Friday, October 29, 2004
On this day:

Fuller's Home Burns - Fuller Injured

The home of 3rd Congressional District Democratic nominee Bill Fuller was destroyed by fire early Friday, with Fuller injured when forced to jump from the second floor, a campaign spokesman said.

Fuller spokesman Ken Mullinax said the candidate suffered two fractures in his left knee, smoke inhalation and scrapes and bruises on his back when he was forced to jump from a second-story window of the antebellum home. He said Fuller woke up at about 5:30 a.m. to a blaring smoke alarm.

The cause of the fire isn't known yet, but Fuller is suspicious.


Alabama Will Resume Crackdown on Speeding

I'm not sure what level of "crackdown" we can have with only 360 state troopers, but I'll take the state's word for it. Some interesting facts from this story:

Last year, troopers gave out 17,403 speeding tickets from Aug. 26 to Oct. 18 This year, they gave out 7,527 over the same period.

Earlier this month, federal statistics showed that speed had surpassed driving under the influence as the leading killer on Alabama highways.

Alabama ranks fifth nationally, at 47 percent, in deaths where speed was the leading cause of a highway wreck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is more than twice the percentage in 2003 for neighboring states Georgia, 20 percent; Florida, 17 percent; Mississippi, 20 percent; and Tennessee, 23 percent.

The last two statistics don't explicitly say whether it was an increase in the number of speeding deaths or a decrease in drunk driving deaths (or a combination of the two) that contributed to Alabama's rank. Bet I can guess, though.

Christian Coalition and Amendment 2

I agree with its position on Amendment 2, but I would expect that this would be an issue on which the Christian Coalition of Alabama would remain neutral.

Alabama Constitutional Amendments

The Mobile Register has a detailed description of the 8 statewide constitutional amendments to be voted on next Tuesday here.

Here's my take:

Amendments 1 and 3 - These amendments extend industrial development powers to local governments that don't currently have them. The libertarian in me doesn't like the concept of governments buying up property to give away to private businesses. Tax incentives would be a preferable alternative. However, many counties already have this power via the constitution, and these are decisions that are appropriate to make at the local level. I plan to vote yes on both of these unless I'm in a particularly irritable mood Tuesday morning.

Amendment 2 - This amendment would remove obsolete language relating to segregation and poll taxes. It would also strike out a section of the constitution that says "nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense."

I am sympathetic to arguments that this last provision would give judges license to impose taxes and spending for education without the legislature's consent. The Alabama constitution says that the "the legislature shall establish, organize, and maintain a liberal system of public schools throughout the state for the benefit of the children thereof between the ages of seven and twenty-one years." This section was amended in the 1950's to add the qualfication that it should not be interpreted to create a "right" to public-funded education. That amendment would be superfluous if not for the tendency of some judges to make law rather than interpret it. Amendment 582, ratified by Alabama voters in 1996, attempted to address this concern by requiring legislative approval for disbursement of state funds in response to a court order. Even so, I'm voting no on Amendment 2. I kind of like a state constitution that explicitly states that education is not a right. That said, the legislature should send an amendment to voters for ratification next year ridding the Constitution of the segregation and poll tax language.

Amendment 4 - Several agricultural producers in the state have passed "voluntary checkoff" programs to be used to promote their products. The government has no business being involved in these types of programs. Industries are capable of financing their own promotion activities without interference from the state. I'm voting no.

Amendment 5 - This pertains to the city of Trussville, and allows them to annex additional property and raise property taxes. Frankly, its none of my business what the city of Trussville does, but I'm going to vote no anyway. These kinds of issues shouldn't be cluttering up the Constitution. Maybe if enough of these kinds of amendments get voted down, it will add to the momentum for constitutional reform.

Amendment 6 - Ditto. What happens in Crenshaw County is probably none of my business, but I'm voting no anyway.

Amendment 7 - Ditto for Macon County. Another no vote.

Amendment 8 - This amendment would make the tax system fairer for Alabama truckers. It converts the tax on trucks from an ad-valorem tax (property tax) to an excise tax based on the percentage of miles traveled inside the state of Alabama. The current ad-valorem tax is not levied on trucks registered outside Alabama. The proposed excise tax would be. It was designed to be revenue neutral. Yes to this one.

NYTimes: Many in Europe See U.S. Vote as Lose-Lose

According to this in today's New York Times,
No matter who wins the presidential election next week, the consequences for American-European relations will be bad, according to a deeply pessimistic view taking hold here.

If President Bush wins, the reasoning goes, pro-Kerry Europe will be astonished at what it will see as the bad judgment of the American electorate. Europeans will be confirmed in their sense that they are from Earth and Americans from some other planet.

But if Senator John Kerry wins, the result may well be an almost immediate trans-Atlantic crisis. Mr. Kerry, having presented himself in the campaign as the man who can restore a functioning alliance, will ask Germany and France to come to the aid of the United States in Iraq. Germany and France will refuse, and Americans will feel angry and betrayed.

Even though it begins with pessimism, the article goes on to say that there are signs, at least, that a more realistic attitude is taking shape in Europe about the transatlantic relationship. There is talk of reconciliation and a greater focus "on the big picture".
In a formula devised by Michael Naumann, the former German culture minister who is now the editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Europe will come to the aid of the United States in Iraq if the United States can fulfill four conditions:

1. That in the aftermath of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, it reaffirms its commitment to the Geneva Convention's rules on the treatment of prisoners.

2. That it recommits itself to nuclear nonproliferation at home, reducing its own weapons stockpiles and not just preventing countries like North Korea and Iran from obtaining them.

3. That it enters into serious ecological discussions, including the Kyoto treaty on global warming, which was rejected by the Bush administration.

4. That there be what Mr. Naumann calls "a return to a less arrogant tone of conversation," meaning that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic need to desist from the demagogic posturing of past months.

Unfortunately, all of these are conditions on the U.S. They don't require anything from Europe. And, they indicate a persistent disregard for America's interests among the European elite. Point by point:

1. The present administration has already stated its commitment to upholding the Geneva Conventions. However, "unlawful combatants" are not entitled to the same treatment under the Geneva Conventions as "prisoners of war." There are complexities in the definitions of these two terms, but Europeans must acknowledge the differences between them. The fact is that many of the prisoners held at the two facilities mentioned are "unlawful combatants" by anyone's definition, and the U.S. cannot be expected to abide by rules of war that are not observed by its enemies.

2. The U.S. is continuing to reduce its stockpiles of nuclear weapons. In an effort bring U.S. nuclear posture up to date with present realities, the Bush administration committed early on to unilaterally reducing the number of nuclear weapons deployed operationally. President Bush and Russian President Putin agreed in 2001 to cut nuclear warheads on each side from roughly 7000 to between 1700 to 2200 over 10 years. The Moscow Treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in March, 2003. The administration has also taken a large number of weapons off alert status, and has "detargeted" them from targets in Russia. However, the administration has been firm in asserting that modernization of the nuclear arsenal is vital to maintaining deterrent capacity and providing flexibility in dealing with future threats. U.S. nuclear capabilities are essential not just for protecting U.S. interests, but also in living up to our commitments to NATO. Placing conditions on U.S. nuclear capacity would undermine the collective interests of NATO and could make it impossible for the U.S. to maintain its commitment to the alliance.

3. The Kyoto treaty would impose unacceptable restraints on the U.S. economy. Since the U.S. economy is key to worldwide economic growth and prosperity, it would also impose unacceptable restraints on worldwide economic growth and prosperity. It is unrealistic to expect the U.S. to approve of a treaty that is based on questionable assumptions about the sources and nature of global warming. Sustained economic growth is the key to solving many of the problems that face the world today, especially in the Third World. Shackling the world's largest economy is not the answer, and should not be a condition for maintaining cooperation on security issues.

4. A "less arrogant tone of conversation" is one thing we could agree on. Notice that I have not once referred to the European elites as "Euroweenies" in this post. That's a start. Now, you guys go talk to President Chirac, and I'll ring up Mr. Bush.

Thursday, October 28, 2004
On this day:

Those Missing Explosives

I'd keep an eye on this story. It's obvious now that newspapers like the New York Times (and the Anniston Star) reported this story and editorialized on it before all the facts were known.
The Pentagon released photos of the Al-Qaqaa facility today that show two trucks at the site only two days before the invasion. Tony Cordesman says that the explosives at that facility were only 0.06% of the total in Iraq, and other military experts agree that this issue has been vastly exaggerated.

However, the possibility remains that some of the weapons could have been stolen or looted following the invasion. This eems unlikely, with all the new details that have come out in recent days, but its possible. It is also possible that weapons were looted from other facilities, which could be of even greater concern. At this point, though, much of the press coverage amounts to fruitless speculation.

The press and the Kerry campaign recklessly seized on this story in an attempt to embarrass the Bush administration in the week before the election. They did so without full, or even adequate, knowledge of the facts. Even in the event that explosives and weapons were stolen, that failing shouldn't necessarily be attributed to negligence or incompetence on the administration's part. War is a difficult business, but second-guessing by armchair generals is easy.

John Kerry...Jumping the Gun

Sounds like Senator Kerry is already making plans for his Cabinet. I think I'd take this story with a grain of salt myself, but it says Kerry is interested in Joe Biden at State (with Richard Holbrooke as Middle East "peace coordinator"...haha), John McCain or Chuck Hagel at Defense, Rand Beers or Wesley Clark as National Security Advisor, and nutty Bob Graham at CIA.

Riley's Health Insurance Plan Explained

Here's a description of the health insurance plan Gov. Riley will present for the legislature's consideration in the upcoming special session. The plan covers state employees, including teachers.

Alabama Students Choose Bush in Mock Election

By a landslide...64%-36%.

Governor Riley Calls Special Session

The Governor is calling a Special Session to begin Nov. 8 for the purpose of addressing the costs of providing health insurance to state employees.

New NCAA Guidelines

Due to difficulties in enforcing current NCAA guidelines, the NCAA is implementing new measures to "get tough" on the potential for recruiting violations. Here is a draft of the regulations under consideration:

In order to reduce the potential for unfairly biasing potential recruits for athletic teams, the NCAA is implementing guidelines to keep all forms of human contact to a minimum while recruits are on campus.

The following conduct will be considered as infractions of NCAA rules, and any college athletic program employing them will be subjected to disciplinary action.
  1. Coaching staff must refrain from handshakes with recruits that are of any more than 3 seconds in duration. Unnecessary eye contact shall also be avoided.
  2. Universities must enforce a "buffer zone" of 100 feet between potential recruits and members of the opposite sex while recruits are on campus. If recruiting visits take place while students are on campus, female students shall be instructed to refrain from applying cosmetic products to their faces. The institution shall also provide them with robes, burkas, or other coverings so that no skin is visible except in an area no more than 2 inches above or below the eyes. Such coverings must be of uniform color and contain no patterns or designs that could attract undue attention. In the case of visits by female athletes, male students shall refrain from showering for 3 days prior to the visit to reduce the chance for interaction with athletes.
  3. Smiles, laughs, or any other "warm gestures" that may be interpreted by recruits as actions to make them feel "comfortable" or "at ease" must be avoided.
  4. Remarks, which either explicitly or implicitly suggest or recommend local restaurants or hotels that have not adopted policies forbidding staff from engaging customers in all conversation other than that which is directly related to the specific service being transacted, are forbidden.
  5. Verbal directions or instructions on how to navigate campus roads or facilities must be avoided. All such instructions must be in writing, although universities may provide for "self-guided" tours that may include written guide books and tape-recorded messages whose subjects are limited to objective discussion of the campus and facilities. Any tape recordings used must avoid being "friendly" in tone or content. Alleged breaches of this regulation will be ruled on by a panel of French philosophy professors employed by the NCAA.
  6. Treating recruits to on-campus sporting events shall be forbidden, as they may give athletes a biased impression of the popularity of particular athletic programs among students, alumni, and the general community.
  7. Plans must be designed and implemented that minimize the likelihood that recruits will come into contact with any alumni. If it is impossible to evacuate all alumni within a 10-mile radius of campus during recruitment visits, all practicable action shall be taken to ensure that alumni wear a red "A" visibly on their person so that recruits will know to avoid them.
  8. The NCAA reserves the right to make other rules and regulations to limit untoward displays of hospitality or friendliness that may infringe on recruits' capacities for objective decisionmaking.

Mississippi State's Football Program Put on Probation

From the AP:

Mississippi State's football program was placed on probation by the NCAA for four years, stripped of eight scholarships over the next two seasons and banned from postseason play this season because of recruiting violations.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that its infractions committee found two former assistants and several boosters broke recruiting rules between 1998-2002. But allegations of unethical conduct against former coach Jackie Sherrill were dismissed...

The Bulldogs are allowed just 81 football scholarships for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and are limited to 45 expense-paid recruiting visits in each of the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years - 11 per year fewer than the maximum allowed by the NCAA.

Additional info that appeared in today's Huntsville Times (attributed to the AP):

The committee found that an unnamed assistant provided transportation and lodging expenses for campus visits for a recruit, and the assistant provided transportation and lodging expenses for campus visits for a recruit, and the assistant reimbursed the recruit's family for most of the cost of a rental car and for a hotel room, and a student host provided the player with $30 in cash.

Among other findings, the NCAA determined that another unnamed assistant arranged to pay for two high-school courses so a recruit could become academically eligible.

Also, student-athlete hosts gave cash to recruits on official visits during the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 academic years, and a booster illegally allowed two recruits to stay at a hotel for free, the NCAA ruled.

The committee found that the school reimbursed three recruits from Memphis a total of $252 for car expenses in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, even though their high school coach used his car. Taken together, those two instances are considered major violations, the NCAA said.

All of this only reinforces my belief that the NCAA has gone way overboard in turning minor "offenses" into things that can cripple college athletic programs for years. I mean, come on. Why is it that paying potential recruits' transportation and lodging expenses and helping them finish up some high school coursework is so bad? All of that sounds like good Southern hospitality to me. They certainly don't sound like things that Mississippi State's football program should suffer for.

The Breck Girl vs. The President

Gotta check this vid out if you haven't already. Link courtesy of the Corner at NRO.

H. Brandt Ayers and the "Red Star"

I could go on and on about the sketchy journalism practiced by the Anniston Star under H. Brandt Ayers. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me that the former editor of the New York Times, Howell Raines, learned some of his tricks from ol' Brandy. Raines was an Alabama native and acquaintance (friend?) of Mr. Ayers. Both men were and are unabashedly ashamed of their native state. Fortunately for Alabama, Raines left. Unfortunately, Ayers stayed.

The Star was my hometown newspaper. I began reading it cover-to-cover somewhere around 7th Grade. (Yeah, so I was/am a dork. So what?) I remember its vicious criticism of the Reagan administration, not only from the editorial page, but also on the front page, masquerading under headings that said "Analysis." Even for a high school student, it wasn't difficult to figure out that these "analysis" pieces were nothing more than camouflaged editorials supported by a few selective facts.

The Star under H. Brandt Ayers despised President Reagan as much as it loved President Carter. I found its criticism of Reagan to be brutally unfair. But, during the '80's, there were few countervailing forces to the Star and others in the mainstream press. There was no Fox News, no Rush Limbaugh, no internet - no widely-circulated or widely-broadcasted medium to challenge the biases of the mainstream press. Thankfully, the emergence of the "alternative media" has changed all of that.

Mr. H. Brandt Ayers is fond of saying that his success is due to "two talents - nepotism and monopoly." That may be true, but those two "talents" are becoming more obsolete in his line of work with each passing day.

Free at last.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
On this day:

The Kerry Campaign's Voice in Alabama

Mr. H. Brandt Ayers's Anniston Star (known not-so-affectionately to those of us from that area as the "Red Star") has published two editorials in the last two days lambasting the Bush administration over the "disappearance" of explosives at al-Qaqaa facility in Iraq.

On October 26, Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers and the rest of the editorial board had this to say:

Add another deadly serious misstep to the list of Bush administration failures regarding postwar Iraq. The U.S. military conquered Iraq in an amazingly short time, but what followed the takedown has been a series of costly blunders...

This week a new mistake — one kept quiet by the White House for months — was discovered. Hundreds of tons of dangerous explosives were stolen some time after the U.S. occupation of Iraq began in 2003. The materials, HMX and RDX, are very powerful. In 1988, one pound was enough to bring down Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Closer to today’s chaos, the stolen explosives are two of the key ingredients being used in the car bombings currently killing Americans and Iraqis.

This is staggering news, further confirming how poorly the Bush administration has handled a war of its own choosing.

It’s also another example of how a secretive White House won’t accept responsibility for its actions.

On October 27, as the original New York Times story began to unravel and the administration responded, the Anniston Star said:

In the days leading up to the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush confronted a nasty political "gotcha." A local TV news station in Maine reported that Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1976.

The candidate promptly owned up to the arrest. "I’m not proud of that. I made some mistakes," Bush said.

Historians may want to note the date — Nov. 2, 2000 — as the last time Bush admitted a mistake.

With questions arising over the disappearance of more than 300 tons of explosives in Iraq, no one should be surprised that Bush and his administration aren’t admitting fault.

The White House is frantically spinning the disappearance of explosives from the al-Qaqaa facility in Iraq. Bush spokesmen are claiming the explosives were already gone when Americans arrived at the facility in early April. They cite a report from NBC News first aired Monday night that claimed al-Qaqaa was stripped of ordnance during a visit just after the U.S. invasion...

And so it goes as the Bush campaign dips and dodges, pinning blame here, there and everywhere. There’s plenty to go around, but none for them.

Who can blame the Bush administration? All it did was start a war of its own choosing based on false evidence of WMD and thus fulfilled Colin Powell’s warning about the Pottery Barn rule — you break it, you own.

Well, we own it, and it’s a bloody mess caused by rosy White House estimates of success that have literally blown up in our faces, possibly with the very explosives looted from al-Qaqaa. So, why won’t President Bush own up to it?

When the Star goes on partisan rants like this, I realize that Mr. Ayers has been wearing his ties too tight for way too long.

Read the Washington Times today, Mr. Ayers. When will you own up to the fact that your newspaper naively and unquestioningly bought into the "false evidence" propagated by the New York Times in its story earlier this week? When will you accept responsibility for your mistakes? I won't be holding my breath.

Red Sox Win the World Series

Do I care?

Another Mess in Florida?

It sounds like there are already more lawyers down there than voters. Let's not forget, as NRO's Mark Levin pointed out today, that the state legislature has the final say in choosing the Electors for President. I certainly hope it doesn't come to that, but it's something for the Florida legislature to keep in its back pocket in case the lawyers don't behave themselves.

Here's what Article II Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says (emphasis added):
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
In Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the long-standing interpretation that this section grants the state legislatures plenary (i.e. absolute and unqualified) power to appoint Electors (emphasis added):

The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U. S. Const., Art. II, Section 1. This is the source for the statement in McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U. S. 1, 35 (1892), that the State legislature's power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary; it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by State legislatures in several States for many years after the Framing of our Constitution.

History has now favored the voter, and in each of the several States the citizens themselves vote for Presidential electors. When the state legislature vests the right to vote for President in its people, the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental; and one source of its fundamental nature lies in the equal weight accorded to each vote and the equal dignity owed to each voter.

The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors. (''There is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated'') (quoting S. Rep. No. 395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.). The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the franchise. Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its exercise. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another. See, e.g., Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U. S. 663, 665 (1966) (''Once the franchise is granted to the electorate, lines may not be drawnwhich are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment'').

Eclipse

A friend of mine reminded me about tonight's total lunar eclipse...otherwise I would have forgotten. I've seen so many of these things that they slip my mind sometimes. (I'm not implying that age has anything at all to do with it.)

What a great night to watch, though. Here in Huntsville, we've got clear skies and pleasant temps. If I had that digital camera that I've been putting off buying, I'd post pictures. Oh well.

The House Race to Watch in Alabama

The only race for U.S. House that is even remotely competitive in Alabama this year is in the Third Congressional district, which includes Centre, Anniston, Jacksonville, Talladega, Sylacauga, Alexander City, Tallassee, Auburn, and stretches into the suburbs of Montgomery.

Republican Mike Rogers, of Saks, is seeking his second term in the House. He faces Democrat Bill Fuller, from Lafayette. Both candidates served in the Alabama legislature, and Fuller most recently served as director the state Department of Human Resources.

Rogers has the power of incumbency behind him and adheres to the "compassionate conservative" philosophy of the administration. Fuller may be best described as a "New Deal Democrat." He is a social conservative who supports a strong defense and foreign policy, but also advocates expanded federal roles in addressing issues like poverty, education, health care, child care, and the environment. Like John Kerry, Fuller favors "progressive" taxation and supports repeal of the portion of the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. He is an opponent of most of the free trade agreements the U.S. has entered into over the past 20 years, saying that they result in unfair foreign competition to home-grown industries.

Rogers should end up winning handily, but, given the demographics of the district, Fuller is the the brand of Democrat who could mount an upset.

Monday, October 25, 2004
On this day:

Cullman's Wet-Dry War Gets Dirty

A law passed by the Alabama legislature earlier this year allowed the sale of alcohol in "community development districts," primarily golf courses, located in dry counties. As a result, earlier this month, alcohol was sold legally in Cullman County for the first time in 61 years. Now, residents of the city of Cullman will vote for the sixth time in 20 years on whether to allow alcohol sales in stores and restaurants.

The main opposition comes from the "Keeping Cullman Special for All of Us Committee." Its main concern is that alcohol sales could disrupt tranquility in the tight-knit community. The group points to the chaos and confusion that has ensued in nearby towns as Southern Baptists have encountered each other in liquor stores with increasing frequency. Their full-page ad in the local newspaper leads with, "Vote No to the Sale...Or You're Going to Hell."

Support for the referendum is led by the "Coalition for a Better Cullman." They have sponsored several billboards across town with the message, "Vote Yes So Cullman Sucks Less." Supporters include used car salesmen, Yankee transplants, and City Councilpersons, who are convinced that the measure will result in an improved local economy, additional tax revenues, and an influx of drunk tourists. An unexpected show of support came this week, when the monks at Ave Maria Grotto unveiled a replica of downtown Cullman constructed from miniature bottles of Benedictine liqueur.

It's hard to tell how the election will turn out, but extensive research on the internet indicates that the sentiment of the younger generation, at least, is with the "wets." One young Cullmanian says: "Yeah Cullman really does suck. I live in Cullman and it's a gay place to live. Im 17 years old and when I wanna look for girls I go to the Local Wal Mart Super Center to have a good time. It's really not that bad though you get use to it, and there is always parties somewhere to get wasted. (Even though we don't sell alcohol.) "

Another remarks: "Cullman really isn't that bad. We got beer stores about 30 miles away and there is roughly 60,000 people in Cullman and 20% stays drunk and every teenager has a porno. So the dry county thing doesn't really work."

However, the opposition is well-financed. The makers of OktoberZest, the Official Beverage of Cullman's Octoberfest are worried that the only market for their spiced apple cider will disappear if the only "dry" Octoberfest in the world becomes "wet." They are going all-out to defeat the referendum. Word has it that they have mounted a campaign of disinformation and voter suppression that would put Broward County, Florida to shame. Abamablog has confirmed a few of the vile tactics they are employing:

  1. Posting rainbow-colored fliers outside local pawn shops and the Wal-Mart Supercenter that say, "Wanna know the difference between a gay man and a straight man? Six beers - Vote YES to Alcohol in Cullman - Paid for by the Alabama Queer-Straight Alliance"
  2. Renting out a bar in nearby Decatur and advertising that on election day, citizens of Cullman get the first drink on the house and a free Confederate flag with every succeeding drink. The 1984 movie "The Bear" starring Gary Busey as Paul "Bear" Bryant will be repeated all day long.
  3. Using covert operatives to lace food at the Baptist church's covered-dish supper with Ex-Lax on the Monday evening before the election.
Things are getting ugly in Cullman, folks. Stay tuned.

Where is Alabama's Higher Ed Money Going?

State funding for higher education in Alabama is wasteful and embroiled in litigation and politics. This Birmingham News article provides a good analysis of the situation. Its focus is on UAH and Alabama A&M, located only 8 miles apart here in Huntsville.

War Liberal has a post about this story, also:

1. Alabama public colleges have some of the highest tuition in the region.
2. Professors are among the least qualified (on average) in the region.

The problem, in part, is that they're spending money on programs that are duplicated at other schools.

Take, for example, my alma mater, the University of Alabama. Why does it need an engineering program? There's a good one at Auburn, another at UAB, and another at UAH. But Alabama has one, too, one that spends a lot of money to educate students not quite as well as the one at Auburn.

Typically, there is a racial angle. Heck, why does UAH exist at all, when there was already an engineering-oriented school, Alabama A&M, in the same city? It seems that the Legislature was asked by Wehrner von Braun -- it seems particularly apt in this case to point out, as I always do, that he was a Nazi -- to set up a white university to "service" the Space & Rocket Center.

Sounds like a pretty good argument, for the most part (perhaps minus the swipe at von Braun). Alabama taxpayers are wasting tons of money supporting duplicative programs in colleges and universities across the state. One big reason is due to the "original sin" of segregation and the subsequent failure to deal with its aftermath. For example, there are two 4-year universities (UAH and Alabama A&M) offering programs in many of the same engineering disciplines here in Huntsville. Alabama A&M is the older, "traditionally black" institution. UAH came to town in the early 1960's. UAH and A&M are only eight miles apart. They maintain two separate administrations, waste taxpayer money independently of each other, and both have opposed measures to consolidate. Whenever Alabama's colleges and universities come screaming for more money, keep this in mind, because its only the tip of the iceberg.

Remembering the Grenada Invasion

The U.S. invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada on this day in 1983.

Of the invasion, columnist George Will wrote in Newsweek:

Grenada, although small, is 15 times the size of Iwo Jima and of large symbolic value. U.S. soldiers' boot prints on Grenada's soil have done more than the MX (missile) will do to make U.S. credible and peace secure. President Reagan's defense budgets are not, by themselves, a fully effective signal to the Soviet Union of U.S. seriousness. The boot prints prove that the United States will not only procure sophisticated weapons systems but also has recovered the will to use the weapon on which its security rests: the man with a rifle.


Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz wrote in his memoirs, Turmoil and Triumph:
There were many signals sent by the Grenada operation. In many different parts of the world, people began to get the message: Ronald Reagan is capable of action beyond rhetoric. Latin Americans in particular saw that if a country went nose to nose with Uncle Sam, Fidel Castro could not, or would not, come to its rescue...

The United States took a lot of heat over the Grenada operation. We were opposed by the British and the French and many others throughout Europe and by Congress, particularly before they heard from the folks back home.

One of those in Congress who criticized the Grenada invasion was Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who said:

The invasion of Grenada represents the Reagan policy of substituting public relations for diplomatic relations . . . no substantial threat to US interests existed and American lives were not endangered . . . The invasion represented a bully's show of force against a weak Third World nation. The invasion only served to heighten world tensions and further strain brittle US/Soviet and North/South relations.

Hmmmm...bad diplomacy resulted in military action against a nation that represented no substantial threat to the U.S., resulting in heightened world tensions and a strain on U.S. relations with other nations around the world. Sounds familiar.

Madison County Alabama Sample Ballot

Here is a Madison County sample ballot for the upcoming Nov. 2 election.

Sunday, October 24, 2004
On this day:

Planned Invasion Could Have Included Takeover of Civilian, Police, and Military Communications

From what I gathered later, we were going to hit all communications in
Alabama -- civilian, police and military -- so that we could control them.

-Former machine-gunner Richard Bene, who was called back from training and placed on alert for the "invasion," from today's Mobile Register.

Bene was 19 years old at the time, raising the obvious credibility issues, but, by all accounts, what was being considered in Alabama at the time was very serious.

JFK Planned 1963 Invasion of Alabama

The Mobile Register obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act detailing Kennedy administration plans to quell violent opposition to integration in Alabama in 1963. Up to 23,400 federal troops would have been sent to Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa. A contingent from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, was even sent to Ft. McClellan near Anniston in preparation.

Saturday, October 23, 2004
On this day:

Protecting the Goods: Bush Restricts Trade in Underwear

Sock manufacturers in Fort Payne (the "Sock Capital of the World") are happy with a Bush administration decision to impose quotas on imports of socks from China. The sock quotas come on the heels of restrictions on Chinese nightgowns and brassieres put in place earlier this year. If U.S. manufacturers have their way, the import restrictions will soon cover a full package of clothing, including cotton and synthetic trousers, wool trousers, cotton and synthetic knit shirts and underwear. (In related news, Hooters will open its first restaurant in China next week.)

If all of these trade barriers are enacted, the result will inevitably be an increase in clothing prices, giving new meaning to the phrase "a rise in your Levi's." Restrictions on imports of consumer goods may sound like a good idea, but they place burdens on economic growth and invite retaliation from the nations they target. They increase prices for consumers in a futile attempt to protect uncompetitive businesses and industries. The administration has adopted them for what seem to be purely political reasons, at the expense of consumers who will foot the bill.


Heritage, Not Hate

There was a Civil War reenactment on October 17 at Janney Furnace in Ohatchee, Alabama. One couple who participated shows that "Heritage, Not Hate" is not just an empty slogan.

Richard Kochendofer and his fiancee, Dorothy Widerborg, Civil War re-enactors, participate Oct. 17 event at Janney Furnace in Ohatchee.  - Bill Wilson AP/The Anniston Star
Richard Kochendofer and his fiancee, Dorothy Widerborg, Civil War re-enactors, participate Oct. 17 event at Janney Furnace in Ohatchee.
-- Bill Wilson AP/The Anniston Star

Group Labeled a "Hate Group" Holds Demonstration at Southern Poverty Law Center

The League of the South, responding to the SPLC's claims that it is a "hate group," protested at SPLC headquarters in Montgomery yesterday.
Robert B. Hayes, director of the South Carolina League of the South, said the group was there to protest the Center, which he called a "hate institution."

"They hate everything that has to do with the South and with Southern culture," Hayes said. "They hate Christianity."

...McBerry said (SPLC chairman) Dees also has misrepresented the League of the South by calling it a hate group.

"They said we are a racist organization, when in truth we have several black members and members of other races," McBerry said. "They also portrayed us as a domestic terrorist group when we fully and wholeheartedly embrace the Constitution."

Pros and Cons of Amendment 2

The Mobile Register has an excellent story today presenting both sides of Amendment 2, and shows that there are reasonable arguments both for and against.

Christians and "Godless Yankees" in Altercation over Roy's Rock in D.C.: American Indian Brokers Peace

"Roy's Rock" made it to the National Mall in Washington this weekend, and a group of atheist rabble-rousers from Pennsylvania weren't happy about it.
On Friday morning...there was a tense debate between a group of atheists from Pennsylvania and the Christians who came to pay their respects to the sculpture. The situation was initially defused by Native Americans in authentic dress who brokered a brief peace, but the U.S. Park Police eventually escorted the atheists to the other side of Madison Drive, where they held signs calling
for the separation of church and state.

"We can stand here and make fun of your rock," said Lorie Polansky of Altoona, Pa. Jim Cabaniss of Texas, one of the organizers of the tour, was unfazed by the commotion.

"Veterans fought for their right to do that," said Cabaniss, whose group, American Veterans in Domestic Defense, contracted with Moore to take the monument across the country. "We don't have any problem with it."

...John Hetherington rolled up on in-line skates, climbed the stairs on the back of the truck - which was parked in front of the Museum of Natural History, behind a long line of portable bathrooms set up for the rally - and filmed the monument up close. He's working on a documentary about his life as a survivor of an attempted abortion.

"What struck me is that veterans risked their lives to keep this country and this world free and now they're making a statement about what this country was founded on," said Hetherington, a Canadian citizen.

Anita and Rick Moreau traveled from Newport, N.C., for the "America for Jesus" rally but had heard the Ten Commandments monument would be on display.

"I'm just glad it's out of the closet," Anita Moreau said. "We're way too close to the end times to play around..."

As the nearby rally grew in strength and volume, the crowd around the flatbed truck also grew. At one point, a war veteran and Native American from Oregon named Marshall Tall Eagle approached the atheist protesters. Learning that two of them also were veterans, Tall Eagle summoned an assistant to bring two "Warriors' Medal of Valor," and he hung them around their necks.

"We don't agree with your beliefs but we respect your service," said Lauretta Serna, Tall Eagle's wife and a descendant of the Shoshone tribe.

Chris Davis, an atheist and veteran from Pennsylvania, said, "Just remember, there are atheists who served, too."

Later, Davis said he would have liked to have seen Moore himself, but the former judge wasn't there.

"I came to see the blockhead who put this rock up," Davis said. "I wanted to remind him that we're godless Yankees in this part of the country and we want to keep it that way."

America...what a country!

When City Folks Move to the Country

Ashville, Alabama, is a city of about 2400 people in St. Clair County about 40 or so miles east of Birmingham. Like many smaller towns and cities in the state, it allows hunting inside the city limits. One couple who moved there recently are a concerned with the shooting that takes place near their home, and have asked the city council to do something about it. "We moved out here to enjoy the peace and quiet, not to live in Dodge City."

Thursday, October 21, 2004
On this day:

Tom Parker Has Harsh Words for the Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Tom Parker, a candidate for Alabama Supreme Court, of associating with leaders of "hate groups." Parker responded (again) yesterday:
"The SPLC is the worst hate group in the country," Parker said in response Wednesday. "They hate people of faith and those who oppose judicial activism, abortion, pornography and homosexual marriage."

"It's obviously a political attack because of the timing of it," Parker said. "They don't like me or what I stand for.

"What they have tried to do is label Southern heritage groups as hate groups, and Alabamians don't buy that," he added. "We honor the duty, valor and sacrifice of the Confederate soldiers, while not condoning the sin of slavery or racism."

Huntsville Brew to Appear on Grocery Store Shelves Next Week

Huntsville's very own Olde Towne Brewing Company has been selling beer on tap at local restaurants and bars for nine weeks. Now, they're ready to bottle the stuff. It should appear on store shelves midweek next week. Three different kinds will be available - amber, pale ale, and extra pale ale. My favorite, after ample testing, is the amber. The extra pale is a close second. I didn't care much for the pale - too bitter for me - but hey, maybe someone likes it.

Don't Bend Over Granny...Them Stalks Have Ears

Ummmmm...or something like that. (What's a meta for if you can't mix it?)

Be sure to visit a Cornfield Maze near you. Here in Bama, there are mazes in Huntsville, Russellville, Locust Fork, Auburn, and Mobile.

Bush for President

This is my contribution to Hugh Hewitt's virtual symposium on the question ""In 250 words or less, why vote for Bush and what's wrong with Kerry?"

As President Bush has said, this presidential election presents a choice between Massachusetts liberalism and compassionate conservatism. To this "dispassionate conservative," it is an easy choice to make. I'm voting for President Bush.

President Bush's bold initiatives in both domestic and foreign policy hold the promise of securing America's interests in the world and of increasing prosperity here at home. On the issues, his positions are vastly preferable to those of Senator Kerry.

Foreign policy and defense - President Bush has adapted America's foreign policy to face the unique problems of our time. He understands that the interests of the world's nations have changed drastically since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. His administration has been quick to react to these changes, and has undertaken bold steps to confront emerging threats prudently and realistically.

The economy - President Bush recognizes that high taxes and excessive regulation are drags on American productivity. He has pledged to continue reducing the burden of taxes and regulation on economic growth.

Social Security - President Bush believes that the Social Security system can be improved by providing workers with new options to invest their earnings in accounts that they own themselves. The "ownership society" he speaks of would help build a constituency for limited government and individual liberty, positioning America to continue down the road of unsurpassed prosperity in the 21st Century.

The judiciary - The President will appoint judges committed to strict interpretation of the Constitution and laws. His first-term appointments have proven this.

Faith - President Bush is unashamed of his faith in God. He has made it known that his faith guides his actions and instructs his conscience, which is comforting in today's world.

For all of these reasons and many more, I will be voting for President Bush on November 2.

From now on, I'm skipping the second Big Mac

Alabama is the "fattest state in the nation," according to a recent study by the nonprofit group Trust for America's Health. Mississippi and West Virginia are #2 and #3, respectively.

Alabama's First Lady Patsy Riley is on the case.

On Tuesday, Riley told Huntsville's Twickenham Republican Women she plans to spend the next two years helping barbecue-loving Alabama shed its reputation as one of America's fattest states.

She's especially worried about children "puffing up" from junk food and video games that keep them tethered to a sofa.

"We need to make sure they learn how to climb in a tree and chase frogs in a creek," Riley said. "We've got to get them up and get them moving."

Frog-chasing...now that could be fun. But, they're sure to raise a white flag before you get any exercise.

French Soldier in Training
French Soldier in Training (Update: Picture from DeadBodiesInc.com)


Awwww...Does Mr. Castro Have a Boo-Boo?

After making a televised speech, Fidel slipped and fell descending from the stage where young Elian Gonzales was present as a prop for his crude propaganda. Serves the old bastard right.

Racism Charged in Battle Over Amendment 2

It had to happen, didn't it?

Spiver Gordon, an SCLC board member from Eutaw, says, "In 2004 it's a disgrace we still have vestiges of segregation in our Constitution." I agree wholeheartedly. The remaining parts of the Alabama constitution that enshrine segregation should be removed as soon as possible. They are immoral and a lingering source of racial strife in a state that has made great strides in conquering its old demons.

But, it's just not accurate to say that opposition to Amendment 2 is a "'smoke screen' to hide a racist agenda for political gain." As one of the drafters of the original version has said, "The issue of whether the state can create a right to public education and all questions of equity funding, separation of powers and philosophy of governance is a debate beyond and apart from the original intent of what we had drafted."

Amendment 2 should be rejected in its current form, and the original version should be submitted to voters at the soonest possible date.

Sox in the World Series

...win American League title.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004
On this day:

Birmingham News Lashes Out at Judge Tom Parker

In an editorial today, the Birmingham News questions Tom Parker's judgment for meeting with leaders of two extremist organizations. Parker is running for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court. The entire News editorial is posted below:
If Tom Parker, private citizen, wants to associate with leaders of organizations identified by a civil rights law center as hate groups and to attend a commemoration for the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, that's Parker's decision.

But when Tom Parker, a candidate for the Alabama Supreme Court, can't understand what's wrong with those actions, and why some people might be offended by them, then he's clearly demonstrating a lack of judgment that shouldn't be missing in somebody who wants to be one of the most powerful judges in the state.

Any person who desires an honored place on the state's highest court must, at the very least, demonstrate reasonable temperament and acceptable judgment. He must fully comprehend that he represents all citizens of Alabama, and that his actions in public reflect that judgment. Parker, however, had his photograph taken with two men who are directly involved in what the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report calls hate groups. He was asked to be the speaker at the birthday celebration for the KKK founder. Parker passed out Confederate flags at the funeral of the woman who was believed to be the last widow of a Confederate veteran.

A reasonable person might wonder whether Parker, as a Supreme Court justice, could be fair to all if he's hanging around with people associated with white supremacy groups.

Celebrating Southern heritage - as long as the celebrating doesn't include glorifying the institutions of slavery, white supremacy and racism - is one thing. Attending a birthday party for the founder of the KKK and being cheerfully photographed with men directly associated with known hate groups is quite another.

Parker, however, turned defensive and said he doesn't consider his actions inappropriate. That says as much about Parker's judgment as anything.

It seems to me that there are legitimate reasons to question Judge Parker's actions to the extent that they raise questions about his judicial philosophy and temperament. The News editorial succeeds in that respect. Unfortunately, it accepts without question the SPLC's characterization of the two groups in question as "hate groups." SPLC Chairman Morris Dees has certainly built an industry out of throwing around that epithet, but reputable news organizations should direct a little more scrutiny his way before lending unearned credibility to the derisive labels promulgated by his organization.

Forgery of Alabama Driver's Licences to Become More Difficult

This is a good thing.

Tuscaloosa Wants to Bring Sunken CSS Tuscaloosa to Town as Tourist Attraction

The Tuscaloosa, a Confederate ironclad, currently rests at the bottom of the Spanish River just north of the city of Mobile. It, along with its sister vessel, the CSS Huntsville, were scuttled by Confederate forces during the evacuation of Mobile in 1865. They were two of only about 22 ironclads built by the Confederacy. The two vessels were located by former Mobile maritime lawyer Sydney Schell in 1983. This article in the Mobile Register has more.

AU Historian Wayne Flynt to Lead Constitution Reform Rally in Huntsville

From the Huntsville Times:
Historian Dr. Wayne Flynt will lead an Alabama constitution reform rally
Oct. 27 at Constitution Hall Village in Huntsville.

For information, call the North Alabama chapter of Alabama Citizens for
Constitutional Reform (ACCR) at 883-4581, 881-6540 or e-mail accrmc@aol.com.

On the Ballot in Alabama - The Amendments

The following constitutional amendments will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot in Alabama. Full text of the amendments is available at the Alabama Department of State's website.

Proposed Statewide Amendment Number 1
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize Baldwin County and certain governmental entities within the county to have certain powers for the promotion of economic and industrial development in Baldwin County and the municipalities therein.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No. 2
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal portions of Section 256 and Amendment 111 relating to separation of schools by race and repeal portions of Amendment 111 concerning constitutional construction against the right to education, and to repeal Section 259, Amendment 90, and Amendment 109 relating to the poll tax.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No.3
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize a county commission of any county or any municipality therein to perform certain actions for the purpose of economic and industrial development in the county.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No.4
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide for the promotion of shrimp and seafood.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No. 5
Relating to the City of Trussville in Jefferson and St. Clair Counties, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the City of Trussville to annex certain property; to provide for the levy of an ad valorem tax for public school purposes in the City of Trussville; and to provide for the rate of levy of the tax and the manner of conducting elections with respect to the tax.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No. 6
Relating to Crenshaw County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal, effective beginning the next term of office of the Judge of Probate of Crenshaw County, Constitutional Amendment No. 496, which provides for the judge of probate to receive the same salary as the district judge in the county.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No. 7
Relating to Macon County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Legislature, by local law, to authorize the Macon County Commission to levy a tax on the sale of all tobacco products and liquor or wine and to provide for the collection and distribution of the proceeds of any tax levied by any such local act.

Proposed Statewide Amendment No. 8
Proposing an amendment to Amendment 93 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended by Amendment 354 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to levy an excise tax in lieu of ad valorem taxes on designated motor vehicles, and provide for the proceeds of the excise tax to be distributed to those entities currently or hereafter authorized to receive ad valorem taxes on motor vehicles.

On the Ballot in Alabama - The Offices

Here's a rundown of candidates appearing on the Nov. 2 ballot in Alabama:

Electors for President and Vice President (only candidates names appear on ballot)
John F. Kerry - John Edwards (Democratic Party)
George W. Bush - Dick Cheney (Republican Party)
Ralph Nader - Jan D. Pierce (Independent)
Michael Badnarik - Richard Campagna (Libertarian Party)
Michael Peroutka - Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party)

United States Senate
Wayne Sowell (D)
Richard Shelby (R)

United States House of Representatives District 1
Judy Belk (D)
Jo Bonner (R)

United States House of Representatives District 2
Charles D. (Chuck) James (D)
Terry Everett (R)

United States House of Representatives District 3
Bill Fuller (D)
Mike Rogers (R)

United States House of Representatives District 4
Carl Cole (D)
Robert Aderholt (R)

United States House of Representatives District 5
Bud Cramer (D)
Gerald (Gerry) Wallace (R)

United States House of Representatives District 6
Spencer Bachus (R)

United States House of Representatives District 7
Artur Davis (D)
Steve F. Cameron (R)

Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1
Robert H. Smith (D)
Tom Parker (R)

Alabama Supreme Court, Place 2
Roger M. Monroe (D)
Patti M. Smith (R)

Alabama Supreme Court, Place 3
John Rochester (D)
Michael F. "Mike" Bolin (R)

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
Sharon G. Yates (D)
Tommy Bryan (R)

Alabama Public Service Commission
Jim Sullivan (R)

State Board of Education, District 1
Randy McKinney (R)

State Board of Education, District 3
Debbie Tucker Corbett (D)
Stephanie Bell (R)

State Board of Education, District 5
Ella B. Bell (D)
Joe Knowles (R)

State Board of Education, District 7
Sandra Ray (D)
Perry Prescott (R)

Bambang Takes Over From Megawati

Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the new President of Indonesia. He took over the reins of power from Megawati Sukarnoputri today.

Kerry Campaign Wants to Keep Rice In Her Place

Alabama native and National Security Adviser Condi Rice has been out campaigning for President Bush, but...
The Kerry campaign said Rice's travel was inappropriate. "America would be a lot better off if Dr. Rice spent more time worrying about Osama bin Laden's job security and less time worrying about her own," said Kerry spokesman Mark Kitchens.

Cubans Invade Georgia

Not the Commies...the frogs.


Cubans Working to Defeat Bush

"Volunteers" in communist Cuba are manning phone banks to encourage Florida residents to vote against President Bush.

Link courtesy of National Review Online.

Euroweenies Seduced as America Watches

From the Washington Times:



Europe's three main nations are ready to promise Iran nuclear technology, including a light-water nuclear reactor, if Tehran takes steps to show it is not secretly trying to make atomic weapons, according to a confidential document obtained by Agence France-Presse yesterday.

"We would support the acquisition by Iran of a light water research reactor," said the document presented by Britain, France and Germany to Western nations ahead of a meeting of the so-called Euro-3 with Iran in Vienna, Austria, tomorrow...

The United States does not "endorse" the trio's approach but is watching the initiative to see how it develops. It then would reconvene the G-8 nations, which comprise Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, (an unnamed) Western diplomat said.

We've been down this road before with North Korea. Under the "Agreed Framework" that the U.S. signed with North Korea in 1994 under President Clinton, the U.S. agreed "to lead an international consortium to oversee and finance the construction of two 1000-megawatt light water reactors (LWRs), to compensate the DPRK for energy foregone by providing 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil annually (beginning in October 1995) until completion of the first LWR, and to take steps to reduce economic and financial restrictions on the DPRK."

After President Bush was elected, North Korea acknowledged its violation of the agreement by continuing development of a uranium enrichment program, and the "Agreed Framework" became a dead letter. Now, it looks like a similar agreement is in the works with the Iranians. When will we ever learn?

Watch Out For Voter Fraud

...by the Democrats. According to this Washington Times editorial,

A " left-wing activist group known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), claims to have registered 1 million new voters since July 2003. The problem is that at least some of these were fraudulently registered. ACORN's western regional director acknowledged in an interview with this newspaper that several hundred of those new registrants in Colorado were fraudulent, but sought to downplay the problem with the explanation that registration fraud is different from voter fraud: 'Just because you register someone 35 times doesn't mean they get to vote 35 times.'"

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
On this day:

Two Announce Opposition to Alabama's Amendment 2

Michael Ciamarra, who helped write the original proposal to delete segregationist language from Alabama's constitution, came out against Amendment Two on Tuesday. So did former state Rep. Perry Hooper Jr., who sponsored former Gov. Fob James' "court reform" package that limited the ability of Alabama's courts to force increases in school spending.

Both express concern that the amendment, which would also repeal of language saying there is no constitutional right to public education, could be used by judges to impose taxes or spending without legislative approval. They join former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and current Supreme Court candidate Tom Parker in opposition.

Gov. Riley supports the amendment in its entirety and contends that it will have no legal impact.

That may be true, and the concerns expressed by Moore, Parker, Hooper, and Ciamarra may be overblown. However, the legislature should have left well enough alone and constrained the amendment to the topics it addressed in its original form - segregation and poll taxes.

The person hurt most by the addition of the education language will be Gov. Bob Riley. The Governor's support for the tax and accountability package defeated by voters last year has already cost him tremendous political support within his own party. And fairly or not, his support for the final version of Amendment 2 hands the "Moore wing" of the Republican Party yet another issue to challenge him on in the 2006 Republican primary.

Women Cops Beat Hookers in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A soccer team made up of Guatemalan prostitutes, formed to call attention to their poor working conditions, lost 3-1 to policewomen on Saturday.

The women get paid as little as $2.50 for sex and complain of frequent police harassment, despite their profession being legal and widespread in Guatemala.

"We get much more attention from the public now our faces are known; people come up and congratulate us and tell us to keep up the good work," said Valeria, 27, who scored the prostitutes' goal on Saturday.

"It's good to feel the power of being united; when we work, we are more isolated in our rooms," said defender Beatriz, 37.

The prostitutes, the Stars of the Tracks, were kicked out of an elite amateur league last month because of allegations that their fans used profanity.

UA's Crimson White Celebrates 110 Years

I'm looking forward to many more years of the CW raging against the Machine*.

* The Machine is a select coalition of traditionally white fraternities and sororities designed to influence campus politics.

Edwards: Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

This is funny.

Why the Flu Vaccine Shortage?

The best explanation I've seen so far is by Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution here and here. He mentions several culprits for the current shortage of flu vaccine.

  1. Liability risk. Producers of vaccines are subject to litigation.
  2. FDA regulations and requirements. These regulations are often costly, and reduce the profitability to producers.
  3. Price controls. The federal government is a major purchaser of vaccines and uses its monopsyny power and/or the law to force low prices, creating a disincentive to produce.
So, it seems well-founded to say that government regulation and control have led to the current shortage, at least indirectly.

Monday, October 18, 2004
On this day:

ACLU Needs Help Defining Terrorism

According to this article in the New York Times, the ACLU is having a little trouble understanding what terrorism is. Here are the relevant excerpts:

The American Civil Liberties Union has rejected $1.15 million from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, saying their effort to ensure that none of their money inadvertently underwrites terrorism or other unacceptable activities is a threat to civil liberties.

Anthony D. Romero, the A.C.L.U.'s executive director, said the language of the contracts governing the Ford and Rockefeller grants was broad and ambiguous, leaving them open to interpretation that could impede free speech and limit advocacy work not only at his organization but also at other nonprofits...

Ford's grant agreement, which governs the use of the money it gives to more than 4,000 organizations it supports, says, "By signing this grant letter, you agree that your organization will not promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state, nor will it make subgrants to any entity that engages in these activities."

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Romero said: "What do they mean by terrorism? What constitutes support for terrorism? We need to know precisely what those words mean. It is certainly appropriate for Ford and Rockefeller to require grantees to comply with existing federal law, but in a climate of fear and intimidation, vague language that goes beyond the legal requirements is regrettable and ill advised."

Let me try to help them out a bit. Here's a good link, for starters. In case that's not enough, maybe a few pictures will help.

The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 was terrorism.

Sixteenth Street Bombing Victims (Clarion-Ledger)

The massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 was terrorism.

Munich Olympics Marred by Terrorism (Infoplease)

The bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 was terrorism.

U.S. Embassy Bombing (Beirut Memorial Online)

The bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 was terrorism.

U.S. Marine Corps barracks bombing (USMC Photo)

The hijacking of the Achille Lauro off Egypt in 1985 was terrorism.

Achille Lauro (Specialoperations.com)

The bombing of the La Belle discoteque in West Berlin in 1986 was terrorism.

La Belle bombing (Christian Science Monitor)

The bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 was terrorism.

Pan Am 103 (MSN Encarta)

The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 was terrorism.

World Trade Center Bombing 1993(Bureau of ATF)

The bombing of the Alfred E. Murrah building in Oklahoma City in 1995 was terrorism.

Murrah Building in Oklahoma City (MSN Encarta)

The bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 was terrorism.

Khobar Towers(Wikipedia)

The bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 were acts of terrorism.

U.S. Embassy bombing - Tanzania (CNN)

U.S. Embassy bombing - Kenya (CNN)

The bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 was terrorism.

U.S.S. Cole(Wikipedia)

And THIS was terrorism:

WTC Attacked(CNN)

Liberty Survives(USAMemorial.org)

If the ACLU has any more questions, I'm sure there are millions of Americans who would be more than willing to help answer them.

Tom Parker Responds

Republican Tom Parker has responded to the accusations regarding his association with groups the Southern Poverty Law Center labels "hate groups".

Parker admits distributing the miniature confederate flags at the funeral of the last Confederate widow in Alabama, but he says it was a matter of appreciating his southern heritage, not racism. "I think it is scurrilous politics trying to label me something that I'm not."

Parker says he has always appreciated Alabama's duel (sic) heritage, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. He also points to the many ways he says he helped with race relations from the time he was student body President at Lanier High School to now, when he says he organized a group of black and white ministers to improve their working relationship.

Mobile Register Endorses Smith over Parker for Alabama Supreme Court

The Mobile Register has endorsed Democrat Robert Smith over Roy Moore clone Tom Parker for Place 1 on the Alabama Supreme Court. Smith describes himself as a fan of U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Conner. Though she often votes with the Court's "conservatives," Justice O'Conner is known as the Court's principal swing vote, a position that may be more indicative of her lack of clear principles than of her thoughtfulness. So much for looking for an acceptable alternative to Tom Parker.

Flora-Bama Update

Gotta love this...make sure you read the last paragraph. From the Birmingham News:

Equally determined to stay put, although in a more sin-loving kind of way, are the owners of the Flora-Bama Lounge.

Ivan knocked down much of the building, although the hurricane's 120 mph winds weren't strong enough to blow the cigarette smoke smell out of the remaining walls.

Joe Gilchrist, a Birmingham-native and Flora-Bama co-owner, said owners are still trying to figure out how much of the original building, if anything, can be salvaged. Gilchrist said not to worry, though. The rebuilt 'Bama, home of the Mullet Toss festival, will never blend in with the sleek condos taking over the beachfront.

"It will not be made of pink stucco with a purple roof," Gilchrist said. "Whatever we do, it will be done in just as poor taste as everything we've always done. We will be true to our original concept of trashy modern."

New York Times Impressed by Kerry's "Wide Knowledge" and "Clear Thinking"

This edititorial is nothing short of delusional. But, at least the NYT has acknowledged its willing role in the Kerry for President campaign.
We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking -
something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute
debate light...

He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change.
And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then
over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war
to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong
moral core...

There is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure.
Nearly four years ago, after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency, Mr.
Bush came into office amid popular expectation that he would acknowledge his
lack of a mandate by sticking close to the center. Instead, he turned the
government over to the radical right...

When the nation fell into recession, the president remained fixated not on generating jobs but rather on fighting the right wing's war against taxing the wealthy. As a result, money that could have been used to strengthen Social Security evaporated, as did the chance to provide adequate funding for programs the president himself had backed. No Child Left Behind, his signature domestic program, imposed higher standards on local school systems without providing enough money to meet them...

Like the tax cuts, Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein seemed closer to zealotry than mere policy. He sold the war to the American people, and to Congress, as an antiterrorist campaign even though Iraq had no known working relationship with Al Qaeda. His most frightening allegation was that Saddam Hussein was close to getting nuclear weapons. It was based on two pieces of evidence. One was a story about attempts to purchase critical materials from Niger, and it was the product of rumor and forgery. The other evidence, the purchase of aluminum tubes that the administration said were meant for a nuclear centrifuge, was concocted by one low-level analyst and had been thoroughly debunked by administration investigators and international vetting. Top members of the administration knew this, but the selling went on anyway. None of the president's chief advisers have ever been held accountable for their misrepresentations to the American people or for their mismanagement of the war that followed...

Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without...

Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.



Moore on Alabama's Amendment 2

Amendment 2, which will be voted on in the Nov. 2 election, was originally worded only to eliminate language related to segregation and the poll tax from Alabama's Constitution. However, the legislature tacked on language striking a constitutional provision stating that there is no "right" to public education. As a result, Amendment 2 is not just a measure that would rid the constitution of obsolete, racist language. In now has the potential to give judges license to order new taxes and/or spending for education. Roy Moore and others were quick to pounce on the chance to come out against new taxes, and are actively campaigning for the amendment's defeat.

If opponents are successful and the amendment fails, the national media will undoubtedly seize on the opportunity to unfairly portray Alabama as mired in its segregationist past. Roy Moore's political stature will be enhanced inside the state, adding to the likelihood that he will challenge Gov. Riley in the Republican primary for Governor in 2006.

As I stated in an earlier post, Moore and his allies have a good point. However, the consequences of a "No" vote can't be overlooked. I am beginning to wonder whether the risks of Amendment 2's passage pale in comparison to the costs of its defeat.

Judge Clemon Defends his Decision in the Siegelman-Hamrick Case

Details are here.

Sunday, October 17, 2004
On this day:

Is Republican Tom Parker the Man to Serve on Alabama's Supreme Court?

This story in the Birmingham News raises legitimate questions about whether Republican Tom Parker has the judicial temperament requisite for a position on the Alabama Supreme Court.

Two things that should not be the focus of concern are that Judge Parker displayed and handed out Confederate battle flags at the funeral of a Confederate veteran's widow and that he attended a ceremony honoring CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest. These activities are defensible in that they were intended to honor Southern heritage and the sacrifices of Confederate veterans and their families. What is troubling is Parker's seeming reluctance to dissociate himself with the views of two extremist groups - the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's "Intelligence Report" on Parker is here. The SPLC classifies the CCC and the League of the South as "hate groups." Given the SPLC's tendency to throw out this epithet whenever they encounter effective opposition to their own leftist ideology, their report should be taken with a grain of salt. However, the extremism of the CCC and the League of the South is undeniable. (You can get the URL's of their websites via Google.com if you want to see for yourself.) It is hard to see how a judge who embraces their views could merit confidence in his ability to rule impartially. Judge Parker needs to clarify his association with these two groups and the extent to which he shares their views on culture and politics. In the meantime, Republicans in Alabama should begin to consider alternate choices to serve on the Alabama Supreme Court.

Here's the full text of the Birmingham News article:
Parker shown with hate group leaders
Saturday, October 16, 2004
STAN BAILEY News staff writer

Republican Supreme Court candidate Tom Parker passed out Confederate battle flags at the funeral of a Confederate veteran's widow in June and spoke at a birthday party in July for the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Parker confirmed Friday.

The activities are highlighted in the current issue of Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, which published an article about Parker along with a photo of a smiling Parker holding several small Confederate flags, with one stuck in his breast pocket. In the photo, Parker is standing between two men that editor Mark Potok said are leaders of organizations the SPLC classifies as hate groups.

Potok identified the man on Parker's right as Leonard Wilson, "a board member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens," and on Parker's left as Mike Whorton, a leader with the League of the South, "a neo-secessionist hate group."


Parker said Friday, "If Southern Poverty Law Center is attacking me, I must be doing the right things. They are the most liberal, politically correct law firm in the country and they have fought virtually every attempt in our state to acknowledge God, who is the source of our rights."

Parker said he passed out small Confederate flags at the funeral in Elba of Alberta Stewart Martin, who died May 31 at age 97 and was believed to be the last widow of a Confederate veteran. In July, he said, he attended a party in Selma commemorating the birthday of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK.

Parker said he didn't consider his actions in either event inappropriate for a judicial candidate.

"If there is any more appropriate place for the display of the Confederate battle flag than at the funeral for the last Confederate widow, I would like for someone to explain it to me," Parker said. "Political correctness should not cause people to dishonor our history."

Parker said he met Wilson and Whorton at the widow's funeral but is not a member of either of their groups. He said he knows Wilson in connection with the Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans; Wilson is the division commander. The SPLC does not list that group as a hate group.

Parker said Wilson and Whorton recognize and honor Southern heritage "just as the Tourism Department of the city of Montgomery recognizes both the Civil War and civil rights as part of the city's heritage.

Parker said he was invited to speak at the birthday party for Forrest, which was held at the home of Pat and Butch Godwin, who tried unsuccessfully to display a bust of Forrest on public property in Selma. The SPLC article said Pat Godwin now is fighting to block acknowledgment on the Capitol grounds of the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

Parker said Forrest, a famous Confederate general, founded the Klan but later tried to deactivate it because he was "shocked" by it.

The B'ham News Takes Notice of Alabama Bloggers

Here are links to the Alabama blogs mentioned in this Birmingham News story:

Redneckin' - from Phenix City

The Outlaw Republican - a 17-year-old Republican blogs from Birmingham

Compleat Redneck - "commentary from the boondocks"

Links to "Axis of Weevil" sites are at Possumblog.

Friday, October 15, 2004
On this day:

Pryor's Recess Appointment Ruled Legal by 11th Circuit

The "conservative" Senator from Massachusetts can't be happy:

President Bush did not overstep his bounds when he appointed a federal judge while the U.S. Senate was in recess and unable to confirm his choice, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who argued the appointment of Alabama judge Bill Pryor to the same court was an end-run on the Senate’s right to confirm or reject the president’s choices...

“We are not persuaded that the President acted beyond his authority in this case: both the words of the Constitution and the history of the nation support the President’s authority," wrote Chief Judge J.L. Edmonson.


The full ruling is here.


Debate of the Centenarians

Former presidential candidates Bob Dole and George McGovern will be debating at 8 P.M. Tuesday at the University of Alabama's Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa.

Thursday, October 14, 2004
On this day:

U.S Attacks Delayed? Part II

In an earlier post, I mentioned an L.A. Times story that ran in newspapers nationwide, including my local newspaper, the Huntsville Times. The L.A. Times headline was "Major assaults on hold until after U.S. vote." The Huntsville Times headlined with a variation on same theme: "U.S. to delay major assaults until elections." It's looking more and more like someone at the L.A. Times"cooked up" a story. Here's the evidence:

From CNN today:

American troops and Iraqi special forces launched a major operation in
Falluja late Thursday aimed at disrupting future attacks by insurgents who
control the volatile city, the U.S. military said.


From the L.A. Times Monday (see my earlier post):

The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities
in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials,
mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential
race.

I'll say it again...the L.A. Times has some explaining to do.

If you are interested on the real story of what is going on in Fallujah, read this.

WOW

Andrew Stuttaford from National Review Online posted a link to my "Happy Birthday" tribute to Margaret Thatcher yesterday. How awesome is that?

For those not familiar with National Review Online, it is the online offshoot of America's premier conservative publication. National Review magazine (or National Review On-Dead-Tree, as the NRO guys refer to it) was founded by William F. Buckley in 1955 when he was only 29 years old. It went on to become the most influential voice in the conservative movement. While many conservatives today call ourselves "Reagan conservatives," Reagan often referred to himself as a "National Review conservative."

So it's not so surprising that my heart skipped a beat when I went into the Corner at NRO and found a link my page. Even though I knew where it led, for some reason I just had to click on it. Haha. Here's a belated welcome to those of you who did the same. Y'all come back soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
On this day:

Mullah Omar Surrenders

This according to Scrappleface.

Final Presidential Debate is Tonight: P.J. O'Rourke Has Some Suggestions for W

From the Weekly Standard, P.J. O'Rourke has a few suggestions for the President in tonight's debate. Here are some of the best ones:

1) My opponent, Massachusetts senator John Kerry--or, as I like to think of him, Teddy Kennedy with a designated driver . . .

(3) Senator Kerry, what do you mean my administration "lost" 1.6 million jobs? Did Dick Cheney accidentally leave 1.6 million jobs in the Senate men's room or something? Did you find them? Have you got 1.6 million jobs that you're hiding, Senator Kerry? And if you're elected, are you going to give them back?

4) Speaking of jobs, Senator, how come every illegal immigrant who wades the Rio is able to find one in about 10 minutes? Meanwhile, your Democratic core constituency has been unemployed for years. Are your supporters lazy, Senator Kerry? Or are they stupid? Back when Clinton was president, did your supporters think they got their jobs at Burger King because Bill was sleeping with the cow?

(12) Saddam Hussein was reduced to the Unabomber--Ted Kaczynski--a nutcase hiding in the sticks. Sure, the terrorism by his supporters is frightening. Hence, its name, "terrorism." Killing innocent people by surprise is not called "a thousand points of light." But, as frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. The minute somebody sets off a suicide bomb, you can be sure that person doesn't have "career prospects." And no matter how horrendous a terrorist attack is, it's still conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an Air Force.

(13) You say you're going to get our friends and allies to take a bigger role in Iraq. Senator Kerry, what friends and allies? You're a sophisticated fellow. You're well-traveled and speak French. Are there some countries out there that you know about and the rest of us have never heard of?

(14) Let me tell you something, Senator Kerry. I don't blame the U.N. for not supporting me in Iraq. The world is full of loathsome governments run by criminals, thugs, and beasts. When
I mentioned "regime-change," hairy little ears pricked up all over the earth. Beads of sweat broke out on low, sloping brows. Blood-stained, grasping hands began to tremble. I had to put poor Colin Powell on the phone to various hyenas in high office and have him explain that America itself needed regime-change from 1992 to 2000. And we didn't bomb the fellow responsible, and we only impeached him a little. Secretary Powell had to tell Kim Jung Il, Robert Mugabe, and Jacques Chirac to quit worrying and look at Bill Clinton and realize the fate that awaits them is a lucrative lecture tour, a best-selling book, and many willing, plump young women.

(15) Senator Kerry, you say you were in favor of threatening to use force on Saddam Hussein, but that actually using force was wrong. The technical term for this in political science is "bullshit."