Archive for August, 2008

Alice Pate and Josh McKoon on McCain’s Choice for VP

August 30, 2008

 Alice Pate, chair of the Muscogee County Democratic Party:

 There were no surprises in Sen. McCain’s pick for VP. Gov. Palin is a radical right wing candidate. She was energy adviser for Sen. McCain and she supports drilling in Alaska — a policy which will not solve our energy crisis.

 She opposes a woman’s right to choose and if she were to become president would nominate extremists who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

She is a card carrying life long member of the National Rifle Association an organization which opposes limits to automatic weapons which endanger the lives of law enforcement officials and threaten the safety of all citizens.

Her selection is designed to attract the extreme right to support this ticket. With no experience in Washington, if McCain were elected, we would have a woman who is just a heart beat away from the presidency serving as vice president.

 She will not attract independents, moderates and progressives to the party. Gov. Palin is the traditional candidate. We want a ticket which offers a better future not just for our daughters and granddaughters but for our sons and grandsons and for all Americans. As Sen. Barack Obama stated in his historic acceptance speech from Denver, “This election is not about me – it’s about you.” The Promise of America will not be realized by the McCain-Palin ticket. Gov. Palin is the not the right woman. Obama-Biden is the ticket of change.

John McKoon, chair of Muscogee County Republican Party

  What a great day for America!  Gov. Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be President. She has brought Republicans and Democrats together within her administration and has seen approval ratings of over 80 percent.
·         She has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources.
·         She leads a state that matters to every one of us. Alaska has significant energy resources and she has been a leader in the fight to make America energy independent.
·         She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending.  And she put a stop to the bridge to nowhere that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.
·         In Alaska, she challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill.
·         As the head of Alaska’s National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Gov. Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.
Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington.
In choosing Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain put Washington on notice that he is serious about shaking up the status quo.
What we’re seeing is a maverick who has shaken up Washington picking as his teammate a maverick governor who has shaken up her own state.
What it’s going to take to change Washington is a team of Mavericks who have a record of accomplishment in shaking up the status quo.

In Defense of The Hell Raisers

August 30, 2008

  The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes that Columbus Council may move the public agenda to the end of the meeting again. Naturally, the gadflies who make weekly appearances are raising hell about it, which is fine. It’s the hell raisers who often right wrongs. To name a few: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Voltaire, and Martin Luther King, Jr. for a start. That’s not to say that any of the weekly complainers who come before Columbus City Council are in that league. It’s only natural to get the idea that they are seeking attention.  Whatever their motive, it’s their right to speak in my view.

  Which, brings us, as you knew I would get around to, the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of free speech to all Americans.  But, the big catch to that is that, as a number of thinkers have said, free speech isn’t free. What good does it do to speak freely about an important issue if nobody hears what you say? If you are T. Boone Pickens you can buy millions of dollars of TV commercials to tell the country that drilling is not the answer to freeing our country’s dependency on foreign oil. “Drill, drill, drill, but it’s not going going to stop the flow of American dollars to countries that don’t even like us.” He’s selling wind power and natural gas and he has the right idea, in my view, but that’s not the point.  The point is that he is being heard because he has the money to be heard. Also, I like this definition of freedom of the press: “Freedom of the press only belongs to those who own the presses.”

  One great answer to this inequity is what I am doing right now.  People all over the world can read this – that doesn’t mean they will, because I don’t have the money to promote the website address – however, some people are reading it and the cost is almost nothing. That’s why the Internet is so important to the concept of free speech and we can really be thankful for it.

  Power does need to be spoken to, because the old saw about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely has a lot of truth to it. So, we have to put up with those who sometimes seem to be gratifying their egos, and who were probably sent to the principals office a lot when they were young kids because they acted out to get attention, but that’s one price we have to pay for free speech.  It’s worth it.

  Council can move the public agenda to the end of the meeting, but it will be considered a move to stifle free speech, to prevent the speaking to power which is very important in keeping a society free, especially when it is speaking truth to power.

Fort Benning’s Olympic Gold Medal Winners

August 27, 2008

  Something special happened today. I got to meet and shake hands with two fine young soliders, both Olympic Gold Medal winners. Both were introduced and given standing ovations at the Rotary Club of Columbus. Both are members of the Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning.

  PFC Vincent Hancock, who hails from Eatonton, Georgia, won his in the skeet shooting competition. Spc. Gelnn Eller, of Houston, TX, won his for double traps shooting.

Spc. Glenn Eller, Oympic Gold Medal Winner for Double Traps Shooting
Spc. Glenn Eller, Oympic Gold Medal Winner for Double Traps Shooting

PFC Vincent Hancock, Skeet Shooting Gold Medal  








Low Turnout for High Stakes Issue, MCSD Superintendent Search

August 27, 2008

  Considering the stakes, I was amazed at the minuscule turnout  for the forum at Rigdon Road Elementary. The session was held to get input on the qualifications desired in the new superintendent of the Muscogee County School District.  The business conducting the search, Brock, Clay, Calhoun & Rogers of Marietta, held forums at Rigdon Road Elementary and Double Churches Middle Schools and will combine the input with the results of a written survey of citizens.

MCSD superintendent search forum at Rigdon Road School

MCSD superintendent search forum at Rigdon Road School

  My old WTVM fellow worker and friend Greg Hudgison, who now does public relations work for Synovus,  had a couple of really good points to make, I thought. He said longevity is important. It takes a while for a superintendent to be truly effective. He said when the next superintendent is hired, the school board should not hire one that is close to retirement, pointing out that current Superintendent Phillips has only been in Columbus about five or six years and is now retiring. He said it takes longer than that to really get to know a community and become a part of it.

  Greg told the Ledger-Enquirer that he thought the low turnout was because people figure the new superintendent has already been selected and their input means nothing.

Greg Hudgison, Rigdon Road School

Greg Hudgison, Rigdon Road School

  Muscogee Republican Party Chair Josh McKoon, complaining that most questions are decided by a 5 to 4 vote of the board, said he would like for the next superintendent to work toward building a consensus, and not just build a bare winning majority of school board members that will do his will.

Josh McKoon, Muscogee County Republican Party Chair

Josh McKoon, Muscogee County Republican Party Chair

  Most people agreed that the superintendent should be a competent CEO because the school system is a huge enterprise, with more than 6,000 employees and 33,000 students. Some thought he should be an educator, but some thought that wasn’t necessary. I thnk it is, as did most people who expressed themselves.

  I pointed out that the next superintendent will definitely have to be a skilled, savvy politician because he will be dealing with a politicized school board. Greg said that while the new superintendent needs to be an educator, it is very important that he is leader, one that the school board will hire and let lead.

D. Glenn Brock, Education and Public Policy for Brock, Clay, Calhoun & Rogers

D. Glenn Brock, Education and Public Policy for Brock, Clay, Calhoun & Rogers

   Though I was disappointed with the turnout, the fourm moderator, D. Glenn Brock, said low turnouts are not unusual. The search firm he works with is being paid $25,000 for its services. SInce it will take a lot of work and time, you have to wonder how they can do it so cheaply. Brock says the firm doesn’t do it for the money, but as a public service because they consider education so important to any community. He makes his money as a school attorney. Nice to know we have people that give of themselves for the common good. That’s what I call a great example of true patriotism.

Did President Bush Go to War in Iraq Because God Told Him to?

August 24, 2008

  How can President Bush justify preemptive war? How can he answer those who say Iraq does not meet the definition of a “just war?” He doesn’t worry about such things. He doesn’t have to because he is doing what God has told him to do.

  He may not read the newspapers, but he does read religious tracts every morning, and they are basically of the Calvinist tradition, according to Timothy Renick, Director of Religious Studies at Georgia State University. (Normally, that’s his job, but this year he is serving as provost for the school.) Dr. Renick, speaking to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, said that it doesn’t matter that the president has been wrong about his reasons for going to war, because he knows that what he is doing was preordained by God. In other words, though hundreds of thousands, more than 4 thousand of them Americans, are killed or wounded, and 500 billion dollars has been spent, it’s really not important because he is doing God’s work.

Timothy Renick, Ph.D, Georgia State University Director of Religious Studies

Timothy Renick, Ph.D, Georgia State University Director of Religious Studies

  Dr. Renick says there is another very great religious figure, St. Thomas Aquinas, whose words refute the Bush rationale. St. Thomas, considered by many as the greatest Catholic theologian,  predated Calvin by a few hundred years. He thought that God gave man the power to reason and, therefore, he should.  He believed Godly decisions come from reason (and evidence), not from God. That goes against the Calvinist tradition, the tradition that President Bush and many Americans follow.

  Former President Jimmy Carter made the statement at the very beginning of the Iraq war that it was not a “just war.” He was basing that on international law which says that just wars are those that are waged to protect a country after it has been attacked. Preemptive war is not a just war. Iraq is a preemptive war.  St. Thomas addressed the subject of just war. He said, ” A just war is to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished for refusing to make amends for wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

  Now, President Bush could claim that even though he was given the wrong information about weapons of mass destruction, and about Saddam Hussein being involved in 9-11, he still did the right thing because he was acting in God’s behalf. Dr. Renick said St. Thomas did not believe we can be excused for our actions because of sincere mistakes. Ignorance does not excuse doing the wrong thing.

  During the discussion session after Dr. Renick’s speech, I asked Dr. Renick if what he was saying boiled down to President Bush getting us into the Iraq mess because he is a Calvinist instead of a Catholic? His answer didn’t surprise me. I have been accused by college professors before of over-simplifying things. In an effort to make it easy for the public to understand an issue, broadcast news people aim for simplification. However, he went on to say that the Calvinist tradition does tend to exercise a great influence over many Americans, including the president. 

  He went on to explain how St. Thomas also addressed the consensus question. President Bush doesn’t give a fig for it. 75 percent of the American public is opposed to the war in Iraq. That doesn’t matter. The president is doing God’s work and that’s all that matters. Ah, but this great Catholic philospher and theologian says consensus does matter. If people agree on a thing then that is evidence that their reasoning is unified and, and since they are using reason, which God gave them to use, they are being Godly.

  I guess the big question for a lot of us is, how does president Bush know what God wants? I know, I know, if mess happens, then it was preordained  by God and therefore the president was following God’s wishes. After all, didn’t Calvin teach that everything is preordained?  How can you argue with such illogical logic?


August 24, 2008

  At one time the radio and TV networks covered the Republican and Democratic National Conventions gavel to gavel. Over time they cut back, but continued to give a lot of coverage. Now coverage is limited.  But, not on C-SPAN. Also, cable news coverage will be extensive, but C-SPAN is where I’ll be a lot of the time because that’s where you get floor actions unfiltered. Talkative network and cable news commentators won’t be giving you their perspective of what it’s all about. C-SPAN will feature some analysis and telephone call-in programs getting viewers views, but that happens only when the convention isn’t in session.  I’ll be watching C-CPAN a lot. However, I will sample the networks and cable news channels some to see what spin they are putting on things.

Muscogee Dems Hold Sendoff for National Convention Delegates

August 23, 2008

  Barack Obama’s famous chant, “yes we can…yes we can,” rang out as some Muscogee County Democrats cheered three local delegates that are going to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The local Democrats gathered at campaign headquarters in Midtown Shopping Center for a sendoff for three Columbus area delegates to the National Democratic Convention that opens in Denver Monday. State Rep. Calvin Smyre, U.S. 2nd District Representative Sanford Bishop and Columbus Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop, who is married to Rep. Bishop head for Denver this weekend.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, Muscogee Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop, GA 2nd Congressional District Rep. Sanford Bishop at Muscogee County Democratic Party / Obama Cmapaign Headquarters in Columbus, GA
State Rep. Calvin Smyre, Muscogee Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop, GA 2nd Congressional District Rep. Sanford Bishop at Muscogee County Democratic Party / Obama Cmapaign Headquarters in Columbus, GA 
                                                  "Yes we can!"

  Bishop, though unpledged because he is an elected official, had said he would vote for Sen. Obama, and Vivian Creighton Bishop is a pledged delegate for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Rep. Calvin Smyre had stated that he was supporting Sen. Clinton, also. The question I asked them was,  “Who will you vote for on the first ballot?” That’s easy for Rep. Bishop because he has already said he will vote for Obama. Vivian Creighton Bishop says she will probably vote for Sen. Clinton on the first ballot, but will switch to Obama after that. She says she probably should do that because she is a pledged delegate, and because Georgia law says pldged delgates have to vote for the candidate to which they are pledged, but Rep. Smyre said he will vote for Senator Obama on the first ballot. He said, “It’s time for us to come together.”

  Guess we’ll have to watch the balloting to see what happens.

  As far as Obama’s picking Sen. Joe Biden as his V.P. running mate, all three agreed it was a good choice.

Mirabeau Is Up to His Mischief Again

August 22, 2008

  Richard Hyatt has some thought-provoking tidbits in his Mirabeau column on his Richard Hyatt’s Columbus website. This one stood out.

Mirabeau learned something the other day. Sifting through a school board agenda Mirabeau discovered the school district gives $50,000 a year to the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce for the Partners in Education program.”

I have always been impressed with that program, businesses and other organizations providing tutoring and other programs as a way of supporting the schools.  It’s a great public service. But, the District has to pay the Chamber for it? Go figure.

MCSD Holds Public Forums on Selecting a Superintendent

August 21, 2008

If you are interested in learning more about the Muscogee County School Board’s process for selecting a new superintendent,  you’ll get your chance Tuesday, August 26. The Board is holding forums at Rigdon Road Elementary and Double Churches Middle School at 7 p.m.

  Too bad they are holding those forums on the same night that Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joe Galloway are conducting a lecture and book signing. The pair, who had written We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, have produced a sequel, We Are Soldiers Still.  They will appear at the Columbus Public Library auditorium the same night, August 26, and at the same time, 7 p.m., as the MCSD forums.

If They Gave Oscars for Bad Taste, “Tropical Thunder” Would be My Nominee

August 19, 2008

  After watching Jack Black being interviewed by Jon Stewart and hearing and reading all the other hype about “Tropical Thunder,” I decided to check it out. And it was really “out,” way “out.”

  Just about every gross, sensational, and politically incorrect trick in the book is used in this spoof of war movies.  Robert Downey, Jr. played a stereotypical African American, which should be enough to hack off not just other African Americans, but anyone who detests such stereotyping. No doubt that was considered and decided it was the desired effect.  Ben Stiller portrayed a mentally retarded man even way over the top of Downey’s character. This, also, bound to cause a furor, would add to controversy. Controversy, Hollywood knows, sells.

  It had explosions, gore, helicopters, and just about any type of violence you could imagine. The language was about as gross as you can get. It was, no doubt, intended to be an exercize in gargantuan bad taste. It appears bad taste also sells now.

  That said, what did I really think about the comedy? To me, it just was too broad, obvious, and not funny. Another military spoof, Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” was funny, but also sad and definately made a strong statment against Hitler’s Nazy Germany. So such spoofs can be funny, but have redeeming social value. “Tropical Thunder” shows they can also be extremely expensive wastes of time.