A great American regardless of political party

George H. W. Bush – A Perfect Fit For “The Greatest Generation”

The term “The Greatest Generation”, coined from the best selling book written by Tom Brokaw, is often used to describe those Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, both on the battlefield and those on the home front who contributed to the war effort. Brokaw correctly said these Americans were the “greatest generation that any society ever produced.” My point leads to a book written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham. It is entitled  Destiny and Power, The American Osyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. Destiny and Power is my recommended read for this month whether you are a Republican or Democrat. It also doesn’t matter if you thought Bush was a good president or not. Regardless of your political affiliation, the forty-first president is a very decent man of character and great humility. Bush was from a wealthy, prominent family, but as soon as he finished high school, he joined the Navy. His plane was shot down on a combat mission in the Pacific. Bush was picked up by a submarine and was the only member of his crew to survive. He may have made mistakes during his public career, but he is one of those Americans of “The Greatest Generation” who did many things not for power, money, fame or glory. Throughout his life, Bush did most things just because it was the right thing to do. Bush truly deserves a place as a member of “the Greatest Generation.” If you read Meacham’s book, I promise you will enjoy it. The great historian David McCullough calls Destiny and Power a “first-rate book.” The book is an inside look at a man who served as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, head of the CIA, vice president and President of the United States. I completely agree. It is a first-rate book and it is the story of a very noble American.

NCAA Investigation: Ole Miss was defiant, but now …….

Will Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze survive? Will Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter be strong enough to handle his AD, coach and the mess in Oxford?

Is there anything that stirs more passion in Mississippi than a heated political discussion or campaign? Of course there is and the easy answer is SEC football, in particular the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. When NCAA allegations were announced against Ole Miss athletics about a year ago, a firestorm of denials, finger-pointing, defiance, charges of persecution by the NCAA, a lot of spin control by Ole Miss and much, much more erupted. The volume increased recently with additional and very serious allegations against Ole Miss football. New Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Athletic Director Ross Bjork and Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze filmed a 20 minute video to discuss the allegations, how Ole Miss would respond and announced a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017 and that the school would forfeit almost $8 million in SEC postseason revenue. While discussing the video with a friend, I made the mistake of calling it a press conference. I was quickly corrected. It was not a press conference and reporters were not invited so no questions by the press took place. The situation at Ole Miss has received widespread national coverage. While the final outcome may not be known for another year, the overwhelming consensus is the Rebels will suffer more severe penalties from the NCAA. It has been argued the NCAA wants to make an example of Ole Miss and that the university’s pre-emptive self-imposed penalties were a self-serving appeasement that won’t satisfy the NCAA. The most interesting speculation is how the investigation will impact Vitter, Bjork

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Senate Democrats target Lynn Fitch’s ticket to Washington

(Editor’s note: Wednesday afternoon Andrew Puzder withdrew as President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor)

The Hill newspaper in Washington and other media are reporting the fight over President Trump’s Cabinet has moved from new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Andrew Puzder, Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor. Democrats, teacher unions and other liberals targeted DeVos in an attempt to block a Cabinet selection. The Senate confirmation of DeVos ended in a tie until Vice President Pence broke the tie by voting for DeVos. Now, Senate Democrats view Puzder as their best chance to block a Trump Cabinet member from confirmation. Puzder, the CEO of a fast food chain, is thought to be vulnerable on several points. More important from a Mississippi angle is State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is expected to be named to a subcabinet position in the Labor Department if Puzder is confirmed. Puzder’s path to confirmation starts with hearings this week. From what I have read, most of the allegations against Puzder are bogus.

Attention Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss: There is no “assault” on the media

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mississippi statehood, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss will sponsor several programs during the spring semester. According to “HottyToddy.com”, a site covering Ole Miss and Oxford, the Feb. 17 program is titled “Assault on the Media.” The four journalists who will discuss the “growing hostility” toward the press will be Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, cartoonist Marshall Ramsey of the same newspaper, Ronnie Agnew, the executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting and former executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger, and Kate Royals, formerly of the Clarion-Ledger and now a reporter for the web newspaper Mississippi Today. I repeat, there is no “assault” on the media. People are just sick and tired of the left-wing bias of the press. That is not an “assault”. Poll after

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The Bernie and Bennie Show is coming to Mississippi

However, Congressman Thompson’s chief of staff won’t join the march – his weekends are spent in prison

I’m sure many Mississippians were thrilled earlier this week when it was announced that socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders would join the state’s own Congressman Bennie Thompson to march against Nissan on March 4. Unfortunately, since March 4 is a Saturday, Thompson’s chief of staff, Lanier Avant, will be unable to join Thompson, Sanders and radical actor Danny Glover at the protest. Avant, who has been Thompson’s chief of staff for more than 15 years, spends his weekends in federal prison. According to the Justice Department, Avant was sentenced to four months in prison for failing to file an individual federal income tax return for five years. It should be noted when he pled guilty, Avant acknowledged he “willfully” failed to file the tax returns. The Washington Examiner reported for each of those five years, Avant’s salary was more than $165,000 per year. Avant filed a form which claimed he was exempt from paying federal income taxes. If that excuse were not bogus, I worked for 14 years on Capital Hill and could have avoided significant tax liability. Avant is serving his time in an unusual manner. After serving 30 days of his sentence in jail, he serves the rest of his sentence for 12 months on weekends. The sickening part of this is even after his guilty plea and sentencing, Avant is still Thompson’s chief of staff. After he completes his prison time, he will be on probation for one year and have to pay $149,962 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Why didn’t a certain newspaper report that Avant is spending his weekends in prison while he is still Bennie Thompson’s chief of staff?

Now, you may ask why isn’t the fact Avant is serving weekends in jail and is still Thompson’s chief of staff not been published in the state’s largest newspaper? The Clarion-Ledger had a report when Avant was charged with the crime and later reported

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And your next State Treasurer is …….

Unless there is a total blow-up of President Trump’s somewhat controversial nomination of businessman Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor, Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint a new state treasurer. If Puzder is confirmed, incumbent Treasurer Lynn Fitch is expected to be appointed to a subcabinet position under Puzder. Bryant will appoint the next treasurer to succeed Fitch and several names have already surfaced as replacements for Fitch. Two of the possibilities sought the office when Fitch won her first term in 2011. One would be former state senator Lee Yancey of Brandon and the other is Jackson attorney Lucien Smith. Fitch defeated Yancey six years ago in the runoff for the Republican nomination. Smith finished third in the same GOP primary. At the time, many political observers viewed Smith as the favorite in the contest, but he finished a disappointing third. Prior to his political race, Smith served as a key staff member in the administration of Gov. Haley Barbour. Later Smith was Gov. Bryant’s chief of staff before returning to practice law with the leading firm of Balch and Bingham. Money may be a consideration if Bryant considers Smith. Smith has impressive academic credentials. His undergraduate degree is from Harvard and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. The salary of the state treasurer is $90,000 per year. When he first ran for office in 2011, Smith was not married. He now has a wife and young child and apparently is making significantly more at Balch and Bingham than he would make as treasurer. Another name in the mix is state Sen. Michael Watson of Pascagoula. Watson has long been a close political ally of Gov. Bryant. On the other hand, in the Senate, Watson is deep in the doghouse of Lt. Gov. Tate

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No Madonna, your vulgar, tasteless speech was not “taken wildly out of context”

In defending her profane rant at the women’s march the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Madonna said her words were “taken wildly out of context.” If you think her speech to hundreds of thousands of women was taken out of context, I suggest you watch the video of her vulgar remarks. At least three times she yells “F… you in her speech. Despite an Associated Press report that labeled her speech, among other things, as “fiery,”  there is nothing taken out of context when the singer-actress screams “F… you”. The really, really sad part is the three times when Madonna yell “F… you”, the assembled thousands attending the women’s march cheered Madonna. I repeat. That is pretty sad.

A Mississippi Senate staff member and the State Capitol used for political fundraiser

Sen. Bob Dearing, a Natchez Democrat, was a longtime and respected senator until he was defeated by Republican Melanie Sojourner in 2011. Sojourner’s tenure in the legislature was marked by controversy, and she was also Chris McDaniel’s campaign manager during his nasty GOP primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. Four years after his defeat, Dearing took on Sojourner again and won a very narrow victory. Legal battles over

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Journalist, columnist is also a state employee; and the “First Disgrace of 2017 Award”

Pettus column – “New Yuletide lyrics to mark Trump regime” – Over the line and tasteless

Gary Pettus is a regular contributing columnist for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. For many years, Pettus was a member of the newspaper’s staff. At the end of his Clarion-Ledger columns, it notes “Gary Pettus is a Jackson-based journalist and contributing columnist.” It should also be noted Pettus is a state employee and works in the public affairs office at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Why is this relevant? On Dec. 19, Pettus wrote a column entitled, “New Yuletide lyrics to mark Trump regime.” He suggests revised lyrics for a very popular Christmas season song. Pettus’ revision is entitled, “It’s the Most Trumper-ful Time of the Year.” Here are just a few of the comment Pettus labeled as the “new code” for president-elect Trump: “There’ll be few books for learning, Cause most will be burning – good times for bigots – Muslims they’re jailing, Latinos expelling – great times for the sociopath. – It’s beginning to look just like the Third Reich – A swastika there and here – Christians kissing a tyrant’s rear, Burning churches all aglow – It’s going to look like Nagasaki August of ’45 – The prettiest sight to behold is not traffic on the road, Cause no one is left alive.” The “lyrics” of the Pettus column go on with more lack of taste, but I think you get the idea about the column. Hillary Clinton calling Trump supporters “deplorables” is mild compared to Pettus tossing out terms like book burners, bigots and writing about swastikas and the Third Reich. Because the anti-Trump column crosses the line, it is logical to ask other questions. Why was the column published in the Clarion-Ledger in the first place? The obvious answer is that the executive editor of the newspaper, Sam Hall, is a Democrat partisan. Unlike most editors, Hall probably didn’t bat an eye if he reviewed the column by Pettus. Pettus has taken other cheap shots at president-elect Trump. Perhaps even more significant is he has taken similar shots at Gov. Phil Bryant and Republicans in general. Reminder: Seven of the eight statewide officials in our state are Republicans and the GOP has solid majorities in both the state Senate and House. Another reminder: The Senate and House make appropriations for state government and Gov. Bryant signs the appropriation bills.

Biting the hand that feeds you in a tasteless way

The next obvious question is if I raise an issue about Pettus being a state employee, what about Charles Mitchell and Sid Salter, two other former journalists who are state

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Merry Christmas

It seems like this Christmas I am hearing more people say “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.” I’d like to think that more of us are remembering the reason we have this holiday is because we celebrate the birth of God’s Son. I am also personally happy that no Mississippi statewide elected official or legislator gave me a gift from their campaign account. Let us remember our many blessings, remember those who are less fortunate and ask the Lord to forgive each of us for our many sins. I hope you and your family have a very wonderful Christmas.

2017 Legislative Session: Will Campaign Finance Reform Become A Reality?

Will legislators put an end to “legalized bribery”?

The upcoming 2017 session of the Mississippi Legislature will face the usual mix of key issues: funding for public education, transportation, meeting the needs of state agencies while balancing the state budget despite stagnant revenues, providing much need health care for Mississippians, job creation and on and on. The ugly issue of political ethics (i.e. campaign finance reform) will again get much needed attention even if it will not be a favorite issue with many legislators. The past Sunday Clarion-Ledger political editor Geoff Pender reported that House Speaker Philip Gunn says campaign finance reform will be a top priority. Gunn should have, and could have, done something about campaign finance reform during the 2016 session when the bill died a shameful death in the House. Gunn claims he had nothing to do with the disgraceful failure of campaign reform during the last legislative session. That is either a lot of bull or Gunn is admitting he is a weak leader of the Mississippi House. Campaign finance reform unanimously passed the Mississippi Senate before being killed in the House without even a roll call vote. Pender’s excellent column pointed out our current campaign finance laws and how campaign expenses are reported are nothing short of “legalized bribery” paid for by lobbyists and other special interests. He wrote, “As long as they avoid tax scrutiny (reporting as taxable personal income), Mississippi politicians can spend campaign money in ways that would land them in jail in most other states.” Pender noted a  Clarion-Ledger investigative series earlier this year showed “many politicians – legislators in particular – use lax campaign finance laws, farcical reporting regulations and nonexistent enforcement” to spend campaign donations “on clothes, cars, groceries, apartments,

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Sen. Cochran’s new Chief of Staff: A very good choice

Brad White, Sen. U.S. Thad Cochran’s district director, will be moving to Washington, D.C. in early January, to be the new chief of staff for Mississippi’s senior senator. White replaces Keith Heard who will return to the private sector as a lobbyist. White is an excellent choice to replace Heard. A former state chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, White has an impressive resume in state politics and Mississippi government. Despite his extensive state political and state government experience, some might question White’s lack of Washington experience. That is not an issue. Most chiefs of staff have political experience, are expected to manage the member’s staff, and serve as a senator or representative’s right-hand man or woman. White won’t have any problem handling any of those duties or other assignments Sen. Cochran might give him. Actual Washington and Capital Hill experience is more important for the usual number two staff position, the legislative director. Cochran’s existing staff has solid experience in that important area.

Gov. Bryant should back off telling people Sen. Cochran should resign and will not serve his full term

Thad Cochran just turned 79. Almost as soon as he was re-elected in 2014 when he defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a very close Republican Primary and Democrat Travis Childers in the general election, speculation soon became common that Cochran would not serve his full six-year term. Those reports continue to swell and it is no secret Gov. Phil Bryant is pouring fuel on those fires. There are several reports Bryant has told people in both Mississippi and Washington Cochran should retire before his term expires in four years. Reports Cochran will retire in a year or so have spiked several interesting rumors. If Cochran would resign, as Sen. Trent Lott did several years ago,

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