Month: July 2012

Alabama Governor Bentley Sticks Foot in Mouth, Again

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley seems to like the taste of his own toes. He sticks his foot in his mouth so often that people down south have taken to calling him “Goober” after the character on the Andy Griffith Show who just could not keep his mouth shut even though he rarely knew what he was talking about.

But that’s Alabama for you, where the state’s history is rife with goofy governors, especially Republicans like Guy Hunt and Fob James.

This time, the mainstream Associated Press picked up Bentley’s comments suggesting that Massachusetts Mormon Mitt Romney might want to release his tax records if he wants to be president as President Barack Obama has been saying regularly on the campaign trail of late. It was Saturday at the National Governors Association conference in Virginia, and a reporter just happened to spot Bentley and ask him whether he thought Romney should release his tax returns. The governor said yes – adding that he believes in transparency and releases his own tax returns every year.

“If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong,” Bentley reportedly said. “I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.”

After Democrats seized on his words and the comments began to be picked up on blogs, Facebook posts and Twitter Tweets, Bentley later stuck his foot even further into his mouth, saying he still believes Romney’s taxes should be released and he believes in transparency, but his staff issued a statement insisting he wasn’t implying that Romney had anything to hide.

“I believe my comments were taken out of context, they were not reported in their entirety, and I want to make sure the record is set straight,” Governor Bentley said in this statement. “I believe in trasparency, and that was the basis for my answer. I personally choose to release my own returns each year, and there was no effort to imply that Mr. Romney has anything to hide.

“While I believe in total transparency, I also believe much of the rhetoric surrounding Mitt Romney’s personal finances is nothing more than an attempt by Democrats to distract from the real issues of the presidential campaign,” Bentley said. “The real issues are the economy, employment and getting America back on the right track. I fully support Mitt Romney and his vision for our country, and I will do everything I can to help get him elected.”

Woops. Too late, and wrong.

Romney’s record on the economy is not only fair game in the campaign, it is sort of critical for voters to know what kind of president he would be if elected. If his record as a business administrator are any indication, he will outsource jobs overseas, hide his personal wealth in overseas accounts, and then lie about it, according to the AP.

Bentley has his own political problems back home in Alabama. Perhaps he should stick to trying to set things right in his home state. He has made the state the butt of national and international jokes once again as a racist place for passing a discriminatory and draconian immigration law in a state where illegal immigrants are hardly a problem at all compared to California, Arizona and Texas.

He presides over a state in which all three branches of government are run by a rapid, right-wing Christian tea party that has damaged the very thing everyone seems to value most: the business recruitment climate. They have ruined public television and are hell bent on destroying the unions, just like the Republicans tried to do in Wisconsin. They are trying their best to run off school teachers and even turn the public schools into Christian schools.

They are going to join a few other so-called conservative states in defying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, even though a conservative U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law.

All of this begs a few questions on this Sunday morning.

Are people still trying to secede from the rest of the country and the world by creating a safe little poor place for only uneducated, white Christian radicals to live?

Doesn’t it sort of remind you of the Civil War all over again?

Why would any half-way intelligent person want to live and work in Alabama?

Perhaps it’s time to make that move out West, my friends, or at least escape to the mountains of North Carolina or Virginia.

If some smart, progressive Democrats don’t get it together and take back over this state — and soon — they will see a brain drain like nothing they have seen so far. Most of the kids from Alabama who manage to get out and get an education today don’t come back anyway. They know there are better opportunities elsewhere where a higher percentage of the population can at least think for themselves.

While many talented and intelligent people have come from Alabama, it is becoming an almost unbearable intellectual wasteland of morons and dingbats, even on the political left. What is an educated person to do? Get out, that’s what.

Defenders of Honor Stand Guard for Fallen Pine Bluff Soldier

Photos courtesy of Aaron Etue
Flip Out Photography, (870) 370-0826

MONTICELLO, Ark. — As promised, a flashback to last weekend when a group of Arkansans mobilized in Pine Bluff, Ark.,  to defend the honor of a U.S. soldier whose funeral was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Church. Thanks to Aaron Etue of Flip Out Photography, we can show you the scene.

First a little background in case you didn’t read the first post. Vilonia High School math teacher John Allison, a former Marine and friend, organized folks through a facebook public event to fight the hate of WBC with love toward the family.

Within 36 hours, 126 people pledged to attend and stand up for the honor of fallen Arkansas soldier, Army Sgt. Michael J. Strachota. Allison estimated more than 200 people (including the Patriot Guard riders) showed in support of Sgt. Strachota and his family.

“It was an awesome sight,” Allison said in a facebook email exchange. “That many people, most of whom didn’t know the Strachotas at all, standing in the hot sun to honor him and his family. Several elderly people stood on the flag line until they almost collapsed, but each time another person quickly came to their aid and another took their place in line.”

Rumors placed WBC protestors at the White Hall Huddle House — a call to boycott the business received lukewarm response on the facebook page — but Allison only knew of three who protested at 6th and Main, down the street from the memorial service. The heat also forced some people to stay home though they’d pledged to come. Allison said the crowd thinned once the mass began.

Etue shot these photographs for posterity, but luckily he is willing to share here. Click on the photo to see the full-sized image.


How Much Heat Can We Take Before We Attack Global Warming?

How to Save the Planet and Fix the Economy Too

gwcubamug.jpg
The Big Picture

Just how hot does it have to get before the people of the United States finally acknowledge that global warming is happening? When are we going to stop arguing about it and start doing something to at least slow it down from getting even hotter?

We have known about this for at least a couple of decades. The science was settled on this back in the 1990s when I wrote a doctoral dissertation about media coverage of global warming.

There is no doubt that humans are causing the warming of the planet with our insatiable demand for electric power from the burning of fossil fuels, which causes greenhouse gases to build up in the atmosphere and trap heat around the planet.

What will it take to convince the corporations that profit from electric power generated by the burning of coal, natural gas and oil? What will it take to convince the Republicans? What will it take to convince the Christians?

Once again this summer, temperatures have soared over the 100 mark in the United States and around the globe, setting more records, just as we have seen over the past 20 years. From Philadelphia and New York, to Louisville, Kentucky and Birmingham, Alabama and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the heat baked the landscape like a plague.

At least 30 deaths were blamed on the heat, including nine in Maryland and 10 in Chicago, while officials said the heat caused highways to buckle in Illinois and Wisconsin. Thousands of mid-Atlantic residents remained without power for more than a week from deadly summer storms and extreme heat, including 120,000 in West Virginia and some 8,000 in the suburbs around Baltimore and Washington, D.C. In the Washington area, Pepco asked customers to conserve power, saying the heat was stressing the system.

This heat wave and an accompanying drought — and freak storms and massive power outages — will continue to spread over the next couple of months. But the Republicans in Congress and the states would rather try to defeat President Obama at the polls by lying to and exploiting their conservative constituencies than to tell people the truth.

Corporations like Southern Company, which controls Alabama Power and Georgia Power, would rather spend their money on campaign contributions to Republicans who oppose doing anything about global warming — or air pollution and water pollution for that matter — than to get onboard and try to help reverse the warming of the planet and the inevitable changes in climate.

As for the Christians, who tend to vote Republican, they just seem to figure that when the entire planet catches on fire, some god will snatch them out of the flames and save them and take them to another planet in the universe where they can live in what they call “heaven,” while the rest of us burn.

I’ve often wondered if these Christians, like our not so esteemed governor of Alabama Robert Bentley, really believe there are separate planets in the universe reserved for the white Christians and the black Christians? Is there another planet set aside for the brown Christians and the yellow Christians?

Since scientists have not found a suitable new planet to house any of us yet — or a way to travel there — would it not behoove us to try to slow down the warming of the planet, the melting of solar ice caps and the rising seas until we might find such a place?

Or is god a space alien like the Mormons believe? Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s elect a Mormon for president and put off doing anything about global warming for another eight years and see what happens. Morons.

If the U.S. Supreme Court had not handed George W. Bush the presidency in the year 2000, we could be a long way down the road of doing something about this by now. But no, we just have to keep on having a silly argument that drags on for years and serves no purpose except to make a few people richer, while the rest of our lives just continue to get worse.

Now I know a lot of people on the left, including a lot of environmentalists, are no fans of President Obama. But if everybody does not get onboard and prevent the election of the Massachusetts Mormon Mitt Romney to the White House in November, we may see the world end as we know it in our lifetimes.

At least science and merit are back to some extent in the federal government, although we’ve got a long way to go to get rid of all the bureaucrats Dick Cheney hired. Maybe we can do that in a second Obama term.

Otherwise, we might as well fool ourselves like the Maya did by committing human sacrifices and polluting their own water supply. Oh, but we learned this week that the Maya calendar doesn’t end on Dec. 21, 2012. Maybe it ends by the end of Romney’s second term? Let’s ask Nostradamus why don’t we?

Or, perhaps it’s time to stop fouling our own nest and to take responsibility for conserving this planet so there can be future generations.

If we would make up our minds to get on with a program to change this warming trend, it would not cost us jobs or hurt the economy. In fact, fixing the power plants we have and building new, cleaner ones would create millions of new high paying union jobs and save the economy.

And while we’re are it, if we really wanted to fix the economy, there are two other things we could do right away — if we could find the political will. Get rid of the ridiculous Cold War trade restrictions on Cuba, and legalize marijuana. Trade with Cuba could save the Southern states from economic ruin, and the taxes we could collect on pot would immediately save us a billion dollars on law enforcement and eliminate the budget deficit overnight.

I’ve got it. Why don’t we end the war on drugs and start a war on global warming? Would that help people understand?

We can do these things. But not if we cower to the corporations, listen to the Christians — or elect Republicans. We must first face reality in our politics.

Group Plans to Shield Soldier’s Service

An Arkansas high school teacher’s facebook page to “Preserve the Honor of Fallen Pine Bluff Soldier” plans to buffer funeral participants from a Westboro Baptist Church protest Saturday afternoon at Pine Bluff’s St. Joseph Catholic Church.

John Allison, a 44-year-old former Marine who teaches math at Vilonia High School, started the page Friday afternoon; by midnight, 62 of the more than 1,800 invitees confirmed they would attend with an additional 31 maybes. (UPDATE: Those attending topped 100 by 10:30 CST this morning.)

The stated goal of attendees is to keep the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., from disrupting the memorial service for fallen Arkansas soldier, Sgt. Michael J. Strachota of the U.S. Army. Strachota died June 24 in Afghanistan, a week and a half prior to a scheduled home leave on July 5.

“Please join us to peaceably make certain these disrespectful hatemongers are far enough removed they cannot disrupt the service or upset the family and friends,” Allison writes. “Help us prevent this so-called church from dishonoring this man’s honorable service and sacrifice.”

A press release indicates WBC will preach “in respectful, lawful proximity” that God kills American soldiers as punishment for sin. The flier uses incendiary language about military personnel, including the phrase, “Thank God for IEDs.”

In stark contrast, Allison provided five ground rules for those providing a “shield”:

“1. This will be a peaceful undertaking. We are certainly not here to cause a scene that will cause more of a disturbance than WBC. Our goal is not to shout, scream, or strike those gathered with WBC.
“2. Do not bring weapons of any kind: no guns, knives, mace, pepper spray, or anything else you might be tempted to use as a weapon.
“3. Our goal is to get enough people together to shield those attending the memorial service from the WBC protesters.
“4. Flags, crosses, crucifixes, other symbols of patriotism and religion are welcome. If you wish to make signs, they should have only positive messages honoring the courage and sacrifice, nothing derogatory or demeaning toward any person or group. Remember, we are there to help honor Sgt. Strachota, not to protest or make a political statement.
“5. We have now learned the Patriot Guard will be at the service also. They do this all the time at military funerals across the country so we will fall in with them and follow their lead.”

According to the Patriot Guard Riders’ website, the motorcycle enthusiasts “standing for those who stood for us” will also be in attendance. The group warns participants to hydrate; the Weather Channel predicts it will be 95-96 degrees by the 1 p.m. start, though the 46 percent humidity will make it feel like 104.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: Allison and the reporter attended Northeast High School in the late ’80s.)