Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Economy

Apologies for the lack of direct Mississippi content, but this is heavily on my mind.

There is no doubt that the United States has a long-term debt problem. Our deficit is growing at an unsustainable rate. At the same time we are in the midst of the Bush Recession that threatens to double dip with the news of the collapsing Euro and the oil spill. Let us all remember that the only President since 1980 to run at a surplus was a "tax and spend Democrat". Bush 43 doubled the deficit from 5 trillion to 10 trillion. Does that drummed up Iraq war taste good or what?

There is a lot of populist clamor to cut federal spending, and I understand the sentiment. However the recession we are in does not allow for us to slice government spending at this point. The private sector has started recovery but the jobs are going to be slow to return. We are teetering on a double-dip recession and without public spending to make up for the lack of private it could be bad. We have to make the unpopular choice to create a jobs-based stimulus package that is substantial. The sooner we get folks back to work, the sooner they are paying taxes.

We cannot afford to sit idly while our economy slips into a five year stagnation. There will come a time once the economy is stabilized where austerity makes sense. There will be a time to cut spending and raise taxes. Yes it is going to take both to get some serious fiscal responsibility. This, however is not the time for austerity.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Guest Post: Why This Proud South Coaster Won't "Boycott BP"

(This is a Guest Post from John Leek's new blog: His new blog will focus mainly on the intersection of Christian faith and culture.  Head on over and say hello!)

As a resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, who has fished in the Gulf and enjoyed the natural beauty of the marshes and islands, I have plenty of reason to be upset with British Petroleum.  They, and the folks they contract with, have made an awful mess and it can be incredibly upsetting to mind and body to watch the oil continue to move on the news.  Plus, BP seems to have a pattern of playing it fast and loose with those regulations meant to protect employees and the public.

BP needs to make this right and seems to be trying to do so.  Unfortunately some groups, including some I've supported in the past, have decided to "boycott BP."  They seem to want to encourage anger toward BP's individual gas stations for the purpose of gaining new contact information and donations.  This is troublesome because it is misdirecting anger and could hurt individual station owners.

These people seem to ignore the fact that most of these gas stations are owned by individual Americans, many of them immigrants, who are just as powerless to do anything about the spill as you and I.

I stopped by the gas station pictured here in Ocean Springs today and the cashier shared that business doesn't appear to have changed; so boycott talk may all be bluster, but its presence in antagonistic and unproductive.

As Christians we are taught to seek after truth and to do no harm to other people.  We should be careful to take care not to jump into attacking people for perceived wrongdoing.  We should especially be careful when in doing so we might harm people without cause and to no greater purpose.  Let's encourage our friends and neighbors to do the same.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gulf disaster looking worse by the minute

If you like gulf seafood you may be out of luck this summer. Efforts to contain the ever growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have failed so far. Some oil has been burnt off, but just a fraction of what remains, not to mention the hundred thousands of gallons being dumped into the gulf as I write this. A lot of wildlife will perish, sadly. Drill, baby, drill...


(CNN) -- A huge oil spill oozing toward the Gulf Coast on Thursday threatens hundreds of species of wildlife, some in their prime breeding season, environmental organizations said.

The Coast Guard said Wednesday that the amount of oil spilling from an underwater well after an oil rig explosion last week has increased to as many as 5,000 barrels of oil a day, or 210,000 gallons, five times more than what was originally believed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drill Here, Drill Now!!

What a sad story that has unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico this past week. First, eleven oil rig workers were killed on an explosion an oil rig in the Gulf. The environmental disaster that is now playing out is a travesty. I remember back when we were having the drill or not to drill arguments on Cotton Mouth a couple of years ago, there was a canard repeated by most of our right wing visitors that there has never been an oil spill caused by an oil rig. What do you guys think now that our precious gulf is in serious danger of an environmental cataclysm?

The spill continues to grow as 42,000 gallons of oil leaks from an underwater well that was broken open when a drill rig exploded and sank last week. 11 workers are believed to have died in the blast. Their bodies have never been recovered.

The slick stretches for about 100 miles across the north-central gulf and is about 30 miles wide at some points.
It's within 16 miles of the mouth of the Mississippi, the U.S. Coast Guard reports.

Efforts to cap the well using remote-controlled submarines have failed. Louisiana officials fear the oil could reach the state's shoreline late Friday or early Saturday and damage shellfish and wildlife.

BP, which owns the oil well, is spending $6 million a day trying to control the spill. The company's CEO said today the explosion could have been prevented and he's putting them blame on the rig owner Transocean Ltd. A spokesman for Transocean has declined to respond to BP's comments. But Transocean's Vice President has said the oil rig had no signs of a problem before the blast.
It will be interesting to see how many safety violations have occurred in the recent past with this drilling outfit. One would hope it would be better than that of the mine owners involved in the recent mining tragedy. Sadly I will not be surprised if it is as bad or worse.

Update: CNN reports in a breaking news segment that things look a lot worse than originally thought.

CNN Breaking News

The oil spill from last week's deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to 5,000 barrels a day -- five times more than the original estimate, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry.

A third underwater oil leak has been located in the pipeline that connected the rig to the oil well, said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Haley Barbour ethically challenged?

Haley Barbour ethically challenged? Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, a Washington, D.C., based watchdog group, thinks so. Barbour has been named to their America's Worst Governors report. Barbour is charged with nepotism, laundering of campaign finance contributions and turning down federal unemployment assistance in a state with double digit unemployment.

I still can't understand how easily Haley turns his back on the people of Mississippi who are hurting. Much like the Southern Baptist sheep who vote him and his ilk into office, he does not give a tinker's damn about the poor folks.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Haley Barbour: open mouth, insert foot

Haley Barbour more than likely ended any chance, real or perceived, of his winning the GOP Presidential nomination. This past weekend top Republican 2012 hopefuls gathered in New Orleans for the Southern Leadership Conference. Such visionaries as Palin, Romney and Huckabee were in attendance. Haley, in an interview with CNN while in New Orleans, came to defense of embattled Virgina governor Bob McDonnell. McDonnell is the governor who declared April Confederate History Month with no mention of slavery. He was forced to apologize the next day, so you think Haley would have had a good idea of the fallout nationally his statement was going to make.

See Barbour on CNN.

Eugene Robinson lays Barbour to waste in the Washington Post.

What "doesn't amount to diddly" is the revisionist notion -- which Confederate History Month celebrations perpetuate -- that the Civil War was about something other than slavery. The "lost cause" diehards insist that the treasonous rebellion was a fight over freedom or the Constitution or states' rights. But the "right" that was being fought over was the ability to own human beings, compel their labor, buy and sell them as if they were livestock, exploit them sexually and torture or kill them if they tried to escape.

McDonnell's apology, at least, recognized that slavery was nothing to be proud of. It should be noted, however, that Virginia's previous two governors -- both Democrats -- did not feel the need to proclaim Confederate History Month. McDonnell's original proclamation, before he amended it, seemed designed to appeal to a fringe group for whom the Civil War is still an open question.

This is a free country -- for black people, too, thanks to the defeat of the Confederacy -- and so if some white Southerners want to celebrate the "heritage" of slavery, they are welcome to do so. But while they're entitled to their own set of opinions, they're not entitled to their own set of facts. I'd say that Haley Barbour's studied ignorance was "a bad thing," but that would be a gross understatement.

Friday, April 9, 2010

MS-01: Y'all Politics spread GOP lies... again, shocker

Y'all Politics has an article up about how the Health Care Reform bill will have the IRS enforcing the Health Care Reform insurance mandates, all the while blaming Travis Childers for a bill he did not vote for, although I wish he would have. Hey Travis, you know you are in Washington when you get blamed for the passage did not vote for.

Why, Travis, why?

In light of Rep. Childers' strong opposition to repealing the president's healthcare takeover, the Nunnelee campaign will today begin highlighting various provisions of the bill and asking why the congressman wants them to remain law.

Obamacare will establish an un-American "individual mandate," forcing North Mississippians to buy health insurance or face a huge fine enforced by the IRS:
Y'all Politics

While this all sounds scary, it just so happens to not be true. This type if dishonesty has been standard operating procedure for the GOP lately. Repeat a lie until your face turns blue, and hopefully enough fools will think it is true. Death panels, socialism, blah, blah, blah...

Fortunately there are independent non-partisan groups that do fact checking, such as Let us see what they have to say about the IRS agents, and for that fact the integrity of Y'all Politics.

Q: Will the IRS hire 16,500 new agents to enforce the health care law?

A: No. The law requires the IRS mostly to hand out tax credits, not collect penalties. The claim of 16,500 new agents stems from a partisan analysis based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation.

That pretty much sums it up, but if you still have doubts watch this video.

Hey Y'all Politics and Alan Nunnelee; newsflash, you cannot debate a lie.

A belated thank you to Congressman Bennie Thompson

I have always considered Bennie Thompson to be the people's Representative. Bennie's votes are almost always on the right side of the issue if you are a progressive. Facing one of the most historic as well as controversial votes in the last twenty years, once again he did not let us down. Thank you Congressman Thompson for your vote on Health Care Reform.

Many Mississippians have suffered without health care because they earn too much money to qualify for federal programs and their jobs do not provide access. Many Mississippians have suffered because they have had their insurance canceled for no reason when they became ill. Many Mississippians have suffered because they have been denied insurance because of a preexisting condition. But now thanks to Bennie Thompson among others, the working man will have access to affordable health care. The insurance crooks can't drop you because of payout limits or made-up reasons. The insurance companies have to play fair and square now.

Speaking for many Mississippians I say a big Mississippi thank you to Congressman Bennie Thompson.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

MS-01 - Nunnelee's primary opponents push Social Security privatization

Will Alan Nunnelee follow the lead of his primary opponents, Henry Ross and Angela McGlowan, and support privatization of Social Security? He is being pressured by the far-right teabagger element of his party, who have some really bat-crap crazy ideas about government, like for instance the privatization of Social Security. George W. Bush tried pushing Social Security privatization through Congress only to see the bill thoroughly rejected by the American people and our Legislative branch. After our recent financial crisis and current recession, one has to wonder how many Americans would have seen their Social Security go up in flames due to the recklessness and lack of regulation of Wall Street? Is that what we want, a crap-shoot with our Social Security?

Supporting this measure might be a winner in the GOP primary for MS-01. The issue is a loser on the federal stage, but hey the teabaggers hate the federal government. This will be interesting to say the least. Our friends at Majority in Mississippi delve in to other positive aspects of the GOP primary developments. As they noted this is a winning issue for the Democrats and distracts from the more toxic issues like the stimulus packages or health care reform.

Majority In Mississippi

Monday, April 5, 2010

NMissCommentator: What Happened At Constance McMillen’s Prom

Here’s the news, from a source I view as extremely reliable. The prom the school district promised at the country club in Fulton was a ruse. Only seven kids, Constance, and her date showed, and at the same time, everyone else held a “real” prom at a secret location out in the county.

This is all after the school district had represented to Judge Davidson that Constance was invited to a parent-sponsored prom to be held at Tupelo Furniture Market. The school represented that Constance was invited in court filings, testimony, and representations by the school district and its lawyers. In reality, Constance had not been invited, but, based on the representations by the district and its counsel, Judge Davidson denied Constance’s request for a preliminary injunction that she could go to the prom.

The school reneged, or possibly didn’t ever intend to follow through on its representations to the court. The parents didn’t want Constance at the prom and didn’t want to be sued (as they told the Clarion Ledger), and so on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the prom.

But what they’d done was secretly relocated it.

Shortly thereafter, the school’s attorney announced (on Wednesday) that “the prom” was to be held at the Fulton Country Club on Friday. But yet only seven kids showed up.

Meanwhile, there’s a rumor that school officials were directly involved in setting up the “fake” prom.

I have several distinct reactions here. First, there’s a cowardice and dishonesty to this that I would hope even folks who don’t accept Constance McMillen’s right to be herself would find reprehensible. Second, at times it’s crossed my mind that there were some folks out there working in school systems who really loved the kind of petty crap that went on in high school and get far too much pleasure out of reliving it (this is not a comment on school professionals generally!). At second hand, I’m sensing that in the folks making the decisions for the school in Itawamba County. Third, at the back of my mind this whole time has been my experience of being a ninth grader when the Fifth Circuit decided they’d had it, and that it was time for complete (rather than token) integration of public education inMississippi. One outcome was an immediate cancellation of school-sponsored proms, leading in turn to private proms that, in the white community, became sort of junior auxiliaries for the Ole Miss (or the like) greek system, with all the exclusion and related snottiness that could imply.

I do have this recall of Kent Moorhead (to his credit) as president of the student council a year ahead of me at Oxford High, making a large thing out of trying to bring back school sponsored buses to out-of-town football games (I think he won on that one) and school proms (he lost that one). I’d hope for some student leader to join Constance in telling the grownups how to behave, but I’m not holding my breath.

We've posted this in its entirety on permission from original writer Tom Freeland who writes at because traffic has made access to this exclusive content on his site impossible at this time.

Update: Tom Freeland has let us know that NMissCommentator is back online. Woot.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cotton Mouth for Childers

This race in north Mississippi is going to be a wang dang doodle. We as Mississippians really need Travis Childers in this seat. While I wish Travis had voted for the passage of Health Care Reform, I am in agreement with a large chunk of his votes. Alan Nunneleee would likely never make a vote I would agree with. A vote for Nunnelee is a vote to go backwards. Please join Cotton Mouth is supporting Travis.

Goal Thermometer

Will the MS-01 GOP Primary get bloody?

It is no secret in Mississippi that the NRCC cleared the way for State Senator Alan Nunnelee to run against Travis Childers in Travis's reelection bid for the MS-01 Congressional district. Although Nunnelee is a weak candidate, who comically touts his work on getting "In God We Trust" on a plaque in every classroom as a top legislative accomplishment on the Nunnalee website, Nunnalee has a geographic political advantage of being from Tupelo.

Tupelo is the base area for Childers. If Travis loses badly in the Tupelo area his chances diminish rapidly. Anyone who followed the 2008 race knows how big this dynamic is. The Republicans are willing to run an inadequate candidate for Congress in the race just to possibly win a seat back. Let there be no doubt Nunnalee will be a puppet on a string for the Republican leadership. (it looks they are all are based on the Frum article)

What is interesting is the upstart primary challenge from Fox Newsie Angela McGlowan. McGlowan is a proud teabagger, challenging Nunnelee on his conservative credentials. She has gone as far as suggesting to privatize Social Security, a wingnut's nirvana. This could get interesting in North Mississippi, much to the chagrin of the national GOP leadership.

DCCC Release on McGlowan and Nunnelee for March 3

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Site Mantainence

I will be getting the site up to date with current content. We will add fund-raising tools for all of our progressive candidates. Just bear with me as I transition the web-site from its previous state. I have an intense day job so this will have to be a night owl passion of mine. No rest for me.

I look forward to talking some Mississippi politics with y'all.

Haley Barbour to turn down close to $75 million in federal Medicaid funds

I guess I am growing numb to these type of decisions by Governor Barbour. While I may be outraged, I am not surprised at all. Haley Barbour has decided to go ahead with the plan to slash Medicaid by $14 million in his efforts to trim the state budget. Because of the way the federal funds are matched to state funds, Mississippi's most vulnerable citizens will stand to lose close to an additional $75 million in matching federal Medicaid dollars.

Clarion Ledger:
More than 20 percent of Mississippi's population is on Medicaid - a state and federally funded program that provides medical care to those who can't afford it.Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor does not support a House plan to transfer $14 million from the health care trust fund.
Covering the $14 million in state funds would prevent a nearly $90 million loss when federal matching dollars are considered, Mitchell said.
Twenty percent of this state relies on Medicaid for health care. That is close to a half million Mississippians. That twenty percent includes a lot of good Mississippians who have families that depend on this program. I cannot imagine a situation where any leader of Mississippi would want to turn down $75 million in federal money for our poorest Mississippians to have access to health care for a paltry $14 million out of a $500 million round of budget cuts.

For the first time in 19 months, the state is expected to meet - and, in fact, may slightly exceed - revenue projections.
Revenues as of Tuesday for March were about a quarter of 1 percent above estimates, largely because of a strong showing in corporate income tax receipts.
By restoring the $82 million to education, while making the additional cuts to Medicaid, the Governor is trying to pit the two pillars of Democratic policy against each other. Mississippi progressives are given a false dichotomy of choosing between education or health care for the poor. After all anything that benefits the underprivileged in Mississippi such as Medicaid, or the opportunity for a good education are prime targets for the Governor's hatchet. Never mind that there are emergency and rainy day funds that could be tapped for the time being. As usual, Haley will get his pound of flesh from the poor.

Wayback Machine: Mike Chaney's Comment on Insurance Reform and Speaker Nancy Pelosi from 2008

I recorded several videos at this event back in 2008, but this is the only short one I have.  (YouTube won't allow videos longer than ten minutes and I have little time to be doing video editing at this time.)

I think Mike Chaney is a good man, though I disagree with some of his positions.  I, and Cotton Mouth, thank him for his comments.

This will likely be my last post for the foreseeable future, but I felt these were worth sharing.  Thank you all for your past and current support.  I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Wayback Machine: DFA Chair Jim Dean Interview from 2007

Hi folks, this is John Leek.  I thank Jeff for his kind words.  I am out of active partisan politics as I pursue God's call on my life.  I am glad he'll be starting this up again.  There's a voice here that isn't heard elsewhere.

I did this interview (nothing special) back in 2007 and somehow lost it, finding it again after I'd stopped blogging and so I'll share it now.  The focus is on Democracy For America and their endorsement of Gary Anderson and is largely lighthearted in tone and content.

In this second part I ask about how we can get folks like Representative Gene Taylor to "vote better." I'd like to state that I have always liked and respected Gene Taylor despite some disagreements. There are many reasons he is re-elected by such wide margins each year, one of which he is simply a good man.

The point Jim Dean makes about providing support once people are elected is so true. I once asked Gene Taylor who he got his mail from (as in which interest groups) and he shared that the overwhelming majority of form letters and e-mails that come in to his office come from groups like the American Family Association. We shouldn't be surprised that the loudest, most persistent voices are the ones that get the attention of our lawmakers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cotton Mouth is back!!

After a 15 month hiatus Cotton Mouth is about to be back online. The founder of the blog John Leek will not be able to contribute but on a once in a blue moon status. It is my opinion that Cotton Mouth is forever in debt to John Leek. It was his passion and incredible vision, especially for a 20 year old, that made this blog what it is. I will have to say I was intimidated by his enthusiasm and professionalism for someone 15 years my junior. He would chide me when I would let me emotions get the best of me, and point me in the right direction. It was folks like John Leek that made the 2008 election cycle what it was. He is in seminary to be a Methodist minister, very fitting for someone named John Wesley Leek. He will make one hell of a minister.

It has been hard for me not to be able to write. But like the rest of you I have a demanding job I have to attend to. I made a career move in December 2008 and have just now caught up to life. I am in IT and I had to learn UNIX for those of you who are dorks too. After ten years of Microsoft administration I am now a super goober with no graphical interface. I have now, after 15 months, reached a point of proficiency where I feel like writing again. I am dying to get back in the fight.

For now it will be just me. I am trying to get Jake back but we will see. I am going to post 4 or 5 articles a week. I look forward to getting it on with you right wing fanboys who regularly peruse the site.

Look for first post tomorrow or the next day.

The passing of HCR has us Dems ready to whip an elephant's ass. See you soon.