I almost lost my breakfast in my plate as I watched CNN’s John King interview Dick Cheney on his “State of the Union” show this Sunday. It made me want to get rid of my television set, reinforcing an idea that seems to be growing among the American population.
As newspaper circulation continues in free fall and as we begin to acknowledge that broadcast news let us down as well as newspaper reporting over the past eight years, more and more I’m hearing people say they would rather have a high speed Internet connection than a cable TV package or a newspaper subscription any day.
I mean who gives a damn what Cheney has to say at this point? Is he the only guest King could get to assess the state of the nation? What a joke.
More and more young people are getting their view of the world from shows such as the Daily Show on Comedy Central, where this week Jon Daily took on Jim Cramer of CNBC for his failed coverage of the economic meltdown. This is a video series worth watching in case you missed it.
But we do have much more work to do building the Web Press…
Connecting the Dots
by Glynn Wilson
We aren’t going to have George W. Bush to kick around anymore after Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. So what’s a liberal-tarian blogger to do?
In our case, that’s an easy question to answer. We will be right here continuing to develop the next evolution in the Web Press and building the infrastructure to replace newspapers as the primary information source for a democratic nation.
It’s Sen. Fred Thompson vs. Oscar winner Al Gore in ’08.
What’s Krystall Ball’s reasoning?
Up to now, the Christian Right really hasn’t had anyone in the race to vote for.
Rudy Giuliani of New York, with his pro-abortion and gay rights record, would never have cut it in the conservative Republican primary.
And Sen. John McCain’s numbers have been way down in part due to his push for more troops in Iraq and in spite of his foray to the Falwell mountaintop.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could never carry the day, because the polls show the Christian Right will never vote for a Mormon. Sad but true. That’s the problem with this religious voting issue in the U.S.
Watch for the Karl Rove political machine, with the Bushes out of the way, to start painting Thompson as the next Ronald Reagan. He is a well-known Southerner from his days of playing the president in movies and a lawyer on TV and he has amassed a solidly conservative voting record in the U.S. Senate.
Hillary might have been able to beat Giuliani or even John McCain. But she hasn’t a prayer against Thompson. Sorry Bill.
As for why Al Gore will run, Krystal Ball says she doesn’t believe Gore when he says he is not running. He may not be in the race yet.
But when it becomes obvious from the polls that Hillary or Obama or even Edwards won’t be able to out-celebrity Thompson, the liberal bloggers will draft Gore and the Democratic Party hierarchy will have to go along or face losing in ’08 – which could bring back talk of the party’s demise at the hands of Karl Rove.
Another interesting question is: Who will get the nod for Veep on the Democratic side?
Krystal Ball says it will most likely be Barack Obama, the popular black senator for Illinois, since chances are, Hillary would not be interested in being the first woman vice president without having Bill living in the White House as first hubby. Obama is young enough and new enough in American politics to take the Veep slot to position himself to run for president in the future.
But don’t place your Yuengling bet or Irish political bet on this one just yet. Krystall Ball needs to wait and see how everyone reacts to Thompson’s announcement around Independence Day.
The one other calculation is: Who will win in ’08? Krystall Ball says the Democrats will still pull it out in a squeaker. It won’t come down to hanging chads in Florida this time or a few thousand stolen votes in Ohio. It will all come down to Louisiana, which will go Democrat no matter what due to the Bush administration’s handling of Katrina.
Bet against us if you dare. But the Thompson v. Gore match-up is a one Yuengling bet right now. It should be up to a six pack by the Fourth of July, when Thompson formally makes his announcement.
And that’s the word from Locust Forkland, where the river runs cold and true, the great blue herons dance like Elvis and the people like to shoot the breeze (and they are usually right).
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., May 27 – If it is too hot to paint here on the verge of what promises to be a classic global warming summer of heat waves, droughts and forest fires, imagine how it must feel in the deserts of Iraq trying to fight an unpopular, unwinnable war.
And think of how hot it must feel in Washington, D.C. for those trying to find a way out of the war and get Americans to pay attention to the news on global warming and stop driving gas guzzling SUVs everywhere they go.
A recent study showed that only when gas prices reach $4.48 a gallon will a change take place in the U.S. car culture.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans do not pay much attention to politicians or the media. And you almost can’t blame them, considering the double-sided bullshit that passes for knowledgeable information pumped out by PR men everyday.
Rather than paying attention to serious news, many Americans do seem to pay attention to TV shows like “Family Guy” on Fox, a show that makes fun of their nuclear family lives.
“Family Guy” is an Emmy award winning animated television series about a family in the suburbs of Quahog, Rhode Island, created by Seth MacFarlane in 1999.
It holds the distinction of being the first cancelled show to be resurrected based on DVD sales in 2005 after it was canceled in 2002.
Most episode titles of the show are parodies of movies, popular slogans and television shows, and for the first half of the first season, the writers tried to work the words “murder” or “death” into the title of every episode to make the titles resemble those of old-fashioned radio mystery shows. They quit when it became too hard to keep up with the limited range of titles.
TV critics panned the show, and for good reasons, Not the usual family-values based reasons of too much gratuitous violence, sex or profanity.
Entertainment Weekly seems to have an ongoing war with the show, leading to an episode in which the main character and dysfunctional dad Peter wiped his ass with a copy of the magazine when he ran out of toilet paper.
In another recent episode, a big, fat woman flirts with Peter at a party and says, I kid you not, “Do you like my ass? Would you eat cake off my ass?”
We know President George W. Bush doesn’t watch TV news, but if he had time to watch TV at all, I bet he would laugh at that joke and maybe think to himself or tell Condi, “Hey, that’s a great line. Think I’ll use it. Let them eat cake off my ass. Ha. Ha.”
The show has also been panned using premises and humor very similar to “The Simpsons,” where the writers have taken their own jabs at “Family Guy” on the same network. The show was mocked in a two-part episode of South Park. The cast called “Family Guy’s” jokes interchangeable and said their frequent “cutaway gags” had no place in the storyline.
The show is at its best when it makes fun of politicians, the media and even the Fox network.
In a recent show, a character resembling George Bush falls off the wagon, gets drunk and runs around naked on a putt putt golf course. In the season finale, the character Death tells Peter he has had a busy day: “Dick Cheney, the president of Haliburton, shot Justice Scalia in a hunting accident and the bullet went through him and killed Scooter Libby and Tucker Carlson.”
In the 400th episode of “The Simpsons,” little Lisa tried to get people to understand the contradiction between the conservative Fox News and the often irreverent Fox TV.
“They just don’t match,” she said.
Which is much like a lot of real family life in the U.S. It is sometimes hard to understand the disconnect between people’s “beliefs” and “actions.”
But maybe that’s why it seems too easy for the mass public to be manipulated by lying politicians, who toy with the line between belief and action all the time, and crass commercial capitalists, who make billions fooling some of the people enough of the time.
Beliefs don’t mean shit. It’s what we know that matters.
It’s just that you can’t get away with saying it on the stump or in the news. Sometimes you can only find the truth in satirical animated TV shows – or maybe on blogs these days.
But there are some things you can’t even get away with on a blog. Does anyone doubt that the Bush-Gonzales Justice Department would spring into action if one were to suggest that Cheney AND Scalia should be shot?
Just kidding Alice. When I say shot, I mean with a camera, not a gun.
It should be no secret that I would rather be photographing birds from a canoe than covering politics.
Unfortunately, the state of American politics and the press is in such bad shape that I feel I have no choice. It’s that important.
While there are about a zillion places on the planet I would rather be than Highway 280 south of Birmingham, I headed over to the Cahaba Convention Center Friday night to meet former president Bill Clinton.
Now here is where Web coverage gets a little different than the mainstream press. The idea here on a blog journal is to create a more conversational style for readers who are tired of the formalism of balanced journalism.
Photo by Glynn Wilson
Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Birmingham, Alabama.
If I had been covering the event for a newspaper such as the New York Times or the Christian Science Monitor, I would have remained at arms length from the politician and written a more formal news feature on the event, complete with background information and political analysis all wrapped up in the pretty language of a literary feature.
Instead, I concentrated mainly on getting some serviceable photographs in the bad light of the big HealthSouth hall, then passing on the key points of what Clinton said.
As it turned out, I was right down front at the end of Clinton’s address. He walked right toward me to shake some hands. What was I to do?
Perhaps I should have asked a tough question in that rare moment in today’s over-handled PR world when you get to meet an American president up close and personal. But quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to be a tough reporter in that moment. I’m sure meeting George W. Bush would be different.
So instead, I scanned my brain quickly for something to say during that brief handshake. Here’s what I came up with, which I think he will remember.
As I grasped that infamous hand and looked Bill Clinton in the eyes, I said, simply: “You were the best president ever – no matter what they say about you.”
He smiled that humble smile of his and said thank you, then turned to state Sen. Roger Bedford, D- Russellville, to shake his hand and continue working the room.
I also had a word with former Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley at the event. She suffered a stroke not long after losing the race for governor last year, but she didn’t want to miss the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which drew about 1800 people this year and raised about $350,000 for the Alabama Democrats.
I also got a hug from my old source and friend Nancy Worley, our former secretary of state who is being legally harassed by certain Republican forces in this oh so conservative state.
When I told some of my Democrat friends in Birmingham about the Clinton meeting, they were very interested, since they consider Clinton not only to be the best president ever.
“He is the only president we’ve ever had,” said one Democrat from Clay, Alabama.
I’m sure all those Republican birders out there would scoff at that statement. But that is what the world looks like from over here whether they like it or not.
Thier man Bush has been the worst president in American history bar none. I would bet the whole Yuengling 12-pack that historians will come to that conclusion when all is said and done.
Except for being defeated by the big, corporate insurance companies on creating a national health care system, cowtowing too much to corporate America by supporting the NAFTA free trade agreement, and that little matter of oral sex with a flirtatious intern, it was great to be alive and covering science with Bill Clinton in the White House.
The federal government actually worked for the first time in my lifetime, and the economy was on such a roll I spent most of the 1990s in grad school studying science and communications.
Unfortunately it all unraveled when the U.S. Supreme Court handed Bush the election of 2000. After the attacks of 9/11, I knew I wanted back in the news business covering politics.
I never imagined I would meet Bill Clinton on Highway 280 in Birmingham, since that’s rock solid Republican territory. I think Republicans must like suburban sprawl and driving gas guzzling SUVs in rush hour traffic.
Me? After a fine Sunday breakfast on a beautiful spring day, I’ll be putting the canoe in the water this afternoon, searching for some birds to shoot – with a camera of course.
And unlike all of the Republicans and most of the Democrats on the TV talk shows today talking about the shootings in Virginia, I’ve been in favor of stronger gun control laws for a long time. Give me a camera over a gun any day…
Postscript Note: Notice our lead story on the Locust Fork News page today. The New York Times didn’t have it. The Washington Post didn’t either, and neither did the Birmingham News.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., April 14 – The streets of downtown Tuscaloosa were practically deserted late Saturday afternoon when we rolled into town for the Third Annual Crawfish and Blues Festival, a testament to two facts. The rain kept most people away and the blues alone just doesn’t have the drawing power it used to have in the South.
Maybe people have forgotten what B.B. King always said about the blues. It’s not about being sad all the time. Its about celebrating the roots of American music that spawned jazz, soul, funk and rock ‘n’ roll.
Photo by Glynn Wilson
Josh Shurley, Hayes Dobbins and Amy Williams put down about 11 pounds of crawfish at the Third Annual Crawfish and Blues Festival Saturday in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Or maybe it’s just that certain segments of the U.S. population are isolated from the blues, living in an organized religious cocoon. I suspect a Christian rock revival would draw more people in the South these days, and so would a country music festival or a hip hop convention.
But if the American public doesn’t start reading between the news lines about global warming, there may be a major resurgence of the blues dead ahead.
There is some good news on the subject of climate change and pollution, however. You just have to dig for it.
In case you missed it, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration last week for it’s inaction on global warming, in a decision that the Associated Press reports could lead to more fuel-efficient cars as early as next year.
That may be a tad ambitious, but the court, in a 5-4 ruling in its first case on climate change, declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Duh!
The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate those emissions from new cars and trucks under the landmark environment law, the court said, and the “laundry list” of reasons given by the Bush administration for declining to do so are “insufficient.”
The reasoning in the court’s ruling also appears to apply to EPA’s decision not to impose controls on global warming pollution from power plants, a decision that has been challenged separately and will have a major impact on the future air quality in places such as Alabama.
The ruling should influence a lower-court fight over pollution from four Alabama Power plants.
In a unanimous decision with industry wide implications, according to the AP, the Supreme Court ruled against Duke Energy Corp. in interpreting how emissions increases should be measured when utilities upgrade power plants.
Utilities, including Alabama Power, had argued for an approach allowing them to expand capacity annually without triggering requirements for expensive new pollution controls. But environmental experts say the decision will trickle down to pending cases across the country, including the EPA’s case against Alabama Power for problems at its plants in Shelby, Walker, Greene and Mobile counties
For those of you who take the position that unfettered corporate capitalism is a better governing model than a strong regulatory federal government, how do you respond to this fact?
Just days after the high court’s ruling – and this is a Supreme Court with a majority of members appointed by Republican presidents – Alabama Power issued a press release saying the company decided to take a step toward improving air quality in the Birmingham area by adding one of the world’s largest scrubbers to its Walker County plant. While the company has had the technology and the money to make this change for years, only in the wake of the ruling did it announce the spending of $261 million for a scrubber to be installed next year on its coal-burning power plant near the Jefferson County-Walker County line.
The aging plant is required by the U.S. Clean Air Act to install the scrubber to remove pollution from three of its stacks to decrease sulfur dioxide emissions by 98 percent and also reduce the emissions of mercury and fine particles. Power plants are the largest source of soot and ozone in the area, the most significant corporate, point source of pollution that keeps Birmingham out of compliance with federal rules every summer. The other big sources are old cars and trucks and the absence of an auto inspection program with teeth.
Studies show that particulate pollution can reach the lungs and the blood stream and cause lung cancer and heart disease.
A subsidiary of Southern Company, Alabama Power has a virtual monopoly on power generation in the state, serving 1.4 million homes and businesses. Most of the power comes from aging coal plants, and estimates show it would take an expenditure of $3 billion to bring those plants into compliance just with current environmental standards – by 2012.
Meanwhile, the power company spends millions of dollars influencing the mainstream, corporate media in Alabama by advertising itself as an environmentally friendly company. In academic circles, we call that “green washing.”
Watch the news this week for another local example of green washing.
Samford University’s Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education will host a symposium April 21 where nationally renowned leaders in science, religion and the environment will come together to discuss “saving life on earth.”
The problem with the conference is that the big name sponsor is Vulcan Materials, one of the worst corporate polluters on the planet.
We will be there to cover the event – and raise a little hell while we’re at it. Isn’t that what the alternative Web Press is about?
Who knows? If something major is not done to reverse climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels for energy, the blues may make a major comeback.
Personally, I would rather see a sea change in attitudes and a new economy emerging from new technologies.
I would rather start with the blues as a base and concentrate on creating new forms of music by combining the best influences of jazz, blue grass, rock and folk.
Dog knows America could use a new round of protest songs. Maybe we will live to see a cleaner day when the wind actually blows in March, the showers come in April – not winter storms – and the spring bird migration starts on time…
Photo by Glynn Wilson
Topper Price wails the blues in the background at the Third Annual Crawfish and Blues Festival Saturday in downtown Tuscaloosa.
You and I are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. We are descended from the same cultural roots and the same genetic code, although I may have more Native American genes than your average member. We share a common culture and common interests in ethics, community and a value for life.
Yet if you read some of the things I’ve said about you in the past, you may not like it very much. You may believe that we profoundly disagree on just about everything, especially on some basic issues like the origin of life and the role of the church in shaping the policies of state.
Photo by Glynn Wilson
A white-throated sparrow just trying to survive…
Due to a recent letter to your preacher by someone I deeply respect, however, I am willing to reconsider my position on organized religion’s role in a dangerous quest to lead the world to the abyss of an Armageddon that does not necessarily have to come about to fulfill Biblical prophecy. Or at least I am willing to objectively suspend judgment for a time, in the larger interest of making a last ditch effort to see if E.O. Wilson’s appeal to your heart might change your collective minds.
You see like E.O. Wilson, I too can be called a “secular humanist,” or according to the political-religious fanaticism of the day, “The devil.”
I believe that the world evolved basically like Darwin said it did in On the Origin of Species: “…this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
Like Darwin and Wilson, I believe there is no guarantee of life after death and that “heaven and hell are what we create for ourselves, on this planet. There is no other home. Humanity originated here by evolution from lower forms over millions of years.”
“Humanity doesn’t need a moon base or a manned trip to Mars. We need an expedition to planet Earth,” Wilson writes, and I agree, since it seems to me neither a philosophy of a Rapture or an escape to space are viable options for humanity. Both are fantasies born of human fear and creativity based on myths passed down through the generations – dreams that have influenced us genetically and culturally.
I also believe that ethics is the code of behavior we share on the basis of reason, law, honor, and an inborn sense of decency, “even as some ascribe it to God’s will.”
When I first heard about Wilson’s latest work and his appeal to put aside our metaphysical disagreements in the interest of saving life on earth, I was skeptical. I am still skeptical.
I’m afraid Wilson’s argument and book are way over the heads of most evangelical Christians. Rare is the Baptist preacher who would risk his own religious-political hide to join the enemy of corporate Christianity in an endeavor to fight global warming and the mass extinction of species Wilson predicts will happen over the course of the next century.
I am not even sure I agree with Wilson’s argument that religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world today.
But let’s say for the sake of argument he is right. And in the interest of approaching the politics of sustainability like Karl Rove approaches the politics of unbridled corporate capitalism, let’s say this tactic has a chance of success. Let’s say an appeal to Baptist preachers can sway a certain segment of the religious community over to our side in the fight to transform the planet and set it off in a better direction.
Wilson suggests setting aside all the differences between science and religion “in order to save Creation.” For, he says: “The defense of Nature is a universal value.”
What Wilson may not realize, or if he does he fails to make it clear in any of his work, is that to accomplish what he sets out to do, it will take a massive reversal of public political momentum away from the Republicanization of the entire church community in the United States. The Conservative Movement pushed by Televangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson – capitalized on by politicians like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush – has already caused so much destruction both to the natural environment and to human understanding that the cause may already be lost.
It will take an unprecedented change of course in human affairs and a smashing defeat of the most powerful forces on Earth – the large corporations that have amassed so much wealth that chances are they will be able to defeat any movement in the direction Wilson envisions.
Unless the multi-national energy companies and insurance companies and auto makers and related industries get fully onboard, I’m afraid there is not much the churches – or the scientists – will be able to accomplish.
Perhaps Wilson’s thinking is that if all the devout professionals would pressure their bosses at the Southern Company and Exxon Mobile and the like, they would change course. At the very least, a political strategy of dividing corporate conservatives and religious conservatives is worth a try.
I am skeptical that this can happen because the American worker doesn’t even seem capable anymore of organizing around the most basic issues related to his pocketbook, both salaries and health benefits.
If we cannot agree to fight agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that drive down wages, or fund a health care system for the almost 50 million Americans not covered, how are we going to save the whooping cranes?
We can’t even get enough people interested in saving Homo sapiens or the Holy Grail of ornithology, the ivory-billed woodpecker, the “Lawd God” bird.
How are we going to convince Baptist preachers, whose contributions come in large measure from people who work at companies such as Alabama Power, to reverse their exemptionalism and organize to save obscure frogs in Hawaii or a host of unnamed bugs, weeds and fungi?
Wilson is right that people in most countries today have lost touch with their natural sense of biophilia – or connection to nature.
“They have pushed the rest of life to the margin, and rank its decline well down in the order of their personal concerns,” Wilson admits.
Yet he is still somehow an optimist, dear church member, and he has more hope for you than I do.
“I believe that as the scientific study of human nature and living Nature grows,” Wilson says, the two great forces of science and religion will unite mankind in time to save life on Earth.
“The central ethic will shift, and we will come full circle to cherish all of life not just our own,” Wilson says.
Is there hope? Or is it too late? Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
Wilson may be right to think that appealing to the religious community may be the only hope left. We will see if he is right.
His formula misses one other aspect that will be important in saving the planet. And here’s where the church may actually be able to help.
I can understand why Wilson wouldn’t bring it up. He’s leaving out politics and war altogether.
But here it is: Mankind needs a different kind of leadership to come to terms with the futility and destructiveness of war.
It’s up to you, church member.
So, what do you say?
Will you change course and switch sides in this fight?
Or will Armageddon become a self-fulfilling prophesy?
“Who says nothing is impossible? Some people do it every day.”
– Alfred E. Neuman
Connecting the Dots
by Glynn Wilson
If life imitates art far more than art imitates life, as Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde both contended, then what are we to make of Alfred W. Bush?
What, me worry?
Blah, blah. Jibber, jabber.
I am just a humble reporter, right? So what do I know about art – or running a country?
But I do know something about doing nothing and doing the impossible.
I do nothing almost every day.
Every once in a great while, I will gear myself up and do the impossible, like stopping a river from being dammed or a road from being built.
I once wrote a story with the zany, sensational headline: “Endangered Sea Turtles Killed by City Street Lights.”
The result was a new policy in the city of Gulf Shores, Alabama, to turn off the streetlights for two weeks every year – while the loggerhead sea turtles hatch on the Gulf Coast. You see, when the hatchlings come out of their holes in the sand, they are driven genetically to the moon shining off the ocean water. It’s natures of way of telling them what direction to crawl to survive.
When they crawl out and see the street lights, well, they head for the road – and a bad fate.
So what if we as a country decided to just turn out the lights for a day?
I’m not kidding.
What I am proposing is a bona fide national strike to protest all that is wrong in the world.
To all my activist friends, what about it?
What we need is not a national day of protest. What we need is a national day of rest.
Wouldn’t it be grand to see the media jump all over themselves covering a story about a country completely shutting down because no one shows up for work?
We’ll let the media off the hook on this one. They have to work even on Christmas and the Fourth of July.
When the power shuts down and the phones don’t work and the Internet crashes, someone in Washington will freak out and wonder where all the people have gone.
Look at it this way. Consider how much energy we could save in one work day just by staying home and doing nothing.
According to the federal government, every day America burns 1 million Btus of energy for every man, woman and child in the U.S. The average single-family household in the U.S. consumes a little more than 100 million Btus every year.
A national day of rest would save enough energy to keep us out of any more wars in the Middle East, and we would not have to consider drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska or within 100 miles of the Florida coast.
We would not have to consider chopping down entire forests and turning all the trees into wood chips to make a new and strange form of biofuel.
So what about it? If you are pissed off about anything, anything at all, won’t you join me in this strike? This national day of rest?
Don’t call in sick. Just don’t show up.
And turn off your lights. You might find that you have a strange new peace of mind that you have never experienced before. You might experience some peace and quiet for a change. And we might all be the better for it.
Alfred W. Bush could spend the day on his Crawford, Texas, ranch, and think about life, art – or his legacy.
Who knows? We could come out of it a better country. Maybe the world would join us and we could have a worldwide day of rest.
There is no accounting for taste, or for how people learn and use new technology.
While I am an avid student of how people use the Internet, especially, I hate to be called a preacher or even a teacher. Although I’ve been called both – sometimes as a compliment; sometimes not.
But I’ve been thinking lately that it would not be a bad idea to start one’s own church in the good old US of A, considering the penchant on the part of the masses to search out someone else with the aura of authority to tell them what to think and how to live – and considering the tax laws.
Present company excluded, of course, since I suspect most of the readers lurking here are more likely to search out a great watering hole than a church. But there are several points worth considering for even the most intelligent audience in what I am about to say.
One of the smartest guys to ever walk the earth, Albert Einstein, once said: “Technological change is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
There is a lot of technological change going on. Some for good; some for bad. And there are some attempts being made to explain it, but you have to search them out – or find a journalist or blogger to find them for you and provide a free and easy summary you can get to on your computer screen.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Jan. 7 – It is 72 degrees in mid-January and still drizzling rain in T-Town. It looks like global warming is taking a toll after six years of being denied and ignored by the Bush administration.
All the national news organizations are focusing on what Bush will say in an address to the nation this week about the quagmire in Iraq.
Trial balloons are being floated over the airwaves saying he will propose sending anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 more troops to face the growing insurgency there. Not many Republicans or Democrats think that will be enough troops to do much good, and most of the Democrats think it will just do more harm than good.
The notable exception is Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who wants to run for president in 2008 and thinks the only path to that success will be some sort of “victory” in Iraq.
Photo by Glynn Wilson
“Bear” Bryant’s image casts a shadow over Tuscaloosa.
Meanwhile back at the Christian-Republican ranch in Alabamaland, all the buzz is about the University of Alabama’s success in recruiting Nick Saban to take over the UA football program.
The only war that really matters here is the one between the Crimson Tide and a smattering of orange-clad opponents on the gridiron, most notably the Auburn tigers and the Tennessee volunteers.
As usual I am torn between the glaring contradictions.
While the people of Alabama claim to be deeply Christian, their Bible clearly says in the venerated Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me … Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”
Yet towering over the psyche of this place is a granite statue of the winning football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. And as we reported this week before the Saban press conference, there is an empty spot on the “walk of champions” in front of the newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium for a new statue for the next coach who wins a national championship.
And just about everyone around here, including virtually every sports writer at every local newspaper, thinks Saban has what it takes to capture that spot in college football history – even if the national sports press corps thinks Saban is a liar.
The opinion and theory that Saban will be a winner here will be tested on the football fields of the Southeastern Conference and beyond.
What I want to know is: When will the people of Alabama and the local news media start caring as much about good government as they do about a winning football program? When will they get as tough on politicians are they are on football coaches?
If a football program is a business and the coach should be treated as a CEO, then shouldn’t we think of government in the same way? If George W. Bush was the CEO of a corporation – or a football coach – he would have been fired in 2004.
But the people elected him again for another four years and the mainstream press for the most part went along with it and even endorsed him.
So much for the theory of the “liberal media.”
Now that the Democrats have taken back control of both houses of Congress, there are many of us out here wondering if they will play the role of a national board of directors – and fire Bush by impeaching him and removing him from office.
The people and the press in Alabama so wanted former Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy to go to jail for their alleged crimes. Where is the outrage over Bush’s crimes against nature and humanity?
If we had elected Al Gore in 2000, we would live in a different world today – a world with no quagmire in Iraq and perhaps some progress by now in dealing with global warming.
But no, the oil companies and corporate CEOs have gotten richer under Bush’s watch – and we’ve done absolutely nothing to deal with the growing threat to the planet from climate change and the greenhouse effect due to the burning of fossil fuels.
Maybe we will start caring about that issue when the beaches of Gulf Shores erode north to Bay Minette.