Monday, October 31, 2005
On this day:

Yearly property reappraisals

The latest controversy (cooked up by Roy Moore and Don Siegelman) over how often to reassess property values strikes me as just plain silly. The Riley administration is phasing in a new regulation requiring property to be reappraised annually. Previously, the reappraisals had been done every 4 years. Roy Moore and Don Siegelman, both of whom are running for Governor, support returning to the old system. Lucy Baxley, never one to make a decision when she it can be avoided, first said that she would "let the people decide." Now, she wants to "let the Attorney General decide."

Alabama has the lowest property taxes in the nation - by far - so the change would have little financial impact on individual property owners. The new policy basically means that instead of getting stuck with a big jump in property taxes every four years, they will have smaller increases each year - assuming that their property increases in value each year. The state treasury stands to benefit substantially over the next four years, but after that - correct me if I'm wrong - the only way this could conceivably be labelled as a tax increase is that it uses the "time value of money" to the state's advantage. All in all, it seems fair and reasonable to me.

Nonetheless, this could become a political liability for Governor Riley, who taxpayers still remember for his support of the Amendment One debacle. So, why not come out in favor of an offsetting measure like raising the threshold for paying income taxes and indexing it to inflation? That would do a few things - it would make Alabama's tax code fairer, force the legislature to resist the urge to spend money on pork projects, and - most significantly for Riley's political career - it would show voters that the Governor has learned his lesson on taxes.

John Kerry, Iraq, and "nuance"

An anonymous commenter responded to this post from last Wednesday, in which I pointed to two recent statements by Senator John Kerry that illustrated "that famous Kerry nuance."

The commenter made some very good points, so I thought I would try to lay out what it is about Senator Kerry's penchant for nuance that is so darned annoying. (Maybe some other time, I'll attempt to figure out why I hate the word "nuance" - I suspect it has something to do with its French origins.)

Anonymous said:
Yes, God forbid someone have nuance.

Kerry's point, as I understand it, was that Bush blew it from the beginning by not following Shinseki's advice to put more troops on the ground in the first place. That failure allowed the insurgency to fuel (partly driven by the callous attitude of Rumsfeld and the rest to looting - which showed they could initially operate with some level of immunity).

That led to a situation now, where it seems that the presence of foreign troops is doing more to undermine stability than increase it. (There was a poll recently by the British MOD that showed vast public opposition to US presence and a high level of support - maybe around 42% - of insurgent attacks. That ain't good.)

None of this is an attack on the troops. They are honorable people who are doing what their countries ask, and they should be thanked. But it doesn't mean the policy is in the right place.

Like I said, God forbid someone offer something other than a stay the course message. God forbid they demonstrate some nuance and understanding of the dynamics on the ground in Iraq.

Here's my response:

Look...if the famed Kerry nuance indicated a balanced assessment of the situation in Iraq, and if it helped in any meaningful way to develop a sensible and coherent policy to address the problems there, then it wouldn't invite such ridicule. As it stands, though, it seems that the the only thing that binds the many nuances of Senator Kerry's position together is an irrational disdain for anything and everything the Bush administration does.

Thoughtful, pointed criticism of the administration's Iraq policy should be welcomed and encouraged, but Kerry's speech at Georgetown last week fails that test.

First of all, his assessment of the situation in Iraq lacks balance, demonstrating that he does not have a realistic understanding of the dynamics on the ground there. He dwells almost exclusively on the negatives; any acknowledgement of the many positive developments comes only grudgingly, if at all. Of the Iraqi Constitution, Kerry says: "The Constitution, opposed by more than two thirds of Sunnis, has postponed and even exacerbated the fundamental crisis of Iraq."

Kerry and others often fault the administration for painting a portrait of Iraq that is overly optimistic (wrongly so, in my opinion), but it is no better to be overly pessimistic. To say that the Constitution has "exacerbated" the crisis is simply wrongheaded. The fact is that Iraq - for the first time in its history - is on the road to having an elected government in which all its people are represented. Day by day, its security forces are developing the capability of dealing with the insurgency, and day by day, as Iraqis take control of their own destiny, the insurgency is losing support among the populace.

Secondly, after heaping criticism on the administration, Kerry presents a plan that is notable for its resemblance to what the administration is already doing. He says:

"The way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay 'as long as it takes.' To undermine the insurgency, we must instead simultaneously pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks. At the first benchmark, the completion of the December elections, we can start the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays."

I can't find too much fault in that, other than the fact that Kerry overlooks the "specific, responsible benchmarks" that have already transpired - the election of an interim government, the drafting and ratification of a Constitution, both of which set the stage for the December elections that Kerry says are the "first benchmark."

As I said, Kerry's proposal is very similar to current administration policy, except that the administration has been somewhat reluctant to tie troop withdrawals to a specific timetable or "specific benchmarks," since that could subject our military presence to events that are beyond our control. But, Kerry's implication that the administration is just sitting around without planning for an eventual withdrawal is misleading. That process has already begun, and U.S. officials are working with Iraqis to develop guidelines for the withdrawal of American forces. Just last week, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, talked about the possibility of reducing troop levels next year. Ironically, his comments came on the same day that Kerry was giving his Georgetown speech.

So, perhaps if you would pay attention to what the administration has been saying and doing over the past several months, you'd find that they, too, understand the art of "nuance." If John Kerry and his fellow Democrats have something constructive to add, then by all means, give them a microphone and let them enlighten us. But, taking partisan potshots at the administration when the stakes are as high as they are in Iraq is both ignoble and irresponsible, in that it encourages our enemies and demoralizes our friends. In dealing with the situation in Iraq, we need statesmen, not showmen.

The secret history of the minimum wage

Most economists would agree that a government-imposed minimum wage is likely to produce higher unemployment, especially among the poor and unskilled workers who need jobs the most. Keeping certain people out of the work force is an unfortunate result of minimum wage legislation, but Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok reminds us that it has often been the intended result, as well.

Experts: Indictment makes campaign harder for Siegelman

Amateurs: Wouldn't it be nice to get paid to come up with such revealing insights?

It's Alito

Sounds like a great choice. And, wouldn't you know it...all the right people are "concerned."

There's lots of good stuff over at NRO's Bench Memos.

Happy Halloween

Warmest wishes.

Sunday, October 30, 2005
On this day:

More Siggy

From Thursday's papers:

Mobile Register.
Birmingham News.
Huntsville Times.

You can read the indictment here (.pdf format)

Thursday, October 27, 2005
On this day:

Miers resigns

Southern Appeal cartoonist Zach Brissett suggests a appropriate penance for the President.

Justice Clarence Thomas to visit UA law school

...on Veteran's Day, November 11. Get ready for more silly protestors.

Union thuggery?

That's what some employees at Plastech Engineered Products in McCalla are alleging following a vote by workers on whether they want to be represented by the United Auto Workers union. The National Labor Relations Board nullified a previous "check-card" vote after some workers claimed they were duped into signing union cards. (More here.)

Alabama's auto workers should listen to the Birmingham News on this one and "do themselves and Alabama a favor by turning down the UAW."

More on the Siegelman indictment

The latest AP report has more details.

The charges against Siegelman are racketeering, bribery, mail and wire fraud, extortion, and obstruction of justice. A summary of the charges is here.

Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, Siegelman's opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said, "This is a very sad day for Alabama because our people want truth and honesty in government."

True...but it could be a very good day for Lucy Baxley.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
On this day:

John Kerry

He was for putting more troops in Iraq...before he was against it.

Here's John Kerry, in a speech delivered at Georgetown University today:
"When [the Bush administration] could have listened to General Shinseki and put in enough troops to maintain order, they chose not to. They were wrong."

"The insurgency will not be defeated unless our troop levels are drawn down."
Yup, both of those statements are from the same speech. Oh, how I've missed that famous Kerry nuance.

This is pretty tough

Try to get the dot through the maze - then advance to the next level...the instructions are in Spanish, but I think it's pretty self-explanatory. Good luck.

This is the answer I would've given, too

...but it wasn't what Alex was looking for.

Siegelman, Schrushy indicted

A federal grand jury in Montgomery has indicted former Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Schrushy on charges that include bribery and extortion. Two other men - former Siegelman chief of staff Paul Hamrick and former Siegelman DOT director Gary Mack Roberts - were also indicted. The AP reports:
The prosecutors said Siegelman and former chief of staff Paul Hamrick violated racketeering laws during his term from 1999 to 2003. The indictment, in part, alleges Scrushy made disguised payments totaling $500,000 to Siegelman to get appointed to a key state hospital regulatory board.

Former state Transportation Director Gary Mack Roberts also was charged with mail and wire fraud for his alleged role influencing agency actions on behalf of Siegelman...

The prosecutors noted that three others with ties to the Siegelman administration have pleaded guilty to public corruption charges in the alleged scheme — Nick Bailey, a former executive secretary and Cabinet head; Lanny Young, a former lobbyist and landfill developer; and Curtis Kirsch, a Montgomery architect who did work for the state during the Siegelman administration.

The indictment returned Wednesday alleges that Siegelman and Hamrick took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Young to aid young's business interests, including awarding contracts to companies controlled by Young...

The indictment claims Scrushy made "two disguised payments" totaling $500,000 to Siegleman in exchange for Siegelman appointing the HealthSouth chief to the state's Certificate of Need Review Board, which decides on hospital expansions. Scrushy was charged with bribery and mail fraud in an indictment filed May 17 but kept under seal, the prosecutors said.
The indictment includes 30 counts. Here's more from WSFA-TV:
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, Siegelman and Hamrick are accused of extortion. They allegedly threatened businesses in Alabama with harmful action by the DOT unless those businesses came up with the necessary cash.

Roberts is accused of influencing DOT actions on behalf of the former governor. He is charged with mail and wire fraud.

Scrushy is accused of making disguised payments of more than $500,000 to Siegelman in exchange for an appointment to a key state hospital regulatory board.
According to the WSFA broadcast, the four men are charged under the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

To learn more, see here.

Parks to lie in state in Montgomery

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks will lie in state in Montgomery, before her body is flown back to Detroit for funeral services.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Parks body will lie in state at St. Paul AME Church, 706 E. Patton Ave., on Saturday and Sunday. St. Paul was Parks’ home church when she lived in Montgomery.

Parks will return to Detroit where her body will lie in state at the Museum of African American History on Tuesday, from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Her funeral will be held Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, but the times are still being finalized.

Alabama reacts to the death of Rosa Parks

From the AP:

"Rosa Parks will always be remembered as a courageous woman who quietly confronted injustice, and in so doing, she changed a nation." — Alabama Gov. Bob Riley.

"For her courage, for her role in changing Alabama, the South, the nation and the world for the better, our nation owes Ms. Parks a great deal of thanks." — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

"Rosa Parks was a heroine who single-handedly changed the landscape of the South. She proved by the power of example that one individual can move a community to action. She was also a modest woman who rose to her moment in history with dignity and grace." — Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.
There will be a memorial service this Friday at 11 AM at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery.

Parks' hometown of Tuskegee will honor her on Wednesday with a prayer service on the town square and a memorial service at city hall.

From the Governor's office:

MONTGOMERY – Governor Bob Riley today directed the flags flown above the Capitol and all state office buildings to fly at half staff in honor of Mrs. Rosa Parks, who died Monday at the age of 92. The flags will fly at half staff until
sunset on the day of her funeral.

“Alabama joins the nation in mourning as we mark the passing of a remarkable life,” Governor Riley said. “Her brave act nearly 50 years ago in Montgomery changed our nation forever.”

Rosa Parks, RIP

Rosa Parks, who was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1913 and who became the "mother of the civil rights movement" with one simple, courageous act of defiance in 1955, is dead at the age of 92.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
On this day:

Condi in Alabama II

The video of Rice and Straw's lecture at the University of Alabama is online here. (Click on "Lecture Video.") The transcript is available here.

Here are a few photos I snapped while I was there:

Secretary Rice takes the podium

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw

Rice and Straw take questions from the audience

Coach Shula: "With this trip, there’s just two words we’d like you to remember us by and that’s 'Roll Tide.'"

Shula practices the art of diplomacy by handing out souvenir footballs

Condi in Alabama

Condoleezza Rice has been talking lately about her desire to give foreign dignitaries a glimpse of the "real America." So, this past weekend, she brought British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw here to Alabama. It may amuse certain residents of the parentheses states that anyone would think of Alabama as "real America," but before bursting into laughter, they should consider a few things...

Secretary Rice was born and raised in the community of Titusville, near Birmingham, so it's not surprising that she would want to take her British counterpart - as the representative of America's closest ally - on a tour of the places where she spent her childhood and to introduce him to the people she knows so well.

So, a trip to Alabama was a logical choice, but it was much more than that. Alabama is the place where many of the nation's civil rights battles were fought and won. For many years, it was ground zero in America's war to secure the blessings of liberty for all its citizens.

Condoleezza Rice and her family moved away from Alabama when she was 13, in the days when segregation was making its last stand. Many of her memories are of the way it was then, when she was a child in the 1950's and '60's, only mildly aware of politics and even less so of her own "place" in the social order.

Today, she often recalls the little things from life in those days. At least now they seem little, but to a child, they were the world: growing up in a safe, comfortable neighborhood surrounded by friends and family; going to church on Sundays; taking ballet and piano lessons; watching football on TV with her dad; and learning that discipline and perseverance were the keys to overcoming the injustices of the society she lived in.

Those injustices were visible all around her. There was the local amusement park, which was open to "colored" kids like her only one day a year; the department store, where the only dressing room for little black girls was a storage closet; the local drive-in restaurant, where her parents bought her a hamburger one afternoon, only to find that it was filled with nothing but onions.

But, those injustices were just minor inconveniences compared to the big things - the night-riders, Bull Connor's fire hoses, and the bomb that killed one of her young friends and three other little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church. "I remember more than anything the coffins. The small coffins. And the sense that Birmingham wasn’t a very safe place," she said. Undoubtedly, Condi and many other Alabamians of all races and creeds also asked themselves that day what "sin" these precious children committed to have deserved such a fate. There may even have been a sense of unity, even if it only went so far as calling evil by its name.

Thankfully, the Alabama that Condoleezza Rice visited this weekend is very different from the one she left over 30 years ago. Alabama, which was once the focal point for America's struggle to deal with its own original sin, is now the subject of a remarkable success story. It took a long time for the civil rights movement to win the "hearts and minds" of most Alabamians - but today, we've passed the tipping point, and there's no going back. That's something that all "real Americans" can be proud of as we help friends and would-be friends around the globe in their own struggles for freedom and democracy.

Friday, October 21, 2005
On this day:

Going to see Condi

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is speaking in Tuscaloosa tomorrow, along with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. I'm planning to be there - the speech starts at 11 AM, so I'll be leaving Huntsville bright and early - hopefully at a time when I can avoid the worst of B'ham's rush hour traffic.

If anyone's interested in viewing the webast, here's the info:

RICE, STRAW LECTURE TO BE WEBCAST – The Frank A. Nix Lecture featuring U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will be available via Web cast at on Friday, Oct. 21. The program, presented by UA’s Blackburn Institute, will be at 11 a.m. in Sellers Auditorium of the Bryant Conference Center. The public is invited. Doors to the auditorium will open at 10 a.m. The Frank A. Nix Lecture honors the memory of Frank Albert Nix, a UA graduate, business leader and member of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Nix died tragically in an airplane crash in 1996, the same year he had been honored as the alumnus of the year by the UA National Alumni Association.

I'll be hanging around for the Tennessee game on Saturday, too. Rumor is that Condi will be doing the coin toss.

Anyway, if I don't talk to y'all before then...

Roll Tide!

Thursday, October 20, 2005
On this day:

Sens. Shelby, Sessions vote against job-killing bill

Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions joined the majority in voting against a bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.25 an hour over the next year and a half.

I say, good for them...and no, that isn't because I'm a heartless Republican. Quite the opposite. The minimum wage often ends up hurting the very people it is intended to help by pricing them out of the marketplace. To businesses, labor costs represent an expense - and a rather large one at that. If businesses who employ minimum wage workers don't think that those jobs are worth the minimum wage, then they will simply eliminate the jobs.

The vast majority of minimum-wage earners are young, unskilled, and/or inexperienced. That is the very group that needs jobs the most - in order to get valuable experience, develop a positive work ethic, and gain entry into the work force. They are also the ones who are hurt the most when the government forbids them from accepting jobs that pay below such-and-such an hour.

For many of these workers, the most important step they can take is to merely get a job in order to develop the discipline it takes to keep a job. One of the best things government can do to help them out is to stop creating new barriers to employment; the minimum wage is one such barrier. If politicians want a serious job-training program that actually works, then they should consider eliminating the minimum wage.

Auctioning Lenin

EconLog's Bryan Caplan says that the Russkies should auction off Lenin's corpse on e-Bay. What a great idea.

The fake energy crisis

Cafe Hayek's Russell Roberts says, "Sleep well, despite the worriers' desire to keep you tossing and turning."

Mr. Floatie

If he ever decides to retire from the Senate, this sounds like the perfect job for John Kerry. He'll just need to dye his costume.

The Republican redistricting lawsuit - unnecessary and unprincipled

While I applaud efforts by Alabama Republicans to win control of the Alabama legislature, I would prefer that they attain that goal by winning elections, not by seeking federal intervention to redraw legislative district lines. That is a tactic worthy of Democrats, being both unnecessary and unprincipled.

One of this state's goals should be to get the U.S. Justice Department and the federal courts out of the redistricting process altogether. An important step in that direction would be for Congress to reject the extension of a portion of the Voting Rights Act requiring Justice Department "pre-clearance" for changes to election practices. Attorney General Troy King spoke in favor of that in a recent statement, saying, "After four decades of tremendous progress, for which we can all be thankful, it is time to recognize that Section 5 (pre-clearance) has served its purpose and oftentimes unnecessarily restricts the ability of the states to regulate their own elections."

The new Republican lawsuit flies in the face of the sound principle advocated by Attorney General King. On the Voting Rights Act extension, King says that it's time to get the feds out. But, when it comes to drawing legislative district lines - in a way that is likely to benefit Republican candidates - the Alabama Republican Party overtly welcomes federal intervention.

Maybe that's just politics, but is it too much to ask for just one prominent Republican to point out this glaring inconsistency?

Defining price-gouging

It's not that easy, and certainly shouldn't be entrusted to ambulance-chasing lawyers, self-aggrandizing Attorneys General, and over-zealous government bureaucrats.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
On this day:

Roy Moore's bodyguard

From the October 12 Montgomery Advertiser:
The man who became known as the "Ten Commandments judge," has thousands of admirers in northeastern Louisiana. Controversy dogs him wherever he goes, so much that he has employed Leonard Holyfield, cousin of Evander, as his personal bodyguard.

Roy Moore was a competitive kick-boxer at one time...but from the looks of this, I doubt he'd want to ask Leonard to be his sparring partner.

The reason for the slow blogging that I've just finished reading The Coming Fury, the first book in Bruce Catton's American Civil War trilogy. I've never been much of a Civil War buff, but I can say that this series may very well turn me into one.

The Coming Fury covers the period from the fateful 1860 Democratic Party Convention in Charleston through the first major battle of the War at Bull Run the following year. It was a terrible - and sometimes shameful - time in the nation's history. The opportunities for compromise were abundant, even after the first shots were fired at Ft. Sumter; but, in an atmosphere in which threats and provocations pervaded, few were in the mood for compromise, and in the end, all opportunity was lost. The descendants of those who fought the Civil War could learn quite a few lessons from that.

This is one of the first complete histories of the War that I've attempted to read all the way through, and if the final two books (Terrible Swift Sword and Never Call Retreat) are as good as the first, it shouldn't take me long to finish. Like most popular historians, Catton has the gift of being a master storyteller. Yes, I know that he was a Yankee; nonetheless, if you're interested in brushing up on your Civil War history, then I'd highly recommend his trilogy as a good place to start. (On that note, it would be interesting to compare his work to that of Southern historian Shelby Foote, who died earlier this year.)

Anyway, if sometime in the course of the next few weeks I launch into a rant about "damned Yankee carpetbaggers" and "sellout scalawags," you'll know why.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
On this day:

Don's "personal side" revealed

From that Register article on Siggy:
MONTGOMERY -- Records in the state archives from Don Siegelman's tenure as governor appear to shed new light on matters under review by a federal grand jury, including Siegelman's relationship with former HealthSouth Chairman Richard Scrushy.

Other documents reflect a personal side of the governor, such as a letter to his lawyer containing instructions for his will, detailed down to the music that Siegelman wanted played at his funeral. His choices: Jimmy Buffett's version of "Stars Fell On Alabama;" "My Home Is In Alabama" by Randy Owen; "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd; and unnamed songs by Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

"Buddy Holly would also be a good one," Siegelman wrote, in concluding the April 2000 letter to Montgomery lawyer Bobby Segall.
Unnamed songs by Elvis and the Beatles, huh? How about "Return to Sender" and "With a Little Help from my Friends?"

Siegelman and Scrushy

Birds of a feather. (The extended piece from the Mobile Register is here.)

Poll shows Bush's approval rating among blacks at 2%

"Only two percent [of blacks] said they approved of [Bush's] performance as president, the lowest level ever recorded in that category, NBC television reported."

It's safe to say that Bush's support among blacks is low, but is it really conceivable that it is that low? NBC News and some bloggers apparently didn't think it worth their while to ask that simple question. Fortunately, Mystery Pollster Mark Blumenthal did.

Monday, October 17, 2005
On this day:

Muscadine wine

Alabama has five wineries that make the stuff. I've tried some (from here), and it's pretty tasty - definitely several notches above Boone's Farm. :)

AG King hails arrest of gas retailer for "price-gouging"

(B'ham News) MONTGOMERY - An Aliceville gasoline dealer has been arrested on charges of price gouging in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

Jason McBride was arrested Wednesday in Sumter County on a charge of violating the Alabama Unconscionable Pricing Act. McBride was released on bond, and an arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday.

Efforts to reach Sumter County District Attorney Gregory Griggers for comment were unsuccessful. Griggers told a Sumter County newspaper that it was believed McBride was charging $3.69 a gallon for regular grade gasoline at his Livingston station while other stations in the area were charging $2.49 to $2.79.

"I commend District Attorney Griggers for his vigilance in protecting Alabama consumers," Alabama Attorney General Troy King said in a prepared statement.

"Our office is assisting the district attorney in this case. The attorney general's office remains vigilant and engaged statewide in this possible price gouging inquiry," King said.

I, too, favor penalties for those who charge unconscionable prices for gasoline and other goods. It just seems to me that those penalties should be imposed by consumers who choose to take their business elsewhere, not by self-important politicians in search of a campaign issue.

Yes, Alabama has a law against price-gouging, and yes, it is the Attorney General's job to enforce it; but, conservative Republicans have traditionally been among the biggest advocates of market-based solutions to this type of problem. There's a good case to be made that anti-gouging laws do more harm than good by inhibiting conservation and causing temporary shortages. That's why Troy King's enthusiasm to scapegoat gasoline suppliers and retailers is so disappointing. Let him enforce the law - that's his job. But, does he really have to enjoy it so much?

Good numbers

At least if you are Gov. Riley.

In a Mobile Register - USA poll, Gov. Riley leads both of his potential Democrat opponents; he's up 46-31 over Don Siegelman and 44-33 over Lucy Baxley.

Roy Moore is tied with Siegelman 40-40, but would lose to Lucy Baxley 44-37.

Yeah, it's too early for polls to mean much, but this sounds pretty encouraging for Riley.

One kinda interesting thing to note about that poll:
Of those polled, 43 percent said identified themselves as Republicans when it comes to state politics, while 37 percent were Democrats, and 14 percent said they were independents or backed another party.
If that breakdown (43% Republican, 37% Democrat) is an accurate representation of Alabama voters - and there's no reason to believe that it's not - then all is well; but, if Republicans were oversampled, then Riley and Moore's numbers are likely to be be inflated.

Another thing - if that is accurate, it's yet another indication of the remarkable gains Republicans have made in Alabama over the past couple of decades, and it bodes well for them as they seek to take over the legistature in 2006.

Thursday, October 13, 2005
On this day:

Don has a platform

A new "Seniors' Bill of Rights" is the centerpiece.

I prefer the original myself.

UA to continue suit against artist Daniel Moore

...despite a petition signed by about 2,000 students, faculty, and staff.

King issues second round of subpoenas in price-gouging investigation

Attorney General Troy King and Ag Commissioner Ron Sparks continue their harassment of gas retailers and oil companies.

Diversity University

The University of Alabama has named a new diversity director. Sounds like she's well-qualified:

Bettina Byrd-Giles, who has served as director of Diversity UAB since 2000, has been named the director of the planned UA Crossroads Community Center, according to a UA statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Diversity UAB is a program that "provides diversity training for UAB faculty, staff and administration, as well as internal consulting to UAB departments," according to UAB's Web site.

While at UAB, Byrd-Giles founded Diversity University, a program that brought together students from six institutions in Birmingham to discuss diversity issues, and Interculture, a group of UAB students who organize celebrations of different ethnic holidays.

Byrd-Giles received a Birmingham Peacekeeper award from the United Nations Association of the U.S.'s Birmingham chapter for her work in founding Diversity University, according to UAB's Web site.

Byrd-Giles earned a bachelor's degree in foreign affairs at the University of Virginia and a master's degree in education from UAB. She also earned an Intercultural Foundations and Intercultural Practitioner's Certificate from the Intercultural Communications Institute in Portland, Ore.

Finding America

From the Crimson White:
The first Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month ever held at the University is coming to a close this Saturday. Those who organized the month-long celebration said it has been a major success...

The University's Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month was part of a nationwide celebration of Hispanic culture that began Sept. 15, a day when many Latin countries celebrate their independence, and will end Saturday, the "Dia de [la] Raza," or "day of the race" when Hispanics celebrate Christopher Columbus finding America.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
On this day:

...And it was done without major tax increases

Alabama's budget surpluses are due almost entirely to a growing economy and the exercise of fiscal restraint by the Governor and legislature. One thing that they cannot be attributed to is an increase in tax rates. This is a point that can't be stressed enough, in my opinion. Those who insist that massive tax increases hold the key to a more prosperous society should particularly take heed.

So, when will the folks who supported Amendment One back in 2003 - including Governor Riley - admit that proposing the largest tax increase in Alabama history was a colossal error in judgment?

Alabama ends fiscal year with budget surpluses

Here's more evidence that a vibrant economy, when it is accompanied by reasonable restraints on government spending, is by far the most effective way to raise revenues.

Tax collections that rose 11 percent over the past 12 months helped state government end the fiscal year with $299 million in budget surpluses...

The personal income tax, which is the state's largest source of tax revenue, was up 11 percent from the prior year, and the sales tax, which holds second place, was up 6 percent. The fifth largest tax source, the corporate income tax, increased a whopping 43 percent over the previous year due to the economic recovery, the Revenue Department reported.

Helping fuel the increase in income taxes was an active work force; the unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in August, compared with 4.9 percent nationally.

"We are sitting absolutely gorgeous, not even pretty in terms of job creation," said Keivan Deravi, an economist at Auburn University Montgomery.

The state education budget ended the fiscal year with an unexpected surplus of $265 million. The General Fund budget, which finances non-education programs like state troopers, Medicaid and prisons, ended with a $34 million surplus.

Monday, October 10, 2005
On this day:

Potty mouths

From the Mobile Register's "Political Skinny" Sunday:
Redding Pitt, the former U.S. attorney for north Alabama and former state Democratic chairman, found himself apologizing for a computer blunder and obscene language last week.

On Wednesday evening, a Mobile Register editor e-mailed several questions to Gov. Don Siegelman in hopes that the announced gubernatorial candidate would provide answers for an upcoming story. About two hours later, the editor received a response not from any of the e-mail addresses to which the original message had been sent, but from the e-mail address of Pitt, a longtime Siegelman friend and ally.

The message was brief, and the expletives used have been partially deleted for publication purposes: "F--- the b-----ds. We can beat them. I am serious. Redding."

After the Register editor messaged back Thursday inquiring whether the e-mail from Pitt constituted Siegelman's reply, Siegelman e-mailed to say, "This is certainly not my response. I have no idea where that came from. I will get back with you before your deadline. Don Siegelman."

Pitt then e-mailed and called the Register editor personally to apologize.

"Please accept my apology for the email which came to your address last night," Pitt wrote. "I have just become aware of this. It was late, I'd been working on something all day, and was attempting to comment, however crudely, on another matter. I was not aware that you had emailed me at all.

"Since I don't believe we have ever met, I hope you will not take this communication personally. It was not intended to refer to you or your colleagues, and was directed at another matter."

Don to Lucy: Don't get your panties in a bunch

Yes, I'm exaggerating. That's not exactly how he put it.

Riley's running

Gov. Riley announced Saturday that he is running for re-election.

He came out swinging against Roy Moore, his opponent in the Republican primary:
"I have never, and I never will use my faith or belief in almighty God for political purposes," Riley told supporters invited to his 61st birthday party Saturday at the Barber Motorsports Museum in Leeds.

"Some say they can no longer acknowledge God in government," said Riley. "I think that's sad because I acknowledge him every day - in speeches, in the office, in meetings, schools and churches. We can all do that every day in the way we live our lives." The comment drew thunderous applause.
...cites Alabama's above-average economic growth and his record for making government more honest and accountable:

He also cited a list of economic accomplishments such as increasing median income, reducing unemployment and turning a state deficit he inherited into a record surplus. The state is required by law to balance its budgets.

"In the last three years we've added 50,000 new jobs and more than 500 companies have located or expanded in Alabama," Riley said. "Today, our economy is one of the strongest and best in the nation."

Another of Riley's re-election themes was his administration's efforts to make state government more efficient, honest and accountable.

"Today, we are operating the most open, honest and transparent government in the history of out state," he said.

State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb, said she will decide in December whether to join Riley and Moore in seeking the Republican nomination.

The latest Mobile Register-USA poll shows Riley with a 19-point lead over Moore among likely Republican voters.

Saturday, October 08, 2005
On this day:

Sessions: Miers "could be in trouble with Republican Senators"

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, takes what I believe to be a very sound approach to the Miers nomination.

"Generally I think you want somebody that's well-versed on these cases and the Supreme Court jurisprudence," said Sessions, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold Miers' confirmation hearing. "She will not have that experience. There's just no doubt about that." ...

"It's the Souter factor," Sessions said. "I think conservatives do not have confidence she has a well-formed judicial philosophy and they are afraid she might drift and be a part of the activist group like Justice Souter has. She will need to articulate a vision of the Constitution and the role of a judge that is sound or she could be in trouble with the Republican senators."

However, Sessions said he is neither endorsing her nor expressing likely opposition. He simply wants more answers.

"If I felt her philosophy was not well-formed enough or she had other
liabilities that I'm not aware of, I don't feel obligated to vote for her,"
Sessions said. "But I give a presumption to the president."

Thursday, October 06, 2005
On this day:

Spanky spanky

Maybe the Auburn Plainsman should start a similar column...sounds like these guys would really dig it.
Charges have been filed against the fraternity Kappa Alpha regarding a hazing incident that took place last week...

The report alleges the brothers voluntarily paddled the pledges, and, in turn, the pledges paddled the brothers at a "big brother" night ritual.

Spicing things up at Bama

UA's student newspaper, the Crimson White, has added a new sex columnist .

Let's get down to the important issues. Why does The CW need a weekly sex column? Well, as a college student or young adult in general, I think that there are some heavy topics that need to be discussed.

As interesting as sports and movies are, there is a piece of life that is lacking from daily discussion: sex. We tiptoe around it for fear of breaking the moral glass floor. Why? Sex happens and will continue happening whether right-winged conservative Bible munchers want it to or not.

This paper is the voice of the UA student and desperately needs some, ahem, spice. To the reader, I assure you beforehand that I am not going to write about boyfriend angst, shopping for panties or any other boring, egocentric crap. Scraping the gutter is also not my intent. I want to unload myths, fantasies and the orgasm for both women and men. My vagina will not do the talking; my mind will.

So, does that mean she'll call the column "Small Talk?"

Lucy's not lovin' Don right now

She's not too happy about Siegelman's gaffe in that T-News interview questioning whether Alabamians would want to put a woman in charge of the National Guard.

Siegelman has since clarified his point...kinda:
“I love Lucy like everybody else," Siegelman said Wednesday. “All I was saying was I was reflecting on what a political survey said in regard to the feelings of Alabama voters. It was not a personal position."

More from Siggy

The guy just doesn't stop.

Siegelman said he learned a lot about how to govern in his first term and admitted to making mistakes.“I learned a lot about myself in addition to mistakes I made as governor," he said. “One, while I had a lot of good people around me, I obviously made some hires I should not have made.

“I needed more gray hair and more gray matter around me," he said. “I should have taken time to listen to my friends who I had depended on over the years to get me elected secretary of state and attorney general and lieutenant governor."
How's that for passing the buck? (Wonder if he includes his boy Nick Bailey in that list of bad hires?)
“I am going to be the only candidate in this race who is for a lottery," he said. “We could raise as much as $1 billion through a lottery, money that is now going to gambling interests in other states."
Just what we need. A state-run gambling operation led by a man who never passed up an opportunity for corruption.
If elected, Siegelman said he would support a constitutional convention to rewrite the 1901 Alabama Constitution and taxing out-of-state landowners at a higher rate.

I'm not sure what Siegelman has in mind here, but if he is proposing to tax out-of-state landowners at a higher rate than those who live in-state, that may well be unconstitutional. See Article IV Section 2 of the U.S. Constitition: "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states."

Siegelman to prosecutors: "Kiss my ass."

More from the T-News:
Siegelman, who was tried and acquitted of Medicaid fraud in Tuscaloosa last year, also said Tuesday that he expects a federal grand jury to indict him in Montgomery in the near future.

“I am going to weather this one just like I did the last one," he said of possible corruption charges against him. “They would have to shoot me in the head and pull my heart out [to force him from the governor’s race]; I am not quitting.

“They can kiss my ass, and you can quote me on that, too."

Siegelman: polls show that Alabama voters “don’t want a woman controlling the National Guard"

From the Tuscaloosa News:

Siegelman also said that Hurricane Katrina, which has put a spotlight on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, could play a role in his race against Baxley, the state’s first female lieutenant governor.

“Pre-Katrina, we were running about seven or eight points ahead of Lucy," he said. “Post-Katrina, we were running 12 points ahead of Lucy."

Siegelman said his poll numbers are higher because surveys by the Alabama Education Association and other organizations raised questions about a female chief executive.

He said the polls show that Alabama voters “don’t want a woman controlling the National Guard" and other functions of state government.

“So post-Katrina, the AEA numbers [for Baxley] were, quote, 'falling like a rock,’ end of quotes," he said.

If he keeps saying stuff like that, he'll be lucky to get his wife to vote for him. It looks like he may have made up the numbers, anyway:

But Gerald Johnson, the director of the Capitol Survey Research Center, the AEA polling arm, contradicted Siegelman on Tuesday.

“Every poll shows that Riley has a substantial lead over Moore in the Republican primary and the Democratic primary is competitive," Johnson said.

While he would not say how competitive that race is in poll numbers, Johnson said, “No," when asked if Siegelman was indeed 12 points ahead of Baxley.

UA isn't "inclusive"?

Judging from the amount of money it hands out to "diverse" student organizations each year, I'd say that the University of Alabama is so inclusive it hurts.
The SGA Financial Affairs Committee held its first meeting of the fiscal year Monday, allocating a total of $18,160.03 to registered student organizations pending approval from the SGA Senate.

Just over 30% of that money will go to groups who classify themselves by race, sex, religion, or nationality. Here's the list:

Student Bar Association - $9,000
Performance Poetry Reading Series - $2,000
NAACP - $1,444*
Society of Women Engineers - $1,341.69*
Muslim Student Association - $1,248*
Pre-Law Student Association - $1,174
International Student Association - $915*
African-American Graduate Student Association - $480*
Chinese Student Association - $141.34*

* groups which the UA administration label diverse, multicultural, inclusive, and just plain wonderful

This money doesn't grow on trees, by the way. It is funded by mandatory student activity fees. To my knowledge, there is no "opt-out" provision allowing students to withhold money from those organizations whose mission or activities they may find objectionable. Thus, students (or their parents) are forced to provide financial support to whatever groups the SGA and the administration decide to fund.

All of which makes me wonder - what ever happened to doughnut sales and car washes?

Back at Bama

The administration is avoiding use of the term "multicultural center" in naming the University's planned...ummm...multicultural center.

The planned Crossroads Community Center, the product of years of student pushes to create a multicultural center, will not open on schedule...

Details about the center's operation will be available when a director is named, Pruitt said. Until then, officials have used phrases such as "create a diverse atmosphere," "work toward inclusiveness" and "encourage involvement with different student groups" to describe the center's goals...

The center will accomplish its goals through "collaborative programming, education and assessments," according to a press release...

The multicultural center debate began in fall 2002 when the SGA passed a resolution supporting a plan posed by then UA student Antonio Sanders to house such a center, complete with a cafe and art gallery, in Foster Auditorium, the physically deteriorating site of Gov. George Wallace's Stand in the Schoolhouse door against integrating the Capstone.

Though discussion faltered after the resolution was passed, the push for multicultural center gained new, stronger life in spring 2004 after a racial slur was written on the door of UA NAACP's Ferguson Center office and a movement formed seeking UA administrators recognize the presence of the graves of University-owned slaves near the Biology Building.

UA President Robert Witt eventually appointed a multicultural task force to examine the topic of cultural and ethnic relations on the UA campus and the multicultural center idea. The task force recommended the creation of the center and a vice president position dealing with multicultural issues, which Pruitt now holds.

When the Crossroads Center was announced in August, Vice President of Student Affairs Margaret King, the chairwoman of the multicultural task force, said the term "multicultural center" was avoided in naming the initiative to avoid certain interpretations people may have of such a center's role.

Bama's Back

Let's hope so.

By the way, Coach Shula says that Tyrone Prothro's surgery went well. Fans can address get-well cards to:

Tyrone Prothro
c/o Alabama Football
323 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL. 35487

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
On this day:


Will they survive?

Alabama: celebrity central

Will Ferrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Sacha Baron Cohen were at the Talladega Superspeedway last weekend, filming scenes for an upcoming comedy about NASCAR.
David Linck, a publicist with the film, explained the premise: "Will Ferrell plays a hot NASCAR driver and this French Formula One driver, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, comes to the U.S. to challenge him...

The scene, which will be toward the end of the film when it is finished, involved Ferrell and Cohen, whose cars had been wrecked, forcing them to race on foot to the finish line, Linck said.

Comedy Central crew in Cullman for city's dry Oktoberfest

"The Daily Show" guys drink some OktoberZest.

Hurricanes have hit New York, too

It is a coastal town, you know.

Time to retreat from the Gulf Coast?

The New York Times asks the question.

A. R. Schwartz, a Democrat who for decades represented Galveston and much of the Texas coast in the State Legislature, said he now regretted some of the legislation he had pushed that subsidized development on the coast, particularly a measure that provides tax relief to insurance companies faced with wind damage claims.

Mr. Schwartz, whose constituents knew him as Babe, said that measure was "a terrible mistake - in my mind, as opposed to my heart, because the people need the insurance - because it has been an invitation for people to build homes on barrier islands and on peninsulas that are exposed to storms, at public expense."

"We are facing a crisis now because of that law I passed," said Mr. Schwartz, who now lives in Austin where he works as a lobbyist and lawyer.

The Times goes on to name Alabama's Dauphin Island as a good place to start the "retreat."

...scientists from the [United States Geological Survey] have been making detailed observations of the coastal landscape, before and after storms, to try to identify characteristics, not always obvious, that make areas more or less vulnerable to storm damage.

The geological survey is not in the business of defining where people should or should not live, said Abby Sallenger, a scientist with the agency who has been leading data collection efforts on the gulf coast. But, he said, "There are sections of the east and gulf coasts that are extremely hazardous and the scientific community could come to agreement on where they are" so that policy makers could act on the information.

Like others who study this issue, he said two good candidates for retreat were Dauphin Island in Alabama, much of it wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, and North Topsail Island, N.C., which, he said, "gets wiped out routinely."
This is an issue that policymakers should consider carefully over the next few months and years. I'm certainly not in favor of the government forcing those who own property in disaster-prone areas to leave, but it is only fair that they should have to assume a greater part of the risk. Private insurers will always be willing to provide them with coverage - at a price. That price should not be a burden for taxpayers to bear.

Decatur church vandals claim Pope is the Antichrist

"I woke up Sunday, went, pulled in and there it was," Turgeon said of why the group chose Annunciation of the Lord [Catholic church, in Decatur]. "I had a vision. Lisa and me were tearing a church apart. That's not what I did. I just tore up a table that people saw as an idol, kneeling before it and bowing before an idol."

The couple had recently checked out C.S. Lewis's The Joyful Christian from the Hartselle Public Library. The first chapter of that book is entitled "Right and Wrong." Maybe they'll get around to reading it sometime.

William Bennett

According to James D. Miller at TechCentralStation, the controversy exposes the divide between "feelers" and "thinkers."

I'd say that this ADP blogger is a "feeler."

Bi-partisan bumper sticker

From an e-mail I received last week:
At last.... A bumper sticker for both parties.

FINALLY, someone has come out with a 100 % bipartisan political bumper sticker. The hottest selling bumper sticker comes from New York State:


Democrats put it on the rear bumper.
Republicans put it on the front bumper.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
On this day:

Russian Communists warn: don't bury Lenin

Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov is upset over calls for the burial of Vladimir Lenin's body.

Zyuganov said in a statement posted on his party's Web site that the call for Lenin's burial clearly had the Kremlin's blessing, and denounced it as "sacrilegious, ... irresponsible and provocative."

"It defies the nation's history and common sense," Zyuganov said. "With their filthy hands and drunken heads they are crawling into the sanctuary of the state. The desire to rake up remains of the dead is a great sin and a sign of mental pathology."

If the Commies don't want to bury him - that's fine. The murderous SOB doesn't deserve a proper burial, anyway. I say: administer the ultimate insult - auction him off on E-bay.

At least it's not going to Bangkok

Typhoon Longwang soaks Taiwan...Chi-Coms feel threatened.

Why Roy Moore might win

PoliSciZac gets it right.


If you can follow this logic, please explain it to me.

On second thought, never mind.

(Recommended by the ADP'ers.)

Gov. Riley comments on Moore's announcement

MONTGOMERY – Jeff Emerson, Communications Director for Governor Bob Riley, made the following comments in response to media questions about today’s announcement by Roy Moore:

“It appears Roy Moore is campaigning on an agenda that echoes the same positions Governor Riley has already taken. Most of the issues Roy Moore outlined today were detailed in Governor Riley’s Plan for Change back in 2002 and Governor Riley has worked ever since then to implement them,” Emerson said.

Moore on term limits and the veto power

Both are great ideas, in my opinion, especially term limits for legislators. That idea is one that Gov. Riley has also supported, but it is one that is going nowhere fast. Legislative term limits would require a constitutional amendment - subject to the approval of 3/5 of the members in both the House and Senate - and that's just not going to happen with the current makeup of the legislature. On this issue, the Governor is virtually powerless.

Ditto on Moore's call for stronger gubernatorial veto powers. In Alabama, the Governor's veto can be overridden by a simple majority vote in both houses. Gov. Riley has proposed a constitutional amendment to require a 2/3 vote, but it is very difficult to convince legislators to give up power, even if it would serve the public good.

Monday, October 03, 2005
On this day:

Roy Moore on school choice

Moore's platform contains several intriguing ideas that may broaden his appeal to Alabama voters - beyond the religious conservatives that now form his base. On education, for example, no other candidate or potential candidate has taken such a strong position in favor of expanding parental choice.

To my knowledge, Gov. Riley has never paid much lip service to the idea, although it will be interesting to see how he addresses it in the upcoming campaign. Don Siegelman still believes that a state lottery is the solution to all our problems, and Lucy Baxley - who knows? She'll take whatever position her advisers tell her she should take.

Now, here we have Roy Moore - ultraconservative, Bible-thumping Roy Moore - signalling his support for fundamental reform of a public education system that restrains achievement and rewards mediocrity. Specifically, Moore says that he will "explore enhancements to the public education system, such as charter schools, private tax credits, (SGO) scholarships granting organizations."

That sounds remarkably similar to a plan proposed by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford called the "Put Parents in Charge Act." Sanford's proposal would provide tax credits (not deductions - credits) to parents of school-age children in order to pay the cost of tuition at the private or parochial school of their choice. It would also allow the creation of privately-funded "scholarship granting organizations" to help pay tuition for those who can't afford the cost. Those who contribute to SGO's would receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their donations. The idea is literally to "put parents in charge" by providing them with the financial means to choose a school - public or private - that best fits their own needs and objectives, rather than those of the state.

Sanford's bill failed in this year's legislative session, amid opposition from the teachers' union and the state Board of Education, but South Carolina's school choice proponents have vowed to fight again another day. "Put Parents in Charge" may not prove to be the best model for a school choice program, but it's nice to see that at least one Alabama politician is thinking outside the box when it comes to public education. Let the debates begin.

Moore is in

Roy Moore announced his candidacy for Governor today in his hometown of Gadsden, saying that he wants to "Return Alabama to the People." To accomplish that objective, he pledged himself to a platform of legislative reform, "freedom in education," low taxes, less wasteful spending, curbs on illegal immigration, and restoring public morality.

Here's the full text of Moore's campaign platform:

Return Alabama to the People

1. Legislative reform - Stop power of special interest lobbyists and return control of government to the people of Alabama.

  • Term Limits. No legislator should be allowed to serve 3 consecutive terms in the same office, a provision already in effect for other constitutional officers.
  • Fewer Legislative Sessions. The Alabama legislature should hold regular sessions every other year, as it has done during three periods of our history.
  • "Double-Dipping." Iron-clad legislation to stop the unethical practice of legislators holding two state positions for profit, making them taxpayer-paid lobbyists for special interests.

2. Education - Recognize freedom in education and return control of education to the parents.

  • Eliminate education bureaucracy and control of special interest labor union bosses.
  • Explore enhancements to the public education system such as: charter schools, private tax credits, (SGO) scholarships granting organizations, etc.

3. Taxation and wasteful government spending - Restore a conservative philosophy of government.

  • Just say "No" to irresponsible taxes like the "largest tax increase in history" recently proposed by the current administration.
  • Revoke order mandating annual reappraisals of property which result in increased taxes every year.
  • Stop "pork barrel" spending by strengthening the Governor's veto power.

4. Illegal aliens - Secure Alabama citizenship.

  • Urge the President and U.S. Congress to close U.S. borders to illegal entry.
  • Effective legislation to impose fines and penalties on those who employ illegal aliens for their own profit.

5. Morality - Preserve our moral heritage.

  • Defend the right of every person- to include teachers, judges, and state, county and municipal offices - to publicly acknowledge God as the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government.
  • Oppose gambling, pornography, and same-sex marriage.
  • Secure God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property.
Commitment to the People of Alabama
I hereby pledge to uphold and support the principles set forth in the above platform, Return Alabama, when elected to the office of Governor. So help me God!
Roy S. Moore

Riley and Moore likely to announce for Gov. this week

Moore's announcement may come today.

Court's "anti-pork" ruling is bad news for career legislators

Good news for taxpayers.

Riley's call to reward high-performing teachers draws "quick rebuke" from AEA's Hubbert

Some things never change. From the B'ham News:
MONTGOMERY - Gov. Bob Riley told a meeting of elite educators Friday that teachers who perform at higher levels should earn more, and he will push to see that they do...

"Name the one American profession that doesn't reward superior performance," Riley told the group. "Name the one profession that's having the toughest time attracting and keeping the best and brightest in their profession. Tell me another profession that doesn't reward excellence. Ladies and gentlemen, that profession is teaching." ...

Riley's call drew a quick rebuke from Paul Hubbert, boss of the powerful Alabama Education Association, who two decades ago beat back a major push in the state for incentive pay and bonuses for higher-performing teachers.

"It has political sex appeal, but if anybody had found a way to do it, we would long ago have adopted such a system," Hubbert said. "The fact is nobody has found a way to do it that did not result in higher pay based mostly on favoritism and personality."

Joe Klein: Alabama's Artur Davis part of "the next generation of black leaders"

From Klein's latest column in Time:

Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, a reasonable man who sometimes goes off the deep end, indulged himself last week. "George Bush is our Bull Connor," he told the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, referring to the legendary Birmingham, Ala., police chief who attacked peaceful civil rights marchers with dogs and water cannons in 1963. A few minutes earlier, the entertainer Harry Belafonte had read the riot act to Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

He said Clinton's proposed commission to investigate the slow governmental response to Hurricane Katrina was "unnecessary" because "we know what caused it"—a veiled reference to white racism and Republican neglect. He said the African Americans in prison were "victims of poverty" and so were the African-American single mothers of children born out of wedlock. And then, just for fun, he added that blacks need to investigate the "ravages of the Democratic Party and see if there's anything worth salvaging." ...

People like Rangel and Belafonte might do well to listen more closely to the next generation of black leaders—people like Obama and Congressmen Harold Ford of Tennessee, Artur Davis of Alabama and Sanford Bishop of Georgia—who emphasize both the need for more money to fight poverty and the need to change the behavior patterns of the poor. "Our priority has to be with whatever works, as opposed to the conventional wisdom within our group or our party," Obama said last week, adding that liberal and conservative solutions to poverty are not mutually exclusive. "It's not either/or. It's both/and."

Davis also appeared on C-Span's Q&A with Bryan Lamb Sunday. Here's the transcript of that interview.

Star: Riley's response to storms "looks better and better as time passes"

Opining on "what went right" in the response to Katrina and Rita, the Star even manages to reserve some praise for President Bush.

Wow, what a weekend! The Crimson Tide opens up a can of whupass on the Pope Urban Meyer's Florida Gators, and the Anniston Star becomes a Republican propaganda sheet. Times are good.

Anniston Star: Beach-dwellers must assume more of the risks

The Star gets it right, acknowledging the role of the free market in coastal redevelopment efforts.
Coastal development and tourism is a cash cow for Florida and an important contributor to the budgets of Alabama and other states along the Gulf. The same can be said for the Atlantic seaboard. Yet at the same time, if the storms continue, the drain that evacuation, rescue and rebuilding will put on the national economy will only become greater.

For much of the 20th century, the coast was the last frontier, the haven for expatriates from the rat race, “raffish, sunburnt, hard of hand and piratical of glance,” and the entrepreneurs, “upper crust matronly, Rotarian, with cash register eyeballs.”

Today, both have been largely replaced with second home owning, condo investing, real estate speculating folks who are into recreational shopping, recreational eating and golf. But either way, folks who settled the coast knew there was a risk. That risk is greater now. And the settlers must assume a greater part of it.

Unfortunately, this thoughtful editorial comes on the heels of two others in the past week calling for big federal tax increases (see here and here).

When it comes to economics, the Star's editors are like those travelers who venture south of the border and ignore the all too familiar warning of "don't drink the water." They have a major problem with consistency.

Sunday, October 02, 2005
On this day:

Number 7

Following its victory over the "infallible" Pope Urban Meyer's Florida Gators, Bama breaks the top 10.

Roll Tide!