Friday, November 30, 2007

Nowhere to Sit: The Trent Lott's Porch Story

The Website of Trent Lott's Porch Story

Break from Politics: My opinion on the Bower Firing!!

I could not believe it when I saw that Jeff Bower had "resigned" as Southern Miss football coach. I wanted to write my opinions immediately, but waited for a few days to see what had developed since then.

I watched AD Giannini's press conference that afternoon. During that conference, Giannini blamed Bower at times, and to my anger, he blamed the FANS!! In Giannini's mind, the fans were the problem with the program, and it was all Bower's fault.

A few questions need to be asked of Mr. Giannini. First off, who's idea was it some years ago to always put a home game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving? More importantly, after it was proven that that game would not draw fans, whose idea was it to keep it up?? Giannini spent much time complaining that fan attendance at this last game was embarassing and lecturing the fans on their lack of enthusiasm.

He should point the finger at himself. You want fans, schedule games when fans will come!!! Also, schedule teams that fans care to watch. Arkansas State is not the only was Giannini's bright idea to open the season, after no football since January, with UT-MARTIN, a team not even in Division 1-A. Really Richard, what could possibly have motivated you to believe that USM fans would've sold that game out? Southern Miss at 9-2 would not have sold that game out. It has NEVER done well. In 2004, Southern Miss played UAB on November 27th, and the attendance was poor. The very next week, we play CALIFORNIA, and the attendance was excellent. See the difference? Thanksgiving holiday, no one on campus. Students come back, decent opponent, stadium near full. Let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story, or Richard Giannini's excuse train.

With his statements, Giannini proved that he a) had never attended a post Thanksgiving game, or b) believed that a game against Arkansas State or UT-Martin would draw fans out on a holiday. If answer A is correct, then he's a complete hypocrite. If B is correct, then he clearly does not know much about Southern Miss fans. Why on Earth would fans come out during a holiday, in 40 degree temperatures, and rain threatening, to see Southern Miss play a team that no one cares to see play? We have had records of only two or three loses over the years, and still had less than 20,000 show up for the game after Thanksgiving. Giannini's excuse on that front simply does not pass the smell test. Even if the rest of the stadium was full, there would still be a gaping hole in the student section, which, when full, holds a few thousand people. So either way, even if the rest of the stadium was sold out and full, the lack of students would still keep the attendance at or below the season average. What on Earth was Giannini complaining about?

It does not matter what you believe about Jeff Bower's coaching. The man dedicated his professional career to Southern Miss, and his firing was handled atrociously. No one, including Bower, according to reports, saw it coming. So unless Bower was shopping around on his own, he lost a chance to get started on looking for another job. A winning season, 14th in a row, is not usually considered to be grounds for termination. No one is arguing that Jeff Bower should've gotten an extension or a raise after this season. To push him out like that, in such a blatant and embarassing way, degrades Southern Miss and all of its fans, students and staff.

Jeff Bower was a class act. His team had a tough year, but all one has to do is look at the record. The list of teams that the Eagles defeated under Bower reads like a Who's Who list of college football powerhouses; LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma State and Louisville being just some of the big wins. Off the field, Southern Miss under Jeff Bower boasted one of the most impressive graduation rates college football teams.

I can only hope that, if we find ourselves in this situation again, Dr. Saunders will remove the real man responsible, AD Richard Giannini. Though, true to form, Giannini would likely blame everyone else, but himself.

Erik Fleming: "Told You So"

Fleming's article at the Jackson Free Press:
I hate to say I told you so … but I did.

In 2006, when I was the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate against Trent Lott, I basically predicted that he would not finish his term. If you remember, Lott was a little less than enthusiastic about seeking re-election, seemingly waiting for public opinion to prod him into the race. Remember when he said that the only reason he ran was because he felt compelled to help the Gulf Coast recover, being a victim himself?

It’s clear now that Lott wanted to retire and make some real money, hence the “Herding Cats” memoir. The GOP begged him to stay until Haley got re-elected, then the governor could choose his replacement. Well, Haley lived up to his end of the deal, and now Trent rides off into the sunset, which means greener (as in money) pastures ahead.

Basically, Sen. Lott is leaving the Senate to take advantage of the provision in the new lobbying reform legislation that allows a member of Congress to not serve in the next session and instantly become a member of the K Street Gang, as D.C. lobbyists are called. Had he served out the full term, Lott could not lobby Congress for two years after leaving office, meaning in his case, the year 2014.
The question is did Lott know he was going to do this when he ran for re-election or, if not, what really caused him to change his mind?

I'm not the judge (or jury)

Below are some excerpts and links to information pertaining to the Scruggs indictment. While other folks might like to speculate and decide before a trial is even set, at Cottonmouth, we believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It is not the responsiblity of the media to be the jury.

This isn't a "Grisham novel;" these are people's lives.

Scruggs Group to continue representing Katrina clients - Sun Herald

Don Barrett, a Lexington, Miss.-based lawyer who is part of the "Scruggs Katrina roup" but isn't under indictment, said Scruggs told him he expects to be vindicated and cleared of the charges.

"It's a sad day for everybody involved," Barrett said. "My job is not to be sad but to protect my clients."

Oxford lawyer indicted - Clarion Ledger
Multimillionaire Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs, portrayed in a 1999 Hollywood film about his legal fight against the tobacco industry, is facing federal charges of conspiring to bribe a judge handling $26.5 million in attorney fees related to Hurricane Katrina claims.

Others indicted in the alleged scheme included Scruggs' son, Zach, former State Auditor Steve Patterson and attorneys Sidney Backstrom and Timothy Balducci.
Neither Dickie Scruggs nor Booneville lawyer Joey Langston, who represents Scruggs' firm, could be reached for comment.

Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, converting property and wire fraud. If convicted on all counts, each of those indicted faces up to 75 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

Scruggs, the brother-in-law of U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, is best known for his handling of mass litigation on behalf of the state of Mississippi, first involving asbestos and later involving tobacco.

Indictment Document - Clarion Ledger

Hostages taken at Clinton office in New Hampshire. Man claims to have a bomb. Clinton in Virginia.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who Will Be Our New Senator?

Once Senator Trent Lott officially resigns, the Governor will appoint someone to fill Lott's seat. That appointee will then have the advantage of incumbency when they have to be elected in the special election, which will be in March or November, depending on the outcome of lawsuits. There are lots of rumors about who that might be. At first, everyone assumed it would be Congressman Chip Pickering. However, his star seems to be fading, probably because he is not beholden to Haley. Another strong possibility is Congressman Roger Wicker from north Mississippi. There are many others mentioned.

However, there is one possibility I've heard about that seems brilliant - and Haley is certainly that. Mike Espy. He was the Democratic Congressman from the Delta area from 1986 to 1992, when he was appointed Agriculture Secretary by President Clinton, becoming the first African American to serve in that capacity. He only served for two years. He had to resign because he was being investigated for bribery and other charges. When he finally went to trial, he was acquitted of all charges.

So why would Haley appoint a Democrat? He wouldn't, of course. Espy would have to change parties and become a Republican. What makes me think he might? Because Espy infuriated the Democratic party last month by endorsing Haley for Governor. Plus, they're both from Yazoo City.

So why would this be a brilliant move for Haley?
  1. Espy, if ultimately elected, would be indebted to Haley big time - and that's important to Haley.
  2. Espy would undoubtedly enjoy significant support from African Americans, which would probably keep a Democrat from being elected.
  3. Think of the national implications. Mississippi has its first black Senator since Reconstruction - and he's a Republican! He would also be the first black Republican Senator since Edward Brooke of (liberal) Massachusetts in 1978. And Haley could take credit for it.

The only problem is that some Republicans might revolt. Espy has a somewhat liberal background which would turn off conservatives - and of course the white racists (of which there are quite a few in Mississippi) would have a cow. However, Haley has the stature to bring any reluctant Republicans on board if he puts his mind to it.

I, of course, hope Haley doesn't do this. Why? Because I'm a charter member of the We Want Mike Moore club.

Cross posted at The Natchez Blog

More Polling Numbers For Lott's Open Seat

Zata 3 has released polling numbers for three more Republicans and one more Democrat.

Here are the preliminary percentages based on 678 surveys:

Opinion Pickering Mabus Tuck Ross
Very Favorable 46% 12% 20% 6%
Somewhat Favorable 18% 16% 31% 20%
Somewhat Unfavorable 7% 28% 21% 18%
Very Unfavorable 7% 26% 14% 9%
Not Enough Info To Form Opinion3% 20% 13% 48%

Former Governor Mabus is the Democrat. US Representative Pickering, Current Lt. Governor Tuck, and State Senator Ross are Republicans.

It comes with this disclaimer:
Please note that this is a preliminary report. These figures have not been weighted for age, race, or gender. These raw numbers overstate the opinions of women and understate the opinions of African American voters by more than half. Additionally, the survey results understate the opinions of voters under age 50. This preliminary survey significantly overstates the opinions of Republican voters.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Go Sign The We Want Mike Moore Petition

We Want Mike Moore for Senate

"Draft Moore for US Senate" Campaign Begins

We at Cotton Mouth are attempting to "Draft" former Attorney General Mike Moore into the race.

The following is our press release that we just sent to hundreds of blogs and which we will send the dead tree media a little later.

“Draft Moore for US Senate” Campaign Begins

Former Attorney General Being Drafted to Run in 2008 Special Election

Today Democratic Party activists and editors of the state’s leading political blogs are beginning their efforts to draft former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore as a candidate for US Senate.

John Leek, editor of Mississippi political blog Cotton Mouth said “ Mike Moore has been a tireless advocate for justice, both in his public capacities as District Attorney and Attorney General, and in his private practice where he represents those denied legitimate insurance claims as a result of Hurricane Katrina. It is this sense of compassion and integrity that our nation so desperately needs today, and Mike Moore will carry those values to the US Senate.”

The campaign is launching a website, that will provide a method for supporters to contact Moore. Efforts are underway to begin a media campaign to support the online organizing efforts.

In addition to serving for 16 years as the state’s Attorney General, Moore served as the district attorney in his native Pascagoula. In 1997 he was awarded “Lawyer of the Year” by the National Law Journal and portrayed himself in the Michael Mann film, The Insider, which focused on the tobacco law suit.

Local Democratic activists already involved include Victor Warnsley, Starkville; Jesse Johnson, Oxford; Renick Taylor, Biloxi; Mary Macki, Jackson County; Casey Hughes, Natchez; and Matthew Becker, Hattiesburg.


I'd like to add that the effort is entirely independent of any candidate considering a run for that office. Anyone who thinks otherwise can go pout someplace else. - The Editors

More speculations

The Clarion Ledger is listing Ronnie Musgrove, Mike Moore, Mike Espy, Erik Fleming and former Jackson mayor Harvey Johnson as possible contenders for the U.S. Senate seat Trent Lott is vacating.

Click here to read the article.

The Republicans are staying quiet, but there is serious doubt Chip Pickering will take the job, especially since he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Early Polling Numbers On Potential Candidates For Open Senate Race

I've been scooped by Will Bardwell again.

He found the Zata3 numbers posted by by Markos Moulitas on Daily Kos.

The data is not head to head, but on whether folks like the folks or have even heard of them. Here is is:

Opinion Wicker(R) Moore(D) Graves(R) Musgrove(D)
Very Favorable 21% 25% 4% 17%
Somewhat Favorable 18% 23% 12% 22%
Somewhat Unfavorable 7% 16% 12% 20%
Very Unfavorable 6% 18% 7% 26%
Not Enough Info 48% 19% 65% 15%

This data comes with this caveat:
Please note that this is a preliminary report. These figures have not been weighted for age, race, or gender. Additionally, the partial surveys are included here. These raw numbers overstate the opinions of women (62% of respondents) and under represent the opinions of African American voters (14%). Additionally, the survey results understate the opinions of voters under age 50 (18%).

I don't think the gender gap is that big. I do know that there is a huge gap in voting based on age (Kerry actually won younger voters in Mississippi in 2004) and in party support by race so I think these numbers will move in Democrat's direction more.

Information on Graves can be found HERE on his website. Wicker is the 1st district Republican Congressman. Y'all know Musgrove and Moore.

Markos Moulitas also states that he has commissioned a poll which should be out in a few weeks. This could get even more interesting.

Washington Post on Katrina Recovery

Not to steal Trent Lott's thunder, but the Washington Post reported on the economic divide with Katrina recovery. If you have been reading any of the environmental reports from the Coast for the past two decades, you'll see that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is very polluted and does not create the same tourism that the cleaner waters of Destin might attract.

Even as the storm's debris was being cleared, this city's night sky was lighted up with the high-wattage brilliance of the Imperial Palace, then the Isle of Capri, then the Grand Casino. More followed, and so did vacation-condo developers.

Yet in the wrecked and darkened working-class neighborhoods just blocks from the waterfront glitter, those lights cast their colorful glare over an apocalyptic vision of empty lots and scattered trailers that is as forlorn as anywhere in Katrina's strike zone.
I hope others don't feel guilty like this gentleman. Louisiana had a far more progressive plan (outlined in the article) to help its low-income and middle-class residents.

Earl Parrish, 72, a retired pipe fitter, and his wife, Betty, are still living in their grandson's home in Ocean Springs, the next town over, trying to put their Hoxie Street house back together on a limited budget.

They received about $50,000 from the housing grant program, but it was not nearly enough to complete the job. Katrina flooded their house with about six feet of water.

They have put in their own savings, and a Lutheran church group handled a lot of the labor. But their home is not quite ready for them to move in -- it has no furniture.

Like his neighbors, Earl Parrish opposes redirecting the housing aid to the port. But he seemed to regret making a complaint.

"We're grateful for what we got -- don't misunderstand," he said. "But the people around here were just working folks who didn't have much. You see all these empty lots around here? These are people who just can't afford to come back."

Talking Points Memo Brings Us The Recent Best Of Trent Lott

Talking Points Memo:

Their caption:
Trent Lott may not have been good for America. But he was pretty good for TPM. So in honor of his announced resignation from Congress, in today's episode of TPMtv, we take a walk down memory lane to remember some of Trent's best moments (definitely don't miss the special Larry Craig/John Ashcroft duet moment) ...

This is a good compilation of video of "The Singing Senators", his comments that caused his toppling as Republican leader and his appearance on BET afterwards.

The comments that got him into trouble were as follows:
When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either.

Strom Thurmond, of course, ran on the Dixiecrat ticket whose main policy difference with the available parties was that they were dead against civil rights and supported the preservation of segregation.

The video is even worth watching for the singing alone.

Google Hot Trends / Trent Lott Gay Affair?

Google keeps track of newly popular searches excluding longtime popular terms such as "weather" and inappropriate content.

Yesterday two Mississippi topics were in the top 50 for searches in all of English speaking googledom.

27. Trent Lott Gay

32. Jeff Bower

I would understand why the firing/"mutual agreement" of longtime Southern Miss Coach Jeff Bower would be newsworthy. He was the 4th longest currently serving coach after all.

What I was curious about and what you've probably already clicked on is the search term Trent Lott Gay.

Apparently political website Big Head DC and Larry Flynt Both state that they have reason to believe that Lott's resignation might be for reasons other than those "other opportunities" he spoke of.

I doubt the claims are true so I don't anticipate writing further on the subject, but it is of interest so I thought I'd pass it along.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Are Republicans Afraid Of A Fair Fight?

The following is a guest post by Renick Taylor:

Trent Lott will serve less than 12 months into his current term. Lott had been making noise about not running in 06 and retiring. Then something changed his mind and he ran again sailing to victory.

Meanwhile, Chip Pickering MS Third District Congressman, decides not to seek reelection citing “future opportunities”. Pickering has long been considered as a replacement for either Cochran or Lott. Pickering’s retirement was shocking news at the time but it makes more sense after the Lott retirement announcement.

Lott’s retirement also sheds light on why so much out of state money flowed into the Barbour campaign for Governor, Barbour had to be reelected to be there to appoint a Republican (Pickering?) to Lott’s Senate seat. The new Republican Senator (Pickering?) can run his first election as an incumbent.

Why not just have a fair election over Lott’s senate seat? The people of Mississippi were not allowed to vote for a new Senator. Instead of voting we have shady backroom appointments.

Shame on Senator Lott for going along with this ploy. All Mississippians were tricked by him into thinking he would serve out his term or at least serve until a successor is chosen. Lott should have retired properly and let a fair election take place.

I’m very disappointed that this kind of election subversion can occur in Mississippi. Cochran was making noise about retirement before his next election as well. Perhaps after Mississippi reelects Thad Cochran in 08 he can suddenly retire and Barbour can appoint himself as Senator, another fair election could be averted by the Republicans.

Musgrove "Seriously Considering" Open Senate Race

Rothenberg Political Report:
Musgrove, who was defeated for reelection in 2003 by Republican Haley Barbour, is one of a few Democrats with statewide name recognition who have been mentioned as prospective candidates for an open seat.

The Democrat acknowledges that he would have to make a decision about the race quickly if Lott resigns before the end of the year, since that timing would require Barbour to call a special election within 90 days to fill the vacancy.

Hat Tip to Swing State Project

#1 National Political Blog (DailyKos) on Mississippi Republicans and the Senate Race

It's not considered polite to reproduce a work in its entirety without the permission of the author. I think I can assume that Markos Moulitas will forgive me for reproducing his analysis on the open senate race:

Mississippi Republicans are in a bind.

First, Lott wants out by the end of this year so new ethics guidelines that prohibit former members of Congress from lobbying for two years, rather than one. And we all know that Lott is ditching the people of Mississippi so he can cash in on K Street. He admitted it.

So Lott needs to be out by Dec. 31. However, if he does that, Mississippi law requires a special election within 90 days, and a low-turnout special might hurt the GOP. They want the presidential race to boost Republican turnout in a state that leans heavily Republican in presidential elections.

So what will win, Lott's desire to cash out ASAP, or the GOP's desire to maximize their possibilities of holding that seat? Well, if you're a Republican, there's always option 3: lie and obfuscate the law and try to pull a fast one on everyone else:

Pursuant to Mississippi law, specifically § 23-15-855 (1), of the Mississippi Code, once the resignation takes effect, I will call a Special Election for United States Senator to be held on November 4, 2008, being the regular general election day for the 2008 congressional elections.

Further, within ten days of Senator Lott’s resignation’s taking effect, I will appoint a Senator to serve until the winner of the Special Election for United States Senator is elected and commissioned, as provided in § 23-15-855 (2) of the Mississippi Code. My goal is to appoint the best qualified person who can do the most for our state and country.
Ha ha ha, that Haley. Such a joker. The law:

(1) If a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from Mississippi by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall, within ten (10) days after receiving official notice of such vacancy, issue his proclamation for an election to be held... within ninety (90) days from the time the proclamation is issued and the returns of such election shall be certified to the Governor in the manner set out above for regular elections, unless the vacancy shall occur in a year that there shall be held a general state or congressional election, in which event the Governor's proclamation shall designate the general election day as the time for electing a Senator, and the vacancy shall be filled by appointment as hereinafter provided.
You get that? The law essentially mandates a special election within 100 days of the retirement. Barbour is trying to argue that the key point is the "proclamation", not the date the vacancy occurs. As election law expert Rick Hasen notes:

[T]he key question is the date of the "vacancy," not the date of the official notice or the date of the proclamation of the special election. If Lott indeed resigns in 2007, the vacancy is in 2007 and the election must occur under the 10/90 day rule described above.
And the Hill reports that MS's secretary of state (a Democrat, until the winners of the 2007 elections get sworn in later in January) agrees.

Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said in a statement Monday that he would schedule the special election for the same day as the November 2008 general election. State law, however, appears to require an earlier date if Lott retires this year, as he said he would.

While Lott sneaks in under the wire for the extended ban on lobbying Congress by retiring this year, the secretary of state’s office said Monday that state law appears to require a special election within 90 days if he does so.

Conversely, if Lott were to wait and retire in 2008, the law allows for the special election to be held the same day as the general. Of course, he would then be subject to the new two-year ban on lobbying his former colleagues, instead of the current one-year ban.
Lott will have a choice to make -- suck it up and wait an extra year before cashing out on K Street, or screw his party over one last time. And if Barbour persists on trying to rewrite state law, he'll have to likely justify his efforts in a court of law.

Update: Email press release:

JACKSON (Monday, Nov. 26, 2007) –Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, issued the following statement after U.S. Sen. Trent Lott announced plans to resign from office by the end of the year.

“According to multiple news reports, Senator Lott intends to resign his seat by the end of the year. Section 23-15-855 (1) of the Mississippi Code makes clear that if Senator Lott does indeed resign during this calendar year, as stated, then Governor Barbour must call a special election for within 90 days of making a proclamation – which he must issue within 10 days of the resignation – and not on Nov. 4, 2008, as he has announced he intends to do.

“We will wait for Senator Lott’s official notice of resignation, when he will undoubtedly announce the exact date he will leave office. But if he does resign this calendar year we expect the governor to uphold the law and call a special election within 100 days. It is important that Mississippi be represented in Washington by a senator who was elected by the state’s voters as soon as possible.”
.....end of Daily Kos post.....

I'd say he did an excellent job.

Barbour Trying to Manipulate Election Law

From the Hill:

Timing of Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) resignation has opened legal questions about the date of the special election, which state officials were still trying to clarify Monday afternoon.Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said in a statement Monday that he would schedule the special election for the same day as the November 2008 general election. State law, however, appears to require an earlier date if Lott retires this year, as he said he would.

While Lott sneaks in under the wire for the extended ban on lobbying Congress by retiring this year, the secretary of state’s office said Monday that state law appears to require a special election within 90 days if he does so.Conversely, if Lott were to wait and retire in 2008, the law allows for the special election to be held the same day as the general. Of course, he would then be subject to the new two-year ban on lobbying his former colleagues, instead of the current one-year ban.Secretary of state spokesman Kell Smith said the fact that 2007 was a statewide election year could affect how the language of the law is interpreted. He added that the office is checking that law to make sure the 90-day window still applies.A spokesman for Barbour said the governor’s statement “speaks for itself.”An earlier special election would likely produce smaller turnout, which would probably benefit Democrats in an overwhelmingly GOP state with a concurrent presidential election.Either way, Barbour will be required to appoint someone within 10 days to fill the vacancy until an election can be held.Barbour said in the statement that he would not appoint himself and that he would not run in the special election.

Looks like Barbour is trying to manipulate MS Election Law. If Lott resigns in 2007, the law (according to the SOS) requires a special election within 90 days. If Lott waits til January 1, 2008, then Barbour could legally place that election on the ballot in November to coincide w/ the Presidential race. Wow!! This one is just getting started. What does Trent Lott do? Does he stick it to his party who hung him out to dry 5 years ago? Or does he suck it up, wait, and then be subject to the new lobbying laws? We'll find out.

Now We Know Why Cochran is Staying Put

Well I think we can clearly see now why Senator Cochran moved back from the retirement leaks and announced that he was running for re-election after all. Not that it matters now, but I highly doubt that it was Cochran's decision to make. He was likely boxed back in by Lott and a Senate GOP already facing more losses and horrified at the possibility of defending two open seats, even in a state that the GOP dominated recently in statewide open seat races. I'll publish more as I learn more. This is a fascinating development for MS politics as a safe GOP seat just got put into play and the GOP's heir apparent, Chip Pickering has already retired, giving the obligatory family values speech. What are they to do? This will be fun to watch!!!
All the coaches have been called back to USM from recruiting for the announcement.

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Jeff Bower is out. Press conference is at 4:00.

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More on the Lott Resignation

National Journal:
Senate Minority Whip Lott, who agonized about running for re-election last year before deciding to do so, now plans to resign before the end of the year, congressional and White House officials told the Associated Press this morning. Lott has scheduled two news conferences today in his home town of Pascagoula and the state capital of Jackson to reveal his plans. No reason was given for the sudden change of heart, although officials said nothing was wrong with Lott's health. One official said the 66-year-old Lott has "other opportunities" he plans to pursue. Lott was Senate majority leader when, during the late Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, he praised Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign, setting off a furor that resulted in his resignation. Lott will become the sixth Senate Republican to announce his retirement.

Trent Lott to Retire as Early as Today

NBC News has learned that Trent Lott's in the midst of informing close allies that he plans to resign his senate seat before the end of the year. It's possible a formal announcement of his plans could take place as early as today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'll be gone for a short while.

Just in time for finals my computer has stopped working. Jake will do some updates, but don't expect much from me in the next week.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Is The Stem Cell War Over?

It looks promising.
The New York Times:
If the stem cell wars are indeed nearly over, no one will savor the peace more than James A. Thomson.

Dr. Thomson’s laboratory at the University of Wisconsin was one of two that in 1998 plucked stem cells from human embryos for the first time, destroying the embryos in the process and touching off a divisive national debate.

And on Tuesday, his laboratory was one of two that reported a new way to turn ordinary human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without ever using a human embryo.

“Isn’t it great to start a field and then to end it,” he said.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Man Mistakenly Held For 4 Months Has No One To Sue

The Sun Herald has the story:

Man held 4 months by mistake has no one to sue

Mayor And Businessman Not On Their Best Behavior In Vicksburg

From the Associated Press:
A local businessman filed a simple assault charge against Mayor Laurence Leyens after a tussle at a restaurant.

Leyens and Trey Gordon III, owner of Gordon Roofing Co., exchanged words at El Sombrero on Monday night before Leyens called 911, Police Chief Tommy Moffett said.

Gordon and a man dining with the mayor were taken by Vicksburg police to headquarters, where both were charged with simple assault. Both were released without bond.

Before leaving the police department, Gordon signed an affidavit charging Leyens with simple assault.

"There is no indication that the mayor physically attacked anyone," the chief said.

Each of the parties said the other provoked an argument.

Leyens told The Vicksburg Post that Gordon put his hands around the mayor's neck. Gordon told the newspaper that he never touched the mayor.

Two Legislators affirm commitment to McCoy

Malone, Arinder support Speaker’s re-election

From a press release:
Rep. Bennett Malone of Carthage and Rep. Tracy Arinder of Morton announced today that they remain committed to Billy McCoy for Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

“The re-election of Billy McCoy as Speaker will pay benefits to the voters in my district,” said Malone and Arinder. “His commitment to education, health care and protecting jobs is in line with the values of Mississippi.

“It is evident that McCoy has the votes to be re-elected and it is important to our districts to support the Speaker.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Currently Supporting John Edwards

I say "currently" because Democrats have so many great candidates this year that I'd be perfectly happy with most of them.

Happy Thanksgiving. Posting will be sporadic through the Thanksgiving holiday because I will be enjoying some quality time with the family as I hope you will too.

Monday, November 19, 2007

University of Mississippi to Host First 2008 Presidential Debate

That's really cool.

From a Commission on Presidential Debates press release:
Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., co-chairmen of the non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates ("CPD" or "the Commission") today announced dates, sites and formats of three presidential and one vice presidential debates for the 2008 general election. The dates and sites are:

First presidential debate:
Friday, September 26
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 2
Washington University in St. Louis, MO

Second presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 7
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Mississippi Democrats comment:
Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, issued the following statement in response to the Commission on Presidential Debates naming the University of Mississippi in Oxford as site of the first presidential debate on Friday, Sept. 26.

“The road to the White House no doubt runs through the South. Having the first presidential debate of the year Sept. 26 on the campus of the University of Mississippi clearly shows that the South – and Mississippi – will play an important role in choosing the next president.

“This also gives our Democratic Party nominee a chance to show Mississippi, the South and the rest of the nation why he or she must be elected president. Our Democratic Party candidates are the only ones taking important stands that will solve such critical national issues as ending the war in Iraq, strengthening the economy and improving health care.”

The University of Mississippi's official response:
The University of Mississippi has been selected to host the first of three presidential debates in 2008.

The announcement was made jointly by the Commission on Presidential Debates in Washington, D.C., and university Chancellor Robert Khayat in Oxford Monday. The debate is slated for Friday, Sept. 26 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the Ole Miss campus.

"We are honored, pleased and grateful for the opportunity to host such an important event," Khayat said. "The footsteps of American history have passed through our campus several times in the last 160 years and they have found their way here again."

UM was among 16 host sites considered nationwide.

Providing extraordinary experiences for Ole Miss students to participate in a major historical event was a significant factor in seeking the bid, said the chancellor.

The university began building its case to host a site more than a year ago, Khayat said. Attention now turns to providing housing, food, transportation, information technology, security and working facilities for the candidates, staff and more than 2,000 national and international journalists expected to cover the debate.

"It is an enormous challenge, but Ole Miss and Oxford are prepared to welcome America and the world to our community," he said.

Barbour promoting pollution

Southern Company has recently been named one of the two top polluters in the United States and the sixth worse polluter in the world. A company with strong financial ties to the Republican party and George Bush, once employed our very own governor, Haley Barbour, as its lobbyist.

From The Independent:

Haley Barbour, one of the main lobbyists for Southern Co when President Bush took office, played a crucial role in persuading him to back away from his original campaign promise to reduce CO2 emissions when he first ran for president in 2000. Mr Barbour is a former chairman of the Republican Party, and was reelected governor of Mississippi last week.

According to FrankO'Donnell of Clean Air Watch, after Mr Bush became president, "he was got at by Haley Barbour, who said, 'Hey, Mr President we didn't elect you to have high energy costs'".

Mr O'Donnell said: "Southern Company Lobbyists treated the president as if he was someone to give orders to and he took them. The upshot is that America's biggest polluters used their chequebooks effectively to block actions to stop global warming."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Unbalanced Mississippi Coastal Recovery On PBS

Bill Moyers' television show covered the Turkey Creek community, the Steps Coalition, and more in this video that can be viewed at the following link:

Recovery Gone Wrong?

A Minor Disagreement

In early October I asked Matthew Krell to read over some writings at the Legal Schnauzer website and give a response. I asked him to do so because I have no legal background and the Minor case is very complicated and almost entirely related to law. Here is what he had to say:
The Virtue of Virtue in a Venal World

Krell takes issue with the writings because he doesn't believe we should lightly throw around charges of partisanship in non-partisan positions.
This is the single, overarching issue; it's a simple return back to the culture of corruption. How can we trust any officeholder that was complicit in the development of this system, where we can believe that our judges aren't impartial and nautral? And that's the most frightening thing:

That we can believe that this is no longer a nation of laws, but of men.

Legal Schnauzer recently gave a response in two parts to Krell's criticism.

The first part suggests that Krell is too idealistic saying:
Our differences, I think, are attributable to age and experiences. I gather that Mr. Krell is a law student, so I'm guessing he's in the 22-25 age range. That would make him about half my age. And by virtue of my age, I'm guessing I've developed a more hardened perspective on life than has Mr. Krell.

Ultimately, I'm not sure that Mr. Krell and I disagree all that much. He's embarking on a career in the law, and it's probably healthy for him to think that he's heading into a noble profession. Meanwhile, I've seen the darker side of the legal world.
My Common Critic Part I
I'm not a big fan of the tone here as it could be interpreted (whether it is or not) as disrespectful, but the author attempts to be civil in the piece.

The second part addresses specific points raised by Krell and appears to reflect significant research:
My Common Critic II
Here's where Mr. Krell and I certainly agree. He writes: "What has happened when officeholders on trial for corruption can claim that their opponents are attempting to bring them down, and have it actually be plausible?"

Then he says it all goes back to the "culture of corruption."

"How can we trust any officeholder that was complicit in the development of this system, where we can believe that our judges aren't impartial and neutral? And that's the most frightening thing: That we can believe that this is no longer a nation of laws, but of men."

I hear you, brother. I hear you.
It will be interesting to see how the Congressional investigation concludes concerning possible selective prosecution of Democrats and heavy Democratic funders for actions also done by Republicans, but not prosecuted for.

Cool Video On Where We Are As Students

I wish my classes were this involved. This looks like a 101 class, but they're doing some cool stuff.

He, Not Chuck Norris, Will Win The Iowa Caucus

Republican Governor Mike Huckabee will win the Iowa Caucus. He hasn't yet spent any money on television advertisements and is currently 2nd in the Republican polls and rising.

Chuck Norris is a partisan Republican (if you didn't know) and has lent his face and voice to several Republicans over the past few years including the current Republican governor of Texas.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New York TImes Reports On Mississippi's Spending On Coast Housing

The New York Times:
The nature of that program helps explain the unhappiness in some neighborhoods. It provided grants of up to $150,000 to homeowners who lived outside of the federally defined flood plain and so did not have flood insurance to cover their losses when their houses were swamped by the storm surge.

To be eligible, families had to have carried regular homeowners’ insurance, so that, as the governor said when he was selling the plan to Congress, “we’re not bailing out irresponsible people.”

But advocates for the poor said that requirement barred many of the least affluent, especially retirees and the disabled, who live on fixed incomes. “The fact is, people who have no money choose food and medicine, and not insurance,” said Ashley Tsongas, a policy adviser for the aid group Oxfam America. “That moral superiority doesn’t recognize the reality people face.”

Renters were also excluded from the program, as they were in Louisiana, and homeowners who had wind damage were also not covered. Some federal officials have said Louisiana’s decision to help cover wind losses is one reason its program almost ran out of money.

... But some community advocates are dubious, noting that before the storm only 10 percent of the port jobs went to low-income residents. They also think the cost per job will be too high.

And they note that the port’s own master plan envisions a new tourist and casino development. “It’s not all about bananas,” said Reilly Morse, a lawyer for the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Mr. Morse and many others who oppose the port plan say the state should first ensure that all the families now living in more than 10,000 government trailers have a permanent place to live, that rental housing gets built and that all homeowners can repair their houses.

“I don’t have any problem with economic development and expanding the port, but not at the cost of people,” said James W. Crowell, president of the N.A.A.C.P. branch in Biloxi, just down the beach from Gulfport.

The New York Times Article

We often rightfully complain that much of the media has forgotten us after the immediate interest after Hurricane Katrina. I'm glad they're paying at least some attention.

What Country Are We Living In?

In Stalin's Soviet Union, in Hussein's Iraq, in Franco's Spain, in Hitler's Germany, and in many third world countries, citizens were afraid to speak against their government, because they would be arrested and imprisoned. There might be a trial, but it would certainly not be fair, because it was with their judges and their rules. We call these citizen's "political prisoners", because they did not commit a crime - they were imprisoned for their political beliefs.

In America, we are horrified by these dictators, and we're so glad we live in a country where that never happens. But we would be wrong, because there are political prisoners in America - and Mississippi - right now!

I am not joking, and I am not exaggerating. This is really happening, and it is heartbreaking to the victims and their families. I am going to tell you about only one such victim, but there are many more. The evidence and the facts are out there for anyone to read – and are listed at the end of this article.

See these little angels? Two days after Christmas, their granddaddy will become a political prisoner. How old will they be when he sees them again?

See this woman? She was a public school teacher with a Masters Degree, until she had to retire on disability. She has multiple sclerosis. Now she's about to lose her life partner and helpmate. She depends on him to take care of her, since she is unable to do for herself. On their 36th anniversary, her husband has to report to a federal penitentiary. What will happen to her?

Who is this man? He's a fairly normal, average man with kids and grandkids. He lives in Gulfport, where he's an Elder in the Presbyterian Church - and even taught Sunday school. He's a lawyer, and like most lawyers in a small town, he practiced general law, and he's had several local legal positions, like Family Law Master. He's not a big time, wealthy trial lawyer, but he's been able to provide a decent living for his family.

In what seemed to be an appropriate career move, he decided to run for Chancery Judge, where a good deal of his law practice took place. Chancery Court does not deal in criminal law and does not have jury trials. It typically deals with family law, corporations, real estate, etc. It generally decides issues and rights, not guilt or innocence. He had to borrow money from a bank for his campaign. A lawyer friend guaranteed that loan for him. He got elected and was doing what he thought was a good job, and he liked what he was doing. Then a nightmare descended out of the blue on him and his family.

Curl up in front of your computer, while I tell you a long, convoluted, and very scary story.

The main goal of the Republican takeover of America was to make the country "friendly" to large, wealthy corporations; in particular insurance, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and of course, oil. They basically want to take the country back to the age of the Robber Barons, when corporations were free to do whatever they wanted. Since the people benefiting from this were a very small part of the population, they had to court enough citizens to win elections. By giving the conservative Christians whatever they wanted and by appealing to racism, they were able to win elections without hurting their major goal at all.

They still had two problems to address. One was there were still enough Democrats around to make their dismantling of regulations a little more difficult. But far more significant was that the legal system of our country was (shock, shock) still protecting people. So they began their very successful attack on the legal system.

One of Karl Rove's first successes was to take over the Alabama Supreme Court. It worked so well, they moved to other states - Mississippi being one of the first. They hated Mississippi. This was where a lowly State Attorney General and his merry band of trial lawyers brought the vaunted Tobacco Companies to their knees big time - and cost them billions of dollars. Not only that, but the merry band of trial attorneys got wealthy in their endeavor and gave huge contributions to the dangerous Democratics. To really rub salt in the wound, their very expensive campaign in 2000 to take over the Mississippi Supreme Court failed, due largely to the contributions of those same trial attorneys.

Well, these are macho men, and they could not take this sitting down. This meant war! They had to teach Mississippi a lesson! In order to do that, they would have to break a few laws. But hey, laws are for the little people – they don’t apply to the important people like them.

So Karl Rove et al just sicced the FBI and Justice Department on evil Mississippi. (These agencies used to belong to the American people, but not any longer.) Suddenly swarms of FBI agents were in Mississippi going through the campaign records of the aforementioned Supreme Court campaigns. The biggest contributor to these campaigns was one Dickie Scruggs. However, this particular lawyer was declared off limits. For one thing he was a BIG time contributor to Bush/Cheney ($250,000!) and he was the brother in law of the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, Trent Lott. Sorry, boys – keep your hands off our guy. One of the FBI Agents that objected to this was suddenly transferred to Guatemala. Bet he learned his lesson!

So instead they decided to pick on Paul Minor. He was a major contributor to Democratic candidates and causes, and he fought like a banchee against the corporate takeover of the Mississippi Supreme Court. This guy was even a founder of a group that provided free legal assistance to the poor and colored folk. How more subversive could he be? They decided he was the perfect poster boy for the evil trial attorney. Now they just had to find some crime he committed.

Oh, goodie, he loaned money to Oliver Diaz for his campaign, one of the winning judges on the Supreme Court whom they hated anyway. Surely that’s against the law. Sorry, but not in Mississippi – it’s perfectly legal. (By the way, Diaz was a Republican. However, he didn’t render decisions friendly to corporations, so too bad about him.)

Fortunately, Washington had a very compliant US Attorney to prosecute the case. Remember that the U S Justice Department had a secret list of US Attorneys that it intended to fire because they weren’t prosecuting Democrats, like a good little US Attorney is supposed to do. Well, guess who was originally on this list? Mississippi US Attorney Dunn Lampton! Lampton may be a Republican, but he ain’t stupid – and he sure isn’t ethical. He must have said to himself, I’d better find me a Democrat to prosecute real quick, or I’ll be out of a job. Of course, the fact that he had a gazillion conflicts of interest with the defendants didn’t bother him in the least. Remember, the law means nothing to these guys.

So Lampton conjured up these unbelievably ridiculous charges against Diaz – so ridiculous that they had to include his ex wife in order for them to remotely look plausible. He also found himself a nice obediant Judge, Henry Wingate, who was trying desperately to get Bush to appoint him to a higher court.

Since the case against Diaz was so incredibly weak, they added a couple of other judges just to be on the safe side. They added a Circuit Judge (John Whitfield) and a Chancery Judge (Wes Teel). These guys must have wondered what the hell they did to deserve this! Really nothing would have attracted them to the prosecution. They were simply a means of getting to Minor, since they accepted perfectly legal campaign loans from him.

In the meantime, the Knight in Shining Armor, Haley Barbour (one of the major architects of the Republican takeover in Washington) polished off his forgotten Southern drawl and rode back to his home state to rescue it from these evil devils, the trial attorneys. Of course, all those big corporations, who stood to lose billions more if something wasn’t done, sent BIG bucks to Sir Haley, their ol’ buddy who had also gotten quite wealthy representing these corporations as a lobbyist in Washington.

Just as Sir Haley arrived for his gubernatorial campaign, our political victims were under heavy attack from local media, with information leaked from “sources close to the investigation”. Of course, it’s against the law to leak grand jury information. But remember, the law means nothing to these guys. These leaks not only helped Sir Haley’s campaign, but they made everyone think these poor victims were corrupt criminals, which always helps with potential jurors. It sure worked with me. I admit I thought they were guilty, until just recently.

Conveniently just 90 days before Sir Haley’s election, with great fanfare, Lampton announced the indictments of our five political victims: The target Paul Minor; the judges Diaz, Whitfield, and Teel; and Diaz’s poor former wife.

Mission Accomplished! Sir Haley was crowned King of Mississippi. Remember this was a close election and undoubtedly would have turned out differently without all these illegal shenanigans. In addition, donations to Democrats from Mississippi trial attorneys disappeared, giving Republicans a huge financial advantage that exists to this day – and resulted in their control of the Supreme Court. In the old America, you didn’t have to risk going to jail just because you supported a political candidate. No longer true in Mississippi.

Diaz was acquitted in his first trial, so Lampton quickly filed new charges against him. He was acquitted again and has returned to the Supreme Court. Jennifer Diaz settled out of court – she wasn’t going through this nightmare. The first trial for the other three resulted in a hung jury. Lampton is batting zero about now and sweating bullets.

Not to worry. Lampton and his judge just changed the rules. A magic wand was waived, and the evidence that seemed to help the defendants in the first trial, wasn’t allowed in the second trial. Remember the law means nothing to these guys. This time the three remaining victims (Minor, Whitfield, and Teel) were convicted and sent to prison.

The pictures at the beginning of this article are the family of Judge Wes Teel. He has committed no crimes. He was one of many, many candidates that Paul Minor legally helped. He gave him nothing in return – the evidence proves that. Judge Teel and his codefendants are just victims of a Justice Department run amok. They are political prisoners, pure and simple.

These men will eventually be cleared, but it will take years. In the meantime, who will take care of Judge Teel’s wife?

This is a scary story, because the United States Justice Department is imprisoning innocent citizens for purely political reasons, and quieting political dissent through fear. I’ve just told you about Mississippi, but it’s happening all across the country, in Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – the list keeps growing.

Is this America, or one of those dictatorships? What country are we living in?

If you want to help, contact the U S House Judiciary, which is holding hearings on this attack on our country’s values – and they may be the only ones powerful enough to bring justice to these political prisoners.

UPDATE: Maybe Dunn Lampton is stupid after all. Word is he's trumping up more charges on Diaz. Unbelievable!


Judge Wes Teel’s personal blog
55 articles by Roger Shuler on his blog Legal Schnauzer
Scott Horton’s column No Comment in Harper’s Magazine:
Dem At Your Own Risk: Jackson Free Press
Cross posted at The Natchez Blog

Friday, November 16, 2007

Billy McCoy Thanks Brandon Jones for Supporting Him in Speaker’s Race

Representative-elect Brandon Jones is someone who continues to make me happy.

From a press release:
Following a call today from Representative Elect Brandon Jones, D- Pascagoula Dist 111, expressing his full support for Billy McCoy’s re-election as Speaker, Billy McCoy releases the following statement “Brandon is an extraordinary young man who will be a powerful voice for hurricane recovery funding, public education, and the values he brings to the House. I am sincerely thankful and honored to have his support.”
Democrat Brandon Jones, 30, was elected to the seat vacated by retiring House member Republican Carmel Wells-Smith.

Nowell Clarifies Comments on Speaker’s Race

From a press release:
Following the publication of Remarks made by the new Representative Elect for House District 43, Russ Nowell, Russ seeks to clarify his opinion on the race for Speaker of the House. States Nowell “While I respect both Billy McCoy and Jeff Smith, and look forward to serving with both, after talking with members and incoming freshmen it is my understanding that Billy McCoy has more than the 62 votes needed to be elected Speaker. As I have said previously, it is in the best interest of my district to vote with the winning side.”

Explain This! McMillan is Now Chief And Sheriff.

Clarion Ledger:
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton on Friday named Malcolm McMillin chief of police, ending two days of speculation about who would be in charge of the state’s largest municipal police force.

McMillin immediately will take control of the 409-member department. McMillin takes over after Melton on Wednesday removed Shirlene Anderson from the post she had held since July 2005 and offered her a job as coordinator of public safety.

Kell Smith, spokesman for Secretary of State Eric Clark, said he could not immediately think of any reason McMillin should not be able to hold both offices simultaneously.

Under state elections law, officials are prohibited from holding two elected offices at the same time, but police chief is an appointed position, he said.

“I don’t know of any election laws that would prevent that.”

McMillin and Melton have known each year for 25 years and have had a sometimes stormy relationship. The two, however, said this morning that each would respect the other’s position.

“I won’t tell him how to be the mayor and he won’t tell me how to be the chief,” McMillin said.

McMillin also said he was going to review the Police Department’s personnel before making any decisions.

Is it possible Melton has finally made a good decision? It does look that way. It'll be interesting to see how this works out. Feel free to comment. Did anyone see this coming?

'Let Them Eat Cake'

According to The New York Times, Governor Haley Barbour is doling out the Hurricane Katrina federal grant money to affluent residents and big business. Instead of helping those with lesser incomes and who need it most, it should come as no surprise that Haley continues to help his friends.

From The New York Times

GULFPORT, Miss., Nov. 14 — Like the other Gulf Coast states battered by Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi was required by Congress to spend half of its billions in federal grant money to help low-income citizens trying to recover from the storm.

But so far, the state has spent $1.7 billion in federal money on programs that have mostly benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses. The money has gone to compensate many middle- and upper-income homeowners, to aid utility companies whose equipment was damaged and to prop up the state’s insurance system.

Just $167 million, or about 10 percent of the federal money, has been spent on programs dedicated to helping the poor, mostly through a smaller grant program for lower-income homeowners.

And while that total will certainly increase, Mississippi has set aside just 23 percent of its $5.5 billion grant money — $1.25 billion — for these programs. About 37 percent of the residents of the state’s coast are low income, according to federal figures.

The story only gets worse from here.

Not Harsh Enought For Endangering Public Health

The Sun Herald:
A man who ran a fake hazardous waste-recycling facility in Yazoo City pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to all six counts he was charged with.

Dennie Eugene Pridemore pleaded guilty to improperly disposing of hazardous metals, then lying to state and federal investigators to cover up the sham.

Pridemore's Hydromex Inc. was supposed to recycle hazardous wastes into useful products. Instead, Pridemore buried waste contaminated with the heavy metals, which leached into soil and groundwater.

He faces up to 30 years in jail and a $1.5 million fine.

The Sun Herald

FOX News is Leading The Charge To The Bottom

Warning: Though all footage is from actual FOX News broadcasts it may not be safe for work.

The network functions as just like Rupert Mudock's other holdings pushing tabloid journalism and promoting his particular political interests at any particular time.

Fox News should not be taken as a serious news source.

Gift Cards Are For Chumps

Seth Godin is one of my favorite bloggers (and business writers) to read. His consistently ahead of the curve insights and unconventional views are really cool. It's almost like reading a mind teaser each day that you might actually use. Well here is some useful, though perhaps not particularly insightful, advice of his:
Last year, more than $8,000,000,000 was wasted on these cards. Not in the value spent, but in fees and breakage. When you give a card, if it doesn't get used, someone ends up keeping your money, and it's not the recipient. People spent more than eight billion dollars for nothing... buying a product that isn't as good as cash.

Along the way, we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar bill as a gift ("go buy what you want") is callous, insensitive, a crass shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful. Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest.

The interesting thing about stories is that the inconsistent ones don't always hold up to scrutiny. Consumer Reports and others are trying to spread a different story. One that sounds like this:

Gift cards are for chumps.

If enough people talk about this new story, people will be embarrassed to give a gift card. It's a waste. It's a scam. It's a trap for the recipient.
Keep your heads up. Keep fighting for what is right and reasonable.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cochran To Run Again / And Likely Win

The Hill:
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said Wednesday that he will seek reelection in 2008, casting aside rumors of his impending retirement.

Cochran, who will turn 70 next month, has not raised a lot of money this cycle but had previously said he planned to run for reelection.

“While I delayed making this decision until after our state and local government elections were over, there is no reason to delay any longer,” Cochran said in a statement. “I have enjoyed serving in the Senate, and I am highly honored to have had the support and encouragement to continue this service from friends throughout the state.”
Hat Tip: Swing State Project

I really thought we could take this seat. Well, now I'm going to have to find something else to obsess about. Cool.

Delbert Hoseman Says He'd Like To "Explore" Early Voting

In the Commercial Dispatch:
Secretary of State-elect Delbert Hosemann also said during his campaign that he's interested in allowing early voting, but measures would be needed to ensure voting machines are tamper-free from fraud.

“It helps with absentee-voting issues and the security of the vote,” Hosemann said. “Early voting is something we need to explore.”

I hope he does make early voting a priority. It's been done elsewhere with few problems. Voter fraud does need attention, but access is a far more important issue. Hopefully we can tackle both.

I Like Tate Reeves Proposal

He proposes that the state start savings accounts at birth with a $500 contribution with those accounts to be managed by the state with the option to put up to $2,000 into those accounts each year. The contents couldn't be touched until the folks turn 18 and could use it for college education or to help pay for a house among other uses. This kind of long term plan makes a lot of sense and as Tate Reeves pointed out could surely help in a state with a negative savings rate. Count me as one in support of this plan.

Check out The Sun Herald for more.

More Republicans In / Republican Primary News

Pearl attorney and Republican activist Gregg Harper is in for the Republican nomination for District 3.

As is former Pickering aid, John Rounsaville is also in for the Republican nomination for District 3.

Hat Tip:Majority in Mississippi

Hughes Is Out / Republican Primary News

"I have chosen not to run." - Deputy Director of Mississippi Development Authority Whit Hughes

"I’ll be supporting Charlie (Ross) 100% and why I’m asking you to consider doing the same." - Also Hughes

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

McCain Supporter: "How Do We Beat The Bitch?"

He then laughs it off and replies "That's an excellent question."

He states that he respects Clinton, but if he did he would have taken issue with the characterization of her as a "bitch." Many have treated and continued to treat Clinton badly for the sole reason that she is a woman. A man can be "calculating" or "driven" or have an interest in power and they are praised while a woman with the same qualities is a "bitch." It's not right and it should be publicly opposed where this blatant sexism rears its ugly head.

Jeff Smith Should Not Be Our Next Speaker

I intend to start a series tomorrow on the many reasons why Jeff Smith should not be our next Speaker of the House. I've done my research, but I welcome any additional help. If you know any major (or minor) reasons why Jeff Smith should not be our next Speaker please leave a comment or send me at e-mail at cottonmouthblog (at) gmail dot com.

Laurel Police Do the Right Thing / No One Should Be Above The Law

Laurel Leader Call:
Laurel City Council member Tony Wheat was arrested and charged with DUI Saturday night, according to the Laurel Police Department.
Wheat was stopped by a Laurel police officer near Rogers and Mason streets around midnight and booked into jail, charged with driving under the influence.

Even though we hate to see failures from folks put in positions of trust it is also reassuring to see that even our elected officials can be held accountable by local police, though I wouldn't call for his head if this is a first time offense.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Prayers for Peace

One of the best things we can do for our veterans is to stop making more of them.

Jim Wallis' blog

Think it doesn't happen here?

As the Department of Justice and Alberto Gonzales continue to be exposed as one of the most corrupt institutions under the Bush Administration, those of us back home would hardly think that it affected Mississippi. The reality, of course, is very different.

After months of inherently inflated accusations, and huge wastes of taxpayer dollars, Scott Horton of Harpers Weekly and Adam Lynch from the Jackson Free Press are examining the unjust prosecution of Justice Oliver Diaz and Mississippi attorney Paul Minor. The obvious links of corruption start not here in Mississippi, but in D.C. with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Supreme Court Justice Scalia and the U.S Attorney General's office.

Below are a few shocking experts from their articles and research. If there was ever in time a Mississippi to be appalled at our justice system and the Republican administration that has politicized it, today is the day.

Scott Horton piece:

Suddenly the Mississippi trial lawyers and their judicial allies found themselves facing an even hungrier and more powerful foe: the Bush White House Department of Justice. The absurdities of the Justice Department’s conduct were not lost on many observers. “I am still not sure what they did was illegal under the weak laws governing such activities, nor am I sure the government really proved its case,” observed Clarion-Ledger Editorial Director David Hampton. “It did to the jury, so that’s that, but I have my doubts as an observer. Didn’t convince me.”

“It is my opinion that there was too much of a political smell to this case. The extent the Republican Justice Department went to in going after a wealthy influential Democratic trial lawyer just seemed over the top. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was extraordinary,” Hampton added...

As the investigation began, a survey of local newspapers—particularly The Clarion-Ledger—shows that Minor and his fellow targets were under heavy assault. The local press began to print articles laden with innuendo and smear, and articles appeared accusing Minor of “corruption” based on information consistently linked to anonymous “sources close to the investigation.”

As a practical matter, the information could only have come from the prosecution team. And the timing of the leaks—for instance in 2003, when Haley Barbour returned to Mississippi ready to run for governor for the GOP—seemed to coincide with Republican campaign strategy. The leaks served a double purpose: They “poisoned the well” by predisposing the newspaper-reading citizenry to think that Minor and his colleagues were guilty; and they furnished fodder for the GOP election effort in which high-profile and prominent Democrats were constantly labeled “corrupt...”

The actual charges are almost incomprehensible. Several public integrity prosecutors told me they were unfamiliar of any similar case raising charges quite like these, calling them “strange” and “perhaps unique.” Most public corruption cases revolve on a quid pro quo: a public official is asked to do something for some form of compensation or reward. But in these cases there is no quid pro quo, and none is alleged. As The New York Times’ Adam Liptak observed: “The central charge against the two men is so convoluted that setting it out requires a diagram, if not a family tree: Trying to influence a libel case against Mr. Minor’s father, Mr. Minor guaranteed a loan to Justice Diaz’s former wife.”

Here’s my take in short: “Honest service mail fraud” is an effort to conjure a crime that does not exist. The “crime” here is purely political...

Minor went to court twice. The first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury. When time came for the second trial, Minor found that the judge had decided to change the rules. In the first trial, Minor had offered a great deal of exculpatory evidence. He showed that he had an established practice of making small loans and guaranteeing loans to his friends and colleagues in the legal community who couldn’t get them elsewhere. This included a series of loans and loan guarantees he made over a long period of time to black lawyers who had a notoriously difficult time securing credit from Mississippi’s racially biased banks.

The evidence showed that Minor’s guarantees made for the three judges allowing them to fund their reelection campaigns, were not out of character. It directly offset claims that his intent was corrupt. But as the second trial got under way, the presiding judge announced he had changed his mind about this evidence, and he was going to exclude it. This was a clear and conscious changing of the goalposts in mid-game, designed to help the prosecution get a conviction. And the second go-round produced that result.

From Adam Lynch...

Diaz pointed out that Lampton admitted to the press in 2005 that his first indictment against Diaz had little strength—because Diaz did not vote on any of Minor’s cases—but Lampton pressed the case, nonetheless.

“I did say that that case was the weakest,” Lampton conceded last week. “There are other things that I’m aware of regarding Diaz that caused me to refrain from commenting further on that, but it will come out later, and you’ll see. The Justice Department and I strongly disagreed on how to prosecute that case. The Justice Department got their way, and I believe there was sufficient evidence to convict him, but maybe not for what he was charged...”

The report recorded the U.S. attorneys’ federal investigation and/or indictment of 375 elected officials between January 2001 and December 2006. Shields’ data indicates that the offices of the U.S. attorneys across the nation investigated seven times as many Democratic officials as Republicans...

Cotton Mouth Ad Awards 1st Annual

Please submit ads for the following categories by comment or e-mail*:

Please give the candidate supported (or paid for if an attack) and a couple word description.

1. Most Effective
2. Funniest
3. Strangest
4. Unintended Consequences
5. Sloppiest Attack
6. Context, Who Needs Context?
7. Apple Pie (Screams Mom, Apple Pie, etc.)

Awards will be given next week.

*The ads don't have to be from Mississippi, but they must be from 2007 and be political. No ad can win more than one category.

Read This, Read It All / Adam Lynch On Our Courts

Adam Lynch has this very, very good article in the Jackson Free Press:

The Reality of Tort Reform

Sunday, November 11, 2007

John Edwards for President

I think it would be amazing for America to have a John Edwards vs. Ron Paul race. It would be amazing because we'd have to talk about issues again. Poverty, the saneness of forign intervention, corporate subsidization and many more issues we face would have to be addressed in public debate when we have ignored them for so long. Public discussion is good and we won't get that with a Dem vs. Rep. superstar presidential race.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Cochran Still Undecided / Will Decide This Year

The Daily Journal:
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said Thursday he has not decided if he will run for a sixth term in 2008 but will make an announcement in "a few weeks."

Cochran, in a telephone interview with the Daily Journal, said he had delayed an announcement because he wanted to avoid any conflict with this year's state elections. Qualifying deadline for next year's Senate race is Jan. 11, with party primaries in March.

In a Nov. 1, 2006, interview with the Daily Journal's editorial board, Cochran said he would decide in late 2007 about running again. He said then that which party controls the Senate could influence his decision.

Recently, rumors have circulated that Cochran might not seek re-election.

"... a winner is determined and the race is over."

Brandon Jones is still the victor in House District 111.

The Republican Tim Lee released this statement through his attorney:

"... a winner is determined and the race is over."

I'm so proud of Brandon Jones.

An Explanation:

The previous few posts were from a panel called "Covering the Movement in Mississippi" with Charles Dunagin, Bill Minor, and W.C. "Dub" Shoemaker. It's part of the Mass Communication & Journalism Symposium: Social Justice and the News. It is being hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi.
Covering the Movement in Mississippi. - with Charles Dunagin, Bill Minor and W.C. Shoemaker

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Minor detailed how due to his reporting he was thoroughly denounced at USM by former USM President McCain and M.M. Roberts f

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I guess it's fitting to put the old man first, in case he doesn't survive. - Bill Minor.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Upside of Gary Anderson's Run(s)

Ana Maria at AM in the Morning:
While the superb team and candidate we had in Gary Anderson did not emerge completely victorious this election season, the mere fact that his candidacy was extremely viable is a major testament to how far things have finally come. Not that long ago, the thought of a viable statewide campaign for public office being aggressively and successfully pursued by an African American man here in Mississippi would have been sheer fantasy. Gary Anderson has successfully broken down that barrier, and he did so with enthusiasm, passion, class, and a campaign worthy of our respect for all that it had to overcome to achieve all that is has achieved.

How often each day do we pass through doors that men and women of all backgrounds, religions, economic, religious, and racial backgrounds have broken down so that others of us can benefit from the blood, sweat, and tears we invested. Too often, those of us who break down those doors are not the ones who benefit directly from our efforts. Nevertheless, an eternal debt of gratitude we owe for those who have helped to make the quality of our lives that which it is at present.

So, here, I thank Mr. Gary Anderson for the fortitude, commitment, vision and passion he and his campaign always exhibited throughout the campaign. Gary did this with class, and I am proud to have supported his candidacy, to have become a big fan, and to remain supportive throughout the future.
We should all thank Gary Anderson for having the courage to run even with the knowledge that history and current politics were against him.

This Democrat's Lament

I needed justice and I had none. I fought the GOP and the GOP won.

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Great News in District 111 / Every Vote Counts!

From the Sun Herald:
Jackson County election officials on Wednesday declared Democrat Brandon Jones the winner of the state House District 111 seat, which came open when 15-year veteran Carmel Wells-Smith, a Republican, decided not to run for re-election.

The tally, incomplete Tuesday night, had Republican Tim Lee, a radio station owner and talk-show host, ahead of Jones, a young Pascagoula attorney, by two votes. Once all the absentees were counted, Lee trailed Jones by two votes.

Then Wednesday the county Election Commission, circuit clerk, Lee and his attorneys and attorneys for Jones went through more than 200 affidavit ballots, weeded out those that did not qualify to vote in that race and came up with 106 valid ballots.

They scanned them and found 101 actually voted in the House District 111 race, 46 for Lee and 55 for Jones - putting Jones ahead of Lee by 11 votes.

"Don't let anyone tell you a vote doesn't count," said Circuit Clerk Joe Martin, who, like the others, had spent most of Wednesday completing the vote count in that race.

Brandon Jones is an intelligent, thoughtful, Christian man and I was glad that I was able to assist him in a small way. He will make an excellent representative.

Notice the frame in his ad where he and a student are at a computer. It's a picture of Brandon Jones and I. It's at 18 seconds in.

Though I never intended to be anonymous (using my real name on everything I wrote), it has been interesting to see the Republicans efforts at what I assume was opposition research on me. One of the Republican candidates asked extended family members about me, a Barbour staffer spent some time on my public facebook account (a social networking website) and I'm sure I've missed other instances.

This isn't to say I believe I'm that important; it's just been curious to watch the ever paranoid Republicans.

Conservative Mandate? Not exactly

We have to appreciate the fact that Barbour has glossed over the fact that the House still has a 2-1 majority and the Senate will now be in the hands of Democrats again.

While we took some losses, especially statewide, there were several huge successes in both chambers, including Russ Nowell in House District 43, Brandon Jones in House District 111, David Baria in Senate District 46, and David Blount in Senate District 29.

From The Daily Journal:
"Yesterday was a great election day. It was a big conservative mandate," Barbour said Wednesday afternoon after capturing 58 percent of the vote against Democratic attorney John Arthur Eaves Jr. of Jackson. "...The mandate is very clear and obvious."

Gov. Barbour had his own spin on any Demcoratic successes. He said the winning Democrats, especially legislators, are like him - conservative."We will have a conservative majority in both houses of the Legislature," said Barbour, adding that he will be "comfortable" working with a majority Democratic Legislature.