Friday, December 28, 2007

Bits and Pieces for $50, Alex

Justice and the Presidential Campaign
Have I missed something or have the presidential candidates been awfully quiet about the Bush Justice Department scandal?

You can understand why Rudy, Romney, Huckabee & Co. would be quiet about it? But why haven't Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards made more of an issue of it? Heck, there is strong evidence to suggest that Edwards and Clinton donors were specifically targeted by the Bush DOJ. Shouldn't that irk the candidates just a bit?

A strong argument could be made that this is the single most important domestic issue out there. We have at least four Democrats--Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, Wes Teel, and John Whitfield--being held political prisoner. This is in the US of A folks, and Democratic candidates do not see this as worthy of discussion?

Perhaps the most important decision a Democratic president could make in 2009 would be the appointment of an attorney general. Wouldn't it be interesting to hear who the candidates might nominate? What do they think should be done about the trashing of one of our most treasured institutions--the justice department?

And by the way, who would be good AG candidates in a Democratic administration? Eliot Spitzer? Patrick Fitzgerald?

By God, if Ellen Brooks would get off her duff and get moving down in Montgomery County, Alabama, I would support her for AG. Ms. Brooks, our friend Robby Scott Hill says you have the authority to go after some of the Republican sleazebags who have turned Alabama into a justice cesspool. Are you ready to go, girl?

Putin? Person of the Year?
What on earth was Time magazine thinking when it named Russian president Vladimir Putin as its Person of the Year?

If there ever was an open-and-shut candidate for Person of the Year, it came in 2007--and his name is Al Gore. He's won a Nobel prize, an Emmy, and an Oscar. He has led the effort to build public awareness on global warming--the single most important issue of this, or any other, age. And perhaps his greatest achievement is the utter dignity and class with which he has handled being the victim of perhaps the biggest screw job in modern times--the U.S. Supreme Court's gift wrapping of the presidency for George W. Bush in 2000.

And Time picks Vladimir Putin? Something tells me the Time folks did not want to put up with the grief they would have taken from right wingers for making the obvious choice of Gore.

Fred Hiatt, of the Washington Post, has an interesting take on the pick of Putin.

Citizen Stands Up to Riley
Let's hear it for Fred Plump, of Fairfield, Alabama, who has the spine to stand up to Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

Plump filed a lawsuit against Riley, claiming the governor lacked jurisdiction to name a replacement to the Jefferson County Commission seat left vacant when Larry Langford became Birmingham mayor.

The case is set for hearing Jan. 15 before a three-judge panel in Montgomery. If legal precedent counts, this should be a no-brainer. As we noted in an earlier post, Riley tried to pull a similar stunt in Mobile, and a federal court overruled him. Evidently the governor is hard-headed, just like a certain resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who oversaw the Don Siegelman prosecution, is on the three-judge panel, so I would say Riley has one vote in the bag.

"Somebody had to step out," Plump said. "I had no problem doing that." Good for him.

But with Fuller in the game, Plump is going to need help. I hope Democrats and activists who care about justice will watch this case closely. There doesn't appear to be much doubt that Riley is in the wrong. But don't be surprised if he comes out on top in this case.

Here's a pet theory of mine: I think Fuller, Riley and other GOP wackos, deep down, believe they are anointed by God to rule our country and protect us from people with dark skin. Without Fuller, Riley & Co., America (in their minds) would be overrun by people with dark skin--and that must not be allowed to happen. That, I propose, is why they are so threatened by white, male, Southern progressives like Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, Bill Clinton, and so on.

Now normal people, with Congress investigating the Bush Justice Department, would straighten up and fly right. But Fuller, Riley & Co. are not normal people. They are on a mission from God. And they will never change unless Democrats in Congress gird their loins and fight to take back our country's justice system.

Republican sleazebags have a deep sense of entitlement--that they deserve to run things, especially in the South. And they will not give that up lightly. If Congressional Democrats are not prepared for the fight of their lives, Republicans will go on running roughshod over the Constitution.

If I've learned one thing from my almost 30 years of living in the South, it is this: Southerners flat out know how to fight. The Civil War should have been the biggest mismatch in the history of man. But the Rebs were mean as rattlesnakes, and they were tougher fighters than the Yanks. If the resources on the two sides had been remotely equal, we would all be whistling Dixie right now. And why do you think Southerners are so good at all the sports that involve violence--football, stock-car racing (OK, hockey's an exception)?

And Southerners love a winner who doesn't mind breaking a few rules to get his way. Heck, it's no accident that the two cheatingest conferences in the history of college football are the old Southwest Conference (based mostly in Texas) and the Southeastern Conference, with headquarters in Birmingham.

Guys like Fuller and Riley--and George W. Bush, for that matter--know this. That's why they cloak themselves in religion and righteousness and feel perfectly fine about treating the law as their personal plaything.

Here's a thought: On Christmas Eve, I would bet my mortgage that Fuller and Riley and their kindred souls were at various church services, drinking in the Holy Spirit. Did it ever occur to them that they were responsible for imprisoning innocent people? Did they feel the slightest bit of guilt about that?

I doubt it.

Hey, Why No Legal Schnauzer?
I was bitterly disappointed the other day when The Birmingham News did not include Legal Schnauzer in its story celebrating local bloggers.

After all the nice things I've had to say about the paper, you would think they could give me a little plug. Think I'll call Brett Blackledge and Tom Scarritt, two of my favorites, to ask about this oversight.

On a serious note, I was pleased to see that, by my friend Stanley Holditch, was mentioned in the article. In fact, Stanley was so shocked at the coverage, that he had to write about it.

Aren't We Really Talking About "Jury Hellholes?"
A thought occurred to me after posting the other day about the news that Alabama had been removed from some list of "judicial hellholes."

A tort-reform group came up with the list, and Alabama Governor Bob Riley saw it as a good thing that Alabama no longer is a place where corporate giants like ExxonMobil can be held accountable for their wrongdoing.

But isn't this another clever use of the language by right wingers? What the righties don't like is large jury verdicts. After all, it was a jury that awarded Alabama $3.6 billion in damages in a case against ExxonMobil.

But the GOPers don't want to use the term "jury hellholes." After all, juries are made up of regular people, ones who vote (sometimes).

So the GOPers come up with the term "judicial hellhole." Very clever. And amazingly enough, they get away with it.

We're Surrounded by Nutjobs!
Ever feel like you are surrounded by rude, thoughtless, witless jerk-offs? Ever think we've seen the last of decency and common courtesy? Ever drive down the road and wonder: "Who are these nutjobs weaving in and out of traffic, honking horns, flipping birds, riding bumpers, ignoring speed limits, and running red lights?"

Well, you're not alone. Check out this column by Dick Meyer, of the Washington Post, about his experience at a recent professional football game. If you really want to experience boorishness, sounds like the NFL is the place to be.

Another Case of Animal Cruelty
Speaking of lowlifes and cretins, we have another case of animal cruelty in the Birmingham area. This time a female Siamese cat was tied up in a kitchen garbage bag, stuffed in a gym bag and left dangling from a tree in a Mountain Brook office park.

An architect who worked in the area noticed the gym bag in the tree, and an attorney made the rescue call. The attorney and another employee dried off the cat, who had clawed its way out of the plastic bag. "I thought it was absolutely disgusting," said Keri Kelly, the attorney. "It makes you wonder what is up with the world today."

The cat now is in good condition and with the Birmingham animal rescue group TEARS. A TEARS representative said the cat was well cared for, indicating it probably was someone's pet. They hope to reunite the cat with her owner.

As the proud parents of two Siamese cats, brother and sister Baxter and Chloe, my wife and I were disgusted to read this story. Let's hope authorities can nail the sicko responsible for this.

And by the way, animal lovers are not giving up in their hopes of finding out what happened to Anne, the Cullman County beagle who had to be euthanized after being skinned over most of her body. A forensics report by an Auburn University veterinarian indicated the dog probably was skinned by machinery and not by human hands. But a reward fund has grown to $35,000, and a Cullman County animal-protection official says many residents do not believe the forensics report. The Justice for Anne fund remains in place.

A Red-Faced Schnauzer
Your humble blogger is even more humble than usual today, and a bit red-faced, after a weak attempt at humor didn't go quite as planned.

I recently referred to the blog Buck Naked Politics and an item written by "D Cupples." Being a typical red-blooded, hetero American guy, I can take any phrase that even remotely could refer to breasts and run with it. So after noting the writer's name, D Cupples, I cleverly wrote in parentheses, "How's that for a descriptive nickname."

Now in my defense, my mind might not have so quickly gone in a certain direction had the writer's first initial been, say, "S" or "Q." And I've seen that last name before, but it's always been spelled "Couples," as in the golfer Fred Couples. Somehow, seeing the initial "D" with the spelling "Cup," my mind went to . . . well, you know where.

My wife properly chastised me upon reading the post. "God, you sound like Bevis and Butthead," she said. "I do not," I replied, "huh-huh, huh-huh."

Anyway, turns out D. Cupples is not a nickname. It's the real name of Buck Naked Politics writer Deb Cupples. And I received an e-mail the next day from Ms. Cupples, who, Thank God, has a wonderful sense of humor.

She wrote:

"Hi there,

"Thanks for giving us a nod at your blog. I wanted to let you know that "D. Cupples" is my first initial and last name (not a nickname). A few others have thought that it was a nickname, too.

I'm NOT offended. In fact, I'm laughing.

Happy holidays!


Now, how's that for class? And Deb, I'm laughing with you. Whew!

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