Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thurvey (ratings week version)

Media experts were baffled last week by the lack of excited participation in the long awaited return of the Thurvey. However, the dramatic snowstorms in the northeast are being blamed.

Marketing experts suggested a more titillating topic might help overcome the snowldrums, but it is hard to imagine a more titillating topic than last week's question about the state and federal legislative agenda.

So the titillating Valentine Week question is:

If you could be a matchmaker, what would be the oddest political couple that you could match up and why. While it might be more helpful to consider only living politicians, you may resurrect the dead if it is important to your point. This is an open-minded post, so feel no compulsion to honor traditional gender combos.

To answer the survey, click on "comment" below. When the comment box appears, type your comment, then click on the anonymous button and click on publish. You may have to type in a secret letter combination to prove you are not a computer. Sign your name to the comment if you wish the world to know your thoughts.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We Shelby free . . .

In reference to the last post, Senator Shelby has released most of his holds on appointment nominees.

In a statement issued this morning the Senator's office said that the holds were issued in an attempt to draw President Obama's attention to important security issues. Those issues were the building of tanker refuelers in Alabama and an FBI forensic lab in Alabama.

Had nothing to do with bringing home the bacon. Shelby just wanted to keep the country safe.

But I still think if we in Alabama are the honest, God-fearing, fiscally responsible, real-Americans that we claim to be, we should do our part to balance the federal budget.

Like it or not, Alabama is a welfare state. All of us. We receive far more dollars from the federal government than we pay in taxes. States like Texas and Massachusetts are paying our way. Hope they don't expect anything more than good company in return, although that might explain why other states are being allowed to dump toxic waste on us.

So, if we are going to complain about the federal deficit, let's do our part. Refuse the federal dollars. The education money. The highway money. The health care subsidies. The federal grants for public projects. The federally funded jobs, be they public or private, as in defense contracts. Let's balance our books with the federal government.

Or if we're not willing to do that, then let's just shut up about big government, about big spending, about high taxes, about deficits.

Don't worry about trying to find the answers.

Maybe we should work on not being the problem.


Monday, February 8, 2010


I love Alabama. I get weary of my sweet home being the whipping boy of national media. From SNL's horrid depiction of then U. S. Senator Howell Heflin years ago to some of our present delegation's comments in front of the national cameras we should not be surprised that Alabama is a punchline that always gets a laugh from the rest of the country.

It is true that we Alabamians are naturally funny. But it is the good kind of funny, the kind that should be laughed with, not laughed at.

I am tired of it. It is something we should remember when the next election rolls around, but that will be awhile. We need to do something now.

And we can. If we will.

Alabama U. S. Senator Richard Shelby is demanding pork. I'm talking pork the size of Clay County's Hogzilla II. ( an Alabama national news story that was actually the right kind of funny a couple of years ago, http://http//,2933,275524,00.html It was later learned that Hogzilla II was a farm raised hog that just ate too much for his owner and was released for the hunt. )

Back to Senator Shelby. The same Senator Shelby who is fiscally conservative, who is afraid the ballooning national debt will destroy our future, is singlehandedly holding hostage more than seventy of President Obama's appointments to the pentagon and other agencies. He is doing this using a power that all Senators hold. Any Senator can put a hold on an appointment. It takes a vote of 60 to over-ride such a hold. Most Senators have used the hold on one or two appointments either out of true concern about the appointment, or for a bit of leverage on legislation.

But no one Senator has ever put a hold on all appointments. And even more disingenuous, Sir Richard is not even pretending to have a reason related to the appointments. Shelby just wants the pork. He will not release the holds until he gets his way.

The pork is for us. The State of Alabama. So, if we are true to the comedic script that the rest of the country expects us to read (actually to hear some of them talk they seem to doubt we can read), we will welcome Senator Shelby as the conquering hero, the successful hunter who has bagged Hogzilla III and brought him back to Huntsville for the slaughter, even as we shout "no new taxes."

But that is not what will happen. Shelby's behavior has almost guaranteed that he will not get his way. I could be wrong. Only time will tell (and I am sure some of you will as well). But it is doubtful that this ridiculously selfish, childish, unstatesmanlike behavior will be rewarded. No one can afford for that to happen. Republicans or Democrats.

So once again the nation is laughing at Alabama and its caricature politicians.

But we the people could stop it.

Alabama voted against runaway spending in the last presidential election. The only pork we have anything good to say about is frying in a pan or baking in the oven. Some southern theologians believe that the pork which the Hebrew testament prohibited was not that kind raised on slop, but rather the kind raised in the pigsties of the halls of Congress in Washington D. C.

We oughta vote 'em out, all those guys that just want to spend more money on their pet pork projects.

But we can't do that. It's not time for the election.

But we can rise up and say no. Say no to the pork that Shelby is trying to force feed us. Hasn't he heard that we in Alabama hate pork barrel politics and wild Washington out of control spending. Shoot, wasn't he the one saying that during his last election?

Let's just say no. Tell Senator Shelby that we mean what we say. No more pork, even if it is addressed to us. Tell Senator Shelby to quit playing games with our country's future. Let's lead the nation instead of following it.

Write your Senator. Write your Congressman. Write your newspaper.

Tell 'em to keep the pork. We'll keep our word.

Tha tha tha that's all folks . . .


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feelings, nothing more than feelings . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

The content of "the news" is no longer a good-faith account of a recent event of some import to the public. The description of events, and what old-school journalists called "facts," have taken a subordinate role.

These days "the news" is not actual events or facts. "The news" is what people think about actual events or facts. It is Gallup, Quinipeac, Rasmussen, Pew and the rest. No requirement that the people polled know anything about the topic in question. All they need is an opinion to become the news.

This is a handy, and intentional I think, turn of events for the news media. Reading poll results is a whole lot cheaper than funding a legitimate news gathering organization. And there can be no claim of bias news reporting if you don't. Report the news, that is.

A few weeks ago the networks dedicated huge amounts of air time to polling regarding health insurance reform legislation. One of the pundits, after reviewing the polling numbers, made what he apparently thought was a significant point.

President Obama failed to tell the people what was in the legislation. They simply did not understand it. The pundit then introduced polling data to back up his assertion. In the hour that I watched the "news" program, over one-half of the non-commercial time was dedicated to poll results about President Obama, Congress, Democrats and Republicans, and the health insurance reform legislation. We heard how men, women, southerners. northerners, African Americans, whites, Hispanics, over 30, under 30, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, heathen unbelievers, Civitans and Lion's Club, Auburn and Alabama fans feel about that important issue.

What we didn't hear about was that important issue.

Not one second was dedicated to explaining or describing the legislation in question. Apparently that is not the job of the news media. After all, the cable news channels only have 24 hours each day to fill. Surely they can be forgiven for not getting around to every little thing . . . like the legislation that is the crux of the whole discussion.

Like the news.

Despite what most news outlets would have you believe, the important issues before us are understandable. It just takes a little time, and work. A few months ago the news outlets reported over and over, and interviewed legislator after legislator, about the length of a proposed health insurance reform bill. Why, it was over one thousand pages. Far too long to report on, or to read.

But it was triple spaced and contained quite a bit of boiler plate. I would hope that every reporter, news anchor and pundit who reported the length of the proposed bill in such authoritative tones was capable of sitting down and digesting the entire proposal in less than eight hours. I hope they did. But I'm pretty sure most of them didn't.

You know those photo opps that every President takes advantage of from time to time, sitting in front of a bunch of elementary school kids, reading from a big picture book?

I can see it now. President Obama sitting in one of those little chairs with a large book open in his lap, surrounded by the fresh-scrubbed faces of reporters, news anchors and pundits. There are no pictures, but some of the graphs have pretty colors.

"What's this I see, in front of me,
This big thick book, at which I look . . ."

Shhhhh. Aren't they cute.

They've gone to sleep.


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Yes, after a multi-month hiatus, contract disputes among all the parties have been settled, and the Thursday Survey (Thurvey) returns. You are encouraged to comment on the Thurvey question. To do so, simply click on "comment" below. When the window opens enter your comment, click on anonymous, then on publish, and there you go. Sign your comment if you don't want to be anonymous.

If the Alabama Legislature and Governor Riley got you on a conference call, asking you what five things that you would like for them to get done, what would they be?

For those of you outside of Alabama, or for those of you in Alabama but who had rather answer this question, suppose President Obama and Congress got you on a conference call and asked you what five things you would like for them to get done, what would they be?
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