Tin Shop Tartan - Randolph County Alabama's Own Snarky and Surly Scot Gets All Native

Blogging from the suburbs of the Tin Shop community, Captain Plaid brings Progressivism, and a share of Quixotic angst, to the ridges and hollows of Randolph County, Alabama. Hardly a booster yet rooted here enough to fight, Plaidsters can perhaps find like cause in trying to build local solutions to global concerns. Education, environment, economy, entertainment, engagement ... Trust the Tartan!

Monday, July 31, 2006

The decisions between now and December?

Off across the pond with Bob Riley and the industry crowd I guess Steve Dean needed to report back in a manner that demonstrates at least some his conservative bona fides but I'm wondering if maybe I can convince him of some of what I'll offer in this post.

Vanessa Sorrell Burnside reports in this past week's Leader "Dean: Korean trip laid groundwork for industry recruitment" with good news and insight plentiful. I'm sure Korean culture is interesting yet their respect for tradition/history and value of education is noted. I'd long known about "cram schools" in South Korea for high school students on the university track, hardly a positive method of learning I'd add, but there is no dispute the entire nation values education. This portion of the reporting was revealing:
The group met grammar school children who spoke fluent English, a required class in South Korean elementary schools. By the time they graduate, the students know English, plus a third language
With Steve as the source and "the group" being the forty eight member Alabama delegation, Vanessa reports the following:
"Be as aggressive as you can and build relationships," said Riley to the group. "The decisions made between now and December will affect the next generation."
Now I'll admittedly take this quote beyond what Governor Riley meant but it makes for a good post title and also I think indicates much about what ails Alabama and our region. What will matter for this next generation is not about landing tier supplier plants! Should they build relationships? Certainly, although if they do so aggressively that could be an issue, they should invite people to consider our area. Why would they want to be locating around here? Could it because our folks are hard workers that are sharp and dependable and ... ?

Nope! It's because we'll buy them off with tax abatements. If they didn't know we'd do this then it's not because they weren't listening. Here's the quote:
The businessmen heard a seminar on what we have to offer in terms of transportation through Alabama. Tax abatements were also explained. The Sonata and Santa Fe will be built in Alabama in the future. Thirty suppliers were invited, but 15 to 20 more also showed up.

So we explain to the South Korean businessmen that our nation takes money from government functions like education to make sure our people have jobs. I'd posted off of Matt Singer's "Overpaying for Jobs" work previously so I'll not repeat his arguments. Corporate welfare good and poor people welfare bad? Tracking claims of benefits to the public from the corporate version seems easy enough and it shows there is much promised and little delivered.

Seriously, if we want to make a difference for Alabama's next generations, and the one or two before perhaps to boot, then we'll try the South Korean reverance for education. Learning is the key. Begging for and buying industrial jobs is secondary or even lower. Should we beg and buy? Maybe. But the focus should always be on building up our citizens. Three languages? Some of ours are lucky to get one! I recall being told that Alabama was spending many thousands on getting industrial workers that had been through our schoolsready for their bought jobs. It seems like we'd be better off building the future population in the first place. Then we'll perhaps not have to sacrifice our future for this generation of laborers?

A tip of the tam to Roanoke Telephone Company (Big Mule Power is in my doghouse right now so "No salute for you!") for helping pay his way. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kos' SusanG on "The Impossibility of Unknowing"

Good things comes to those that wait. I've been wanting to do a Tin Shop Tartan post all day yet nothing suited me until I read SusanG's "The Impossibility of Unknowing". I think this ties in to the idea of seeking understanding that I've been struggling with while posting on bias and the media and sources and ... Learning for merely learning's sake has even been stolen or at least limited by this administration!

SusanG writes the following segments that truly resonate for me:

I've always considered gaining knowledge an indisputable good, but these pieces of the world I've come to know in the past six years have the feel of being forced into me under threat. They now carry with them a weight and a darkness.

The Ninth Ward. Haditha. Guantanamo Bay.

How much sweeter to have picked up these nuggets of geography and history as I always have, serendipitously led through a leisurely stepping stone process of one book or conversation suggesting another, and yet another, and now a couple of twists and turns ... you start out here, reading Faulkner and next you're drawn to learning about cotton production and before you know it, you're at civil rights.

Instead, in all cases above, I'd begun my acquaintance because of headlines and horrors and a screaming, driving voice in my head: There's something wrong! There's something very, very wrong! Learn about it! Fast!

The jumble of panicked facts I feel I've had to jam into my brain to qualify as a reasonably informed citizen makes my skull feel swollen, as though I've had to take a crash correspondence course - sometimes several at once - at the same time I'm in a sprint for my mental life.

There's a loss in that, a taint on the previously enjoyable process of innocent inquiry. ...

The tone is completely different for, say, my recent thirst for ...

Some nights I go to sleep under this administration and wonder: What new horror am I going to have cram into my head tomorrow morning? What new form of torture? What unfamiliar town or province?

My brain's been hijacked and my eagerness to read news killed. I know too much now compared with how much I knew in the innocent 1990's. And there seems no way to un-know it or bleach it clean of the flavor of its original acquisition. ...

Certainly of all the atrocities and diminishments since Bush took office, having personal fact-flavor problems seems unworthy of even a footnote. Arguably, I should have removed my head from my sorry American provincial ass a long time ago to learn more about Islam or the precise wording of the Geneva Conventions. Still, the knowledge of foreign cities, dodges of the law, how Abramoff's money came to be laundered ... all of these facts feel IV'ed into me on a timetable set by an administration I despise. That seems a final, intrusive indignity, small as it is.

It is like a foundational shift has happened in these last few years. I've personally been at some low, low points in my life and yet these last few years rank as low as any from merely what our nation has endured under the dismal leadership of George W. Bush and his GOP.

I've felt isolated from my family due to my deviating from the doctrines that some, I think stretching greatly to make these applications, claim are the legacies of our ancestors. That I've been so bold as to show my love and concern for my world by engaging in relatively limited, reasoned, and polite dissent has brought me pain and even more isolation.

To have this this largely brought about by my feeling an obligation, even so far as a duty, to confront this cabal in our White House is bad enough. SusanG is correct in also blaming him/them for removing some of the joy of learning and the inherent rewards gained in seeking understanding. SusanG is right I think also of the fatigue in working so hard to keep relatively well informed. The mainstream media could certainly do a better job in reducing our workloads.

Well done! I'll sleep better tonight simply from knowing there's another that feels the same frustrations and losses. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Does the media ignore "The Conehead Economy"?

Ezra Klein crossposts his "The Conehead Economy" at The American Prospect's Tapped. Since I have gone after the idea of media bias recently, I'll share the following:
In the past, I've called this "The Conehead Economy" -- plenty of growth in the economic body, but all of it happening in the top percent. Were that to happen to a person, you'd see six inches of growth in their forehead and doctors everywhere would be puzzling over how to correct the deformity. As it is, the media trumpets the growth, the politicians backslap over the roaring economy, and everyone wonders why the average American seems so unhappy. Meanwhile, the media rarely mentions data showing that incomes for the bottom 60 percent have grown by merely 20 percent in the last 30 years (the top one percent saw that much growth last year) -- with nearly all those gains coming during the mid-‘90s. Indeed, this sort of economic concentration hasn't existed since 1929 -- hardly a golden period in American life.
Do the facts have an anti-conservative bias? If you suggest this trend is "supply side" or "trickle down" then I'll counter that the rising tide seems to only be lifting the yachts. We don't have too many yachts around here do we? Peace ... or War!

Friday, July 28, 2006

"the facts are biased…the facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda"

As a follow up to my post yesterday on The Leader's editorial on "media bias" I'll hand you Eric Alterman's Think Again column from the Center for American Progress entitled "Bush Bounces, Reporters Follow".

Professor Alterman's "When Presidents Lie" appears as our post image. (A new paperback will only run you a little over $10.00 even though I've linked to the hardcover.) In this work he examines FDR, FK, LBJ and The Gipper with the lens of history, although some of Reagan's revolting record in Latin America remains classified. Certainly his description of Bu$hCo as the first "post truth" President reveals his views of Dubyah yet it also holds as an indictment of how the press has handled this White House.

In his CAP piece he lays out some strong supporting evidence of recent kid glove treatment given Bu$hCo by Newsweek, Time, and CNN.

"The facts are biased" was and is borrowed from Rob Corddry of The Daily Show. And we know it is just not the facts in Iraq. All the facts, in essentially every single thing his administration touches, are seemingly conspiring against this President. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Informed citizens seek a free and vigorous press!

I think The Randolph Leader editorial from this week's paper entitled "Media bias is in the eye of the beholder" was rather solid. The close is especially strong with,
That is not good for solving our problems. People who hear all sides of an issue with an open mind are better able to make informed decisions. Yet people are increasingly substituting obviously biased talk shows and other opinion sources for real news. Listening to someone who says what we already believe is more comfortable than being exposed to ideas from the other side. The proliferation of opinion blogs on web sites insures that we can continue increasing our dose of comfortable ideas while not having to be exposed to those with which we disagree.
I'll first suggest that the Leader's dismissal of blogs seems a touch broad. The point is taken if one doesn't seek out alternative views but I'll argue that many liberals are always seeking. We often in fact hold our views tenuously, this being one reason we often seem a touch wishy washy I fear, in that we are seeking out ways to better understand issues. Indeed blogs are a double-edged sword but I'll stack even an average blog from the lefty blogosphere up against even a selected one from the right.

Part of the charm of blogging for me is the ability to process reporting and ideas with a critical eye. A person with even a limited amount of experience and talent can quickly fact check and challenge positions that once might have taken serious work and effort to expose. That being said, or written I guess being more accurate, having an overwhelming amount of information to wade through begs for problems if we use few sources to filter our information.

Certainly humans, even rather learned persons, often avoid constructs that challenge their comfortable views. However, persons that are seeking the truth actually seek out alternative views. I long for resources that stand up to scrutiny presenting a conservative interpretation. That they seem to be few and far between, at least according to that I hope are my genuine efforts to give them a true opportunity to influence my thinking, reveals I hope more about Conservatism than myself.

Online sources on deeply examining media bias include eRiposte but for deep work I'd start with Professor Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media?" . I've got a copy on my shelves if a local person wants to borrow. I've not yet read but Eric Boehlert's "Lapdogs : How the Press Rolled over for Bush" has gotten some good press. Former right wing attack artist David Brock's "The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy" is understood to be a worthy effort.

Online efforts like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), MediaMatters, Crooks and Liars, News Hounds, HuffPo's Eat the Press, ConWebWatch, and ... help use keep an eye on the media. Let us not forget the astroturfing and the right wing think tanks and wingnut welfare and the Mighty Wurlitzer and Rush Limbaugh, King of the Dittoheads, plus Michael Savage and Ann Coutler and Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck and ...

I'll stack up leftist leaning reporting any day with right wing reporting. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Question - What Would Local Polling Reveal?

Harris Interactive has just released a new poll that is revealing and yet I first wondering how this locale might measure up in looking at the same questions. Portions to note include:
Sixty-four percent say it is true that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda (the same as 64% in February 2005).

Despite being widely reported in the media that the U.S. and other countries have not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, surprisingly; more U.S. adults (50%) think that Iraq had such weapons when the U.S. invaded Iraq. This is an increase from 36 percent in February 2005.
If folks are so often wrong, and I'll submit that many are, about many of the facts on/in Iraq, then there's no wonder "leaders" like Bu$hCo (or Jeff Sessions or ...) represent us. This piece from Cato, originally appearing in The Moonie Times, reveals some recent news of old artillery shells (that was spun minimally even from Bu$hCo!) that might explain a slight shift in numbers on the weapons yet can surely not have caused a fourteen point shift.

The mere opinions are revealing as well yet I figure most of those optimistic opinions are coming from the pople who are ignorant of the truth.

I am often amazed at how seemingly uninformed the people that I come into with appear to be when conversations turn toward the news or politics or pretty much anything of substance. Perhaps more dangerous are those that are actually misinformed. Even taking away the many fundamentalists and the rednecks in this neck of the woods, I fear we've still got a good dose of both ignorance and stupidity around here. I'm wondering about the factors that cause such limitations and how this could possibly be reversed.

I'm also going to reveal that I'm pondering a move from this area. I'm thinking this would be in my , and others, best interest for several reasons yet one major factor is the idea of being around a different set of folks. Although I've got dear friends from my childhood and have developed some new ones as well in our area, I'm thinking that work and life elsewhere might have me thrown in with a different lot. The teaching gets tougher and tougher, most especially so by the conservative paperwork and bureaucracy, and the idea of practicing law again, especially in the grind of small town or small firm practice, holds little attraction. Doing policy or campaign or non-profit or ... work is where I'm looking.

Here's hoping for some comments from the local crowd. Peace ... or War!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wage Stagnation Despite Four Year Degree

I've been posting over on Captain Bama regarding the scandals at Alabama's JuCo system yet this is even more disturbing. Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the LA Times reports "That Raise Might Take 4 Years to Earn as Well : Those with bachelor's degrees are finding their incomes stagnate despite a growing economy."

With the economy growing, unemployment low, and corporate profits surging, one has to wonder how our nation, much less our local community, can accept what appears to be undeniable facts? The report reveals:

Wage stagnation, long the bane of blue-collar workers, is now hitting people with bachelor's degrees for the first time in 30 years. Earnings for workers with four-year degrees fell 5.2% from 2000 to 2004 when adjusted for inflation, according to White House economists.

It is a remarkable setback for workers who thought they were well-positioned to win some of the benefits of the nation's economic growth, and it may help explain why surveys show that many Americans think President Bush has not managed the economy well.

Not since the 1970s have workers with bachelor's degrees seen a prolonged slump in earnings during a time of economic growth. These workers did well during the last period of economic growth, 1995 to 2000, with inflation-adjusted average wages rising 12%, according to an analysis by the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

The reporting is using figures supplied by Bu$hCo's 2006 Economic Report of the President.

In our locale many college graduates are employed as educators in the public schools yet opportunities are very limited. Much of our young talent must leave, not that they are missing much I'd offer, to earn their fortune. If nationally the trend is not looking good for regular Americans then admittedly in our area they might appear dreadful.

From so called "free trade" to outsourcing to unregulated hyper-capitalism to Bu$h tax policies favoring the Big Mules to ... our government is hardly serving the needs of regular Americans, even those advancing their education. I'm still wading through David Sirota's "Hostile Takeover" but I think he's certainly correct in his belief that the Big Mules have bought our government. Peace ... or War!

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Old Daddy would be Offended

You could seemingly spot this one from a mile away. My Dad used to talk of his days as the High Sheriff and having to walk ground over and over and still have trouble finding the stills. That bright yellow begs to be found.

The reporting and photography of Vanessa Burnside of The Randolph Leader tells I think a very sad story. Felony charge for having (homemade from Foxfire books) the equipment to run off a little batch of shine seems draconian. A felony!

I could make an argument that any charges (for the still, shine, marijuana, etc.) ought not to result. The personal use of marijuana ought to be legal, and alcohol is certainly here in Randolph County with certain limitations, so at worst some slight consequences for Mr. Czik should result.

I fear that here in Randolph County they'll try to throw the book at Mr. Czik. What might make it worse is that it appears, from my reading of the coverage, that he was the victim of a crime or at least an accident. Although I can't exactly be certain, he might have even called the Sheriff's Office.

This homemade still and those three plants, natural and native, may very well wind up costing him him thousands of dollars in costs and fines and attorney fees. He's living in a trailer so perhaps he's not doing that well already when it comes to making a living. What this event will cost the taxpaying public is also an issue but I'll defer on trying to calculate. There's a cost to every function of government of course yet I'd rather see us spend our limited resources in more Progressive ways than this. Lord knows how many days of "Community Service" he'll have to give Randolph County if he gets in front of a certain local Judge. Rather ironic isn't it! Additionally, he might get some some jail time. He risks losing the right to vote, his driver's license, and the privilege of owning a gun. There are also "Court Referral" and/or "supervision" fees and hassles. There may be consequences to his current and/or future employment opportunities. Does this seem proportionate? Isn't there a more rational way to handle "crimes" like this?

No wonder we have even more coverage of the Roanoke Spaceport/Jail in this week's paper, something I hope to address as time allows. We also had news on the County's progress in building a new jail, something that is perhaps needed given how stacked and packed it stays. The incarceration industry is apparently thriving here in Randolph County. Of course, the same can be said for our nation as the U.S. has the highest incarceration level in the world. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Runoff Election Today - Don't Shirk Your Duty

SEIU's Andy Stern Wants Labor and Business to Join Together to Solve Our Health Care Crisis

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is led by Andrew Stern, pictured to the left. Mr. Stern's organization has created Americans for Health Care that is a solid resource for even local people concerned about our national health care crisis. While actually not available at The Wall Street Journal sans subscription, the SEIU Press Release of yesterday reveals the substance of what Mr. Stern recently shared with their Editorial Board, hardly considered as fair minded in their opining by Captain Plaid ... or even their very own news division. I agree that the days of horse and buggy health coverage may be past us. Portable, government-based options will work for individuals and for business. Unlike the current Bu$hCo medicare reform that was a gift to Big Pharma real reform will involve cooperation and avoid political posturing. The current system is simply broken and if our politicians can't do this then I think it is natural for labor and business to isolate them long enough to get the deal done. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hyundai Chairman Meets with Governor Riley

Walter Woods of the AJC reports "Hyundai boss returns to job : Visiting Ala. delegation relays good news about Georgia Kia plant" but that great big "whew" you are hearing comes from Georgia's Governor Sonny Purdue.

In a related matter, Sonny, plus many other state and local officials, are hoping few consider Matt Singer's "Overpaying for Jobs" piece that recently appeared at Tom Paine. That Wal-Mart is given tax breaks to destroy local businesses while paying wages often at the poverty level is the most outrageous portion of the work yet the idea that businesses get these massive tax breaks with little if any accountability is also frustrating. This educator had about all the "accountability" he could stand. I'd submit measuring the outcome of tax policies is a hell of a lot easier than measuring how students, especially often ornery and lazy and poorly prepared and ... teenagers that I worked with, are being educated. You "business progressive" types and worshippers of the market might need to see how your ideas measure up before you start beating on the educators.

The article revealed the Alabama delegation has met with nearly thirty suppliers. I'm not sure if our Steve Dean is in this group or not but I'm optimistic our area can and will benefit from the Kia plant, assuming things go forward, being so close. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bob, Hutch, Sam ... Are You Ready to Celebrate?

The Randolph County Republican Party got some press in this past week's Leader with news of the group running the local party will consist of Bob Fincher, Hutch Hammond, and Sam Carpenter. I've locked horns with Bob only once in a political discussion when he attacked the legacy of FDR yet I'd enjoy a chance to talk with this groups about the "leadership" of Bu$hCo revealed today when Dubyah claims a deficit of merely $296 billion for fiscal year 2006 vindicates his policies of tax cuts for the Big Mules.

Judd at ThinkProgress gives us the numbers where this comes in as the 4th highest deficit in American history. Dubyah has the top four although Dad's 1992 was a close 5th! In the interest of fairness I'll cite the WaPo on rank in comparison to GDP.

But when measured against the size of the economy _ at 2.3 percent of gross domestic product _ the 2006 deficit would be lower than the deficits of 17 of the past 25 years.
In February the prediction was that we'd have a $423 billion deficit so maybe that is why the White House trotted out Dubyah to "celebrate". Revenues are running higher indeed yet the idea that the economy is humming along seems disengenous. And few if any people doubt that the Bu$hCo tax cuts have benefits mostly to the top of the food chain. In fact, Citizens for Tax Justice, admittedly part of the frayed union machine, claimed recently that 99% of Alabamians are worse off under the Bu$h tax cuts.

Additionally, cutting taxes while engaged in an expensive war seems to run contra to my understanding of economics.

That we celebrate the fact that the other factor causing this "good news" is from cuts in funding some important programs cannot be denied. "Irresponsible and Obscene" is still working for me. I'll also add that the economy is hardly grand for the average person around our locale. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - July 12th - The WaPo Editorial Board gives us "Deficit of Candor" that ties in to the above. Bu$hCo bragging reminds me of his "Commander Codpiece" moment some three years ago.

Monday, July 10, 2006

El Cabrero of Goat Rope writes on Social Capital

Tip of the tam to Susan G at Daily Kos for getting me to Goat Rope. Economic and social justice in West Virginia ought to be a fertile field, as is true for our Highlands here in Randolph County. I like the images of the critters as well. El Cabrero, who is likely Rick Wilson from my scratching about, has been doing the blogging since about February, as has yours truly.

His posts on being "lonely" spoke to me and I wanted to share.

LONELY AMERICA: THE HIGH COST OF LOW SOCIAL CAPITAL deals with the existence of "civic privatism".
LONELY AMERICA: THE BASICS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL is mainly built off the work of Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community" that talks of bonding and bridging plus plenty more.
LONELY AMERICA: SOCIAL CAPITAL AND MONEY CAPITAL covers thinkers from Durkheim to Weber to Marx to Tocqueville to ... with the bottom line for me being that hyper -capitalism and globalization are both true barriers to associations that indeed do matter.

I really liked the way El Cabrero examined these complex issues. I often think of how isolated I feel here in the boonies where the average person can quote NASCAR stats yet hardly engage in discourse on anything of substance. I'll want to ponder on his writing for a while yet I do appreciate his sharing and hope it might help the few folks that drop by here. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Progressivism In Op-Ed of The Randolph Leader

I was pleased to see The Randolph Leader print the work of Holly Sklar, in this case "Sklar: Congress values own paychecks more than workers". While I think men and women serving in Congress ought to be very well compensated, her point contrasting their pay, especially the patterns of raises, with the wages of Americans at the low end of the wage spectrum is well taken.

Ms. Sklar has done tons of work in this area. She co-authored "Raise the Floor : Wages and Policies that Work" that the Ms. Foundation for Women does a good job of covering. Tom Paine carried her work back in March entitled "Wanted: A High-Road Economy" with this portion being the meat of the matter:
The share of national income going to wages and salaries is at the lowest level since 1929—the year that kicked off the Great Depression. The share going to after-tax corporate profits, which heavily benefit corporate executives and other wealthy Americans through increased dividends and capital gains, is at the highest level since 1929.
Ms. Sklar and Rev. Paul Sherry promote their new book via Tom Paine with the piece entitled "The Moral Minimum" with these portions speaking to me:

Contrary to myth, raising the minimum wage helps business and boosts the economy. As Dan Gardner, commissioner of Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries, puts it: "Overall most low-wage workers pump every dollar of their paychecks directly into the local economy by spending their money in their neighborhood stores, local pharmacies, and corner markets. When the minimum wage increases, local economies benefit from the increased purchasing power."

Studies by the Fiscal Policy Institute and others show that states with minimum wages above the federal level have had better employment trends, including faster small business and retail job growth. A new report by the Center for American Progress and Policy Matters Ohio shows that the number of small businesses grew more in states with higher minimum wages and jobs in small retail businesses grew three times faster in higher wage states.

State minimum wage raises are putting thousands of dollars more into the hands of those for whom every extra dollar counts in the struggle to pay rent, health care and other necessities.

The Christianists serving "God's Own Party" often talk of "family values" yet I see little if any focus on social and economic justice. Jesus approves of tax cuts for the wealthy I guess? For an alternative view consider "Let Justice Roll".

To close, I agree Ms. Sklar would make a great Secretary of Labor. Peace ... or War!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Randolph Natives Show "High Jefferson" Style

I've known Leland Whaley was a GOP operative yet I was surprised to find out recently that he and Babs now had Alabama Home TV. Congrats to our Randolph County folks.

In B'ham, or perhaps Shelby, I suppose yet "High Jefferson" either way. I was pleased to hear they'd married and wish them well in their relationship and careers. (Well ... perhaps not his political pursuits. Resist the Dark Side Leland!) His Dad's radio career, plus my knowing his mother and brother and sister, and Bab's family for certain were surely part of our community back when I was growing up. I think both were a year behind my 1984 class at Handley. They make a lovely couple!

Leland, known as "Langford" (see update #2) when he roomed with some buddies of mine down on the Plains, has been involved with the Republican Party I think most of his adult life. His time as a "journalist" might or might not count. Apparently he did not anger the Big Mules too much given his career path, at least as best as I can tell.

His "consulting" earned the wrath of Pam Spaulding, rightly so I add, for his role in producing a homophobic flier to defeat a woman seeking the legislative seat of her late husband. That the late husband was a Methodist lay minister and his widow Gloria Dolbare a Sunday School teacher mattered not the state GOP. Leland had the decency, or perhaps audacity, to admit the action and offer a polite yet pitiful excuse.

His time with Bob Riley likely helped hone his "smoothness". Bob might need some smooth talkers given this lingering questions that have been most recently stirred by The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee report quoting Jack Abramoff as saying $13,000.000.00 of Choctaw gambling money flowed in to help him get elected back in 2002. Black Jack could have been scheming or simply fibbing yet this seems at least worthy of inquiry. I expect Leland might have some inside information on the exact score since he was up to his eyeballs in that campaign plus Riley's time in DC. A 375 page report and I'm simply not going to look to see if Leland's name is mentioned yet Bob Riley (please see update below!), Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, etc. certainly are.

John Giles of the "Alabama Christian Association" naturally denied involvement, beyond confirming the widowed candidate did not respond to a questionairre. Sort of like the denial of the gambling money it seems. The fact that Giles refuses to open his organization's books to allow us to see how much the Big Mules chip in ought to make the ACC irrelevant yet this is Alabama. Playing a role in electing a fine wingnut like Nick Williams is a testament in and of itself on the ACC and our enlightened state. I've scolded Representaive Williams before yet I was unaware that Leland helped bring him to power. Using tactics Karl Rove would have been pleased to have employed, I expect Leland's cup indeed runneth over. Of course the fact that Leland is/was a ACC player is a mere coincidence I'm sure to his/their role in getting down and dirty with this widow. Leland's involvement with DINO Zell Miller reveals little as well.

I think the last time I saw Babs was at Roanoke's First Baptist and as best as I recall Leland and her had not yet married or perhaps he was just not attending that day. I've always liked Babs and her family, with fond memories of her father teaching my teen "Sunday School" class. He was a smart and tough fellow that impressed this kid. I find it a touch sad that Leland Whaley would fit right in up there at FBC, and likely most any congregation around here, and I'm considered the nut job. My family trashed me over my letter taking exception to FBC's encouragement to vote "Yes" on Amendment One. That remains a burr under my/our saddle. Perhaps they could adopt Leland?

I'm sure the fam would also be pleased about Leland tracking down brand new plaintiffs in a recent federal court case challenging the redistricting of legislative boundaries. Even if the Federal Courts didn't reward your hard work, since they'd ruled on basically the same case before, I'm sure my Christianist family would be proud of your service to God's Own Party.

Soldier on Lickford in your service to Alabama's family values (and homes!) and I'll likely just remain "lost". Peace ... or War

UPDATE - July 13, 2006 - I confess! Guilty as charged! I throw myself on the mercy of the Gods of the Blogs. Bob Riley's name, at least as best as I can tell from a quick look at a 357 page PDF document, is not present. Here's the actual reference, again from a brief bounce through the file, that sorta kinda references Governor Riley, or I guess more accurately Candidate Riley. The reference appears as footnote 59 on page 48 of the report and reads as folllows:
59 Id. Months later, Abramoff and Scanlon would cite their association with the Choctaw in furtherance of their scheme to defraud the Tribe: when Abramoff pitched Scanlon in connection with a plan to elect Louisiana officials calculated to be supportive of the Tribe’s gaming interests, called the "Louisiana Political Program," Abramoff told Worfel that Chief Phillip Martin had spent $13 million "to get the governor of Alabama elected to keep gaming out of Alabama so it wouldn’t hurt ... his market in Mississippi." Id.
The editorials and reporting cited above talked of "lingering questions" and admittedly the press, and an understanding of Black Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon and Ralph Reed and ..., seems to indicate the Abramoff/Scanlon team was engaged in a bit of puffery. Despite my error, I do stand by, "Black Jack could have been scheming or simply fibbing yet this seems at least worthy of inquiry." yet maybe that is starting. The Choctaws and Governor Riley's spokesperson have both denied the claim. Given the present polls it might not matter for this fall yet I figure the Riley team would be well served by putting this matter to rest with full disclosures. If some "funny money" was in play, and perhaps it was not based on what seems to be present, then now is the time to disclose. I agree that $13 million seems like too much to hide given what I understand was spent in The Don vs. The Bob yet the story does "linger". Given the involvement of Ralph Reed and John Giles I'll continue to look for "sins" yet maybe Governor Riley is in the clear.

Tip of the tam to Tim for pointing out my mistake in the comments. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - December 2, 2006 - I was just informed the handle given to Leland by a friend was "Langford" rather than Lickford". Many years to even recall the nickname yet I'll blame my buddy's drawl for the mistake. I recall back when Trivia Pursuit was big this same friend confusing our little group by reading "Jack London" as "Jack Lawn Down".