the Democratic Party then we'll fight back with no holds barred when these right wing nut jobs attack. They've learned I regret that a fair number of those not of the Movement Conservative clan will not make them pay dearly for their foolishness. Since the right wingers are so frequently on offense then I once again claim jiu-jitsu politics ought to be the Left's default setting. Let the wing nuts make their weak and all too common moves and then put the hurt on them. John Gunn

St. John McCain is surely earning his keep

The WaPo piece referenced by the above is here. Smintheus on Daily Kos also notes McCain paid a year's salary since he showed up to work. Great work if you can get it. John Gunn

Is the "Liberal Media" on summer vacation?

Think Progress notes White House press corps hasn’t asked Perino about DOJ politicization. Surely news that Senior Department of Justice officials were engaged in blatant lawbreaking would merit a few questions for Bu$hCo. If "an experienced counterterrorism prosecutor ... was kept from advancing in favor of a more junior lawyer who lacked a background in terrorism" simply “because of his wife’s political affiliations” you'd think the media allegedly out to nail conservatives would pounce. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Digby nails the allegedly "liberal" Richard Cohen for his "Obama the Unknown" drive by in today's WaPo. I've seen Mr. Cohen at least twice on the brief moments I've had to watch the "liberal" media on this busy day. Why they had time and space for him seems odd to this flaming lefty.

Are Oklahoma or San Francisco values superior?

I'm not sure if the Oklahoma GOP still has the above anywhere on their website but they are alleged to have has something like this in the past. Oklahoma GOP website features "Photoshopped" image of Speaker Pelosi makes the allegation. If so, that's hardly classy and I'll need to close as I can't say a whole lot positive about Oklahoma. The Polo Ranch in Marietta, especially Boonlight Dancer (I do love a roan!), might be one exception.

Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole came to Alabama yesterday to stump for Wayne Parker up in AL-05. He used his tried and not so true approach of trying to tie any Democratic candidate to Nancy Pelosi. Representative Cole is claiming he's the luckiest guy in the world yet I continue to read of grumbling within his own party. Then again, you can't fool all the people all the time.

I doubt the Alabama "leaders" in the Democratic Party are bold enough yet I'd like to see them try a comparison of "values". Kos shows them the way with his San Francisco Values. I've been to both Oklahoma and San Francisco on several occasions. I know which one I'd choose to live in, do business, raise a family, learn, play, ... And I even sorta kinda met Nancy Pelosi. At the same event at the Delancy Street Foundation was Barbara Lee, Gavin Newsome, etc. I'll take their type any day over some of the right wing nut jobs in Alabama. John Gunn

Monday, July 28, 2008

Captain Plaid has the googly eye

I'm not sure what it all means yet I was diagnosed with glaucoma this past week. Not sure if Uncle Sam will cut me loose, and that's surely OK if he does, yet I suppose it will all work out either way. I had a Sergeant tell me just today, "It could be your body is trying to save you from yourself." The glaucoma has been caught early on and with daily drops (store at 36 to 77 degrees) should be something I can handle. I can't help but think of what might come next. If I do get the boot sooner rather than later perhaps I can give at least lend a hand in CA-11 or WA-8 before the fight is all done? John Gunn

Will Mike Sutton one day walk into a church and ...

I've posted on Mike Sutton's rantings in my hometown paper previously yet given the recent rampage of Jim Adkisson up in Knoxville I must confess his recent Fight to preserve manhood troubles me even more than usual. Mike might write "Modern, politically correct liberalism is an effeminate philosophy" yet I can't help but think of the courage seemingly displayed by Greg McKendry. Truly Jim Adkisson was crazy as a run over dog yet his list of preferred authors have earned some hard questions. Michael Savage, just recently busted for ill informed rantings on autism, is just one. Mike Sutton closes with, "It is against these forces that all common sense Americans, both men and women, must stand and fight---now, not later." Just exactly how will you fight Mike? John Gunn

UPDATE ~ July 31, 2008 - The Anniston Star opines Hate speech on display: Lesson we must learn. They write

All three are prominent right-wing radio talkers; O'Reilly and Hannity appear on the radio in addition to shows on Fox News. Similarly, all three employ war-like rhetoric in waging their ideological battles against those who do not toe the conservative line. All put opponents into a corner with nicknames such as "pinhead," "loon" and "moron."

Hannity's books equate liberals with terrorists and despots. Needless to point out, Savage equates liberalism with mental illness.

On the day police were announcing his book was in the hands of a deranged man, O'Reilly came forth with a typical comment on Fox News. "The far left," O'Reilly said, "wants open border anarchy and condemns the feds for enforcing immigration law, even though it protects aliens from brutal employers. That's how extreme the far left movement is."

Clearly, one person took all this ugly language seriously enough to take up arms.

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary ~ Rove's "testimony"

I generally appreciate the work of the B'ham News' Mary Orndorff yet her recent Karl Rove submits written testimony about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman; Democrats unimpressed completely missed the mark. It was hardly a "written statement to Congress" when she even writes "Rove's answers were sent at the request of Smith, who released them Wednesday." Texas Congressman Lamar Smith (of 99% of Americans support waterboarding infamy plus the GOP tool that claimed the Alberto Gonzales/DOJ inquiry was a fishing expedition and ...) served up the questions. It also appears Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin answered the questions rather than his client. The actual "testimony" is here. I can't find the post without a length search yet I recall a good one that explained the many, many outs Karl or his counsel had left with his/their answers. C'mon Mary, you can do better. John Gunn

Back in the saddle with much ground to cover

Jumping back aboard the lefty blogosphere via the DOJ report concerning Monica Goodling, one of Bu$hCo's God Squad, and ... seems appropriate. She's a fall girl up to a point yet certainly worthy of our collective scorn. When you need a Venn Diagram to keep up with which of Bu$hCo should go to the Big House or merely be run out of town on a rail that says much about The Reign of Error. Juan Cole hits one out of the park with the following:
What a country. This is the kind of crap you need to keep in mind when you hear the braying jackasses accusing Democrats and other of not being patriotic. These scumbags, these perfect examples of the modern GOP, have routinely put party over country. The fact that they have the nerve to even show their faces in public, let alone accuse others of treason or treachery or question their patriotism is enough to make your blood boil.
Amen! Team Obama is fighting back somewhat yet I'd like to see them getting far more assertive. Andrea Mitchell of NBC is even accepting that St. John's recent attack ad is "literally not true" and even tries to keep NC's Richard Burr from wiggling off the hook. Progressives need to make St. John and the movement conservatives that think all is fair as long as they are advancing the glorious cause pay for their posturing! John Gunn

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm liable to be out of pocket for a few days

I'll start leave tomorrow and might very well not post for a solid week or more. I'll miss the work but I'll be home with the ones I love. The above image is of Toomer's Corner in Auburn. I can hardly wait. John Gunn

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Are the O-A News Editors even shaving yet?

I actually expect the average ass that writes into the average paper to come across as reactionary, simplistic, misinformed, ... However, I do expect more from the actual editors. I fear the Opelika-Auburn News, owned by Media General, has an Editorial staff consisting of at least one person that might not make the cut for a middle school effort at producing a paper.

That a journalist preparing today's System fails Alabamians, helps DUI offenders might have read coverage of this ruling, like what appeared in their own paper from AP's Phillip Rawls, and come away with a belief that the Alabama Supreme Court decided to "soften penalties" for the truly serious matter of driving while intoxicated frankly worries me. They close with, "When the courts begin compromising these issues, then the courts lose their strength and those who violate the law are given breaks."

Did the author of this bomb bother reading Ex parte Arthur Felton Holbert? A PDF copy of the decision is available via Bradley Arant. O-A News, this case simply turns on the fact the legislature wrote the law without clearly including municipal convictions in what might enhance the penalties for a DUI conviction. They've amended the statute after realizing the error. I am no fan of Alabama's Supreme Court, as most every member is rather to the right, yet I applaud their following the law. That they caught the State being sloppy in their briefs and spanked them also gave me some pleasure.

I cannot stress how juvenile the O-A News comes across in their Editorial. They are seemingly without any, I mean nary a clue, understanding of how our judicial system works. I for one am much more interested in a system that shows its strength by following procedures and processes rather than just making it up as they go. Apparently the O-A News would be satisfied with much less. The suggestion that Alabama's Supreme Court is being "soft" or giving "breaks" is way off the mark. That "activist judge" didn't find its way into this screed is I suppose a blessing.

I would expect more of teenagers I once taught. I expect more of journalists. I expect more of a business. That a paper in one of Alabama's fastest growing municipalities, with a major University as its foundation, allows this to appear as their own Editorial is inexcusable. I've noticed a pattern (here, here, ... and let's not leave off Congressman Mike Rogers) of right wingers writing into this paper so maybe they are catering to their readers? They surely aren't engaging in what I thought represented the ultimate goal of an editorial board. They are supposed to be "well-informed" and thus be able to rationally sift through and then clearly explain public policy. They should educate their readers.

I've bragged on the Opelika-Auburn News when they did good work. I'll be hoping they get back on track but it looks like they've hired a middle schooler to write their Editorials when they put out work like System fails Alabamians, helps DUI offenders. John Gunn

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Will J.R. Gordon go with The King for his fast food?

J. R. Gordon of Wedowee is none too happy with McDonald's for their joining The Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. J.R. writes in his LTE to the Randolph Leader, "What I do hate is someone trying to shame me or use peer pressure to force me to accept something to be socially or politically correct that the word of God says is wrong." He goes on to add, "We as a society, because of weak churches, have allowed gays and lesbians out of the closet." There's also, "God's word is plain concerning this sinful lifestyle and McDonalds along with other companies have taken the position that God's word is wrong and their word is right." Reckon The King loves J.R.'s God more than Ronald McDonald? WorldNutDaily reports Donald Wildmon's American Family Association will be boycotting the Golden Arches so I guess J.R. will have some company. John Gunn

Mobile Press-Register engages in Big Lies

Joe Conason's Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth might apply here. The Mobile Press-Register, one of three Newhouse papers that are all clearly right leaning, confirms they are the most radical with their Step toward drilling and common sense Editorial in today's paper. Leading off with a positive word for Jeffy B. Sessions it goes downhill from the get go. "There was little or no price then for politicians being militant about not disturbing sea creatures and caribou herds in Alaska." makes the cut. The MP-R uses "rabid anti-oil ideology", "the Democrats' goal of environmental perfection", and "the anti-oil rhetoric of the environmental movement" in their propaganda. Those lines are hardly fair, responsible, or even remotely original. I've noted their radicalism on Don Siegelman, education, ... The Mobile Press-Register is clearly part of the right wing noise machine. John Gunn

Eric Margolis jacked up my sidebar

It was worth it I suppose yet adding a Highlander Columnist piece to my sidebar has created angst for this smelly blogger. My margins/spacing will never be the same. Ian Welsh is due a tip of the tam for reminding me of this talented man. Eric Margolis' most recent PLAIN FACTS ABOUT IRAN’S MILITARY is a gem. Let's not fall for the distractions of Bu$hCo, the neo-cons, right wing fear merchants, some media, etc. Iran's missiles just don't measure up do they? John Gunn

Jib Jab's "Time for some campaigning"

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

I think This Land remains a classic. These Jib Jabbers are clever indeed. John Gunn

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thomas Frank's The Wrecking Crew

Dengre on Daily Kos serves up Understanding how Conservatives Govern... where the new book by Thomas Frank is thoroughly covered. WOW! The diary is a must read. I've been a huge fan of his last book and The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule looks like a real gem. Indeed, Black Jack Ambramoff wasn't an aberration but rather the default setting for this bunch. Dengre writes, "Thomas Frank exposes how the modern Republican Party and the Wing-nuts who control it have created a massive industry based on capturing Government and then using the levers of power to enrich themselves, their patrons and destroy their enemies—especially the Government that they have captured." John Gunn

Reckon Iraq, Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia or Sudan might take Jeff Sessions?

I've long lamented that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is one of my Senators. I've posted on him frequently (here's just one) and might in fact miss him as a reliable target (sorta like Prince Troy King?) if and when he exits stage right. I think I know who he's really working for up in DC yet the way he goes about his "service" does much harm to Alabama and our world even beyond his looking out for the Big Mules.

Mary Orndorff of the B'ham News reports Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions opposes expansion of global AIDS program. Among "a handful of conservative Republicans are still holding out" against a "proposal to expand the global fight against AIDS has broad bipartisan support in Congress and the blessing of the White House", Jeffy B. is showing a combination of fiscal conservatism and anti-immigration that might serve him well among certain constituents. His support of banning immigrants with AIDS coming in would likely be popular in those nations referenced in the post title as they are among thirteen countries with a similar ban. Sudan might be looking for a new President in fact Senator.

Although I appreciate the concerns over the health care costs of lifting the ban, which are estimated at $83 million from 2010 to 2018, I noted "the cost would be covered by an increase in the visa fee." The legislation also deals with tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world. One could imagine that it might be money well spent as merely a fiscal matter. Ass in some morality and I think it rather a simple decision.

Senator Sessions office actually declined comment on the amendment he proposed. C'mon Jeffy, let's hear your logic. John Gunn

How Charlie Rangel funds his "Monument to Me"

I'd posted on NYC/Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel just a couple of days ago. His sweet rent controlled real estate might be none of our business yet surely his partially taxpayer funded Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service is. That he's soliciting donations on Congressional stationary is bad enough. To direct fundraising pitches to those appearing before his House Ways and Means Committee makes it all the worse. The Gray Lady's Christopher Lee provides the reporting. That the Rangel Center is at the City College of New York softens the blow somewhat but not enough. I'm admittedly rather partisan here. I am, however, I hope equally frustrated by how those allegedly looking out for our interests so often seem to be looking out for either their own concerns or that of those which already have wealth and/or power. John Gunn

Monday, July 14, 2008

Creating the right's "counterintelligentsia"

Thanks to Phoenix Woman at FireDogLake I now know the significance of that fella over to the left. Her How Did We Get The Media We Have? enlightened me on Dick Nixon's former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon. Appointed well into the Watergate mess, I'll confess his was a new name. An impressive man in many respects yet there is no denying this rascal did some serious work in getting the right wing think tank system going. Even now his legacy lives on well past hs death in 2000. And William Simon is just one of many that helped put our nation in this not so fine mess.

This NYT's op-ed (a rather gloating piece I found) from conservative John J. Miller shared the following about William E. Simon:

After becoming its (The Olin Foundation) president in 1977, Mr. Simon called for the creation of a"counterintelligentsia" to balance what he saw as the liberal dominance of the universities, the news media, nonprofit organizations and government bureaucracies. The Olin Foundation and other right-leaning philanthropies - particularly the Bradley, Scaife and Smith Richardson Foundations - provided a pool of venture capital that helped build a network of research institutions, academic fellowships and highbrow journals for the conservative movement.
Phoenix Woman also shared a piece by Robert Parry that I'd previously missed which offers at least some of the "credit" belongs to Richard Nixon. One of the many pleasures I derive from blogging is making connections and learning. I'm optimistic that many professionals at papers read (and television news programs watched) by the majority of Alabama's citizens are similarly excited.

Yet I wonder if they have the time and freedom to really dig into this mess. I continue to read right wing hacks like API's Gary Palmer and yet I've yet to find anything that challenges him or API. My own effort to do so in The Randolph Leader in the context of a LTE was cut when I tried to connect some of these dots. It surely seems like a story is all I'm suggesting.

Phoenix Woman started her post lamenting the likely fact that good Progressive leaning reporters often can't get in the door at many papers yet marginally talented partisan hacks seem to be handed position after position.

Perhaps at the local and regional levels Progressive can best push back against the right's "counterintelligentsia"? Yet the care and feeding of young Progressives is a tough piece. I've posted on Wingnut 101 almost two years ago. I'd forgotten what I still think was a clever idea of using an Ann Coulter poster as a Scare Ho in my garden. Seriously, the right is willing to invest money in bring along a new generation of true believers. And theyd likely even do it without getting a tax write off on many of their efforts.

Papers and the like are hardly a place to make a great living from what I understand. I expect those with the traits that would make them a top drawer reporter could likely cash in on those gifts in other fields. I often think about what I'd do with my money if I ever hit a big lick yet right there on top on my list would be to fund some type of foundation to identify and then develop some sharp young prospects. John Gunn

House slams Bu$hCo on Pat Tillman investigation

It's not every day I link to ESPN. Mike Fish reports House calls out government in Tillman friendly fire death where he cites language in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of a "near universal lack of recall" on how Bu$hCo can't remember squat. The Defense Department doesn't escape the same label unfortunately. A delay of five weeks between all the publicity of his death and revealing that he's been killed by fratricide has long been known to have been indefensible. I noted in other reports that the same applies as to Jessica Lynch's situation.

In Mr. Fish's reporting we find the following:
The House report depicts committee investigators as stymied at nearly every turn in their efforts to get answers from key White House and administration officials concerning who knew what about the fratricide. ...

The White House made an immediate statement, despite a Department of Defense policy intended to provide a 24-hour period for private grieving before publicly discussing a casualty.

But in contrast to the earlier flurry of e-mail, not a single discussion of the fratricide was found by investigators in approximately 1,500 pages of e-mails between senior White House officials, as well as in other documents turned over by the White House.

"[T]he complete absence of any communications about his fratricide is hard to understand," the report noted. "Not a single written communication about the personal reactions or the substantive, political, and public relations implications of the new information was provided to the Committee."
Hard to understand? Could it be they've scrubbed the record or just didn't share the relevant e-mails with the Committee? Omerta applies in this administration rather than collective amnesia I'd argue. They have no shame. John Gunn

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Alabama Policy Institute is connected with James Dobson and Regnery Publishing and ...

The above is an interview of the Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer by Dobsonite Stuart Shepard of Focus on the Family/Citizen Link. Among the gems are Gary's fretting over "the right to life" yet also "the encroachment of government into everybody's life." Tort reform is a family issue per Gary. There's a lament over the bad science behind global warming but the interview is rather vanilla. Gary and Shepard are playing their role as weary warriors possibly with more than is required

I'm not sure what "Fully Associated" means as to API and Focus on the Family yet I presume Dr. Dobson and his minions approve of the work of Gary and API in their "Family Policy Council".

I also wasn't aware of their environmental book for children. Here's what API claims ...

In 1996 we helped change environmental education in America with our commercially successful publication, Facts Not Fear: Teaching our Children about the Environment. The book, which has been translated into two other languages, was born out of the need for a user-friendly resource to help parents give their kids a common-sense approach to understanding and appreciating our environment. The work has been praised as a valuable and important tool that helps put media hype and hysteria into a more honest and responsible perspective.

That Regnery Publishing put out Facts, Not Fear: Teaching Children About the Environment surprises me not. PR Watch notes both authors "are committed, paid activists in the conservative anti-environmental movement."

That one author Michael Sanera is a policy hack that has worked in both conservative administrations and think tanks was no shocker. His Ph. D. in political science and background as an Army Intelligence Officer I suppose qualifies him on both education and science. I'd briefly looked into the John Locke Foundation in covering Mary Katherine Ham and the Goldwater Institute while covering the efforts of Jeb Bu$h in "school reform". I've noted Gary Palmer's connection to Regnery before as well.

The book's other author Jane Shaw has also made a living at least partially on wingnut welfare. Her B.S. in English Literature from Wellesley College is impressive but hardly would make her a scientist or educator either.

The entanglements between these right wing policy shops, message machines, family councils, and the like is admittedly impressive on some levels. That they often provide a tax deduction for the fat cats while then turning around and influencing policies that benefit these same wealthy and powerful people does frustrate me. That they do their work under the cover of looking out for regular folks is however intolerable. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ I was also unaware that Whacky Tacky Tom Parker was the founding Executive Director of the Alabama Family Alliance (now the Alabama Policy Institute). And I thought he was just an unreconstructed rebel.

Katrina vanden Heuvel calls for electoral reform

Just Democracy from Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Nation shares a grand vision for reforming our electoral systems. This is a long piece and I simply can't pull portions as all stand as exceptional. Her Dictionary of Republicanisms: The Indispensable Guide to What They Really Mean When They Say What They Think You Want to Hear has long been on my wish list. She's sharp in her writing plus her appearances in the media. Progressives will need these and other reforms to accomplish long overdue change. John Gunn

Maj. Gen. Taguba (Ret.) ~ Bu$hCo's war crimes

Warren P. Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers files General who probed Abu Ghraib says Bush officials committed war crimes where he reports, "After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account." CNN provides additional background on the Physicians for Human Rights report. John Gunn

NYT's Bob Herbert ~ Feeling No Pain

Let's first step back to September 2001 for a Slate piece on Phil Gramm by David Plotz. Hopefully everyone knows what Dr. Phil said recently about our economic woes.

The NYT's Bob Herbert serves up a gem where he writes, "The biggest failing of both parties in this presidential campaign has been the unwillingness to be forthright with the public about the true extent of the crises facing the country." Certainly the McCain camp is most guilty yet Mr. Herbert is dead on right when he writes the following:

The Democrats, timid as always, should be pounding the populist pavement from one coast to another, explaining how the reckless and deliberately inequitable policies of the past several years have gotten the U.S. into this terrible fix.

We should be getting chapter and verse about how badly the war in Iraq is hurting us here at home. We should be seeing charts and graphs explaining how ordinary Americans, now the hardest-working people on the planet, have been cheated out of their share of the extraordinary productivity improvements they’ve racked up over the years.

There should be a sense of urgency coming from the Democrats in this campaign, a clarion call compelling enough to rally the legions who have been treated unfairly and badly hurt in the nation’s other undeclared war: the class war.

Amen! Why the powers that be, from the pols to the high priced consultants, don't do this is a mystery to me. I know we have plenty of centrist weenies and also that Democrats inherently resist organization. I know the prospects look good this year for some serious gains in Congress and yet we need the White House as well. "Timid" is too kind to describe today's Democratic Party as we've let the right wing frame, intimidate, organize, message, ... us into downright weakness all too often. Leaders like Russ Feingold that reliably show some backbone are often left out in the cold.

Phil and St. John keep serving up fat ones over the plate. If ever there were a chance to wallop one out of the park this latest gift from Gramm was it. We'll have more however as the Conservatives can't speak to their own base without handing out opportunities for true Progressives. Then again, merely having Phil Gramm so involved with Huggy Bear's campaign has long seemed enough for me. John Gunn

New York's Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel asks “Why should I help you embarrass me?”

David Kocieniewski reports in The Gray Lady For Rangel, Four Rent-Stabilized Apartments and I'm hardly shocked to read this sordid tale. Rep. Rangel has a safe district and is therefore untouchable. Once again, those in power don't walk their own talk. I'm becoming more and more convinced that many of those allegedly on the side of Progressivism aren't truly committed. If he's milking rent control with a sweet deal like this while allegedly serving those in a poor area like Harlem then he's embarrassed himself. John Gunn

UPDATE - Congressman Rangel responds. He says it is none of the New York Time's business about “how much space I think I need for my family and my friends.” Actually, they are looking out for his constituents and the public in general. The press should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Clearly he is getting a sweetheart deal. The Gray Lady is due a tip of the tam.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alabama ranks #42 "for Business" per CNBC

Here's the link. I thought we had to blame the lack of "tort reform". The Mobile Press-Register said so. As did Lawrence McQuillan in the same paper. And we can't leave off AVALA's Lewis Fuller! Education, quality of life, transportation, ... are holding Alabama back it seems. And for the record I'm not so sure that being business friendly is that grand a goal. John Gunn

Thursday, July 10, 2008

API's Gary Palmer demonstrates the blame game

The Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer gets ink in the Montgomery Advertiser with ALABAMA VOICES: Self-inflicted pain where he goes after the "socialistic environmental agenda" of politicians who have "sold out to radical environmentalists and liberal social engineers" as he laments the plight of America, "especially lower-income families." Actually Gary I didn't think that side paid as well as Big Oil and other fat cat corporations. He closes with:
"Americans can cuss Congress while they pump their paychecks into their gas tanks, but as long as they keep sending these same liberal politicians back to Congress, they should direct some of the tirade toward themselves."
Where to begin? I was pleased to see pretty much every person dropping comments on the Advertiser's site call BS on Gary yet I expect he still gets paid handsomely and he obviously still gets ink. He's been a frequent target on this blog. There's here, here, here, here, here, here, and ... Clearly, Wingnut Welfare is alive and well in Alabama.

I'll first suggest true liberals are a very, very rare breed in Congress. Way too many Democratic politicians are DLC centrist weenie sorts that are pretty much on corporate retainers. Like many on the right Gary relishes the role of victim and frequently builds his efforts around opposition strategies.

Blaming the left for the current woes we face in energy is apparently a main strategy for the GOP this cycle (Alabama's own Mike Rogers used these talking points just recently) and I fear some DINOs will cave (yup, their timing is priceless) for the demands of their corporate benefactors as they tack toward the extreme right rather than standing courageously for what they might actually believe.

The right gets it when campaigning. They are often on offense. They'll take a weakness and try to turn into a positive. They can't govern worth a damn yet they sure can figure out how to get elected.

I might as well begin with Thomas Geoghegan yet I'll let David Sirota, after all I found these disturbing numbers via his book The Uprising, explain.
"Using Census figures, Geoghegan discovers that the 11 percent of Americans living in the least populated states have enough Senate votes — 41 — to sustain a filibuster. Yes, 89 percent of the population may support a policy, but 11 percent of the population has the senators to block that policy's enactment. When you go further than Geoghegan and consider the election-focused mindset of politicians, you see the situation is even more absurd."
Reckon Gary might agree that these small states, Alabama among them, often tend to elect Conservatives to not only the Senate but also the House? Would he also accept that Gerrymandering often makes House elections often lacking in competition? Would he also accept that small states often have conservative legislatures and governors that could draw some rather creative Congressional districts?

Let's wander through some of Gary's screeds.
"Since the 1970s, liberal politicians in Congress have passed laws that have locked up most of our oil reserves, stopped the construction of refineries and virtually banned the building of nuclear power plants."
Perhaps the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill should be recalled? This and other events motivated Nixon and others in the GOP to embrace, or at least tolerate, environmentalism. Daddy Bush signed an Executive Order in 1990 that placed a moratorium on offshore drilling. If Junior really wanted to press the matter I presume he could issue his own EO yet again I think he and his are more about creating some type of wedge issue, after all gay bashing can only do so much, in hopes to exploit the same this fall.

As to the claim that "liberal politicians ... stopped the construction of refineries and virtually banned the building of nuclear power plants", I'd think he might be familiar with NIMBY (Not in my backyard!") as a powerful barrier to either. Certainly environmentalists, organized or not, would also be concerned about refineries that might not be up to snuff. And nuclear reactors? Don't you watch The Simpsons Gary? And where will the spent fuel waste go? Regulations to attempt to protect the world in which we and our children live hardly seems like something to be ashamed of or attacked by the like of Gary Palmer.

Then again, perhaps those in the oil industry made a business decision on not building new refineries. Free markets work don't they Gary? The Christian Science Monitor's Mark Clayton reported back in 2005 the following:
"The current refinery squeeze has been building for years. For the past two decades, deregulation and low profits have combined to push the industry into consolidation. Partly because of environmental regulations, it was cheaper to expand existing refineries than to build new ones."
I'll mostly skip exploring Senator Schumer's suggestion that pressure be brought against Saudi Arabia to increase their oil production, such as by stopping selling weapons to the kingdom. Gary writes,
"Instead of sending hundreds of billions of dollars to other countries, most of whom hate America, why not put those hundreds of billions of dollars back into our own economy?"
I could ask why if Gary thinks "most hate America" would we be selling them arms. I could also wonder how he'd explain Halliburton relocating to Dubai. The Bu$h family connection with the House of Saud is also worthy of noting yet I'm not sure that fits into Gary's gravy train. Nor do I expect Gary would be wanting to pump those billions of dollars into job training, health care, ... for working families. Gary also I'm thinking wouldn't worry too much about subsidies those liberals in Congress have given to Big Oil.

Neither would Gary likely want to revisit some claims that the neo-conservatives were making at the start of the mis-adventure into Iraq. What a tangled web we weave ... And Gary is all too eager to continue the effort to deceive. That's what he's paid to do by those who have him on the dole.

Gary writes,
"Liberals in Congress have repeatedly rejected legislation that would allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where there is an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil. In 1995, the Republican-led Congress approved legislation to allow drilling in ANWR, but President Bill Clinton vetoed it."
Let's take a look at the history of this issue via NPR. It would appears that ANWR is off the table with perhaps another look at offshore oils for some states yet it might be too soon for certainty.

Gary claims,
"Liberals in Congress have also cut off access to 85 percent of the vast oil and natural gas reserves of the Outer Continental Shelf, which contains an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil."
Perhaps "liberals" have seized control of the Energy Information Administration? Their 2007 Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf reveals "[m]ean estimates ... indicate that technically recoverable resources currently off limits in the lower 48 OCS total 18 billion barrels of crude oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas" and that we'd see no effect until 2030, with that even having an insignificant consequence to wellhead prices.

Gary also wrote,
In addition, the Bureau of Land Management estimates that there are 53 billion barrels of oil on federal lands. But 60 percent of this land cannot be leased at all and another 23 percent can be leased, but oil and gas exploration and development is prohibited or limited in some cases to only a certain time of the year.
I wonder if Bu$hCo's BLM might be willing to manipulate figures? Yup! And its not like they Bu$h administration has been slow in granting drilling permits, with gas permits outstripping available rigs as per this WaPo reporting from 2005. From 2004, MSNBC reports most permits weren't even being used. Does putting the fox in charge of the henhouse come to mind to anyone else? Seriously, even if poor Shrub couldn't do much more than break insider trading laws and lose money with his first mis-adventure in oil, both he and Dead Eye Dick, plus others ranking high in their cabal, are oilmen.

Finally, the idea that "nationalizing our oil refineries" is on the table is a stretch, as I can find only a Faux News effort that openly admits N.Y. Representative Maurice Hinchey has "stepped off the idea". Gary writes while claiming the nationalization plan that "the failed economic philosophies of communism have not been totally discredited" but I expect he'll not include China in that equation since plenty of the fat cats he's looking out for are likely also cashing in via Red China's cheap/docile labor and lax environmental standards. In fact, if Gary's paymasters had their druthers ...

Gary can't help himself I suppose when he writes,
"We haven't built a new refinery in the United States since the global cooling hysteria days of the 1970s, specifically 1976."
The chance to engage in some global warming pushback is I guess too tempting for Gary. Maybe he's paid to shill by the theme? C'mon Gary, you must surely know that dog won't hunt. This wingnut claim of a global cooling scare in the 1970s is yet one more example of a right wing lie that doesn't stand up. As your own Reagan said, "Facts are stubborn things." I know y'all's message machine is powerful so maybe you don't even know the truth. Try the Google every so often Gary.

Gary is carrying on the foolishness like the likes of Richard Viguerie that I mentioned a few days ago. The Vig has made millions off the blame game. Gary's merely getting wingnut welfare. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of July 29, 2008 - Jenny Dorgan, program coordinator of the Alabama Environmental Council, provides a sensible response to Gary Palmer's Blame Game.

Will Bama boy made good help Greenspan Obama?

Birmingham born and Jax State educated, David Walker seems like one we ought to be proud of. I noted a recent Mobile P-R piece titled Nation's future threatened, Alabama native says. Even back at the first of the year your sister paper the B'ham News was covering what then GAO Comptroller General Walker was telling us. This YouTube of a 60 Minutes interview gives us even further coverage of this Alabama native. M P-R, is this really "breaking news"?

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, with Mr. Walker serving as its first President and CEO, might indeed be a solid effort yet like Ian Welsh at FDL I wonder why this effort being rolled out now. Ian's A Billion Dollars to Stop Democrats From Running Deficits Like Republicans Did is dead on, as is his point about the perils of dumping Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in the same pile for analysis. The math looks a whole lot sexier but it isn't necessary to show a problem is looming.

I mentioned back in February that I was reading Robert Reich's Locked in the Cabinet and yet I'd not gotten to the point in the story where Slick Willy was pressed by Uncle Alan Greenspan to put deficit reductions ahead of his promises to invest in America's future. After twelve years of Voodoo Economics, B, as Reich labels him in the book, had Wall Street and others press him to pay off the debt run up by the GOP. He triangulated his way through Newt's Contract on America. Still, President Clinton got our fiscal house rather in order.

Assuming Senator Obama is elected, and once again I've long figured him as a Centrist that could talk Progressivism, then I expect history will once again be repeated. The disasters that Dubyah and his Rubber Stamp Congress has brought us will create many hurdles for the next occupant of the White House, likely not just one or two I fear, yet fiscal challenges will rank at the top of the list. Programs that can make a difference for Americans now and into the future may well be sacrificed as they were in the Clinton years.

I remain very supportive of universal health care, a blend of what Germany and France has making lots of sense to me, and would like to think some solutions lay here. I also want to see a Progressive tax code return where the rich get soaked ... or at least a little wet. Good government is required and the GOP reliably beats up on gov't, winning elections it seems often on conditions they've helped create. Centrist weenie Democrats like the DLC types are often in the corporations' pockets to boot. The remedies are complex and fraught with peril for a politician or party to tackle. Yet we must have leadership. I do hope David Walker is part of the solution rather than having his work used by pandering politicians. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ October 19, 2008 - Yup! Walker: Now that the Rich Have Their Bailout Time To Stop Spending So Much from Ian Welsh answers the question.

Monday, July 07, 2008

John McCain's false balanced budget promises

Josh describes St. John's promises on how he'll balance the budget in his first term as We'll Get Back to You on That. Josh reminds us, "As I said, this is the reductio ad absurdum of the mad pass John McCain gets on everything. He's pledging to balance the budget in four years and when asked for details he says, 'We'll get back to you on that.'" Ian gives us Whistling Past the Graveyard: McCain’s Stupid Economy yet words like "incoherent" don't do Huggy's plan justice. I fear the so called liberal media will let him slide on yet one more load of bull. John Gunn

Angst then celebration on Alabama's Daily News

I was fretting this morning when I learned that Doc's Political Parlor would not longer have G’s Daily News Digest that I, and likely plenty of others, rely on to start our effort to be reasonably informed. I worried about the time I'd need to devote to covering a broad swath of papers and sources. I am thrilled to learn that Ron over at Alabama Arise will be continuing his efforts via Arise Daily News. Alabama Arise has been on my sidebar for some time yet this news summary merits its own link. Thanks Ron for the effort here and in other areas. There's no substitute for digging about on our own yet having someone do a solid summary surely helps. John Gunn

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Ben Lieberman is also earning his wingnut welfare

Ben Lieberman, Esq., Senior Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation's Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, got ink in today's Anniston Star with his Drilling in the U.S.? Yes, it's time to drill. He also placed the same piece here and here. Back in early May I'd posted on Heritage's Dan Lips earning his Wingnut Welfare on "education reform." Dashing Dan had a background in Politics and Public Relations. Big Ben is an attorney and CPA so he's equally qualified to opine on energy as Dan is in education.

This "specialist in energy and environmental issues" who "opposes unnecessary energy regulation and government mandates while supporting increased access to domestic energy supplies" was formerly "associate counsel and director of air quality policy at The Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington." That The Heritage Institute expects Ben and his ilk to shill their stuff surprises me not yet I do wish Progressives had as equally well-funded and connected effort to match their work.

Citing " weak excuses" for the failure to drill our way to energy nirvana, Ben does a decent job at tackling various concerns among the Godless, Tree Hugger, Lefty ... set. Ben responds to ideas that "the extra energy would be a drop in the bucket" by claiming "the energy potential is substantial." Actually not Ben yet "new exploration could at least help offset that decline in supply from existing wells." Worries that "environmental risks are too great" are dismissed with "new production would be subject to the strictest environmental and safety standards, something that can't be said of oil imports." Ben's record on environmental standards and the like isn't such that I'd think he'd think that much about strict standards. Those that suggest "big oil is deliberately sitting on potential gushers to boost prices" are told "oil exploration and development is under way" yet it's slow "because of the ... permitting process and other regulatory requirements". Ben sees another chance to go after regulation and he's unable to resist. He claims "some market analysts believe that if America signaled its seriousness about expanding domestic supplies by opening new areas, prices would start dropping before the extra oil hit the market". The "send a message" theme appears to be a straight GOP talking point as Michigan Representative Fred Upton and Tennessee's Jimmy Duncan (damn those elitists in Congress) are using pretty much the same language.

I'd be willing to at least listen to and then engage Big Ben if he weren't on the take from the fat cats and earning his wingnut welfare. The worries he faces off against are likely not motivated by money. So they aren't worth a damn are they Ben? John Gunn

Glenn Greenwald takes down Nancy Soderberg

I have no doubt Nancy Soderberg is a smart lady with plenty of good left to do. She's likely trying to remain in the game and perhaps that motivated her to drop an Op-Ed in the L.A. Times titled A good-enough spy law: The FISA bill isn't perfect, but it's a compromise that the Senate should accept. She's wrong however on much. Glenn Greenwald places her in the "political establishment" and possibly she is. I'm expecting Ms. Soderberg does want to get back in the mix after The Reign of Error ends. Whatever the reason for her shilling the centrist talking points, Glenn is dead on when he writes, "... the political establishment is not only about to pass a patently corrupt bill, but worse, are spouting -- on a very bipartisan basis -- completely deceitful claims to obscure what they're really doing." Amen! John Gunn

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Alabama takes the Bronze in fattest state race

CalorieLab lets Alabama "Thank God for Mississippi!" yet again. West Virginia edges us for second place. John Gunn

Another tip of the tam to Matt Taibbi

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi is a spirited writer and his The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire delivers a powerful punch. Covering Congress to the wing nut Church of John Hagee to ... Taibbi is wickedly funny and yet appropriately outraged. I'd forgotten about the Westen Energy scandals involving Tom DeLay, Joe Barton, Billy Tauzin ... I loved this portion as Taibbi examined the nuttiness of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Taibbi writes,
"It completely misunderstands the nature of American government - fails to see the old maxim about "the business of America is business" is absolutely true, that the federal government in this country is really just a low-rent timeshare property seasonally occupied by this or that clan of financial
interests, each of which takes its four-year turn at the helm, tinkering with the tax laws and regulatory code and the rates at the Fed in the way it thinks will best keep the money train rolling."
Amen! John Gunn

Total tip of the tam to Fred Kaplan

I recently finished Fred Kaplan's Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power. I had high hopes yet the book proved even better than I imagined. This is one serious book. It is written in a highly readable style. Slate's War Stories provides a two part series with excerpts from the work. Bu$hCo and his neo-conservatives/Vulcans will be judged harshly by history yet those in the press and political arena that allowed them to apply their daydreams deserve scorn as well. John Gunn

Bama Governor Bob Riley remains a stubborn ass

The B'ham News opines Alabama Gov. Bob Riley should order DNA tests for Tommy Arthur, who is scheduled to be executed July 31. They've done a good job in covering the illogical positions that Governor Riley has taken on the Tommy Arthur execution in the past. The B'ham News reliably supports the Governor and the GOP. They are viewed by many as leaning to the conservative side on nearly every issue.

I've posted on the Governor's stubborn stand several times but I'll share just this one link. I've also posted on how the legislature ought to also step up on crafting a law on DNA testing, like pretty much every other state now has, that could prevent a state sanctioned killing coming down to an Executive that is seemingly more interested in showing he is a manly man than a compassionate and cautious soul. Not in my name Bob! John Gunn

Friday, July 04, 2008

Alabama's Troy King is "predictably inappropriate"

The Decatur Daily opines We think King doth protest too much in his reactions to the recent United Nations report on Alabama's flawed death penalty systems. The DD writes, "we would expect a responsible public official to ..." instead of choosing "to dismiss the report and attack the messenger" but that first assumes Prince Troy is responsible. He has long been a right wing reactionary, even while a student at the U of A.

The B'ham News weighs in on the UN report with The United Nations' look at Alabama's death penalty practices highlights unsavory facts, and our state's blithe acceptance of them. I wasn't aware Alabama had "the highest rate of executions per capita in the country". I was aware of the American Bar Association's recent Alabama Death Penalty Assessment Report yet Prince Troy dismissed their concerns as well.

It seems like in Lee County officials are equally dismissive of the UN's concerns. The O-A News Katie Stallcup provides the reporting where she writes,

Lee County District Attorney Nick Abbett said he hadn’t read the full statement, but he thought the critique was harsh.

"The death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime,” Abbett said. “I’m for the death penalty. I really don’t think the U.N. ought to have a lot to say about what we do in the state of Alabama ..."

Actually the jury is still out on the death penalty being a deterrent. I think it is a question of morality that the state should not kill. Add in concerns of racial disparities, costs, how wealth/poverty of the Defendant often determines "justice", ... and that is enough for me. The undeniable fact that many souls have been released after serving many years for crimes they didn't commit thanks to DNA testing and it seems reasonable to think innocents have been or may be executed.

Ms. Stallcup also gives Circuit Judge Jacob Walker a chance to enlighten us. She writes,

Alston said when Alabama judges override jury verdicts, they almost always increase the sentence rather than decrease it.

Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker said he thought that statement didn’t coincide with his experience. He talked with one judge who overrode a jury’s sentence from death to life in prison, he said.

Actually Judge, your experiences aren't that relevant. The Equal Justice Initiative reveals More than 80 People Sentenced to Death in Alabama as a Result of ‘Judge Override’ where they claim "In 2006, 30% of new death sentences were imposed by judges who rejected jury verdicts for life without parole." Reckon Ms. Stallcup could have shared this apparent contradiction?

With Alabama "leaders" like Bob Riley, Prince Troy King, ... maybe I expect too much from reporters and others on this sensitive subject. I appreciate some papers trying to move the debate toward a better understanding yet Alabama voters keep electing these goobers. Finally, I agree the United Nations is hardly without their own troubles. Still, that doesn't mean this report is without merit. John Gunn