Monday, June 30, 2008

Less than eight hours left to help Musgrove's June and quarterly totals

I am going to pass the virtual hat around for Ronnie Musgrove. Being the end of a quarter, this is a very important fundraising time for Musgrove.

Give $100, or give $5, anything helps. We are trying to reach an overall goal of 100 donors for Ronnie Musgrove. John Leek and I decided that we liked a goal centered around the number of donors more than the amount raised. This is one of those special times when I feel the need to nag for money.

Cotton Mouth for Ronnie Musgrove

Goal Thermometer

Ray Mabus quoted in front page New York Times Obama article

The front page of the New York Times featured an article on Barack Obama's rising chances in the South. The story is pretty much the same one repeated multiple times on Cotton Mouth about voter registration drives, the untapped black vote, and the changing political makeup of young Southerners.

There is one interesting passage featuring our own former Governor and senior Obama advisor, Ray Mabus. I saw Ray Mabus speak at the 9:30 Blues Cafe the night of the Texas and Ohio primaries at an Obama gathering. He talked on a lot of the same themes repeated in today's New York Times.

“We’ve not only lost in Mississippi, we’ve lost by 20 points in Mississippi,” said Ray Mabus, the former governor of Mississippi and a senior adviser to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Mabus added: “It’s not only Democrats who’ve been writing off Mississippi. It’s Republicans, too, because they felt safe.”

The Obama campaign’s interest in the South, Mr. Mabus said, is already heightening the competition there. He noted that Senator John McCain had been to Mississippi since clinching the Republican nomination. “I don’t think he would have come if he thought it was a mortal lock,” Mr. Mabus said.

Travis Childers visits Iraq

Travis Childers joined a congressional delegation on an official visit to Iraq. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal had this to report.

He and five other members of Congress arrived in Kuwait City on Saturday, Iraq time, and spent Sunday traveling across Iraq. The first trip was to Baghdad via a C-130 cargo plane.

After a security briefing, the group went to see a facility featuring MRAPS, or mine-resistant ambush-protected armored vehicles.

"(It) is very interesting to me, partly because one of the MRAPS, possibly two of them, various ones, were made in our district in North Mississippi, in West Point, Clay County, Miss.," he said, referring to the armored vehicles designed to survive roadside bombs. "I had a great visit with the men there. I have some wonderful pictures of the MRAPS in action."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mississippi Democrats Ahead Of The Supreme Court

2004: Year Mississippi Democratic Party Adopted A Plank Stating Full Support For Individual Gun Rights

2008: Year Republican Supreme Court Agreed

It took the Republican Supreme Court four years to begin to catch up with Mississippi Democrats on gun rights.

The original plank was written by Jamie Franks.

Join Our Mississippi Blog List

If you have a blog and write from Mississippi and are linked to us drop us a line or comment here with a link to your blog.

We'd love to add you to our list.

Obama donation link

No different than in the Ronnie Musgrove race, Barack Obama is staring down a fundraising deadline. The last month reported was the worst month for the good guys yet. If you get the urge to empty your bank account for Barack, do it here. Follow the link above to the donation page for our new Cotton Mouth for Obama setup.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Two days left in quarter, give to Musgrove now!

The crucial quarterly campaign finance reports are due Tuesday. Now through Monday is the last chance to have an impact on Ronnie Musgrove's quarterly total. Please dig deep and support Ronnie Musgrove and support change in November!

Put what you got in the pot:

My contribution: $

Musgrove in support of gun decision too

Yesterday we reported that newly elected Representative Travis Childers came out in support of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Washington, DC ban on handguns. As noted yeterday, this flies in the face of the scare tactics used by the GOP accusing the Democratic candidates of playing up false conservatism. Ronnie Musgrove also came out with a statement in support of the decision. The type of conservatism in question is social conservatism, to which both Childers and Musgrove subscribe. What we really found out in the MS-01 election was that when Democrats remove the socially conservative issues from the table, Mississippians are in fact economic populists, in other words Democrats.

From the Sun Herald:

"Today is a major victory for law abiding Mississippians and all Americans who have always believed, as I have, that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to bear arms," Musgrove said in a statement Thursday. "I commend the Supreme Court for its decision recognizing this important constitutionally protected right."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Haley Barbour, the ball is in your court

In a game of political chess played out in downtown Jackson, House Democrats came out smelling like roses. As you are well aware a special session has been called by Haley Barbour to deal with the $90 million budget shortfall in Medicaid. Haley Barbour's lackey Phil Bryant blocked consideration of tobacco taxes for the special session, because the governor did not list tobacco taxes as an agenda item. Raising the hospital tax is the only solution on the table to make up the Medicaid shortfall in the special session. Haley is threatening to make deep cuts in Medicaid to make up for the $90 million shortfall.

What the Democrats in the House did today was beyond genius. The budgetary year starts July 1. The $90 million will not come into play until next spring.

Before leaving, the Democrat-controlled House voted Friday, largely along party lines, to tell Republican Gov. Haley Barbour not to make any cuts in the program until at least February.

That is right! It is up to you Haley Barbour. The money is there to make it until next session. Will you make the deep cuts you have promised and throw Aunt May out of the nursing home? Will you make those deep cuts and deny the poor child living in HUD housing an opportunity for medical treatment? The ball is in your court Governor. Let us see the real Haley Barbour.

George W. Bush and Roger Wicker in Jackson Tuesday

Jackson gets the privilege of hosting none other than Mr. 29% himself, George W. Bush. On top of that madness, Roger Wicker will be here too! Actually Bush is coming to fund raise for Wicker in Jackson on Tuesday. As would be expected for an elitest Bush-Republican event tickets are $1,000. That is the GOP for you, Gas & Oil Party.

Sun Herald:

"Senator Roger Wicker is honored to have President Bush to Mississippi to support his campaign," Wicker for Senate campaign manager Austin Barbour said in the release. "President Bush has offered America strong leadership in a unique moment of danger in our history."
There you go. Roger Wicker thinks George W. Bush has been a strong leader. I am sorry but George W. Bush has been anything but strong, much less a leader. Roger Wicker supports the President who has brought us the worst recession in 20 years, torture, war for profit, and lie after lie to justify his empirical rule.

A vote for Rubber Stamp Roger Wicker is another ballot cast for the failed policies of George W. Bush. Bush will go down as the worst President of our time. John McCain and the rest of the Gas & Oil Party members who want to stay in Washington for 2009 are running as fast as they can from George W. Bush. Not our man, Rubber Stamp Roger is standing by his man, thick or thin. So every time you hear of Wicker think about our King, I mean President.

Travis Childers on Supreme Court gun ruling

Remember the attack ads ran by the NRCC that implied that Childers once elected would start pushing "Speaker Pelosi's liberal agenda"? Well it looks that was big fat lie built on top of another big fat lie. Travis ran as a pro-gun candidate and looks to remain that way according to his statement on the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Washington D.C. ban on handguns.

From the Sun Herald:

Added Childers: "I believe the right to bear arms is a fundamental freedom, and I am proud to support legislation to protect the civil liberties of gun owners in north Mississippi and throughout the nation."

Dickie Scruggs Gets The Maximum Sentence

Dickie Scruggs got the maximum-

5 years

$250k fine

3 months probation upon release.

He has to report to prison in Pensacola, FL on August 4.

Magnolia Report

New Rasmussen Mississippi poll for President, no change

Rasmussen has a new poll out for the Obama-McCain race here in Mississippi. Mississippi has six electoral votes available in November.

6/24/2008 ---- McCain 50% -- Obama 44%

5/27/2008 ---- McCain 50% -- Obama 44%

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Musgrove still tied with Wicker in new Rasmussen poll

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove finds himself in a statistical dead-heat for the second straight Rasmussen poll. Rasmussen ran a poll in May that showed Musgrove with a 47%-46% advantage, but well within the three point margin of error. Today’s poll show Wicker with a 48%-47% lead, also well within the margin of error. In the pointy-headed world of numbers we like to call this a statistical dead-heat.

Rasmussen Poll:

6/24/2008 ---- Wicker 48% -- Musgrove 47%

5/27/2008 ---- Wicker 46% -- Musgrove 47%

HUD finally approves $350 million housing plan, thank you Bennie Thompson

It has been a long three years for the working poor of south Mississippi. Solid, working-class families saw their lives turned upside down by the massive storm surge of Katrina. Homes and jobs were gone for many in the blink of an eye. Some have been able to escape to the refuge of relatives or friends out of town, yet many have remained trapped in FEMA trailers tainted with poisonous fumes, or if lucky a FEMA cottage. In fact according to Bennie Thompson in testimony to a House subcommittee, there are still over 5,000 Mississippians still living in temporary housing as a result of Katrina.

After watching Haley Barbour align support for hijacking $600 million in HUD funds intended for lower income housing it was good to read this today in the Sun Herald.

On Wednesday Steve Preston, the secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, accepted a $350 million plan from Mississippi to build thousands of affordable housing units for working families.

The project, titled Mississippi's Long-Term Work Force Housing Plan, will provide grants and loans to local communities, nonprofit organizations and private developers to build 12,000 affordable homes in Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River counties.
I want to thank Bennie Thompson for his most diligent work on getting real justice for the forgotten victims of Hurricane Katrina. As long as Bennie Thompson is in Washington, those 5,000 Mississippians without a home will have a voice.

New York Times Editorial: "Mississippi's Misplaced Priorities"

Today's editorial in the New York Times read like a Cotton Mouth post with a more eloquent use of the English language. The Times stands solidly behind Bennie Thompson in his opposition to the diversion of HUD funds for a port expansion project. Congressman Thompson was on the right side of this argument when he suggested that maybe the thousands still living in temporary housing should be looked after (which is the original intent of the appropriation) before any projects such as the port expansion are attempted.

The original law requires states and localities to spend 70 percent of the money they receive on projects that clearly benefit low- and moderate-income people. Recognizing that the disaster had affected people of all incomes, Congress lowered that requirement to 50 percent after Katrina and allowed the Gulf Coast states to waive the income tests for certain projects.

Mississippi was quick to take advantage of that flexibility.

Congress must use its power to ensure that any remaining Katrina money goes to low-income households. It can start by barring Mississippi from using the block-grant funds for the Gulfport project. It must also close the loopholes in the block-grant law to ensure that future disaster aid goes to those who truly need it.

Marshall Ramsey cartoon from today's Clarion Ledger

Marshall Ramsey usually does some mighty fine work. Today's cartoon is exceptional. Please visit the Clarion Ledger to see more of Marshall's work, if you don't already take the paper.

Link to the Clarion Ledger

Marshall also has a blog which he udpates frequently,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kos on The Hill: "Magnolia growing blue"

Markos Moulitsas, the man behind the largest progressive blog on the web (Daily Kos) was invited to write a column for The Hill, a website that intensely covers Washington politics. Much to my amazement the Kos article dealt with a very familiar topic, Mississippi. Here is an excerpt of what Markos had to say.

But things may be changing in the Magnolia State. Lott heeded the call of K Street and abandoned his constituents mid-term. His appointed replacement, Roger Wicker, now faces a tough special-election battle against the resurrected Musgrove. A nonpartisan Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos in mid-May found Wicker with a narrow 46-42 lead, while a Rasmussen poll in late May gave Musgrove a razor-thin 47-46 lead. Both poll results were within the margin of error, indicating a tied race. And because of a quirk in Mississippi law, party identification won’t be listed in the special-election battle. People won’t be reminded at the ballot box that Musgrove is a Democrat.

Additionally, those numbers assume traditional turnout patterns, which Barack Obama threatens to upend in dramatic fashion. Mississippi boasts the largest black population in the United States — 37.1 percent of the state, according to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau calculations. With Obama expected to spur record turnout from that demographic this November, the energized black vote alone may very well make the state competitive.

Haley Barbour: My way or the poor people get it

Refusing to budge an inch on his insistence of raising hospital taxes, and more noticeably in his resistance to increase tobacco taxes, Haley Barbour is threatening to cut Medicaid by $375 million if the House does not capitulate to his demands. Speaker Billy McCoy has already brought compromise to the table, but the governor stands firm in his defense of big tobacco. So much for the sick, poor, elderly, and disabled on Medicaid, if Haley does not get his way you are out of luck. He would rather cut your benefits than raise taxes on tobacco.

The Commercial Dispatch had this to say,

The state Legislature resumes its special session Thursday to try resolving a Medicaid-funding stalemate that Republican Gov. Haley Barbour says will force him to make painful health care budget cuts next week if the Democratic-dominated House doesn’t agree to his demand for a hospital tax.Barbour and Senate President Phil Bryant say the compromise-seeking House must pass the Republican-led Senate’s tax bill or else see hospitals lose $375 million in Medicaid payments.
Spineless Phil Bryant, who should show his independence from the governor's office and get a solution passed, has proven to be another Barbour clone.

“I will not compromise the bill the Senate has passed for political purposes,” said Bryant, who’s also lieutenant governor and Barbour’s chief ally.
If the governor and his lackey don't get their way, the poor people of Mississippi are going to suffer.

Obama targets fourteen Bush states for general election

The Politico reports today that Barack Obama has released a list of Fourteen states that voted for George W. Bush in 2004 that Obama will campaign heavily in. Unfortunately Mississippi did not make the list. The states chosen were look at both in terms of the presidential race as well as any down-ticket local races that Obama might help win for the Democratic Party.

The list was broken into two tiers. The top tier consists of four states where polling shows Obama is ahead or barely behind.

1. Iowa
2. New Mexico
3. Ohio
4. Nevada

The next tier are states that are certainly within reach. Obama is ahead in several of these states in various polls.

1. Colorado
2. Missouri
3. Florida
4. Virginia
5. North Carolina
6. Monata
7. North Dakota
8. Indiana
9. Georgia
10. Alaska

If you have not already, make a donation to the Obama campaign. He is going to need the money to expand the map. Interesting note from deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand,

Skeptics have questioned Obama’s chances in states ranging from Montana, where Obama’s support of gun control is unpopular, to those in the South, where racially polarized voting patterns could undermine his chances. Some have suggested his broader playing field is a kind of “head-fake,” a maneuver designed to force McCain to spend money and time on states Obama doesn’t really think he can win.

Hildebrand dismissed that suggestion.

“We’re going in to win those states,” he said. “We’re not going in to make McCain have to pay attention to them. We’re going in to win. The result of that is he’s going to have to pay serious attention to them where he otherwise might not have to.”

$2 per gallon?

Congress has been holding hearings on the influence of speculation of the energy-future's markets on the high gas prices, and on Monday, four energy analysts testified that the price per gallon could drop to as much as $2 a gallon within a month of passing a law limiting speculation.

From Market Watch (part of the Wall Stree Journal Digital Network):

Testifying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management said that the price of oil would quickly drop closer to its marginal cost of around $65 to $75 a barrel, about half the current $135. Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co., Edward Krapels of Energy Security Analysis and Roger Diwan of PFC Energy Consultants agreed with Masters' assessment at a hearing on proposed legislation to limit speculation in futures markets.

Krapels said that it wouldn't even take 30 days to drive prices lower, as fund managers quickly liquidated their positions in futures markets.

"Record oil prices are inflated by speculation and not justified by market fundamentals," according to Gheit. "Based on supply and demand fundamentals, crude-oil prices should not be above $60 per barrel."

Bush appointees Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson & Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman disagree that the price per gallon, which has doubled in one year, has anything to do with speculators. However...

Speculators now account for about 70% of all benchmark crude trading on the New york Mercantile Exchange, up from 37% in 2000, said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the investigations subcommittee.

Our goal should be eliminating our dependence on oil, whether foreign or domestic, and utilizing more environmentally cleaner ways to produce energy and runs automobiles. But in the meantime, I'd love to pay less for gas.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big Oil Thad

I thought Roger Wicker's voting record was the worst until I looked at Thad Cochran's. Talk about two peas in a pod. These two guys would not know a sound energy policy if it reached up and slapped them in the face. Cochran like brother Wicker has repeatedly voted in the interests of the GOP's best friend, Big Oil. Thad's senate voting record displays a man who believes progress is achieved by the increase in the bottom line of Big Oil's collective balance sheet. But he gets a lot of really cool pork barrel projects tagged on to bills so I should shut my mouth...

June 2007 - Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies

Don't the oil and gas companies make enough money without taxpayer funded subsidies?

June 2005 - Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%)

Reducing demand is a terrible idea. No seriously, this is the kind of legislation we are going to have to face. There are solutions to our problems, while not always pleasant they tend to be beneficial in the long run.

July 2003 - Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy

The Energy Policy written by Darth Cheney and all of the executives from the oil and energy companies. This golden oldie brought you classics like the Enron scandal.

March 2002 - Voted YES on terminating CAFE standards within 15 months

CAFE standards are the standards requiring automobile manufacturers to keep an average fuel efficiency for their entire fleet. These standards have been crucial in raising the efficiency of our cars and trucks.

May 2007 - Voted NO on factoring global warming into federal project planning

Global warming what is that?

June 2003 - Voted NO on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010

Who needs alternative fuels when Big Oil is still here? Just ask Roger Wicker, he will tell you.

I could keep this going for days. Thanks Thad for standing up for Big Oil, I am sure they love you. Maybe they will put you and Roger in the Big Oil Hall of Fame one day.

Roger Wicker loves rich folks

Roger Wicker's voting record in the taxation arena shows one solid trend. Wicker will always vote in favor of the wealthy man and against the working man. Considering his down home Southern Baptist roots, it is hard to comprehend his votes that fly in the face of the working man. Rubber Stamp Roger votes the way his bosses (George and Dick) tell him to vote. He certainly does not vote in the interests of his constituency, who are mostly rural and mostly working class.

March 2008 - Voted NO on increasing tax rate for people earning over $1 million

April 2002 - Voted YES on making the Bush tax cuts permanent

December 2005 - Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends

April 2001 - Voted YES on eliminating the Estate Tax

Good ole Rubber Stamp Roger...

Haley Barbour wants to raise taxes on the insured and sick

Haley Barbour came in to office on a pledge of not raising taxes. He stood by that pledge, even when at times his stance was to the detriment of Mississippi. Now we have Haley wanting to raise taxes on the sick and on the insured. What gives?

There is one entity that Haley will not stand up to, even for the benefit of his home state. Big Tobacco sleeps well with the former highest paid tobacco lobbyist at the helm in Mississippi. Barbour supported the regressive grocery tax over the hike in tobacco tax. He now supports the hike in the hospital per-bed tax instead of an increase in the third lowest nationally tobacco tax.

What happened to the no taxes Haley? His real home team Big Tobacco came calling and good ole Haley was more than happy to play his part. His resistance to any compromise, even when Speaker McCoy has brought compromise to the table, offers a glimpse of how deep his allegiance to the tobacco lobby runs.

Who will pay the hostpital tax increase that Haley Barbour is trumpeting? Well, if you have a deduction from your paycheck every month for health insurance, you will. The hospitals will pass the tax burden down to the sick. A large part of that will transfer to the insurance companies, who in turn will raise YOUR rates.

So in rewind Haley says NO tax to:

Haley says let's DO tax:

Congressman Bennie Thompson Takes On Barbour On Housing And Recovery

Families displaced by Hurricane Katrina need our continued help. As of last Friday, there were still 5,741 Mississippi families living in FEMA provided temporary housing units.

One of the major obstacles in providing housing for disaster victims has been the reluctance of Mississippi’s leaders to provide assistance to those who need it the most. Last September, the Governor stated that “housing is, and will continue to be, the most pressing issue facing Coastal recovery.” Despite that statement, the Governor requested and received permission from HUD to reprogram $600 million intended for the construction of low and middle income housing for a port expansion project.

In response to this I, along with eleven other Members of the House, have sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking them to prevent the State from using these funds to expand the port. This is a question of priorities. Economic development is critical to the recovery of the coast, but how can the state justify moving forward when low and middle income families are being forced to move out-of-state because there are no locally based affordable housing options?

In addition, the National Deficit and Reduction Act of 2005 provided Mississippi with $700 million to help restore health care in the disaster area and provide the State with the ability to match Federal grants for hurricane relief. Somehow, these funds wound up going to the State’s general fund, where the Governor tried to use them to raise judicial salaries. To make matters worse, the Governor attempted to divert additional hurricane relief funds to improve a highway in north Mississippi that leads to a Toyota plant.

It is a question of priorities. Apparently providing affordable housing solutions to the victims of Hurricane Katrina is not high on some priority lists.

In better news, the Committee on Homeland Security along with the Financial Services Committee joined forces on Wednesday to pass H.R. 6276, the Public Housing Disaster Relief Act of 2008, that I cosponsored with Congressman Childers (D-MS) and Congressman Cazayoux (D-LA). This will streamline federal funding to help repair public housing units that receive damage during future disasters.

The Committee on Homeland Security has also held several hearings exploring the high levels of formaldehyde in FEMA supplied travel trailers - we have to make sure that we provide health care for those that FEMA may have put in danger. In response to this, Congressman Barrow (D-GA) and I introduced the Travel Trailer Health Registry Act. This will require FEMA to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a health registry of those who lived in travel trailers, provide health screenings to these individuals, and track their health status as we move into the future.

We must hold Federal agencies accountable for their mistakes, especially when their mistakes endanger the health of disaster victims. As we move forward, I pledge to work with any and all Members of Congress who share my priorities--to hold FEMA and HUD accountable and rebuild the Gulf Coast.

- Homeland Security Committee Chair Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-02)

Donate to Ronnie Musgrove

Here we are on June 24, one week before the end of the fiscal quarter. In the world of political campaigns the end of the quarter is a big deal. Campaign finance reports are due for the last three months. The more money Musgrove raises in Mississippi, the more support he will be able to get out of the Democratic establishment. Ronnie is making a push this week to raise the most money he can before the deadline. Let's help him out all we can.

Roger Wicker is raising money by the truckload. A large portion of Wicker's money is coming from all the special interests he represents. As we noted in this article, Roger has a way of rewarding those donors with fat government contracts.

Please take time and donate a few bucks to Ronnie Musgrove. Anything we can provide will help.

My contribution: $

Barbour stops at nothing to protect Big Tobacco

Tomorrow, legislators return to Jackson to try once again to fill the $90 million hole in Medicaid.

Governor Barbour wants to tax hospitals to fill the gap, and while hospitals have agreed to pay such a tax, they would rather tobacco be taxed.

By threatening cuts the governor has attempted to force hospital administrators and employees to agree with his position. In fact, when questioned about their stated support for the governor's plan, representatives of the Mississippi Hospital Association testified to a House committee that they preferred the cigarette tax but were told by the governor that the hospital tax was the only option available. (Speaker of the House, Billy McCoy, to the Clarion Ledger.)

The tax will inevitably be passed on to the patients and insurance companies (because premiums aren't already high enough).

The House wants to levy a cigarette tax, not a big surprise since they were pushing this during the regular session as well.

According to numerous studies and sources, including the Partnership For a Healthy Mississippi:

Tobacco-related illnesses claims the lives of 4,700 Mississippians every year.

Tobacco use by pregnant women is a leading cause of low birth-weight infants.

Cigarette smoking doubles the likelihood of a stroke.

Teens who smoke are 3-times more likely as nonsmokers to use alcohol, 8-times more likely to use marijuana, and 22-times more likely to use cocaine.

Cigarette smokers are 2 - 4-times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.

Exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to hamper cognitive development
in children.

Tobacco's Impact to Mississippi Taxpayers

Treatment of tobacco-related illness costs the Mississippi Healthcare System $719 million each year.

Treatment of tobacco-related illness costs the state's taxpayer-supported Medicaid program $264 million each year.

For every individual Mississippian who pays taxes, $534 of your money goes to Medicaid pay to treat tobacco related illness in the state.

Tobacco use is linked to $1.41 billion in lost worker productivity annually in the state.

Amazingly, Barbour has turned this in to a Democrat vs. Republican issue. In order to protect tobacco, Barbour has pegged the Partnership as this liberal entity, dedicated to destroying our conservative values.

Obviously, if you want to improve the quality of your life and other Mississippians, and if you want to cut spending in Mississippi, you're a crazy left-wing liberal, or you support the Partnership.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vote Your Choice For Senate At Magnolia Report

Voice Your Choice Here

John McCain's Chief Strategist says McCain benefits from a terrorist attack on U.S. soil

If you have not seen this already, prepare to be disappointed. John McCain while speaking in public is a big enough liability already. The last thing Senator McCain needs is his Chief Strategist out spewing the idea that a terrorist attack would be beneficial to the McCain campaign. Fresh fear works a lot better than seven year old fear I guess. Charlie Black, Chief Strategist for the McCain campaign had this to say in Fortune magazine this week.

"The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an 'unfortunate event,' says Black. 'But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.' As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. 'Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,' says Black."

Obama looking good in June

For the best in electoral projections look no further than or 538. 538 is the total number of electoral votes available in the upcoming general election. Nate Silver, a 30 year old stat guru, has already outperformed all of your major polling services during the primary season. Nate is usually applying his arithmetic skills to the never ending world of baseball statistics, but has found a new gig in political forecasting, and has proven to be damn good at it. His website is a standard bearer for baseball websites.

538's current projections which are updated all day, everyday, currently show a rosy forecast for Senator Obama.

Congressman Thompson decries U.S. Supreme Court Decision

From a press release today:

Thompson Decries Supreme Court Decision

June 23, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – Today, the United States Supreme Court denied a plea in the Defenders of Wildlife case against the Department of Homeland Security (No. 07-1180). The case pertains to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's use of questionable waiver authority to skirt numerous federal laws in order to construct fencing along the southwest border. The petitioners allege that the use of the waiver is unconstitutional.

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and 13 other Members of Congress, including six Committee Chairmen, submitted an Amicus Curiae brief to urge the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case.

Chairman Thompson issued the following statement in response to the decision:

"I am extremely disappointed in the Court's decision. This waiver will only prolong the Department from addressing the real issue, their lack of a comprehensive border security plan. Without a comprehensive plan this fence is just another quick fix," said Thompson.

"Despite this decision, Secretary Chertoff still has a responsibility to act prudently and to consult with all stakeholders."

Greenwood Commonwealth: Playing Chicken With Medicaid

The Greenwood Commonwealth gets it right in their editorial Saturday on the state's looming Medicaid crisis. Haley Barbour has issues with raising the very low tobacco tax no matter what is at stake. As The Commonwealth points out let us not forget that Haley Barbour was a big time lobbyist for the tobacco industry. The Greenwood based paper also laid a large share of the blame at the feet of Phil Bryant, who has proven to be ineffectual at getting both sides to come to a solution.

One is the Haley Barbour point of view. Barbour wants to shore up a $90 million shortfall in the program that provides health care for the needy with a hospital tax, and, as of now, it’s his way or no way.

Another is the majority House Democratic view advocated by Speaker Billy McCoy. They want to raise Mississippi’s relatively low tax on cigarettes to fund at least part of the deficit, something Barbour, the former tobacco lobbyist, has resisted since he’s been in office.
There is more:

Not to be lost in all of this, too, is an apparent lack of leadership on the part of Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant to craft any sort of solution that both sides can accept.

Haley is using the poor folks of Mississippi as a political football. As the Commonwealth points out, if cuts are made Barbour will try and blame Speaker McCoy and House Democrats.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bennie Thompson, Mississippi's Representative

Congressman Bennie Thompson, by far Mississippi's most influential representative, is the head of a coalition of twelve powerful house members in an attempt to block the diversion of $600 million in Katrina Housing funds. Thankfully, Bennie is fully aware of the tragedy still unfolding in the lives of many "forgotten" Mississippi Katrina victims. Most are ready to sweep the ugly facts under the rug because in their opinion the Katrina sympathy well has run dry politically.

Mississippi received $5.4 billion in HUD Community Development Block Grant money to help flooded homeowners restore their properties or pay off mortgages. Some of that money also was used to cover utility company losses and for economic development needs.

HUD officials said they had reservations about Barbour's request to shift $600 million from a low-income housing program to the port, but they felt they had to comply under the terms of law that provided Mississippi with the grant money.

Thompson wants the Appropriations Committee to change the law and require HUD to deny Barbour's request.
This money in question was originally designated for the benefit of the poor flood victims from Katrina, but has now become the subject of a heated debate. Sensible democrats demand the money be used for its original purpose, since that purpose has yet to be realized. The Republicans, and their friends, think it is swell to hijack money designated for the poor and use it for big business by building a needed port. The port project is a great idea, and should be funded, just get the money from somewhere else. Don't take it from those with the least voice.

"This transfer is unreasonable in light of the fact that the state has not met all of its unmet housing needs," said the letter. "Although the state maintains that it has met its unmet housing needs, housing advocates on the ground in Mississippi contend that the state is cherry-picking numbers that are favorable to its plans."

Reilly Morse, senior attorney with Biloxi office of the Mississippi Center for Justice, said, "Affordable housing is a necessity, not a luxury.
Bennie Thompson is leading the charge to make sure this money grab by the right does not happen. According to testimony Representative Thompson gave the Senate, there are 5,000 Katrina victims In temporary housing. This issue is a no-brainer if you genuinely care about the hurricae victims. Shame on Gene Taylor for supporting the money grab. Gene, you are better than that, tighten up.

Thank you Bennie Thompson for supporting those without a voice, which is what I want from a Democrat.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shock Doctrine 101

Gas prices are at an all-time high, oil is over $134 a barrel and steaming towards $200 a barrel and now two very interesting pieces of news from the political world of the oil and gas industry emerge in one week. First, the GOP leadership, manifested by the current President George W. Bush, and the Republican nominee Senator John McCain, make a complete about face on the issue of offshore drilling. Second, after over 30 years in exile, Big Oil finds its way back in to the lucrative business of servicing the gushing Iraqi oil fields.

These separate events, when viewed through a collective lens, offer a perfect example of radical right wing measures being pushed on a populous staggering from the effect of an economic "shock", in what Naomi Klein would describe in detail in her brilliant book "The Shock Doctrine". The most impressive book I have read in quite some time is Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine", and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a book on the effects of globalization.

Without giving a complete book review, allow me to give brief insight in to the central premise of "The Shock Doctrine". Klein suggests that extreme right-wing measures such as mass privatization, complete economic deregulation, and the opening of all financial markets to foreign investment, most especially when dealing with the opening of new markets and the expansion of free market capitalism, have always been accompanied by a "shock". The shock may come in the form of a natural disaster, war, or even as an economic shock.

While under the effects of a shock, people are willing to part with freedoms, rights, and public properties, among many others just to bring back a semblance of stability. A perfect example of this phenomenon would be the mass privatization of the New Orleans public schools after Hurricane Katrina. Instead of fixing the publicly owned school system, a for-profit charter school system was created in its place. New Orleans now only has four public schools remaining, yet the taxpayers would not be able to reflect such in their tax bill, since their tax dollars now go to fund the charter schools, something they as citizens have zero stake in. For reference Jackson Mississippi has over 60 public schools in the Jackson Public School District. Certainly the people of New Orleans would have never allowed this grab of public property for private gain had they not been under the stress of as a severe a shock we have seen in the U.S. in modern times.

The rapid rise of the price of oil over the the last few years has created an economic shock now being manifested in the pocketbooks of everyday Americans as well as the rising costs of operation for industry nationwide. People are faced with making hard decisions as the size of their fuel budgets have now risen to levels comparable to their housing and food budgets. Industries are facing the stress of the rising costs of production and distribution.

Americans are notorious procrastinators. Even though many pointy headed intellectuals (Carter, Gore to name a pair) have insisted that we are on borrowed time as an oil-based economy, we have for the most part ignored their advice and continued to enjoy the benefits of artificially low gas prices. Now in a brief seven year period we have seen the price of gas nearly triple. Real economic pain with its accompanying fear of worse pain, is the "shock" now being collectively felt across the country.

Big Oil has made an all out media campaign calling for the immediate opening of ANWR and to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling. The right wing political machine sees a golden opportunity for a political two-for-one. One, they get to make political points with the public by offering a "solution" to the gas price shock, by calling for more drilling. Granted they are counting on an uninformed public, and for a change it looks like the mainstream media is not buying their argument. Two, they get to scratch the backs of one of the most powerful GOP lobbies, Big Oil, and do it under the cover of the "shock".

Some, including our own Haley Barbour, have gone as far as to blame former President Bill Clinton for the current gas prices. Haley is too smart and too well informed to not know that the demand for oil has increased exponentially with the rise of China, Russia, India, and other emerging market based economies. It is not a problem that a small, time consuming increase in supply can adjust, the demand is just growing too fast.

The more people in China trade in their bicycles for automobiles, the higher the demand on oil. What limited resources we have in the United States (3% of the world's supply), does not match with our demand (25% of the world's demand). Besides any free market economist will tell you that the oil gained by Exxon-Mobile or Shell by drilling would go to the global marketplace to be sold at market price. There is no way the shareholders of these oil behemoths are going to allow the sale of oil in the United States at a fraction of market cost just because it was discovered and harvested from the our own soil.

As any right-winger will tell you, the government has no right to interfere with the market. I certainly don't agree with them, but that is certainly their position. So don't be disillusioned by the false prospect of cheap oil just because our oil industries have access to more oil in the U.S. If you truly believe this, I beg you to ask your Republican leaders what they plan to do with this oil that will be owned by Shell, BP and Exxon-Mobile. I doubt anything comes up about protectionism and keeping the profits down by selling cheap at home. The market is their god.

Let us not forget all of our previous discussions on the myths being purported by the right-wing noise machine related to drilling. It will be year 2030 before any real benefits could possibly be felt in the markets due to an increase in supply. Demand is expanding exponentially, so I don't think a modest gain in supply will effect the market more than pennies on a tank of gas. Don't let them fool you, they know this too. But they think you are so distressed about the price of gas that any B.S. story they manufacture around the need for drilling as a panacea to our energy problems, will have you jumping jump in line to support their money grab. Sad, but true.

I thoroughly detailed the thievery going on Iraq by our oil giants of Iraq's most precious resource, its oil. After being shut out of the Iraq market for over 30 years by Saddam Hussein, Big Oil has found the moment they have been waiting for. Like circling vultures, they have descended upon their wounded prey ready to feed. Never mind that the oil belongs to the people of Iraq to profit from, not our oil and gas corporations. While I am not against foreign investment by our energy corporations, I do oppose the plundering of a nation crippled by war. The people of Iraq would never allow this in normal circumstances, and neither would the people of the U.S.

The "shock" of rising gas prices has created the political environment the oil barons have been waiting for to make these outlandish moves. While I do not think Big Oil created the gas "shock", at least not directly with intent, but they are looking to use the pain at the pump felt by regular Americans as a means to push through unpopular legislation and outright thievery overseas. This is "The Shock Doctrine" at its finest.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Photo-Op Express

The USA Today reported that Senator John McCain held a campaign event in flood ravaged Iowa despite requests by the governor requesting both campaigns to cancel scheduled events. One campaign complied, the other must have been looking for a good photo-op.

Hat Tip to BarbinMD, a Daily Kos Front-pager,
An aide to Iowa's governor said Thursday that Republican presidential candidate John McCain ignored the governor's request to cancel a campaign visit amid a massive flood recovery effort in the state.

McCain toured flood-damaged sites in Iowa on Thursday, including the town of Columbus Junction in the southeast.

Patrick Dillon, Gov. Chet Culver's chief of staff, said the governor was concerned that McCain's trip would divert local law enforcement from the flood recovery effort to provide security for McCain.

Barack Obama and the Birth of the Southern Shield

(Miss. Lawyers for Obama Steering Committee members Taylor Ferrell, of Baker Donelson, and Jody Owens, II, of Butler Snow.)

On June 19th, the Mississippi Lawyers for Obama held their inaugural meeting at Hal & Mal’s in Jackson. Former Governor Ray Mabus, also a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, came to speak on behalf of Senator Barack Obama, who he advises on issues in the Middle East.

Here’s what you need to know: in the middle of June, in Jackson, Mississippi, a hundred people turned out to support a man for an election that wouldn’t be held for months yet. The people were there for two reasons: to meet their brothers and sisters who share their beliefs and to learn more about how Barack intends to make those beliefs a reality.

Governor Mabus spoke in detail about the change Senator Obama offers—not just for America, but for Mississippi. The room exploded when laughter when Governor Mabus brought up what the talking heads and the pundits were saying about Mississippi—“they say that only black folks were voting for Obama. But look at this room!” Indeed, the room was crowded with folks black and white, in equal numbers, socializing together, laughing together, believing together. We always knew what they said on TV wasn’t reflective of our world.

The greatest charge came when the Governor suggested a new Southern Strategy for Obama. Not the divisive one of Nixon and Reagan, based on racial fears and the past—but a new Southern Shield, where an energized Mississippi populace doesn’t just hang its head and let the state fall to Republicans, but vigorously fights for the Democratic Party. “What was the first thing John McCain did after he clinched the nomination?” the Governor asked. “Now, Senator Obama went straight to Bristow , Virginia, campaigning in a state that Bush won in 2000 and 2004. Senator Obama is going to take it back.” The crowd cheered their approval.

“But McCain, what did he do? He came right down to Mississippi. You see, he’s scared of us. He knows he can’t take anything for granted.” At this, a roar went up. The crowd knew—as the Governor did, and as Cottonmouth reported after the primary—that hundreds of thousands of people were voting in the Democratic primary, that nearly as many people voted in the primary this year as voted for John Kerry in 2004. People are hungry for change.

The Southern Shield idea is this: Because of Senator Obama's broad appeal, he has the ability to compete and win in southern states like North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. Just as importantly, every dollar John McCain has to spend in Mississippi is one he’s not spending in Ohio, or Florida, or Virginia. Every time McCain has to come down here to court his own base, he can’t campaign in Michigan. As the shield-bearers, we force the Republicans to spend their time and money fighting for what they used to take for granted.

As the crowd began to disperse after the speech, everybody grabbing the last remnants of the meatballs and chicken wings, I glance around the room. At the table next to me is a distinguished old fellow wearing a suit, a red Ole Miss baseball hat pulled low over his eyes, his long white beard scratching the top of the tie. His name is James Meredith, and he did more in one year to change the face of America then most people do there entire lives.

In the corner arguing with smiles on their faces are Rob McDuff, the civil rights lawyer who has been in front of the Supreme Court a half-dozen times, most recently against the gerrymandering of the Third District, and Luther Mumford, who clerked for Justice Blackmun, now an appellate expert himself.

The room is chock full of dozens more just like them, intelligent and excited people, black and white, young and old, who believe in the promise of America, and who are hungry for change. There’s nobody that can fight harder than Mississippians. And Mississippi is going to fight for Obama.

This is a guest post by David McCarty of David Nutt and Associates.

Michelle Obama Co-Hosts With Grace And Humor On The View

Send John Leek to Netroots Nation

Our founding father here at Cotton Mouth, John Leek, won one of 30 scholarships to this years Netroots Nation. John is a college student who needs our financial help to make the trip. I talked him out of giving blood under a different name everyday to raise money, so help him out before he comes up with another scheme. He will be all the wiser upon his return, much to our benefit.

Hit the big Make A Donation button in the margin of the webpage --->

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reminder for the politically challenged





Mission Accomplished (for real this time)

The front page of the New York Times featured a piece on the takeover of Iraq's precious natural resource by Big Oil. Announced Wednesday was the news that Exxon-Mobile, Shell, BP, and Total were in the final stages of negations on an agreement that would open Iraqi oil to the Western based giants for the first time since Saddam nationalized the oil fields over 30 years ago.

Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.
It has been very clear to a lot of us that this was the endgame in the Iraqi struggle as far as the current administration's interests are concerned. Not to mention the prize for Big Oil is "no bid contracts", per the New York Times. That is right NO BID.

The cowardly theft of Iraq's natural resource by Big Oil is beyond deplorable. Iraq has one thing that will help it regain its stature economically and that is its oil. By allowing Big Oil to in essence steal this from the people of Iraq, in turn we will have allowed the second occupation of Iraq. This one being as morally bankrupt as the first.

Insider Advantage: Obama, McCain in a dead heat in Georgia

Yes, you read that right, GEORGIA! First we had a poll a few weeks ago placing Obama only 6 points back right here in the Magnolia State. Now we have a new poll out of the Peach State by Insider Advantage, putting Barack Obama down by a single point to John McCain. The South is back in play folks. Y'all know I think Obama is going to carry Mississippi, so Georgia should be cake come November.

Georgia Pres. (MoE 5%)
McCain: 44%
Obama: 43%
Barr: 6%
Undecided: 7%

Link to poll: Insider Advantage

McCain on his ideal vision of campaign finance in 2004

Barack Obama has built his grassroots campaign on the foundation laid by now DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Dean made his mark with his grassroots fundraising, most notably via the internet. Howard Dean has always been a man of vision. Dean may be dismissed by many as a wild eyed presidential hopeful who could not get his party to rally around him in 2004. However most Democrats who understand what is going on nationally will credit Dean for both his internet fundraising ideas and the vision to implement a 50 state strategy that has proven to be more than successful.

In 2004 John McCain had this to say on Fox News, mind you he was NOT and I repeat NOT running for President at the time.

I think it's wonderful that Howard Dean was able to use the Internet, $50, $75, $100 contributions. That's what we want it to be all about. We want average citizens to contribute small amounts of money, and that's a commitment to a campaign. So I'm for that. I think it's a great thing. I think the Internet is going to change American politics for the better.
Glad to have you in agreement Senator McCain!

Thanks to Y'all; Cotton Mouth Is Going To Netroots Nation

Last month I asked for y'all's help to get to progressive blogging's top conference.

Yesterday they announced the results as was reported by Jake and I was one of the folks selected for a scholarship thanks to my profile and your robust help.

When I sent out my request for help and votes I said this: "It would cover most of my expenses and ensure a Mississippi progressive voice at the conference.

Last year (with help from donors including some of y'all) I was able to go and was the ONLY Mississippi blogger there."

There's one more thing you can do for me if you're willing to help.

I'm going on a weeklong tour of graduate schools the week before Netroots Nation and that will start at Emory in Atlanta and end at Southern Methodist University in Dallas the day before the convention.

You can donate to help pay for my gas to get there at Cotton Mouth by clicking the "Make a Donation" link in the right column or by donating HERE.  Both are completely secure because it's handled through PayPal.

A donation of as little as $20 could help me go without putting a significant dent in my bank account so if you are able please consider donating.

Thank you all for your continued support and readership. I wouldn't be where I am today without the help of so many others and Cotton Mouth would be nothing without readers so thank you again.

- John Wesley Leek

Netroots Nation or Bust!

Thanks to all our friends and supporters, Cottonmouth founder John Leek has been selected as one of 30 Democracy for America scholarship recipients to attend the Netroots Nation Convention in Austin this summer.

To see the full list of winners, click here.

Congratulations to John and all the winners!

Update (John Leek): Thanks y'all! I could not have gotten this without the help of readers of Cotton Mouth, family and committed Mississippi Democratic activists. With this Cotton Mouth will have a representative at the two biggest progressive events of the summer with I at Netroots Nation and Jeff at the Democratic National Convention. We're moving on up!

Wicker repeats offshore drilling myths

Maybe if you say something enough, people will believe that it is true. That strategy seemed to work well for George W. Bush in the last two election cycles, so I can see where Wicker is coming from. From today's Hattiesburg American,

"With no oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, today's technology has proven we can utilize our domestic energy reserves in a safe and environmentally-sound way," Wicker said.

"Congress should take immediate action to utilize this domestic energy in order to lower gas prices."
We have already shown both of these statements to be categorically false in this post and this post.

From today's New York Times editorial "The Pander to Big Oil"
There is no doubt that a lot of people have been discomfited and genuinely hurt by $4-a-gallon gas. But their suffering will not be relieved by drilling in restricted areas off the coasts of New Jersey or Virginia or California. The Energy Information Administration says that even if both coasts were opened, prices would not begin to drop until 2030. The only real beneficiaries will be the oil companies that are trying to lock up every last acre of public land before their friends in power — Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney — exit the political stage.
Roger, there were oil spills due to Katrina. Just saying that there were not does not change the reality. Gas prices will not be brought down by any drilling until 2030, so stop acting like this a sure fire fix.

Roger, Mississippians are smarter than you think. If you persist in your dishonest political pandering, you will find out just how smart we are in November when you pack your bags and head back to Tupelo.

First Obama General Election Ad: Country I Love

It's playing in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

Read that again. It's playing in Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakoda and Virgina. I don't suspect John Kerry had a chance in those states, but Obama is running strong.

Hopefully they'll add Mississippi soon. I think he can win here, but then again he won't have to if he's competing in so many other supposedly "red states."

John McCain; Welcome to the General Election

Representative Thompson to testify on post-Katrina housing

As reported by the Sun Herald in an Associated Press article, Congressman Bennie Thompson will testify today to a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Thompson, who is chairman of House Homeland Security Committee, will address the continued need for permanent housing for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Thompson says that nearly three years after Katrina, about 300 families are still living in hotels and motels and more than 5,000 are in temporary housing.

Thompson says he will make it clear to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that coast housing needs to be a priority.
Thanks for all you do Representative Thompson. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

George W. Bush to lead "Rubber Stamp" Roger fundraiser

The Republicans ran ads on Travis Childers attempting to link him to Jeremiah Wright. That was a tough sell for a man who went to work at the age of 16 as a convenience store clerk to help his mother pay the mortgage after his father passed away. However, linking Roger Wicker with Mr. 29% just went from "undeniable" to "are you kidding?" He voted more in line with Bush than just about anyone in Congress, hence my nickname of "Rubber Stamp" Roger. The record does not lie folks. As they say, birds of a feather flock together.

Since Darth Cheney worked out so well in the Greg Davis campaign, the recently all thumbs political brain trust of the GOP has decided to bring George W. Bush to Mississippi to help fund raise for Roger Wicker. When you think of the failures of this administration remember that a chief enabler of those failures is running for Senate against former Governor Ronnie Musgrove.

Sid Salter in Wednesday's Clarion Ledger gives the details.

President George W. Bush will headline a fundraiser in Jackson on July 1 for Republican interim U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo, the senator's campaign staff confirmed Tuesday

Jackson Free Press Childers Interview

I love the populist message of Travis Childers. From a recent post to the Jackson Free Press,

JFP: I’m sure you’ve always heard that Washington is a heavily partisan place. Is that the feeling you get?

Childers: In all fairness, it is, but let me follow that up by saying people have been extremely nice to me. The Democrats, of course, have been especially so excited for us to win our seat back. They keep saying that this has been a Republican seat for 13 years and blah, blah, blah. Well, no one gets a political seat by divine right. Nobody. And they never seem to recall that it was a Democratic seat for almost 100 years before that.

JFP: Yeah, but that was prior to the state’s two-party system and the Southern Strategy and so on. You’ve got to keep that in context.

Childers: Absolutely, but it’s not meant to be either a Republican seat or a Democrat seat. The seat belongs to the people, and I think our campaign message resonated with the people of Mississippi. I think they, once again, felt like they could have somebody who’s one of them representing them. I’m about the lowest common denominator you can get to. I come from working folks and working families. I’m middle class, haven’t even been able to be an elitist in all my life, and I’m happy and proud of that, and I say that with no apology to anybody.

Childers is the people's representative, let's make sure he stays in Washington.

Debunking another Bush-McCain offshore drilling myth

I have already heard it repeated ad nauseam on the news channels by the remaining members of the famous right wing echo chamber. I even saw a McCain strategist on CNN say this very thing today, so I did a little research. According to the right wing gasbags Hurricane Katrina spilled no oil in the Gulf despite all of the damage. (insert loud buzzer sound here)

The Natural Resources Defense Council had this to say in a 2005 press release post Katrina.

Nearly six million gallons of oil pouring out of seven pipelines and
coastal storage tanks ruptured by Hurricane Katrina amount to one of the largest U.S. oil spills in history.

Major spills so far involve facilities owned by Shell, Chevron, Murphy Oil and Bass Enterprises Production. Offshore, nearly 40 drilling rigs have been destroyed. Some washed up on local beaches, one crashed into a bridge, while others simply disappeared.

By comparison to Katrina, the Exxon Valdez oil spill -- America's largest -- dumped 11 million gallons into Alaska's Prince William Sound.

For any of you doubters out there, since the link in the post is to an environmental website, these are for you.

MSNBC: 44 oil spills found in southeast Louisiana

Guardian: Katrina oil spills may be among worst on record

Dallas Morning News video of Katrina oil spill

Childers manages first bill on floor

Congressman Childers took up HR 6276 today. The bill would allow FEMA to give money to assist the rebuilding of public housing after a natural disaster. As we know from what's happened on the Coast, re-building public/affordable housing is a huge issue after a natural disaster.

From a press release earlier today:

Congressman Childers to manage first bill on House floor

Washington, DC – Congressman Travis W. Childers will manage a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time around 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time today.

The legislation that Congressman Childers will manage is styled H.R. 6276, the "Public Housing Disaster Relief Act of 2008", which removes Section 9 (K) of the United States Housing Act of 1937. H.R. 6276 strikes that section of the Housing Act in order to reduce red tape for public housing authorities to get natural disaster relief assistance from FEMA.

"Basically, this legislation removes bureaucratic red tape," Congressman Childers said about the bill. "And, it also eliminates a sense of ambiguity between two federal agencies who are putting fingers at one another, which is the last thing they should be doing in the event of a natural disaster."

To date, Section 9 (K) has never been funded, and FEMA has continually cited this section for the reasons why they are not allocating funding to rebuild Public Housing Authorities that have been destroyed by a natural disaster. The Housing Act is statutorily written such that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has authority under section 9 (K) to disburse funds to public housing authorities in the event of a disaster; however, no money has ever been appropriated for Section 9 (K) since it was authorized into law.

Congressman Childers is managing the legislation as part of his responsibilities of serving on the prestigious Financial Services Committee in the House of Representatives. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the costs of H.R. 6276 will be zero over 5 years, meaning the bill conforms to PAYGO rules which Congressman Childers staunchly supports.

McCain flip-flops on offshore drilling, with brother Bush right behind him

John McCain is given a lot of credit by the press for being a political maverick. Whether he is really a maverick or not is going to be one of the major subjects of debate in the coming months. He is in great danger of damaging that maverick reputation with his recent political pandering on our energy crisis.

On Tuesday Senator McCain joined up with Big Oil in calling for the end of the moratorium on offshore drilling. McCain previously had been opposed to any offshore drilling, but in January of this year, while on the campaign trail he said that the decision of whether to drill or not should be made by the individual states. Yesterday he completed the reversal of position in Houston in front of a bunch of Big Oil executives, how appropriate

Within hours George W. Bush followed suit and also called for the end of the moratorium on offshore drilling. What these two jokers aren't telling you is that an increase in offshore drilling will do nothing to help effect the market until 2030. According to the Energy Information Administration, a statistical agency crested by Congress in 1977, it will be year 2030 before any significant impact on the oil market will be achieved by offshore drilling.

Similarly, lower 48 natural gas production is not projected to increase substantially by 2030 as a result of increased access to the OCS.
The real answer is to decrease demand and invest in clean energy research, not pandering to everyday Americans who are hurting at the pump by offering a solution that sounds great but is really just a windfall in profits for the corrupt oil and gas industry. The pander strategy did not work for Senator Clinton on the gas tax holiday and won't work for McCain either. This more than any other election is shaping up to be an election centered on policy. As long as McCain keeps flip-flopping in issues , and worse flopping the wrong way, we Democrats are in good shape.

Oh the irony, John McCain's "I am a global warming hero" ad just came on while I was writing this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

John McCain Takes A Ride On The Double-Talk Express

Two speeches run at the same time.

In one McCain pledges his impassioned support of George W. Bush.

In the other McCain says that people know he and Bush don't agree.

Congressman Travis W. Childers Announces Locations of District Offices

From a press release:

Congressman Travis W. Childers announced today that he plans to maintain four district offices in Mississippi's First Congressional District in DeSoto, Grenada, Lee, and Lowndes counties.

The Congressman announced that he plans to continue operations at offices in Columbus, Grenada, and Tupelo that were maintained by the Clerk of the House while the congressional seat lay vacant until Childers was elected in the May 13th special election. The DeSoto County office has been moved from Southaven to a facility on the Courthouse Square in Hernando.

"We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work for the people of North Mississippi," Congressman Childers said. "Since we were sworn in right in the middle of a session, we had to hit the ground running in Washington. There were some administrative processes that we had to work out for the district offices, such as negotiating new leases and transferring computer and phone services, which took a couple of weeks to finalize, but we managed to get the Tupelo and Columbus offices nailed down in a matter of days. We are getting the other offices up and running this week, and now, less than one month after being sworn in, we have office space and a good start on staff. We are focused on serving the people of North Mississippi."

The address and phone numbers for the district offices are:

Columbus: 523 Main Street, 662-327-0748;
Grenada: 1360 Sunset Drive, Suite 2, 662-294-1321;
Hernando: 2564 Hwy. 51 South on the Hernando Courthouse Square, (telephone number will be announced at a later date); and,
Tupelo: 6 Fairpark Crossing in Downtown Tupelo, 662-844-5437.

Constituents needing help with federal issues or services may also call the Congressman's Washington, DC office in 2350 Rayburn House Office Building at 202-225-4306 until the district offices are fully functional.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Will the real Roger Wicker please stand up?

Will the real Roger Wicker please stand up?

I am going to have to give credit where credit is due and thank Roger Wicker for two of his most recent votes. Senator Wicker broke ranks with his pal George W. Bush and voted with the interests of his constituency on two huge bills. For a guy I prefer to call Rubber Stamp Roger this is groundbreaking news.

On May 21, Wicker voted to override President Bush's veto of the 2008 Farm Bill, H.R. 2419. Then on May 22, Wicker voted for S.Amdt. 4803 to H.R. 2642 (Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008), which is the G.I. Bill designed by Senator Webb that greatly increased the benefits to our veterans. If you sit real still you might feel the earth moving under your feet. Do I feel a seismic shift in a particular legislator's political positioning?. What in the world is going on here?

From this man's viewpoint I see a politician who is fully cognizant of both the national and state level electoral shifts occurring in near parallel fashion. The Childers victory in the MS-01 special election sent shock waves throughout the entire Republican establishment from Jackson to Washington. Their tried and true tactics of smear and fear came up not just short but WAY short in a once deemed ruby red district. Wicker realizes that the economic populism of Mississippi once captured by the politicians of our past, but long since buried beneath a layer of division forged in the fires of racism and fear, has been revived and is alive and well thank you.

What I want know is which Roger Wicker do the voters of Mississippi get? His history on agriculture and veteran's affairs offer a proven, documented and persistent voting record of wrongheadedness. His last two votes show a different Roger Wicker. Is there maybe a chance that his recent turnaround is a product of the that fact he is trailing former Governor Ronnie Musgrove in the most recent polls? It reminds me of my childhood when I used to clean my room thoroughly after not doing so for a week in the hope my one good showing would prevent any consequences. That strategy did not work for me and I would suspect it is not going to work for Roger Wicker.

Roger has received some high ratings in the past.

Roger Wicker supported the interests of the National Farmers Union 0 percent in 2005-2006.

Roger Wicker supported the interests of the National Farmers Union 17 percent in 2003-2004.

Roger Wicker supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 50 percent in 2006.

Roger Wicker supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 0 percent in 2005.

Roger Wicker supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 0 percent in 2004.

I guess we can count on Roger to vote with us only in election years when the political climate has shifted in favor of the veterans and farmers. If somehow he wins (he won't), we can look forward to his votes in 2014 at least.

Will the real Roger Wicker please stand up?

Our Hearts Go Out To The Grey Ferris Family

We at Cotton Mouth have a great respect for the work and life of Grey Ferris. At his center was a good and Godly man who loved his state and worked tirelessly to improve it for his fellow citizens.

I won't bring up past fights, but I can say that my family's votes for him in his race for Lieutenant Governor in the 1999 primary are some of our proudest.

He was a decent human being and I have little doubt that at this hour he stands with his Savior. God bless him and his family.

Ronnie Musgrove, by whose side Ferris fought for education, has this comment:
“The passing of former Sen. Grey Ferris is a sad day not only for me but for all of Mississippi. My heart goes out to his wife, Jann, their two children and the rest of his family,” Musgrove said.

“Grey was a man of great character and compassion, whose legislative love was education. He was universally respected by everyone he met, whether his colleagues on the floor of the Senate or his friends and neighbors in Warren County. It has been an honor to call him my friend.”

Mississippi Democratic Party Chair Wayne Dowdy:
“Grey Ferris was a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly with members of both political parties for the benefit of Mississippi, our residents and our children. Sen. Ferris will forever be remembered as a staunch supporter and advocate of public education, a state lawmaker who helped promote public schools while serving in the state Senate from 1992 to 2000.

“One of the senator’s greatest legacies was the fact that he, along with state Sen. Hob Bryan, were the lead authors of the Adequate Education Program – landmark legislation that revamped the public school funding formula to allow all schools to meet education standards. My sympathy and prayers go to Sen. Ferris and his family.”

He is already missed.

I'm Voting Republican...

I'm Voting Republican.

Medicaid compromise needed

Our state's Medicaid program is in deep trouble due to a $90 million budget shortfall. A special session has been called to get something done or cuts will have to be made to this crucial program. Medicaid helps provide some level of health care to roughly one quarter of our population. This is a very serious issue to a lot of good people in this state.

Governor Haley Barbour has proposed to fill the gap with a per-bed tax on hospitals. This cost will ultimately be passed on to the patients. The Senate passed a bill that is in line with the governor. The House passed a bill that would use funds from a proposed increase in the tobacco tax to make budgetary ends meet. The governor has threatened to make severe cuts to Medicaid if his plan is not used.

Speaker Billy McCoy and House lawmakers have offered a compromise that would meet the governor in the middle. Meanwhile Haley Barbour has tried to paint McCoy as being an obstructionist. That seems funny to me, since the House has been willing to compromise, but not the governor.

The one issue presenting the greatest challenge is a $90 million deficit in the Division of Medicaid, which provides health care for about 600,000 elderly, disabled and poor pregnant women and children.

The governor has said he will begin making cuts in the health care agency when the fiscal year begins on July 1 if the Legislature does not pass a $167.25 per bed, per day tax on hospitals based on their patient count in 2006.

The Senate has passed the plan. The House leadership prefers a hike in the cigarette tax, though it has offered a partial hospital tax/cigarette tax compromise.
In Sunday's Daily Journal key House Democrats offered hope that Lt. Governor Phil Bryant will break with the Governor and come to a compromise.

"I think the lieutenant governor is poised to do good things," said House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. "...It would take courage, independence and a spirit of compromise.

"But I think he has it in him." ...

...Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said Bryant already has broken with the governor on this issue. Early on, Barbour proposed placing a gross revenue assessment on the hospitals.

Bryant, Bryan said, rejected that proposal because of concerns the plan would result in the bankruptcy of some small hospitals.
Expect a lot of rhetoric out of the governor's office blaming Speaker McCoy and House Democrats for obstructing his plan. The real question is, which side offers compromise and which side offers the sound and fury of hot air?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daily Kos says John Leek Rocks

Our man John Leek, the founding father of Cotton Mouth, received some big-time attention on Daily Kos today. In a diary on the prestigious recommended list about the applicants for the Netroots Nation scholarships, Daily Kos member "Land of Enchantment" had this to say about Mr. Leek,

Another applicant is John Leek of Cottonmouth blog, out of Mississippi. This is one of the "crashing the gates" blogs passed over by the DNC for floor credential in Denver, despite being clearly better qualified than the blog which got approved.
John Leek deserves to go to Netroots Nation if anyone does. While he may not admit it, it has to feel good to see your work recognized by your peers. Way to go John!

Meet the New Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee

From a Press Release:

The 80 members of the Mississippi Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee will meet for the first time of their four-year term on Saturday, July 12, where they will choose new party leaders.

The final State Executive Committee members were chosen during the 2008 state convention of the Mississippi Democratic Party on Saturday, June 7. Among the officers to be chosen July 12: the state party chair and vice chair.

Here are the Democrats elected to serve on the State Executive Committee and serve as presidential electors this fall. Names with an asterisk (*) were elected at their congressional district convention to their position. All others were chosen at the Mississippi Democratic Party state convention.

• • • • •


Amy Adelman*, Hattiesburg
Marcelean Arrington*, Bay Springs
Earle Banks*, Jackson
David Baria*, Bay St. Louis
Scott Billingsley*, Senatobia
Barbara Blackmon, Canton
William “Billy” Bova, Gulfport
Barbara Brooks*, Leland
Mary Katherine Brown*, Vicksburg
William E. Catledge*, Tupelo
Bryant Clark*, Pickens
Curley Clark, Pascagoula
Larry Coleman*, Ellisville
Mildred Conley*, Tunica
Marshand Crisler, Jackson
Mamie Cunningham*, Okolona
Lexie Elmore*, Magnolia
Carnelia Pettis-Fondren*, Oxford
Jamie Franks*, Mooreville
Vonna Marie Frazier*, Jackson
John Fulwiler, Diamondhead
Albert Gore Jr.*, Starkville
Sherry Grady*, Corinth
Mary Graham*, Houston
Willie Griffin*, Greenville
Eric Hampton, Tupelo
Linda Hampton, Louisville
Marilyn Hansell*, Arcola
John Harris, Meridian
Melton Harris Jr.*, Pascagoula
Jo Ann Hayden*, Picayune
Brian Hickenbottom*, Madison
James Hull, Tupelo
Pam Johnson*, Brandon
Terry P. Johnson*, Terry
Irene Jones, Jackson
Lavaree Jones*, Jackson
Henderson Jones, Madison
Jimmy Jones*, Vossburg
Richard Jones*, Hattiesburg
Moshiu Knox*, Cleveland
Eduardo Vidal Martinez, Madison
Derek McCoy*, Columbia
Susie McDonald*, Wayne County
Claude McInnis*, Jackson
Carolyn McLaurin*, Laurel
Susan McNease, Jackson
Tom Miles*, Morton
George B. Miller Jr.*, Walls
Bernice F. Minor*, Water Valley
Brenda Mosley*, Greene County
Cortez Moss, Calhoun City
Maxine Musgrove*, Plantersville
Edward Nave*, Scooba
Rachel O’Neal*, Wiggins
Johnnie Patton*, Jackson
Dierdre Payne*, Ridgeland
Mona Pittman*, Batesville
William “Bill” Ready*, Meridian
Tommy Reynolds*, Water Valley
Marilyn Richmond, Amory
Wuanita Roberts*, Lexington
Jan Robertson, Oxford
Peggy Rogers*, Starkville
Lisa Ross*, Madison
Kellie Sanchez*, Tupelo
Everette Sanders*, Natchez
Audrey Seale, Natchez
Linda Shemper, Hattiesburg
Willis Smith, Jackson
Linda St. Martin*, Gulfport
William “Bill” Stallworth*, Biloxi
Will Stone*, Ashland
John Tyson*, Brandon
Bill Wheeler*, Golden
Gloria Williamson*, Philadelphia
Iris Michele Wilson*, Lucedale
Paul Winfield*, Vicksburg
Ella Young*, Quitman
John Young, Starkville

William Catledge, Tupelo, 1st District
Willie Bailey, Greenville, 2nd District
Phillip West, Natchez, 3rd District
Brown Miller, Hattiesburg, 4th District
Earle Banks, Jackson, at-large
Harvey Johnson Jr., Jackson, at-large
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