Monday, January 31, 2005
On this day:

Alabama Ranks Last in Government Performance Project Survey

According to a survey to be published in Governing magazine, Alabama ties with California for last place in the way it manages state government.

The Government Performance Project, a group directed by the University of Richmond and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, released the survey. Its report cards on all 50 states are set to appear in the February issue of Governing magazine.

Alabama's government earned C's in managing money, people and information and a D in managing infrastructure such as highways and bridges. It was given an overall C- grade.
Even though Alabama received a low grade, Project editor Richard Greene had good things to say about the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent) budgeting process being instituted by Governor Riley and Finance Director Jim Main.

The full report for Alabama is online here.

Gov. Riley to Deliver State of the State Address

Gov. Riley heads to the Capitol to give his State of the State Address at 6:30 PM tomorrow evening. The speech will be carried live on Alabama Public Television.

Legislature Back in Session Tomorrow

Hide the women and children, and hold on to your wallets. The Alabama legislature convenes its 2005 session tomorrow.

Nice Cartoon

I like this cartoon posted at Poliblogger.

John Kerry

John Kerry was on one of the Sunday morning news shows yesterday, and once again, he figured out a way to say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time.

As huge numbers of Iraqis showed up to vote in defiance of the thugs who would enslave them, there was a huge list of things that John Kerry could have said. He could have praised them for their bravery. He could have offered words of optimism and encouragement. Heck, he could have offered to send Ter-aiza over to show them how to make ketchup. But, he didn't do any of that. Instead, he belittled their accomplishment. He said that what the Iraqi people had done was no big deal, warning us not to "overhype" the election.

Remember, this is a man who tried to convince us that he would be a great diplomat - that he would artfully dance on the world stage, twirling mesmerized Europeans to and fro with the skill of Fred Astaire. And, to think that some people actually bought it! Yesterday's election was a life-changing event for millions of Iraqis, yet Senator Kerry found it impossible to refrain from negativity and to acknowledge that what was happening was truly extraordinary. What a cad.

Victory, Joy, and Duty

(Photo: Pool Photo from NY Times)

(Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: European Pressphoto Agency)

Cradle of Liberty

January 30, 2005 was a day of liberation for the people of Iraq. It was the day that Iraqis declared victory over the tyranny of fear that has oppressed their hearts and minds for so long. Free men and women the world over join them in their celebration.

Tyrants - take notice! The cradle of civilization is now a cradle of liberty. The ancient rivers of Mesopotamia are whispering a new song to all that will listen. Their waters had long been filled with tears of sorrow and despair. Now, they flow with tears of joy, proclaiming a message of hope to all who have ventured from their banks.

The people of Iraq have inspired us with their courage and perseverance, and we are duty-bound to stand by them in their quest for freedom and democracy.

Sunday, January 30, 2005
On this day:

Fun Site

Make a face.

Saturday, January 29, 2005
On this day:

Birth of a Democracy

Today, we stand in solidarity with the brave people of Iraq as they go to the polls, taking a crucial first step in their journey towards democracy.

Friday, January 28, 2005
On this day:

More BS

This story follows nicely from one I mentioned in a post yesterday.

Question: How do you extinguish a big, flaming pile of BS? A farmer in Milford, Nebraska is trying his best to figure that out, because his neighbors and the Nebraska enviro-police have complained about the smoldering mound of cow manure on his property.

So far, he's tried spreading the s*** out over a wider patch of ground, but that didn't work. He might try to do what a farmer in Washington did in a similar situation - smother the fire out by piling on fresh s***. Water would put it out, but that solution isn't possible because runoff might find its way into nearby water supplies.

Hmmmmm...seems to me that the morals of the story are:

To managers and politicians: when your pet program is in trouble and begins to attract unfavorable attention, it is better to pile the s*** high rather than spread it thin.

To almost everyone else: Don't buy any of it, because bulls*** won't hold water.

Rep. Artur Davis on Social Security

Congressman Artur Davis (D., B'ham) says that President Bush has made a "fundamental miscalculation" by supporting reform of the Social Security System. He thinks that Social Security may be the issue that attracts Southerners back to the Democratic Party.

Sorry, Congressman. It ain't gonna happen. I think the real miscalculation here is Davis's failure to recognize that support for Social Security reform is strong and growing, especially among young people and the millions of workers who invest in 401(k) plans. When people realize that what the President is talking about is very similar to creating a "401(k)" within the Social Security system, they become much more likely to support reform. 401(k)'s are popular precisely because they put workers in charge of planning for their own retirement. They have initiated millions of Americans into the investor class. Workers have become comfortable with the risks associated with invesing. And, many, like me, are itching to take control of at least part of the payroll taxes we contribute each pay period. Social Security reform will be a winning issue for President Bush and the Republicans as long as they remember that explanation and persuasion are key to consolidating the support of America's workers.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Roy Moore's Foundation for Moral Law has purchased a building just down the street from the Alabama Supreme Court.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Roy Moore's organization has purchased a historic building on Montgomery's main street three blocks from where he served as chief justice and displayed his Ten Commandments monument.

Roe v. Wade at 32

A little explanation about the cartoon: January 22 marked the 32nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned virtually every state law prohibiting abortion. The tie to the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford case is a concept known as "substantive due process". The Roe decision was based on the same heretical interpretation of "due process" as Dred Scott was.

For a little more info:

Update: I know the pic is a bit hard to see. The teacher is saying "Class, allow me to recognize today's star student." The blackboard reads "January 22, 1973." The girl's paper (graded an A+) has her name at the top..."Roe Wade." The nameplate on the teacher's desk reads "Dr. Ed Scott." The writing on the back of the girl's desk says "Penumbra wuz here" and "Emma Nation Class of '73."

Thursday, January 27, 2005
On this day:

Republicans Gain Seat in State Legislature

Republicans will pick up a seat in the Alabama House following a special election in southwest Alabama's House District 65. The victory by Republican Nick Williams may have been due more to intraparty squabbling among Democrats than to a groudswell of support for the Republican Party. However, I'm sure Republicans will take a victory any way they can get it, given their long-term goal of winning majorities in both houses of the Legislature. Let's not forget that Alabama's first Republican governor since Reconstruction, Guy Hunt, was elected under similar circumstances in 1986. That year, the Democratic Party selected Bill Baxley as its nominee for Governor even though Charlie Graddick had won the most votes in the party's runoff primary, presumably due to "illegal" crossover voting by Republicans.

The Democratic Party is still paying the price for that remarkable political blunder. Guy Hunt's "accidental" election ushered in the current era of Republican dominance in statewide races and led many conservative Democrats to switch party affiliations in disgust. The Republican Party is known for its habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so it's worth noting when the party actually steps up and capitalizes on Democrat mistakes.

A Whole Lotta Bulls***

This sounds like a neat idea, and may very well be worthy of study:

BAXLEY, Ga. (AP) — A southeast Georgia dairy has received $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to install a system that converts manure into energy and fertilizer.

F. Stone Workman, USDA's state rural development director, presented a ceremonial check for $200,060 to Wright, Whitty, Davis Dairy of Baxley on Wednesday.

"This project can put manure to work for us by providing an alternative energy source," Workman said.

The bad thing is that project is being funded by federal tax dollars. The federal government has spent gobs of money studying "alternative energy" sources over the years, but rarely has that investment yielded any product that can compete in energy markets without government subsidization. Studying alternative sources may be good for determining the feasibility and "how-to's," but unless newly developed sources can compete with cheaper ones already available, the market's answer will always be the same - a resounding "no."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
On this day:

That Moore vs. Riley Poll

A Mobile Register poll recently showed Roy Moore with an 8-point lead over Bob Riley in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Blogging for Southern Appeal, Quin Hillyer suggests that we should take those poll results with a grain of salt. "Don't worry. Be happy." I agree...kinda.

"I Was Trying to Shoot and Dial 911 At the Same Time"

I'll bet that would-be robbers will think twice before trying to rob Shoat's Grocery and Package in Oglethorpe County, Georgia again. See here, also (AJC registration required).

Note to the CNN reporter who filed this story: One does not refer to a place 70 miles away from Georgia's capital city as "outside Atlanta." Shoat's Grocery is located in the Hutchens community south of Crawford, about 10 miles outside of Athens.

Little Violins

Yesterday, I linked to 2 of the world's smallest violins in this post. Well, the guy who made the little violins left this comment:
Hi there. I'm the guy who made the little violins. It gets better. The guy who made the World's biggest golf tee contacted me, and we're going to auction our record holders at the same time in a friendly competition, with a portion of sales going to charity. If anyone reading this knows any other record holders that would like to join the auction, please have them contact me. It might be fun! The date isn't set yet, as he's in the process of moving at the moment.
He left an e-mail address and the link to his home page, so if you're interested, be sure to click on the link!

A "Stolen" Election...What Do the Unreported Numbers Say?

Continuing from yesterday...

The Mobile Register editorial linked in the last post mentioned the fact that "there was a colossal reporting error in Baldwin County that briefly credited Mr. Siegelman with some 6,300 votes that in fact never existed."

One thing that is often overlooked is that Siegelman wasn't alone in having an erroneous vote total attributed to him on election night. This (cached) article from the Decatur Daily reprints a Birmingham News account of events surrounding the vote count in Baldwin County. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is a particularly interesting excerpt (emphasis added):

As a member of the canvassing board, Capt. Marvin Ussery helped oversee the count. In addition to Ussery and poll officials, William Pfeifer, chairman of the Baldwin County Democratic Party, and John W. Hicks, chairman of the Baldwin County Republican Party, were on hand.

Sophocleus No. 2

The first summary report of the votes showed Libertarian John Sophocleus as the number two vote-getter. Officials knew that couldn't be right.

"Right there we knew something was wrong," said [Baldwin County Republican Party Chairman John W.] Hicks.

They called their computer specialists, who said there may be a problem with the data pack from the Magnolia Springs precinct. The numbers were too high from that small city, [Baldwin County canvassing board member Capt. Marvin] Ussery said.

Mark Kelley, general manager of Election Systems and Software Inc., which built the voting machine, said there was no problem with the machines at the precinct, but the computer at the Sheriff's Department misread the data pack.

Officials re-ran that pack, and Sophocleus' numbers dropped from about 13,000 to 937.

A summary sheet printed after the glitch was corrected showed Siegelman with19,070 votes. That was the sheet given to news media and campaign representatives.

That answers one question from my post yesterday: Why was Don Siegelman the only candidate who "lost" votes in the process, or was he? According to the newspaper excerpt above, the answer to that question is clearly NO. Both John Sophocleus and Don Siegelman were credited with erroneous votes at some point on election night.

Thus, there were (at least) two errors, affecting vote tallies for two different candidates, one of whom (Sophocleus) stood absolutely no chance of winning the election. This strongly refutes the contention that the errors were an intentional attempt to deprive any one candidate of votes. Rather, it seems much more likely that there was a either a problem reading data from the memory packs or an unintentional human error in tabulating the results. It may not be possible to know for sure which was the culprit, but I'll try to dig up a little more info to post on that tomorrow.

Mobile Register to Siegelman: Quit Whining

From Sunday's Mobile Register:

IF FORMER Gov. Don Siegelman is thinking about running again, he would do well to quit whining that he has been wronged by Republicans.

Mr. Siegelman is conducting a series of "listening post" public meetings around the state. At the first one in Huntsville last week, he blamed Republicans for "politically motivated, faceless and fabricated" federal criminal charges against him and said, "I thought they had been satisfied with stealing the election."

One more time, for old times sake: Yes, Mr. Siegelman lost a very close election to Gov. Bob Riley in 2002. Yes, there was a colossal reporting error in Baldwin County that briefly credited Mr. Siegelman with some 6,300 votes that in fact never existed. But he didn't win, and he knows it, and the 2002 election is long over.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
On this day:

Don't Forget

Siegelman administration misdeeds are still under investigation. One of his buddies, Lanny Young, will go to trial March 7 on charges that he bribed a Cherokee County commissioner.

Young's lawyer is Steve Glassroth. Hmmmm...where have we seen that name before? Yup, Glassroth's the guy who just couldn't bear the sight of Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument. From his complaint:

Although Mr. Glassroth does not approach and examine the monument every time he is in the Judicial Building, he cannot help but notice it as he enters the rotunda. He must approach the monument in order to access the stairs or the elevator to any of the courtrooms, or to enter the law library...or the clerk's office...Each sighting of the monument - however brief - is an affront to Mr. Glassroth.

Anyone want to bid on one of these?

Minority Enrollment at UA Law School Drops

The Crimson White has an interesting and well-balanced article on "diversity" and law school admissions at UA here.

The number of black students enrolled at the UA law school has dropped since 2001, and some law professors think the increased median scores in the Law School Admissions Test has something to do with that.

In the 2000-01 academic year, the Law School had 8.8 percent black enrollment, but that number decreased to 5.8 percent in the 2003-04 school year, according to the American Bar Association.

Law professor Bryan Fair said more students with higher LSAT scores have applied to the Law School since U.S. News and World Report ranked the law school in the nation's top 40.

Fair, who is black, said black enrollment rates have decreased in the last five years because the average LSAT score among blacks is lower than the national average.

Professor Fair and others suggest that "diversity" goals should be given greater consideration in the law school admissions process in order to increase minority enrollment. Wrong remedy, professors.

No Name Calling Week

Maybe this would be a good starting point for UA's proposed speech code.

"Stolen" Election...What do the Reported Numbers Say?

Does Don Siegelman's allegation that Republicans are guilty of "stealing the election" for Governor in 2002 hold water? Well, let's look at the two sets of results that were reported that night. As I posted yesterday, the initial, erroneous numbers reported from Baldwin County were:

Riley (R) 31,052,
Siegelman (D) 19,070,
Sophocleus (L) 937,
Write-in candidates 119,

for a total of 51,178 votes.

Those results would have put Don Siegelman in the lead statewide. However, 51,178 votes was significantly more than had been cast for any other race on the ballot in Baldwin County*. It exceeded the second-highest vote total, in the race for U.S. Senator, by 14%. Indeed, it was greater than the total number of ballots cast in Baldwin County, period.
*Specifically, there were 44,758 votes cast for U.S. Senator; 44,614 for Lieutenant Governor; 44,282 for Attorney General; 44,015 for Associate Supreme Court Justice; 43,713 for Treasurer; 43,334 for Secretary of State; 43,053 for Auditor; 42,879 for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, etc. (Source: Alabama Secretary of State's office.)

On the other hand, the certified results for the Governor's race in Baldwin County were:

Riley (R) 31,052,
Siegelman (D) 12,736,
Sophocleus (L) 937,
Write-in candidates 119,

for a total of 44,844 votes. That number matches much more closely to the number of votes cast in the other races. It also does not exceed the total number of ballots cast. These numbers provide a crucial level of verification that the certified vote totals were correct, and significantly undermine the claim that any votes were "stolen."

Still, more proof is needed. The source of the original error is still in question. Where did the extra 6,334 votes for Don Siegelman in the first-reported tally come from? Was it a "computer glitch," an unintentional human error, or something else? Why was Don Siegelman the only candidate who "lost" votes in the process, or was he?

That should give me plenty of bloggin' material for the rest of the week. More tomorrow. Right now...must...have...sleep...zzzz...zzzz...zzzz

Monday, January 24, 2005
On this day:

Another Response to the Proposed UA Hate Code here.

FIRE Responds to UA Hate Speech Resolution

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) issued this press release in response to the UA Faculty Senate's hate speech resolution. They also addressed this letter to the "University of Alabama community."

UA Faculty Senate: Regulate "Hate Speech"

The Crimson White link in the last post also contained this little tidbit:
[Faculty Senate President John] Mason said the Senate will also follow up on resolutions passed in the fall and continue to push UA administrators to react to a resolution dealing with health care and hate speech on campus.

"The issues will not die," Mason said. "Don't think that members of the steering committee will easily forget about it."
The hate speech resolution that Mason mentions was reported on by the Crimson White following its passage last September, and I threw my two cents in here.

Here are the most illuminating snippets (emphasis added).
...The University of Alabama has a duty reflected both in law and in standards of civility to control behavior which demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal characteristics, or which promotes hate or discrimination, in all formal programs and activities...

Be it further resolved, that University officials in charge of student programming develop clear policies restricting any behavior which demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal characteristics, or which promotes hate or discrimination, in any approved University program or activity, and that these policies be incorporated into any contract entered into by the University regarding participation in formal University programs;

Be it further resolved, that while freedom of speech should be less restricted in activities that are not formally recognized or facilitated by the University, all members of the University community and guests should be encouraged to behave in a civil manner and to avoid any behavior which demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal characteristics or which promotes hate or discrimination; and

Be it further resolved, that representatives of the Faculty Senate and of other organizations on the University campus dedicated to opposing bigotry and malicious aggression be invited by the University administration to offer commentary on the proposed protocols at a time when such commentary can possibly be incorporated into the protocols.

Here are a few questions that the Faculty Senate and UA administration might want to consider in their free time:

  1. Who will define hate speech?
  2. Who will judge whether a member of the university community is guilty of hate speech?
  3. What will be the penalties for hate speech? It seems to me that hatred can manifest itself in actions ranging from "not very nice" to "pure-D evil." How will that determination be made and will the penalty be tailored to fit the crime?
  4. Will Women's Studies classrooms, where males are frequently "demeaned and reduced" for their adherence to "masculine ideals", be subject to the new hate speech guidelines?
  5. Will hateful speech and conduct directed against Christian fundamentalists and creationists be tolerated under the speech code?
  6. If a member of the University community uses the word "n*****" to refer to a black person, would that be considered hate speech? If so, would Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which uses that term quite often, have to be banned? Does this judgment depend on the context in which the slur is used?
  7. If someone says, "Those Kappa Alphas are a bunch of rednecks", does that constitute hate speech? What if the person smiled pleasantly while he was saying it?
  8. Would it be tolerable to say, "[Insert ethnic group here] are stupid, ignorant, and backwards?"
  9. Would it be tolerable to say, "Conservatives (or liberals, or Marxists, or fascists) are stupid, ignorant, and backwards?"
  10. Is truth a defense? If so, are there any University professors left who actually believe in "truth"?
And finally, can't you see that speech codes would seriously impair free debate and discussion on campus? ARE YOU GUYS REALLY SERIOUS?

Here's an Idea That Will Go Nowhere Fast

A University of Alabama Faculty Senate committee has approved a proposal suggesting an end to athletic scholarships.

Britain's X-Files Being Declassified

Andrew Stuttaford over at the Corner linked to this story in the Independent. Neat stuff, and certainly food for thought.

Interesting, too, that so many of the sightings mentioned in the story were from the mid-70s. How long before the BBC investigates the link between this phenomenon and the rise of Thatcherism?

Scroll Down

Read yesterday's posts...better commenting, more links, and the A-Team.

Even if Siegelman Runs

...he'll probably have Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley to deal with in the primary.

Siegelman Repeats Allegation that Riley Stole Election

At that Huntsville "listening post" last week, Don Siegelman repeated his allegation that Governor Riley and the Republicans stole the 2002 gubernatorial election.
When referencing the "baseless and politically motivated" conspiracy and health-care fraud charges levied after he left office, Siegelman said, "I thought they would've been satisfied with stealing the election."

Presumably, Siegelman was referring to the error in vote totals reported from Baldwin County on election night in 2002. He had this to say in a Tuscaloosa News report from January 12: "I still think we won the election and got snookered in Baldwin County after midnight."

That's a very serious charge, so it may be useful to recap.

On election night in 2002, the initial results reported by Baldwin County elections officials to the press had Riley (R) with 31,052 votes, Siegelman (D) with 19,070, Sophocleus (L) with 937, and write-in candidates with 119. Those results, which were reported by the Associated Press, would have put Don Siegelman in the lead statewide.

However, it was soon noted that there was a discrepancy in vote totals between those tallied at the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office and the ones tallied from precinct reports. The Sheriff's Office had used data read from each voting machine's memory pack to tally its numbers. The precinct numbers, or "call-in" numbers, came directly from voting machine printouts.

The "call-in" numbers from the precincts had Riley with 31,052 votes; Siegelman with 12,736; Sophocleus with 937; and write-in candidates with 119. After further review, Baldwin County officials verified that the "call-in" results from the precincts had been correct and stated that a "programming glitch" had caused the initial, erroneous results. This was enough to swing the election to Riley. Thus, the final results certified to the Secretary of State left Siegelman with only 12,736 votes in Baldwin County. They also left him out of the Governor's office with plenty of time to hire defense attorneys, denounce Republicans for exposing his ethical lapses, and whine about "stolen" elections.

Siegelman Holds "Listening Post" in Huntsville

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was at the Jazz Factory here in Huntsville last week for the first in a series of what he calls "listening post" meetings to help him decide whether he should run for Governor again.

He talked about a high school junior he met recently when attending college night at his son's school. The young man said he just didn't know if he could afford it.

That conversation, plus folks coming up to him at Wal-Mart and Waffle House asking him to run again, "reached my heart" and have him deep in contemplation.
Too bad no one at the restaurant was equipped with one of these little devices, because it certainly would have come in handy.

Sunday, January 23, 2005
On this day:

Alabama's Lead Singer Has a Great Idea: If You're Getting Paid to Sing, Shut Up About Politics

I'm sure that Randy Owen, lead singer of the band Alabama, is too much of a gentleman to name names, but I wonder if he may have had another country band in mind when he said, "I don't believe in getting onstage at a paid event and getting involved in politics and telling people how to vote."

"I Love It When a Plan Comes Together"

The A-Team (Picture courtesy of the A-Team Shrine)

"I pity the fool" who isn't old enough to remember "The A-Team." Hard to believe that the first show aired on January 23, 1983.
Click on the comments tab to post your favorite A-Team quotes, memories, etc. Or...finish the sentence: "I pity the fool who..."

Added/Reorganized Links

I've reorganized the links in the right-hand sidebar. Also, I added lots of Alabama government links and added links to the LA Times, the Onion, and various Alabama media sources.

One new link that deserves special mention is the one to Alabama Public TV's "For the Record" page. "For the Record" is without question the best source of Alabama news available in the broadcast media. Granted, I've had a few questions about their objectivity in the past, but that's nothing that privatization wouldn't be able to solve. The FTR home page contains links to previous broadcasts dating all the way back to 1998, most of which can be viewed in Real Player. (Unfortunately, links to some of the older broadcasts seem to be out of date.) Check it out sometime.

New Features: Commenting and Trackback by Haloscan

I've just added Haloscan's commenting system to the blog. This should make commenting simpler and much less confusing.

On the down side, I think I've lost (at least temporarily) all of the previous comment posts. There weren't that many, though, so I didn't think that was a big deal. I may try to recover them anyway for posterior's posterity's sake.

Anyway...feel free to jump in and add your two cents on any of the topics discussed here. Just keep in mind that I reserve the right to delete comments that I find to be inappropriate. (No, that doesn't mean those that express disagreement...just those that are intolerably profane or insane.)

I've also added Haloscan's new Trackback system, which allows me to see who else has blogged about posts to this blog. It should be pretty neat, although I still have to figure out how to use it. Hopefully, they've worked all the bugs out!

By the way, you do not have to fill out the name, e-mail, or URL fields in the comment window if you don't want to.

Johnny Carson - RIP

Johnny Carson has died.

Friday, January 21, 2005
On this day:

Oh, So Sensitive

Hmmmm...I guess some folks "on the left" can't take a joke. (Click on the link under "example.")

Sexist Undertones at the New York Times?

The New York Times editorial page says that President Bush's nominee for Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings, "needs to clean house once she takes control of the department." Maybe she could cook up a few new programs while she's at it, huh? At least they didn't call here "Bush's Education Babe."

(I'm trying to be more sensitive to these things in light of the Summers hysteria at Harvard.)

Michael Moore: Hypocrite

Michael Moore, the Bush hater and writer/producer/director of "Bowling for Columbine," has some 'splainin' to do. Why are so many Americans prepared to use guns on each other, Mr. Moore?

NEW YORK — Filmmaker Michael Moore's bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night. (FOX News - link above)

I wonder what the "Bowling for Columbine Teacher's Guide" has to say about that.

Thursday, January 20, 2005
On this day:

Reuters: Rest of the World Watches Bush Inauguration With Anxiety

Blah, blah, blah.

PARIS (Reuters) - The rest of the world will be watching with anxiety when President Bush is inaugurated Thursday for a second time, fearing the most powerful man on the planet may do more harm than good.

Many world leaders, alienated by Bush's go-it-alone foreign policy and the U.S.-led war in Iraq, would have preferred him to lose the U.S. election last November. Since his victory, they have been urging him to listen and consult more.
I'll let President Bush respond for himself:

It's Inauguration Day

Bush's second term begins today. Jibjab puts the event to music.

Did Anyone Else Notice...

the subtle swipes that Marty Connors took at Gov. Riley in that Mobile Register piece? Not a big deal, really, but it seems a little inappropriate for a party chairman to be taking jabs at his party's highest elected official. The same goes for Connors's commentary on the potential matchup between Riley and Roy Moore in the primary. That's just not the kind of thing the party chair needs to be talking about publicly.

Alabama Republican Party to Put Forward "Contract With Alabama"

The Alabama Democratic Party had better take notice. Outgoing state GOP chairman Marty Connors says that Alabama Republicans are planning to put forth an statewide agenda aimed at helping them gain control of the legislature in the next election cycle. The plan will be modeled after Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, which successfully propelled Republicans to majority status in both houses of Congress for the first time since the 1950's.

"Scarborough Country" Heading to Radio

Former Congressman and University of Alabama graduate Joe Scarborough (R., Florida) will be taking his "Scarborough Country" show to talk radio beginning Feb. 7. Scarborough currently hosts "Scarborough Country" on MSNBC. His new radio show will replace G. Gordon Liddy's show on the Westwood One network.

French Foreign Minister: "It's Not Fair to Ridicule France"

Maybe not, but as Al Bundy said, "It is good to hate the French," and good trumps fair any day in my book.

French Invade Hawaii

From CNN: "A tiny frog with a huge shriek has invaded the Big Island and won't shut up."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
On this day:

Happy B'day Dolly!

Dolly Parton's birthday was also today. She's 59 years young. Thanks to JD at Southern Appeal for the reminder.

One of my all-time favorite Dolly Parton songs is "Coat of Many Colors," not only because she sings it beautifully, but because she wrote it, as well. The song tells the story of a young girl whose family was so poor that the coat she wore was one her mother had made out of scraps of cloth that someone had given to them. Even though the little girl faced teasing and ridicule from the kids at school for wearing a coat made out of rags, she still wore her coat proudly, knowing that there was love "in every stitch". Those familiar with country music will know that the young girl in the song was none other than Miss Dolly herself. It's no wonder that Dolly says "Coat of Many Colors" is her favorite, too.

They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

Coat of Many Colors (Dolly Parton)

Back through the years I go wonderin' once again
Back to the seasons of my youth
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my momma put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors
Every piece was small
And I didn't have a coat
And it was way down in the fall
Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin' every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of
As she sewed, she told a story
From the Bible, she had read
About a coat of many colors
Joseph wore and then she said
Perhaps this coat will bring you
Good luck and happiness
And I just couldn't wait to wear it
And momma blessed it with a kiss

My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

So with patches on my britches
Holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

And oh I couldn't understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told 'em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their clothes

But they didn't understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me

General Robert E. Lee

General Robert E. Lee was born on this date in 1807. Recognized by many as the greatest of all American military men, Lee holds a special place in the hearts of Americans, whether they be from North or South.

He opposed secession and believed that slavery was a moral and political evil that should eventually be abolished. Nonetheless, when duty called, he responded in the only way he could. On April 20, 1861, just on the heels of Virginia's secession from the Union, Lee wrote to his sister:

The whole South is in a state of revolution, into which Virginia, after a long struggle, has been drawn; and though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, and would have foreborne and pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native State.

With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed, I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword...

On the same day, Lee had also written a letter to his commander, General Winfield Scott, resigning his commission in the U.S. Army - bound by duty to defend his native Virginia.

General: Since my interview with you on the 18th inst. I have felt that I ought no longer to retain my commission in the Army. I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted the best years of my life and all the ability I possessed.

During the whole of that time - more than a quarter of a century - I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors and most cordial friendship from my comrades. To no one, General, have I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness and consideration, and it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration, and your name and fame shall always be dear to me.

Save in the defense of my native State, I never desire again to draw my sword.

Be pleased to accept my most earnest wishes for the continuance of your happiness and prosperity, and believe me, most truly yours,

R.E. Lee

Lee was a great general and a great man. It is fitting that the country he loved so much still holds him fondly in its memory.

Supremes Reject Newdow's Effort to Block Inaugural Prayers

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the unbearable atheist Michael Newdow to prohibit prayers at the presidential inauguration. According to Scrappleface, Newdow has responded by filing yet another petition.

Study: Teaching Grammar is a Waste of Time

A study funded by the British government has determined that the traditional teaching of English grammar does not contribute to writing skills.

My high school English teachers would most certainly not approve.

This only reinforces the theory (not the fact) that the absurdity of a study's conclusions is directly proportional to the level of government funding and the number of pointy-headed academics (i.e. Ph.D.'s) involved.

Feminists Offended

Isn't that what they get paid for?


Here's an interesting take on MLK and the holiday just celebrated in his honor.

(Linked by Mark Krikorian from the Corner.)

Evolution in Cobb County

Here's the federal district court judge's decision in the Cobb County evolution case, in case anyone's interested.

Fact: the judge uses the phrase "Christian fundamentalists and creationists" 7 times in his opinion, describing those who expressed concern about the teaching of evolution in Cobb County classrooms.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
On this day:

The Asian Tsunami, Global Warming, Christian Fundamentalists, James Watt, and the Rapture

The wise and prescient H. Brandt Ayers, publisher of the Anniston "Red" Star, has found the link between them all. I'm just disappointed that he didn't find a way to tie in the blogosphere.

Price-Gouging and the Tsunami

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek has an interesting thread of posts on price-gouging. See here, here, here, here, and here.

I don't know whether the governments in South Asia have price-gouging laws, but as Boudreaux says, the same market dynamics would be in play there as anywhere else in the wake of disaster. For example, residents of Alabama and Florida had to contend with the effects of our states' anti-price-gouging laws following last summer's hurricanes. I posted on that particular subject beginning here.

Nothing But Noodles

No, that's not my new way of describing the Alabama legislature. It's a new restaurant that just opened up in Research Park here in Huntsvegas. I went there for dinner, and was very impressed. And, from what I've seen of the lunch crowd there, it appears that Huntsvillians are abandoning the Adkins diet in droves.

Cobb County to Appeal Evolution Ruling

Welcome news from Cobb County, Georgia:

As if taking a federal judge's ruling against them as fighting words, the Cobb County school board voted Monday to appeal a court order to remove evolution disclaimers from textbooks.

In a 4-2 vote, board members said U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper's decision "amounts to unnecessary judicial intrusion into local control of schools," according to a statement they released immediately after the vote.

( I detect a little cynicism in the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation's opening sentence?)

At issue is a sticker placed inside the front covers of high school biology textbooks. The sticker reads:

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
A federal judge, who is evidently not too fond of critical consideration and open-mindedness, ruled that the sticker violated the First Amendment's establishment clause, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

Specifically, the district court judge applied the so-called Lemon test (from Lemon v. Kurtzman), which says that “…a government-sponsored message violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment if 1) it does not have a secular purpose, 2) its principal or primary effect advances or inhibits religion, or 3) it creates an excessive entanglement of the government with religion.”

Justice Scalia had this to say about the Lemon test in Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District :

"As to the Court's invocation of the Lemon test: Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. Its most recent burial, only last Term, was, to be sure, not fully six feet under: Our decision in Lee v. Weisman conspicuously avoided using the supposed "test" but also declined the invitation to repudiate it. Over the years, however, no fewer than five of the currently sitting Justices have, in their own opinions, personally driven pencils through the creature's heart (the author of today's opinion repeatedly), and a sixth has joined an opinion doing so.

You gotta love Nino. In his opinion on the same case, he writes:
The secret of the Lemon test's survival, I think, is that it is so easy to kill. It is there to scare us (and our audience) when we wish it to do so, but we can command it to return to the tomb at will. Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him.

Condi's Cool

The Birmingham News provides a nice portrait of Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice today.
Parnell Jones received a phone call in March 2001 that stirred new energy, though he lay in a hospital, struggling to recover from one of his many illnesses.

On the other end of the line was someone he still calls his "baby." The longtime Titusville resident and retired Birmingham school principal, now 87, remembers the days when Condoleezza Rice helped in the office at Hill School and represented the school playing piano, singing and speaking at programs in the community.

That phone call showed Jones that Rice, now President Bush's national security adviser, remembered him, too.

"When she was in town, someone told her I was sick. She is a very, very busy woman, but she took the time to call me. ... Yes, me, just to say she remembers and she cares."

Dissident Activity in North Korea

Evidence has surfaced that some people in North Korea are tiring of the Little Dictator.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A human rights group claimed Tuesday that it has obtained video footage showing dissident activities in North Korea, with demands for freedom and democracy written over a poster of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il.

If authentic, it would be the first time images of dissent in the highly secretive North have come to light. But there was no way to independently confirm the validity of the footage.

We can only hope.

Hugh and What Army?

Castro protege Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, has sent troops to his nation's border with Colombia. Venezuela denies that the troop deployment has anything to do with the spat over the capture of a Colombian guerrilla leader in Caracas recently. Yeah, right.

Removing Moore...Was it the Right Decision?

I believed at the time, and still do, that removing Judge Moore from office was a huge mistake - politically, morally, and maybe even legally. I'm not a big fan of Roy Moore - he is a bit too much of a theocrat for me - but his arguments against federal intrusion into the state government's decorating tastes were constitutionally sound and should have been met with more enthusiastic support from the state's other Republican elected officials. His defiance of the federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument was more than just a self-serving statement. In an era when the federal courts have assumed powers that are far removed from those envisioned by Constitution's framers, Judge Moore's bold move was somewhat refreshing. (Qualifying that a little, "bold moves" aren't typically what you'd expect from the judiciary...they would more appropriately emanate from the executive and legislative branches.)

Judge Moore had been duly elected by the people of Alabama, who knew full well his judicial philosophy and his intent to "acknowledge God" as Chief Justice. Nonetheless, Moore was removed from office by an unelected, unaccountable body called the "Court of the Judiciary."

(Why on Earth Alabama allows Supreme Court Justices to be removed by any body other than the Legislature, I haven't a clue. So much for the separation of powers. I suspect that Sen. Howell "the Jowls" Heflin had something to do, as he rewrote the judicial article of the state Constitution as Chief Justice back in the 70's. As a U.S. Senator, Heflin opposed the nomination of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, a sin for which he has never repented.)

Removing Judge Moore from office was an action that strengthened him politically and deepened the divisions within the state Republican Party. Unfortunately, Governor Riley may be the one to pay the price. Judge Moore has become Riley's chief rival within the state Republican Party, and has begun to draw distinctions between himself and the Governor on a range of issues - namely, the Governor's tax and accountability package that was rejected by voters in 2003 and Amendment 2, which Moore and his allies successfully portrayed as a backdoor way to increase taxes.

Governor Riley has said from the start that he did not run for Governor with the single-minded goal of being reelected. But, that's no reason to make it a bigger challenge than it should be by needlessly allowing a large part of his base to be peeled away by Roy Moore.

Republican Gubernatorial Nomination "Moore's for the Taking"?

A Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll shows that a plurality of Alabamians who are likely to vote in the Republican primary for Governor prefer Roy Moore to Gov. Bob Riley by a margin of 43-35.

This poll is pretty useless as a predictor of how things will turn out when the Republican primary rolls around next year for several reasons:
  1. The election is too far in the future for any poll to accurately predict what the sentiments of Republican voters will be on election day.
  2. Neither Riley nor Moore have announced their candidacy for Governor yet. As far as I know, no other Republican has, either.
  3. The poll included self-identified "likely Republican primary voters." Therefore, it does not take into account the impact of crossover voting from Democrats. It seems likely that an election in which Moore was a participant would be likely to draw a substantial number of crossover votes, not to mention first-time voters with no allegiance to either party.
Even so, the poll shows that Moore's popularity hasn't wavered following the interior decorating dispute between himself and the federal courts that resulted in his removal from office. If anything, Moore is more popular than he would have been had he remained as Chief Justice. That isn't good news for Governor Riley or for the Alabama Republican Party.

Monday, January 17, 2005
On this day:

Scalia-Breyer Discussion Now Online

Last week's discussion between Justices Scalia and Breyer is now available at C-SPAN's site. (See under video/audio. You may have to look under "all recent programs.")

Gun Buybacks

...not a good way to celebrate MLK's birthday.

Alabama Celebrates King/Lee Birthdays Today

State offices and schools are closed today to honor the birthdays of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert E. Lee. King was born on January 15, 1929. Lee was born on January 19, 1807.

When this holiday comes around every year, there are some people who like to "take sides" by paying tribute to one man or the other. But, to me, to honor both men on the same day seems very fitting. Our state has come a long way since it was ripped apart by the divisions of the Civil War and of the civil rights movement, and this holiday gives us all a chance to be grateful for that fact.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
On this day:

Birkenstock Sellers Prepare for Boycott

This sounds so...European.

Cool Space News

The Huygens probe will enter the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, tomorrow, and will land on the surface about two hours later. The probe detached from the Cassini spacecraft on December 24. The Cassini-Huygens mission homepage is here.

Meanwhile, the Deep Impact spacecraft (mission homepage is here) was launched from Cape Canaveral yesterday, propelled by a Delta II rocket built right next door in Decatur, Alabama. The craft will travel to the comet Tempel I.

Deep Impact is comprised of two parts, a "fly-by" spacecraft and a smaller "impactor." The impactor will be released into the comet's path for a planned collision on July 4. The crater produced by the impactor is expected to be up to the size of a football stadium and two to 14 stories deep. Ice and dust debris will be ejected from the crater, revealing the material beneath.

The fly-by spacecraft will observe the effects of the collision. NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes, and other telescopes on Earth, will also observe the collision.

Let the Games Begin

The State Education Trust Fund is awash with new revenue due to the economic upturn, and all parts of the state's education establishment are scrambling to make sure that their piece of the pie is as large as possible. The state's K-12 public school teachers, represented by the Alabama Education Association, want a 7 percent raise. The 15 4-year universitities are demanding the same for their faculty and staff. The 2-year colleges want a 7 percent increase in funding.

Meanwhile, Governor Riley is considering raining on all their parades by proposing to divert some of the SETF's surplus revenue into the state's General Fund. The General Fund, which provides support for such non-education programs and functions as Medicaid and corrections, has failed to generate enough new revenues to meet projected cost increases.

AEA lobbyist Paul Hubbert and His Loquacity Senator Roger Bedford (D., Russellville) have already voiced strong opposition to unearmarking revenue from the Education Trust Fund. Therefore, it is doubtful that such an option could garner enough support to pass in the Legislature.

However, if Gov. Riley and the Republicans in the legislature play their cards right, they could turn this into a winning campaign issue for next year's elections. By portraying the choice as one between unearmarking education revenues versus a substantial tax increase for the General Fund, they may hit on an issue that will propel them towards their goal of winning control of at least one legislative house. Having the Democrats unite behind tax increases in order to avoid unearmarking education revenues would be a winning issue for Republican legislative candidates. It would also help Governor Riley overcome the political disaster of his support for the tax and accountability package that was rejected overwhelmingly by voters in 2003.

Keep watching this could get interesting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
On this day:

Siegelman Maintains That Election Was Stolen

I guess "the Don" has latched onto the new Democratic Party strategy.

After being elected governor in 1998, he lost his re-election bid to Riley by 3,120 votes out of 1.36 million votes cast. It was the closest race in Alabama gubernatorial history, and Siegelman continues to dispute the outcome.

“I still think we won the election and got snookered in Baldwin County after midnight," Siegelman said, referring to a vote-reporting error out of Baldwin.

Civil War Maps and Diagrams Now Available on the Internet

The Library of Congress is posting thousands of original maps and diagrams of Civil War battles and campaigns on the Internet.

Items posted so far are here.

Notice to ConLaw Geeks: Justices Scalia and Breyer to Debate

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer will discuss "The Relevance of Foreign Law for American Constitutional Adjudication" at the American University's Washington College of Law tomorrow from 4:00 until 5:30 PM EST. The discussion will be carried live on C-SPAN, and should be available in the C-SPAN archives soon afterwards.

This should be an interesting debate. Breyer and Scalia have faced off on this issue before. The most recent example came in the Lawrence v. Texas decision, in which the Court overrode its decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, ruling Texas's sodomy law to be unconstitutional. In Lawrence, Breyer signed on with the majority opinion, which made a key point by referring to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights in a similar case. Justice Scalia excoriated the Court's decision in his dissent, reserving special scorn for the "discussion of foreign views" in its opinion.

This is Justice Scalia at his best:

...Constitutional entitlements do not spring into existence because some States choose to lessen or eliminate criminal sanctions on certain behavior. Much less do they spring into existence, as the Court seems to believe, because foreign nations decriminalize conduct. The Bowers majority opinion never relied on “values we share with a wider civilization,” but rather rejected the claimed right to sodomy on the ground that such a right was not “ ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,’ ” (emphasis added). Bowers’ rational-basis holding is likewise devoid of any reliance on the views of a “wider civilization”. The Court’s discussion of these foreign views (ignoring, of course, the many countries that have retained criminal prohibitions on sodomy) is therefore meaningless dicta. Dangerous dicta, however, since “this Court … should not impose foreign moods, fads, or fashions on Americans.” [quoting Foster v. Florida]

A no-holds-barred wrestling match might make for better TV, but given the Justices' traditions of decorum, this will be about as close as it gets.

(Acknowlegdment to the Volokh Conspiracy for spreading the word about the debate.)

Alabama and Auburn Join to Lobby for More State Funding

Auburn President Ed Richardson has hired Decatur lawyer and Auburn graduate Sid McAnnally for $9,000 a month for seven months to head Auburn’s lobbying efforts. Alabama has hired the Montgomery lobbying firm of Fine, Geddie and Associates, which includes former University of Alabama board of trustees member Joe Fine.

So, Alabama and Auburn are demanding more taxpayer money at the same time that they go out and hire a bunch of high-dollar lobbyists to do their bidding with the legislature. I understand the need for our state-funded universities to defend their interests in Montgomery, but aren't there some...ummm..."non-essential" administrative staff around that would be up to the task? For example, I'm sure the University of Alabama could spare a few affirmative action coordinators, "social justice" promoters, and diversity trainers.

Fine Cuisine Coming to Huntsville

Waffle King is coming to Huntsville/Madison. Whoo-hoo!

Happy Birthday Rush!

Today is also the birthday of another famous conservative, Rush Limbaugh. He began his radio career in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and has gone on to become the undisputed king of talk radio. From his perch behind the Golden EIB microphone, he has been inspiring conservatives and annoying liberals for over 20 years now. Here's wishing Rush a very Happy Birthday!

Edmund Burke - Number 12, Arran Quay, Dublin

That is the birthplace of Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, who was born on this date in 1729.

Oh, Brother

Siegelman eyeing another run for Governor?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
On this day:

Europeans Organize to Say "NO" to European Constitution

From the Times Online:

OPPONENTS of the European constitution across the continent are joining forces to begin a pan-European No campaign, marking the occasion with a letter in The Times and other European newspapers.

The European No Campaign, bankrolled by British businesses, is run by a German, Thomas Rupp, from the heart of Europe’s financial centre, the City of London. His office overlooking the Monument to the fire of London, is shared with Britain’s Vote No campaign, the best funded and most organised in Europe.

The letter from the European No Campaign director and his colleagues is here.

Good for them! The proposed European Constitution is a recipe for disaster. It would create a central government that in many ways is stronger and less accountable than the post-New Deal federal government here in the U.S. The inevitable conflicts that would arise as the sovereignty of European nation-states is surrendered to the European Union would serve the interests of neither Europe nor of the United States. We can only hope that U.S. foreign policy will soon be tailored to more firmly express our concerns over this horrible proposal.

Secession's Opponents

From Alabama: The History of a Deep South State, by William Warren Rogers, Robert David Ward, Leah Rawls Atkins, and Wayne Flynt (The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 1994), 184:
Just before the secession vote was taken by the convention, within sight of the capitol, the Episcopal bishop of Alabama, Nicholas Hamner Cobbs, was sticken by a fatal stroke. An opponent of secession, which he believed could not be accomplished peacefully, Cobbs had openly prayed that "if it was God's will" he be spared the anguish of living to see Alabama secede. He did not. Jeremiah Clemens, author of the minority report against secession, wrote his Huntsville friend George W. Neal on the night of January 11 that secession "was celebrated today by the firing of cannon and ringing of bells. Tonight bonfires are blazing, speeches are being made, music is swelling on the air, and every conceivable demonstration of joy and enthusiasm is everywhere being made." Clemens could not restrain his tears when the American flag was lowered and the new flag of Alabama, made by the ladies of Montgomery, was raised. He warned Neal that he envisioned "storms that are gathering," and he could "not see how we are to pass through them." (quoted in Malcolm Cook McMillan, The Alabama Confederate Reader, University of Alabama Press, 1963; reprint, 1993, pp. 36-37)

Alabama Secedes

On this day in 1861, Alabama made the fateful decision to cast its lot with the Southern Confederacy by passing an ordinance of secession severing its ties with the United States of America. The vote in the Secession Convention was a surprisingly close 61-39.


To dissolve the Union between the State of Alabama and other States united under the compact styled "The Constitution of the United States of America."

WHEREAS, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the Constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security; therefore,

Be it declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in Convention assembled, That the State of Alabama now withdraws, and is hereby withdrawn from the Union known as "the United States of America", and henceforth ceases to be one of said United States, and is, and of right ought to be, a Sovereign and Independent State.

Section 2. Be it further declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in Convention assembled, That all the powers over the Territory of said State, and over the people thereof, heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America, be and they are hereby withdrawn from said Government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the people of the State of Alabama.And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slaveholding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as a permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States,

Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled, That the people of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, be and are hereby invited to meet the people of the State of Alabama, by their Delegates, in Convention, on the fourth day of February, A. D., 1861, at the city of Montgomery, in the State of Alabama, for the purpose of consulting with each other as to the most effectual mode of securing concerted and harmonious action in whatever measures may be deemed most desirable for our common peace and security.

And be it further resolved, That the President of this Convention be, and he is hereby, instructed to transmit forthwith a copy of the foregoing Preamble, Ordinance, and Resolutions to the Governors of the several States named in said resolutions.

Done by the people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, at Montgomery, on this, the eleventh day of January, A. D., 1861.

Monday, January 10, 2005
On this day:

Wake-up Call in the U.K.

According to this UPI report, a radical Islamist leader in the U.K. has called on British Muslims to join the jihad against the "global crusade camp." He says that the "covenant of security" that Muslims have enjoyed in Britain has been broken, and that they must now consider themselves at war.

"The response from the Muslims will be horrendous if the British government continues in the way it treats Muslims," he said, adding that suicide bombings were a possibility.

He called on Muslims to form a new coalition united behind al-Qaida with Osama Bin Laden as their leader...

Muslims are facing wars on two fronts, in Britain and abroad, he explained. Though they will live at peace in Britain should the government meet their demands, the fight will continue elsewhere in the Islamic world.

The article goes on to describe a conference held in London. Speakers praised the 9/11 hijackers as "men, real Muslim men." The Madrid attacks were called "beautiful." Moderate Muslims were referred to as "the enemy within." One woman encouraged parents to nurture their sons to be like Osama bin Laden.

Read the whole thing. Three reactions to this intolerable lunacy come to mind right off the bat - imprisonment, deportation, and exile. Unfortunately, those things may be a little too "civilized" for this crowd. If the message needs to be made a bit clearer, I hear there's a Tower nearby with all sorts of neat contraptions. (For a very well-reasoned and somewhat more temperate take on how to react to this kind of fanaticism, see here.)

Clearing Up Any Confusion

By the way, the Eleventh Amendment is not to be confused with Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment.

Just thought I'd clarify that. I remember one day in my high school Civics class when the teacher asked what the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution were commonly called. He started calling on individual students, meeting with blank stares every time until he reached one who wasn't afraid to answer. She thought about it for a minute before responding with "The Ten Commandments." Even our class of eighth graders had a good laugh about that. Fast forward to the present and Judge Roy Moore gives us the same answer. Go figure.

AP Article on the Pryor Nomination

The AP article linked from the previous post says:

[Pryor] also came under fire for filing a Supreme Court brief in a Texas sodomy case comparing homosexual acts to "prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography and even incest and pedophilia."

Someone reading that in the paper might reasonably conclude that Pryor was making a moral comparison between the various activities mentioned. However, as many others have pointed out, that is simply not the case. His comparison was for the sole purpose of evaluating whether state limitations on individual conduct are constitutional. It is essential to look at Pryor's words in their full context, rather through the distorted lens of the mainstream media. The "controversial" part of that amicus curiae brief he filed in Lawrence v. Texas is quoted below. Decide for yourself.
It should be noted, again, that the Texas statute in question does not criminalize petitioners’ sexual orientation, which may or may not be a matter of choice and thus may arguably be protected from state discrimination by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Rather, the Texas antisodomy statute criminalizes petitioners’ sexual activity, which is indisputably a matter of choice. Petitioners’ protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, a constitutional right that protects “the choice of one’s partner” and “whether and how to connect sexually” must logically extend to activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia (if the child should credibly claim to be “willing”). For all intents and purposes, petitioners seek to enshrine as the defining tenet of modern constitutional jurisprudence the sophomoric libertarian mantra from the musical “Hair”: “be free, be whatever you are, do whatever you want to do, just as long as you don’t hurt anybody.” Bracketing for the moment the dubious proposition that any human behavior is purely self affecting, suffice it to say that so expansive and undisciplined an interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment would constitute a radical departure from the historical analysis that this Court has always employed in its fundamental rights jurisprudence. It would embrace the very principle rejected by this Court in Roe v. Wade, that “one has an unlimited right to do with one’s body as one pleases. And it would ignore this Court’s admonition in Glucksberg that the Fourteenth Amendment does not protect “any and all important, intimate, and personal decisions.”

Republicans Deciding When to Bring Up Pryor Nomination

This report doesn't really provide much news, although it does confirm that the Dems have a very fitting mascot.

"Judge Pryor hasn't changed his way-out-of-the-mainstream views and it is highly unlikely that anyone in the Senate will change their views," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "To nominate judges previously rejected by the Senate is wrong."

Someone should remind Senator Schumer that Pryor has not been rejected by the Senate. To say so implies that the full Senate has actually voted against his nomination. No such vote has occurred because of the unprecedented tactic by Democrats of filibustering a President's judicial nominations.

(Link from Southern Appeal .)

Bronner Says No to Golf Carts for the Disabled - Is State Immune to Suit?

The CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, David Bronner, isn't budging from his position that Alabama's Robert Trent Jones golf courses will not provide special carts for disabled golfers.

Jerry Pope, a paraplegic golfer from Tuscaloosa, filed a civil rights complaint with the Justice Department in November claiming that he is the victim of discrimination by the RSA under the ADA law passed in 1990.

He claims that RSA's golf courses violate ADA laws because they don't provide carts that are specially made for paraplegics...

Bronner believes RSA is doing the right thing. He said disabled golfers are welcomed at all of the RSA's 28 courses at nine locations around the state. They may bring their own hand-operated single-rider carts, but if they want to use the special carts, Bronner requires them to sign a release of reliability.

"If they're going to try it at the top of the hill, we need somebody at the bottom to pick them up," he said.

Bronner insists there are only two RSA courses that are flat enough to safely accommodate the single-rider carts -- the Grand Hotel in Fairhope and the Highland Oaks at Dothan. He says the rest of the courses are far too hilly for the carts to negotiate safely.

Bronner has said that he's willing to make a deal, but Pope isn't backing away from his ADA complaint and continues to seek Justice Department authorization for a lawsuit.

I hope the lawyers out there will pardon my ignorance if this is a dumb question, but as an agency of the state, is the Retirement Systems of Alabama immune to federal lawsuits under the doctrine of sovereign immunity as embodied in the 11th Amendment? Does Congress's power to abrogate sovereign immunity under the 14th Amendment extend to access to golf courses and other athletic facilities? Assuming that this complaint makes it into federal court, what are the similarities to University of Alabama v. Garrett and Tennessee v. Lane ? The Court upheld the state's sovereign immunity in the Alabama case, but ruled against it in the Tennessee case.


Sunday Driving

Sunday afternoons are good for getting out of the big city of Huntsville and finding out what the rest of North Alabama has to offer. Today's destination was supposed to be Dismal's Canyon in Franklin Co., Alabama. (Fact: Dismal's Canyon is one of the few places outside New Zealand where the "glowworms" known as dismalites are known to exist.) Unfortunately, I didn't do my homework beforehand, and it turned out that the park was closed. Oh well...we'll save that for another weekend.

Another point of interest along the way was Hackleburg, Alabama, hometown of country legend Sonny James. James is known for hits such as "Young Love," "A Little Bit South of Saskatoon," and "Running Bear" (not to be confused with the parody "Runnin' Bare").

Sunday, January 09, 2005
On this day:

Gotta Get Some of Those Glasses

Elvis Meets Nixon

I Am Not A Crook

Richard Nixon was born on this day in 1913.

Saturday, January 08, 2005
On this day:

Elvis Would Have Been 80 Today

Here's the official Elvis site.

Velvet Elvis

Friday, January 07, 2005
On this day:

Auburn Delusional?

Here's what Professor Stephen Bainbridge says in response to this:
I'm sorry, but the good folks at Auburn need to find a little square of reality and camp out on it. After they nearly blew the Sugar Bowl, did they not see the can of whup ass that USC opened up on a very good Oklahoma team?

There's a word for Auburn's current mental state: delusional.
No opinion from me...I'm not touching that one...I know nothing.

A Forgotten President

President Millard Fillmore was born on this day in 1800. I would guess that many Americans have probably never even heard of old Millard. Even if they have, they probably have very little idea of what he did. I'm in the latter category. So, here are a few facts that I learned from the Wikipedia article behind the link:
  • Fillmore was the last Whig President.
  • He served as Vice President under President Zachary Taylor until Taylor fell gravely ill in July of 1850, whereupon he became the President.
  • Unlike Taylor, Fillmore was a proponent of the Compromise of 1850 and signed it into law in September of 1850.
  • Fillmore was the nominee of the American Party, better known as the Know-Nothings, in 1856. He carried only the state of Maryland in that election.
  • Fillmore opposed President Lincoln throughout the Civil War, and supported Johnson during Reconstruction.

The Tsunami

I thought that words were inadequate to describe my feelings on the tsunami in South Asia until I read this post. Perfect.

Update: Snopes says that the picture in that post is not of the tsunami, but rather of a river in China. Even if that's the case, the sentiment's still the same.

Thursday, January 06, 2005
On this day:

Axis of Weevil Links Updated

I have updated the Axis of Weevil links below by verifying the URL's and making the link indicate the name of the blog rather than the name of its owner. I also added a few that I had overlooked before.

I also added a few other Alabama blogs to the blogroll. Two good conservative ones are Pros & Cons and My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

So, check out some of the new/old/fixed links. You're bound to find something you like.

Masked Bandit Causes Power Outage - Again

The Huntsville Raccoon Conspiracy continues. I posted this in early December the last time a raccoon interfered with Huntsville's power supply. I haven't heard anything about the fate of the raccoon yet, but I'll be sure to keep you informed.

Meanwhile, alarm has been raised around town as residents express their concern that the masked animals may very well be up to something sinister. South Huntsville resident Jimmy Wayne Hornswallow (who is called J.W. for short) had this to say about a recent encounter with several raccoons in his backyard:

"I seen four of the little bastards just yesterday ove' 'ere at the edge of the yard by that flower pot. [Points to a commode at the back edge of his yard near the woods.] They was making little coon noises and all...kinda clicking at each other. [Demonstrates clicking sounds.] Then one of 'em took notice of me and charged right at me with kind of a wild look in his eyes. [Opens eyes wide and makes a contorted face.] I ain't never seen that look in no raccoon before.

"My wife Essie was in yonder in the kitchen mopping, so I yelled at her to bring me her .22 rifle from under the waterbed. Well, the floor was still wet and poor Essie fell plumb on her ass and hit her head up against the stove. After it was all over, I had to take her to the 'mergency room to get 5 stitches across her forehead. The doc said she probably would have busted her tailbone if she hadn't had a little extra padding. More cushin' for the pushin', as my daddy always said. [Winks.]

"Anyways, after Essie busted it on the floor, I ran in and grabbed the gun myself. But, by the time I got back outside, them coons was all gone. Or, at least they was a-hiding real good. [Slowly scans the yard and the surrounding woods.] Them's some sneaky critters, you know. Well, I was a little perturbed so I let out a few choice words before Essie yelled at me to come help get her up out of the floor.

"Them little varmints was up to no good, I tell you. Now that the power's gone out twiced on account of 'em, I'm certain of it. There's some strange things going on in the world these days."

No Illusions - Only Hope

Dear readers, some might say that making light of the situation on the Korean peninsula and making fun of the speech patterns of its residents is in bad taste. But, we humans tend to do such things from time to time - we look for humor in tragedy and we like to pick on each other. Go figure.

Nonetheless, "fun" and "humor" are not the first things that should come to mind when we ponder North Korea and the horrors that its people face every day. The original caption beneath that picture of Little Dictator Kim Jong-il in the last post read:

A Korean War veteran holds a defamed portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a rally in Seoul, December 14, 2004. South Koreans protested against the North's nuclear weapons program and the South Korean government's plan to abolish the National Security Law. North Korea will find it difficult to return to nuclear talks if the United States keeps insisting Pyongyang renounce all its peaceful and military atomic activities, the North's main newspaper said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The South Korean war veteran in that photo knows all too well the evils that have been perpetrated on his kinsmen to the north by Kim Jong-il and his father Kim il-Sung. Today, North Korea is a place where dissent is not tolerated, where refugees tell tales of resorting to cannibalism because of a lack of food, where forced abortion and infanticide are conducted in order to maintain ethnic purity, and where a 50-year-old coach was designated to bear the "unified" Korean flag in the Olympic opening ceremony because North Korean athletes weren't tall enough - their growth had been stunted by years of famine. No, there's nothing "fun" about North Korea.

One only needs to look to the south to see what "could be" for all the Korean people. South Korea is a full-fledged democracy with a bustling economy and a proud people who are never reluctant to air their opinions, as evidenced by the veteran in that photo. He was protesting his own government's policy of accomodation with the Little Dictator to the north. Chances are, he has family members in North Korea who would be imprisoned or executed for such an egregious affront.

No, the man holding that sign harbors no illusions. He knows that there can be no accomodation with a man like Kim Jong-il. He knows that his brothers and sisters who have suffered immeasurable agonies under Kim's dictatorship still possess a longing for the same freedom that he enjoys - even if that longing has been numbed by years upon years of oppression and hardship. That man with the sign harbors no illusions, but he harbors a hope that grows stronger with every life-affirming heartbeat.

Will we stand with him?

A Man With Hope Stands Against the Tyrant

A Korean War veteran holds a defamed portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a rally in Seoul, December 14, 2004. South Koreans protested against the North's nuclear weapons program and the South Korean government's plan to abolish the National Security Law. North Korea will find it difficult to return to nuclear talks if the United States keeps insisting Pyongyang renounce all its peaceful and military atomic activities, the North's main newspaper said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon