Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Analysis: Alabama Unemployment Higher Than Stated

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bentley UR Tweet 10-17-14

Alabama Governor Bentley claims he, and his policies – whatever they are (he has none… just look for your self) – have been responsible for declining Alabama Unemployment. Fact is, he’s blowing smoke.

Bentley UR Tweet Claim 10-17-14

Alabama Governor Bentley claims he, and his policies – whatever they are (he has none… just look for your self) – have been responsible for declining Alabama Unemployment. Fact is, he’s blowing smoke.

Alabama’s Republican Governor Robert Bentley, MD has crowed about “success” in lowering Alabama unemployment during the past 4 years of his term.

However, to be certain, a random statistical examination of the state’s Unemployment rate shows that it is very likely, AT LEAST two points higher than reported.  Here’s how.

Unemployment is calculated as a simple average. Take the number of people working, added into the number of people NOT working, AND who WANT to work, divided by the people who are available to work, gives the unemployment rate.

Here’s how the Bureau of  Labor Statistics defines the parameters of the equation:

What are the basic concepts of employment and unemployment?

The basic concepts involved in identifying the employed and unemployed are quite simple:
• People with jobs are employed.
• People who are jobless, looking for a job, and available for work are unemployed.
• The labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed.
• People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.

Simply put, the formula is:

Unemployment Rate = Unemployed


Employed + Unemployed

 

However, if you’ve had a college course in Statistics – and most folks in Alabama have not (it’s part of maintaining the policy of “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command”) – then you’d understand that a random sample of the set would show essentially the same results.

And face it… most folks in Alabama DO NOT HAVE A COLLEGE EDUCATION. In fact, according to the Alabama Department of Education, Alabama’s High School Drop Out rate is 28%. Page 2, Frame 2 of the linked document shows the 2010-2011 TOTAL Graduation Rate as 72%.

Face it… ALABAMA IS

Read the rest of this entry »

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Gone With The Wind: How Alabama’s State Legislature Blew Away $200 Million Of Industrial Development And Jobs

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

labama Governor Robert Bentley signed legislation PROHIBITING two out-of-state businesses from investing in Alabama & constructing business operations, and hiring. Total Cost of Loss = $200+ Million

By his refusal to act, Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley allowed legislation to pass which PROHIBITED TWO Out-of-State Businesses from Investing, Conducting Business Operations, and Hiring in Alabama.
Total Cost Loss To Alabama = $200+ Million

Governor Bentley Refused To Reign In Unfounded Fear Mongering By GOP Dominated Legislature

Fueled by unfounded, unscientific constituency fears, Legislators in Alabama’s state Senate and House of Representatives recently authored restrictive regulatory legislation which made it impossible for a Texas-based business to expand operations in Alabama. Not counting the jobs and salaries lost, the investment cost of the loss to Alabama exceeds $200 Million.

Specifically, Pioneer Green Energy, 802 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701, (512) 351-3363, planned to spend over $200 Million to build two facilities in Cherokee and Etowah counties to generate electricity, and hire local people to operate and maintain the facilities.

In comparison, Remington Arms – the firearms manufacturer which recently announced relocation to Huntsville, Alabama – will be spending $110 Million, with $38 Million in tax incentives provided by the state.

Pioneer was set to construct 30-45 wind-driven turbines (electricity-generating windmills) in Etowah county at a cost of $160 Million in their NoccalulaWind project. In nearby Cherokee county, they were set to construct 7-8 such windmills, at a cost of $40 Million in their ShinboneWind project.

A series of bills which originated in Alabama’s state Senate, and House of Representatives was effectively, the death knell for the projects.

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams, 10th Senate District, Floor of Alabama State Senate

State Senator Phil Williams, a Republican in Alabama’s 10th Senate District, speaks from the Floor of Alabama State Senate. He authored SB 402 & SB 403, prohibitive regulatory legislation which hamstrung $200 Million in Industrial Development and Jobs.

As reported by Conservation Alabama, April 10, 2014, in a column entitled “2014 Legislative Session recap, “Two local bills opposed by Conservation Alabama did pass. Senate Bills 402 and 403 requiring strict regulations for wind energy conversion systems in Etowah and Cherokee counties passed, eliminating any real chance of wind energy in those two counties. After these local bills passed it was thought that Senate Bill 12, a statewide bill to regulate wind energy conversion systems, would make it through with language that superseded the two local bills and included more reasonable and agreed upon language between the two sides. However, proponents of the bill could not get on the same page. Last minute changes to the bill created additional controversy, and the bill ultimately failed to pass in the House and consequently the two local bills will become law.”

Alabama state Senate Bills 402 and 403  were authored and sponsored by Senator Phil Williams, a Republican whom represents Alabama’s 10th Senate District, which includes Etowah and Cherokee counties. By profession, Senator Williams is a lawyer, and in part, he wrote this about himself on his legislative profile/biography webpage: “Phil Williams is the managing member of Williams & Associates, LLC, a law firm based in Gadsden, AL.” His campaign website states this, “His legal focus is largely in the areas of insurance, municipal and corporate defense.” (SB402 may be found online here -or downloaded from this site AL SB402-int- & SB 403 may be found online here  -or downloaded from this site AL SB403-int-)

Here’s Part One of the Grand Hypocrisy. The Alabama GOP website states this about Senator Williams: “One of the most promising freshman Senators in Montgomery is Phil Williams of Rainbow City. He is the proud sponsor of the Alabama Jobs Creation and Retention Act, which provides tax incentives to new or existing businesses that engage in industrial projects. Sen. Williams said, “This Act will help make Alabama a center of gravity for new and existing business growth, and is another example of our Republican-led senate following through on our campaign promises.””

Why would a State Senator whom sponsored the “Alabama Jobs Creation and Retention Act” author legislation that FORBADE the creation of jobs?

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams (R), authored regulatory legislation which hampered $200 Million Industrial Development in Alabama, and cost jobs.

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams (R), in green tie & suit, authored regulatory legislation which lost $200 Million Industrial Development in Alabama, and cost jobs.

According to an article in The Alabama Reporter written by Brandon Moseley, published 07 June 2013, Senator Williams, who hails from Rainbow City, is seeking a second term in office, and made this remark about his candidacy: “It has been a great honor to serve the people of Senate District 10 these past few years. We have accomplished so much of what the people in our communities said they wanted, and my intent is to continue the fight for conservative values and finish what we’ve started.”

Readers may recall that Etowah county is home to disgraced former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore – sometimes popularly known as “The Ten Commandments Judge” – who was removed from office following a hearing November 12, 2003 by a unanimous vote of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Since then, he campaigned for the same office – State Supreme Court Chief Justice – and was elected November 6, 2012.

It certainly seem that folks in Alabama Politics – that’d be the GOP/Republicans – are largely backwards, hypocritical, narrow minded fear mongers who appeal to their equally “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command” constituency.

Because while on one hand, they decry “regulation” and “excessive” regulation which they claim constrains business, and free enterprise – and therefore jobs – in the state, they simultaneously enact the very legislation they decry.

It’s called HYPOCRISY. And to be certain, it’s simply defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.”

This is a HUGE case in point, that an out-of-state business was prepared to construct and expand business operations in Alabama – from the ground, up. Had leased land, obtained easements, and every other necessary preliminary item to conduct business operations… including hiring professional services in Alabama to prepare for business operations.

BUT!

Wouldn’t you know it? The GOP-dominated Alabama State Legislature (House & Senate) enacted legislation, which passed without Governor Bentley’s signature, which PROHIBITED the businesses from even getting the first bulldozer out to clear land. Seriously.

Think I’m joking, exaggerating, or kidding?

Read on.

Oh… and be sure to thank them in November.

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Alabama regs too strict for turbines, says lawyer for wind energy developer

By William Thornton, wthornton@al.com
Twitter: WThorn7
on August 20, 2014 at 11:16 AM, updated August 20, 2014 at 12:03 PM

GADSDEN, Alabama — The lawyer for a Texas-based company abandoning plans for two windmill farms in northeast Alabama said today that recently approved state regulations on wind energy led to the decision.

Charlie Stewart, attorney for Pioneer Green Energy, said the company no longer has plans to develop two wind energy farms in Cherokee and Etowah counties. Groups opposing the development announced yesterday they had received word Pioneer Green was relinquishing land leases for the projects.

Pioneer Green Energy announced last year it planned to develop wind energy projects in the two counties, and said land leases had already been secured. Five Cherokee County residents filed suit in an attempt to stop the development, and a group of Etowah County residents also filed suit.

Pioneer Green planned a $40 million project with seven to eight turbines in Cherokee County. The larger Etowah County project would have had 30 to 45 turbines costing $160 million.

Stewart said the company was ready to begin construction when the lawsuits were filed, and the legislation passed earlier this year, which established setback and noise standards.

That bill required the state’s Public Safety Commission to oversee wind farms, mandated that noise from the turbines not exceed an average of 50 decibels, and laid out a setback of five times the height of the tower from the base to the nearest property line. Last year, a company official said the legislation was too restrictive by making the property line the threshold and not the nearest residence or structure.

Stewart said much of the opposition was fueled by “hysteria.”

“The bill was basically Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Governor Bentley OK’d $580K Trooper Gate pay, lied about it

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, October 13, 2014

#ALPolitics @GovernorBentley OK’d $580K #TrooperGate pay, lied about it  http://j.mp/TrooperGate

Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley, MD, OK’d $580,000 Trooper Gate pay, then lied about it
http://j.mp/TrooperGate

Bentley Punished DPS Bosses for Questioning Lewis’ Gigantic Overtime Pay

By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on October 12, 2014
Used with permission

Retired state trooper Capt. Mark Whitaker ran the Protective Services Division and Capitol Police in the Alabama Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) until this year. This is the DPS division responsible for guarding and driving Governor Robert Bentley. Wendell Ray Lewis was a sergeant under his command.

While running his division, Whitaker learned that Lewis’ overtime pay was pre-approved by Bentley and never to be questioned. This was even true with regard to Lewis’ claimed entitlement to 24 hours of overtime for a single day. Prior to Lewis, Whitaker had never seen a trooper make a claim for or receive 24 hours of overtime pay for a single day.

On January 14, 2014, Whitaker was called into then-DPS Director Hugh McCall’s office where McCall told Whitaker that his entire division would be transferred to the newly created Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (“ALEA”). As a result of the transfer, Whitaker, a highly respected captain, would fall under the command and supervision of Lewis, who at that time was a sergeant. Unbelievably, Captain Whitaker would be reporting to Sgt. Lewis.

This order came directly from Governor Bentley.

This humiliating role reversal was the ultimate insult for Whitaker, a career officer who had climbed the ranks within DPS and earned his command position. According to published reports, Whitaker believes this demeaning and insulting personnel action – a captain reporting to a sergeant – occurred merely because he sought to question Lewis’ overtime pay in the months prior.

“This is what I get for doing my job,” Whitaker complained to McCall at the time. He retired soon after.

Whitaker is the second high-ranking trooper to retire over the Bentley-Lewis overtime pay scandal. In 2011, Major Marc McHenry, now retired, served as the DPS chief over Protective Services and the Capitol Police. Lewis also worked under McHenry.

When McHenry realized in 2011 that Lewis had accumulated a gigantic amount of overtime pay, he tried to put an end to Lewis’ financial windfall. At the time, troopers were not being paid for overtime. They were given time off instead.

McHenry sent the issue to Lewis’ supervisor, and two days later he was Read the rest of this entry »

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How Successful Is It To Drug Test Public Assistance Welfare Recipients?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 5, 2014

There’s a meme which circulates on FaceBook and presumably, in other places as well, which appears similarly as this:

Drug Test Public Assistance Recipients

Drug Test Public Assistance Recipients Meme

Honestly, the idea is a failure.

But you’d rarely – if ever – hear about it’s failures.

Florida was the first state to tread that path. What they learned was surprising. And then, the law was struck down by a Federal court. The states that embark upon Florida’s path will be wa$ting their citizen$ taxe$.

Only 2.6% of Florida applicants failed the drug test.

“Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test. As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780.”

The purported savings in Florida’s program will be negligible after administrative costs and reimbursements for the drug tests are taken into account.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/us/no-savings-found-in-florida-welfare-drug-tests.html

But it wasn’t limited to Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reasons to Oppose Common Core from the Left & Right

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 11, 2014

Once, I supported Common Core.

Now, I do not.

Read on to understand why.

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Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch

January 18, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards.

Here’s her speech:

As an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature, MLA should be deeply involved in the debate about the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia. At present, publishers are aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.

What are the Common Core standards? Who produced them? Why are they controversial? How did their adoption happen so quickly?

As scholars of the humanities, you are well aware that every historical event is subject to interpretation. There are different ways to answer the questions I just posed. Originally, this session was designed to be a discussion between me and David Coleman, who is generally acknowledged as the architect of the Common Core standards. Some months ago, we both agreed on the date and format. But Mr. Coleman, now president of the College Board, discovered that he had a conflicting meeting and could not be here.

So, unfortunately, you will hear only my narrative, not his, which would be quite different. I have no doubt that you will have no difficulty getting access to his version of the narrative, which is the same as Secretary Arne Duncan’s.

He would tell you that the standards were created by the states, that they were widely and quickly embraced because so many educators wanted common standards for teaching language, literature, and mathematics. But he would not be able to explain why so many educators and parents are now opposed to the standards and are reacting angrily to the testing that accompanies them.

I will try to do that.

I will begin by setting the context for the development of the standards.

They arrive at a time when American public education and its teachers are under attack. Never have public schools been as subject to upheaval, assault, and chaos as they are today. Unlike modern corporations, which extol creative disruption, schools need stability, not constant turnover and change. Yet for the past dozen years, ill-advised federal and state policies have rained down on students, teachers, principals, and schools.

George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top have combined to impose a punitive regime of standardized testing on the schools. NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law in 2002. NCLB law required schools to test every child in grades 3-8 every year; by 2014, said the law, every child must be “proficient” or schools would face escalating sanctions. The ultimate sanction for failure to raise test scores was firing the staff and closing the school.

Because the stakes were so high, NCLB encouraged teachers to teach to the test. In many schools, the curriculum was narrowed; the only subjects that mattered were reading and mathematics. What was not tested—the arts, history, civics, literature, geography, science, physical education—didn’t count. Some states, like New York, gamed the system by dropping the passing mark each year, giving the impression that its students were making phenomenal progress when they were not. Some districts, like Atlanta, El Paso, and the District of Columbia, were caught up in cheating scandals. In response to this relentless pressure, test scores rose, but not as much as they had before the adoption of NCLB.

Then along came the Obama administration, with its signature program called Race to the Top. In response to the economic crisis of 2008, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Education $5 billion to promote “reform.” Secretary Duncan launched a competition for states called “Race to the Top.” If states wanted any part of that money, they had to agree to certain conditions. They had to agree to evaluate teachers to a significant degree by the rise or fall of their students’ test scores; they had to agree to increase the number of privately managed charter schools; they had to agree to adopt “college and career ready standards,” which were understood to be the not-yet-finished Common Core standards; they had to agree to “turnaround” low-performing schools by such tactics as firing the principal and part or all of the school staff; and they had to agree to collect unprecedented amounts of personally identifiable information about every student and store it in a data warehouse. It became an article of faith in Washington and in state capitols, with the help of propagandistic films like “Waiting for Superman,” that if students had low scores, it must be the fault of bad teachers. Poverty, we heard again and again from people like Bill Gates, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee, was just an excuse for bad teachers, who should be fired without delay or due process.

These two federal programs, which both rely heavily on standardized testing, has produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced educators, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers’ due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market. Hedge funds, entrepreneurs, and real estate investment corporations invest enthusiastically in this emerging market, encouraged by federal tax credits, lavish fees, and the prospect of huge profits from taxpayer dollars. Celebrities, tennis stars, basketball stars, and football stars are opening their own name-brand schools with public dollars, even though they know nothing about education.

No other nation in the world has inflicted so many changes or imposed so many mandates on its teachers and public schools as we have in the past dozen years. No other nation tests every student every year as we do. Our students are the most over-tested in the world. No other nation—at least no high-performing nation—judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Education wants every state and every district to do it. Because of these federal programs, our schools have become obsessed with standardized testing, and have turned over to the testing corporations the responsibility for rating, ranking, and labeling our students, our teachers, and our schools.

The Pearson Corporation has become

Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Prison System Teetering on Federal Takover

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 7, 2014

Every single word in this OpEd is spot-on.

Alabama is on the verge of a complete takeover of it’s prison system. That is a VERY sad indictment, and fact. Further, most Alabamians are COMPLETELY unaware of the dangers the state faces.

Alabama is a state in crisis.

Fiscal crisis from a failure of long-term management, unwise, unsound policy, unnecessary prolonged and costly legal battles at the state and federal levels over inane laws which have had no positive effect upon the state, from policies and procedures which have only burdened the people, tax giveaways to corporations, funded corporate welfare, an inequitable personal income taxation system which has hampered and hamstrung state growth, and further placed the state’s citizens into poverty.

Face it folks… I don’t give a damn about what political colors you wear, or how or what you describe yourself as politically in Alabama… if everything were peaches and cream in the state, then why in the Hell is the state’s poverty level 18% – 4 percentage points ABOVE the national average?

Why is the state sick in their persons? Of all states, Alabama continually ranks high in rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc., even among CHILDREN!

Why does the state have a high crime rate?

Why are Alabamians largely “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command”?

WHY?

WHY?!?

WHY!?!

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Why Alabama Cannot Wait on Prison Reform: Guest Opinion

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward (center), speaks  speaks to media members during a tour as Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections (left) and warden Carter Davenport listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale)

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward (center), speaks speaks to media members during a tour as Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections (left) and Warden Carter Davenport listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale)

Guest opinion By Alabama State Senator Cam Ward
August 06, 2014 at 9:00 AM, updated August 06, 2014 at 9:05 AM

By Cam Ward

Prisons are an issue that would never rank high on any list of priorities for the people of Alabama and understandably so.  With unemployment hovering near 7 percent and many schools in need of repair, people ask me why prison reform should be a major subject at this time. The answer is simple – because our failure to maintain a good corrections system is going to push over a fiscal cliff that we may never recover from.

For years as our corrections system became more crowded the political leadership in Montgomery turned their eyes to issues more palatable to the voters during election time. The general feeling for decades has been “let’s wait and deal with that when we have more money.”

As we waited our system grew to 192 percent capacity and despite this incarceration rate our state has the 8th highest violent crime rate in the country. Both of these statistics point to a failing system of corrections.

In addition to allowing for a broken system to continue down a path of inefficiency we have also created a fiscal nightmare of the likes our state has never seen before. While we spend Read the rest of this entry »

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Strategy Advice 101 for @Griffith2014

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Alabama is a deeply “red” state (some say “redneck,” which may also be accurate), which is to say, that the state has historically voted Republican for the past several years; all of the state’s top office holders are Republicans, and both houses of the legislature are similarly controlled by Republicans.

The website 270ToWin.com had this remark about the state’s political alignment: “Alabama became a GOP stronghold starting in 1964, voting for Democrats only in 1968 and 1976 (for native son George Wallace and Jimmy Carter, respectively). The initial shift was largely in response to white conservative voter uneasiness with the civil rights legislation that was passed in the mid-1960s, which was effectively exploited by the Republicans’ “Southern Strategy.” In 2012, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by about 22%, almost identical to John McCain‘s margin of victory in 2008.”

Frankly, the Democratic party in Alabama has been virtually decimated, and there are very few candidates identifying themselves with the party. Many state office-holders are running unopposed, including other Federal seats, including incumbent United States Senator Jeff Sessions.

Taking a clue from the George Wallace playbook (Wallace was a STRONG and almost constant campaigner), there are 67 reasons why I wouldn’t give Parker Griffith a strong chance at winning the governorship.

For example, has he Read the rest of this entry »

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South Carolina BBQ Restaurant Chain Refuses to Serve Blacks Claiming Religious Objection

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, July 4, 2014

SC Restaurant Owner Refuses To Serve Blacks, Cites Religious Beliefs

July 2, 2014
By Manny Schewitz

In South Carolina, a BBQ restaurant owner (Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ) claimed that he was within his rights to refuse service to blacks based on his religious beliefs. In the case brought before the Supreme Court, Maurice Bessinger stated that his religion required him to keep black people from eating in his restaurant, although he was perfectly OK with taking their money, so long as they ordered their food to-go.

The attorney representing the petitioners suing Piggie Park also addressed in court the “First Amendment religious privilege claim that petitioner asserted that his religion required him” to deny service to black customers.

“I’m just a fair man. I want to be known as a hard-working, Christian man that loves God and wants to further (God’s) work throughout the world as I have been doing throughout the last 25 years.” (Source)

And now for you who actually took the time to read the story instead of basing your outrage solely off a headline before sharing with an ALL CAPS blurb of “SEE? I TOLD YOU THE SOUTH WAS FULL OF RACISTS!!!”, this case was Read the rest of this entry »

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Pitchfork in the Road: America’s Economic Future – Poverty & Insurrection, or Abundance & Peace?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 28, 2014

“How much is enough?” is a qood question to ask many folks, especially some among the Wall $treet crowd.

And to be certain, the two principles of “the worker is worthy of their hire,” and “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain” are equally compelling ethics.

As those two ethics concern our nation’s economy, we can point to times in history where various nations suffered revolution, and the most common causes of revolution.

In fact, I wrote at length about it in this blog in 2011, and observed in part that, “…it’s not as if uproars have never happened before. They happen with great regularity and frequency. In fact, they’re quite predictable. Yes, predictable. It’s called “history.” The maxim goes something like this: “Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.” And so, any reasonable or prudent person should ask, “What are the lessons of history?””

Just remember this: Food, Clothing, Shelter. If you can’t get them with what you have, you’ll fight, kill, go to war, or civil insurrection, to obtain the basic necessities of life.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

By NICK HANAUER
Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.

July/August 2014

Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer
With over 30 years of experience across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, retailing, e-commerce, digital media and advertising, software, aerospace, health care, and finance. Hanauer’s experience and perspective have produced an unusual record of serial successes. Hanauer has managed, founded or financed over 30 companies, creating aggregate market value of tens of billions of dollars. Some notable companies Include Amazon.com, Aquantive Inc., (purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion), Insitu group (purchased by Boeing for $400 million), Market Leader (purchased by Trulia in 2013 for $350 million). Some other companies include Marchex, Newsvine, Qliance, Seattle Bank and Pacific Coast Feather Company. – Photo by Robbie McClaran

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are Read the rest of this entry »

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Howard Baker 1925 – 2014: Photographer, United States Senator, Ambassador

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, June 26, 2014

Howard Baker, 18 years United States Senator from Tennessee, Republican Majority Leader, widely respected by Democrats & Republicans as “the quintessential mediator, negotiator and moderator,” Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan, Ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush, and award-winning Photographer has died aged 88 in his Huntsville, Tennessee home of complications from a stroke Saturday, 21 June 2014.

He said of his photographic hobby that it “may be the only place where I can reasonably aspire to perfection.”

Mr. Baker began his photographic hobby as Read the rest of this entry »

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Pride and Prejudice: Things Alabama will never hear Governor Bentley say

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, June 13, 2014

For your benefit, here is a brief record of things any Alabama resident will never hear Alabama’s Republican Governor Robert J. Bentley, MD, say:

 

‘I was wrong, and I apologize; please forgive me.’

‘Even though I’m the Chief Executive Officer of the State of Alabama, the legislature and I haven’t accomplished everything for the people that we hoped to do.’

‘I accept full responsibility for the sexual crimes, atrocities, horrid conditions and deaths from neglect & violence in Alabama’s prisons.’

‘I have asked for the resignation of Mr. Kim T. Thomas, Esq. as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, whom I also appointed January 17, 2011.’

‘Even though out of all 50 states Alabama’s personal income tax structure is well-known, and highly documented to burden the most poverty-stricken, I have done nothing to correct, change or modify it.’

‘While increasingly, today’s jobs require a highly-educated and healthy workforce, I have done nothing to promote either.’

‘Even though I said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our citizens,” I have Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Parker Griffith vote AGAINST the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, June 6, 2014

English: , member of the United States House o...

Official portrait, Parker Griffith, MD as freshman member of the United States House of Representatives, Alabama 5th Congressional District.

53rd Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Jr., MD - campaign photograph

Campaign photograph – 53rd Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Jr., MD

As a politician, Parker Griffith has been described as “maverick.”

To describe it diplomatically, he has been “somewhat unpredictable.”

To be blunt, he’s a loose cannon.

His most recent political aspiration includes 2014 candidacy for Alabama governor under the Democratic ticket, challenging first term Republican Robert Bentley (described as “wildly popular”), whom is similarly a retired physician, and former Alabama State House Representative from Tuscaloosa, whom has publicly announced his opinion that he will be re-elected during a tour of Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, where sexual assaults, and abuses of innumerable kind have become so rampantly commonplace that Alabama’s prison system is verging upon federal takeover.

It was during his tour of that prison that “Our kindly country doctor governor toured Tutwiler in early March and quietly said, “we are probably going to have to build some new prisons in my second term.””

Griffith’s greatest obstacle is his past. More specifically, the greatest mountain he must conquer is his decision to switch parties (from Democrat to Republican) while in his first term in Congress, which abruptly ended his political aspirations.

The nightmare of his actions still haunts Alabama voters, many whom have not forgotten – including those in his hometown, Huntsville & Madison County. Like the ghastly spectre in Charles Dickens’ classic fiction “A Christmas Carol,” Parker Griffith must come face-to-face with the Ghost of Election Past, and Bentley with the Ghost of Alabama Yet to Come.

And in this real-life play, Bob Cratchit is played by the people, while 18.1% of the state’s population (the state poverty rate) are cast as the sickly child, Tiny Tim. They and others are the ones whom are denied by the Scrooge, played by Governor Bentley and Republican-dominated state legislature.

In reality, Griffith and Bentley play dual roles in this real-life political /social /medical /economic drama.

Charles Dickens circa 1850: he ‘kept on going by taking on too much’. Photograph: Herbert Watkins

Is there salvation for Griffith?

Will Bentley expand Medicaid?

Can anyone really help the citizens of Alabama?

Tune in next time! when we hear _?_ say…

Griffith’s last foray into politics – as Representative for Alabama’s 5th Congressional District – did not bode well, for after the first full year of a two-year term, he announced he was changing political party affiliation, for which he was resoundingly criticized at home by his constituency, in the press for his actions, and then subsequently resoundingly defeated by GOP challenger “Mo” Brooks in the 2010 Republican primary.

When he represented Alabama’s 5th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, Parker Griffith voted against Read the rest of this entry »

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Secession: We Fought A War Over This

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 22, 2014

Secessionist billboard campaign by League of the South, as seen in Montgomery, Alabama

Secessionist billboard campaign by League of the South, as seen in Montgomery, Alabama

Hate, or Heritage?

Recent news reports indicate that a billboard campaign through Lamar Advertising by League of the South in the Southeastern United States of Florida, Alabama and Georgia, has met with opposition. The billboards prominently displayed one word – SECEDE – which almost completely filled the area, listed their group name, and a URL. The campaign billboard locations were in Montgomery, Alabama, Tallahassee, Florida with another one planned for Atlanta, Georgia in the summer. More specifically, League of the South and their 15,000 members have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans,” and since 2000, “the SPLC began listing the league as a hate group.”

Michael Hill, President, League of the South, a racist white supremacist neo-Confederate group headquartered in Killen, Alabama

Dr. J. Michael Hill, PhD, President, League of the South, a racist white supremacist neo-Confederate group headquartered in Killen, Alabama

It is a description to which Read the rest of this entry »

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What is it like to be a Woman Business Owner & Inventor Terrorized & Threatened by Right Wing Extremist Gun Owners?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, May 3, 2014

More power to you!

The GOP has been hijacked by extremist elements.

It’s time to put those sorry, low-life punks in prison for collusion, terrorism and anti-American activity.

***

***

‘Smart’ Firearm Draws Wrath of the Gun Lobby

By JEREMY W. PETERS
APRIL 27, 2014

Belinda Padilla is trying to market a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it.  Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Belinda Padilla is trying to market a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it.
Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. A few fuming-mad voice mail messages and heavy breathers were all it took.

Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. “Belinda?” the person wrote. “Is that you?”

Her offense? Trying to market and sell a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it. Ms. Padilla and the manufacturer she works for, Armatix, intended to make the weapon the first “smart gun” for sale in the United States.

But shortly after Armatix went public with its plans to start selling in Southern California, Ms. Padilla, a fast-talking, hard-charging Beverly Hills businesswoman who leads the company’s fledgling American division, encountered the same uproar that has stopped gun control advocates, Congress, President Obama and lawmakers across the country as they seek to pass tougher laws and promote new technologies they contend will lead to fewer firearms deaths.

Lately, there has been little standing in the way of the muscle of the gun lobby, whose advocates recently derailed Mr. Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, a Boston doctor who has expressed alarm about the frequency of shooting deaths.

And despite support from the Obama administration and the promise of investment from Silicon Valley, guns with owner-recognition technology remain shut out of the market today.

“Right now, unfortunately, these organizations that are scaring everybody have the power,” Ms. Padilla said. “All we’re doing is providing extra levels of safety to your individual right to bear arms. And if you don’t want our gun, don’t buy it. It’s not for everyone.”

In Georgia on Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law a bill that allows people to carry guns in bars, government buildings and even some churches. The National Rifle Association called the measure historic.

In West Virginia, one of several Read the rest of this entry »

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Congressional Budget Office: Offshore Corporate Tax Havens Cost each Citizen $1259

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, April 17, 2014

Historically, our nation has prospered when tax rates on the ULTRA wealthy and corporations were highest.

In the period following World War II, under President Dwight David Eisenhower – a Republican, and former Supreme Allied Commander / 5ive Star General – Corporate Tax rates have continually declined.

Now, during the Obama administration, they are at the LOWEST they have EVER been.

Corporate Income Tax Rates have continually declined

Corporate Income Tax Rates have continually declined the peaked during the Eisenhower administration. The formula is: b/(a+b) Where (a) Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj), Billions of Dollars, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (CP); And (b) Federal Government: Tax Receipts on Corporate Income, Billions of Dollars, Not Seasonally Adjusted (FCTAX)

Tax Havens Leave U.S. Filers $1,259 Tab Each, Report Says

U.S. taxpayers would need to pay an average of $1,259 more a year to make up the federal and state taxes lost to corporations and individuals sheltering money in overseas tax havens, according to a report.

Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law -– all supported in one way or another by tax dollars -– but they avoid paying for these benefits,” U.S. Public Interest Research Group said in the report released today, the deadline for filing 2013 taxes.
ref: http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/picking-tab-2014

“Instead, ordinary taxpayers end up picking up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt,” it said.

In total, the U.S. loses $150 billion in federal revenue and another $34 billion in state revenue annually because of money parked in tax havens, the Boston-based consumer advocacy group concluded.

That’s almost Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysis – Examining the Record: Is Alabama Governor Bentley a “Jobs Creator” or a Drag on the State Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 12, 2014

When campaigning for the office of Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley – a retired dermatologist physician who at the time was an elected representative from Tuscaloosa County – promised if elected governor that, “I will forgo a salary as state representative for the rest of my term and will not accept a salary as Governor until Alabama reaches full employment.”
ref: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/06/robert_bentley_extends_no-sala.html

When pressed on the matter, he later defined “full employment” as having state unemployment somewhere around 5%. It is a promise to which, as of the date of this entry – 12 April 2014 – he has kept. In other words, Alabama has NOT reached “full employment,” and he has not been paid a salary. He has, however, been compensated for out-of-pocket expenses (the governor’s office has a budget, so why would he personally have any such expenses for work in an official capacity?), though he has received – as legislator, a legally-mandated $1.00 per month salary. Since his election to the governorship, he has not received a salary.

Let’s examine Governor Bentley‘s employment record.

During Governor Robert Bentley’s watch, International Paper – the large paper mill formerly known as Champion Paper, in Courtland, and the largest employer in Lawrence County – closed and cost the area economy & state 1100 jobs. Those jobs were Read the rest of this entry »

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Historical Audio: Reagan supported increased wages & labor protection

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 11, 2014

Seems as if everything old is news again.

Of course, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

GOP Panics As Audio Emerges Proving Their Hero Reagan Would Oppose Current GOP Policies

Author: April 9, 2014 6:49 pm

A 1948 audio recording of Ronald Reagan shows that he would have opposed the GOP’s policies today. In fact, if the GOP actually knew anything about Reagan’s history, they’d wonder how he even ended up in the party to begin with. The right-wing lunatic fringe runs today’s GOP. Back when this recording was made, Ronald Reagan sounded far more like one of today’s liberal Democrats than a Republican. The difference is astonishing.

Ronald Reagan on the 1946 GOP’s plan to increase people’s real incomes:

“The profits of corporations have doubled, while workers’ wages have increased by only one quarter. In other words, profits have gone up four times as much as wages. And the small increase workers did receive was eaten up by rising prices, which also bored into their savings.”

Gee, that sounds an awful lot like what’s happening now. Soaring corporate profits should mean that workers’ wages go up, also. Instead, more people than ever live paycheck to paycheck, and fewer have any savings to speak of, let alone enough to pay six months of living expenses in case of an emergency. But the stock market has reached record highs several times. So everything’s cool, at least as far as the GOP is concerned.

Ronald Reagan on the “free market” and rising prices:

“High prices have not been caused by higher wages, but by bigger and bigger profits. The Republican promises sounded pretty good in 1946. But what has happened since then? Since the 80th Congress took over? Prices have climbed to the highest level in history, although the death of the OPA was supposed to bring prices down through ‘the natural process of free competition.’”

So, even back then, the Republican ideal of the free market didn’t work the way they insisted, and Ronald Reagan could see that. These days, they still want the government to stay out. They want competition to work for lowering prices and creating jobs. However, the so-called “free market” that they want tends toward monopolies and/or price collusion, which both drive prices up. These two situations prevent new businesses from entering the market to compete, and hurt consumers and workers, while driving profits sky-high.

Ronald Reagan on working Americans: Read the rest of this entry »

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Inequality in Government: Is there Racism in Mississippi? In 2014? Say it ain’t so!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 4, 2014

It occurred to me recently in a couple conversations I had with friends in various parts of our United States, that equal representation is a matter with which we still struggle.

While on occasion I’ve opined about injustice through inequality – the United States’ Constitution guarantees Equal Protection and Equal Rights under law via the 14th Amendment – it occurred to me recently that there are some who “just don’t get it.”

More to the point, I was spurred by a photograph sent to me by a friend in one of our Northern sister states – the Land of the Frozen Chosen, sometimes also referred to as “The Great White North.”

In gentleness, I refer, of course, to Minnesota.

It was a photograph of my friend’s co-worker which sparked my interest, and subsequent curiosity.

The co-worker was Afro-American, aka “Black.”

I was somewhat surprised to see a Black person in Minnesota, so I queried the Census Bureau for some Quick Statistics about our United States.

Here’s what I found:
Only 5.5% of Minnesota’s population is Black.

In comparison to the United States at large, 13.1% of our American population in general is Black. And in Alabama, 26.5% are Black, while in neighboring Mississippi, 37.4% of that state’s residents are Black. Alabama’s Eastern neighbor Georgia has a closely similar percentage with a 31.2% Black population, while Tennessee is nearly half, with a 17% Black population.

Examining some other states, I found that Alabama’s Southern neighbor, Florida has a very closely similar Black population with 16.6%, while Louisiana’s Black population is just about double with 32.4%. The “Natural State” of Arkansas has a 15.6% Black population, while North and South Carolina are almost evenly tied with 22 & 28% respectively.

On the other hand, Texas has a lower Black population than either Tennessee or Arkansas with only 12.3%.

Kentucky? Only 8.1% of Kentuckians are Black.

Interestingly, of the 16 players on the Kentucky Wildcats Basketball team, only 6 are not Black. In other words, 62.5% of the team is Black – a clear majority. And yet, the state’s general population is completely and disproportionately unrepresentative of the team.

What about Virginia? With a 19.7% Black population, Virginia stands in distinct contrast to West Virginia, which only has a 3.5% Black population – a very stark contrast, indeed.

But what about some of the other Midwestern states?

Missouri has an 11.7% Black population, while only 3.2% of corn-fed Iowans are Black.

From Minnesota moving West, South Dakota has a mere 1.7% Black population, while Montana…

Well.. there just about no Black folks in that state, at all. Only a mere 0.6% – 6/10ths on one percent – of that state’s residents are Black.

A casual observation would be that it’s mighty White up North.

But let’s bring it back on home to Mississippi…

In a recent post shared by someone else on Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s all about the money… says Hobby Lobby Store Lawyer Paul D. Clement to SCOTUS.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 28, 2014

Here, all along, we’ve been made to believe that Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. – a privately held firm headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which boasts themselves “as a major private corporation in Forbes and Fortunes list of America‘s largest private companies,” – objects on religious grounds (even though their owners are Protestant) to providing insurance coverage to their employees, which insurance includes coverage for female contraceptives.

Here is their attorney – Paul D. Clement, himself the 43d former Solicitor General of the United States – arguing their case:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
Docket Number: 13-354
Date Argued: 03/25/14 Read the rest of this entry »

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