Sunday, September 30, 2007

Free Burma/Myanmar

Free Burma!

RTE News (Ireland):
Demonstrators have been on the streets of Burma since the middle of August. The intensity of the pro-democracy protests in recent days has led to a huge deployment of troops on the streets and many deaths.

RTÉ's Deputy Foreign Editor Anthony Murnane assesses the situation in Burma.

It was a decision by Burma's military leaders to increase fuel prices in August that sparked dissent among the population. A largely rural country with important offshore oil and gas deposits, Burma's 50m strong population sees little of the wealth. Petrol and diesel prices doubled overnight. Public transport costs shot up as the gas used by buses increased five-fold. Food prices were affected.

Burma's major religion is Buddhism and thousands of pagodas dotted around the country are a major tourist attraction. It's the involvement of the country's revered Buddhist monks that gave added weight to the demonstrations. They joined in large numbers after three of them were hurt when troops used force to break up a peaceful rally on 5 September.

In Burma nothing is simple - even its name causes problems. It is recognised by the UN as Myanmar; but the EU and other countries refer to Burma/Myanmar.

This is because its name was changed by the military leaders after they violently quashed an uprising in 1988, killing over 3,000 people. The junta has been accused of gross human rights abuses.

The Burmese people were allowed to vote in multi-party elections in 1991, for the first time in 30 years. It led to a landslide victory for the National League for Democracy.

Instead of handing over power, the military - to international condemnation - scrapped the election results. The party's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was placed under house arrest. She has since won many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 1999 she was given the Freedom of Dublin.

She is the nemesis of Burma's head of state Than Shwe, a much decorated army general who is said to be introverted and superstitious. A man who often makes decisions based on the advice of astrologers.

As more and more pro-democracy demonstrators joined the Buddhist monks on the streets, the army moved in to get them off the streets.

They were confined to their monasteries as this week's violent crackdown was launched in earnest. It all brings to mind the large scale protests that marked the uprising in 1988, and that is why the army was called in this week.

It's hard to know where this will all go. The protests have a momentum now. But the army is moving in swiftly to stifle the dissent.

The international community has become more vocal in urging restraint by the army. Indeed, the killing of a Japanese photographer may do more than any of the street protests to help the pro-democracy demonstrators.

Burma's military leaders are a tight knit group, and it's impossible to know whether the popular anger we've witnessed on the streets of Burma will be powerful enough to split the armed forces and lead them to break ranks.

A Prediction:

The Saints won't lose this week.

I'm more sure of this than any of my predictions on the statewide races.

Any takers that they will? :)

Barbour Comes Out 1st In VP Poll (Look Out America)

Campaigns and Elections Magazine:
It's still three months before any votes for president are cast, but it's never too early to talk about potential vice presidential nominees.

In an unscientific Web poll asking Campaigns & Elections readers who they thought would be the Republican vice presidential pick, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour came out on top with 53 percent. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, was the runner-up with 40 percent of the votes. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee received 5 percent, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice received 2 percent and retired general Tommy Franks got no votes.

Of course, the eventual pick depends on how the caucuses and primaries play out.

"It always depends on a thousand things," said Larry Sabato, politics professor at the University of Virginia. "It won't matter until we get actual nominees to see how they finished or whether they finished with a large plurality. [The nominee] may be obliged to offer it to the second-place winner."

If you read a lot of national political coverage you'll notice that Larry Saboto is quoted more than about anyone else. His opinion counts more to Washington journalist for whatever reason.

Any thoughts on what a Barbour Vice Presidency would do to America?

The Sunday Funny #7

Leave voting up to the grownups, you know the folks who've done such a good job so far.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Republicans Fire; Franks Fires Back

Last Week Republicans attacked Jamie Franks in a statewide ad buy. Jamie Franks is clearly a fighter and I didn't expect it to take him long to respond.

Gene Taylor Stands Up For Mississippi on Insurance On House Floor

He explains how the plan will save the government money, be fairer to citizens, and that many national Republican leaning groups support it.

He goes over briefly how an adjuster tried to shift the cost for his loss onto the federal government even though it was clearly covered by his policy.

Thanks to AM in the Morning for spotting it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Did You Hear The One About The Lawyer?

Whether you realize it or not a big reason why lawyer jokes are so big is because there has been a consistent effort for decades to push that frame and ridicule lawyers by business groups, conservative talk radio hosts, newspaper columnists, websites like Drudge Report, and now Fox News. You rarely hear positive stories about attorneys even though they are available, but if you want to attack attorneys then you pretty much have a research library. Of course there is the idea that people just like bad news, but if that is the case I have one question. Where are the greedy CEO jokes? "What did the CEO do when he had record profits? He cut benefits and shipped all the jobs to China." We're just not trained to react to that. So, next time someone tells you a lawyer joke feel free to laugh, even lawyers do, but do know that they or you only know that joke because someone else wants you to know it. Think about it.

GOP Call For Sunshine Laws Is Laughable

From a Press Release:
The Mississippi Republican Party’s call for sunshine laws is laughable as long as Gov. Haley Barbour continues to hide the contents of his blind trust and his ties to the Washington lobbying firm he founded.

Mississippi Democratic Party officials said the state GOP and Barbour should show the people what is contained in the blind trust and outline all financial ties he may have to Barbour Griffith & Rogers in Washington.

“The Republican Party attack on Attorney General Jim Hood is a hypocritical political stunt,” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

“The fact is that records of the attorney general are open for all to see, as compared to Gov. Barbour’s blind trust which leaves only the people of Mississippi blindly trusting,” Dowdy said. “And in the MCI case, Attorney General Hood won $110 million for Mississippi – an award more than 33 times greater than GOP leaders were willing to settle for. And that didn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

“Rather than engaging in phony political attacks, the Mississippi Republican Party should be for sunshine on Gov. Barbour’s blind trust so the people of Mississippi can know all of the facts behind his finances when he vetoed the tobacco tax and directed hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to clients of his firm.”

Republicans Determined To Steal Hancock County Senate Seat

The following e-mail was sent to a who's who of Mississippi industry PACs and Republican donors.
Subject: Scottie Cuevas - It's Not Over

Dear Friends,

You may have wondered about the final outcome of the election in Senate District 46 involving incumbent Scottie Cuevas and David Baria, former head of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association. It's not over, and Scottie needs your assistance. The contested election, where there were numerous irregularities, is in court and Scottie has hired an attorney. He needs your contributions to help pay legal fees. If you made a contribution to Scottie's campaign, now is the time to follow through and get him across the finish line.

Please contact Dick Wilcox at BIPEC 601-000-0000 or about contributing to the effort to assist Sen. Cuevas with this election challenge.

Steve Simmons
Director of Government Affairs
Mississippi State Medical Association
601.000.0000 Office
601.000.0000 Cell
601.000.0000 Fax

Yep, these are major REPUBLICAN groups raising money for supposedly Democratic Senator Scottie Cuevas. This is why I supported Baria in the primary. Cuevas doesn't vote like a Democrat AND this seems to confirm the rumor that he was intending to switch to the Republican party had he won re-election.

You may have noticed that I redacted most contact info. Many people treat that as private so I will rarely print anything other than official office numbers or official e-mails as I would hope others would do for me.

Also if you are interested in helping the true Democrat and primary victor David Baria you can contact me for more information.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lott and Cochran; Where is the Love?

Because y'all just voted for HATE.

Today the Senate passed hate crimes legislation that will expand the ability of the federal, state, and local governments to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

It would expand those defended to include hate crimes based on disability, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity in addition to current law that applies to crimes of race or religion.

Every Democrat, both Independents, and 9 Republicans voted for it.

Trent Lott, Thad Cochran, and Larry "I am not gay" Craig voted against it along with 37 of their Republican colleagues.

Haley Barbour Doesn't Want You To See This Ad:

Haley Barbour's campaign sent a letter to television stations today demanding that they not broadcast this ad. They would be on firmer ground if anything in the ad wasn't true; the problem is it all is. Haley Barbour just can't stand dissenting views. We saw that in the debate when as soon as he was challenged he went off message and we see that now.

Eaves On Solid Ground

From the Bolivar Commercial:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Arthur Eaves has both national and state history on his side in wanting to restore prayer in Mississippi’s schools. The only problem is that the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees.

Mississippi’s current constitution adds, “The rights hereby secured shall not be construed … to exclude the Holy Bible from use in any public school of this state.”

Several other territorial papers and state constitutions, both past and present, make it totally obvious that the Founders in no way intended to separate religious instruction or religious activities from America’s public schools.

In addition, George Washington, who was president of the Constitutional Convention and the president of the United States when the First Amendment was adopted, believed, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
“History must judge whether it was the Father of his Country in 1789, or a majority of the Court today, which has strayed from the meaning of the First Amendment,” the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in the case of Wallace vs. Jaffree.

Some folks wrongly contend that Eaves is pandering to voters with his prayer pledge. We believe, however, Eaves is not pandering at all. He’s standing on the Rock from which both this nation and this state were hewed.

The Bolivar Commercial:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Comparing Party Ads + Franks Ad Again

I'd say the production values of both ads were similar in that they are bad.

Still pictures and shading with no original video. I'm just not impressed with either.

This is Jamie Franks' ad which I think is great with original video and content. He has a beautiful family and his parents are great; it really reflects Mississippi.

Republicans Attack And Use A Standard Template

Republicans attack and if they weren't statewide (I think) I'd think they were joking.

If Republicans want to attack Democrats what do they say regardless of the candidate?

1. He's liberal
2. He'll raise taxes
3. He likes lawyers

All attacks generally are tied together with a line saying something to the effect of he's not like us. Well if you've seen any ads like that, watching this will leave you feeling deja vu all over again.

What Franks says:

From his pamphlet.

Phil Bryant And Republican Party Go On TV

Phil Bryant has a new Biographical Spot up paid for by his campaign.

The Mississippi Republican Party has up an ad attacking Jamie Franks.

I'll get video to you as soon as I have it and my analysis will come once I've seen the ads.

Eaves Ad: "Come Clean"

John Eaves: "We need to wash away the influence of big money, and make government work for the people, not just the powerful. I'm John Eaves, I'll be an independent Governor who stands up for the little guy." (less)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eaves At Southern Miss

The Democratic nominee for governor John Eaves made a swing through some of South Mississippi today which included a stop at Southern Miss where I was helping register voters. He and WDAM were there for part of the time. If you're curious you can look for clips of he and I on WDAM tonight. They interviewed us both.

Slow Posting

I haven't had as much time as usual to post because I have been running two voter registration drives which I believe are the only two going on at USM this semester. It has taken up a lot of time though so I will be glad in a week and a half when the registration deadline passes and I can get back to the coverage you've grown accustomed to.

Also, anonymous posting is no longer enabled. I left that option open hoping it would make it easier for folks to contribute. Unfortunately the vast majority of anonymous comments have added nothing to the conversation.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Compretta Also Chimes In On Facts

Alben Hopkins Admits Padding Resume
Hopkins claims credit for experience he doesn’t have

It's beginning to look like our statewide Republicans have a problem with the truth.

Al Hopkins listed his having "served the law for 42 years" as a qualification for attorney general.

The Hood Campaign issued this release:
Attorney general challenger Alben Hopkins has served as chief judge of the Mississippi Court of Military Appeals since 1996 – a court that has not heard one single case or met one single time in the past decade.

Yet Hopkins, in his latest campaign commercial now airing, claims: “As chief judge of our top military court, Al Hopkins has served the law for 42 years.”

Hopkins finally admitted his resume enhancement when questioned by a reporter Monday at a press luncheon hosted by the Stennis Institute.

“Once again, Alben Hopkins’ resume does not equate with the actual facts,” said Jonathan Compretta, campaign manager for Attorney General Jim Hood. “Mr. Hopkins’ limited experience for the job he now seeks is buried among the negative rhetoric of his campaign.”

According to Mississippi Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Chiquita Pendleton, the Mississippi Military Department’s Court of Military Appeals, on which Hopkins claims service as chief judge, has not heard a single case since Hopkins joined the court in 1996. Additionally, “no salary has been paid in the last 10 years, as court has not met,” according to a letter from Staff Sgt. Pendleton dated June 6, 2007.

So while Attorney General Jim Hood has spent more than a decade prosecuting murders, rapists, abusers of the elderly and child molesters, Alben Hopkins has sat on a court that never convenes.

“This begs the question: What experience and qualifications does Mr. Hopkins really have to qualify him as attorney general of Mississippi?” Compretta asked. “We believe the voters have a right to know.

“There’s an old saying that applies to make-believe cowboys who dress and talk the part, pretending to be what they aren’t,” Compretta noted. “Alben Hopkins is ‘All Hat, No Cattle.’”

Haley Barbour Needs A Fact Checker

During the debate last week Barbour appeared to state that the John Eaves he is running against has given money to Senator Clinton. The problem is he never has. John Eaves, Sr. who ran for governor several decades ago has given her campaign money, but John Arthur Eaves, Jr. has not given her one red cent.

“I disagree with Hillary Clinton on a number of issues,” said Eaves. “We both believe in providing health care for children, but I’m pro-life, she’s not. I believe in prayer in school, she doesn’t. I have never donated to Hillary Clinton. Barbour always throws out facts and no one ever bothers to check them, but he needs to get them straight before claiming something about me that just isn’t true.”

“My mailman can figure out the difference between me and my father, the Governor should know better, too,” concluded Eaves.

Here are the FEC reports of “John Eaves'” donations to Clinton:




With the staff and resources that are at Haley's disposal, they really shouldn't be making such amateur mistakes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

John Eaves Held His Own Against Flustered Barbour

If the debate had been between two candidates with equally strong campaigns and equally respected by the news-media then I would agree with Pender in his assessment that there was no clear winner:
The gloves came off in the gubernatorial race Thursday during a Biloxi debate between Barbour and Eaves in which each raised questions about the other's suitability for office.

Barbour has been expected to steamroll political neophyte Eaves. Many old campaign heads are still wondering why Barbour agreed to debate him. Conventional wisdom is if you're sitting on a pretty lead against a relatively unknown candidate, don't acknowledge he exists in your campaign.

Eaves at the very least didn't get blown off the stage at this first debate and his campaign has picked up noticeable momentum, and been legitimized by Barbour himself in agreeing to debate him.

Those conditions didn't exist though. The Barbour campaign has been seen as a juggernaut with Barbour treating the election as nothing more than an inconvenience. It was with this hubris that Barbour agreed to debate Eaves expecting to deliver an early knockout blow.

The curious thing though is he didn't. Haley, the politician's politician, lost his cool going off message (leadership) and lashed out without any specific focus. John Eaves stayed on message and broke new ground giving one possible solution to paying for increased teacher salaries by increasing our very low casino taxes.

If you look at it in those terms there was a clear winner, and it wasn't Haley.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Debate Open Thread

I missed the beginning. What I heard follows:

Tax Swap:

Barbour: It'll Hurt municipalities.
Eaves: Those concerns were addressed and you vetoed it anyway.

"Why do you want to be Governor?":

Eaves: I had to run because we need a governor who will serve the people of Mississippi and kick the moneychangers out who are holding us back.
Barbour: I ran to bring Mississippi back from a state worse than that of the depression with lost jobs and "lawsuit abuse."

Insurance Crisis on the Coast:

Barbour: We need the federal government to require coverage. We put federal money in the wind pool.
Eaves: We need a governor who will stand up to the insurance companies and not be afraid of their claims that they'll leave. Local companies will take that business.

Barbour's question "Do you think the state of Mississippi has done a good job in response to Hurricane Katrina and what would you have done differently"

Eaves: I would have stood with Gene Taylor and forced the insurance companies to pay the claims and I wouldn't have signed housing wavers that allowed housing money to be spent on other things.

Barbour's response: I'm proud of the progress and there are still issues. "Not one person's second home" was eligible.

Eaves' rebuttal: 1 person in a FEMA trailer is too many when it's been 2 years.

Barbour's rebuttal: I trust the people on the Coast, I trust their judgement to decide correctly.

Eaves' question "The people of Mississippi deserve to know who you serve" explain the inconsistencies of your trust:

Barbour: I put all my assets in a trust. I appointed the best lawyers to put it together and manage it. The ethics committee says it's alright. My opponent doesn't want to talk about a, b, and c.

Eaves' response: In the federal system blind trusts are monitored by ethics folks who can see what's in the trust and the administrator is independent and not a childhood friend.

Barbour's rebuttal: "He's got no" nothing. Liberal special interests.

Eaves' rebuttal: "Again I've asked the question; what are you hiding Governor?" "If it's not a big deal just tell us..."

Public School Funding:

Eaves: We need time for school prayer. We will fund education first and fully fund it every year. "Our children need an excellent education; not simply an adequate one." Raise teacher pay. A 2% tax on casinos will give us the funding we need to pay for teacher raises every year.

Barbour: Schools are being funded at the highest level ever at all levels including K-12, Universities, Community Colleges, and Workforce Training.

Eaves' rebuttal: The school funding increase was passed legislatively under Governor Musgrove and we should spend on pre-kindergarden.

Barbour's rebuttal: My fear is that trying to get prayer in school will get religious groups kicked out of the schools.

What will you do for Bay St. Louis and Waveland to get them where you'd like them in 5 years?

Barbour: We need the seawall back in Waveland. The people are "gritty, determined" and that's the best thing for building back any community.

Eaves: We need a governor who'll stand up the insurance companies so that people can get the money to rebuild.

Barbour's rebuttal: We will never tell you how to rebuild. If insurance companies don't fulfill their contracts they ought to be sued, they ought to get their tails kicked.

Eaves' Rebuttal: We need a governor who will stand up for people.

Eaves Closing Statement: Barbour and I agree on one thing. This should be about his record. Our unemployment rate is higher, our dropout rate high, our cigarettes cheap and our kids hooked. We need a governor who will take on big tobacco and oil and provide good healthcare, education and jobs.

Barbours' Closing Statement: My opponent's campaign is nothing but negative attacks. People are doing better than ever. My opponent doesn't have any ideas and he introduced his health plan on the same day as Hillary Clinton, a monday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Note:

Cotton Mouth will not be updated until late evening Thursday. Y'all can speculate why.

Jena 6? Debate? Grand Evil Plan to Throw the Election? Something Else? Enjoy your day.

Is the Speaker’s Race Really Between Two Democrats?

By Representative Joe Warren

Chairman, Committee on Rules Mississippi House of Representative

For some weeks now I have read in the media about the race for Speaker of the House. I have been a member of the House for nearly 28 years. Never has the Speaker’s race gotten as much attention as it has this year. While it is often considered a race between two Democrats, House Speaker Billy McCoy and Jeff Smith, the Republicans are in lock step with Smith who if elected would give absolute control over state government to the Republicans with no check on their power.

Often Republican adversaries and sometimes reporters will encourage the readers and listeners to ask those running for House seats how they will vote in the Speaker’s race. By implying that Speaker McCoy is too “liberal” for Mississippi, these Republicans hope some Democratic candidates for the House will be scared to publicly voice their support for Speaker McCoy.

To that end, as an old hand at Mississippi politics, I suggest that all candidates for the House of Representatives concentrate on their own race, not the Speaker’s. People are far more concerned about what you can do for your district than they are who you will vote for Speaker. However, if asked Democrats can say, “If you want a conservative Speaker who supports the rights of the unborn, that’s Billy McCoy’s lifelong belief.” You might want to mention to them that Speaker McCoy has the endorsement of Mississippi Right to Life. If you want a Speaker that supports the rights of gun owners, tell them Billy McCoy is endorsed by the National Rifle Association. If you want a Speaker that will stand up for the traditional family, Speaker McCoy has a 100% voting record of defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

If being too liberal for Mississippi politics means fully funding education every year and not just election years, Billy McCoy is guilty of being the only candidate for Speaker to do so. He is also the only candidate to stand up to Governor Barbour when he tried to take 65,000 seniors and kids off of health insurance. He is the only candidate for Speaker to support building a Burn Center in Jackson so Mississippians suffering burn injuries could be treated at home instead of some strange place away from friends and family. Billy McCoy has supported all of the economic development money the Governor asked for, and millions more, which makes him the only candidate for Speaker with that kind of record on economic development, not to mention the only candidate for Speaker who will make sure we cut the tax on groceries.

If the opposition to Speaker McCoy and his House Leadership want to play games and circumvent voters who elected democrats to the legislature, then I say let them. Do what they say. Ask Representatives who they intend to support for Speaker. It’s a Republican strong armed maneuver to split the House completely down partisan lines and the voters ought to know the facts. Let them make it simply Republicans versus Democrats and complete the gridlock so despised in our nation’s capital.

If a candidate for the House is not voting for Billy McCoy, ask “Why on earth not?”

Joe Warren of Mt. Olive is chairman of the Mississippi House Democratic Leadership Victory PAC, as well as chair of the important Rules Committee in the House. He has served as chair of education and has been a key member of the leadership team under previous Speaker Tim Ford as well as present Speaker Billy McCoy

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jamie Franks in Tupelo

Leesha Faulkner brings us this original video from a "Networking at Noon" event in Tupelo. Thanks Leesha.

Leesha's blog: Behind the News

Bryant Pitches; Franks Hits It Out Of The Park

Dewey Phil Bryant held a press conference today to highlight a business groups endorsement and to attack Jamie Franks for his support of organized labor. This is Franks' response:
"My opponent is proud to have the support of an organization that continually has fought against an increase in the minimum wage. As someone who worked his way through college, I am proud to fight for our working families and for an increase in the minimum wage.

As for supporting the creation of a Department of Labor; consolidating state government is the conservative thing to do. Judging by my opponent's pathetic record as state auditor, he knows little about running an effective and efficient government agency.

As the only state in the union without a Department of Labor, taxpayers are missing out on the tens of millions of federal funds that our state government would be entitled to if we had such a department. Its creation would streamline services and consolidate six or seven state bureaucracies into one, providing employers and workers with a one-stop shop, saving taxpayers money."

If you want the endorsement of an organization, you better be prepared to answer for the main positions of that organization. The NFIB has consistently opposed legislation that would support working people and we can only assume that they will expect a similar record from Dewey Phil. I'll gladly side with regular working people any day over folks who seem to think that someone can reasonably support themselves or a family on five dollars an hour.

"K Street Evil Genius" Story Breaks New Ground

The K Street Evil Genius Who Took Over Mississippi

The story breaks new ground on two main points:

First, part of what was supposedly held in trust couldn't have possibly been "blind":
Most blind trusts involve a transfer of assets from their owner to the trust. But this document [setting up Barbour’s blind trust] explicitly said that several of Barbour's assets, including his interest in BG&R's parent company, would not be transferred. Instead, Norquist would simply assume "full control and dominion over" them. That meant that Barbour, rather than the trust, would pay taxes on these assets and would therefore know he owned them and how much they were worth. The trust would be anything but blind.

And Barbour is still visiting his lobbying firm:
So has Barbour really severed ties to his old lobbying outfit? There is one final detail worth contemplating before passing judgment. A little before 9 a.m. local time on the morning of June 19 of this year, a Cessna carrying Barbour departed Jackson-Evers airport in Mississippi for Washington, D.C. The flight touched down at Dulles airport a few minutes after noon, marking the fifteenth time since January 1, 2007, that the governor’s plane had landed in the Washington area.

Just under an hour later, tnr observed a hulking black GMC Yukon deposit Barbour outside a nondescript building at 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, the site of the lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers. Barbour, wearing a dark suit and a sea-blue tie and identifiable by his nature-defying helmet of hair, strolled into the building alone, save for a laptop carrying-case and a cell phone. He stopped to exchange a few words with a receptionist, then disappeared from view. Roughly 90 minutes later, he exited the building with a red-headed man at his side. The two entered the Yukon and rode away down Pennsylvania Avenue. Just another day at that “little lobbyin’ firm up in Washington, D.C.”

So what do y'all think?

The K Street Evil Genius Who Took Over Mississippi

Monday, September 17, 2007

With Barbour Stuck in the Past Eaves Moves Forward on Healthcare

The Clarion Ledger:
Eaves provided details of his plan, Kid Care, to The Clarion-Ledger last week. Modeled after an Illinois program, it seeks to offer affordable coverage for children whose families earn too much to qualify for state and federal help but not enough to afford private insurance.

It is the most detailed policy proposal to come from either Eaves or Republican Gov. Haley Barbour this election season. They face off in the Nov. 6 general election.

Barbour appears to be running a campaign based on perceived inevitability. He takes the postion that of course the folks will support him and has staked out no new positions for a new term nor has he made any promises.
Most advocacy groups unfamiliar with Eaves' health care plan held off on predicting whether it would work, while others questioned its feasibility. But they and political watchers gave Eaves high marks for raising the issue.

"A candidate addressing a real, identified health need in Mississippi is rare," said Roy Mitchell, director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
Eaves has a rare passion for helping people and believes that what has often been an empty campaign slogan "Mississippi Can Do Better."
Eaves' plan mirrors "All Kids," a program Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich successfully pushed through that state's Democratic-controlled Legislature in less than a year.

Launched in 2006, the program builds on Illinois' Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program but is funded solely by the state. Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington have created similar programs based on Illinois' plan.

Like that plan, Eaves' proposal allows families to purchase coverage on a sliding income basis. A family of four that earns $50,000 a year would pay a monthly premium of $40 per child and a maximum annual co-pay of $100. A single parent earning $34,000 also would fall into that category. For two or more children, the maximum monthly premium would be $80.

We don't have to be last this time. We can lead with Pennsylvania and Washington state to insure all our children. John Eaves can take us there. Haley Barbour who has a clear history of dismantling public health programs simply won't.

Killer Haley Barbour Diary on Kos

Check It Out and if you have a DailyKos account Recommend It!

An excerpt:
Our Democratic candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor are running on trying to cut the regressive grocery tax, the highest in the country. Barbour, a former top tobacco lobbyist, still with financial ties to his former lobbying firm, has repeatedly killed the tax swap legislation that would cut the food tax and offset the revenue loss with a raise of the third lowest tobacco tax in the country. Even the current incumbent Lt. Governor, Republican Amy Tuck has championed the tax swap.

I wonder why?

Barbour had been among the tobacco industry's top lobbyists prior to returning to Mississippi. Between 1998 and 2002, such tobacco companies as Phillip Morris, RJR Nabisco, Brown and Williamson, and U.S. Tobacco paid his firm $3.8 million. The firm has collected more than $2 million in tobacco revenue since Barbour became governor.

Barbour’s grip on power here has even members of his own party scared of him:

To this day, few in the GOP have dared cross Barbour on the matter. Recently, lobbyists from the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program asked several Republicans to pledge to raise the tobacco tax. They encountered near-universal resistance. "A lot of Republicans are saying, Do you know what you're doing? If I sign this thing, then Haley will come and dump more money into my opponent's campaign,'" says Roy Mitchell, the program's director.

And he rewarded his friends with Katrina money for towing the line on the food/tobacco tax swap legislation:

This year, legislators tried again, introducing two more bills that would have halved the state's grocery tax and raised the cigarette tax by $1. Barbour didn't even lift his veto pen this time around--the bills died at the hands of Senate finance committee chairman Tommy Robertson. Oddly, Robertson had been a vocal advocate of previous tax-swap bills. Earlier this year, however, he and two other Republican legislators--who, in their day jobs, are lawyers--had received a $1.2 million contract from the Mississippi Development Authority, which is overseen by the governor, to help homeowners finalize their Katrina grants. The contract raised more than a few eyebrows. (In an interview, Robertson said the contract--which was cleared by the state ethics commission on a party-line vote--had "absolutely nothing" to do with his stance on the tax swap.)

Sure Tommy.

Again go Check It Out and if you have a DailyKos account Recommend It!

Hey, Lester, Where’s the Beef Label?

From a press release:
Agriculture Commissioner candidate Rickey Cole called on incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell to enforce state law that requires retailers to label all fresh and frozen beef with the name of the country where it was produced.

“Mississippi’s country-of-origin labeling law has been on the books for nearly five years,” said Cole, who will face Spell in the November 6 general election for state agriculture commissioner. “It is high time for Lester to wake up, do his job and enforce the law.”

State regulations that became effective Jan. 1, 2003, require all retailers who sell fresh or frozen unprocessed cuts of beef and ground beef to provide specific information as to the origin of that beef. The state department of agriculture is responsible for enforcing the law.

But no enforcement action is evident in retail stores around the state.

“Go to any grocery store in Mississippi and try to find a country-of-origin label on a pack of fresh beef,” Cole said. “Why won’t Lester stand up for Mississippi consumers and cattlemen?

“The big corporate beef packers are mixing foreign beef from Mexico, South America and who knows where into our fresh beef supply, and Spell just looks the other way. In light of recent ‘mad cow’ outbreaks and beef recalls, Mississippians have a right to know where their beef is coming from.”

Spell has written a long article on country-of-origin labeling, emphasizing his role in the Chinese catfish scare earlier this year. The article was printed in the Market Bulletin, a publication of Spell’s agency, and in this month’s Farm Bureau magazine.

Spell makes no mention of beef or his agency’s responsibilities to enforce beef labeling laws in the article. Spell does write “I am asking for your (the consumer’s) strict awareness of the country of origin labeling (COOL) on imported goods in retail establishments.”

Cole responded: “It is pretty ironic that Lester would tell the public to use ‘strict awareness of the country-of-origin labeling’ when his office is giving no attention to the enforcement of a law that would make it much easier for the public to be aware of the country of origin of the beef they feed their families.

“Maybe since his involvement with the failed Beef Plant, Lester just can’t bring himself to even talk about beef anymore. “
To read the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce regulations on country-of-origin labeling, go to:

Phil Bryant And Choctaw Casinos

Flip Flopping Phil brings us this interesting news:
It is the worst kept secret of the Mississippi Republican Party that they enjoyed quite a cozy relationship with Chief Martin during his lengthy reign as Tribal Miko. An employee of Haley Barbour ran Martin’s last campaign for reelection. You see, even those who claim to have a monopoly on values and morals have their price. That is why in Mississippi you will seldom hear a Republican utter a discouraging word about the Choctaw Indian Nation.

Haley isn't really against expanded gambling; you can tell so by his actions. He's just for whatever is best for his bottom line. Other Republicans appear to follow suit.
Numero uno: When Dewey (Bryant) was running for re-election as State Auditor in 1999, Chief Phillip Martin was his fourth largest contributor! In addition to the Chief’s hefty contribution in 1999, the Choctaw Indian Tribe also made a sizeable contribution to Dewey’s coffers that same year. Furthermore, the Choctaws also contributed generously in the 2003 and 2005 cycles.
Somebody made a friend.
Numero dos: When the Tribe gave Chief Martin the boot, so too went his staff. But our man, Dewey Phil, doing his part to recycle, quickly hired the defeated Martin’s chief policy advisor, Scott Mulvaney, to be an advisor on his campaign to become Mississippi’s next Lieutenant Governor. And can you guess what Scott is telling Dewey to do on the subject of Choctaw gaming?
The seem to travel in the same circles, circles around the truth.
Numero tres: Don’t be fooled—the bounty flowing from the Choctaws is more than just the checks that bear their name. John Lundy of Capitol Resources, who was the chief lobbyist for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians under Chief Martin, held a fundraiser in his own home in Jackson just this past week for Dewey Phil.
Mucho Choctaw dollars.
Dewey has yet to take any official public position on the issue of Choctaw gaming and their potential expansion into Jackson County. However, his silence on the issue speaks volumes about where his true allegiances lie.
This is definitely a fair question especially considering some of his public supporters are also some of the biggest opponents of the casino.
For his ability to dodge this issue, almost as well as he can dodge a debate, Dewey is known around Choctaw land as Chief-Never-Takes-A-Stand. And that’s why if you look really closely while driving down Highway 19, on a little rise that is just literally a stones throw from the Casinos, there is a special structure that stands alone and is always reserved for Dewey Phil and his buddy Don Wildmon.

It is a teepee made entirely of glass.
Beautiful; you can almost smell the hypocrisy.

Get the full story at Flip Flopping Phil Bryant.

Greenspan Says Iraq War Was For Oil

Polly and the Mooch:
From the Times of London:
AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.
In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.
However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Anyone see this reported in the US News programs? pretty big deal, I think.

The part here that gets me is the 'everybody knows' phrase. I think a majority of the people, particularly those who supported the President's war, think this isn't true. the main rationale? I hear the phrase "That couldn't be true". as if its too bad to be real (or I couldn't have been so wrong about the guy) is a rationale. I guess you take the better of two evils when "profound incompetence" is the other choice on the table. The problem is that they aren't mutually exclusive.

Polly and the Mooch

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Letter in the Clarion Ledger

Barbour's leadership didn't fix everything

In a recent letter ("Barbour's post-Katrina leadership shows," Sept. 9), Glenn L. McCullogh Jr. praised the governor's response to Hurricane Katrina. He gave Gov. Haley Barbour the "Holy Haley" treatment, saying Haley was like a "lighthouse beacon."

I must respectfully disagree, as:

- Our congressional delegation, led by then-Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran working in a bipartisan way, won us the reconstruction dollars we so desperately needed.

- The situation with thousands still living in FEMA trailers and neighborhoods still without life in communities like Biloxi and Gulfport is unacceptable.

- Some $1 billion disbursed isn't so impressive when you consider the additional $1 billion wasted.
As a citizen of our fine Gulf Coast, I can understand how folks from outside the Coast think everything is fixed, but the truth is it isn't, and we need help.

We won't get that help until we face the truth about our leadership.

John Leek

The Clarion Ledger picked the title: Barbour's leadership didn't fix everything

MSU Over 17,000 for 1st Time In History

For the first time in its University History, Mississippi State is officially over 17,000 students. Its is 300 students under Ole Miss.

"MSU has 17,039 students - up 833 from the autumn 2006 semester. This marks the first time in MSU's 129-year history it has enrolled more than 17,000 students, according to the university."

Yet despite having 69,000 students enrolled in high education, only 17% of Mississippi residents hold a Bachelor's Degree. Which is reported as 25% less than the national average.

Schools are definitely looking to increase enrollment, MSU through their StateOfTheFuture Campaign. But average tuition is said to be at $4,500 yearly, with most yearly ( 9 years in a row) increases fronted by Mississippi families. And the high school graduation rate is still at 61%, with ACT scores 50th in the nation.

While not to reign on my Bulldogs parade, these numbers are more important than 19-14, whether good or bad. Mississippi School pride needs to be more than X's and O's. We need to cheer for progress in the State, and question the status quo when "the bell tolls".

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Go Bulldogs! 19-14 Over Auburn

Hattiesburg American:
Mississippi State rallied to go ahead of Auburn, then held off the War Eagles as they threatened to score late in the game. Final score: Mississippi State 19, Auburn 14.

Auburn, which trailed 13-0 in the early going only to go ahead 14-13 at halftime, was a 13-point favorite to win the game.

Democrats Bring Sweeping Ethics Reform

The US Senate has passed Senate Bill 1 and it will become law unless George Bush vetos it; which he is not expected to do.

Here are some of the highlights of the bill courtesy of CQPolitics:
- Senators will no longer be able to take gifts or junkets from lobbyists.

- Senate spouses will be banned from the lobbying business, unless they were lobbyists before their spouse’s most recent election or before they married a senator.

- Senators and their top aides will have to notify the Ethics Committee within three days when they begin negotiating new jobs.

- Some of the bill’s provisions have already been put into practice. Senate appropriators, for example, have begun including lists of earmark sponsors in committee reports. New Senate rules will require appropriators to continue doing that.

- Senators will be able to attack earmarks on the floor with a point of order triggering an hour of debate, and it will take a three-fifths majority vote to retain the provision.

- Another new point of order will be available to challenge “dead of night” provisions — items that show up in a conference report but did not appear in either the House or Senate versions of the legislation. Unless a three-fifths majority wants to keep such a provision, the offending language would be removed.

- Matching a House rule, the new law would prohibit senators from influencing private hiring based on party affiliation — an effort to prevent future dabbling in decisions by lobbying firms along K Street.

- And lawmakers in either chamber convicted of felonies including bribery and fraud would see their government pensions reduced, receiving only the portion they contributed.

- New restrictions on free travel would ban many trips but allow senators to enjoy one-day journeys at others’ expense. Also still legal: trips financed by nonprofits and universities.

- Senators will still be able to anonymously block a request for unanimous consent, but only for six days. After that, the senator’s name would be disclosed unless the objection was withdrawn.

- After Dec. 31, senators, top aides and top administration officials would have to wait two years after leaving office before lobbying Congress. The House chose to keep its one-year “cooling off” period.

- When former members of the House or Senate begin to lobby, they will lose their access to their former chamber’s floor and gym.

- Also starting with the new year, lobbyists would be required to report their activities quarterly to the House clerk and Senate secretary. Those reports are now required twice a year.

- The bill would give the Federal Election Commission six months to draft regulations requiring campaign committees to report bundled contributions from lobbyists and their political committees that total at least $15,000 during any six-month period. The first round of those twice-yearly reports would most likely cover activity during the first half of 2008.

- Another provision of the legislation would be evident at next year’s national political conventions. Lawmakers would not be permitted to participate in events honoring them and funded by lobbyists, unless they are presidential or vice presidential candidates.

- Senators will have to certify that the funding they request would not financially benefit themselves, their spouses, children, parents, siblings and parents-in-law.

“That will really shut down the junkets,” said Craig Holman, a Public Citizen lobbyist. “Those are some sweeping bans.”

“This is really the first time that the American people are going to get a peek at how the bundling system works,” said McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center. “It is a foot in the door.”

The Opposite of Poverty

I was reading elsewhere and the question came up "what is the opposite of poverty?"

Well, let me know what you think and I'll be sure to respond in the comments. (Including my own opinion later)

Jackson Free Press Covers Haley's "Blind" Trust

The Jackson Free Press:
The nature of a blind trust supposedly allows no insight into how the firm is going about making its profits, and by design, offers the governor no motivation to influence government policy to advocate for the firms endeavors. This does not mean, of course, that Barbour has no contact with his old
lobbying comrades. The blind trust is not a restraining order, and no state law forbids Barbour a phone call to his former partners. “Barbour, Griffith and Rogers has represented, and still represents, big tobacco companies, and if he is still receiving a benefit from that lobbying firm then I think he would have a problem with Section 109 of the Mississippi Constitution,” said Rep. Jamie Franks, D-Mooreville, who is running for lieutenant governor, and who supported state legislation allowing more insight into subsidiary companies and blind trusts in 2007.

Does this mean that there is no penalty if he were to purposefully seek out the contents of the trust? (Please answer in the comments. I don't know the answer)
Former Attorney General Mike Moore said the shadowy nature of the trust is not accidental. “Do you really think Lenny Griffith and Ed Rogers don’t talk to Barbour? For God’s sake, his name’s still on the door up there in Washington,” Moore said.

And, Moore added, lobbying clients clearly know where to go to peddle for influence. “Let’s suppose he’s got $50 million in shares with Lorillard Tobacco Company. A guy from Lorillard comes to see him, and says, ‘I want you to vote against this bill in the Mississippi Legislature that would’ve raised the tobacco tax.’ So what did the blind trust do to help him be more pure? If he knows he’s got $50 million invested in Lorillard, does it prevent him from having a conflict of interest? Of course not. It merely prevents anybody else from knowing that he’s got a conflict of interest ... . He’s hiding his assets and his conflicts of interests from the public.”

Well said Mr. Moore.
The Clarion-Ledger went as far as pooh-poohing concerns about potential continuing ties between the new governor and his former firm, which had been severed, it assured readers in a Jan. 19, 2004, editorial: “He had already sold the firm, including the name, and it’s owned by Interpublic Group of Companies Inc., a publicly traded company. … He has no ownership or stock.

Barbour’s former partners bought the company back from Interpublic in 2004, for about $6 million, according to Bloomberg News Reporter Timothy Burger in reports last month that have placed the governor under a national microscope. Burger reported that Ed Rogers, who co-founded the firm, would not say whether Barbour had participated in the buyback. He did say that Barbour “earns no income” from the lobbying firm.

But Bloomberg reported on Aug. 29 that Barbour does, indeed, still own valuable stock in the company and that it is providing the bulk of his income, even as the firm is lobbying—successfully—for Katrina contracts on behalf of at least one casino.

So again what this means is that either the Clarion Ledger accidentally got it wrong, purposefully got it wrong, or were lied to. I don't think they did so on purpose so that leaves the other two options.
Hood told Barbour that his blind trust does not satisfy income reporting requirements. The attorney general sent a follow-up letter that November, containing an Ethics Commission manual defining a “business” to include a “trust,” but also including a smoldering threat of legal action: “In order for us to quietly avoid civil or criminal litigation, I respectfully urge you to fully comply with the Ethics laws by filing amended statements of economic interest… .”

Brunini responded with a letter to Hood that December, reminding Jim Hood of the media’s “universal approval” of the blind trust, and enclosing the enabling Clarion-Ledger editorial referenced above. Brunini informed Hood that he would request an opinion from the Ethics Commission.

So, Brunini used a editorial that he must have known was wrong to defend Barbour before the ethics commission. My excerpts can't really explain anything, but I do encourage you to read the whole article which is more easily understood together at The Jackson Free Press

Eaves Recieves Mayor Mack's Endorsement

The Man ... The Myth ... The Legend: Shawn O'Hara

Yeah, he nuts.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gary Anderson Speaks In Jackson

Lynn Posey Speaks In Jackson

He's the Democratic candidate for Public Service Commissioner for the Central District.

Bill Minor On The New "Brown" Racism

Bill Minor:
Straw men in Mississippi politics used to be only blacks. Now it's also the browns, Hispanics. Both handy tools for demagoguery.

Many Democrats in Mississippi's era of one-party politics were elected by hitting the "n-word" harder than their opponent. But Democratic pols dropped race after the 1965 Voting Rights Act gave blacks access to the ballot box.

Republicans, of course, were not dumb. They saw race still a useful tactic, if done subtly to inflame emotions of Southern white voters. When Ronald Reagan spoke of "welfare queens," whites got the message.

The message: "I'm like you" and "They aren't"
When Barbour entered the governor's race in 2003, he didn't forget some of the old tricks. Barbour played the race card, donning in his lapel a miniature state flag with its Confederacy stars and bars while attacking Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove for trying to change it. The flag gambit, most analysts agreed, turned some 50,000 voters and assured Barbour's win.

Now in 2007, the black race card for the moment has been replaced with a brown race card, namely undocumented Hispanic immigrants.

The "Keep the Flag, Change the Governor" people seemed to be at a lot of Barbour's rallies. I've always wondered what coordination they did.
State Auditor Phil Bryant, who won the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor against state Sen. Charlie Ross on Aug. 7, has pushed the immigrant "issue" as his prime plank. His questionable "study" shows illegal Latinos cost the state $25 million in education and health services.

But notably, Bryant's study was heavily based on input of the Federation for Immigration Reform created by several white supremacy groups, among them the Council for Conservative Citizens, successor to the old White Citizens Councils.

I don't think Bryant is personally racist; for the record.
Black or brown, racial politics that rekindle voter fears have no place in Mississippi. What we need to worry about is the recent statistic showing we have the nation's highest percent age of population living below the poverty line.

Real issues like lowering the cost of living (grocery tax cut) should dominate the discussion, not those intended only to inflame.

Bill Minor's Full Article

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Phil Bryant Loves SuperTalk

In addition to doing Phil's dirty work in smearing Charlie Ross in the primary, SuperTalk is broadcasting its message of Dewey Phil Bryant can do no wrong everywhere they have stations today. If one was curious about the stations' choice in the Lt. Governors race it should now be clear if it wasn't before.

Steve Davenport, who owns the SuperTalk radio chain, will be holding a $1,000 a couple fundraiser for Dewey Phil Bryant on the 19th of this month.

State Senators not on the list include Tommy Robertson (who lost his primary to Michael Watson), Travis Little, Gary Jackson, J. Ed Morgan (who lost his primary to Billy Hudson), Charlie Ross (unity Charlie?), Michael Chaney, Stacey Pickering (who perhaps doesn't want to be associated with Phil's auditing record).

SuperTalk, we not only shill for Dewey Phil Bryant, we fund him too. (How's that for a new slogan?)

Oops! Mayor Mack Endorsing Eaves, Not Barbour

From a press release:
On the heels of a mis-announcement by the Barbour campaign that Mayor Melvin Mack of Laurel would endorse the Governor today, the Mayor instead announced that he will officially endorse John Eaves for Governor at a press event tomorrow in the rotunda of City Hall.

“I am honored to have the support of Mayor Mack as we partner together to bring a new day to Mississippi,” said Eaves. “I look forward to serving the needs of the people of Laurel and across Mississippi by working to provide grocery tax relief, healthcare for all children, and fully funding education every year, not just election years.”

Laurel Mayor: I Am A Democrat And I'm Not Endorsing Barbour

Emily Wagster Pettus writing for the AP:
The Democratic mayor of Laurel says he is not endorsing Republican Gov. Haley Barbour's for re-election, despite the Barbour campaign's contention that the endorsement was to be announced Thursday.

"I've always been a Democrat, nothing but a Democrat and I remain a Democrat," Mayor Melvin Mack told The Associated Press.

Barbour campaign spokesman Brian Perry called AP on Wednesday and said Barbour and Mack were having a news conference at 4:15 p.m. Thursday to announce that Mack would endorse the governor.

So what explains this confusion?
Mack's office called AP on Thursday to say the mayor never intended to endorse Barbour. Mack said his secretary took a call last week from someone in Barbour's office, who told her the governor was planning to be at a museum in Laurel on Thursday and wanted to come to City Hall to meet with the mayor.

Mack said he understood the meeting would be a casual discussion, possibly about Hurricane Katrina recovery. Laurel was hit by tornados spawned by the storm on Aug. 29, 2005.

"When the president came, I went to see the president. I didn't endorse the president," Mack said. "Certainly, I can't endorse the governor. The word 'endorsement' never came out of my mouth."

Has the Governor's campaign gotten so arrogant as to think every meeting will result in an endorsement?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Barbour's Ad (Disingenuous) "Heart of the Matter"

Consistent with the position taken by the governor on all matters "tort reform," and the truth notwithstanding, please note that Haley Barbour's new 'my tort reform' TV commercial includes an AP release, declaring a medical malpractice 'crisis,'that is dated July 11, 2002. Last time I checked, Barbour came into office in 2004. Democratic Governor Musgrove's special session that addressed medical liability issues was in 2002. Barbour's special session gave immunities to big corporations like tobacco companies and merely tweaked the medical malpractice groundwork laid by Musgrove TWO YEARS previously.

It's kind of weird that "Dr. Kevin Galloway" has a little testimonial on the Governor's website. He is careful not to mention the actual schools where he received his Doctor of Osteopathy degree -- "After earning a degree in Texas, his medical degree in Chicago, interning and residency at Tulane and in Detroit, he returned home to Jackson, Mississippi."

He was licensed in the state of Mississippi in 2001, the same year Barbour claims doctors were leaving the state in droves.

Here is what the testimonial says: "How close was I to leaving? I had signed contracts in my hands that I hadn't mailed yet. I had called the moving trucks to see how long it would take to load equipment and move. I had flown out there to look for houses." Dr. Kevin Galloway, the OB-GYN featured in the latest Barbour for Governor campaign commercial, describes the desperate times before Governor Haley Barbour signed the sweeping 2004 Tort Reform Act. (You mean that 82-day special session didn't accomplish a thing?) Dr. Galloway says the out of control lawsuits, the outrageous malpractice insurance rates, and the atmosphere of legal threats nearly pushed him to abandon his practice in Mississippi. "I had calls from Arizona, Nevada, California, with money on the table. Have you seen the Western mountains? Beautiful. In Mississippi, we were at war. Lawyers turned patients against their doctors. Doctors threatened not to treat lawyers. I began to wonder why I shouldn't move."

So, maybe he was in some kind of time warp or is just naturally behind the times. Most of the med mal issues had been adequately (and severely) addressed in 2002. I'd say I just don't get it, but we all know what the deal is here, doc. If you're as smart a man as your degree claims you to be, you know it too.

Warnock Proves Road Safety Is Not Always Expensive

From a Press Release (but still pretty cool):
A phone call from Transportation Commission candidate Rudy Warnock to Jackson Public School district transportation officials quite possibly saved the lives of many children.

Warnock alerted the school district to an unsafe Hinds County bridge at Cynthia Road just inside the Clinton city limits. Although the information is listed on the Mississippi Department of Transportation Web site, appropriate measures should have been taken, such as, contacting JPS and posted weight limit signs.

“I knew the Director would like to be informed of this, so I picked up my phone and called to see if school kids are being carried over that bridge. Sure enough, a school bus uses that bridge everyday. When the Director found out about the bridge, he was as concerned as I was and said buses would be rerouted.”

“All it took was a phone call to make sure our children aren’t traveling on this unsafe bridge,” Warnock said. “Why hasn’t our district commissioner made sure our schools have this information? A phone call is the cheapest way I know to save lives.”

Warnock talked about bridge safety at a news conference today on a bridge at Cynthia Road. The bridge is one of over 4000 in Mississippi that are potentially unsafe to use.

Bridge safety has taken center stage nationwide since the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed during rush hour on Aug. 1, killing 13 people and injuring about 100.

“MDOT has a wealth of information that can make a difference in the safety of our children and anyone else traveling our state,” Warnock said. “Putting this information to use is an inexpensive way to make our roads safer.”

Warnock, a Madison County native and a Professional Engineer, is running for the Central District Transportation Commission post. Warnock meets incumbent Dick Hall in the November general election. The Central District Transportation Commissioner is one of three commissioners who are elected by voters in single-member districts and who oversee and set policy for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

“When I’m elected, this is exactly the kind of thing I’m going to do and that I will direct MDOT staff to do. Can you think of a more effective or less expensive way to protect Mississippi lives than picking up the phone?”

School busses shouldn't be going over possibly unsafe bridges for another reason. Their weight and size can't help but further deteriorate the structures.

Jim Hood's First Ad "Protecting Mississippi Families"

What you see is what you get. I agree. I've had the pleasure of meeting Jim Hood several times and although he may not be the best politician he has been a great public servant working hard to do what he knows to be right and doing so with dignity.

John Eaves Responds to the Mississippi Economic Policy Councils Report

John Eaves:
“Mississippi has the highest grocery tax in the nation and our hardworking, God-fearing families deserve a tax cut,” said Eaves. “It is embarrassing and wrong to charge working families the highest tax rate in the country on basic food items, while I see tobacco companies preying upon our children. Barbour vetoed a cut in the grocery tax paid for by increasing our tobacco tax to help the tobacco companies who have paid him millions of dollars as a lobbyist. As governor, I’ll make it one of my top priorities to cut our grocery tax right now and pay for it by increasing the tobacco tax.”

Jamie Franks Responds to the Mississippi Economic Policy Council

Jamie Franks issued a response to the Mississippi Economic Policy Council study saying:
"Their report provides further proof that that our current state tax system penalizes Mississippi's working families. It's appalling that Mississippi, the poorest state in the union is one of only two states that fully tax food without any offsets. Mississippi's working families need tax relief and cutting the regressive food tax is the most direct way to have a positive impact. My opponent sides with Governor Barbour and Big Tobacco and refuses to support the tax swap that will cut the food tax in half, an issue that has overwhelming statewide support."

I agree with Jamie Franks when he says on the stump and in his ad (below) that it is apalling that the poorest state in the union has the highest tax on groceries.

Dowdy - "We'll Cut the Grocery Tax"

The Democratic Response to the Mississippi Economic Policy Council study:
A study released today by the Mississippi Economic Policy Council supports Mississippi Democratic Party candidates’ and leaders’ calls for a lower state sales tax on groceries.

The study says Mississippi’s sales tax of 7 cents on the dollar is especially regressive “because it fully taxes groceries – an expenditure that low-income working families cannot avoid making.” Mississippi is one of two states to fully tax food with no offsets.

“Democratic Party leaders and our nominees have been saying this for months: Reduce the sales tax on groceries and give everybody a tax break,” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

“Something isn’t right when the nation’s poorest state charges a 7 percent sales tax on groceries. Mississippi residents have wanted something done about this for a long time. That’s why voters need to elect Democrats in November – we’ll cut the grocery tax.”

In 2006, Republican Gov. Haley Barbour vetoed two bills during the legislative session that would have eliminated or reduced the sales tax on groceries. Earlier this year, in the 2007 session, Barbour had a top GOP ally in the state Senate kill a similar proposal.

Barbour’s ally, state Sen. Tommy Robertson, lost his re-election bid last month.

Dowdy said electing Democrats to state and legislative office will change things in January. He said voters shouldn’t believe Barbour when he says he wants to study the state tax structure before proposing any possible cuts.

“Gov. Barbour is putting up a smoke screen,” Dowdy said. “He had a chance to give Mississippians immediate tax relief in 2006 and again this year, but he chose not to. It’s more than obvious where Gov. Barbour stands on reducing Mississippi’s grocery tax.

“Let’s go to the polls in November,” Dowdy said. “Let’s support Democratic nominees for state, district, legislative and county posts. And let’s open the 2008 legislative session in January by cutting the sales tax and helping everyone in Mississippi.”

Another Study Shows That Our Tax Structure Penalizes The Poor

Take a look at the nonpartisan study yourself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate

It was really bad and I don't think it'll inspire the students who attended which is sad.

They appeared to be responding to thoughts they'd brought with them without being open to what was being said. Both gave responses to questions that had little to nothing to do with the original topics.

No one ever asked about Haley Barbour and only one student asked about economic development yet job figures and Herring's love of Haley and Haley's ethics came up multiple times.

Their responses were not always clear and often included multiple unrelated topics.

Herring seemed to speak like he was being paid by the word.

The most interesting point of the night was when the following student stood up to offer a popular opinion from the students there. You needn't watch past the first minute. The response to this, like everything else, was largely disappointing.

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate


Herring: There has always been an anti-war movement.
They were wrong when Hitler started and they are wrong now. (Yep, he brought up Hitler) "If we don't fight them here they're going to come back here." (Tired, old talking point)
If Democrats want to vote in Hilary Clinton or another "anti-war" candidate then they can. (Hillary Anti-war? Right.)

Dowdy: What did Iraq have to do with 9/11?
4,000 American lives have been lost. We've destabilized the region. Don't call Democrats naive.

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate


Dowdy: I supported the bill that was supported by President Bush and Senator Trent Lott.
Companies should be prosecuted and jailed for employing illegal immigrants (Herring then agreed)

Herring: We need security including a wall in this time. We must stop "the flood of illegal immigrants."
"We are a nation of immigrants" (How's that for a tired line?)

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate

Herring: "The doors to our church are open"

I don't know how many times he repeated that line.

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate

Moderator: I'm going to reverse my earlier decision and allow your question because maybe it'll cause one of them to answer the question on young people's participation. (rough paraphrase)

This debate is not interesting at all. Both have repeated tired, old talking points without responding generally at all to the questions of those from the audience. I doubt this debate will stir the students in attendance to hit the streets and get active.

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate

On Youth Participation/Engagement:

Herring: "I think we need to nominate more people like Ronald Reagan"

Dowdy: Bill Clinton gave us huge surpluses; George Bush has wracked up huge debt that you're going to pay for.

Student Question: You've both failed us as parties, why should we trust you?

USM Dowdy - Herring Debate

On Photo ID:

Herring: We need fo-toe ID to stop fraud

Dowdy: Voter ID has never been proven to stop fraud.

Les Riley Remains on the Ballot

Republican Lester Spell is unsuccessful in knocking 3rd party candidate Les Riley out of the general election

A source tells me that after the meeting today Les Riley will be on the ballot. You saw it here first.

Will Bardwell On Wicker and the War

Will Bardwell:
If the facts don't support your voting record, then just make up new facts. That's what Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Citizens Council) did in the House of Representatives on Monday night. From the Congressional Record...

The al Qaeda terrorist network that we are fighting in Iraq today is the very same network that brought down those two buildings in New York. They are the very same network that sent a plane crashing into the Pentagon. And they are the very same al Qaeda that had a plane headed toward Washington, DC, which undoubtedly was headed towards the Capitol Building.

We are still fighting al Qaeda, and I appreciate people like Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus who are fighting that war as capably as they know how. Al Qaeda must be defeated, Mr. Speaker. And our best opportunity, our greatest chance to defeat al Qaeda today is to be successful in Iraq. That’s what I would urge my colleagues to support, and I believe that is what the American people want us to do. I thank my friend for calling this Special Order.

Never mind that Al-Qaeda in Iraq was formed in 2005, some two years after the war began and some four years after 9/11. And never mind that two-thirds of Americans are convinced that the U.S. presence in Iraq is creating terrorism or, at the very least, has no effect on terrorism. And never mind that 60 percent of the country (a new high) wants a concrete deadline for operations in Iraq.

But hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.

The original post includes hyperlinks to info backing Will up at

I Am An American

This was one of the more beautiful things to come out of the tragedy though. I loved seeing these ads whose purpose was to discourage hate crimes after 9/11 against people who didn't "look like us." We can do amazing things when we try.

Go Shopping

In the days after 9/11, 2001 when Americans like myself wanted to work together; to sacrifice for America George Bushes response was to privately plan a war with Iraq and publicly tell us that the best thing we could do for the good of the country was to go shopping.

He even starred in a 30 second ad telling us to do so.

That time directly after the attacks was an opportunity to get people to work together for a greater good and to heal the country; instead we were told to shop.

That, I believe, should rank among his greatest failures, yet another failure to act.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Phil, Pheeling the Heat

Apparently numerous civic groups in the state have asked both campaigns about participating in either a candidate debate or forum and Mick Bullock from the Bryant Campaign has been trolling around with the same excuse,"the dates are filling up fast and we don't know if we can make any of them."

If the dates have been pheeling up phast, where the heck has your campaign been?

John Goodman Endorses Rudy Warnock

John Goodman:
Rudy Warnock is a professional civil engineer. He has his own firm, Warnock and Associates, which works with cities and counties to build roads and bridges. Today, Warnock is the county engineer for Madison County and city engineer for the City of Canton. He also works with other counties and cities across the district. Madison County and other local governments hire Warnock to design their roads and bridges. They go to him because his firm does the work timely and cost-effectively.

Rudy Warnock also knows about traffic control. It's obvious Hall doesn't. Drive east on Highway 80 from Bierdeman Road to Mary Ann Drive and you'll know exactly what I am talking about. If you hit the red light on Bierdeman, you will have to wait and wait while the westbound traffic is moving along. Then you hit the red light at Kroger and you wait and wait. You keep going and then you hit the Red Light from Hades--the red light on Pemberton. You sit and wait and wait. Then you go and hit the red light on Mary Ann Drive and wait. None of the lights are coordinated. It is a waste of gas and time to sit there and wait and wait. The traffic engineers should do the best they can to make certain there is an efficient flow of traffic. That has not happened under Dick Hall's watch.

Rudy Warnock is an engineer who'll do his best to take politics out of MDOT and do what is best for the state. It's time for a change---a big change.

Mississippi needs Rudy Warnock as MDOT-Central Commissioner.

John Goodman at PearlMississippiCPA

Name This Ole Miss Alumni

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thanks to Will Bardwell for the photo and post idea.

Hint: he's run for office before.

100 points to the first to guess. :)

Finding Katrina Trailers For What?

From the Sun Herald:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its still has travel trailers at 1,200 addresses in Pearl River County. County building inspectors are tracking them down.

They lost them?
Pichon said so far he has received no instructions other than to locate all the travel trailers and report on the status of them.

"They told us to go out and find these travel trailers and see how many are occupied and how many have pulled permits and are making progress," Pichon said in a article.

So once they find them they are just going to catalog them?
"FEMA gave us a list and asked us to help out, but we don't know where it's going to lead. FEMA asked the county to see if people are building or if they (the travel trailers) are just sitting there vacant," Lumpkin said.

Well I hope FEMA knows what it is doing besides buying back poisoned trailers. Transparency is a necessity. It's unfortunate we don't have it.

The Sun Herald Article

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Sunday Funny #6

In a recent debate Rudy was asked what his biggest mistake and a few come to mind.

While Republicans in this state fall all over him it's worth taking a moment to study his actual record.

It's funny because he's being taken seriously.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Text of The Letter Sent To Mr. Riley

The letter Mr. Paul Leslie Riley received concerning the challenge to his candidacy:
Dear Mr. Riley:

This letter will serve as official notice that serious issues have arisen as to your qualifications as the Mississippi Constitution Party nominee for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, a matter which will be subject to formal review by the State Board of Election Commissioners (hereafter "Board").

You declared on your March 1, 2007 candidate qualifying papers that you are a legal resident of Pontotoc County. However, it appears from records maintained by the Circuit Clerk of Pontotoc County that you are not a qualified elector of that county. A finding that you are not a qualified elector of that county could result in your disqualification from being on the November 2007 General Election ballot.

As noted earlier, you are hereby notified that the Board will meet Tuesday, September 11, 2007 to review the issue of your qualifications to serve as a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, as well as to approve the official sample ballot for the November 6, 2007 General Election. The meeting will be held at 1:30 pm on the 19th floor of the Walter Sellers Building. You may attend the meeting and will be given five (5) minutes to address the Board. Furthermore, you may submit a written response in support of your candidacy, as well as provide any supporting documentation by filing that with Secretary of State at the above-referenced address. You are requested to provide such a written response by no later than the close of business on Monday, September 10, 2007.

Please contact me at (###) ###-#### if you have any questions regarding this matter.

Willie C. Allen
Director of Elections Administration

The quote I found strangest was this:
You may attend the meeting and will be given five (5) minutes to address the Board.
They are saying they may kick him off the ballot (a man who has lived in the state his entire life) due to a technicallity and he "may" attend the meeting?

Lester Spell, this is low, down, dirty, and desperate and shows the low opinion you have of your own re-election chances.

John Eaves' New Ad "Moneychangers"

"Nobody's Governor, but Yours" - I like that line and I think it is sincere.

Lester Spell Runs Scared; Attempts to Force Riley Off Ballot

The following e-mail was sent to prominent opinion-jounalists around the state: (Riley gets no point for brevity :)


"It is not the ones who vote who determine who wins elections, but who counts the votes "
-- J. Stalin former Russian Communist Dictator

Mr. Salter & Gallo, et al,
( Ms Peterson, would you please pass on to JT & Dave?)

I NEED YOUR HELP ! Someone wants me out of the Ag Commissioner's race. Who and why are the questions.

I received a phone call from my wife today at about 3:00 telling me that I had received a letter from the Sec. of State notifying me that I may be disqualified from the race for Commissioner of Agriculture's race for very shaky sounding reasons.

I did not see the actual letter until tonight at 8:00, but I received this notification today, Fri. Sept. 7, after 2:00. The letter stated that could come to an election board meeting this Tues. Sept 11 at 1:30 and I would be given 5 minutes to make my case why I should be on the ballot and that I could make a written response ( with supporting documentation ) by Mon. Sept 10.

An explanation follows. I would welcome your comments and any help you can give me in getting this situation into the "court of public opinion" as we attempt to resist a capricious and un-warranted attack.

The following paragraphs are from a discussion between an election attorney & our party secretary -- with some comments from me interspersed, but offset with ** asterisks & italicized**. The law that shows these claims are specious and an explanation by me is at the bottom:

Leslie Riley has received notice from the Secretary of State that he will be disqualified on account of the fact that he lives in Pontotoc county - but is still registered to vote in Chickasaw county.

** The notice did not mention any statute or case law. When I called the elections division, I was told that they had an "Opinion from the Attorney General". Without case law or statute to back this up, I still should not be disqualified. **

However, we cannot find any statute anywhere in the Mississippi code which "requires" a candidate for statewide office to be registered to vote in the county of his residence. So we cannot understand the basis of their accusation.

1. Leslie Riley was living and registered to vote in Chickasaw county until December, 2006;
2. In December, 2006 he moved his family to Pontotoc county;
3. In March, 2007 he filed his qualifying papers with the Secretary of State, on which
he listed his county of residence as Pontotoc county;
4. During the entire time, he was registered to vote in Chickasaw county;
5. There is NO statute (that we can find) which requires him to be registered in the
county of his residence.
** You have to be a "Qualified Elector. The requirement to be a qualified elector is that you have to be a resident of the county in which you intend to vote 30 days before the election -- statute cited below**

Therefore, he was (and still is) registered to vote in Mississippi, AND he was (and still does) reside in Mississippi.

If there is no law requiring him to be registered to vote in Pontotoc county, then this is merely an attempt to deprive Leslie Riley of his lawful right to participate in the political process.

He has lived somewhere in Mississippi his entire life, and has been registered to vote somewhere in Mississippi most of his adult life.

The Secretary of State mailed the letter so that Leslie received in today's mail **Friday, Sept 7**:
a. With an opportunity to submit a written objection (to be delivered to the Office of
Secretary of State no later than 5:00 P.m. on Monday); [giving him only one (1)
business day to prepare], and
b. An opportunity to speak his objections at a meeting of the Board of
Election Commissioners on Tuesday.
** I was told I would be given 5 minutes to speak, thus strongly implying that the decision has already been made **

This whole affair smacks of an attempt to vex him and obstruct his right to run for political office - based on most tenuous and un-convincing reasons.

Leslie Riley's Comments begin after the citations of the Mississippi Code dealing with this.

** I looked at the legal qualifications to run for Ag Commissioner they are as follows :
A qualified elector with a general knowledge of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, statistics, and general industries and an experienced and practical agriculturist. MISS. CODE ANN. §69-1-1; MISS. CONST. of 1890, art. XII, §250.**

** I meet these Qualifications, provided I am a "Qualified Elector". which, according to the Mississippi Code is defined as:
Every inhabitant of this state, except idiots and insane persons, who is a citizen of the United States of America, eighteen (18) years old and upwards, who has resided in this state for thirty (30) days and for thirty (30) days in the county in which he offers to vote, and for thirty (30) days in the incorporated city or town in which he offers to vote, and who shall have been duly registered as an elector pursuant to Section
23-15-33, and who has never been convicted of any crime listed in Section 241, Mississippi Constitution of 1890, shall be a qualified elector in and for the county, municipality and voting precinct of his residence, and shall be entitled to vote at any election. Any person who will be eighteen (18) years of age or older on or before the date of the general election and who is duly registered to vote not less than thirty (30) days prior to the primary election associated with such general election, may vote in such primary election even though such person has not reached his or her eighteenth birthday at the time such person offers to vote at such primary election. No others than those above included shall be entitled, or shall be allowed, to vote at any election. **

** When I called the Sec of State, they were not very helpful, and somewhat combative. They stated, "we have an opinion from the Attorney General."
As stated above, nowhere in the letter nor in this conversation was any statute or court decision cited.
After some digging, with the AG, we were told that the person who we could ask about this was a fellow named Reese Partridge. He was not in the office, but we got his home # from 411. I called him & he told me that I was not a qualified elector because I was registered to vote in Chickasaw County, but lived in Pontotoc County. I said that the law said that I had to change my registration 30 days prior to an election. The last time I voted, I lived and was registered in Chickasaw County. I would not be voting again until November ( since I did not vote in the Primaries), so I believed I had until 30 days prior to the election to move my voter registration.

He told me that I had not changed my registration prior to the board meeting and was not qualified to run. ( I assume he meant the election board)

When I asked for a code or statute to back this up he cited 23-15-299 & 23-15-399.

We looked at these pretty carefully and they do not mention anything about a county of residence.
Then Mr. Partridge asked me when I had moved. I said December. He said, "You could have moved your voter registration when you established residence." and told me that I was disqualified from being a qualified elector -- and therefore disqualified as a candidate -- because I did not live in the same county where I was registered to vote.

I thanked him and began trying to determine whether or not I had a case to get back on the ballot.

Three things that I should mention in response to Mr. Partridge's last statements.

1) First, I was told that I " . . .could have moved your voter registration when you established residence."
This is, of course, correct. However, it is not a matter of what I could have done, but what the law requires. I last renewed my Driver's License. while I was living in Chickasaw County. It does not expire until 2009 or 2010. I "could have" renewed my License. when I moved here to put the proper address on it. However, the law does not require me to renew it until it expires; so I likely will not.
I "could" file my tax returns with the IRS on Jan.31 when I get my W-2's . I don't have to until April 15.
And yes, I "could have" moved my registration as soon as I established residence in Pontotoc County. However, since the law defines a "Qualified Elector" as one who has established residence in the County "30 days" prior to the election in which he intends to vote, what I "could have" done is not at issue here.
2) Were I running for Sheriff of Pontotoc County, and I lived on one end of the County when I qualified to run, then moved to the other end of the county, I would still be able to be on the ballot, because I was still in the county.
If I were seeking a multi-county House or Senate seat, and moved I would still be able to run IF I stayed in the District.
Likewise, I should be able to be qualified for a statewide office as long as I remain in the state.

3) IF I am being disqualified as a qualified elector -- and therefore disqualified as a candidate -- because I do not live in the same county where I was registered to vote, can I expect to see Governor Barbour disqualified because he votes in Yazoo County, but has clearly established residence in Hinds ?
Attorney General Jim Hood -- from whose office this opinion came -- will likely vote in Chickasaw County -- while he lives in Hinds.

Again, this looks like a political hack job designed to keep me off the ballot, because SOMEONE wants me out of the race, or has some other motive. Even if they cannot keep me off the ballot, if I am forced to expend my very limited time & resources on this, this will seriously hinder my ability to campaign & to get my name/ ideas into the debate.

One thing that I noticed in the letter was that at the meeting that I will be attending to defend myself this Tues. the sample ballots for the counties & media will be determined. Since I could be still fighting to get on the ballot when these ballots are approved, I will not be on them, thus further harming my candidacy and presenting further hindrances to me getting a fair hearing for my views. This is discrimination and disenfranchisement at its worst.

I can assure, you that after I go through the kangaroo court on Tuesday where I will be given FIVE MINUTES to make my case, and the Politburo ( aka Elections Board) hands down their pre-determined decision, we will be fighting this injustice and attempted effort to deny me my right to participate in the electoral process in court.

Thanks for any help you can offer getting the word out.

Les Riley
Candidate for Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture
e-mail -