Archive for February, 2006

Leonard Pitts Takes on Fred Phelps

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

May I say once again how much I love Leonard Pitts? Go read his editorial on Fred Phelps, the erstwhile Baptist preacher who takes his “God Hates Fags” campaign around the country to picket the funerals of gays and, now, the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. Mr. Pitts opines that Fred must be gay himself. If Fred runs true to form, he’ll send out a badly formatted press release condemning Mr. Pitts, his readers, and, I guess, anyone who doesn’t “hate fags”. No problem. At least I know I’ll have good company in hell.

Sammie Speigner’s Killer Gets 21 Years

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Wow! Judge Clyde Jones must feel strongly about keeping murderers off the streets — he gave Sammie Speigner’s killer a big one year over the minimum sentence. This even though Raymond Carlisle pulled a gun, chased Prof. Speigner from his car, and then shot him when the Prof got back to his car and tried to drive away. Then Carlisle took Prof. Speigner’s wallet and his car and left him to bleed to death. Carlisle’s excuse? Why, gay panic, of course. And it worked, by God. First, he was convicted of the lesser charge of felony murder rather than capital murder, and now he gets a mere 21 years, out of a possible 20-99 year range, for taking a man’s life. He’ll be eligible for parole in 10. Way to be tough on crime, Judge Jones.

Huh?

Monday, February 27th, 2006

The US Chamber of Commerce has given Tom DeLay an enterprise award and an endorsement.

DeLay, R-Sugar Land, was presented with the “Spirit of Enterprise” award from the chamber group during a Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Peter Havel, regional executive director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Dallas, presented the award to DeLay for his “outstanding leadership” and “for voting with the business community on a consistent basis.”

Havel said the chamber group relies on legislators such as DeLay who believe in free enterprise, fewer taxes and job creation.

Havel also announced the national chamber group’s endorsement of DeLay as he seeks re-election for Congress.

The Chamber also presented the following awards:

*Chastity Award to Heidi Fleiss
*Integrity Award to Richard Scrushy
*Excellence In Management Award to Ken Lay
*Truth In Journalism Award to Bill O’Reilly
*Safe Hunting Award to Dick Cheney
*Miss Congeniality Award to Leona Helmsley
*Heroism In Battle Award to George W. Bush

The GOP Doesn’t Like Truth-Tellers

Monday, February 27th, 2006

The Bush administration today declined to appoint a special counsel to investigate domestic spying, saying that Democrats should instead focus on finding out who had leaked the information about illegal wiretapping. A young man who discovered and reported chicanery by Diebold is now facing felony charges. And two affiliated Texas non-profits that blew the whistle on Tom DeLay’s illegal campaign spending were then audited by the IRS at the behest of an attorney associated with DeLay’s ARMPAC.

These people are all about retaliation.

Monday Morning Reading

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Blues Reader Don Seibold has a couple of interesting pieces up at the Dr. IQ website. Check out “Alabama’s Most Powerful Lobby” and his candidate review.

Bill O’Reilly Wants To Restore Phil Donahue’s Honor and Dignity…

Friday, February 24th, 2006

…or at least that’s what his petition says. He’s “increasingly concerned about the well-being of MSNBC”. What he really wants is for MSNBC to fire Keith Olbermann. Bill definitely needs some cheese to go with that whine.

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video from Countdown last night. Keith did a big spoof of the petition, and it was a hoot! He mentions that his ratings are going up while O’Reilly’s are falling. Maybe that’s why Bill’s squealing so loudly.

Brave Ohio Democrat Proposes Ban on Republican Adoption

Friday, February 24th, 2006

This is a great use of humor to make a point.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to “introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents.”

…Hagan said his “tongue was planted firmly in cheek” when he drafted the proposed legislation. However, Hagan said that the point he is trying to make is nonetheless very serious.

Hagan said his legislation was written in response to a bill introduced in the Ohio House this month by state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, that is aimed at prohibiting gay adoption.

“We need to see what we are doing,” said Hagan, who called Hood’s proposed bill blatantly discriminatory and extremely divisive. Hagan called Hood and the eight other conservative House Republicans who backed the anti-gay adoption bill “homophobic.”

…To further lampoon Hood’s bill, Hagan wrote in his mock proposal that “credible research” shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing “emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities.”

However, Hagan admitted that he has no scientific evidence to support the above claims.

Just as “Hood had no scientific evidence” to back his assertion that having gay parents was detrimental to children, Hagan said.

I like the way this man thinks.

“It flies in the face of reason when we need to reform our education system, address health care and environmental issues that we put energy and wasted time (into) legislation (Hood’s) like this.”

Exactly.

Aren’t We Proud?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Alabama scrapes the bottom of the barrel in many measures, but it’s tops at taxing the poor. Currently, there are two proposals in the legislature to raise the threshold for income tax. Right now it’s a princely $4,600 a year for a family of four. When that income level was set, it was quite progressive. Very few families earned that kind of money, and I guess legislators at the time couldn’t imagine a day when an income four times that high would fall below the poverty line.

Now it seems that raising what has become a ridiculously low threshold is akin to blasphemy. Apparently there are those who believe Jesus wants us to tax the poor deeper into poverty. If the poor would just work hard enough, they could pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. After all, the Bible says that God helps those who help themselves.* Maybe we should heed these words from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“Eliminating state income taxes on working families with poverty-level incomes gives a boost in take-home pay that helps offset higher child care and transportation costs that families incur as they strive to become economically self-sufficient,” the report states. “In other words, relieving state income taxes on poor families can make a meaningful contribution toward `making work pay.’”

*Actually, it doesn’t, but 75% of people surveyed by the Barna Group think it does.

Alabama’s Own Lobbyist Scandal

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

The Anniston Star has an eye-opening editorial about the influence of lobbyists on our Alabama lawmakers. Under current law, registered lobbyists are only required to report expenditures greater than $250 per day on public officials, and those who lobby the Executive Branch are not required to register with the Ethics Commission. Senate Bill 288, which is currently making its way through the legislative maze, would require all lobbyists to register and to report every dollar spent on public officials.

So right now lobbyists can spend up to $250 per day, with no accountability, on each legislator that they want to influence. I don’t know about you, but I’d find it hard to ignore input from someone who was lavishing that kind of money on me. The average constituent doesn’t contribute that much per political campaign every four years.

Of course, the lobbyists’ financial largesse gives them almost unlimited access to our elected officials. Not only do they hang out in the halls of the State House, now they’re finding their way into committee meetings and public hearings.

For some time, critics of the lobbying tactics of the Alabama Education Association have complained about executive secretary Dr. Paul Hubbert working the floor during committee meetings, making sure lawmakers know that he is there and that the AEA is watching.

More recently, in the House committee debate over whether the people of Alabama should decide for themselves if a constitutional convention should be called, The Huntsville Times reported how “Paul Pinyan, an Alfa lobbyist, continually whispered into the ears of members.”

Alfa, it should be noted, is categorically opposed to constitutional reform because its constituents might end up paying reasonable property taxes on their land. Alabama has the lowest property taxes in the US, so low that if they were doubled, they’d still be the lowest. Out-of-state timber companies and agribusinesses love to own land here. They get to use our natural resources for pennies on the acre, and they don’t give a damn if our schools suck or our poorest citizens are overburdened with high sales taxes and income taxes that kick in when a family of four makes $4,600 a year.

How was it that a lobbyist could get so close to committee members during a meeting? And what was he whispering? And to whom?

Was he bending the ear of local representative Randy Wood? Telling him to forget that back in 2002 he told The Anniston Star, “If we’re going to ever grow in Alabama, we’ve got to have a new Constitution.”?

Was he telling Rep. Steve Hurst from Mumford that no one would remember that back in 2002 he told the Talladega Daily Home, “Yes, (the Constitution) should be changed. How should we do it? Let the people vote on how they want it done.”

If that was what Pinyan was doing, he did his work well, because both men decided to vote the lobbyist’s line.

I’ve heard my very own state senator say that he depends heavily on lobbyists to provide information about the myriad bills that are proposed each session. He should be depending on his constituents to keep him informed of their wishes, but unfortunately we don’t speak up often or loudly enough to counterbalance the people who spend all their time and money in Montgomery working the system.

If SB288 passes, at least we’ll know who is buying our legislators and which legislators are allowing themselves to be bought. I’m betting it will face major opposition from lobbyists who will claim that its requirements are too “cumbersome” or “intrusive”. But I see it as a big step in taking back our government.

Hat tip to Don Seibold at Dr. IQ.

South Dakota Passes Abortion Ban…

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

…with no exceptions for the health of the mother or for victims of rape or incest — and with the express purpose of provoking a court challenge. Does the South Dakota legislature really want to force a 12-year-old whose dad or uncle couldn’t keep it in his pants to have a baby? Does it want a severely diabetic woman who has a birth control failure to put her life at risk? Apparently so. In an ideal world, we might not need access to abortion services. But in an ideal world, we’d have comprehensive sex education, easy access to safe and reliable birth control, no diseases or conditions that threaten the life or health of a pregnant woman, no rapists and no child molesters, and no fetal death or catastrophic damage. But we don’t live in that world.

Apparently, the South Dakota legislature doesn’t care. It wants a fight. W has the Supreme Court his supporters have always wanted, and they’re banking on overturning Roe v. Wade. Can Griswold be far behind? After all, a lot of the wingnuts consider contraception to be a form of abortion. We may end up with a government that insists on wives having sex with their husbands whenever they ovulate. Otherwise, they’re aborting a potential life, right?

I pray that none of my daughters will ever be in need of abortion services. I’ll do my best to teach them how to protect themselves. Meanwhile, I guess I’d better start stockpiling condoms and store away a couple of morning-after pills before they disappear from the pharmacy shelves.