Thursday, February 28, 2008

MS-1 Travis Childers Signs No Drug Money Pledge

Travis Childers Signs Pledge Not To Take Contributions From Pharmaceutical PACs

'We won't lower drug prices unless we change the way we do business in Washington' - Travis Childers

From a release:

Travis Childers said today he will not accept political action committee contributions from pharmaceutical companies now or when he goes to Congress.

"We need to change the way business is done in Washington," Childers said. "We won't be able to lower drug prices and give working families, seniors and veterans relief unless we change the way we do business in Washington."

Childers signed and released a formal pledge not to take contributions from drug companies and challenged his opponents in the Democratic and Republican primaries to make the same pledge.

"We have to break the vicious circle of lobbyists for drug companies wielding massive influence on Congress through literally millions of dollars in campaign contributions through their political action committees," Childers said. "I will stand up to the slick drug company lobbyists on behalf of the people of North Mississippi. Together, we will change the way business is done in Washington and bring real relief to our families and small businesses."

In addition to the written pledge not to take political contributions from pharmaceutical or drug companies, Childers released specific details on how he would make health care more available and affordable. Specifics Childers released today are included in the comments:

MS-1 Steve Holland Is Airing His Second TV Ad

Fifty Million Smackers


A mystery man receiving $50 million from prominent Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs earned the money by paying off allies during Scruggs' epic battle with the tobacco industry in the late 1990s, said a former colleague turned government witness.
Scruggs has said a $50 million cut from his fees will go over 20 years to P.L. Blake, a politically connected son of the Mississippi Delta who now lives in Birmingham. Scruggs and Moore have said Blake worked political cloakrooms, bringing his keen political knowledge and connections to their settlement efforts.
I used to think that this was all a Repub DOJ witchhunt and Scruggs was getting railroaded, a la Don Siegelman next door in Bamalammy. I still think it's basically a Repub DOJ witchhunt, but I'm slowly beginning to realize that Dickie is potentially a lot dirtier than I ever would have imagined. After all, how many legitimate enterprises have a bagman?

What does Mr. Blake say he did to earn the money? Glad you asked.
Blake has said he simply clipped newspaper articles, watched C-SPAN and kept Scruggs updated on political maneuverings.

Fifty million bucks to clip newspaper articles and watch C-SPAN?! Nice work if you can get it.

Note to Dickie: Not to critique your business acumen, but if newspaper clippings and C-SPAN monitoring was all you needed, I know a couple of burnouts in Oxford who would do it for Funyuns and beer.

Cheap beer at that.

MS-1 Travis Childers Is Airing His Second TV Ad

MS-Sen: Erik Fleming Has First Ads Out (In Race Against Cochran)

First Spot
Second Spot

The ads will run in selected media markets beginning March 5th and I suspect they will run for about a week (with the primary March 11th).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Harrison County Election Commission

As you approach:
Harrison County Voting

HC MachinesHC Machines 2

This was probably written by a person who runs elections and counts the votes:
There Their

"This door you are looking at is called the Harrison County Election Commission."

"You will see there sign clearly posted beside there doors."

Yep. That's a little bit scary.

Al Hopkins' Office In Gulfport

I went looking for the Harrison County Election Commission Office Monday. I couldn't find it so I stopped at a law office because they always have a secretary up front. As I walked in I realized it was Hopkins, (something) and Hopkins and asked the secretary if that was Al Hopkins' office. It was. I then asked where the election office was and she told me it was probably near the courthouse (blocks away and over Pass Road). I turned around and it was two buildings back on the right. Yeah, thanks!
Hopkins Law Office

Here's my car in front of the office. Look at the left side of the bumper.
Hood Hopkins
Yep, that is a Jim Hood bumper sticker. I wonder if she also told Hopkins how to get elected.

Fireworks Van. Danger?

Fireworks Van

This van was driving below the speed limit and I wondered why. If you squint you may be able to read "Discount Fireworks."

Discount fireworks on wheels sounds dangerous.

Keep driving slow van, keep driving slow.

Mississippi Roads, The Things You See

In Hattiesburg going South:
Log Truck

Between Hattiesburg and Jackson going North:
Mississippi Roads

Alternatively pictures of trucks, or pimped out 80s cars could be posted. Feel free to include any of yours in the comments.

RIP William F.

This doesn't have much to do with Mississippi, but the early wire services are reporting that conservative commentator William F. Buckley died overnight at his home in Connecticut.

From National Review:

I’m devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died overnight in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.

After year of illness, he died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "If you can't say anything nice about somebody, come sit next to me."

I can't say I ever much cared for Mr. Buckley's politics, but I can attest to his fierce intellect. He was kind enough to tape a couple of episodes of his PBS show Firing Line while I was at Ole Miss, and he was as much of a gentleman as he was a furious orator and debater. Political dialog in America has lost an elder statesman.

God Speed, sir. I'm now going to sit next to Eleanor.

Update: I incorrectly identified Mr. Buckley's show as Crossfire in my original post and have changed it to the correct title. Apparently my canceled TV show trivia skills don't work before lunch.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Draft Haley Gains Momentum

The RNC is polling to see just how racist and sexist they can get during this election season without crossing the line. Seriously.

From Politico:

The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved. The secretive effort underscores the enormous risk senior GOP operatives see for a party often criticized for its insensitivity to minorities in campaigns dating back to the 1960s.
I say FULL SPEED AHEAD!! Set the controls for the heart of the sun and go down swinging, baby! Goldwater would be so proud.

No Bid Contracts

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal editorial board administered a loquacious beatdown on Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood over his practice of hiring lawyers to do legal work.

WSJ Editorial:

The documents show Mr. Hood has retained at least 27 firms as outside counsel to pursue at least 20 state lawsuits over five years. The law firms are thus able to employ the full power of the state on their behalf, while Mr. Hood can multiply the number of targets.

Those targets are invariably deep corporate pockets: Eli Lilly, State Farm, Coca-Cola, Merck, Boston Scientific, Vioxx and others. The vast majority of the legal contracts were awarded on a contingency fee basis, meaning the law firm is entitled to a big percentage of any money that it can wring from defendants. The amounts can be rich, such as the $14 million payout that lawyer Joey Langston shared with the Lundy, Davis firm in an MCI/WorldCom settlement.

These firms are only too happy to return the favor to Mr. Hood via campaign contributions. Campaign finance records show that these 27 law firms -- or partners in those firms -- made $543,000 in itemized campaign contributions to Mr. Hood over the past two election cycles.

Outsourcing public work to private corporations? Who were campaign contributors? In the form of no-bid contracts?

I guess I can understand how the WSJ finds this so distasteful. But if this kind of thing really burns ye olde editorial board up, how do they have any outrage left after the past seven years?

Oh, right.

Make sure and follow the WSJ link to check out Big Jim's stippling!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Family Ties

This is going to get worse before it gets better. So the Sun Herald scored an exclusive interview Monday with Mississippi Senator and local boy dun good Trent Lott about his involvement in the federal bribery case against his brother-in-law, Richard "Dickie" Scruggs. Turns out Trent recently got grilled by the G-Men, but swears he is only a potential witness, not a potential target, of the investigation.

Insert "Trent likes to watch" joke here.


The Justice Department is investigating whether Scruggs tried to land a lifetime appointment to the federal bench for Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter. Scruggs recommended to Lott that he appoint DeLaughter as a U.S. District Court judge, according to an attorney who has pleaded guilty in the case. In exchange, New Albany attorney Joey Langston said, DeLaughter was expected to rule in Scruggs' favor in a Hinds County lawsuit filed against him by another attorney over legal fees.

"I may be called as a witness," Lott said, "but I've been assured that I'm not under investigation, and rightly so because nothing was done to justify that."

Lott said he did talk to DeLaughter about the opening on the bench in early 2006. Because he is a potential government witness, Lott said, he could not offer details about what prompted him to call DeLaughter. But he said that, as a senator, he did receive numerous recommendations for judicial appointments and more than one person suggested DeLaughter, who has denied any wrongdoing in the judicial bribery case.

More is promised in tomorrow's edition.

I'm still trying to figure out who to root for. Or against.

h/t Atrios

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Become a Supporter of Randy Eads on Facebook!

Become a Supporter of Randy Eads on Facebook!

If you don't have an account on Facebook, you should really think about it.

Even folks like Sid Salter and Melody Musgrove have made the jump.

Brew Your Own "Obama Ale: The Audacity of Hops"

Will Bardwell strikes again with Amazing Success.British in honor of Obama's universal health care proposal; brown for obvious reasons; lots of hops in homage to Obama's hope-based campaign slogans (perhaps you've heard of them?), and pleasant but not-overwhelming body in reference to the senator's trim but not muscular physique.

read more | digg story

Caucuses Today In Mississippi (for Delegates to State, not National, Convention)

Tell us about your experience at the caucuses.

Did you find a vibrant group.

How was enthusiasm?

Did people where you were give any indication who they would support for President?

Drop a line in the comments or if you're shy send us an e-mail at cottonmouthblog AT gmail DOT com

Friday, February 22, 2008

Roger Wicker Says College Is Valuable, But Is Unwilling To Assist Students In Paying


In a column in (Cotton Mouth Note: (in his weekly column statewide)), Roger Wicker touts his position on the Community College Caucus and praises the “important role community colleges play in our educational system.” But Wicker has voted against higher education initiatives throughout his career, including the very Pell Grant funding that he says plays an “integral role in the success of our community colleges.” Wicker has even been the lone member of the Mississippi delegation to oppose proposals that would save students and taxpayers money.

“It’s great that Roger Wicker says he supports higher education, but it’d be a lot more helpful to Mississippians if he actually voted in support of it,” DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller said. “Penning a column from his Washington office won’t generate the results that families in Mississippi want and need. With the rising cost of college a major concern for all families, maybe Roger Wicker should spend more time fighting for the people of Mississippi and less time spouting empty rhetoric.”

Wicker: “We Must Slow The Rate” Of Student Loans. "We have to deal with the deficit on two fronts, we must slow the rate of growth of mandatory entitlement programs like student loans, Medicare and Medicaid, that's where the money is. Those programs have been growing at twice the rate of inflation ... growth on the appropriations side has been flat the last two years," Wicker said in 2005. [AP, 12/27/05]
Wicker Has Voted At Least Nine Times Against Pell Grant Funding. [Vote 864, 9/7/07; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 6/13/06; Vote 301, 6/24/04; AP, 6/25/04; Washington Times, 6/25/04; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 6/9/04; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 6/25/03; Vote 415, 7/19/00; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 5/24/00; Vote 124, 5/5/98; House Appropriations Subcommittee Markup, 6/13/96]
Wicker Voted Against Largest Student Aid Increase Since the GI Bill. In September 2007, Wicker voted against the bipartisan bill to boost financial aid for college students by cutting some $20 billion in government subsidies to banks that make student loans. The bill also increased the maximum Pell Grant from $4,310 a year to $5,400 a year and would cut interest rates on federally backed student loans to poor and middle-class students from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over four years. [Vote 864, 9/7/07; AP, 9/7/07]
Wicker Was Only Member of MS Delegation to Oppose Initial Student Loan Rate Cut Plan in 2007 That Could Save Students $2,300. In January 2007, Wicker was the only member of the Mississippi delegation to vote against the House student loan bill, which passed 356-71. The bill was“designed to cut interest rates on college loans, creating a plan that potentially could save students $2,300 over the course of a loan.” It cut the federal student loan rate from 6.8% to 3.4%, with the reduction sun setting after five years. [Vote 32, 1/17/07]
Wicker Voted For The Largest Cuts To Federal Student Aid In History At A Time Of Rising Tuition Costs. In 2006, Wicker voted for the largest cuts to federal student aid in history at a time of rising tuition costs. The measure cut $12.7 billion from student loan programs – the largest single cut in history. It imposed higher fees on students, increased the interest rate on parent loans and cut subsidies to lenders. The bill also put billions of dollars in student aid at risk by cutting all of the critical funds ($2.2 billion) used to carry out and administer the student aid programs. [Vote 4, 2/1/06; House Budget Committee Minority Staff, 12/19/05; Rep. George Miller Press Release, 12/18/05; CQ Today, 2/1/06; Washington Post, 2/1/06]
Wicker Voted Against Closing Student Loan Loophole. In 2005, Wicker was the only member of the Mississippi delegation to vote against closing a student loan loophole. The amendment Wicker voted against stopped a scam in the college student loan program that allowed certain lenders to pocket billions of dollars in excess profits at the expense of both taxpayers and students. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the so-called “9.5% loan scam” cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The amendment closed this loophole ensuring that federal education dollars were available to help students and families afford college. The 9.5% guarantee was established in the high interest rate year of 1980. Congress intended for it to be phased out of existence beginning in 1993, but through a regulatory loophole, the guarantee continued. [Van Hollen Press Release, 6/24/05; Vote 316, 6/24/05]
Wicker Voted Against Making College More Affordable Through Tax Credits. In 1997, Wicker voted against amending the tax code to make college more affordable. The motion would have instructed House negotiators on the budget reconciliation bill to provide “$500-per-child tax credit to working families, support a HOPE Scholarship credit for the first two years of a college education, and include tax benefits for families paying tuition costs for the second two years of a college education out of wage and salary income.” [Vote 258, 7/10/97]

Thanks to Senate 2008 Guru

Best Site To Keep Up With Senate Elections Nationwide

It has to be Senate2008 Guru

And I'm not just saying that because they link here. :)

Obama Coming To Mississippi?

There has been a lot of talk about Barack Obama coming to Mississippi recently.

I got e-mails about folks receiving robo-calls telling them he was coming to DeSoto County. I assured those folks that the call was false.

I've had folks call me because they are excited that he's coming to this town or that town when it's just a fundraiser by local supporters.

He's a little tied up right now attempting to win Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island (states where Hillary Clinton is currently ahead.) Those elections are on the 4th of March.

Then there is Wyoming on the 8th.

Our primary is March 11th. It's the last primary for over a month with the next contest being in Pennsylvania on April 22nd.

It will be important as the last chance to show momentum.

Don't worry if he's coming. He will come AFTER March 4th.

So far the only publicly announced date is that he MAY be at the Jefferson Jackson Hamer Dinner on the 6th. I've complained to the party and to the Obama campaign because the cheapest tickets are $50. Obama doesn't charge for events.

I sincerely doubt that his only event in the state would require a contribution. Take a deep breath, he's coming.

Yes We Can.

Barack Obama's Campaign Has The First (Paid) Boots On The Ground

Employees of the Obama campaign arrived Wednesday and are already hard at work.

I expect they will have well trained folks statewide by March 11th and are actively looking for supporters and office space.

If you have a spare room in your private office OR a spare room in your house for out of state employees and volunteers please e-mail us at cottonmouthblog AT gmail DOT com

I'll pass your information on to their state director.

Viva Obama!

I'm currently having a devil of a time trying to learn Spanish. The University of Southern Mississippi (possibly showing foresight) requires most liberal arts majors to earn 12 hours (4 classes) of a foreign language. Perhaps I've found a way to study:

Or if you prefer something slower:

Both are entirely independent efforts with no affiliation with the Obama campaign.

Hat tip to Kid Oakland

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When Republicans Attack Republicans / Look Out Landrum

Congressman Pickering's choice to replace him is getting feisty.

John Rounsaville sent out a press release yesterday stating that David Landrum (who is the apparent frontrunner) hasn't bothered to vote in any election between November, 2000 and November, 2007. That's a pretty serious charge.

I wouldn't vote for a Democrat who hadn't taken the effort to vote in recent elections and I suspect many Republicans will feel the same way.

From the release:
At a candidate forum on February 11th in Noxapater, Mr. Landrum was asked by Scott Boyd, editor of the Macon Beacon about his $1,000 contribution to Ronnie Musgrove in the 2003 gubernatorial election. Mr. Landrum responded that he did indeed contribute to Mr. Musgrove’s campaign and that he voted for Haley Barbour.

That is simply not true.

David Landrum did not vote for Haley Barbour. He did not even bother to vote at all.

Rounsaville accuses Landrum of "boldfaced deceit" and says that "(Landrum) has no business asking to be our vote in the U.S. House of Representatives."

That's tough stuff.

In addition this video has surfaced attacking Landrum from one of the debates:

The text added is a little unfair at points. One example is that when he states gave Musgrove a contribution it was because friends encouraged him to because of tort reform. They think this point is invalid because the law was passed prior to the contribution. I don't see that as a contradiction.

The claws have come out, but with so little time before the election I wonder if all of this only helps Ross and not Rounsaville (or his campaign really) who I suspect put this little video together.

Thanks to AnnEllisSimmons for both.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Steve Holland Has This TV Ad Up:

I really like it. What do you think?

Steve Holland Has This TV Ad Up:

type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425"

I like this ad. What do y'all think?

Dept. of Spectacularly Bad VP Suggestions

From The New Republic:

In September, Brad and Noam profiled the shady dealings of lobbyist–governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. For some reason, Barbour's name is being bandied about quite a bit as a potential running mate for John McCain. Josh Barro, who's been keeping close tabs on some of the crazier entries in the McCain veepstakes, points out a few of the many reasons why Barbour would be a disastrous choice. Josh unearths a choice passage from a 1982 New York Times story on Barbour's failed U.S. Senate campaign that year:

The racial sensitivity at Barbour headquarters was suggested by an exchange between the candidate and an aide who complained that there would be 'coons' at a campaign stop at the state fair. Embarrassed that a reporter heard this, Mr. Barbour warned that if the aide persisted in racist remarks, he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks.

Stay classy, Haley.
--Josh Patashnik

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Shows bows out of race

Released today:

For Immediate Release
February 19, 2008

Statement by Ronnie Shows

“When Trent Lott announced his resignation from the United States Senate it was clear to me that Mississippi needed a new Independent voice to represent this great state. A voice that would fight for better health care, real immigration reform that would help Mississippi workers compete, and fight to end the partisan bickering in Washington that keeps anything from getting done.

After weeks of talking to my family and friends I have come to the conclusion that we would not be able to raise the millions of dollars needed to compete with a former Governor and the hand picked candidate from the sitting Governor therefore I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate. I love Mississippi and I hope with all my heart our new Senator will be that independent voice this state needs.

Ronnie Musgrove has a long history of working with all Mississippians to bring about change and I believe he is now our best hope to be the Independent Voice this state needs in Washington. I look forward in the coming months to helping Governor Musgrove win this election so Mississippi will have a Senator who will work to end the partisan bickering that prevents Washington from getting anything done.”

Steve Holland Has This Radio Ad Up:

quality="high" width="300" height="52" allowScriptAccess="always"
wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashvars=

Sounds Good.

2nd Worst

According to research from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and, the second worst state for a person to find a job is Mississippi.

Worst States for Jobs

1. Michigan

Unemployment rate: 7.6 percent

Population: 10,071,822

Mean annual wage: $41,230

Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (18.4 percent)***

2. Mississippi

Unemployment rate: 6.8 percent

Population: 2,918,785

Mean annual wage: $30,460

Top industry: Government (21.2 percent)

3. South Carolina

Unemployment rate: 6.6 percent

Population: 4,407,709

Mean annual wage: $33,400

Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.4 percent)

4. Alaska

Unemployment rate: 6.5 percent

Population: 683,478

Mean annual wage: $43,920

Top industry: Government (25.9 percent)

5. California

Unemployment rate: 6.1 percent

Population: 36,553,215

Mean annual wage: $44,180

Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (18.9 percent)

6. District of Columbia

Unemployment rate: 6.1 percent

Population: 588,292

Mean annual wage: $61,500

Top industry: Government (33.3 percent)

7. Ohio

Unemployment rate: 6 percent

Population: 11,466,917

Mean annual wage: $37,360

Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.3 percent)

8. Arkansas

Unemployment rate: 5.9 percent

Population: 2,834,797

Mean annual wage: $30,870

Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.6 percent)

9. Nevada

Unemployment rate: 5.8 percent

Population: 2,565,382

Mean annual wage: $36,000

Top industry: Leisure and hospitality (26.5 percent)

10. Kentucky

Unemployment rate: 5.7 percent

Population: 4,241,474

Mean annual wage: $33,490

Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.4 percent)

*Unemployment rates, mean annual wages and industry percentages obtained from BLS in January 2008. Percentages based on nonfarm payrolls, seasonally adjusted.

**Population figures based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

***Top industries are those that employ the largest percentage of a state’s labor force.

Of course, at, they are touting what an economic machine Barbour is for our state. Something just doesn't seem to add up here.

Governor Barbour responded with fiscal discipline, balanced budgets, and no new taxes. The result has been the creation of more than 38,000 jobs, the highest employment level in Mississippi history and a 15 percent increase in personal income.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Internet access at USM is really bad right now so updates may be slow.
I apologize.

- John

Steve Holland Has This Radio Ad Up:

<embed src= ""
quality="high" width="300" height="52" allowScriptAccess="always"
wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashvars=
pluginspage=""> </embed>

Sounds Good.

David Landrum Attacks Obama And Other Democrats In New Ad

He conveniently forgets that President Bush, (soon to be) Republican nominee John McCain, and longtime "conservative" Mississippi Senator Trent Lott all support some or all of the things he attacks Democrats for.

David Landrum has the money and the strategists so he may just win this district, but it won't be because he's the best or most honest man for the job.

David Landrum is one of the top two Republicans in the race according to polling data. Former State Senator, and Club for Growth supported candidate, Charlie Ross is the other.

David Landrum has a significant fundraising lead and higher cash on hand than his opponents.

Court Decision Highlights Need for Transparency

The Dickie Scruggs story has brought to light an important question for us Mississippians. Can our judicial system be bought? Unlike many, I am going to wait until all the facts come out before I rush to judgment on the Scruggs case. There is a large public outcry related to this case as Mississippians are not comfortable with the idea of our judges accepting money for favorable decisions. I will say that the case reeks of a partisan hit to remove the last elected Democrat (Jim Hood) from office. While the Scruggs case has garnered a lot of attention, there is another more prevalent method of using money to influence the courts of Mississippi.

When the Mississippi Supreme Court rendered their 7-2 decision to wait until November to hold the election for the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott, it meant one thing. The courts rendered the decision in the best of interest of those who paid for them to get elected. This trend is not isolated to Mississippi, but is occurring nationwide.

“Forbes magazine reports that two years ago in
Mississippi, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce poured over $1 million into a
successful bid to unseat Justice Chuck McRea, who, in their view, was

That is just one example of one group pumping major cash into a Mississippi election. It looks like they are at it again according this LATimes article from last month. This article is about Tom Donahue who is the head of the US Chamber of Commerce.

“Reacting to what it sees as a potentially hostile
political climate, Donohue said, the chamber will seek to punish candidates who
target business interests with their rhetoric or policy proposals, including
congressional and state-level candidates.Although Donohue shied away from
precise figures, he indicated that his organization would spend in excess of the
approximately $60 million it spent in the last presidential cycle.”

Big business has infiltrated our court system to the detriment of Mississippians. The judges’ interests lie not with the people of Mississippi, but with big business that put them in office. The citizen’s of Mississippi have a right to know where these huge campaign donations are coming from, especially when they are coming from PAC’s and other political interests located out of state. That seems common sense to me, right? Only the governor of our state does not agree with this basic logic. He believes that government should be shrouded in a cloud of secrecy, and that as Mississippians we do not have the right to know where outside money comes from in our political elections. Barbour vetoed a bill that would have made transparent the funding from these organizations. I have no problem with outside groups like PAC’s becoming involved, just let there be disclosure on where the money is coming from. Our electorate has the right to be informed when making a decision.

As the Sun Herald voiced on Monday, our democracy is reliant on an informed voter base.

“The business of government is a costly enterprise,
and its stockholders, the people of Mississippi, must feed the treasury year
after year to keep the state, counties, towns and cities afloat.
Last year, Mississippi taxpayers ponied up billions to complete their part of the social
contract that keeps democracy of, for, and by the people - and the people's
pocketbook - alive.
But, in what might be considered a not-so-kind twist to
the partnership of people and politicians, those who pass the laws have
constantly chosen to limit the information that is shared with the very people
who elect them and fund their activities.
At every turn, you will discover where state lawmakers have tightened the flow of information about government that the electorate needs to make informed decisions.”

While this issue has been discussed for quite some time, the recent partisan Supreme Court decision made it an entirely relevant discussion again. As Mississippians we deserve to know all relevant information when making a decision in the voting booth. As Mississippians we deserve to know when millions of dollars are being spent by outsiders to influence our elections. As Mississippians we deserve to know where the money is coming from.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Candidates' Recent Guest Posts On Cotton Mouth

We set out some rules for the posts: HERE

MS-1: Steve Holland
MS-1: Travis Childers

MS-3: Randy Eads

MS-Sen: Erik Fleming

Hear Me Tonight On Georgia's "The Kudzu Vine"

I'll be the guest on David McLaughlin's "The Kudzu Vine" tonight from 6:30 to 6:45.

You can listen in on The Kudzu Vine's BlogTalkRadio Page.

You can call in during that time at (646) 478-4503 to talk on the show.

I'll be discussing Trent Lott's seat, District 1's open seat, all the other Mississippi federal elections and the recent Speaker's race.

"The Kudzu Vine" is done in conjunction with Georgia blogs Tondee's Tavern and Blog For Democracy. Check them out.

Listen In and Have Your Say at The Kudzu Vine.

Hillary Clinton And Barack Obama To Appear In Mississippi

From a MDP Press E-Mail:
Mark your calendars for Thursday night, March 6, 2008 - and be in Canton at the city's Multipurpose Complex for the Mississippi Democratic Party's 26th Annual Jefferson Jackson Hamer Day Dinner. Plans are underway for this year's dinner that will feature two important guests. We are currently working with the two presidential campaigns. We will send another e-mail, possibly as early as Monday, Feb. 18, 2008, with full details as well as ticket prices for this not-to-be-missed event.

Remember: Thursday night, March 6, 2008, in Canton. Mark your calendar and plan to be there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pay raise for elected officials

Below are the new raises legislators in the House voted on yesterday. The bill narrowly passed the House and now goes to the Senate.

From the Sun Herald:
With the raise, the speaker of the House and lieutenant governor would get $90,000 a year in addition to the compensation they get for being in the Legislature.

Legislators' pay would rise from $10,000 a year to $15,000, in addition to mileage and other compensation. Per diem for lawmakers would also be raised to $75 per day, and they would now receive $2,500 per month when the legislature is not in session, up from $1,500.

Among the other raises:
• Governor - $152,000, up from $122,160.
• Attorney general - $140,000, up from $108,960.
• Secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner - $120,000, up from $90,000.
• Transportation commissioners and public service commissioners - $108,000, up from $78,000.

Erik Fleming Is A Proud And Devoted Democrat

I am honored to have an opportunity to post on this blog. It is also an honor to have served in public office in Mississippi for nine years, and to be a Democrat all my political life. As a founder of the Jackson State Chapter of the Young Democrats of Mississippi, doors were opened to me that I did not envision when I first arrived on that campus in 1983.

Through that experience, and being chosen by my fellow students as their student body president in 1987, I was able to meet people like Bill Allain, Mike Espy, and Ray Mabus. One of my highlights in my student government tenure was providing buses for students to go home and vote for Espy in 1986, as well as providing ground troops for his historical campaign. Then, upon graduation, I was chosen to work with Mabus' campaign for Governor in 1987, where I learned how diverse and big this state really was.

To tell you what kind of political junkie I was, when I had free time from the Mabus campaign, I would run down to the Magnolia Towers at night and volunteer for the Mike Moore campaign. That volunteerism led to an opportunity to work for Mike Parker in 1988, yes when he was a Democrat, when he ran for the U.S. Congress. It was during those early altruistic years that my love for Mississippi deepened and my commitment to fight the good fight as a Democrat grew stronger.

I have never wavered from those basic beliefs even though I have been hardened by my later political endeavors. Despite the personal obstacles I have had to overcome and the never ending blows to my pride and ego, I still engage because I believe in Mississippi, I believe in the Democratic Party, and I serve a God that says all things are possible.

I am eternally grateful to the people of this state for allowing a boy from the south side of Chicago to come, get a world-class education, and make a mark in politics here. I intend to continue to contribute to the public discourse of issues here in Mississippi and will always make myself available to those who wish to positively engage in those discussions.

In the coming days, the people of Mississippi will choose individuals that will lead this state and this nation, especially on issues addressing poverty, health care, education and real national security. It is my goal to make sure that the citizens here make an informed decision.

Again thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers.

Erik R. Fleming
2008 Democratic Candidate, U.S. Senate, Mississippi

Travis Childers Airs TV Ad in Race For 1st District

Ad tells of struggles as a child, touts record of job creation

From a Press Release:

Prentiss County Chancery Clerk and businessman Travis Childers is the first Democrat to take his campaign to the television airwaves in the upcoming primary for the open seat in Mississippi's first congressional district.

Childers' campaign began airing an ad on Friday that tells the story of how he worked full-time jobs through high school and college to support his mother and sister after his father died when Childers was sixteen years old. The ad also touts Childers' economic development credentials by helping attract more than 1,000 new jobs to North Mississippi.

"We have momentum and we are moving forward to the March 11 Democratic Primary with the use of paid media to communicate our message of job creation and understanding the struggles of middle class families," Childers said. "We will use television and other forms of media to communicate with voters all the way up to Election Day."

No Insurance Reform

From Sen. David Baria's Blog:

Senate Insurance Committee Will Not Vote on Insurance Reform
February 15, 2008 - 11:25am — David Baria

The Senate Insurance Committee chairman advised me this week that he will not bring up any Katrina- related insurance bills. This is terrible news for those of us who believed that needed insurance reforms would be passed this year. His reasoning for not bringing any of the 7 bills I have filed to a vote is that he feels they need further study. Lt. Governor Bryant pushed for a shorter session this year which may need to be lengthened if insurance reform needs more study. To the contrary, I believe that 2 1/2 years after Katrina is sufficient time to have studied the problem. Nevertheless, I will continue to dialogue with the chairman in hopes that something can be done to help resolve the insurance crisis we are facing.

Below is a link to an article published in the Clarion-Ledger on this issue.

Training School to Close

After years of investigation, the Columbia Training School will be closing. The all-girl facility has been investigated for allegations from of abuse, and two federal lawsuits have been filed.

From the Clarion Ledger:

Inadequate staffing and "quality of care" issues were cited as reasons the school needs to be closed. Legislation is needed to close the school.

There should be no opposition from the legislature. Another primary complaint about the facility was the cost- it should save the state another $2.7M.

The girls will be moved to Oakley, an all-male facility, but DHS has promised adequate measures will be taken to separate the girls and boys.

Congratulations to the Mississippi Youth Justice Project who has tirelessly worked on reforming the juvenile justice system!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Today the House voted to hold former Bush administration officials Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt for failing to cooperate in the inquiry about the fired federal prosecutors. As you can imagine, House Republicans were none too happy about this and have spent most of their day throwing up minor procedural barriers- small measures and votes about nothing- to try and stop the contempt vote from taking place. And this worked for a lot of today- let's face it, if anybody knows how to stop a vote, it's the Republicans. They're artists in that regard. Anyway, once they had exhausted all of those asinine dalliances and still couldn't manage to stop the vote, they took all their marbles and went home by staging a walkout and boycotting the vote. The contempt resolution passed 223-32.

That Congress is bickering like schoolchildren should come as a surprise to no one. So why bring it up? Because one of the Republican's stupid little procedural votes was brought to the floor IN THE MIDDLE OF REP. TOM LANTOS' MEMORIAL SERVICE. Yep, you heard that right.

Tom Lantos was a 14-term veteran of the House of Representatives and the only Holocaust survivor to ever serve in Congress. The Hungarian-born Lantos actually escaped the Nazis twice and was reunited after the war with his childhood sweetheart, Annette. Both of them lost most of their families in the Holocaust. They were married in 1950. In his 14 terms in the House, he was one of the co-founders of the Congressional Human Rights Caucas and eventually rose to be the Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Earlier today, in the middle of his Memorial Service in jam-packed Statuary Hall, the bells in the Capital started ringing, signaling House members that a floor vote was taking place. House Members had to run to their chambers.

What were they voting on? A resolution to adjourn for the day, introduced by Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The funny part? It didn't pass. Actually- they didn't even vote on it. The roll call turned out to be for nothing.

The House Republicans today interrupted a fellow Congressman's Memorial Service for petty, pointless partisan childishness. I don't know how many people who read this blog vote Republican, but for those that do, I have a question- If the House Republicans have that little respect for the memory of one of their own colleagues, how much respect do you really think they have for you?

Travis Childers Covers Valentine's Day and Other Important Dates In His Life

Let me begin by briefly thanking John Leek and the other writers on Cotton Mouth Blog for the service you provide and for the opportunity to make a guest post on your site today. It is exciting to have a forum to speak to voters, media representatives, and political activists in a non-traditional way.

With that said, I want to share with you the fact that twenty-seven years ago today – Valentine's Day, 1981 – I married Tami Gibson, and that was one of the happiest days of my life. There are only two other days that can compete with that one – the days that our two children, Dustin and Lauren, were born. Thank you, Tami. I love you.

As I contemplated the invitation from Cotton Mouth to post an original piece on this blog, I considered several topics, but my mind kept drifting back to a day that was not nearly as happy as the Valentine's Day twenty-seven years ago. When I thought about stories that define who I am and what I stand for, my mind kept going back to what was undeniably one of the most difficult days of my life.

That day was Christmas Day, 1974.

On Christmas Day, 1974, I became a man. I was sixteen years old and naïve to the world in so many ways. Just the same, I became a man that day, not by choice but out of necessity. That was the day my father unexpectedly died, leaving my mother, my 9 year-old sister and me devastated.

At sixteen years old, I was already working a part-time job at the time of my father's death. Like most people in North Mississippi, my parents believed in a strong work ethic and instilled that ethic in me. It was just expected in my family that each of us would pitch in to help the family get by, and I was willing to do my share. But, after my father's death, my mother and I simply could not make ends meet from my mother's factory wages and my part-time work.

To help support my mother and younger sister, I went to work full-time on the night and weekend shifts at Booneville's first convenience store. I can still recall quite literally running from school in the afternoons to clock-in for my shift at work. I stayed until the store closed at night. As an adult, I sometimes half-jokingly tell people that my main extra-curricular activity in school was . . . work. In reality, though, work was my main activity. I worked forty-plus hours per week, every week, all the way through high school and college. There was nothing funny about it back then.

After knowing the joys of a wonderful family, successful businesses, and sixteen magnificent years in public service to the people of Prentiss County, it is a little bit easier to look back more than thirty years later on those early years. But, make no mistake, there is nothing nostalgic about that period for my mother and me. Those were, in fact, very tough times.

Yet, the struggles were worth it. My sister and my mother were certainly worth the struggle. The importance of that time together and the little bit of comfort that I was able to provide during my sister's formative years became ever more apparent after my sister's untimely death in her twenties.

For most of my adult life, I have been very hesitant to talk about my childhood, the deaths of my father and sister, and the struggles my mother and I faced. As I became older and watched my own children grow into two fine young adults, I came to appreciate the fact that those tough times I faced early in life played a major role in shaping my values and priorities in life.

While I am always mindful of the past, I live in the present and keep a constant eye to the future.

You see, family comes first. I knew that on those tough days in my life, and I know that today on this happy occasion of my 27th Wedding Anniversary.

But, the simple fact is that a family without jobs, without healthcare, and without educational opportunities cannot survive.

My family and I were fortunate enough to have access to much needed healthcare when I was a child. I was fortunate enough to have access to a much needed job as a teenager and young adult to support my family. I was fortunate enough to have access to public schools, a local community college, and affordable tuition and financial assistance at a state university so I was able to get an education.

I understand the importance of public investments in health, education, and economic development opportunities for our citizens, because I have lived those opportunities.

When your family has had to struggle to make ends meet, like mine did, then one of your core values becomes fiscal responsibility. That is why I am proud that I have been able to balance 16 consecutive budgets for Prentiss County as Chancery Clerk. When you have been in a situation where you had to have a job to get by, you understand that job creation and economic development are more than buzzwords. That is why I am proud that I have worked across regional, governmental and partisan lines to help bring over 1,000 jobs to North Mississippi.

America and North Mississippi have been good to me. I want to make sure future generations have the opportunities I have had.

Thank you again, Cotton Mouth Blog, for the invitation to post on your site.

Travis W. Childers

Trimming fat or Cronyism?

Senate Bill 2680, which seeks to allow state agencies/departments/newly elected statewide officials to hire and fire at will for a year without the oversight of the state personal board.

The Republicans, including Haley Barbour, are touting that the state government should run like a business, and therefore, these measures are necessary in a tight budget year.

However, Democrats are arguing that this will open the state up to more litigation, and also promotes cronyism in state government.

What do you all think? (If there are any state employees who blog on here, please give us your thoughts as this may affect you.)

The Demon Barbour of Mississippi

From Campus Progress:

Two and a half years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf region, states like Mississippi are still struggling to provide relief for their residents. [MSNBC]

For example, in Mississippi, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is asking for another $39 million in the new budget to help the elderly and disabled who were forced from their homes after Katrina.

And after he was elected to take outgoing Sen. Trent Lott’s place last month, new Sen. Roger Wicker promised, “It’s not unrealistic to think that the Congress will provide another billion dollars, that’s billion with a ‘b,’ for additional appropriations involving the coast.”

Waaaaait. What about the tons of money the state has already received to help victims of the storm, you ask?

Gov. Haley Barbour is spending it on lots of other, non-Katrina stuff. Two weeks ago, for example, he took $600 million from post-Katrina relief funds and decided to spend it on improvements to the state’s port.

Today he wants to take another $25 million of recovery money to build a new four-lane highway to help a Toyota plant 300 miles away from the Gulf (and located nowhere near the storm zone.) [MSNBC]

A little more about this money:

After the storm hit, the federal government told Mississippi it would pay some of its Medicaid bills so the state could take the money they’d normally spend on the program —about $368 million—to make a Katrina fund.

So Barbour took the money from Medicaid… yet didn’t spend it on Katrina aid… and now wants to build Toyota a new road.

Reilly Morse, with the Mississippi Center for Justice: “Taking money from Medicaid and putting it into a road? Is there no low-income need so sacred that Gov. Barbour won’t rob it?”

It’s not like the program that provides medical assistance to the poor is exactly flush with cash. The state’s Medicaid program is now broke, broke, broke. The state faces a $90 million shortfall between now and June 30 and a whopping $170 million shortfall next year.

Check it out at Campus Progress!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Xenophobia at the Capitol

JT and Dave, two talk radio personalities, had an all-call to the Capitol yesterday to show support for several anti-immigrant bills floating in the legislature this year. Wearing bright yellow stickers that said "STOP ILLEGALS," they listened to their fearless leader, Phil Bryant (a favorite of JT and Dave) and trolled the halls of the Capitol.

From Clarion Ledger article (visit the website for photos):

"This is a homeland security issue, a jobs issue, an education issue," Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant said after speaking to a group of more than 100 Mississippians at the Capitol on Tuesday.

The group urged lawmakers to consider the legislation. Addressing illegal immigration was one of Bryant's campaign promises.

Jerry Jones of Sandhill, who wore a "STOP ILLEGALS" sticker in the crowd, said she's "not aware of an influx" but that "it's only a matter of time."

"We have to get a handle on this, or eventually it is going to collapse the nation," said Bryant, who as state auditor had audits conducted to gauge the effect on taxpayers.

"We have to get a handle on this, or eventually it is going to collapse the nation," said Bryant, who as state auditor had audits conducted to gauge the effect on taxpayers.

From the Sun-Herald:

Several people said they went to the anti-immigration rally because they're worried about the security of the country. Among them was Charity Hohm-Whaley of Vicksburg, a nurse who said she believes people who slipped across the border are now filling the Mississippi schools and getting taxpayer-subsidized health care.

"We want our legislators to know we want them to stand up for us, not for the illegals," said Hohm-Whaley, who brought her four home-schooled children to the Capitol for their civics lesson. She and the children - ages 16, 13, 11 and 6 - wore the yellow stickers, as did a baby doll her youngest daughter pushed in a toy stroller.

Derrick Johnson, state president of the NAACP, leaned against the scrolled iron balustrade of the Capitol's fourth floor and shook his head as dozens of people - all white - walked past him wearing the large yellow stickers with the slogan: "Stop Illegals."

"I can't help but think that 40 years ago, those stickers would have said, 'Stop n-----s,' " Johnson told a reporter and a small group of people.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Meet My New Video Camera

Now Cotton Mouth videos will be clearer and closer to our politicians and I won't have to sit on the front row at every event I film. I'm excited. Its a Panasonic.

In addition we do happily post video if you have video you'd like to share with a broader audience.

As always send tips, ideas, or original content to cottonmouthblog At gmail DOT com

Randall Eads Proposes Family Educational Leave Act

While on the campaign trail, I have talked with many people who are concerned about the education system in Mississippi. One night my wife and I were having dinner at a local restaurant when I began discussing my run for U.S. Congress with the waitress. She has two children who are in middle and high school. As a mother, she wants to be involved in her children’s school activities, but she is unable to do so because of her work schedule.

In the 3rd District, 37% of students do not graduate from high school and only 11% of the people have a Bachelor’s degree. Studies have shown that parental involvement increases a child’s chance to have a successful school career.

Employers must recognize that parents want to be involved in their child’s education. More often than not, a parent’s work schedule conflicts with their child’s school schedule. As your Congressman, I will propose legislation that is similar to the Family Medical Leave Act, but it will be titled the Family Educational Leave Act. Parents will be required to give their employer a two-week notice of a school function they would like to attend. Once the employer receives notice, the employer must allow the parent to attend the school function without any penalty. The employer can require the parent to work the hours missed, and the parent must show proof of attendance.

We have the power to help parents have a positive influence on their child’s education. Allowing a parent to be involved in school functions is not too much to ask of a civilized society. A proper education will help create the cycle of success for Mississippi children.

- Randy Eads

Vote for Eads in the March 11th Democratic Primary!
Common Sense for Common Goals
Eads Leads With Education

Headed To The Big House

Get this- a Federal Appeals Court has affirmed that the Federal Clean Water Act applies even in Mississippi. And they're sending Lucedale developer Robert J. Lucas Jr., along with his daughter, real estate agent Robbie Lucas Wrigley, and D'Iberville engineer M.E. Thompson to the pokey for violations of it.

As a matter of fact, the Federal Appeals Court upheld convictions on all 41 charges (how 'bout some Mail Fraud for ya?) against the three. Apparently they not only sold uninhabitable wetlands to prospective homebuilders, but they also managed to pollute the Vancleave wetlands by installing malfunctioning septic systems.

If I didn't know better, I'd get the impression that ripping off consumers and destroying the environment is considered a bad thing. How retro.

From The Daily Construction News:

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the convictions, rejecting the defendants’ arguments that evidence did not show a violation of the Clean Water Act.

“Defendants made misrepresentations that directly contradicted inspecting buyers’ observations,” the 5th Circuit said.

“Wrigley misrepresented the dryness of the site, for example, when buyers noticed wetlands and wetlands vegetation and questioned her about the wetlands.”

Lucas’ two corporations were sentenced to five years’ probation and were subject to the US$1.4 million restitution and more than US$5 million in fines. Thompson, who designed and certified septic systems at the Big Hill Acres subdivision in Vancleave, and Wrigley, who sold the wetlands lots, were sentenced to seven years and two months in prison.

Federal prosecutors said the defendants knowingly polluted federally protected wetlands and area waterways by installing underground septic systems that malfunctioned in saturated soil; thwarted state and federal health and environmental regulators; and defrauded residents into buying uninhabitable land.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Please Share Your Thoughts On The New Blog Design

What I like:
1. Two columns means I can put more stuff along the sides that I'd like to hang around more.
2. It's different.

What I don't like:
1. Slower to load
2. Smaller print

Please let me know if this is a step in the right direction or if I should return to how it was before.

Country Club vs. Revival Tent

Doncha just love how the illegal immigration brou-haha cleaves the Republican Party right down the middle?

From the CL:

Back in 1966, it took a high profile raid of a Mardi Gras party at the Jackson Country Club to break the back of the nation's last statewide prohibition law.

After lawmen raided the party - attended by many of the state's social elite and several statewide elected officials - the Legislature repealed the statewide liquor ban and stopped winking at illegal liquor sales and consumption.

Now, 42 years later, federal officials have for the second time in two years caught the Jackson Country Club knowingly employing illegal immigrants. In September 2006, the feds arrested 18 illegal immigrants employed at the swanky private club.

Later that same year, as many as 43 illegal immigrants were shown to have been in the club's employ. Even after being caught, the club continued to employ the workers - saying their presence was "necessary for business."

The Jackson Country Club situation points up the hypocrisy and political grandstanding that the illegal immigration issue produces in this state and nation. During the 2008 legislative session, another spate of punitive bills has been introduced - including some downright silly ones - to make the state appear "tough" on illegal immigration.

But at the same time, legislators know as did the golfers and socialites at Jackson Country Club that immigrant workers likely to be illegal were serving their food and drinks, mowing their lawns and performing any other manual labor they didn't want to do for themselves.

So the Federales are fining the ole CC of J $214,000 (that's thousand) for their second offense. And according to the WAPT story, U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton has agreed not to prosecute the club for 2 years.

That's pretty sweet for them. I wonder if Dave The Democrat's Lawn Care & Upholstery Service would get the same cavalcade of second chances.

Well, okay. I don't really wonder.


Right-wing fishwrap The American Spectator speculates that our ever-lovin' Guv'nah is at the top of the list of potential VP picks for the Republican ticket in the upcoming presidential election.

According to the Prowler:

A Veep From Mississippi
By The Prowler
Published 2/11/2008 12:08:40 AM

With the nomination for the Republican solidifying mightily, Sen. John McCain has asked his senior advisers to begin pulling together short lists for Vice Presidential choices. At the top of list, according to one senior adviser: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. "There are others that need to be on that list, but you have to believe the Haley is a frontrunner," says the adviser, who knows both McCain and Barbour well.

Barbour would be one name that puts many conservatives at a bit more ease, one of the criteria McCain understands he must meet, according to another adviser: "Another would be geographic balance, and Barbour takes care of that, too."

I'm all about sending Haley along on his merry way, but not if it would mean Governor Bryant. (hold on- I'm getting the dry heaves. okay, better) Does anybody have any insight into Mississippi's succession rules? I know that if it comes down to it, Haley will just do whatever the hell Haley wants to do. But which laws will he be breaking? Inquiring minds want to know. Me, too.

Update: According to indefatigable blogger and informational wellspring Steve Rankin, we would indeed get ~shudder~ Governor Bryant. According to Mississippi law, if the Governor dies or leaves office, the Lieutenant Governor serves out the remainder of his term. There is no special election.

So, either Haley doesn't run for Veep and stays in Mississippi, or Belt Buckle Phil is the Governor for the next three and a half years.

Um, Monty, I'd like to pick Door Number Three.......

Update Dos: Haley poo-poo's the idea. Not very convincingly.
Please excuse our mess while we work to make Cotton Mouth better!

MS raises money for McCain

According to a article in the Hattiesburg American, Mississippians have given John McCain more money than any other presidential candidate.

McCain has taken $266,103 from Mississippians so far; Fred Thompson was behind him with $238,786; and Barack Obama came in a distant third with $142,627.

All campaign contribution information is available on the FEC website.

The Stories That Fuel Steve Holland's Passion

The ground rule, they have told me, for writing a post on this blog is that I am not supposed to be writing about "why I am running for Congress." Tough rule. When you are a candidate for office, you want to make as many inroads as you can. But I will do the best I can.

I want to tell you two quick stories. I have always liked stories, but what Southerner doesn't. And I guess it is the reason that Mississippi has produced all the wonderful writers. One of these stories has a bad ending, the other one a better ending.

When Katrina hit, like so many thousands of others, I went down to view the devastation. And I went to check on an old friend. When I found him, his house was devastated and we sat back and surveyed everything. How to describe the devastation: the crumbling bricks, the downed trees, the buckled roads. For those of you who saw it first hand, you know what I am talking about.

As we were standing there, trying to make sense of things, trying to process the immensity of this natural disaster, I began to notice a smell. We thought that perhaps it was a small animal, and so we began scavenge through the brick and the rubble, moving around what we could, and then we made a terrible discovery: the corpse of a senior citizen, the neighbor of my friend. It was the coda to the terrible symphony that had played itself out during those terrible August days. So not only did my friend have to deal with the shock of losing his home, and his business, but his personal grief was compounded by this terrible discovery.

I tell you this little story as awful and gruesome as it is, to point out the reality of the utter despair and desolation that was visited upon the coast. Later, and in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, I was in a session of the House and we were visited by numerous representatives from the coast, almost all of them begging for help from the state government. A number of these folks were Republican in orientation and had for years supported a political philosophy of "starving the beast," of cutting government services. After listening to the pleas for help, I could no longer hold my tongue and I told them in as polite a way as I could that you could not starve the beast, and then when you need help expect the government to be able to function. That's why I fought for the Katrina benefits advocated by the Mississippi House of Representatives.

The other story involves a neighbor friend of mine, a mentally retarded man who was suffering from cancer. During the medicaid crisis, he was told by his doctor that he was going to cut off his chemotherapy. Let that sink in for just a moment. In these the United States of America, a mentally retarded man was gong to, in effect, be sentenced to death because, in effect, he was powerless, poor and mentally retarded. At that moment, in a fit of anger, I called the doctor's office and let it be known that this was not going to be happening. And if it did, there would be some kind of consequences. His chemo was not stopped.

I tell you these stories not so much to toot my own horn, because the fact is, any feeling human being would have responded similarly. I tell you these stories to point out the fact that there is a place for proper government intervention in society. That politics HAS consequences.

For 25 years now, the Republicans have attacked the government; they have starved the beast. As a result, we have a degrading infrastructure and the middle class has been losing out. And it has to stop. Sadly, the previous office holder of the First Congressional Seat has been part and parcel to this political philosophy.

It is worth remembering that for decades, the First Congressional Seat was held by Jamie Whitten. Jamie Whitten didn't try to starve the beast. He knew that there was a proper place for government and he believed in constituent service, making sure that the folks back home had a voice in Washington and that their needs were taken care of as much as possible.

That is what is shaping up in this election, the differing philosophies between the political parties. Because elections have consequences.

--Steve Holland

Steve Holland's Website

MEBA: Grassroots action

I heard about this group last year, and apparently, they are taking another swing again this year at changing the beer laws in Mississippi.

Mississippians for Economic and Beverage Advancement (MEBA) is trying to increase the current alcohol percentage allowed for beer in Mississippi from 5% to 17%. They have some interesting arguments and information on the topic, and they are currently asking Mississippians to contact their legislator in support of Senate Bill 2851.

Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, GOP

The avalanche of scandals on the right is starting to resemble a celeb starlet flameout. After 7+ years of Bush and Cheney, it may be time for the Republican Party to go to rehab.

From Politico:

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), a certified public accountant, had pushed for months for an internal audit of the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to GOP members, but the committee’s treasurer at the time was reluctant.

Finally, at a recent meeting, the now former NRCC treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, relented, giving Conaway what was supposed to be an official internal audit from 2006. That document was a fake, the GOP members said. Even the letterhead on which it was sent was a forgery.

Revelations about the falsified document touched off an unfolding scandal that has rocked the NRCC and spurred a criminal investigation by the FBI into the committee’s accounting procedures.

Fearing the fallout from the discovery, the NRCC informed its principal lender, Wachovia, of potential accounting problems. Wachovia, which declined comment Thursday, had lent the committee $9 million in 2006, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Knowing the bank was required by law to notify federal investigators of any “suspicious activity,” the NRCC also alerted the FBI, Republican insiders confirmed.

Maybe the Libertarians can stage an intervention. Somebody needs to pull them back from the abyss.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great Candidate Created Stuff This Week

Cotton Mouth contacted 5 Democratic candidates running for federal office this year and asked them to do guest posts.

We put down two requirements for the posts:

1. We don't want a simple "this is why I'm running piece" because you can get that elsewhere.

2. Don't attack your primary opponents.

The first of those responses will run tomorrow with one to follow each day. Please stop by and leave some comments.

If you are a candidate and I didn't contact you, please e-mail us at cottonmouthblog AT gmail DOT com and I'd be happy to arrange to do the same for you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

DHS: This is what you're worried about

According to the big press conference outside the Capitol yesterday morning, the Mississippi Department of Human Services has a new mission: protecting marriage.

Yes- despite everything else that needs to be addressed in Mississippi, DHS's top priority is marriage.

From WLBT:

You may not think the state government can legislate marriage or parenthood, but at a rally Thursday morning on the steps of the State Capitol, state leaders say strengthening the marriage covenant in today's society will make Mississippi better for everyone.

Pastor D. L. Govan and his wife, Helen, counsel couples on parenting and marriage, and they know a thing or two on both subjects. The Govans have eight children and 15 grandchildren after 58 years of marriage. Their idea of healthy marriage starts with communication.

"They need to have as many meals together as possible without television. They need to spend quality private time with their children. They need to converse as a family," said Govan.

2006 was the first year in the state's history more children were born to out of wedlock mothers than two parent homes. Don Taylor, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, hopes this healthy marriage rally will be the beginning of a turn around in Mississippi.

"A child born to a mother with a college degree is three and a half times more likely to be poor than one born to a married mother with only a high school education," Taylor said. "Eighty percent of our poor would escape poverty if they were married."

The state would be economically better as well.

"This is not about morality it's about holding together society," said Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant.

I'm not sure if Taylor's statistics come from Dr. Dobson or not, but there definitely seems to be a bias in his argument that men solve all the financial problems in a relationship. Maybe the problem might be that women with a college education are still paid significanlty less than their male counterparts in the same job. Of DHS's 10 Most Wanted for Failure to Pay Child Support, 9 out of 10 are men.

Our government could be spending their time in a much better fashion than preaching morals to us.

Not a coincidence

Shortly after Haley shows up on Fox News (also known as Faux News), the Draft Haley website appears.

I missed the appearance on Fox, and I can't find it online, but here is a piece of Robert Novak's commentary on it.

Gov. Haley Barbour went on Fox News Channel as primary returns came in Tuesday night and suggested the time was near to stop the contest and accept McCain as the winner.

...Barbour was following the GOP tradition of closing ranks once it becomes obvious who will be nominated.

So, who wants to draft Haley back to Washington?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

DSCC Launches Site Highlighting Roger Wicker's Record

The Real Roger Wicker

The site highlights his history with Aurora Flight Sciences, his relationship with Lobbyists, and his votes in opposition to the needs of Mississippi.

From their e-mail:
Yesterday, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of Republican Governor Haley Barbour and disenfranchised millions of Magnolia State voters by denying the state Attorney General's efforts to hold the special Senate election to replace Trent Lott on or before March 19.

The governor has been fighting hard for this delay - even though it seems to circumvent the state's constitution - because he is terrified the Republicans are going to lose this seat.

Today, the DSCC is going on offense and declaring that we're ready to win in November. We're launching a brand new website detailing the real record of Republican candidate and interim Senator Roger Wicker.

The $6 million earmark Wicker secured for a company represented by his former chief of staff is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks in no small part to your past support, the DSCC has the resources to make sure Wicker can't cover up who he really is.

Click here to learn more about Roger Wicker's real record. We can't afford another Trent Lott in the United States Senate.

Remember, the latest polling shows at least one Democrat, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, is already winning this seat. If you and I do our jobs between now and Election Day, we can make the worst fears of Trent Lott and his Mississippi Republican friends come true.

Rep. Steve Holland at Plantersville Middle School

Ginny Miller in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: (2/2/2008)
State Rep. Steve Holland, who's running for the 1st District U.S. House seat vacated when Roger Wicker was appointed U.S. senator, visited a civics class at Plantersville Middle School to talk about Wednesday's Mississippi House passage of full school funding.

"We not only fully funded the formula (for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program), we did it plus $65 million over," said Holland, a longtime supporter of public education. Two billion is what it takes, but in House Bill 513, we increased that to $2.308 billion."

MAEP was designed to provide each school with the funds needed to provide an adequate education, as determined by the state's accountability system. It has been fully funded twice, in 2003 and 2007.
The funding bill will now go to the Senate.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dissenting Opinions On The Pro-Republican / Pro-Wicker Decision

Supreme Court Justice Graves:
GRAVES, JUSTICE, DISSENTING: ¶32. Much of what has been written by the majority in the instant case would be dismissed as mere gobbledygook but for the fact that it is being promulgated by a venerable institution in our democracy, the Mississippi Supreme Court. This majority decision erodes that veneration.

brownsox @ Daily Kos:
The majority has ruled, essentially, that a year can be intepreted as meaning 365 days, rather than a calendar year, and that the meaning of the word "shall" is ambiguous in this context and does not necessarily mean something that will occur in the future.

I agree with Justice Graves that that is a rather ridiculous intepretation, but it is what it is.

Statement by Musgrove Campaign Manager Amanda Crumley:
While it is disappointing that Governor Barbour seeks to anoint the next United States Senator from Mississippi instead of letting the people of this great state vote as quickly as possible in a currently scheduled March election and in accordance with state law, the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision today does not change the direction of Ronnie Musgrove’s campaign for the United States Senate.
The bad news today is not that we now have a longer campaign to run, but that Mississippi will be stuck for another nine months with the same type of Washington nonsense from Roger Wicker.

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Dowdy:
“I respectfully disagree with the court’s decision,” Dowdy said. “We had hoped that the people would be permitted to vote as soon as possible and elect a senator rather than have a politician appoint someone to serve for a long period of time.

Republican Activist Court Disenfranchises the Public

The Clarion Ledger

This means that Barbour appointee Roger Wicker will remain Senator until November.

In a 7-2 decision, the court said the state statute was unclear and it was reasonable for the election to be in November instead of March as stated by Attorney General Jim Hood.

The Republican activist court did the job those campaign contributions paid them to. This is what happens when the Republican party and the US Chamber of Commerce buy our Supreme Court elections.

How is it "reasonable" to make voters wait till November to have any say on their new Senator?

Give me a break.

Will Bardwell's analysis of the decision that Barbour appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court

Obama and Clinton's Missouri Compromise of 2008

Swing State Project:
This leads us into the biggest news, which is the unforeseen Missouri Compromise of 2008. This stipulates that, west of the Mississippi, Hillary Clinton is entitled to all the former "slave states" and Barack Obama to all former "free soil states".
I find this very funny. It's a good eye that caught this with a strong grasp of history.
(Moreover, in Nevada, the bit south of the parallel is where Clinton won, and the larger but less populous part of the state to the north is where Obama won.)
Neither story is a slam dunk, but on balance, I'd say Clinton's is worse. Her map is looking like Samuel J. Tilden's, when what we need is another Franklin Roosevelt.
Fun with history and modern politics!

Swing State Project