Sunday, November 23, 2008
So far "change" looks rather familiar yet I remain relatively optimistic. Eric Holder's choice as AG might have not been wise given his role in the Marc Rich pardon from The Clenis or even decent for his role in defending Chiquita's actions in South America. I've defended scum and understand yet I'm troubled to think how this might hinder his efforts at prosecuting those that have tortured in our name. Upgrading with Henry Waxman to chair the House's Energy and Commerce effort is significant for instance. Jerry McNerney retaining his CA-11 seat is good on a political and personal level. I'm surely hoping I'll get one more chance to work on one of his campaigns.
Also, I'm working twelve hour days routinely, having to even bring work "home" on the weekends. We'll be traveling down to Southern California this March for some training and then likely deploying some time over the summer so I expect the pace of work will become even more demanding. I am a Keyboard Commando as well so typing is certainly less than ideal at the end of a long day. I find myself drawn to reading more as of late even though I'm so tired I often nod off.
Additionally, I have some accounting from my old law practice that I need to straighten out in case I want to get back in the mix once I get off the trail in 2012 or perhaps even earlier. If I can glean any data from an old hard drive then it will be easier but either way I need to spend my time pouring over old files and numbers rather than ranting and raving over right wing nutjobs, ill informed leaders, injustices, and the like.
I'll also being flying home in less than a month for some time with the bride, the boy, and ... I have several projects I need to knock out there since I'm not sure how much time in Auburn I'll have before heading overseas.
My plan is to post little if any until at least the first of the year. Sporadic posts might pop up plus I might drop a few Letters to the Editor. I'll continue to read the local papers back home, Left in Alabama, and the top tier national blogs. I'm reading the latest books from Gladwell, Friedman, and Zacharia even now.
Drop me a note at CaptainPlaid at Gmail if you see anything you want to share. Merry and Happy! I miss the Bride and the boy and ... and I'm surely earning my pay but I'm at least feeling useful as I serve my country. John Gunn
Friday, November 21, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
As an aside, I actually taught under Dr. Roy Nichols, mentioned in the Editorial in that he's now down in Mobile cashing his checks, when I labored in Troup County. A decent enough super from what I observed and understood yet I know he'll bend over backwards to avoid controversy or litigation.
The Mobile P-R writes in part the following:
Didn't they also once opine "Reactionaries Ruling Education In Alabama"? They fuss at the "education establishment" it seems rather often. Now, they rush to their defense?
Mobile County school officials learned last week that lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union are doing double duty as experts on education and would-be policy-makers for local schools.
Notification of the ACLU's new role as an education think tank came in the form of a letter from its attorneys to the administrators who run the Mobile County Public School System. ...
... a staff attorney for the ACLU in Alabama went well beyond legal and constitutional matters in declaring that gender-based school programs don't work and take "time and money from things that we know do work."
Evidently, the ACLU and its Alabama affiliate have decided they know what's best for the children, not the education professionals in our local schools. ...
Mobile County schools Superintendent Roy Nichols sees no downside to letting schools experiment with single-sex classes. "I've encouraged principals to try and find the very best way for (the) children to learn," he said.
Chances are, Dr. Nichols and other school officials know more about what does and doesn't work in the schools than the ideologues at the ACLU. At any rate, school administrators are paid to make these judgment calls based on research and practical experience.
If necessary, the schools can make accommodations for students who don't want to participate in single-sex programs. But Hankins and other area schools with single-sex classes should ignore the threat of ACLU lawsuits and stick with what works for the children.
They write, "Education research hasn't provided a definitive answer to the question of whether single-sex classes provide academic benefits. But many education officials believe the single-sex approach is worth trying, especially at the middle school level." Indeed that's so. Then again, I continue to argue the many facets involved in learning are truly difficult to measure.
Although once the Mobile P-R even dared to admit poverty was the primary problem in education they still reliably argue that competition is the solution to every trouble. Those magic markets are hard to give up even now I bet for this outfit. Also, since they've bought fully into the measurement of achievement how can they now argue to just let the professionals go with their gut?
I've taught middle schoolers. They are a tough lot. I'm thinking small classes, quality teachers, parents that give a damn, a rich curriculum, resources for teaching, solid leadership ... matter more than a gimmick like same sex classrooms. The ACLU thinks similarly. Yet the main issue remains legal of course.
You'd think the Mobile P-R would appreciate an effort to resolve this mess short of filing a lawsuit. But they, like pretty much everyone associated with movement conservatism, are more interested in advancing their cause. John Gunn
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Personally, my marriage isn't threatened or bolstered by another, of any variety. Dr. Cutchins claims the US Constitution prohibits forms of early voting yet apparently he's not that willing to strictly interpret the 14th Amendment. That he praises Bible Thumping Arkansans' vote to prohibit unmarried couples fostering or adopting children says much. Dumb crackers!
He then proceeds to blaming President-elect Obama and the "mainstream media" for our current economic troubles. To cure our ailments, Dr. Cutchins prescribes reforms to "our unfair tax structure forces huge amounts of U.S. capital to go overseas." I'd listen to what reforms he suggests yet he leaves us guessing.
He claims we need to drill, drill, drill ... and even use highly polluting and inefficient oil shales.
He suggests we "diminish give-away foreign aid" and expressly cites the work of Fred Reed in The American Conservative. Lamentations on "wasting money on backwards cultures" sounds backwards frankly Doc.
Dr. Cutchins goes after "ACORN’s willingness to participate in open voting corruption" as well. The Alabama Policy Intitute's Gary Palmer would be proud. They would both be wrong however.
Dr. Cutchins closes with, " Since poor congressional oversight of the sub-prime markets contributed greatly to the loss of several trillion dollars by U.S. stockholder ..." Contributed yes but "greatly" is a stretch, or more accurately a spin, actually. John Gunn
But Glenn Beck and Mark Steyn said Obama would bring socialism to America. The NYT's David Kirkpatrick is obviously misinformed. Assuming the actual journalist, rather than the above two clowns that amazingly get to appear on the boob tube, is right then I remind y'all I often wrote that Obama-Biden weren't all that Progressive. We're headed in a better direction of course yet beware the Centrist Weenies. John Gunn
Also, the Center for Individual Freedom is referenced. Who can forget their "Judge Greg Shaw has the balls to be Judge" effort. Still, the main thrust of this post is against Skip Tucker, Executive Director of Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse, who said,
AVALA and I would be astounded should Attorney General King join this blatant, pathetic attempt to stifle freedom of speech.Huh? The language is a bit over the top Skip, even if after you once described the pro-Exxon verdict as "righteous". Then again, AVALA's Lewis Fuller likes it that way. The Alabama State bar's asking the AG if any laws were broken is an attempt to stifle freedom of speech?
Maybe his reaction is merely right wing faux outrage, working the refs, or ... but then again maybe Skip has something to hide. What's the harm in letting Prince Troy look under y'alls skirt? I know he's not likely to want to yet perhaps he'll make the help take a peek. John Gunn
Friday, November 14, 2008
The Mobile Press-Register suggests "the Treasury Department's financial wizards call Joe the Plumber" on the bailout blunders. They write, "The government must protect the taxpayers' interests and provide a substitute for the discipline and accountability of the free market." I agree there is plenty to fret over about the "rescue", especially given that Bu$hCo is involved for these next few weeks, yet rhetoric such as the P-R slings is foolishness. What might The Anniston Star offer us? John Gunn
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.Southern Baptist roots? I'm shocked, shocked! Although his flock is reminded they are "obliged by Scriptural precept to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us otherwise" I'm thinking they'll do this with their fingers crossed. John Gunn
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
When Faux News' Shepard Smith gets all fussy with an admittedly edgy yet I think fair question from Ralph Nader I can't help but wonder where that outrage was with right wingers repeatedly trying various smears against the Obama-Biden ticket. It's OK to call him a terrorist sympathizer yet if someone of Nader's stature asks if he'll be an "Uncle Tom" for the corporate powers then that crosses the line? Ralph Nader's question stands and I think it a perfectly proper one. This lefty hopes the Centrist Weenie, DLC types don't hijack the Obama administration yet only time will tell. John Gunn
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
"Obama, 47, offers the character and achievement of someone his age that is exemplary, including election to his state's legislature, election to the U.S. Senate, editor of the Harvard Law Review and professor of law at the University of Chicago. Few candidates for president have ever had his intellect and academic achievements."Finally, comments to the west are actually less reactionary than at The Advertiser. Then again, the Opelika-Auburn News has Letters to the Editor that are running which are scary as all hell. John Gunn
Then again, a title of Don't punish honest makers of wealth admittedly had me looking for trouble. And using ExxonMobil, especially in Alabama even if the Republicans on the Alabama Supreme Court cut the punitives and dialed the damages back to merely breach of contract, might not have been Bob's best illustration of an "honest maker of wealth". Bob wrote,
In 2007, Exxon paid more than $32 billion in taxes with less than $12 billion in net profits.How can they pay more than they earn? And his figures aren't even right.
According to Dennis Cauchon of USA TODAY they "earned after-tax profits of $41 billion and paid $14.5 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2007". That's worldwide! Marianne Lavelle of U.S. News and World Reports likewise used "$40.6 billion earnings for 2007" in her reporting.
And aren't those "80,000 good-paying jobs" including employees outside the US?
The 35% corporate tax rate that we supposedly have here in the US is laden with loopholes of course yet Bob failed to bark that dog and thus may likely receive poor performance reviews if in fact he's in the tank for the right wing noise machine. And for the record I doubt he is. I expect he's been exposed however. Given his line of work, perhaps he just wants to get some marketing done. Everybody has to make a living and I bet these days are dark for he and his.
I expect Mr. McLaughlin is aware of an undeniably regressive tax system where the poor pay a disproportionate percentage of their income in sales and excise taxes. Accepting the Federal Tax Code is somewhat Progressive, even more so before Bu$hCo's irresponsible tax cuts, then state and local realities take away or at least balance out that condition. This is especially so in Alabama.
I wonder if poor Bob got hold of figures from Dr. Mark J. Perry of the Macinac Center, what Gary Palmer's Alabama Policy Institute perhaps hopes to be when it grows up. That George Mason education is really paying off for the Funding Fathers. That ExxonMobil is tied to Macinac, and others of the sort (indeed "There's a tiger in your tank!") is just too rich.
Are taxes "stealing" or "robbing"? Do they "punish"? I doubt one can even discuss what might make a fair and reasonable tax policy from a person prepared to use such language.
And is all wealth earned by working hard? I'll let Chuck Collins do the heavy lifting via this American Prospect piece titled Tax Wealth to Broaden Wealth: Reframing the debate and mobilizing a constituency and this Nation piece titled A Fair Plan to Pay for Economic Recovery. Mr. McLaughlin even used "accumulated" and I'll submit that description applies more than "earned". There's a decent argument to be made that being born on third base counts more that one's effort and talent when it gets "to the day of the sale" (my old Daddy's way of talking about dying).
What got me most however was when Mr. McLaughlin uses a total misrepresentation of historical fact when he writes,
To make matters worse, in 1933 Franklin Roosevelt's National Recovery Act implemented a floor on corporate salaries. Companies were not allowed to reduce salaries even though their sales were plummeting and their tax bills more than doubled. This resulted in massive unemployment because companies simply could not afford the high salaries, declining revenue and high taxes. We killed the goose that laid the golden egg.Truly unemployment remained high, and a good argument could be made that only WWII ended the Great Depression, yet after FDR took over the situation drastically improved. Pretty much any respectable historian gives FDR snaps for saving capitalism while also avoiding the fascism and militarism of Germany, Japan, and Italy.
And Bob, the big boys in business often helped write the NRA codes. It might not have been perfect but it was hardly as you've suggested. The idea was to create a level playing field and not let the race be about who got to the bottom first. Some ventures into unfettered globalism is attractive here yet that is another post for another day. I also think there are some nice comparisons to be made about how Hoover ran and Bu$hCo is running around with their hair on fire in response to their respective troubles but that's too another post for another day.
I'm certainly in favor of Mr. McLaughlin's urging that we "Punish the crooks." I appreciate that he's writing, "Put reasonable regulations in place that will keep the questionable activities from being repeated." Too bad he's wrapped up in false understandings of current conditions and past history. But for those failings, and they are deal breakers, I bet we could agree on some policies for broad prosperity and a better future. John Gunn
Charles Duhigg and Carter Dougherty share in the New York Times From Midwest to M.T.A., Pain From Global Gamble and it is a gem. Local school districts in relative affluent areas of Wisconsin were trying to make a little money on the pension funds and also try to avoid raising taxes. That rising health care costs were eating into retirement funds is also noted. These relatively sophisticated school board members, even if a little sloppy and trusting, turned to an Irish bank that had relocated from Germany due to Ireland's low corporate tax rate and got in a global mess that stretches from here to Canada to Ireland to India and then back to New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority.
This is one but one story yet illustrative of the world in which we live. Challenges abound. Complexities are certain. Yet Conservatives just seem to want to let the markets work their magic. From Bu$hCo on down, they are masters of the blame game. They can take something that ought to fully discredit, or at least significantly damage, their flawed philosophies and turn it into an attack on alternatives. They are always on offense. John Gunn
UPDATE ~ Perhaps six hours later - David Goldstein and Kevin G. Hall of McClatchy filed this one back on October 12th but is worth revisiting. Their Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis had one comment reading as follows:
Shorter right wing: Republicans cannot be held responsible for ANYTHING they did or did not do when they had absolute power over every branch of government, 2002 - 2006. Sure, the Republicans had the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, as well as the Supreme Court. But hey, there's no way they could have possibly stood up to Barney Frank. I mean, what are all 3 branches of government compared to Barney Frank? And pay no attention to the Credit Default Swap Market wholly deregulated by Phil Gramm's December 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act, because they'd rather blame housing for lower income earners, black people, and immigrants for the chaos they gleefully caused & rode for 7 years.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Their endorsement of St. John however doesn't make much sense and they frankly get much wrong. Obama wanted to abandon Iraq? He was against pouring additional troops in via "the surge" yet this infantry soldier might argue the use of counter-insurgency tactics like buying cooperation made as big a difference as the additional numbers. And we're pretty much still looking for a way out of this mess. Even if Senator Obama made the wrong call on "the surge", and I'm not so sure he did, given the stakes I'd like to think about the many challenges in the future as relates to Iraq. Now that we've brought them Democracy ...
Obama "once insisted that U.S.-led forces invade Pakistan in search of Osama bin Laden"? He insisted? Sarah Palin used "absolutely" in seemingly agreeing yet "insisted"? I am certainly uncomfortable with aspects of his remarks from August of 2007 yet know he got much right. Truly we've poured plenty of money into Pakistan and perhaps have not gotten much bang for the buck. And here's a link that helps explain his current position. That US forces have in fact crossed into Pakistan might not be known to the DT. Attacks into Syria recently also are relevant.
He has a “robbing the rich to give to the poor” tax policy? A Progressive tax code is "robbing?"
Huh? John Gunn
Sen. John McCain’s ideas and worldview are stuck in the past. The world has changed around John McCain and will continue to change in the next four years. We’re not sure he can keep up and it doesn’t appear as though he has a strong and knowledgeable running mate to rely upon in the lean times.
McCain talks a lot about reform, but his vision is short. His answer to any economic question is to eliminate “pork” spending (about $18 billion in a $3-trillion budget), cut taxes and wait for the doom-and-gloom stock markets to awaken and solve the problem.
That’s a very hands-off approach to a very hands-on problem.
.... (Obama's) repolished liberalism would only push America down a more dangerous path — higher taxes on businesses, socialized medicine, redistribution of wealth and a general belief that more government is the solution to all the nation’s problems. ...
Nor are we in favor of McCain’s rabid tax cuts, which could drive the country into deeper economic despair. Less tax revenue amplifies an existing logjam and would cripple the working man, the very people these tax breaks are billed to help.
In making a choice for president we’re inclined to give Sen. John McCain our support, based solely on his political know-how and experience.
We feel confident that his service in Washington - more than a quarter-century – will translate well to the country’s highest office.
On domestic issues like energy, our economy and education, McCain offers a logical vision grounded in conservative principles.
His “maverick” persona doesn’t impress us.
We want our president to be a pragmatic, logical thinker, not some gun-slinging fanatical wildcard. However, McCain’s political service and track record is unparalleled in this election, and a little bit of a maverick – a very little bit – could be good for blurring party lines and getting something accomplished
UPDATE ~ A couple of hours later - I had to bail out on the above but here's the finish ... He's old and out of touch. Yup! That his worldview is of the past seems damning yet y'all still endorse Huggy? Didn't he (or his handlers) choose the running mate? So who is to blame? that was his first choice as President and most believe he flubbed it completely. Even if he had to throw the Bible Thumpers a bone does that show Presidential timber?
The vision thing being short is all too kind. Cutting taxes is a mantra of the right. "Rabid" is right in describing Mc$ame's current position and given that the earlier version of John McCain which knew Bu$hCo was serving up BS with their tax cuts that favored the swells makes this all the more sad. Another foundation for conservatives is that the marvelous markets will work their magic. Haven't we had about all the stay the course, conservative simplicity we can stand?
Once again, when is Senator Obama talking about socking it to businesses? His tax plan is hardly radical and y'all ought to know better. That they DT claims he's seeking "socialized medicine" reveals they are lost. Would that he were. Here's his plan. And I for one think it hardly goes far enough. Falling for foolishness on claims that the Left is seeking a redistributing of the wealth reveals much. Senators Obama and Biden are smart men that certainly don't believe solutions to all problems require more government. Smarter, better government yes but they know public policy is only part, a huge part however, of a better future.
I'd love them to explain what is logical about Senator McCain's plan on energy, the economy, and education. The Obama-Biden approach on any of these three is far more logical to me and yet I'd think Mc$ame's weakness on economic matters is most clear. How he bounced around with the recent meltdown is truly frightening.
"We want our president to be a pragmatic, logical thinker, not some gun-slinging fanatical wildcard." And y'all aren't going with Barack Obama, who continues to impress, and are ready to risk Grampy Mc$ame and even more incredibly Sarah Palin?