Darfur

End the Genocide in Darfur!

We’ve all heard that, and we would all like for it to stop. According to Danny at Doc’s Political Parlor (one of my favorite web sites), Howard Dean says it is an issue that Democrats can use to appeal to young Evangelicals.  But… is it our job? I think so…  What can the US do about it? And which party is more serious about ending the genocide? Hint: ‘Just Words’ don’t work with murderous dictators…

First some background: Darfur (Dar al-Fur) is ‘the land of the Fur tribe’, it is a western region of Sudan, which is the largest country in Africa (920,000 square miles – 3 1/2 times bigger than Texas). Sudan’s 40 million people have been ruled since 1993 by Omar al-Bashir (a murderous dictator). Sudan gained its independence from Egypt / UK in 1956. It has disputed borders with Kenya and Ethiopia and Egypt.

Sudan also has lots of oil (400,000 barrels a day) – 70% of which is sold to China (10% of China’s oil comes from Sudan). The Chinese sell military equipment to Sudan and train the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. China has hundreds of ‘peacekeeping’ troops in Sudan.

The Darfur genocide is hard to quantify, but about 200,000 people have been killed according to many estimates, plus thousands of people have been displaced. The Sudanese Government and associated militias (Janjaweed) are condemned for the genocide.  Slavery, human trafficking, and rape are fairly common.

There are 20,000 international peacekeepers in Sudan (UN / African Union Mission in Darfur - UNAMID).

Pretty nasty place – I can see why we all want that to stop. But how can Darfur be an issue for Democrats? After all, Saddam Hussein (a murderous dictator) killed as many people in ONE YEAR (1991 – 100,000 Kurds and 130,000 Shia) as have died in Darfur. In 1988, Saddam killed 50,000 Kurds using Weapons of Mass Destruction such as Sarin and Mustard Gas. Barack Obama opposed the War in Iraq…

Barack Obama says that “increasing pressure on the Sudanese” and “deployment of a robust international force” will end the genocide.

John McCain goes further.  In 2006, McCain and Bob Dole published a plan to end the genocide. McCain called for NATO (US) to enforce a ‘No Fly Zone’ over Darfur and “push the United Nations to draw up firm plans for the entrance of a robust force into Darfur and contingency plans for the force to enter without Sudanese consent”, with US logistical, intelligence, and diplomatic support.

Compare the two plans: which one has a better chance of stopping a murderous dictator intent on killing his own people?  Which candidate has recent experience helping bring a murderous dictator to justice - and which one opposed that action?

By the way, ANWR can produce 780,000 barrels of oil per day, almost double that of Sudan.

Sarah Palin

WOW!

I just watched Sarah Palin’s speech – she is an absolutely wonderful choice for Vice President. She is right on issues, she is a great speecher, and she exudes confidence.  She also has more executive experience in her own right than does Obama…

I’ll observe that Palin used a phrase to describe her will to serve: “A Servant’s Heart”.  Our own Wayne Parker refers to the same phrase in his speeches.  The phrase is from Matthew 23:11-12.

The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Compare that to the ‘Exalted One’…

UPDATE: Thanks for the link C-SPAN. Note that I combined the words “speech” and “speaker” to coin the word “speecher”; it’s supposed to be humor…

Reed and Polemeni Endorse Battle

Huntsville Mayoral Challengers Jackie Reed and Mike Polemeni both endorsed Tommy Battle for Mayor in the October 7 Run-off.  The Times interviewed Dr. Jess Brown (of Athens State) who said: ‘endorsements from distant finishers such as Reed would be meaningless if the regular election vote spread was greater’.

“She’s a factor,” Brown said… “If Tommy Battle wants to be mayor, I’d be calling her.

“I’d say you have to look at Reed supporters as being ones more likely to go back and vote in the runoff and probably vote for Battle.”

Turnout could also be a factor. Brown said Tuesday’s 27.7 percent voter turnout will likely be even lower in the rematch. The 2004 mayor’s race drew a 38 percent turnout.

A proportionately lower turnout in north Huntsville would help Spencer, who has rarely polled well in that area, Brown said. Battle, likewise, would benefit by a proportionately low turnout in downtown and south Huntsville, which are packed with longtime residents.

Battle, he said, can continue criticizing Spencer over the faulty jail project and Downtown Rescue Mission relocation debacle, but he also needs new themes to illustrate his criticisms of her administration.

“He needs to give some meat and specifics how business is done and how he would do business differently.”

Brown said Battle has gotten most of the political mileage he’ll get out of the jail and Rescue Mission lapses.

I think that Tommy Battle should take Dr. Brown’s advice – and focus on crime. People don’t like the record numbers of murders (3 last weekend alone), and while Huntsville is near the top of the list in many areas – being listed as #83 on a Highest Crime Cities List isn’t where we want to be.

Huntsville has 2/3 of the US City Average of Police.  We have 2.15 officers per thousand population, compared to 3 officers per thousand nationwide.  We’ve got a good police department – we just need more of ‘em.

WHNT Mayoral Debate

I submitted a question to WHNT for the Mayoral candidates:

“Huntsville has experienced a shocking increase in crime – how would you improve public safety?”

Note: HSV crime rate has increased 33% from 2002 through 2006 (latest FBI “Crime in the United States” data available), record numbers of murders, below average number of police (2.15 per thousand residents compared to US average of 3 per thousand residents).

HSV is ranked #83 on city-data.com Highest Crime Cities list; Birmingham is ranked #13. For comparison, Gary IN is ranked #81 and Tampa FL is ranked #85. No other city in Alabama ranked in the Top 101 Highest Crime Cities.

Top 101 cities with the highest 2006 city-data.com crime index per resident

Huntsville, Alabama

BTW, I checked the city-data information against the official FBI statistics – the data used in the rankings are, unfortunately, accurate.

I plan to attend the debate at the Monaco Prive Theater, because “politics goes so good with beer” (from The Pixies).

UPDATE: 

I attended the debate at Monaco Theater – I was surprised to see a well-dressed crowd of several hundred people there, mostly 20-30 somethings, fairly diverse. The Monaco offered free hors d’oeuvres, cash beer and wine, and a very nice venue.

IMO Tommy Battle ‘won’ the debate. Mayor Loretta Spencer didn’t seem comfortable, but gave good answers to questions – reading a transcript might seem to give her the win. Jackie Reed won the audience – she got more spontaneous applause than any other candidate. Mike Polemeni seemed to ramble, but I agree with his light rail suggestion – he got chuckles when he suggested that the light rail would be great for getting drunks home from downtown.

WHNT started with their panel questions (Steve Johnson, Lisa Washington, Dr. Jess Brown). IIRC the questions were allotted a one minute response. The first question – Johnson – was about roads (mentioning BRAC): Reed said long-range planning and loop, Polemeni said City should take over where State doesn’t perform, Battle said we don’t get return on our taxes (53 cents on a dollar), Spencer said City does best it can.

Second question – Washington, economic development (mentioning VW loss): Polemeni said mass transit, Battle said infrastructure (hitting State return of taxes again), Spencer said Chattanooga offered $200 million in incentives and we need to make city appealing, Reed said slow down growth.

Third question – Brown, expanding into Limestone County: Battle said “take care of what we have”, Spencer said annexed landowners gave land for parks and schools to city as part of deal, Reed said developers aren’t paying their fair share and that to some developers “greenways mean fountains”, Polemeni said City needs to cooperate in “joint ventures” with other local Governments.

Turns out that WHNT didn’t ask any questions submitted online, even though they asked for questions.

First Monaco question - make North HSV as attractive as South HSV: Spencer said attract businesses like Lowe’s, Reed said improve schools, Polemeni said loop, Battle said equalize services.

Jackie Reed question to Tommy Battle – don’t see you at City Council meetings, when would you have time to be Mayor?: Battle said he’s divested his businesses so he would be a full-time Mayor and watches Council meetings on TV. Reed rebuttal ‘only time I see you is when you lobby for your businesses’.

Mike Polemeni to Mayor Spencer – is HSV a Sanctuary City?: Spencer said there are “no legal things” that the City can do about immigration and that Police check Drivers Licenses. Polemeni rebuttal ‘they terk er jerbs’.

Tommy Battle to Mayor Spencer – jail overrun?: Spencer said Joint Venture made sense, bad hiring decisions, lawsuits pending. Battle rebuttal wish we had that $40 million for roads and schools and police and firemen.

Mayor Spencer to Tommy Battle – TIF funding builds schools, where were you when you were a City Councilman?: Battle said dedicated sales taxes to schools and asked what are you going to do on education. Spencer rebuttal new retail and construction.

Second Monaco question – Downtown Business District (note that the questioner mentioned “affordable housing” – thereby pissing me off): Polemeni said light rail from Downtown to Ditto Landing, Battle said get downtown moving, Spencer said replace brick sidewalks with concrete, Reed said taking bricks out is not planning.

WHNT Lightning Round with 15 second answers.

Johnson asked about Empty Storefronts: Battle said speed up roads, Spencer said investment, Reed said sprawl, Polemeni said mass transit.

Washington asked about Downtown Rescue Mission: Spencer said City Council, Reed said mistake, Polemeni said bridge over Pinhook, Battle said blaming City Council not right.

Brown asked about personal vote on Sales Tax Increase (Great Question!): Reed said TIF, Polemeni said he voted for but then noted bloated schools, Battle said don’t have to increase taxes, Spencer said TIFs and new retail.

In Closing Remarks, Mayor Spencer noted her 12 years of leadership and success. Battle said past is past, look to the future. Reed praised HSV leadership, but notes “hidden agendas”. Polemeni said he’s a “pragmatist”.

UPDATE:

Thanks to Pamela Furr of WVNN for asking the Crime question on her show tonight!!!