Tuesday, September 30, 2008

National ADD

A blog or so back I was reminding myself that people are the most important thing.

Did you know that 25 U. S. soldiers were killed in Iraq during September? 23 in August? Up from the low month of July, which saw 13 U. S. military deaths in Iraq.

When was the last time you thought about it?

I guess I'm not alone in needing the reminder.

Bad Judgment . . .

I was watching television the other day when I heard the familiar strains of Amazing Grace. You know, the hymn that was written by Newton, the captain of a slave ship, after he was forever changed by an encounter with Jesus Christ. The hymn that continues to be changed and modified to reach new worshippers as it creates a setting in which they can be changed by the grace of God.

The song drew my attention to the program. It was not a program, it was a political advertisement for a candidate for an Alabama appellate judgeship. Go to http://www.judgedeborahbell.com/ to see the web version of the spot.

The television version is longer. As the vocalists are singing, "He will my shield and solace be, as long as life endures" we see the candidate strap on a bullet proof vest and begin to fire a handgun at a target. The song fades, she looks at the camera and says, "I've still got it."

I am a lawyer who represents citizens accused by the Stateof Alabama of breaking the law. Sometimes the State is wrong in making the accusation, or is wrong in the way it prosecutes a citizen in violation of his or her rights. Obviously the thought of Judge Roy Bean on the appellate bench is terrifying.

I am also someone who relies daily on the grace of a loving God. It has never involved the use of a handgun. If this is her picture of grace, I just feel sorry for her.

I don't know whether Ms. Bell Paseur believes the message of the TV ad or whether it was simply a political ploy. Both options are horrible.

My immediate reaction was that I will not vote for her and I will attempt to influence others the same way.

But, God's grace is amazing. I'll give it a little time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Love the ones your with . . .

I stay all het up about politics these days.

But I was reminded this week that other things are more important. I saw a young lady this weekend that I had met a few months ago under severe circumstances resulting from some trouble she had gotten into. I had been one of many who had encouraged her, not in legal matters but in life matters. So I saw her Saturday in a crowd. I noticed her because she had a huge smile on her beautiful face and was singing joyfully with the crowd. But I didn't remember her. Sure, I did after a friend reminded me who she was, but I had forgotten her.

That, and a series of other things, some happy, some sad, reminded me that the most important thing in our lives are the people in our lives.

So, I'll try to regain some balance.

Amazing race . . .

I am amazed.

John McCain first said the fundamentals of our economy are sound. Anyone really want to argue on that one?

John McCain said that he would suspend his campaign and not debate until a solution had been achieved in the Wall Street crisis. The solution was not reached. He debated.

John McCain said he would suspend his campaign and go to capitol hill and lead us to a solution for the financial crisis. He did not suspend his campaign, and he did not go to capitol hill. He first did a couple of interviews and an appearance in New York, then went to his campaign headquarters in D.C.

John McCain said he would not be like Obama and just "phone it in". But that's exactly what he did from his campaign headquarters.

John McCain claimed responsibility this morning for leading his party to participating in the passage of the legislation necessary to address the Wall Street crisis. It didn't pass because his party did not do as they had indicated.

John McCain has not talked straight for quite a while now. These are not accusations or epithets created by the Obama campaign. McCain set the standards. He did not meet them. And he continues to lie about doing so. Amazing.

But I am more amazed that so many of us still believe him.

I guess we are still looking for a reason not to vote for the black guy. Really.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Put me in coach . . .

The air is getting a little cooler. It is my time of the year. Watched a little football between doing the to-do list Saturday. Went to the River Revival on the Locust Fork Sunday afternoon. And this year add an incredibly interesting presidential election. Life is good.

Autumn, college football, and presidential politics.

I love to be a fan, to be all in for my team.

But there is a difference between being in the game, and being a fan of the game. I am afraid that when it comes to being citizens, we Americans have become fans of our great nation instead of players. And we are supposed to be THE players.

What's the difference? A fan does not have to prepare. A fan can choose a side, sit in the stands and cheer, hoping that his or her team has prepared appropriately and put the right players in the right positions. A fan can join in the cheers with the attractive cheerleaders. And then the fan can make ridiculous statements on Monday morning without recourse if things do not go well.

We have plenty of pep rallies. Conservatives can get a fix any hour of the day on Fox News. Liberals can depend on the likes of Keith Olberman or Rachel Maddow. Pep rallies are not a bad thing. Players go to pep rallies. But they cannot be the only thing.

Real players and coaches do not make game plans based on pep rallies. They study films of the opponent and know their real strengths and weaknesses. They honestly evaluate their own talent, putting the best players available in the right positions, and then make decisions on their best evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses and their opponents strengths and weaknesses. Players and coaches don't make ridiculous statements on Monday mornings (generally). They are already at work preparing for the next challenge.

And when coaches and teams prepare for an opponent, they must acknowledge the strengths of the opposition as they prepare. If they do not, the plan is doomed to fail. And while fans may never realize it, this preparation creates a respect for the opponent, sometimes grudgingly, but respect nonetheless. The best coaches adopt some of their opponents best strategies.

But as much as I love a football analogy, it really fails. In fact, it points out one of our weaknesses as a nation right now. We are not two teams. We are one team.

So, get in the game. Your team need you to be a player, as well as a fan. Being a player is a lot more work. But if you are not going to play the game, then you really don't matter. And generally speaking, you don't really know what you are talking about.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Small price for a free press . . .

We the people must get smart.
Our freedom is under attack.
Islamic radicals? Nope
Al quaeda? Nope
Resurgent Russia? Nope
Wal Mart? Nope

The most significant attack on our freedom comes from within. There are two primary principals. Those who aspire to power at all costs, and those who support them.

Demonize the media. Suggest that the media is the enemy. Respond to criticism in the media, not with substance, but a claim of bias that has absolutely no basis in fact. Manimpulate the media. Refuse to talk to the media except on your terms. Neuter the watchdog.

Suddenly the press, which is as important, perhaps more important than the three branches of government to our freedoms, becomes the enemy of the people. Why? Because we the people are acting so stupidly. We choose to believe this ridiculous ploy. We can't handle the truth. Or at least we don't want to.

The Republicans are the ones. (You'll note I have not tried to present a false fairness by suggesting that this is a problem of both parties right now. It is not.) It is a Karl Rove signature tactic. Apparently it doesn't get old. Sadly, because it works.

When John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, the media responded with surprise. They reported as much of the truth as they had ready, and generally presented it with a courteously positive spin. The New York Times, supposedly a liberal bastion, introduced Palin in a very positive article. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/29/mccain-vice-president/?ref=politics Other outlets were similarly positive. Ironically the Republican talking heads were more critical. For fun check out conservative analyst Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan when the mike was off http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrG8w4bb3kg

On Labor Day Sarah Palin wisely disclosed her daughter's pregnancy, and talked a little more about her family. She ultimately brought them all to the stage at the RNC. The media reported what she said.

After the media reported what Sarah Palin chose to say and disclose , the Republican propaganda machine cranked up. On every show the Repub talking heads had the message to attack the media for reporting these personal things about poor Sarah Barracuda Palin. As far as I can tell in checking the mainstream media, the media reported what Palin said for a reasonable news cycle, two or three days, and then quit. It was briefly brought to our attention again through Palin's own desires at the RNC, at which she talked openly about her family, who were with her on stage. Again, the family was news for a couple days of sound-bites from Palin, ususally accompanied by a side bar of how typical the Palin family was. But Palin's family facts were brought up far more often by Republicans than by the media, or even the Democrats.

Now it continues. Sarah Palin makes statements to huge crowds while campaigning. She will not generally talk to the press. So, the media examines the only statements they get from her. Some significant statements are not true. The media reports the truth. The media seems to be acting very conservatively, careful to stay away from anything that cannot be proven, certainly staying away from rumours of the blogosphere.

How dare the media do that? How dare they actually attempt to investigate and report on a person who may become the president of the United States within the next four years.? How sexist can they get? Treating a female candidate as they would a male candidate?

I know it's hard. I complain about the media. (See the last blog) But the media is not our enemy. The free press is a source of the citizen's power, as much as the ballot. S0 we better not join in that chorus. If we lose the power of the independent press, we lose our country. We can encourage the media. We should hold them to task. All our voices need to be heard, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Letters to Editors and emails make it easier than ever to keep the press aware of what we think. And make no mistake, the media cares what we think. A little too much for my taste. But they do.

So don't join in lockstep. Do not encourage the propaganda machine. Listen for the truth.

Treasure the growl of the watchdog, anatomically intact.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fourth estate sale . . .

John McCain is all over the news outlets today saying that he is going to go after Wall Street and the financial institutions and get them straightened out. For anyone who has been paying attention for the past few years, this claim is just bizarre. The straight talker has been a deregulator for years. That would include deregulation of Wall Street and financial institutions.
So that is ridiculous. Absurd. Bizarre.

But watch the news. Read the papers. To find out the truth about McCain as a deregulator, you really have to dig. You won't hear or see it on major network programming. You certainly won't read about it in AP reports in the Birmingham News or most regional newspapers. And you have to really look for it in more lofty newspapers like the New York Times or Washington Post.

What you will see or read is column feet and sound bite after sound bite featuring McCain, making maverick statements about how he knows how to "fix" the problem now, and he will set about doing it when he is elected. You will see him or one of his spokespeople talk about how McCain is ready to take on the good old boys in Washington.

But you won't read the facts. How he votes. What he supports.

That is even more bizarre. What happened to our free press? Where is the watchdog of our liberty and freedom, our protection against tyranny, to borrow a few good lines from Ben Franklin, who would be a great guest panelist on today's talk shows because he was always good for a catchy turn of phrase.

It doesn't exist, apparently. What the present generation knows as "news" is not "news" at all. It is just alternating opinions, polls, free political ad placement, talking heads and entertaining jabbing and sparring that has no substance at all.

The result is that most of us don't know the truth about who we are voting on. I would be willing to bet that a great number of voters are presently convinced that McCain is a maverick who will fight for the little guy against Wall Street and big business from his power position in the White House with all the power of the U. S. Government. And the media does nothing to dispel that lie. In fact they encourage it, by giving the McCain pitch huge amounts of time. Not time in which his real position is disclosed. By giving this preposterous assertion by McCain such prominence without presenting any factual analysis, the "free press", which I think we still trust to give us the truth, gives credence to fallacy.

I hate what McCain has become. But that is not what I am hacked about tonight. It is the journalists that I am supremely disappointed in.

Another example, Obama is an elitist? Occasionally a talking head will challenge the statement. But more often than not they just repeat it. Then they let someone else repeat it. Then they talk about how Obama needs to do something to refute it. Refute it? His whole life refutes it. What about the facts?
You know, or maybe you don't. Obama was born to an 18 year old mother, never in a family of any means, was raised by his grandparents, went to school on academic scholarships, worked in the neighborhoods of Chicago. Eventually he did get to be a professor. That used to be the great American succes story. Now it is elite. Elite. Elite. Elite.

Or Palin. She is exciting. She has energized the campaign. She is drawing crowds. But we don't really know her. The facts are not hard to find. Documentation is available on the internet with one pass at Google. But nothing was reported for weeks. What in the world is going on? I suppose Palin's personal life is important to a point. It became more important when she shared it with the world. But more important in picking a vice president is her education, intelligence, judgment, and record in her government service. She continues to lie. Yes I said it. She continues to lie, about her official activities. But most people don't know it, because the mainstream media had rather report at the same depth as Entertainment Tonight.

It is a shame. It will be a shame if people vote based on lies. Or information and facts that we depend on the free press to deliver.

But that's only half the problem. More later.

Monday, September 15, 2008

But I gave you a twenty . . .

Stuff that is true:

John McCain has been a Republican Senator for 22 years.

John McCain has voted with George Bush eighty five to ninety percent of the time in the last eight years, but closer to 95 percent of the time in the past three years.

John McCain's major disagreement with Bush was the Bush tax cuts. He was against them four years ago. But last year McCain, perhaps exercising some of that change he is bringing, reversed his position, and adopted Bush's tax cuts, and proposed additional cuts for the needy top 1.5 percent of the taxpayers.

John McCain chose Republican Phil Gramm as a co-chairman and adviser to his campaign.Phil Gramm is a former Senator. He is presently an executive and lobbyist for a Swiss bank. He authored deregulatory legislation which was a primary cause of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown which was the first domino in our present financial nightmare. Gramm produced the enabling law that allowed the Enron debacle. Enron contributed mightily to Gramm's campaigns. Last summer he said the U. S. economy was fine. "Americans are just whiners. They are in a mental recession" He is thought to be a leading candidate for Treasury secretary in a McCain administration.

John McCain hired Karl Rove as an advisor to his campaign. The same Karl Rove who wrote the script for the Bush/Cheney puppet show from the time it started until he went on the lam after a near miss indictment in the Valerie Plane case. Karl Rove was in charge of Bush's effort to privatize social security. Rove is often named as the king of modern dirty politics. He has often been called George Bush's brain.

John McCain has always been a proponent of the Bush war in Iraq. He believes that victory in Iraq has yet to be obtained, but that victory must be achieved, no matter how long it takes, nor how much it costs. He cannot define victory.

John McCain believes that giving oil companies new places to drill oil is a significant part of the solution to our energy policy.Even the oil industry's own figures, which are four times as optimistic as government figures, indicate that opening up the additional oil fields would allow an increase in production that amounts to only 6.1 percent of our present consumption . . . by the year 2025. The government's figure is 1.5 percent. The oil companies say it would be at least three years before any oil at all was produced. The government says that six years is a more realistic time for the first trickle of production. This will be an even greater windfall for the oil companies than George Bush has been able to deliver.

John McCain has consistently voted against increasing aid to veterans.

John McCain believes that our economy is fundamentally strong, using the same language that has been used by George Bush. Even as late as this morning.

I'm getting tired. You may add to the list if you want by posting a comment, but, if it is not verifiable, it won't be published.

Not enough change to buy a newspaper. Shoot, a gumball.

So why don't we catch on that we're receiving incorrect change? More later.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Commemorate what?

I did not remember 9/11/2001 on purpose. But early this morning, as I listened to the news and read the front pages, it could not be avoided. Remembering. Commemorating. Honoring.

I am confused. I still am not sure what we are commemorating or honoring. I do remember. I doubt anyone who watched this unspeakable event unfold live on television will ever forget the actual event. I mourn and hurt with those whose loved ones died such a shocking and horrific death, and am still inspired by the reaction of firefighters and policemen who rushed into a collapsing building to try and save lives, many suffering death themselves.

But I don't know what to commemorate. Or honor. Surely the behavior of the terrorists who chose to carry out such an evil plan are not to be commemorated or honored.

What about us? As in we the people, us, you know, the U.S. kind of us? Can we honor and commemorate us?

We have succumbed to fear. We have responded to our worst selves. We have given the terrorists more than they could have possibly dreamed. We gave them the things we cherish, the foundations of who we are. Justice, freedom, fairness, tolerance, openness in government, a shining beacon to the world. All took a hit along with the twin towers. We didn't have to do it, but, because we were encouraged by our leaders to act on our worst impulses, we have terrorized ourselves, and the world, ever since.

In my thinking, September 12, 2001, was more pivotal in history than September 11. On September 12 we had the opportunity to take the world forward in a giant leap. The world was on our side. Most of the world was ready to do what they could to help. A moment that had never happened before, and may not come again for a long, long time was squandered.

We could have acted with wisdom. We could have acted as the Christian nation many hope that we are. We could have taken a step to advance civilization beyond an era that resorts to killing people as a solution to problems. The world looked to us. But we acted out of fear, irresponsibly, stupidly, and with no vision. Slowly the world looked away. The fragile moment gone.

So I don't know what to commemorate. But I do think it is helpful to look back on all these events to help us understand how we who live in this now global community must change the way we act out our citizenship.

The sickest I have felt this presidential election season was when one of the speakers at the RNC made fun of those who think that the right of habeas corpus should be extended to military detainees at Guantanamo and like facilities. The speaker laughed, and the crowd roared with laughter. In moments like these I question whether we deserve the grace that God has given us in this country. Those most amazing of advancements we treat with scourn.

Check another one off for the terrorists. The buildings fell seven years ago, but we are still lost in the smoke.

God bless the USA.

Reflection. Maybe that's the word.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You're in demand . . .

Maybe there is just too much hoopla in a presidential election. Maybe it is just too easy to be distracted by the side shows. But this should be the easiest election that we have had for some time. At least this time the candidates are distinct in their proposals on the issues. There was an attempt by McCain this week to gloss over the true distinctions by co-opting the change theme that Obama should have hired a good trademark lawyer for months ago. But most of them are Republicans. Just kidding. I don't know if trademark lawyers lean a particular way. Anyway, the issues are truly distinct. So, I thought I would take a poll of you, the readers, all seven of you, about the issues. I will post the poll on the right. I would make it a daily tracking poll, but that's probably too much work for me, and since I average about one response a day on these things, I don't think one day would yield a sufficient sample. I had a client that I stayed at the drug tester's office with the other day who couldn't come up with a sufficient sample in three hours . . . after I plied her with a couple of diet mountain dews. But that's another story. Feel free to suggest more questions for the poll by commenting. if I could give you all diet mountain dews, I would. That's supposed to yield a sufficient sample within an hour. Maybe next time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Throw the red flag, please . . .

Saturday. Coffee. Now I am watching Auburn and So. Miss. on the tube. (I guess that phrase is on the way out. I don't think newer televisions will have tubes or even be a tube anymore, but I may be the only one who cares). I love college football. It is so much fun to be a fan. Looking forward to the game. Planning your Saturday so that nothing interferes with kick-off. Snack selection. I am an Alabama fan, but any game will do. I actually pull for Auburn until a game affects the fortunes of the Tide. I hope that doesn't put my UA degrees in jeopardy.

One of the many, many things that amuses me about us college football fans is the frenzy we achieve during the recuiting season. We start tracking some prospects of good lineage when they are freshmen in high school. We read about them, covet them, analyze and forward their big plays posted on youtube. By the time they are high school seniors, we know them by first name and dream about what they can do for our program.

But then comes signing day. If they put on the cap or jersey of our team, their greatness is confirmed before they even register for classes. If they have the audacity to choose another school, then we realize that there must be something wrong with them anyway, if they didn't choose us.

So I love it. It is a great and healthy diversion from the stress of real life.

But our government is real life. We cannot afford the luxury of indulging in the fantasies that we enjoy in our support of sports teams. As an Obama supporter, it has been torture to see my man undergo such extreme scrutiny for the last year. I admit that I started out with a positive impression of Obama because he was on my team. I wanted him to be as good as we had heard during recruiting. I did not like it when he was being so closely examined, even though that is part of the process. The folks he had not signed with were relentless.

Now, after the hard part of that is over with, I realize that it has ultimately been to Obama's advantage to be so thoroughly sifted.

Now McCain has chosen Palin. I have tried in my own mind to be objective. Maybe I am just too much a Democratic fan to pull that off. After all, she is on the other team.

But I still don't get it. It appears that Sarah abused her power as governor in firing the safety commisioner who refused to fire her ex brother in law. It appears that she lied about the pork involved in the Bridge to Nowhere debacle (She never returned the money, and the completion of the project was a plank in her gubernatorial campaign). I don't think it's a big deal that she didn't actually sell the state jet on e-bay as she and McCain laughed about. She tried, but the price didn't get high enough. So, she sold it to a Republican politico in Alaska who had contributed to her campaign. Maybe there was nothing wrong with the transaction, but the sell was at a loss, not a profit, as she and McCain have stated several times now. That sale concerns me more than ebay. There is evidence that when she was mayor, she fired a librarian shortly after the librarian told her that she would not take certain books off the library shelves. When she took office as mayor, her town had zero debt. When she left office she left a multi-million debt. She has said that God is leading our effort in the Iraq war. She believes that it is God's will that a thirty million dollar pipeline project be approved. She is willing to risk damage to the great Alaska wilderness for oil that will make no significant difference in the energy crisis. And her minister is not exactly mainstream.

But I am afflicted with the Democratic liberal curse. Fairness. It seems to be a real negative in this political climate. As I watch the Dems on the tube and the pundits, I keep wondering, what in the world are they waiting on? Do they not know how to use the google? But then I think, I guess they're trying to be sure about the truth and context of these allegations before they talk about them. And that is the way it should be. I suppose that's one reason I'm a Democrat.

But it is mighty hard to take when she's wearing the other team's cap.

But it is not football. It is the future of the world. I pray that somebody is working hard to get to the truth. And when it comes out, however it comes out, I pray we, all of us, will hear it. After all, on this great earth, there is really only one team. Really.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vann's blogsite

Just so I won't have to keep posting every time Vann posts on his blog, I have added his blogsite to the already illustrious line-up over to your right on the "picking bloggers" list. He has just put up his second post of the week.


Check this out


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Flip flops Palin comparison . . .

I'm listening to Sarah Palin's acceptance speech. It's tough. Probably because I am for the other team. But, on the other hand, I like politics, and I still just don't get McCain's choice for VP. There is so much smoke around this woman, one wonders if there is fire, or if she is just terribly unlucky or has ruthless enemies.

I wondered about this trooper scandal that apparently a nomination for VP is enough to stop, at least for awhile. The scandal was not created by the Democratic opposition. It has been the talk of Anchorage for several months. See http://www.anchoragepress.com/site/basicarticle.asp?ID=748 If you want the udated local report on the scandal, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UojMnCgqVA
It seems that for several months Governor Palin said that no one in her administration had ever communicated at all about firing her brother-in-law. Then she changed her mind just recently. Maybe there was some communication. Yeah, that's the ticket.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Palin makes a big deal out of cutting wasteful spending of federal government. In her speech after McCain announced his choice last Saturday, Palin said she stood up to Congress about the $310,000,000.00 Bridge to Nowhere and said Alaska did not want the money. McCain touted this as well. She did ultimately say that she was against the bridge, but that was only after her support for the bridge was a plank of her election platform. It was only after Alaska had spent tens of millions of dollars of the money on a road that was to lead up to the bridge that was never built. In October, 2005, there was significant talk in Congress that the money earmarked for the bridge to nowhere should be shifted to post-Katrina reconstruction efforts in Louisiana. This was never done, but the earmark for the bridge was lifted, and Alaska and the money could be used as Alaska chose. There was an outcry from Alaska citizens for the money to be given back to Congress. It was never returned, not by anyone, certainly not by Governor Palin. For instance, check this Reuters report http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN3125537020080901?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=10112&sp=true
Similar reports appear in Alaska newspapers as well. I am not sure how Palin stood up to Congress. But I guess we will have to wait to find out.

Flip flops are back in style. More to come. I'm sure. Unless I'm not. I guess we'll just have to find out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I was troubled when John McCain held his press conference explaining that upon his request the Republican convention would be delayed, or possibly cancelled, in order to not distract the nation from the potential disaster of Gustav. It seemed obviously political, unless the folks from the convention were going to go down and stack sandbags or man shelters. That didn't happen.

Then to be fair I did a little research as to what acts of mercy and sacrifice McCain carried out during Katrina, a bullet which New Orleans did not dodge. I found my answer quickly. To be honest, it was the first thing I found, so the results are not exhaustive. But, I found it on an extremely reliable source. The White House photograph website. I didn't know there was such a thing but there is.

W surprising McCain with a birthday cake in Phoenix immediately before a fundraiser at a local country club. It was McCain's 69th birthday, August 29, 2008.

Earlier that morning, about 7:00 eastern time, several hours before this photo was taken, Katrina made landfall in Louisiana just south of the City of New Orleans.

What a jerk.

P.S. I have now done a little more research. It turns out my idea was not original and was done much better by Huffington Post. Go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/24/mccain-and-katrina-ravage_n_98470.html

The jerk part was mine.
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