Hank Williams died on New Year's Day in 1953. Among other events celebrating his life, a memorial ceremony will be held at his grave in Montgomery at 10 AM New Year's Day.
News and views from the Right side of Bama
Audemus jura nostra defendere
Hank Williams died on New Year's Day in 1953. Among other events celebrating his life, a memorial ceremony will be held at his grave in Montgomery at 10 AM New Year's Day.
I'm in the process of adding blogs to my blogroll and making a few other updates. So far, I've added a few more Alabama bloggers to the list - Liberty Flash, Jason Coleman, Geek Girl Blonde, Red State Diaries, and War Liberal. They represent a pretty good mix of political views - from right to left on the spectrum. There are even one or two fence-straddlers. Scroll down and check 'em out.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I'm back in Huntspatch after visiting with the family since Friday. It's always nice to get out of the big city for awhile, especially over the holidays. Now, I get to hit all of the after-Christmas sales to stock up on all those things Santa forgot. Fun, fun.
We interrupt this Christmas vacation with the following breaking news...
NRO's Jonah Goldberg is the master of frog-bashing. His G-File today, in which he calls for the destruction of France (as an idea), shows why. Here are a few outtakes:
The only good part about this decision is that the tariffs were smaller than what were sought. Some of the targeted countries have already threatened to challenge the tariffs in the World Trade Organization, which could authorize retaliation against U.S. products. The biggest losers in this battle are the consumers of seafood, of course, who stand to pay higher prices at the grocery store as a result.
Wally Stevens, president of Boston-based seafood distributor Slade Gorton Co., said the tariff decision "says 'bah humbug' to American consumers who have come to enjoy eating affordable shrimp."
Stevens, who also heads the shrimp task force of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition, the shrimpers' main opposition in the case, said the decision would injure domestic companies like his own, which rely on a steady supply of imported shrimp to produce low-priced products. But American consumers would suffer the worst from the resulting rising prices, he said.
Alabama officials were in Cuba last week talking trade with the thugocracy of Fidel Castro. They even met with Fidel himself.
In Sunday's Anniston Red Star, publisher H. Brandt Ayers speaks rather disapprovingly of Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign for President and the emergence of Republican Party dominance in the South:
Unwittingly, Sen. Goldwater led a motley parade of White Citizens Councils, Kluxers and old-line segregationists out of the Democratic Party to install racial prejudice as the core of the Southern Republican Party.
Mr. Ayers had allowed earlier in the column that Sen. Goldwater was "no racist" himself. But, apparently everyone who voted for him in 1964 was, and his ideological heirs in today's Republican Party are, as well. That sounds like a cheap shot to me, and it is demonstrably untrue.
“It still is,” Jimmy Carter told me recently. “It has been; it always has been, ever since 1964. That’s right. I agree completely.” The former president and Nobel Laureate spoke with some heat.
President Bush has pledged to submit a budget that will halve the U.S. budget deficit in 5 years. Whoop-tee-doo. As President Reagan said, the deficit is big enough to take care of itself. With moderate economic growth and reasonable spending restraint, it should be a piece of cake for the President's goal to be achieved.
Last Saturday, Bob and Martha Sargent spotted the first whooping cranes to be documented in Alabama since 1899. The birds were seen in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge near Belle Mina in Limestone County (about 20 or so miles west of Huntsville).
According to the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, the birds were almost extinct 60 years ago. About 275 exist today in the wild, and a nonmigrating flock of about 100 birds lives in central Florida near Kissimmee. A small wild population lives in northern Canada and migrates each year to Texas.
The birds are named for their loud, distinctive calls and live in wetland areas where they forage for aquatic plants and small animals. Reintroduction efforts the last four years to help build the population in its traditional eastern range have been successful. Young cranes are trained to follow an ultralight airplane from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge north of Tampa, Fla. The assisted three-month migration covers more than 1,200 miles over seven states, including Tennessee.
Sargent said a sighting of three whooping cranes Saturday afternoon near Winchester, Tenn., initially led the group in Belle Mina to think maybe it was the same trio. But those were spotted about 2 p.m., and the Sargents found their birds about 2:30 p.m.
"They couldn't have traveled that far in that time," he said. "So, we realized there were two sets of birds. We were both stunned that in our lifetime we would get to see these birds outside of Texas doing what they do naturally, and to occur in Alabama. To know as a researcher and bander, to see these banded birds and to know how critical this information is to the person doing the research, is truly wonderful."
[Dr. Milton] Harris, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has been a serious bird-watcher for about 40 years. He hunted for about 20 years, then switched from a gun to binoculars and spotting scope. He lived in Austin, Texas, for a while and frequently traveled to the Port Aransas, Texas, area to watch the cranes, whose numbers in the 1960s had dwindled to about 40 birds.
"To have it back in the United States is a biological miracle," Harris said. "There are about 200 of them in the world, and we have more 10th-graders at Huntsville High than that. We get rare birds that are blown in here that aren't endangered ... (but) to see a bird that is this close to extinction is amazing."
Martha Sargent once found a tundra swan in southeast Alabama during a meeting of the Alabama Ornithological Society. Her discovery immediately broke up the gathering as birders rushed to spot the visiting exotic.
But Saturday's find was better. "I told them I'm going to hang up my binoculars," she said, "because I can't top this."
This map (link via the Corner) is interesting, although I think Southerners' preference for "Coke" as a generic term for all soft drinks is a little overstated. When referring to a generic soft drink, you don't hear us say, "What kind of Coke would you like?" or "pick up some Cokes at the store" nearly as often as we sometimes lead Yankees to believe. Or do we?
Alabama's price-gouging statute is another example of a well-intended law that ends up doing more harm than good by interfering with free markets. By punishing people for setting prices according to what the market will bear, the law impedes the delivery of goods and services in the aftermath of a disaster.
A Baldwin County grand jury returned three indictments against three people for allegations of theft and price gouging following Hurricane Ivan, according to a statement from the Alabama attorney general's office...
State laws prohibiting price gouging take effect when the governor has declared a state of emergency, which he did in the days leading up to the storm.
Price gouging is defined as selling or renting any item for 25 percent or more than the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days, unless the increase can be attributed to reasonable costs, the release states...
In October, a Baldwin County grand jury also returned three other price-gouging indictments, according to reports. Two tree-service workers -- Jonathan Spotswood, 39, of Daphne, the owner of Spotswood's Tree Service, and Herbert O'Neal Humphrey, 46, of Stapleton -- were each arrested and released on $10,000 bonds in early October.
The third defendant, James M. "Mike" Christian, 50, of Gadsden, was charged with price gouging on electrical work. He was also arrested in October and released on a $15,000 bond, according to reports.
As I said, I love Cowboys gasoline. It and a few other convenience store chains - like Racetrac and Murphy Oil - sell gasoline at prices well below their major competitors. It's a great feeling to see all the pumps at Cowboys being used while those at the Shell station down the street are empty.
Nevertheless, the bill failed under opposition from trade organizations representing convenience stores and petroleum marketers. As a result, low-price gasoline retailers have to be careful in their pricing schemes in order to avoid possible lawsuits from competitors, and consumers end up paying more for gasoline.
$1.69 per gallon at Cowboys versus $1.82 at the Shell station just 1/4 mile down the road. Is there any question over which one to choose?
The Huntsville Feminist Chorus will present its annual Winter Solstice Concert on Sunday at 7:30 PM in the Von Braun Center Playhouse, 700 Monroe St., featuring songs, poems and dance from a diversity of cultures and ethnic traditions and celebrating the rhythms of the earth. It's free.
The Huntsville Feminist Chorus is an a capella chorus specializing in "songs that empower women." As you would guess, the "free" concert is not really free - it is supported by the Women's Studies Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Since I have close connections to the local feminist community, I was forwarded a sneak preview of one of Sunday night's featured songs. Here are they lyrics, sung to the tune of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
Hark! The Feminists Will Sing
Hark! The feminists will sing
"Don't tell us to praise a king"!
We're diverse, and that's our style.
You don't like it? Then you're vile.
We will triumph o'er the guys -
Crush them 'neath our mighty thighs.
We are women! Hear us roar!
Tremble, ye, at what's in store!
Hark! The feminists do sing
Take a queen to be your king!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday rejected Cuba's demand to remove Christmas lights in front of the American mission in Havana, saying the display shows solidarity with local prisoners of conscience.
Cuba threatened retaliation but State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the mission "has put up decorations like this, Christmas tree lights, for years, and
we do not plan on taking down our holiday decorations until the holidays are over."
The display includes the number 75, in reference to 75 pro-democracy activists imprisoned in Cuba. There is an international campaign to free them.
"It shows our solidarity with Cubans who struggle for democracy and freedom ... It's a remembrance in the season of peace that there are people who don't have peace at this season," Boucher told a news briefing.
The blogosphere responds to Judge Ashley McKathan's Ten Commandments robe:
Alabama teachers will finally be tested in the subjects they teach for the first time since 1986.
Some students at Bennington College in Vermont have nothing to hide when it comes to telling the adminstration what they think about its stance against public nudity.
Students occasionally parading buck naked around Vermont's Bennington College campus has been a tolerated, if peculiar, part of the university's student culture here since the 1960s.
Now Robert Graves, hired this year as Bennington's dean of students, has embarked on a crusade against public nudity -- one that has run afoul of the school's free-spirited students.
Students have long enjoyed an informal policy allowing them to go naked on campus. Whether it was as a topless sunbather lounging on the lawn or students running naked at an annual bonfire party, college officials turned a blind eye.
But when a student strolled around campus naked this summer during an orientation session when parents were visiting campus, the new dean reprimanded him.
More than 200 students, a few of them naked, marched across campus in October to protest against what they saw as a crackdown by the administration on freedom of expression. While the impending onset of the New England winter has put a temporary pause to the dispute, students are preparing for a springtime assault.
It's high time to privatize the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in Alabama. The Alabama ABC Board was created by the legislature in 1937 on the heels of Prohibition. In addition to licensing and enforcement, the ABC Board distributes and sells alcoholic beverages to retailers and the general public. In 2003, it ran 140 stores - 62 retail only, 75 wholesale/retail, and 3 wholesale only - employing 541 people. The gross revenues generated by its Product Management Bureau in fiscal year 2002-2003 were $274 million*.
The maker of Alabama's "official state spirit," as designated by the legislature last April, is in trouble with the state ABC Board. Kenny May, whose distillery produces Conecuh Ridge whiskey, is charged with selling liquor to a minor, possession of an excess quantity of liquor in a dry county, and selling liquor without a license. The charges could result in a ban on future sales of Conecuh Ridge in Alabama.
First it was Ten Commandments plaques and monuments in courtrooms and courthouses. Now, a judge in Covington County has taken to wearing a robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered in gold on the front.
Alabama's Electors for President and Vice President of the United States met Monday in Montgomery to cast their ballots for George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, respectively. In doing so, they fulfilled their obligation under Amendment 12 to the U.S. Constitution, which states, in part:
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;...Alabama's nine Electors were elected in the November 2 election, in which Electors pledged to Bush-Cheney got 1,176,394 votes and those pledged to Kerry-Edwards received 693,933. (Section 17-19-2 of the Code of Alabama provides that "A vote for a candidate for President or Vice-President shall be counted as a vote for the electors of the political party or independent body by which such candidates were named, as listed on the certificate of nomination or nominating petition." The Republican Party's electors were chosen in the June primary election.)
Actually, it's just a few flurries, but what's a little wishful exaggeration among friends - kind of like Huntsville's latest residential/office/retail development, called "World Famous Bridge Street," which hasn't even been built yet. It was announced last week that Alabama's first Westin Hotel would be located there, so I guess that's a start.
When this guy's dad told him, "Son, someone needs to light a fire under your ass," I'm sure he didn't mean it quite so literally.
A 20-year-old man is being treated at a Birmingham hospital for burns he received while allegedly setting a south Huntsville house on fire Friday...
The suspect, James Rice, was in fair condition at the burn center of the University of Alabama in Birmingham Hospital late Friday, said Hank Black, hospital spokesman. Rice reportedly had burns to more than 50 percent of his body, including both feet, legs, buttocks, hands, arms and face...
Roger Parton was in the neighborhood off Mountain Gap Road when he heard an explosion and looked down the street to see smoke.
"I was about two houses away," Parton said. "I saw this guy running around from the back yard carrying a gas can."
The gas can and the man's feet were on fire, he said. Parton ran to offer help.
"I got down there and he got into his car and I was offering to help and he tried to run me over!" Parton said.
Another witness down the street threw a hammer through a window of the car, a bronze-colored Honda Accord, as it sped out of the neighborhood, said Parton...
Sublett said investigators determined an accelerant had been poured throughout the house. While attempting to ignite the fuel, the vapors that had been building inside the house also ignited and caught the man on fire, he said.
One of the reasons I didn't care for Don Siegelman's idea of a statewide lottery was that I was a bit leery of the high social costs that it might entail - things like addictive gambling or people spending their welfare or social security money on lotto tickets. Lottery winners going nuts wasn't exactly what I had in mind. But, see here and here for the latest incidents.
Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) joined trade unions on Friday to issue guidelines on how to host a safe and successful office party this Christmas.
"Resist the temptation to photocopy parts of your anatomy," RoSPA and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said. "If the copier breaks, you'll have Christmas with glass in painful places."
"Dancing on desks could do them and you a lot of damage," they said. "Likewise, the boardroom table is meant for weighty documents, not overweight executives."
Candles, flaming Christmas puddings and cigarettes should be avoided at all costs.
Stepladders, not swivel chairs, should be used to hang tinsel and mistletoe, which should not be hung near sources of heat.
"Keep a close eye on those who may drink too much," the organizations advised. "Alcohol makes some people aggressive rather than friendly. The party will be spoiled if it ends in a punch-up or harassment complaint."
I know next to nothing about this case and I care even less. OK, that's not entirely true. I do care that a woman and her unborn child were killed and I'm glad that justice has been done. But, this story has been overplayed to the point that perhaps the most natural reaction upon hearing about the sentence is one of callous disregard.
Bless her heart, this lady may be sweet as can be, but she needs to stay away from high technology.
...a single mother in Daphne...was visiting a Yahoo! chat room in October when she got a note from someone calling himself Michael Stevens.
"He said he was a Marine who just got back from Iraq," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used because she hadn't told her relatives, several of whom are veterans. "I thanked him very much and told him I appreciated him protecting our country."
After a couple weeks of messages, "Stevens" told the woman he was heading to Africa briefly for some sort of job. Then he needed her help to get home. He was being paid with cashier's checks drawn on a U.S. bank and couldn't cash them overseas, he said.
Claiming he was an only child whose parents had died, he wanted to send the checks to her so she could cash them and wire the money back to him. Without the money, he told her, he couldn't pay his hotel bill and retrieve his passport or buy a plane ticket.
A $3,200 cashier'scheck arrived. The woman took it to her bank, which accepted it and cashed it. Then she wired the money to Africa.
"Stevens" said it wasn't enough, that his bills had increased. He sent her a bundle of money orders totaling $3,880. Again, she went to Western Union and wired the money, and again it wasn't enough.
"I said, 'You know, it sounds to me like they're robbing you,'" the woman recalled telling the supposedly stranded Marine. "'You need to go to the U.S. Embassy and they'll help you."'
"Stevens" promised to do so after he tried once more to pay off the hotel. A third envelope arrived, this time with $6,750 in money orders. The woman wired the money again.
She was about to send the confirmation number for "Stevens" to pick it up, when she opened an envelope from her bank. Inside was the $3,200 cashier's check and a letter warning her not to try to cash it again because it was fake and that she would be liable for the money the bank had given her.
The woman rushed to stop the last wire transfer, which Western Union allowed her to do, for a fee, she said. After emptying her savings account, she now owes the bank about $2,100, a significant sum, especially for someone on a modest income.
"It's very hard to accept," she said, sobbing, "that I can't provide for my youngest son." That the criminal posed as a military man "just makes my blood boil," said the woman's lawyer, Michelle Hart.
The odds of winning at Rock Paper Scissors are much better than that Alabama will be be given a fair shake in the national media.
National Public Radio's "Tavis Smiley Show" recently reported on Alabama's defeat of Amendment 2, a measure to remove segregation-era language from Alabama's constitution. Opponents argued that certain language in the amendment would have allowed the state to raise taxes.
Characterizing the amendment, NPR reporter Melanie Peeples said: "It seemed like the kind of amendment no one in the year 2004 could possibly oppose, not even in Alabama, a state that only got around to repealing a ban on interracial marriages four years ago."
Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader columnist Merline Davis also commented recently on Alabama's Amendment 2 in a column about escaping the frigid winter temperatures of Lexington.
"Mobile is warm, I thought. It has all kinds of charm about it and warmth, and gulf waters and warmth. And during the summer, the temperatures are kept in check by cool breezes from the Gulf of Mexico. Why not move to Mobile? Well, admittedly, one drawback is the state it sits in. Alabama is not noted for the welcome mat it puts out for minorities of any kind, especially black folk."
The World Rock Paper Scissors Society has a special membership offer for the holidays...$35 gets you a laminated membership card, a signed copy of the Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide, a letter of welcome from a "legendary" RPS pro, an official t-shirt, 8 RPS stickers, an official Rock Paper Scissors rulebook, and 2 World RPS Society beer coasters. How could you pass up a bargain like that!
Alabama Attorney General Troy King has joined other state attorneys general in filing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs supporting the constitutionality of Ten Commandments displays on public property in two cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this term. The two cases are from Texas and Kentucky (Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, respectively).
"I have said many times that the constitution does not require that the public square be cleansed of religious symbols. This case provides an opportunity for Alabama to once again stand for this important proposition. Neither I, nor any citizen, should ever be required to surrender our faith as a prerequisite to entering the public square. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will use this case to replace the confusion in this area of the law with clarity and to protect our citizens’ religious rights."
See Genesis 6 for instructions on ark-building.
Defendants must decide by Dec. 23 whether to appeal Alabama's ban on sex toys to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sherri Williams, the owner of Pleasures here in Huntsville, says "This is a case that is certainly begging for the Supreme Court. I want to have that opportunity. Really, it is up to whether my attorneys feel this a proper time to present it to them."
Alfa often comes under heavy criticism from so-called progressives because of its "conservative" stances on taxation, home rule, constitution reform, etc. However, when it comes to farm subsidies, Alfa is as anti-free market as they come.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama farmers received $1.43 billion in federal subsidies during the last nine years, with 121 farms collecting more than $1 million each.
In Alabama, 12,863 farms, or 29 percent of the state's farms, received federal subsidies. Of those, 1,123 received $250,000 or more during the nine-year period.
The federal support for Alabama included $163 million in 2002-2003 for a one-time federal buyout of peanut quotas. One of the farmers who benefitted was U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth, who received about $27,000 from 1995-2003 forpeanuts grown on his 400-acre farm near Dothan, the report said.
Everett, who crafted the peanut buyout as a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he promoted the transformation of the peanut program from a quota system to a price support system to help U.S. growers fight an increase in cheaper imported peanuts.
"My purpose was to try to save an industry that was going to go down," Everett said. "Obviously, we had to do something to be competitive."
Everett takes issue with the group's criticism of the subsidies."They love to eat, but they don't appreciate the fact that the subsidies help American farmers produce some of the cheapest food in the world," he said.
Auburn's accreditation is no longer in jeopardy. Interim President Ed Richardson and Gov. Bob Riley should be commended for leading Auburn through this frustrating process.
Here is Governor Riley's statement on the matter:
"If I had only one victory this weekend, and I had to choose between the SEC championship and SACS, I would have chosen SACS," [Interim President Ed]Richardson said. "It was that important to me."
"The lifting of probation is an acknowledgement that there has been a real change at Auburn University. Dr. Richardson’s leadership, the changes in the way the Board of Trustees operates and the new members that continue to be added to the Board have all helped us reach this important goal. Now Auburn University has the opportunity to confidently move forward as an outstanding institution of higher learning."
People from outside were called in to review board of trustees practices.
Another interesting note from the News article: Ed Richardson reiterated that he is not a candidate for permanent President of AU.
Independent reviews of Auburn University board of trustees practices appear to have helped clear the university of charges of micromanagement by two members ofits board.
The reviews, released Wednesday, were conducted by two law firms and a former chairman of one of the largest competitors of Colonial BancGroup, of which trustee Bobby Lowder is CEO.
Detailed letters to Auburn University interim President Ed Richardson from Tuskegee attorney Fred Gray, former Alabama National Bancorporation chairman John J. McMahon and attorney William A. Weary of Washington, D.C., concluded that the board's behavior was "consistent with national expectations and practice."
String theory is 20 years old.
ASPEN, Colo. - They all laughed 20 years ago.
It was then that a physicist named John Schwarz jumped up on the stage during a cabaret at the physics center here and began babbling about having discovered a theory that could explain everything. By prearrangement men in white suits swooped in and carried away Dr. Schwarz, then a little-known researcher at the California Institute of Technology.
Only a few of the laughing audience members knew that Dr. Schwarz was not
entirely joking. He and his collaborator, Dr. Michael Green, now at CambridgeUniversity, had just finished a calculation that would change the way physics was done. They had shown that it was possible for the first time to write down a single equation that could explain all the laws of physics, all the forces of nature - the proverbial "theory of everything" that could be written on a T-shirt.
And so emerged into the limelight a strange new concept of nature, called string theory, so named because it depicts the basic constituents of the universe as tiny wriggling strings, not point particles...
By uniting all the forces, string theory had the potential of achieving the goal that Einstein sought without success for half his life and that has embodied the dreams of every physicist since then. If true, it could be used like a searchlight to illuminate some of the deepest mysteries physicists can imagine, like the origin of space and time in the Big Bang and the putative death of space and time at the infinitely dense centers of black holes.
In the last 20 years, string theory has become a major branch of physics. Physicists and mathematicians conversant in strings are courted and recruited like star quarterbacks by universities eager to establish their research credentials. String theory has been celebrated and explained in best-selling books like "The Elegant Universe," by Dr. Brian Greene, a physicist at Columbia University, and even on popular television shows.
Last summer in Aspen, Dr. Schwarz and Dr. Green (of Cambridge) cut a cake decorated with "20th Anniversary of the First Revolution Started in Aspen," as they and other theorists celebrated the anniversary of their big breakthrough. But even as they ate cake and drank wine, the string theorists admitted that after 20 years, they still did not know how to test string theory, or even what it meant.
As a result, the goal of explaining all the features of the modern world is as far away as ever, they say. And some physicists outside the string theory camp are growing restive. At another meeting, at the Aspen Institute for Humanities, only a few days before the string commemoration, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, a cosmologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, called string theory "a colossal failure."
Is it just me, or is New York Times Paul Krugman way too full of himself. Here he is, from yesterday (Krugman has taken a break from writing his regular NYT column in order to work on a book that I'm sure he will find compelling.):
Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.Oh yes, Paul, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to "debunk the hype." We always look forward to watching you self-destruct in your own snittiness.
I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis.
The French ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte, will be in Montgomery for a couple of days this week. In the spirit of diplomacy, I will refrain from any all-too-easy frog-bashing. However, readers are more than welcome to post any thoughts, jokes, etc. to welcome the ambassador to our state.
Good for him, as long as he doesn't interfere with the semi-regular Texas Hold-Em games that I enjoy occasionally.
When folks is hongry, there ain't no sense in lettin' a good coon go to waste. Throw him in a pot and cook the little critter. This here sounds like a right tasty recipe:
I thought it had something to do with this nasty weather, but it turns out that a 'coon was the culprit.
A raccoon climbing on electrical equipment downtown plunged much of Huntsville into near-darkness Monday afternoon for more than an hour and a half.
Huntsville Utilities spokesman Bill Yell said the outage struck the city's main business district and stretched from Hampton Cove to Cummings Research Park. About 44,000 customers, including Huntsville Hospital, Crestwood Medical Center and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, were without electricity from 2:43 p.m. until about 4:30 p.m.
The blackout also caused some confusion for drivers, who had to navigate busy intersections without stoplights...
Yell, the utility spokesman, said the raccoon touched a piece of equipment in a downtown electric substation, causing a fault that knocked the station off line. Crews restored power to Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood first, then got everyone else's lights back on before dark.
The raccoon died.
Today in 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Here's another take on the meeting of Southern hoity-toits at Ole Miss, from a bit more conservative perspective.
But to judge by the stemwinders at this academic conference, the Society named for [L.Q.C. Lamar] never developed much interest in conciliating conservatives and liberals. Correction: There are no more liberals; they're progressives now. It's all in the best tradition of modern marketing: If a product doesn't sell, change only the name.
I intend to keep a running score of the political asides, digs and general bloviations at this morning's session. I want to see how many reflect a liberal/Democratic bias, and how many a conservative/Republican slant.
I soon give up. Because the contest proves as one-sided as the Arkansas-Ole Miss score this year: 35-3. Except the conservatives don't score as much as a field goal during this first session of the morning.
Is there any sector of American life that talks more of diversity than academia, and shows less of it when it comes to ideas?
It was easy to pass for a liberal in those days because that was still the one-issue South, and The Issue was race. If you opposed racial segregation, you were a liberal no matter what you might have to say about anything else - economic policy, foreign policy, any policy. Nothing else mattered. (It wasn't just black folks who were defined by the color line.)
So someone who thought he was following sound conservative doctrine - respect for the courts and the law of the land, a reverence for the Constitution, a belief in the dignity of man as created in His image - could be labeled as some kind of wild-eyed radical. Even now somebody will approach and ask why I've changed over the years, when from my perspective I haven't changed much at all.
I much prefer this new, multi-issue South. It's healthier, more well-rounded. Now we can disagree about a whole wide range of topics, instead of just one volatile issue linked to a violent past, and tensions are defused. It makes for a quieter, and longer, life.
I sense a certain nostalgia for the old days at this gathering. I understand: Things were so much simpler then. You didn't have to think so much. Right and wrong were clearer. And we happy few who opposed segregation never had to agonize over our stand; the injustice of that peculiar institution was so evident.
It feels good to be in the minority at this conference, too, where the conservative caucus numbers maybe three. We have a kind of secret sign - an exchanged look, a quiet sigh when all things good are equated with the Democratic Party, and a shared delight when the best of the Southern tradition comes to the fore: a sense of place, a respect for eccentricity, a never-ending complexity when it comes to social relations, the lulling presence of the ever fecund land, the palpable feel of a past that is never past, the assurance that comes with knowing you will be treated with the greatest warmth and courtesy when not being challenged to a duel . . . and finally the sheer impossibility of ever really explaining this evanescent South. You might as well try explaining love.
In a recent column, the Anniston "Red" Star's H. Brandt Ayers says that he and his fellow southern progressives failed in their efforts to create an ideal South.
OXFORD, Miss. — A large group of aging Southerners, the New South generation of the 1970s, came here to Ole Miss to tell our stories again, and to ponder why Southern progressives have become extinct volcanoes.
Across three generations the progressive instinct in the South has boiled to the surface in bright eruptions of promising reform only to cool, almost at the moment of epiphany, and die out.
Our generation’s progressive movement lit up the sky for a moment, and then it went away, just as its predecessors had — an example and a warning to yet another broad-minded effort now being formed.
We called ourselves the L.Q.C. Lamar Society, after the Mississippi statesman celebrated in John Kennedy’s “Profiles In Courage,” a firebrand secessionist who became a voice of reconciliation after the Civil War...
The Lamar Society wanted to focus the new wealth and leadership emerging after 1970 on avoiding Northern mistakes in our growing cities, and finding answers to the economic anemia of rural areas. With the end of segregation and a rising economy, we dreamed of creating an ideal South.
We failed. I failed as president of the Society. A liberal voice fell silent, and few now care about the ghettoization of our cities or rural decline. We are focused instead on “family values,” whatever that is.
I wonder if Senator Reid has even read any of Justice Thomas's opinions. I doubt it. Among the criticisms of Justice Thomas, that his opinions are "poorly written" is the lamest one I've heard yet.
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday had harsh words for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
When asked to comment on Thomas as a possible replacement for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Reid told NBC's "Meet the Press": "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.
"I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice."
Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane attended an annual meeting of black columnists in Baltimore last week. One discussion, entitled "How Right was Bill Cosby?" was led by Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint. Poussaint said, "You wouldn't expect [Justice] Clarence Thomas to love black people. You wouldn't expect black conservatives to love black people."
I felt compelled to mention to Poussaint that, as a conservative who loves black people, I had a problem with his assertion. At any rate, I didn't know there was a contest going on. Will all the winners of the "We Love Black Folks Contest" please raise their hands?
I don't know who started this nonsense about who loves black folks the most, but I do know this: People who don't give a tinker's damn about you will tell you what you want to hear, or what they think you want to hear. People who love you will tell you what you need to hear.
So who loves black people the most? Those of us, no matter what our politics are, who say that blacks can't blame white racism for all - or even most - of what afflicts us and that we have to take some responsibility for doing things ourselves? Do those blacks who say racism and the system hold black folks back while patronizing those black parents who have no interest in their children's education really "love" black folks?
Is loving black people telling them that pouring more money into public schools will save public education or is it those black conservatives who said, long before Cosby did, "Hey, it's the parents, stupid" who are showing the love?
Well, it can't be us black conservatives, according to Poussaint. We "don't love" black people. Poussaint isn't the first to utter this nonsense, of course. I've had some e-mailers, callers and letter writers tell me that all the time. When I remind them that two of the most famous black conservatives, Booker T. Washington and Birmingham, Ala., businessman A.G. Gaston, did more for black folks in one day than detractors of black conservatives have done all their lives, the commentators move the goal posts.
Washington and Gaston, they will contend, weren't "real" black conservatives.
Once they're done rewriting history with a wave of the hand, they get back to telling me how Mr. Justice Thomas has single-handedly reduced the quality of life for every black man, woman and child living in America. Thomas and other black conservatives "don't love" black people, you know, certainly not the way other factions within the black body politic love it.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Black Panther Party, the revolutionary faction, showed its love for black people by having its members intimidate, alienate and terrorize black nationalist groups the Panthers labeled "pork chop nationalists."
Renegade members of the Nation of Islam showed their love for black folks in 1973 by massacring several black women and children belonging to the Hanafi Muslim sect in Washington, D.C.
Several years later, Hanafi Muslims, seeking what they called "justice" for the 1973 murders, took several hostages and committed one murder. The victim? A black reporter for Howard University's radio station. I guess we could say the reporter was "loved" to death.
Two members of a "pork chop nationalist" group headed by Ron Karenga - the same guy who gave us Kwanzaa - shot two members of the Black Panther Party to death in 1968. In the spirit of love, of course.
Liberal blacks frequently show their love - as the Congressional Black Caucus did several years ago - by questioning the intellectual capabilities of black students and implying they'll flunk standardized tests not even created.
With love like this going around, maybe black folks need somebody black who'll hate us a little.
I've just started reading Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman. The book was originally published in 1962, but as with so much of Friedman's work, it is still very much relevant today. Here's a taste, from the introduction:
In a much quoted passage in his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." It is a striking sign of the temper of our times that the controversy about this passage centered on its origin and not on its content. Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. That paternalistic "what your country can do for you" implies that government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man's belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, "what you can do for your country" implies that government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served...
The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom? And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect? Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in the political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp...
It is extremely convenient to have a label for the political and economic viewpoint elaborated in this book. The rightful and proper label is liberalism. Unfortunately, "As a supreme, if unintended compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label", so that liberalism has, in the United States, come to have a very different meaning than it did in the nineteenth century or does today over much of the Continent of Europe...
Because of the corruption of the term liberalism, the views that formerly went under that name are now often labeled conservatism. But this is not a satisfactory alternative. The nineteenth-century liberal was a radical, both in the etymological sense of going to the root of the matter, and in the political sense of favoring major changes in social institutions. So too must be his modern heir. We do not wish to conserve the state interventions that have interfered so greatly with our freedom, though of course, we do wish to conserve those that have promoted it...
Partly because of my reluctance to surrender the term to proponents of measures that would destroy liberty, partly because I cannot find a better alternative, I shall resolve these difficulties by using the word liberalism in its original sense - as the doctrines pertaining to a free man.
Prohibition ended on this day in 1933 after Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment.
Southern Appeal has added Alabamians Nathan A. Forrester and Marc James Ayers to their crew of bloggers. Could this mean more Bama-related posts over at SA?
Nate is the former (and first) solicitor general of the State of Alabama, and he clerked for the Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, from 1993-94, and for the Honorable J. Harvie Wilkinson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, from 1992-93.
Marc served as law clerk (1998-99) and senior staff attorney (2001-2004) to Associate Justice J. Gorman Houston, Jr. of the Alabama Supreme Court. Between those positions, he was in private practice, specializing in appellate litigation and constitutional and administrative law. Marc also served as an adjunct professor of law, teaching First Amendment Law, Administrative Law, Public Interest Law, and Legal Research and Writing.
Both gentlemen currently work for Bradley Arant White & Rose, one of the premier law firms in Birmingham, Alabama (if not the premier firm).
OK...I really shouldn't post this. It's vulgar, crude, and socially unacceptable. Do not click on the link if you are offended by profanity, nudity, crude humor, or anything else. Do not click on it if you are under 18. Do not click on it if you are from Palm Beach County.
From Marginal Revolution:
A group of British scientists has come up with a brain-taxing spin on the
old formula of 100 things to do before you die.
The group - which includes the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins,
astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, neuroscientist Susan Greenfield and the inventor
James Dyson - urges us all to take samples of our DNA, measure the speed of
light with chocolate, and solve the mathematical mystery of the number
The list, compiled by New Scientist magazine, suggests booking to see
Galileo's middle finger (preserved in Florence) or ordering liquid nitrogen to
make the "world's smoothest ice-cream" at home.
Another option is learning Choctaw, a language with two past tenses -
one for giving information that is definitely true, the other for passing on
material taken without checking from someone else.
Venezuela's President and Castro buddy Hugo Chavez was in Russia last week for talks with President Putin. The talks centered around cooperation between the two nations' oil industries. However, the two leaders also discussed military issues. Specifically, Chavez wants to buy 40 helicopters, 100,000 semiautomatic rifles, an unspecified number of anti-missile and anti-tank weapons, and as many as 50 MiG-29 fighter jets to replace its current batch of F-16's.
The Mobile Register has weighed in on Auburn trustee Bobby Lowder.
Alabama's shrimpers may be happy now that tariffs on imports from China and Vietnam have been upheld, but consumers will be on the losing end by paying more at stores and restaurants. Perhaps more importantly, I'd look for China and Vietnam to retaliate against American exports in the near future.
"Blog" is Merriam-Websters #1 word of the year for 2004.
blog noun [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer
This story is making the rounds in the nationwide media, including Fox and CNN.
A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public
funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or
promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle."
...Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.
"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.
Even though it seems that Rep. Allen's bill goes way overboard, the response from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok is predictably over-the-top: "It sounds like Nazi book burning to me."
Nonetheless, they make a good point about the "loud and rude exchanges and name-calling" that have come to typify the news on the various cable networks. However, I think they are missing the overall picture.
Just two weeks ago, the press and some economists were spinning that the U.S. might be seeing a significant uptick in inflation. I posted on it at the time here. A link to the original AP story that was run in newspapers nationwide is here.