Yes, the earth is still flat for college administrators and some students
By now, most of us have heard about how the University of California – Berkley spent $600,000 for security when conservative speaker Ben Shapiro spoke to students at the school. Heck, for $600,000 I would think Cal could have hired the 101st Airborne to provide security for Shapiro. Shapiro is a conservative commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host and lawyer. He is no right wing crazy or neo-Nazi. He graduated from high school at age 16, graduated from UCLA summa cum laude and was a Phi Beta Kappa member. At age 20 he graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. If it weren’t bad enough for Cal to spend $600,000 on security for Shapiro’s appearance, the officials at Cal provided counselors for students who might be upset about him making a speech on campus. The “wienie generation” is on the heels of the millennials.
After the state flag, what’s next?
As I’ve written previously, if and when our state flag is changed, what’s next? The list is long. Recently the Jackson Public School District decided to consider changing the names of three schools in the city. The schools are named after Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and James Z. George. George was a colonel in the Confederate States Army and later served as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi until his death. Yes, the JPS system is the second largest in the state and is over 95 percent black. There is a very real possibility that the school district could be taken over by the state because of the many failings of Jackson schools. Let’s face it. Jackson Public Schools are rotten. I have often wondered how many
First Baptist Church in Jackson offers prime parking across the street from the State Capital for lobbyists and other visitors to the Capital. From the reserved parking signs shown below, the giant law firm of Butler Snow has very special prime parking. Butler Snow has more than 20 offices across the United States in addition to offices in London and Singapore. These “Reserved for Butler Snow” signs turned a lot of heads during the regular session of the 2017 Mississippi Legislature. I assume the reserved parking will still be available to Butler Snow lobbyists during the upcoming legislative special session on June 5. In some political and legal circles, Butler Snow is jokingly known as “The Evil Empire.” The firm is no joke and wields a lot of political power in the state. Former Sen. Trent Lott and former Gov. Haley Barbour are affiliated with the firm. I’ve been told Butler Snow does pro bono legal work for First Baptist and might be the reason for their special parking privileges. I have not been able to determine if that includes special prayers for Butler Snow from the pulpit on Sundays.
More than 30 years ago, I was editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper on the Gulf Coast that was owned by Gannett. A prominent citizen and former mayor, who had lost his re-election bid, died. I had to write the customary obituary editorial for the late mayor. I was never his fan. He was often nasty and mostly rude to the city aldermen that served with him. I decided not to be a hypocrite and the best I could say in my editorial was that he was a man who very much cared for the city of Ocean Springs. Earlier this week I recalled the mayor when I learned Bill Minor had passed at the age of 93. I was sad to hear of his death, and there is no question Minor made many contributions to Mississippi during his long career. After someone texted me Tuesday morning about Minor’s death, I went to the Clarion-Ledger online edition where I saw the headline on reporter Jerry Mitchell’s story. The headline was, “Bill Minor remembered as a model for journalists.” From my perspective, I would never consider Minor as a “model for journalists.” His left-wing politics was one thing, but I objected far more to his liberal bias and his frequent carelessness with the facts. During my days as an editor and syndicated political columnist, I was once on a panel at Ole Miss with Minor, the late Norma Fields of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, and a TV anchor from Jackson. Every member of the panel was asked who they were supporting in the race for governor that was taking place at the time. I went last, but Minor and the two other journalists righteously wrapped themselves in a self-serving cloak of objective journalism. They refused to tell the students who they would vote for in the upcoming election. When it was my time to answer, I told the students not only would I tell them the name of the candidate for whom I would vote, I proceeded to tell them, correctly, who each of the other journalists supported. An outraged Minor then chased me across campus after the panel ended and demanded to know why I answered how I did.
A bitter man
Following another speaking appearance before a large group of students at Ole Miss, I was approached by a young black student. She told me she had heard Minor speak a few weeks
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
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
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.
NASCAR stock car racing has its annual “Silly Season” following that final race of the season at Homestead, Florida and the grand opening of the next season in February with the Daytona 500. NASCAR rumors fly left and right about drivers changing teams, changing sponsors, changing crew chiefs and even the paint schemes being changed. Mississippi has a similar political “silly season.” Everyone has accepted the fact that our next statewide elections, while three years away, will be a real political shootout. There’s been an assumption that only one of Mississippi’s eight statewide elected officials will seek re-election. That would be Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith. Gov. Phil Bryant is term limited, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will run for governor, Attorney General Jim Hood will either run against Reeves or retire from public life, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch will be a candidate for attorney general and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is expected to run for lieutenant governor. It was widely assumed that Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who was 72 when re-elected last year, would not seek another term and that State Auditor Stacey Pickering will not seek re-election. The leading silly political rumor is that the “Never Delbert” or “Anybody But Delbert” crowd is promoting Hyde-Smith to run against Hosemann for LG. You can bet the house that Hyde-Smith will not oppose Hosemann and will instead seek at third term. Despite his statewide popularity there are a number of prominent Republicans who do not care for Hosemann. There could be several reasons. In Jim Hood’s first race for attorney general when his mentor Mike Moore did not seek re-election, Hosemann withdrew as a candidate at the very last minute. It left Republicans with a much weaker candidate to oppose Hood when Hood possibly could have been defeated. Some Republicans were also upset when Hosemann made noises about opposing Sen. Thad Cochran even if Cochran decided to run again as he eventually did. Then, Hosemann did not endear himself to Tate Reeves and Reeves’ supporters. Hosemann reportedly gave some consideration to opposing Reeves last year for re-election or possibly challenging Reeves for governor in 2019. Reeves is known not to take
Fiction in the news pages of The Washington Post
Recently I received an email from a college fraternity brother who lives in Charleston, attaching a Washington Post story written by Neely Tucker. He commented, while the Post does not seem to tire of bashing Republicans and Donald Trump, while praising Hillary Clinton, The Post still found time to publish an extensive story titled, “Inside the hottest gay bar in the most homophobic state in the nation.” The story by Tucker noted that the “hottest” gay bar is in Jackson, and of course, the “most homophobic state” is Mississippi. What is not mentioned is that Tucker attended both Mississippi State and Ole Miss although he remains a faithful supporter of Bulldog athletic teams. Tucker’s late father, Dr. Duane Tucker, was long associated with MSU. Before his retirement, Dr. Tucker rose to the number two position for MSU’s extension service. Prior to being with The Washington Post for almost 15 years, Neely Tucker also worked for the Miami Herald and Detroit Free Press. First let’s start with the headline on Tucker’s story, the “hottest gay bar” in Mississippi. WonderLust is the name of a bar located in north Jackson. Funny, living in Jackson for about eight years I have never heard of WonderLust. Neither had several other people I contacted who have lived in Jackson for all or most of their lives. However, I must admit that I am not inclined, or do not have any desire to frequent the “hottest” bar for the LGBTQ community. The headline also notes that WonderLust is located in the “nation’s most homophobic state”, which according to Tucker, would be Mississippi. I wonder what factual basis or documentation there is for that assumption? I would guess the assumption is because Mississippi is often noted to be located in the so-called “Bible Belt” and is known, as Tucker points out, as a very religious state. Of course, labeling someone or a state as “homophobic” is sort of a liberal’s version of McCarthyism. Just because a person does not endorse or approve of the LGBTQ lifestyle does not mean they are homophobic. Tucker further writes that WonderLust is located in the Fondren section of Jackson. WonderLust may technically be in the boundaries of Fondren, but the location is actually in a seedy, high-crime area.
Fondren is not Jackson’s “gayborhood” or “predominantly black”
Despite the many problems of Jackson, Fondren is a trendy, artsy, developing section of Jackson that features many popular restaurants, bars and retail shops. It is not known, as Tucker writes, as Jackson’s “gayborhood” and a “magnet for a good bit of openly LGBT
You may have heard about the crushing economic blow that Mississippi suffered last week. The Portland, Maine City Council voted to ban all non-essential travel by city employees to Mississippi and North Carolina. The action was prompted by what they claim, notice I say claim, that the two states have laws that discriminate against the gay and transsexual communities. Can our state survive this massive ec0nomic blow?
Hysteria continues over North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill”
Here is the bottom line on the legislation in North Carolina that has created a national uproar, threats to boycott the state and on and on. Remember, this law does not tell any private business what kind of bathrooms they must have in their buildings. It is only directed at public bodies that would force transgender bathrooms. Do you want a person
A Reaction Of Near Hysteria Nationally And By The Press
Mississippi’s “Religious Freedom” Law (HB 1523) passed overwhelming by the Senate and House and was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant: The legislation was useless, worthless, dumb and should never have been passed and signed into law. Passage of HB 1523 could be described as political pandering. Yet, what is almost worse is the near hysterical reaction to the law by many people, various organizations, the LGBT community, national corporations and most of all, the press. Some of the same corporations that have spoken out against HB 1523, often with indignation and outrage, are companies that do business in countries that stone homosexuals. On the front page of the daily newspaper serving the Gulf Coast, it was headlined that a “No Hate In Our State” rally is planned in Gulfport. The law has nothing to d0 with “hate” and no supporter of the legislation has advocated hate of anybody. On Tuesday we learned that John Grisham and other Mississippi writers (however, Grisham lives in Virginia) released a statement calling for the repeal of HB 1523. Grisham and the others will have as much success with this line of advocacy as they did with their calls to change the state flag. In the same Clarion.Ledger article, a booking agent expressed concerned about gay friends finding a place to stay in Mississippi. Let me assure him, there is not one hotel or motel in the state that will ask if a person is gay when they make a reservation. No one dining out at any restaurant will be asked if they are gay before they are seated. The statement by Grisham and the other writers also talked about the “rhetoric of hate.” There is no rhetoric of hate in the HB 1523 or from those legislators who supported the bill.
North Carolina was the first state to get hit with the political correctness of the LGBT agenda. That state passed a law that prevents cities and counties from forcing businesses to give transgender people access to the bathroom of their choice. It is commonly called the “bathroom bill.” Do you really want a person who is biologically a male to have access to a restroom for women and female children? Of course, the governor of New York banned state employee travel to North Carolina, and now added Mississippi. This is the same governor that is promoting travel and trade with communist Cuba and its brutal regime that jails opponents left and right.
Pay Pal cancelled a major expansion in North Carolina because of the bathroom bill. PayPal might want to explain why its international headquarters is in Singapore where people engaged in private consensual same-sex acts can face two years in jail. It might also want to explain why it announced in 2012 that it would open offices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While North Carolina placed some common sense limits on public bathrooms, the UAE reportedly jails gay and transgender people. On the subject of New York, it is laughable that Mississippi ex-pats living in NYC cancelled the annual Mississippi Picnic in Central Park citing the passage of HB 1523 and expected protestors if the event was held as it has been for almost 40 years. Not so laughable: the Clarion.Ledger’s making a big deal of the comments about HB 1523 by the gay brother of a state senator who voted for the bill. On Tuesday, the daily Clarion.Ledger email to subscribers noted that “Lawmakers call for do-over on religious objection bill” and that first-term Rep. Jay Hughes of Oxford was calling a press conference on the issue. Not much chance of a do-over of a bill already signed into law. When he grows up, Hughes wants to be Nancy Pelosi. I am also confident that a lot of people who are outraged about HB 1523 have not read the full bill. Earlier this week I had lunch with a friend who agreed with me that the bill should not have been passed by the legislature. On the other hand he noted the hypocrisy of some opponents of the legislation. He told some people opposed to HB 1523 to read the entire bill and then let him know why they had problems with it. He added that they should read the bill and not go by what liberal Clarion.Ledger executive editor Sam Hall and others say what the bill says. He didn’t hear back from them. There is one positive side to the uproar over HB 1523. Because of the Clarion.Ledger’s own hysteria and obsession with HB 1523, at least the constant barrage of change the state flag stories has slowed.
Let’s be clear on one thing. The current LGBT issues and HB 1523 are not the same thing as the 50s and 60s in Mississippi. Those were days of segregation, racism and violence that will always be a terrible mark on our state’s history. Colin Powell had it right when he was chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff and Bill Clinton pushed his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Although Powell has since changed his tune on gay marriage, at the time Powell said, “Skin color is a benign, nonbehavioral characteristic. Comparison of the two (black civil rights and gay rights) is a convenient but invalid argument.”