Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Barbour in Europe

WAPT has reported that the taxpayers are footing the bill for Barbour's trip to Europe over the next two weeks.

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi taxpayers are footing the majority of the bill for Gov. Haley Barbour’s two-week European trip, officials said.

Barbour was in Dublin, Ireland, on Tuesday where he was honored by the Trinity College University Philosophical Society for his role in Mississippi’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Barbour is also scheduled to meet with executives in Germany and Spain to discuss the possibility of their companies’ doing business in Mississippi.

Pete Smith, the governor's spokesman, couldn’t say on Tuesday how much the trip is costing taxpayers, because the total won’t be known until Barbour returns from overseas.

"Even in a time of national and international economic uncertainty, it is important that we continue to explore potential business opportunities and build relationships with European companies," Barbour said. "Mississippi is pro-business and pro-jobs, and has a great story to tell."

Barbour left for the two-week trip this past Saturday.

Now, before someone gets all upset and starts posting that he's creating jobs for Mississippi, let me say that I have no problem with the state paying for an economic development trip, if that is the legitimate reason (though I hope someone reviews the receipts).

Why I think this post is interesting is because of all the speculation of what Barbour may do in 2012, especially since The Washington Post blog last Friday put Barbour on the top 10 list of Republicans to watch. (Click here for FOLO's coverage of the post.)

A potential 2012 presidential contender visiting foreign dignitaries. Coincidence... I think not.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The tobacco tax that could

As the 2009 Legislative Session approaches, it looks like we'll have another go at the tobacco tax.

In an AP article today:

Two businessmen are petitioning to let Mississippi voters decide whether to increase the state tobacco tax and designate the revenue for Medicaid.

Clarksdale attorney and restaurateur Bill Luckett and Jackson advertising consultant Rory Reardon filed an initiative Thursday in the secretary of state’s office. They have a year to gather about 90,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

And, somewhat surprising, Barbour is not completely opposed to the idea of raising the tobacco tax. Don't get too excited, though. His proposal is so low, the whole thing will inevitably get bogged down, and the King of Tobacco could still come out looking good to his tobacco buddies after all.

Gov. Haley Barbour said this week that he’ll ask the 2009 Legislature to increase the cigarette excise tax, which is now 18 cents a pack. Barbour proposes adding 24 cents a pack on premium brands and 43 cents on off-brands.

I guess off-brand folks don't hire big-time DC lobbyists.

If we do have a ballot measure, which would be preferrable over whatever plan Barbour devises for his buddies, it will be interesting to see what numbers the legislature comes up with, and how much money will be poured into the state on such a measure.

Governor Bryant?

The Sun Herald reported today that Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is considering a run for governor in 2011. (Unless Barbour changes the Mississippi Constitution, this is his last term.)

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant told the Sun Herald Thursday he is mulling a run for governor, the same day he held a fundraiser to build his war chest for future campaigns.

Bryant said he had not made any firm decision yet about whether to seek re-election as lieutenant governor or to run for governor, but he was certainly considering seeking higher office.

He said keeping revenue in his political account is vital, so Bryant was to hold a fundraiser at a Biloxi home Thursday where attendees would pay $250 a couple, he said. The funds could be used for either his reelection or, if he so chooses, a bid to become governor when Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, an ally of Bryant's, finishes his last term, which would officially end in early 2012 following the 2011 elections.

"I haven't made that decision yet," Bryant said. "The one thing you never try to do is look three years into the future and decide but the one thing I do know is whether I am running for re-election or decide to run for governor it is going to take a lot of money to do so. I don't like to try to wait until the last minute."

We have all been speculating on what he might do in 2011, so it's not surprising to see his comments.

Several employees of the state auditor's office (former and current) have made rumblings about the mess Bryant made while auditor. It will be interesting to see if Pickering can clean up the mess before 2011 since it will come back to haunt Bryant if he runs for governor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Sorry guys I will be back to posting real soon. I am in the middle of a job change and have a lot more on my plate than I can handle. I have a demanding job and do this at night for the love of politics and writing. I just want to say that this is just a temporary interruption. I will try and get some good stuff up later tonight or tomorrow. Lord knows I have a ton of thoughts brewing in my head that need to get some air time

Friday, November 7, 2008

Not so proud moment for Mississippi

According to WAPT, two students were kicked off a public school bus for saying Senator Barack Obama's name. In a separate incident, a girls' basketball coach (at a public school) threatened to suspend any student from the team who mention Senator Obama's name.

Here's a link to the web-story:

I had heard some unconfirmed rumors of this type of activity occurring in some workplaces, but I am definitely shocked to hear this. Times are changing in the world, and it makes me very sad to hear people clinging to such hatred in the year 2008. I'm not naive enough to think racism doesn't exist everywhere - I know it does. However, we are obviously in the limelight on such issues, and I hope we can all grow and learn from this experience of having elected the first African American president.

As Mississippians, we will never be better than the bottom (where we remain on many lists such as health care and education) unless we stop hating people because they do not look like us or they do not think like us.

America took a giant leap forward last Tuesday, but Mississippi refuses to budge.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Senate race to 60 update (Updated x3)

The Democrats came into tonight sitting on 50 seats plus LIEberman for a total of 51 in the caucus. There were about a dozen or so contested races with only one being a Democratic seat. Here is what has happened so far with a running tally:

NC - Hagan (d) defeats Dole (r-inc) - Dem total 51 + LIEberman
VA - Warner (d) defeats Gilmore (r) - Dem total 52 + LIEberman
NH - Shaheen (d) defeats Sununu (r-inc) - Dem total 53 + LIEberman
GA - Chambliss (r-inc) and Martin (d) are headed to a runoff!! (UPDATED)
KY - McConnell (r-inc) defeats Lunsford (d) - Dem total 53 + LIEberman
MS - Wicker (r) defeats Musgrove (d) - Dem total 53 + LIEberman
LA - Landrieu (d-inc) defeats Kennedy (r) - Dem total 53 + LIEberman
CO - Udall (d) defeats Schaffer (r) - Dem total 54 + LIEberman
NM - Udall (d) defeats Pearce (r) - Dem total 55 + LIEberman
OR - Merkley (d) defeats Smith (r-inc) - Dem total 56+ LIEberman

Minnesota is too close to call in the Franken vs. Coleman race. We still are waiting on Oregon and Alaska. Sixty looks out of reach, but President-elect Obama will have a large Democratic majority in Congress to work with.

UPDATED: Jim Martin has knocked Saxby Chambliss under the 50% mark which requires a runoff in the state of Georgia. In Minnesota Norm Coleman is hanging on to a 600 voted lead, with almost all of the returns in. A recount could be called. In Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley trails by around 10,000 votes with 73% reporting. The Portland area still has a lot to be counted. Convicted felon Ted Stevens looks like he will retain his seat over challenger Mark Begich.

UPDATEDx2: Not so fast on the Alaska call. Apparently there are 60,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted and they are breaking by a good margin for Begich. In Minnesota there is very good chance Franken wins the recount which is done by hand. The first count is done by optical scanners looking for bubbled in marks. Many first time voters (likely Dem) might just mark an x or something. The state of MN estimates 2 per thousand missed ballots. At 3,000,000 ballots, 500 votes looks pretty likely. In Oregon Merkley has taken a 7,000 vote lead with 79% reporting. The remaining ballots are from heavy Democratic districts. We will pick up a seat in Oregon.

UPDATEDx3: Oregon has gone the way of change with Jeff Merkley defeating incumbent Gordon Smith. Minnesota is down to 250 votes and a recount is coming.

Travis Childers rolls

The voters of north Mississippi had no problems reelecting Travis Childers to stay in Washington to continue his hard work. There was whispers this past month that Greg Davis had been able to close the gap. Certainly many Childers backers were concerned about the report of over 10,000 new voters registered in Desoto county. No worries, Travis coasted to a resounding 54-44 win over the Republican challenger.

Childers understands Mississippi politics better than any Democrat to run for state office in a long time. He might be conservative on some social issues but he is a Democrat to the bone on the issues Democrats won on for years in the South like economic fairness. Other aspiring Mississippi Dems should look hard at the success Travis had running on meat and potato economic populism. Leave the gay bashing and GOP lite stuff alone and run as a Democrat. State your socially conservative positions if need be, but don't jump and down about them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama wins big, Musgrove looking bleak

As expected Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States. Obama carried all of the Kerry states along with Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Florida, and Colorado so far. Mississippi took 2 hours for the networks to call but sits at 57-42 as of this time. Unfortunately Ronnie Musgrove looks to be in a bind against Roger Wicker, trailing by a 55-45 margin with over 60% reporting.

I will give a detailed report of the Senate races as well as more on the Obama romp.

Election night update

Kay Hagan is a winner in North Carolina.

Pennsylvania was called at poll closing. McCain has to win Virginia to have any chance.

Mississippi has been listed as too early to call by MSNBC.

Georgia went McCain, the Senate race is too close to call.

Virginia and North Carolina are too close to call.

Florida, Ohio, and Indiana look promising for Obama.

Mitch McConnell is the fight of his life in Kentucky.

Early races to watch

Here is what I am watching for at the 6:00 release. The road to change starts now.

President: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Ohio

Senate: Shaheen (NH), Hagan (NC), Martin (GA), Warner (VA), Lunsford (KY)

Election Protection

The Protect the Vote Coalition will have live blogging all day long on their site

They are posting election issues that have come into the call center. If you have any issues voting, or if you hear of anyone with any issues, tell them to call 1-888-601-VOTE!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Barack Obama radio ad for Musgrove

Hat tip to the boys at TPM for this one...

TPM: Wicker denies distributing sample ballot implying that he is a Democrat UPDATED

First we got the radio ads targeted at the black community implying that Musgrove is anti-Obama. Now there is this as reported by Talking Points Memo.

Check this out. The campaign of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who is running in a special election that won't have party affiliation listed on the ballot, is being accused by the Dems of circulating this misleading sample ballot that asks recipients to vote for the Democratic candidates in every race -- except his own:

The Wicker campaign denied any involvement.

UPDATED: This is the exact sample ballot prepared by the local Dems. Only this one has been doctored to show Roger Wicker as the Democrat.

Fake Robocalls

This was on Y'All Politics today- very disturbing!

One of the YP editorial staff received a robocall this evening from 866-849-3243 on behalf of MSSC candidate Jim Kitchens. The young man in the voiceover also urged support for Barack Obama. We are hoping to get a recording and get this out there.As the google search linked above has shown, this outfit is a pretty notorious group. There have been a rash of complaints on calls made from that number. We will put more out there if we have it.

Further down, you'll notice a comment from Sam Hall- campaign manager for the Kitchens campaign.

Again. This ain’t our call. This is the other side targeting white, Republican households and trying to play divisive politics.

Of course, I’m sure with all his integrity, Jim Smith will step up really soon and denounce these calls just like he did the push polling that restarted last week. And the way he did those mail outs that distorted the truth about a 14-year-old boy who was persecuted.

Oh. Wait. He never has.

They will continue to try and use race to divide people.

Sam Hall Campaign Manager Kitchens for Justice

Turnout expected to be huge tomorrow

By all indications the polls will be overflowing with voters tomorrow. The Daily Journal reported yesterday that officials in northeast Mississippi are expecting a record turnout. Absentee ballot totals have already surpassed four years ago in most if not all counties.

"I feel like we'll have a huge turnout," said Lee County Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin. "I know we ordered more ballots than ever - right at 100 percent."
Roughly 1.1 million Mississippians voted in the 2004 election. Over 190,000 new voters have been added to the rolls this year alone. Be prepared to wait it out in long lines.

Voters should expect longer-than-usual lines at polling precincts throughout the area but otherwise will have a normal experience, according to most circuit clerks across the district.
What races are you excited about?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Clarion Ledger Endorses Obama

The Clarion-Ledger endorsed Obama this morning.

I was hoping for this, and I thought there was a chance this may occur, but never did I think it would actually happen. I'm speechless.

Obama Choice for Future
Mississippians will find a tough choice in who to vote for in the presidential race on Tuesday with practically a native son in the race. But the choice must be Sen. Barack Obama.

Republican Sen. John McCain has deep roots in Mississippi - a fact that many Mississippians consider a valuable quality. The first John Sidney McCain (Sen. McCain's great grandfather) served as sheriff of Carroll County and later on the county board of supervisors. That McCain's brother was a major general in the U. S. Army. Camp McCain, the Mississippi National Guard training site in Grenada County, is named for him.

So, the big exit sign on I-55 for Camp McCain - not to mention the legions of soldiers who have been assigned there - serves as a reminder of the McCain-Mississippi

Nor is it lost on Mississippians that the U.S. senator from Arizona who is the Republican nominee for president served with distinction in the military - another consideration many Mississippians find important in an elected official.

No one should try to - or can - diminish the sacrifice John McCain made to America through his Vietnam War service, and the terrible price he paid while imprisoned as a POW.

McCain shall always remain a hero and honored veteran who demonstrably loves his country and has served above and beyond the call of duty in time of peace and in time in war, as a military man and as a civilian public servant.

But, with all this said, that is the past and this is the present. This election is precisely not about the past but about the future and who best should be leading the country into it.

In those matters, Sen. Obama outshines McCain, foremost on policies.

America has spent the past eight years living under the mantra "might makes right," whether military or economic, and the public has reaped a grim reward.

Obama promises to shift the focus of the government to domestic needs.

While both candidates promise tax cuts, Obama's is aimed at middle-class Americans; in health care, Obama's stance is more inclusive. He promises a shift toward helping more people in hard times that require government help.

In foreign affairs, McCain again sides with Bush on Iraq, the major issue facing America militarily (with huge economic impact, as well). Obama promises to shift the emphasis back to where it belongs: bringing those who attacked America on 9-11 to justice, not nation-building.

This country is facing tough times, and those who were elected to lead us in Washington have not been listening to those who elected them. Those who adhere to the party line, and doing the same old things cannot be rewarded. Americans want demonstrable change.

Alas, for all his "straight talk" about change, McCain is just more of the same.
The "straight talk" about McCain? If he were the John McCain of 2000 who ran against George Bush, Obama wouldn't even rate with most Americans.

If he ran the campaign that he had run against Bush, bringing moderate Republicans, independents and conservative Democrats together, with the vast middle of America drawn in by admiring his honesty, he would be attractive today.

But somehow, McCain's "straight talk" express got derailed. He adopted the negative, divisive Bush tactics and, despite protesting he's still a "maverick," cannot escape his
record of backing Bush policies "90 percent of the time," as he said himself, including the Iraq debacle.

McCain '08 is not the McCain of 2000.

In addition to his shift to becoming what he had opposed, McCain offers an uncertainty no one since then can ignore, the elephant in the room, his age: 72.

Some point to Ronald Reagan's age, but when Reagan was reelected at 73, he had already served four years, had remarkable stamina, and an administration set up in power.

If McCain is truly bringing change, he would have to start anew - or, failing that, continue with the Bush/GOP apparatus in place.

Even McCain jokes about his age. But it's no joke, particularly given his past

It's ironic that one voice that has spoken forthrightly to this in recent weeks is the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's largest daily newspaper, which endorsed Obama, even though McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is that state's governor.

Palin is "passionate, charismatic," but she is not "ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth," it said, concluding: "Picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time."

One might logically ask, if Palin is inexperienced, then what about Obama?

McCain has more experience than Obama in the Senate, more knowledge of foreign affairs and has military experience. But 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.

But the American public doesn't always judge candidates on their paper accomplishments either - whether that's Andrew Jackson's roughhewn populism or Reagan's folksiness, or John F. Kennedy's charisma.

We gauge people not only by what they have done, but what we believe they will do, based on who they are and what they have achieved. Voters look for "it," an indefinable something that gives them hope, a thrill, a belief in America.

Obama offers that "something" - call it charm, charisma, a positive vision for the future, a voice for empowerment, a role model for youth - Obama has "it." That seems clear to the young and those who don't regularly engage in politics.

And he has "it," whatever "it" is, with a party machinery eager for change after eight years of corruption, division, war, greed and economic failure.

With the new old McCain, given his inability to distinguish himself from the worst of his party, his abysmal choice as a running mate, and his failure to motivate any but the most devout of his party, the choice is clear. For president, Barack Obama is
the best choice.