Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Congratulations Carlton Reeves!

It's official -- President Obama has nominated Carlton Reeves to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Carlton is a fantastic guy and a serious lawyer. He'll make a GREAT District Judge.

Congrats to Carlton!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Where it's at

With apologies to Beck, I've got two websites and a microphone.  I passed along the two websites to "Doloroso" in comments on the Kay Cobb post below, but I didn't want them to get lost in the shuffle.

First, we have Hungry Blues, which is where Ben Greenberg explores the South his father knew during the Civil Rights Era.  Ben is active in the Civil Rights Cold Case Project, and has worked with Jerry Mitchell in the past.  He dug through some newsletters of the Mississippi CCC, and posted interesting tidbits he found.

Next is C.W. Roberson's Mississippi Political, a website subtitled "News, Essays, Opinion, Progressive Views."  A list of Mississippi politicians attending or speaking at CCC functions appears on his website.

That's two websites, now for the microphone:  "Editor" of the Mississippi CCC website, I want to ask you to do two things for me, neither of which would be a problem, I don't think.  First, please tell us who you are.  You know who I am, and it's nice to be able to call someone by their Christian name when having a conversation.  Second, would you have any problem giving me access to any archives the CCC may have? Old newsletters, photos, programs, etc.? I'd like to be able to learn more about your organization, its beliefs, and political affiliations so that I don't mischaracterize them in any way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kay Cobb on her ties to CCC

In a post below, I pondered the connection, if any, between former Justice Kay Cobb and the racist organization Council of Conservative Citizens.  A comment from "Reasonably Prudent Person" encouraged me to call her and ask her about her ties to CCC, so I did. 

She said that she did, in fact, attend a CCC rally in north Mississippi back in 2000 as part of her campaign.  She stated that she had a policy of speaking to any group that invited her, regardless of what views the group itself may hold.  That, she says, is the extent of her dealings with the CCC.

As I expressed to her in the phone conversation, she certainly was not alone in attending CCC events in the past.  It has been standard operating procedure for many white Mississippi politicians, both Republican and Democrat, to attend Blackhawk and other CCC rallies.  (Although, to be fair, it's been mostly Republicans since the 80's.)  The uniform response of these politicians is what former Justice Cobb maintained: I don't agree with them, but I'm not going to shun them. 

Well, Mississippi politicos, it's 2010, not 1864.  Appealing to the racist vote was a damned good way to win office in Mississippi in the past.  That's no longer the case, and it's time we moved on.  It is perfectly permissible to decline an invitation to attend a rally being held by the civic arm of the Ku Klux Klan.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that most Mississippians would be grateful if you refused to go.  The vast majority of us Mississippians aren't racist.  Yet every time we turn around, one of our elected leaders is hanging out with some group that embarrasses the hell out of 99% of us.  (I'm looking at you, Gov.)

The Scott Walker Breakdown

Here's something shocking:  Former Ocean Springs Republican mayoral candidate Scott Walker has, in the past 10 days, been arrested for DUI, simple assault, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon.  Walker had been the darling of Coast Republicans, drawing fervent support from the GOP party brass across the state in his bid to unseat Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran last year.  (Walker's former bosses, Sens. Trent Lott and Roger Wicker, were instrumental in drubbing that up.)  Now Walker's working with Pascagoula mayor Robbie Maxwell in some sort of consulting outfit.  And, it appears, beating up women and chasing guns in D.C., and passing out behind the wheel in Ocean Springs. (As an aside, that's the biggest smile I've ever seen in a mugshot.)

The coup de grace for Walker's political career comes at the hand of his alleged D.C. victim, Eleanore Kelly, who also works for Sen. Wicker: "I'm terrified of Scott Walker."

Walker lost the Ocean Springs race by 96 votes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just in case you were wondering, yes, the racists can work a computer. And they like T.E.A.

While doing the research concerning Haley Barbour's connections with the Mississippi Council of Conservative Citizens for a previous post, I found the CofCC's Mississippi website.  It's, um, interesting in a disgusting way.  Being of the mindset that sunlight is the best disinfectant, I've decided to pass it along.

One thing you should take note of is their involvement with the Mississippi T.E.A. Party.  Which brings to mind another question: Anyone know if former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Kay Cobb is a member of the successor to the White Citizens' Council?

VERY interesting entry into the 2011 Governor's race

According to the Hattiesburg American this morning, Mayor Johnny DuPree (D-Hattiesburg) announced his candidacy for governor in 2011.  DuPree is the third-term, popular, African-American mayor of Mississippi's fourth-largest city.  DuPree gives the 2011 gubernatorial field something two things it currently lacks: a candidate with executive experience, and an African-American.

It's Mississippi, of course, so race will no doubt play some part in the 2011 cycle.  Mississippi has the highest percentage of black population of any state in the Union, but it's still 60.6% white, according to 2008 projections.  That being said, DuPree has been able to win election three times in a city that is 49.95% white and 47.34% black, according to the 2000 census.  DuPree will have to conduct a campaign focused on racial unity to have any chance of getting elected, and that promises to be a very good thing for Mississippi going forward, considering the tendency of our elected leaders to do things like visit Blackhawk.  (Recognize the guy in the middle?)

Heard on the Street

I'm hearing that Felicia Adams, a dedicated career government lawyer with the US Attorney's Office, will get the nomination from President Obama for the top spot in that Office in the very near future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I know we have our share of dim bulbs in the Capitol, but... least we're not Georgia.  I just got this in an email today, and I would be robbing humanity if I didn't share it.

In short, the Judiciary Committee of the Georgia House of Representatives has ok'd a Senate bill that would make the involuntary implantation of microchips into people a misdemeanor.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  The Pride of Kennesaw, Rep. Ed Setzler (R), sponsored this Coast to Coast A.M.-approved legislation in the Georgia House.  Setzler spoke, and then this happened:
He was followed by a hefty woman who described herself as a resident of DeKalb County. “I’m also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip,” the woman said. Slowly, she began to lead the assembled lawmakers down a path they didn’t want to take.
Microchips, the woman began, “infringe on issues that are fundamental to our very existence. Our rights to privacy, our rights to bodily integrity, the right to say no to foreign objects being put in our body.”
She spoke of the “right to work without being tortured by co-workers who are activating these microchips by using their cell phones and other electronic devices.”
She continued. “Microchips are like little beepers. Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission,” she said.
It was not funny, and no one laughed.
Well, maybe not in the committee room, and certainly not at the lady with the obvious mental health issues, but I'm pretty sure folks are laughing at Setzler across Georgia tonight.

P.S. - Gotta love Gov. Roy Barnes' response to this legislation: "If somebody holds me down and puts a microchip in my head, it'd better be more than a damned misdemeanor."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama, the National Day of Prayer, and an Idea

It's Spring, so that must mean it's time for another round of internet hoaxes regarding President Obama and the National Day of Prayer.  You'll likely see someone claim over the next few weeks via Twitter, Facebook, or email that President Obama has canceled the National Day of Prayer.  It's not true.  Last year, President Obama declined to hold a large party at the White House in recognition of the day as Reagan and the Bushes did.  He still signed the proclamation declaring the Day, just as every president since Truman has done.

But you know what? I've got a better idea.  Why stop at a day, a month, or even a year?  I want President Obama to declare this new millennium the National Millennium of Prayer.  That would, obviously, make him the most super-awesomest amazing Christian of all time, and would show Satan that America means business.  In fact, I think we should even proclaim that real Americans should pray three times a day, every day, on their knees like we did when we were kids.  (Think of all of the money businesses could make off of selling special mats for folks to pray on!!!)  We could even have National Prayer Leaders, whose voices could be heard three times a day from towers strategically placed in all of our major cities! 

Think about it!  Great nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt already do this!!!  We're falling behind, America!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My friends never cease to make me proud

For whatever reason, I have been blessed with a collection of the most successful friends a guy could ever have.  In the latest attempt to outdo the rest of us, Ernest Myers has landed a gig as movie reviewer for Rupert Murdoch's Sky Movies, the British equivalent of HBO.  Here's a link to his blog, Our Man In New York.

I guess I need to go save a kindergarten class from a pride of lions or something now.  Thanks, Ernest.

A comment on efforts to "create" attempted murder in Mississippi

I've heard several Mississippi politicos (generally Republican) complain that we don't have a crime entitled "attempted murder" in our state. In fact, some Mississippi legislators even try every year to create a code section that would "fix" the problem. (Just this year, Reps. Bill Denny, Tracy Arinder, and Jessica Upshaw tried to amend SB 2923 and authored HB 273 & HB 547.)

The gist of the efforts each year is to bifurcate our aggravated assault statute, which currently provides for a 20 year maximum penalty for an individual who either a) "attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life" or b) "attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm." The attempted murder legislation cited above would make the "attempt to cause or purposely or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm" part the definition for attempted murder, and proscribe a mandatory sentence of 20 to life.

There are two substantial problems with legislation like this, described after the break.

Confirmed: Weill Alone in Race for Yerger's Seat

I have confirmed that Ashley Ogden will not be facing local mediator and Jackson city councilman Jeff Weill in the upcoming race for retiring Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger's seat. Ogden will sit the race out and continue his efforts to fight crime in Jackson.

The filing deadline is May 7th. We'll be waiting to see if Weill draws an opponent.

Not Guilty in Rankin County Culpable Negligence Manslaughter Case

Got word this morning that Mike Scott and Brad Mills got a not guilty verdict over in Rankin County in the case of State of Mississippi v. Terry Williams. Mr. Williams had originally been charged with murder for running over the decedent, but was later re-indicted for culpable negligence manslaughter.

Congrats to Mike and Brad for some strong work in a tough jurisdiction. It reportedly took only 45 minutes for the jury of 10 women and 2 men to return a unanimous verdict of "not guilty."

In honor of Confederate History Month

"Our new government is founded on exactly the opposite idea. Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition." -Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization." - A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union

"It was very much discussed whether the South would carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate government, the cornerstone of which should be, protection to the 'Divine' institution of slavery." -Ulysses S. Grant

"The question before us is, whether [people of African ancestry]...compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word 'citizens' in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States."
– Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Dred Scott v. Sandford

"In spite of all disclaimers and professions there can be but one end to the submission by the South to the rule of a sectional Antislavery Government at Washington; and that end, directly or indirectly, must be the emancipation of the slaves of the South....the people of the non-slaveholding North are not and cannot be safe associates of the slaveholding South under a common Government." - South Carolina's Address to the Slave-Holding States

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Found an excellent Jackson-area food blog

Carpe Jackson, birthed 6 months ago, is a Jackson-area food blog. Its author, unknown to me, apparently moved to Jackson from Durham, NC, where said author wrote for a similar blog, In just 6 months, the author has covered some pretty substantial gastronomic territory, and has uncovered some restaurants that I haven't even heard of. In addition to the frequent food reviews, Carpe Jackson also thankfully posts restaurant openings.

Carpe Jackson is some excellent work, folks. I'm bookmarking this one and checking it daily. Oh, and you can now find it in our links to the right.

h/t Triple M from book club

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who's running for Judge Swan Yerger's seat?

Philip Thomas has an article up on a rumor I've been hearing for a few weeks. In short, Ashley Ogden had been indicating that he would run for the post being vacated by Judge Swan Yerger this year. But recently, word had been making its way around the legal community that Ogden would sit this race out.

That leaves Jackson City Councilman Jeff Weil (R) as the only declared candidate. Surely another candidate will step forward. People not pleased with Weil as a candidate for Yerger's seat will undoubtedly be disappointed that Ogden waited until so late in the game to make a decision.

Which brings us to the title of the post: Who's running for Judge Swan Yerger's seat? We know Weil's in, but outside of that, I haven't heard a whisper. Anyone hear anything?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Robes for Rob??

With today's (somewhat expected) resignation of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, there have been literally thousands of news stories and blog posts suggesting possible nominees.

So let me be the first to add a practicing attorney in Jackson, Mississippi to the list.

Robert B. McDuff would be the first attorney since Lewis Powell to ascend directly from the advocate's role to the High Court. A recent program at Harvard Law School (where McDuff graduated in 1980) describes his impressive resume as follows:

[McDuff] is a civil rights and criminal defense attorney practicing in Jackson, Mississippi. His practice includes trial and appellate work in cases throughout the country, including four cases that he has argued in the United States Supreme Court. He has represented black voters in several cases in the south seeking to increase the number of black-majority election districts for public officials, including members of congress, state legislators, and state court judges. He has handled cases involving voting rights, police misconduct, free speech, indigent defense funding, access to the courts, abortion rights, school prayer, and discrimination in employment and housing.

McDuff’s criminal practice is comprised of both retained and appointed cases, including several death penalty cases. He presently is representing one of the “Jena 6" defendants in Jena, Louisiana. He is a recipient of the Pro Bono Service Award of the International Human Rights Law Group of Washington, D.C.; the NAACP Legal Award of the Mississippi Conference NAACP; the Ernst Borinski Civil Libertarian Award presented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi; and the 2006 Trial Lawyer of the Year award of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association. He is vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Center for Justice and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Prior to opening his practice in Jackson in 1992, McDuff was an attorney with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, DC and, before that, a member of the faculty of the University of Mississippi Law School, where he taught and also directed a federal court public defender program. He was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice of the Eastern District of Texas.

So WTF Not, Mr. President? Let's put a real lawyer on the Supreme Court!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Glenn Beck Admits: "We're An Entertainment Company"

I have long wondered why conservatives take media-moguls like Rush Limbough, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck seriously. It seems obvious to me that they make their extreme claims primarily to drive sales and advertising revenue their way.

Now Glenn Beck has admitted this, and in a favorable forum -- Forbes magazine (Forbes, in fact, has its own show, Forbes on Fox, on Beck's home network). In an article titled "Glenn Beck Inc.", posted online today, Forbes quotes Beck as follows:

With a deadpan, Beck insists that he is not political: "I could give a flying crap about the political process." Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. "We're an entertainment company," Beck says. He has managed to monetize virtually everything that comes out of his mouth. He gets $13 million a year from print (books plus the ten-issue-a-year magazine Fusion). Radio brings in $10 million. Digital (including a newsletter, the ad-supported and merchandise) pulls in $4 million. Speaking and events are good for $3 million and television for $2 million.
So who can believe this guy?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trial Lawyer and Republican State Senator File Class Action Against Health Care Reform

On Friday, Hattiesburg plaintiff's lawyer and blogger K. Douglas Lee and Mississippi State Senator (and host of the Ride Side Radio Show) Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), filed a Federal class action lawsuit seeking injunctive and declaratory relief against the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Complaint makes an interesting argument that the Health Care Reform Legislation violates the privacy rights of Americans. As Mr. Lee explains in his post about the lawsuit (which includes a copy of the complaint):

We believe that the PPACA is DOA for several equally important reasons, but only one of which has received much attention. Most folks know by now that Congress has invoked the Commerce Clause to justify this massive expansion of governmental power. Our “Good Friday” Complaint spends many pages discussing how Congress has clearly exceeded the limits of its power under the Commerce Clause. I strongly urge you to read the entire Complaint. What I really want to point out, though, are some things you probably don’t know, and definitely will not like — even if you consider yourself a “Liberal.”

Consider for a moment that you have now been commanded to enter into a contract with an insurance corporation, whether you want to or not, whether you need to or not. Yes, there are many who actually choose to be uninsured. For most, it is simply an economic decision that often works out to the uninsured’s economic advantage. Not always, of course, but that’s the beauty of liberty — you get to make the decisions, and live with the good or bad that comes of them.

Now that you realize that a dictate has been handed down, compelling you to contract with an insurance corporation or else, consider what you have to do. It’s not like you can go to a vending machine, swipe your debit card and pull out a policy. You still have to apply. True, they cannot turn you down, but so what? You still have to give a big, scary, mean corporation a lot of private medical and psychological information about yourself and your family. Then, forever after, the insurance corporation’s bureaucrats will gather this private information without even bothering to let you know.
I have to admit, that's pretty unique "out of the box" thinking, and I kinda admire it. But it seems to me that the whole conservative/Fox News argument that the "mandate" is some kind of imperial command is misplaced. The Act provides for a penalty or tax to be paid by persons who don't obtain health insurance. And as Mr. Lee points out, the tax is unlike most other Federal taxes, in that there can be no levy or criminal prosecution of persons who fail to pay the tax:

If the feds cannot levy or lien you, then what can they do to get your money? Write scary letters to you? Just what happens to the authority of the federal government when people laugh at these scary letters?

* * * *

If the government admits, or the federal judiciary declares, that there is no enforcement mechanism for the individual mandate, millions will be free to ignore it.
Setting aside whether the IRS could file a lawsuit against non-payors, or take it out of tax refunds, and also setting aside the idea that the point of this lawsuit seems to be to encourage non-compliance of the law (an oddly un-conservative notion) . . . .

It's interesting that the authors of this lawsuit think:

The alternative, of course, is for the feds to admit that there is no enforcement mechanism. Consider what that means for a minute: the pièce de résistance of the PPACA is the individual mandate. Without an enforcement mechanism, the individual mandate fails; without the mandate, the entire legislative act fails utterly.
Well, no, it doesn't. Without the individual mandate, the Act still requires insurance companies to cover applicants, with or without pre-existing conditions. If the insurance carriers can't have the pool of healthy persons to collect premiums from, then the folks who have pre-existing conditions (but who in the past did not buy health insurance) will bankrupt the insurance companies? The ultimate result? A single-payer national health insurance plan.

So you want "socialized medicine?" Then sue to have the individual mandate struck out of the health care act, or encourage folks not to comply with it.

If you're interested, some good analyses of the constitutionality of the Act are here, here, and here.

An Open Letter to My Neighbor, Gov. Haley Barbour

Dear Governor Barbour,

As I sit here at home during this noon hour, gazing out over the manicured lawn of your ceremonial home, I can't help but ponder the monumental strides we as a nation made last month with the passage of health care insurance reform, and your subsequent response.  It deeply troubles me, and I'll explain why.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have parents who could protect me with health insurance coverage.  That insurance coverage gave me access to health care that, on two separate occasions, saved my very life.

This morning, I spent some time at Callaway High School here in Jackson. As I spoke to the children assembled there about making responsible choices in life, I could not help but think of the high likelihood that most of them would benefit greatly from the passage of health care insurance reform.  Afterwards, driving back through Jackson towards my office, I considered how some of the children I laughed with this morning would no doubt face medical problems that would now be addressed adequately only because of the legislation Congress passed last month.  And I was grateful.

Shortly after I returned to the office, I received word of a T.E.A. Party rally in Tupelo, at which a reported 1,500 people gathered to complain about taxes and the loss of their "freedom."  This growing movement of people dissatisfied with what they perceive to be unnecessary taxes fueled by wasteful government spending is no doubt appealing to you as an aspiring 2012 GOP presidential nominee.  I do not begrudge you that.  I do, however, take issue with you fighting the health care insurance reform that will forever improve the lives of the children I met with this morning.

As leader of one of our nation's most impoverished states, it must be troubling to you to be forced between taking positions that are best for Mississippi, and those that are popular within your party.  Health care insurance reform is undoubtedly a blessing for our fellow Mississippians.  It is equally certain that supporting it would damage any hopes you have for national office.  I truly empathize with you, and wish that you were not forced to choose between your personal aspirations and the good of your people.  However, my empathy, and almost certainly the compassion of history, fades when you choose poorly.

Governor, I ask that you not make the poor of Mississippi blood sacrifices on the altar of your presidential campaign.  End your threat to join the Florida lawsuit, and support the program that ensures our fellow Mississippians will have access to the medical care that will save their lives.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Daily Journal runs a story on the Itawamba prom "bait-and-switch"

NMC was first to report on this last night, and the internet media jumped all over it.  Now it's going mainstream.  Chris Keiffer over at has his story on the saga online now, and gives us the location of the "secret" prom: the Evergreen Community Center in Evergreen, MS.  He also confirms that there were only 7 people at the Fulton Country Club prom when Constance McMillen attended.

Here's a map for those of us unfamiliar with Itawamba County geography.  Constance was led to believe the prom was at "A" when it was actually being held at "B": crashes under weight of visitors to McMillen story ***UPDATED*** NMC BACK ONLINE

Last night, NMC over at posted an account of what happened this weekend regarding Constance McMillen's ongoing prom saga. In short, all indications are that the prom at the Fulton Country Club was a ruse, and that the "real" prom was held at a secret location, unbeknownst to Constance, her date, and 7 other students.

I copied a portion of his post in a brief post of my own, and I'm glad I did. Perez Hilton, Democratic Underground, and Gawker all linked NMC's story, leading to north of 4,000 hits by 11:30 a.m. today. As a result of the influx of visitors, went down, and to my knowledge, is still down. I imagine it'll be back up in the next few hours. I also imagine that this issue will garner fairly substantial media attention in the next couple of days.

Stay tuned for updates on the status of NMC's blog.


As of 3:07 p.m. today, is back online.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Christ in Heaven, I hope this is not true

Last night was prom night in Itawamba County, Mississippi.  Most of you who follow this blog are well aware of the saga of Constance McMillen, an openly-gay student at Itawamba Agricultural High School.  Tom Freeland over at is reporting the following about last night's events:

Here’s the news, from a source I view as extremely reliable.  The prom the school district promised at the country club in Fulton was a ruse.  Only seven kids, Constance, and her date showed, and at the same time, everyone else held a “real” prom at a secret location out in the county.
This is all after the school district had represented to Judge Davidson that Constance was invited to a parent-sponsored prom to be held at Tupelo Furniture Market.  The school represented that Constance was invited in court filings, testimony, and representations by the school district and its lawyers.  In reality, Constance had not been invited, but, based on the representations by the district and its counsel, Judge Davidson denied Constance’s request for a preliminary injunction that she could go to the prom.
The school reneged, or possibly didn’t ever intend to follow through on its representations to the court.  The parents didn’t want Constance at the prom and didn’t want to be sued (as they told the Clarion Ledger), and so on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the prom.
But what they’d done was secretly relocated it.
These reported actions, if true, are an affront to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, and a great shame to us all.  My hope is that the information Tom is receiving is somehow erroneous.  My fear is that it is not.