Horse manure from The Times

In Sunday’s Huntsville Times Enjoy section, book reviewer Ann Marie Martin recommends the children’s book “The Georges and the Jewels”, by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley.

Hmm… I remember associating the name Jane Smiley with something bad, so I did a Google search on her name.  The FIRST words of the FIRST entry refer to a 2004 Slate article: “The unteachable ignorance of the red states”.  Now I remember.

The day George W. Bush was re-elected President of the US, Jane Smiley had an article published at Slate: “Why Americans Hate Democrats - A Dialogue – The unteachable ignorance of the red states”.   Here are some thoughts from this ‘eloquent’ writer:

The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry.

Smiley continues on to an intellectually dishonest ‘dialogue’ about how ‘red state’ people are the same kind of people who massacred ‘blue state’ people in Lawrence, Kansas during the Civil War.  Why do I say she is intellectually dishonest?  Because Lawrence, Kansas was founded by abolitionist Republicans like Eli Thayer.  Read the Slate article and you’ll wonder how this woman ever received a PhD, much less why she is allowed to teach school.

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don’t believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question…

The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

Offended yet, Bible-thumpers?  How about you “do not want to be told what to do” ignorant libertarians?  Here’s where she goes Commie:

A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class… They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant… Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power.

Class warfare.  Yeah, I’ll go right out and buy her children’s book…  Here’s some more ‘eloquence’:

…red state types love to cheat and intimidate…  they are borne of hubris and hatred…

Read the book?  I don’t have to stir up a pile of horse manure to know that it stinks…

I’m left wondering about the apparently unteachable ignorance of The Huntsville Times.  The book reviewer was at best INCURIOUS (which should be an insult to a newspaper), at worst sympathetic to Smiley’s viewpoint. This is an example of what I mean when I say the stench of liberalism permeates The Times.

Don’t even get me started about the stench of the Pulitzer

Dr. John Fanning on Health Care

Here is the text of Dr. John Fanning’s speech at Saturday’s Health Care Tea Party:

First, I want to thank all of you for coming out today. I have never helped organize a rally and I am thrilled to have such a great turnout. I want to thank Huntsville Hospital especially David Spillers, Rudy Hornsby, and Tonya Haggard for their help. Thanks to the Huntsville Tea Party and especially to Christie Carden, Melissa Wilson, Chad Capps, Tomas Gallucci, and Vince Kreul for all their hard work. Thanks to the Madison County Republicans for their support and to Gary Palmer, President of the Alabama Policy Institute for his support and for giving up a Saturday to travel up from Birmingham to speak with us today.

Thanks to all the health care professionals for taking time to come here today. I especially want to thank all the nurses, medical techs, pharmacists, therapists and other members of the healthcare community who came out today. Physicians do not acknowledge your sacrifice and value as much as we should. Without you we could not care for our patients.

I want all of you to understand that doctors here are not against healthcare reform. To the contrary, we want reform. We all understand the challenges facing Americans who do not have health insurance. President Obama and Congress and even our friends across the street who are protesting for the bill would have you believe that patients are dying in the streets. They want you to believe that if you do not support this bill you are an evil soul who wants people to die. Understand this: everyone of the doctors here sees patients without insurance. In fact, were it not for the altruism of physicians patients really would be dying in the streets.

Today you will not only hear the problems with the catastrophic healthcare bills in Congress, but fiscally responsible, real life solutions to our healthcare problems. I was influenced by my mother, a nurse anesthetist for over 40 years and knew at an early age I wanted to be a doctor, a healer. After college, I was given the privilege of attending medical school at the University of Alabama.

When I interviewed for medical school, I told the admissions committee that I was thirsty to drink from the fountain of knowledge. So when I started medical school they pushed a fire-hose down my throat and turned it wide open. I spent 12-16 hours a day in the first two years of med school going to class and in my apartment studying, reading and learning. During my 11 PM breaks I would watch the re-runs of M*A*S*H with my next door neighbor Sherry, who would become my wife. After my M*A*S*H break I would go back to the books.

Then came the 3rd year when I was allowed to see and care for patients. I remember walking into the ICU at UAB Hospital for the first time. I was pulling out my pen to write an order on a patient. A veteran ICU nurse looked at my pen like I had unsheathed a sword. She told me to put it back in my pocket. She was protecting her patient from a green medical student. Now I understand why she was so protective of her patient. All the nurses here understand as well. The patient comes first. I pushed my way through the 3rd and 4th years of med school and decided to go into Internal Medicine..a field specializing in treating adults.

Residency was one of the hardest things I had ever done. 100 hour work weeks, 36 hour days and countless hospital cafeteria meals with my new wife. I saw unspeakable tragedy, incredible courage and overwhelming joy…sometimes in the same patient. It was here that I saw the bond that a doctor forms with his patient. I saw what is required to be a healer. And my story is like all the physicians here. For many, the path took 10 years or more.

As physicians, we take an oath…an oath that is ancient, sacred, powerful. With this oath, we swear to treat our patients using all our knowledge with compassion, care and sympathy. We form a bond with our patients that is like no other because we are dealing with the most precious thing you have: YOUR LIFE.

Not everyone here today is a doctor or a nurse or a pharmacist or a therapist…but everyone here has one thing in common… everyone… everyone here is a patient. You may have a chronic, ongoing illness that requires a doctor’s care regularly. You may be a parent and frequently drag your kids into the pediatrician or family medicine doctor’s office for a fever, a rash or an earache. Or you may be healthy now and never see a physician but you will need our services at some point in the future.

Even the doctors here are patients as Dr. Robert Hash stated so well in his letter in the Huntsville Times this week.

Seventeen months ago I lost my father-in-law to a rare form of leukemia. During the months prior to his passing, I had the opportunity to be on both sides of medicine: as a doctor and as a family member. The care my father-in-law received was wonderful. His physicians, Dr. Manh Dang, Dr. Vuppala, Dr. Hassoun were all knowledgeable, professional, compassionate and caring;what we all expect from our doctors. The Huntsville Hospital oncology nurses gave tender care at each hospital admission. So many professionals were needed to provide compassionate care for a dying man. Respiratory therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists, home health nurses and social workers were all called upon to care for him until the end. As hard the last few weeks of his life were, the tender words and actions of those nurses and staff made the his death more bearable.

Mr. S was riding his bike near the Hampton Cove Golf Course and struck by an impaired driver. He was thrown into a stop sign and sustained massive internal injuries, a crushed pelvis, fractured femur and crush injuries to both legs among other injuries. Because of the phenomenal care he received by the Trauma surgeons and orthopaedists over his SEVEN month stay in the hospital he went home and amazingly went back to work. He told me in my office a few months ago he was going to get a new bike.

The point is that all of us are affected by this dismantling of the best healthcare system in the world. And that is why we are all here. As your doctors, we are your advocates, your counselors, your cheerleaders, your teachers and sometimes… sometimes your parents. “Stop smoking…. watch your diet… eat more fiber…. take your medicine…. get some exercise… and don’t make me turn this van around!!”

President Obama said that doctors would remove the tonsils of a sick child rather than treat that child with antibiotics because it would be more profitable. He said a physician would amputate a limb rather than treat that patient’s diabetes because it make more money.

Mr Obama SHAME ON YOU… I ask this. Mr. Obama, have you ever held the hand of teenager who was an accomplished pianist who lost most of her fingers from meningiococcemia?

Mr Obama, have you ever prayed with a family around the bed of a dying patient?

Mr Obama have you ever looked a woman in the eye and said “I am so sorry – but you have cancer.”

When I am in the ER at 3 AM seeing a patient who needs my help and I see Cardiologist Tom Wright consoling a family member whose mother or sister or wife just died, when I see Surgeon Richard Randall talking to a patient about the surgery he is about to perform instead of watching his daughter star in the school play, when I see Cancer Specialist Paul Dang making rounds at 11 PM instead of being with his family, I somehow don’t think driving a nice car is much consolation.

The practice of medicine demands much from those who choose it. It is simply too difficult, too demanding to be simply for profit. We do this because it is a calling.

Ladies and Gentlemen we are at a crossroads in America. We face a giant government takeover of our healthcare way of life that will..not might..will fundamentally change how WE THE PATIENTS will be treated. The Senate is debating this bill even as we speak and Harry Reid plans to have the first vote on the bill this very evening.

When this rally is done, you will ask yourself, what can I do to stop this train. We have information at the tables here on how you can call Senate and let them know you do not support this plan. We are fortunate that Senators Shelby and Sessions are against the bill, however we need to continue to let them know what we think.

I want each one of you to get the list of Senators who are undecided and call them today. Call them Monday. Call them the week after. Keep calling these key Senators until they know your name. When their staff asks you “Are you a constituent?” You say “Yes. This bill effects every single person in America and I am against this bill.”


I am afraid that this is not enough — I ask you what are you prepared to do for liberty? Don’t wait for someone else to go to Washington for you. Call every person in your address books- send emails to everyone on your email list, use Facebook and Twitter to let people know to call, email and fax the Senate. — AND have the courage to TALK to people about these critical issues that face our republic.

Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing”.


Thank you

Health Care Tea Party

I attended the Health Care Tea Party held Saturday at the Huntsville Hospital Medical Mall, along with 700 doctors, nurses, technicians, politicians, and concerned citizens.  A dozen sad-looking counter-protesters  (were they lonely?) were across the street.  Note to the Tea Party organizers – be sure to make convenient arrangements for the TV trucks – they have a lot of equipment to haul.

In addition to experiencing the great turnout and hearing some impassioned speeches, I got to talk with CJ Grisham in person for a few minutes, which I really appreciated.  He was quite popular with the local politicians.

Thanks to Dr. John Fanning, one of the organizers of the Tea Party, here are some thoughts on Health Care:

It is important for people to understand that there seems to be a disconnect between what Congress says they are going to do and what is in the legislation they propose.

Harry Reid says “Now is the time to make sure all Americans have access to affordable healthcare”, but his bill spends $2.5 trillion over the next 15 years, and insures 94% of America, not 100%. That leaves 19.8 million people uninsured. That number, when you calculate for an increase in population, is actually higher than the “un-insurable” we currently have. So this idea of all Americans will have access is absurd.

Second, just because you have a card that says you have insurance, does not mean you will have a doctor to see. There is no provision for increasing the number of doctors. It is like giving everyone a free bus ticket and only having 5 buses.

Thirdly, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama say this is a crisis. We must do something now, we have to pass this bill now. They have been saying this since July. However the House bill does not take effect until 2013, the Senate until 2014!! If there is such a crisis, why not start it right away. The reason is simple. They want to collect taxes and fees for 3-4 years which makes the bill budget neutral since the benefits do not start until 2013-2014. It also interestingly does not start until the 2012 Presidential election. When calculations are made extended to 10 years after implementation, the costs are $2.5 trillion.

Forth, if there was any doubt this a take over of medicine, HR 3962 has a clause to regulate vending machines. Government intrusion into our daily lives.

Fifth, page 122 of the Senate bill requires all insured Americans to pay a monthly fee that to fund abortions.

So what can be done. Republicans have several bills proposed in the House and Senate (contrary to Harry Reid’s comment) HR 3400 proposed by Tom Price, MD (available at his website) has free market solutions to many of the issues covered in just over 200 pages. Instead of the bi-partisan, all-inclusive promises that Obama made in the campaign, we have a few Senate and House Democrats behind not only closed doors but locked doors (the Dems actually changed the locks to keep the Republicans out!) writing policies with no input from practicing physicians or anyone else except Rahm Emanuel.

Reactionary for Congress

After hours of prayer, discussion with my family and friends, and in the belief that this is my best opportunity ever to run for Congress;  I have decided to run for Congress to represent Alabama’s Eighth District!

My friends, while I don’t encourage you to run against me, there are open seats available in these Alabama Congressional Districts:  8th,  9th,  12th,  and 19th  (just perfect for someone who likes golf!).

So far I’ve only got one issue:  accountability.  I believe that when the government spends money taken from us through taxes and borrowed from our children and grandchildren, that we the people deserve to know where that money is spent.  Not only that, we deserve to know that the government is spending that money wisely.   

For example, in Alabama’s 8th District, President Obama says he spent $366,480 of stimulus money, but Obama didn’t save or create a single job – that’s right – zero.

My friends, I can do better than that. I promise that if elected, I will stop spending REAL borrowed money on non-existent jobs in bogus Districts.  Vote for Reactionary to represent Alabama’s 8th District.

UPDATE:   Danny notes that “getting qualified voters to turn out”  may be difficult :)
I believe that my GOTV efforts will carry the mock election day.  As a pseudonymous candidate for a bogus seat, I plan to run a virtual campaign.  While my esteemed opponent Susan Fillipelli has great strength within the Twitter community, I believe that my Facebook friends will turn out for me.

Tabatha’s Salon Takeover

Yep,  I watch Tabatha’s Salon Takeover on Bravo (Tuesday nights at 9PM).  Host Tabatha Coffey takes over a failing hair salon for a week, then does a return visit weeks later to assess the improvement.  What I really enjoy is the back-to-basics business model she advocates – the cursing, not so much…

Tabatha begins by watching hidden camera video with the salon owner, interviewing the owner, meeting the employees, and touring the shop as a group.  This is usually disgusting, revolting, and appalling - especially the tours of bathrooms and storage areas.  Then she takes the keys to the salon.  She spends a day observing the stylist’s technical skills and customer service – then she, um, counsels the employees. 

Tabatha does a makeover of the salon and reopens it with a newly motivated team.  She observes the owner / stylists again, then makes final recommendations and gives the keys back to the owner.  Tabatha follows through with a return visit, so we can see if her recommendations are helpful.

This is a business case study on TV (where was this when I was in school?).  Cleanliness, technical proficiency, professionalism, customer service, and management:  all the basics that have somehow been forgotten.  It’s also capitalism at it’s finest – Tabatha expects the salon owner to make money…


On a personal note, I’ve worked in restaurants so I pay attention when I’m eating out.  Recently, I visited our Restauranteur / State Senator’s place and saw Paul Sanford as he arrived at Little Paul’s.  The first thing he did was check out the bathrooms.  Tabatha would’ve been proud…

Madison County GOP Breakfast – 11/21/2009

The speaker at this morning’s Madison County Republican breakfast was Huntsville Times editor Kevin Wendt.  Last year about this time he addressed the MCGOP as the newly hired editor, and he’s had a year or so to settle into his job.  He recognized then the frustration that many people in Huntsville felt about The Times, and IMO he has made some positive steps toward improving the paper’s relationship with the community.  More about Wendt in a minute…

Tim James won the Madison County GOP Straw Poll with 35%, Bradley Byrne came in second with 26%, and Roy Moore came in third with 15%.  In a departure from previous straw polls, this poll was open to MCGOP members only (to minimize skewing the poll results).

Here’s a post about Tim James MCGOP visit in May 2009.

 Tim James visited the meeting today, and it was nice to hear that he and his friends read Flashpoint.

The meeting was standing-room only, packed with about 250 people.  In addition to Tim James, notable notables included State Senator Paul Sanford; State Representatives Mike Ball, Howard Sanderford, and Mac McCutcheon; County Commissioner Mo Brooks (AL05 Congressional candidate); County Schools Superintendent Terry Davis; Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; Huntsville City Council Members Sandra Moon and Mark Russell; and Judge Bruce Williams.   Candidates for office included Les Phillip (Congress AL05), Mary Scott Hunter (State Board of Education), John Wilson (Senate 9), Tony Cochran (Senate 9), and Don Spurlin (Senate 9).  I was pleased to see that Dale Jackson of WVNN joined us for breakfast.

I enjoy seeing Mayor Battle and I appreciate that he’s accessible to the citizens of Huntsville.  I should probably write up something positive about the City to make up for all the fussing…


Now back to Kevin Wendt.  In his speech noted that he’s made some “changes at The Huntsville Times”.  He noted that circulation dropped a little bit to 50,000 papers daily, due to the “economy” and the “price increase”; Sunday’s paper circulation is 72,000 (about the same as last year). 

Wendt said that when he took over, the editorial page writers “leaned to the left” and that he was trying to “balance out the editorial page”.  He promoted John Peck to editorial page editor, offered buyouts to John Ehinger (who I think was fair and pretty good), David Persons (who was one-dimensional), and David Prather (who was a poor tipper according to people I know in the restaurant industry).

Wendt expanded the Business Section to make it a stand-alone section of the paper.  He hopes to differentiate the paper based on it’s strength reporting local news and business.  The paper is focusing on local coverage and started up a “watchdog page”.

The Sunday paper is where Wendt is building a “national page”.  He cited as an example of this page the recent printing of the text of the health care bills and the text of a Dick Cheney speech.  He said that The Times ran Cheney’s speech with the purpose of reaching out to the right and getting “to know our audience better”.

Wendt says there are things The Times can do better.  He plans to improve election coverage, in part because “we didn’t do a good job” in the Sanford / Hall Senate 7 special election (if only someone like Dale Jackson at WVNN had spoken up about it or maybe if Brian had said something the Times would have realized their error sooner).

Wendt said that endorsements for candidates “are key to what a local paper can bring to the table”.

QUESTION AND ANSWER (brief summary):

Q = is political diversity important
A = Yes.  Need to be “aware of issues”
Q = ACORN on page 8
A = “national story”, “goal is to highlight local issues”
Q = Are you going to balance the Faith and Values section – buncha lefties
A = “don’t plan changes”, “aware of it”
Q = why Cynthia Tucker
A = email Peck with ideas
Q = Great job, you’ve made the paper better
A = Thanks
I missed a couple Q&As here…  Keep in mind I’m trying to eat, listen, and write at the same time…
Q = Why is the Big10 covered in the Sports section?
A = “we won’t get into a discussion about the Big10 being overrated”

Overall, Kevin Wendt made a good speech, he was witty and forthright in the Q&A, and his remarks were warmly received.  Good job, Kevin!

Tim James wins MCGOP Straw Poll

Gubernatorial candidate Tim James received 35% of the vote at a standing-room only meeting of the Madison County GOP.  Bradley Byrne came in second with 26% and Roy Moore came in third with 15%.  Undecided got 10%, Robert Bentley got 7%, Kay Ivey got 4%, Bill Johnson 3%, and James Potts got less than 1%.

Tim James attended the meeting and it appears  that his personal campaigning may have helped earned him the win.  In a departure from previous straw polls, this poll was open to MCGOP members only.

Bringing the spirit of terror into school

“Bringing the spirit of terror into school”.

That’s how one Williams Middle School parent described Master Sergeant CJ Grisham at tonight’s Huntsville City Schools Board of Education meeting.  What was truly disturbing is that after admonishing people to “respect the good name and character of people”, Board President Doug Martinson allowed this comment to be made several times.  Eventually the standing room only crowd objected so loudly that Martinson banged his gavel for order – but seemingly not to stop the speaker who had just accused a Gulf War veteran of “bringing the spirit of terror” – it was to quiet the audience.

Believe it or not, that is our school board, and I am outraged.

The school board may believe that this issue is about to blow over, but they’ll find that this is about to blow up.


I attended the Board of Education meeting tonight, November 19, 2009.  There were about 25 or so school board members and employees, plus about 70 people in attendance.  I’ll start with the good news – several students from Challenger MS, Whitesburg MS, and Grissom HS were recognized for their performance on the National Assessment and Testing – Math tests.  Congratulations – I hope these guys do wonderful things and earn millions of dollars – they’re certainly on the right track.

The Board then opened the floor for public comment:

The first speaker (a lady who seemed very well-acquainted with the Board) commented that she was “concerned about the credibility of the Board and Administration”.  She suggested that Board members should visit schools more often to be aware of these types of situations which might keep them off the radio.  Smart lady, I like her.

Next up was Dale Jackson of WVNN, who offered the name and phone number of his employer just in case the Board and Superintendent felt threatened.  Jackson reviewed the issue, then asked for the Board to apologize – saying it was not acceptable for the schools to contact an employer about a policy disagreement.  Jackson also quickly described the email discussions between the Superintendent, the principal, and the Army; disproving the school system’s claim that they didn’t contact the Army.  He closed by asking the Board to apologize to the Grisham family.

I was up next:

It is unacceptable that the Huntsville City Schools would contact the employer of a parent.
The Board of Education should issue a formal apology to CJ Grisham and ensure that the apology is also delivered to his chain of command.
In addition, the Board of Education needs to investigate this situation in order to evaluate the actions of the principal, the Superintendent, and others involved in this travesty.
We can’t undo the harm that’s been done to the Grisham family, but we can make it right.

Next, a Williams parent who supports school uniforms (BTW so do I, or at least a strict dress code).

Next, a Williams parent who supports school uniforms and who also believes that disagreeing with the policy and objecting to a disorderly meeting is the same as “bringing the spirit of terror into school”.  That guy.

Skip and next, a Williams teacher who coaches the Rocketry team.  She says students are building rockets from scratch that will carry an egg 825 feet up and safely return.  That sounds like fun…

Next, a Williams parent who supports school uniforms but has “a problem with the way the policy was implemented”.

Next, a Williams parent who is concerned about the “quality of education”. Her 8th grader’s class assignments include “coloring”, going outside “because the teacher didn’t want to teach that day”, and “watching a movie”.

Turns out every public speaker was there to talk about Williams school. Hmm.


The Board was silent on this issue except for Board Member Dr. Jennie Robinson.  She is the only Board Member who has spoken up about this issue, and that has put her in the unenviable position of being the one who seems to be taking the arrows.  The rest seem to think that if you don’t stand up, you don’t get shot – which is a disappointing trait in an elected official.

Robinson said that it was “rare that we fill the auditorium” and spoke about her discussion with Dale Jackson at WVNN.  She said that she had “since learned that her comments weren’t accurate” and that principal Williams had called Army Liaison Williams.  She stated that a “person outside the system” had called the Army Commander.

Robinson asked that developing a policy about calling a parent’s employer be put on the agenda for the next Board meeting.

Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore said that the “school system has not ignored this issue” and that it is an “issue of behavior and conduct”.  She said she met with “several parents” from Williams to discuss Grisham.  Moore also said she was going to “mentor and coach the principal”.  She accused Grisham of creating a “disturbance” at Williams. Moore also said she thought the issue would “resolve and go away” after the meeting with her, the principal, the Army Liaison, and the Garrison Commander.

Note to the Huntsville City Schools – this is just getting started and won’t end until you apologize.  Calling a parent’s employer over a policy disagreement is wrong.  Covering it up is even worse.

Doctors’ Health Care Rally

Saturday, November 21, 2009
12PM to 3PM
Huntsville Hospital Medical Mall (NE corner of Governors and The Parkway)

From the Huntsville Tea Party:

Local doctors have organized a rally against a government takeover of health care.  Huntsville Tea Party is sponsoring and doing what we can to support and help.  Hope to see you out there!

Spurlin at Rosies

Quick…  You’ve got a few minutes to speak with a candidate who may be the next State Senator for District 9… What do you talk about? 

Jobs?  Forever Wild?  Roads?  Ethics reform?  HHA?

If you guessed Bitty Baby dolls, you’re right!

Yep, we got to talking and the next thing you know, it’s American Girl and Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins and Barbie (all Mattel products).  Imagine a group of, ahem, serious guys gathered together to talk politics, then imagine Joel Jaqubino of Right On Huntsville boasting that he likes to play Barbies with his daughter.  To be fair, we did focus more on the business side of American Girl dolls, including their fantastic customer service (just in case Bitty Boy needs to go to the doll hospital).

Later on, after that display of manliness, we did get to speak about some issues – mostly background about Marshall County (jobs; crime; assessing political strength in Albertville, Guntersville, and Arab).

As regular readers know, I like to get a feel for a candidate’s life.  I’m fascinated by the topics that arise in that discussion.  Don Spurlin shared a sweet story about his daughter Emma and her doll – there is more to life than politics…