Wednesday, May 31, 2006
On this day:

Star Parker visits Mobile

Star Parker, author of Uncle Sam's Plantation:How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It, spoke in Mobile on Tuesday. If you've never heard of Ms. Parker, here's a brief introduction:

Star Parker is a Republican Party activist from Los Angeles who has made it her business to tell America's blacks to quit whining about racism, get off their butts and find work. She gets away with this because she is herself black, a single mother and a former user of some impressively heavy drugs. And she once held up a liquor store...

...As a high school drop-out in East Coast America, she joined what she calls the lazy poor. "I would steal money from neighbours. I lusted after the finest designer labels, but I was idle. I blamed racism and my parents."

Then she discovered welfare: food stamps and free health care - including trips to VD and abortion clinics. But what I really want to know about is the armed robbery in the liquor store. "It happened," she says, not sounding terribly contrite. Where? She arches an eyebrow. "It was in New Jersey. But don't expect me to tell you the name of the town. I was with a boyfriend and we never got caught. I was only 16, but the statute of limitations doesn't run out on that stuff."

Eventually, she joined a church that persuaded her to come off welfare. She took a job answering the telephone. She started a business, went bankrupt and reinvented herself as a talk-show host.

Parker went on to found the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), a conservative anti-poverty organization and a key player in developing the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.

Gore 'n' Bull

Al Gore, Cannes artist extraordinaire, spoke to the Guardian Wednesday (link via Drudge):
Al Gore has made his sharpest attack yet on the George Bush presidency, describing the current US administration as "a renegade band of rightwing extremists".
Too bad that's just another Algore exaggeration. If it were true, the feds would have more control over our borders, not our bank accounts.

Wonders never cease

One Alabama Democratic Party blogger defends Roy Moore.

Huntsville Times on frustrated Democrats

From Sunday's Times editorial:

Siegelman's on trial, and Baxley's campaign has been uninspired.

Alabama Democrats must be frustrated when they look at the top of the ticket in the June 6 primary.

The foremost candidates - Don Siegelman and Lucy Baxley - are in line to become the state party's standard-bearer in the fall. Yet both fall short as leaders of their party and, potentially, of the state. ...

Head-to-head with Siegelman, Baxley is preferable. But her ability to mount a credible campaign against Republican opposition in the fall is certainly questionable. She would probably fare better against Roy Moore, if he is the GOP nominee, but as things now stand, Gov. Bob Riley would appear beyond Baxley's reach.

Small wonder, then, that many Democrats are considering voting in the Republican primary next month where the contests are sharper and the stakes may be higher.

Lucy logic

Lucy Baxley was on APT's For the Record Monday. In one segment of the interview, FTR host Tim Lennox asked Mrs. Baxley about her positions on abortion and the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Here's a transcript of that exchange (the entire interview can be viewed online here):

Lennox: In addition to voting for yourself and others on the ballot this June 6, there is also a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state, or would define marriage as between one man and one woman. When you go into the Democratic primary ballot box, and I presume vote for yourself, how will you vote on that amendment?

Baxley: Well, first of all, I think you shouldn't ask anybody about their vote on anything. It's a personal, private matter, but let me tell you what my position is on it. I believe - and this is based on my views and my upbringing and my Methodist training - I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Those are my views, and I hold them. I believe them firmly. However, I also believe that my same Bible teaches me that you don't mistreat people who might not have your views or might, for some reason, be different from you. And so therefore, I firmly believe in my views the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I think my Bible teaches me it is a sin to want harm to come to people who have a different lifestyle.

Lennox: So again, do you support or oppose the amendment?

Baxley: I support marriage being between a man and a woman, and I will vote my convictions when I go into the polling place, and that's my answer.

Lennox: When you were on For the Record last May[...], this is what you said [...] in relation to a question about abortion. You said, "God didn't send me here to pass judgment on other people and their choices on what they do in their life. I think when the Bible says, 'Judge not, that you shall not be judged, I factor that into it.'" What's the difference? Why that attitude toward abortion, but the other attitude toward this amendment?

Baxley: Well, no, no, that's not different. Abortion for me is wrong. Abortion for me is wrong. For me, and my life, and my choices I make, and the decisions I make for which I answer to my God - for me, it's wrong. But by the same token, other people who are operating within the realm of what is legal - for what is legal for them to do - that decision - the same way, to me - is their personal choices about their life and how they answer to their God.

Lennox: Just so I'm really clear on this: so again, you are in favor of the amendment? Do you support the amendment?

Baxley: An amendment on abortion?

Lennox: No, do you support the amendment that will be voted on on the sixth of June related to marriage? You support the amendment or do not support the amendment?

Baxley: I support the amendment, because it's already the law. It doesn't change anything. It's interesting to me that people feel like they have changed something by the amendment, but really it has come down to "Do you or do you not support gay marriage?" And to me, the life of a gay person is not changed one iota by whether or not that amendment passes.

Here are a few observations about Mrs. Baxley's responses:

  1. That Mrs. Baxley admonished Lennox for asking how she would vote on the same-sex marriage amendment was a little odd, I thought. I mean, she is running for Governor, and it was a very relevant question. She went on to say that she supports the amendment (although whether she intends to vote for it is still unknown), but Lennox had to ask her three times before he was able to get a definite response.
  2. Mrs. Baxley's argument for supporting the marriage amendment is actually the best argument against it. She said, "I support the amendment, because it's already the law. It doesn't change anything." Now, if there's already a law on the books that addresses this issue (which there is), and the proposed constitutional amendment wouldn't change anything, then why does Mrs. Baxley support it? Why would she favor littering the Alabama constitution with another amendment, especially if she believes that amendment to be superfluous? A better response would have been: "Without this amendment, judges or a future legislature might impose same-sex marriage on Alabama. I want to prevent that from happening." That argument invites a different set of objections, but at least it is logical.
  3. Mrs. Baxley's response on abortion was even more unsatisfying. She takes a popular pro-choice position: For me, it's wrong; for others, it's a matter to be determined by their own moral consciences. I'm curious how far Mrs. Baxley would take that line of reasoning. For instance, the practical result of the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on abortion is that abortion on demand is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Does Mrs. Baxley think that is acceptable? If not, where would she draw the line? Perhaps in a future interview, Mrs. Baxley will have a chance to clarify her position. Until then, all of us - pro-choice, pro-life, and in-between - can only wait and wonder.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
On this day:

Baxley leads Siegelman 45%-27%

The latest Mobile Press-Register/USA poll shows that Lucy Baxley finally has some breathing room over Don Siegelman in the Democratic race for Governor.
MONTGOMERY -- Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley -- after unveiling a series of policy proposals, starting an advertising campaign and watching her chief rival endure weeks of his federal corruption trial -- has opened an 18-point lead in the Democratic primary for governor, the results of a new statewide survey suggest.

The Press-Register/University of South Alabama poll found Baxley with 45 percent support among self-identified likely Democratic primary voters.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman, who awaits his fate on criminal charges that he traded official actions for campaign cash and personal gifts while in office, drew 27 percent.

Monday, May 29, 2006
On this day:

The heart of Memorial Day

Major General James H. Pillsbury, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command here in Huntsville, issues a challenge to each of us on this Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 25, 2006
On this day:

Dana Milbank on Jeff Sessions

(Warning: long post ahead. Might want to go refill your coffee cup.)

In Wednesday's Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank wrote a scathing attack on Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for his opposition to the immigration bill that passed today in the U.S. Senate. Professor Michael DeBow has an excellent rebuttal over at Southern Appeal, but I want to add my two cents, as well.

From the very first paragraph, Milbank makes it clear that he does not intend to argue with Senator Sessions about whether or not the Senate immigration bill is in the nation's best interest. Instead, he launches into an attack on the Senator's character and motives:

Alabama's Jeff Sessions sure knows how to nurse a grudge. Talking about his family earlier this year, the Republican senator recalled that "Lincoln killed one of them at Antietam."

Now he is turning his prodigious anger on legislation the Senate is expected to approve on Thursday that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens.
Here's the exchange that Milbank was referring to, from his March 3, 2006 column:

..."My great-great-great-great-grandfather was an immigrant, I'm proud to say," offered Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "The last one got here about 1850."

"Did they miss the Civil War, Senator?" Specter inquired.

"Lincoln killed one of them at Antietam," the senator from Alabama rejoined.
So, is Sessions "nursing a grudge", as Milbank states, or is there more to it than that? As it turns out, this is not the first time Sen. Sessions has referred to his ancestor who died at Antietem (or Sharpsburg, as those of us from the South call it). On June 20, 2000, Senator Sessions spoke on the Senate floor regarding a bill on U.S. assistance to Colombia. Here's what he said (Pay particular attention to the words in bold):

Instability in Columbia, should it occur, would knock down and damage one of our strongest trading partners. Colombia has 40 million people. Those people trade with the United States to a heavy degree. It would be a tragedy if they were to sink into chaos and could not maintain a viable economy. We have a self-interest in that, but we have a real human interest in trying to make sure we utilize our abilities, our resources, to help that nation to right itself and take back its territory.

As I had occasion to say to [then-Colombian] President Pastrana recently: I want to see that we help. I want to help you strengthen your country. But I would like you to think about a great American. I would like you to think about Abraham Lincoln, who was faced with division of his country. Nearly 50 percent of his country had fallen under the hands of the Southern States. He had to make a big, tough decision. That decision was whether he was going to accede to that, was he going to allow the United States to be divided. He decided no, and he rallied the American people.

In the course of it, as I told Senator Biden, at one point when we discussed it, he had the occasion to have my grandfather killed at Antietam, who fought for the South at that time. But that was a tough war. It was a tough decision. But in the long run, this country is better because we are unified today.
That puts things into a little different perspective, doesn't it? Far from "nursing a grudge," Sessions acknowledges that Lincoln was "a great American" and that "this country is better because we are unified today." So, from the very first paragraph of Milbank's column, he proves himself to be a second-rate journalist and a first-rate a**hole. It gets even better (or worse, depending on your perspective):

A short, wiry man with protruding ears, Sessions has become the Lou Dobbs of the Senate. He argues his points not with the courtly Southern tones of the late senator Howell Heflin (D), his predecessor, but with the harsh twang of a country tough -- which, in a sense, he is.
I'm not sure what being short, wiry, and big-eared have to do with anything, but sadly, those may be the most factual statements in Milbank's entire piece.

To call Senator Sessions the "Lou Dobbs of the Senate" is beyond ludicrous. Unlike Lou Dobbs, Sessions has been a devoted advocate of free trade throughout his term in the Senate. Most recently, he voted in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He has also supported free trade deals with Singapore and Chile, and voted to grant most-favored nation trade status to China. That's a far cry from Lou Dobbs's "Exporting America" demagoguery.

Continuing on, Milbank says:

Sessions was one of just nine senators to oppose a ban on torture.
Milbank is referring to the Senator's vote against the McCain Amendment to the 2005 Defense Appropriations Act. NRO's Andy McCarthy discussed the details of that amendment here, here, and here. Senator Sessions defended his vote in a December 14, 2005 interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: What do you make—you were one of the nine senators that voted in this—voted against the McCain Amendment on this torture issue. Where do you stand on the use of tough treatment of terrorists or other kinds of prisoners who aren't normally considered combatants?

SESSIONS: You know, this nation does not accept torture. We prosecute and we discipline people who violate our laws. We have threedy (ph) commitments and we have American law. We have an explicit American law that prohibits torture.

But it does not prohibit some stress on individuals, it does not that a prisoner has to be kept in his own country if they are an unlawful combatant. And these combatants are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. They operate outside of rules of law, of international warfare, and therefore they are not protected by the Geneva Convention.

The president has said they will be treated with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and they will not be tortured. But no, I was a little worried about the language there. I'm hopeful that Senator Warner and Senator McCain can reach some language that does not unduly restrict our ability to stress individuals who have critically important information. They should not be tortured, however. That's against our law and cannot be condoned.
For more commentary on the McCain Amendment: read Rich Lowry in this December 15 column and the National Review editorial board here. The point is...saying that a vote against the McCain Amendment constitutes opposition to a ban on torture is just flat-out wrong.

(Still with me? Sorry this post is getting a wee bit long, but I'm gonna keep going till I get finished.)

Here's Milbank again:

He [Sessions] has raised objections about renewing the Voting Rights Act.

Here are the facts: Sessions has indeed expressed reservations about renewing one particular section of the Voting Rights Act. Under Section 5 of the VRA, certain states have to "pre-clear" any and all changes to their election laws or procedures with the U.S. Department of Justice. Section 5 applies to only a few states: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, and parts of Arizona, North Carolina, Idaho and Hawaii. No one else. Senator Sessions thinks it may be time to change that. Here's the Birmingham News, on May 10, 2006:

"We don't want a fight over this," Sessions said in an interview after a congressional hearing on the topic. "Alabama is proud of its accomplishments, but we have the right to ask why other areas of the country are not covered by it."

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act - which requires local government officials to get Department of Justice approval of changes to voting rules and procedures - applies to nine states, including Alabama. The section also applies to individual counties or townships in seven other states, all with a long history of discriminating against groups of minority voters. In 41 years, it has not only protected the right of blacks to vote, it has led to historic numbers of black elected officials. In 1970, there were 565 across the South; in 2000, there were 5,579.

"The people of Alabama understand this change is good and the people of my state don't ... have any interest in moving away from this great right of everybody to vote," Sessions said. ...

Sessions, a Republican from Mobile, argued that local election officials without a history of discrimination have earned the right to make changes - such as moving a polling place - without having to first prove their actions are not discriminatory. "People get a little irritated about that," Sessions said.

Sessions also said it should be easier for states to break free of the law. Although the Voting Rights Act currently allows for such "bail outs," only a handful of counties in Virginia have demonstrated 10 years worth of a clean record on discrimination, and are no longer subject to Section 5. Alabama has never applied for a bail out. ...

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act originally was written to be temporary, and Congress has voted to extend it several times over the years. Sessions and another Southern senator said other areas of the country may need Section 5 coverage, such as Boston.

Now that we've cleared that up...on to the next Milbank muddle:

In the days after Hurricane Katrina, according to Time magazine, Sessions, pushing for repeal of the estate tax, called a former law professor to see if he knew of any business owner who died in the storm.

Here's the Time Magazine article Milbank is talking about. It says:

Federal troops aren't the only ones looking for bodies on the Gulf Coast. On Sept. 9, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions called his old law professor Harold Apolinsky, co-author of Sessions' legislation repealing the federal estate tax, which was encountering sudden resistance on the Hill. Sessions had an idea to revitalize their cause, which he left on Apolinsky's voice mail: "[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."

Here's a related Decatur Daily story, in which Sessions is said to have responded, "I was simply saying let's look at some families. It was never a matter of big import to me. It was just a thought."

Well, whaddya know? Milbank actually told the truth for once. I think it's fairly obvious, though, that Senator Sessions wasn't the only one doing a bit of "legislative ambulance-chasing" following Hurricane Katrina. Does the name Mary Landrieu ring a bell?

Venturing onward...

Sessions has joined the immigration debate with typical ferocity, impugning the motives of those who disagree with him. "We have quite a number of members of the House and Senate and members in the media who are all in favor of reforms and improvements as long as they don't really work," he said last week of those who opposed the 370 miles of fencing. "But good fences make good neighbors. Fences don't make bad neighbors."

The senator evidently hadn't consulted the residents of Korea, Berlin or the West Bank.

Hmmm...evidently Dana Milbank hasn't consulted the residents of Mexico on the idea of a wall. From today's New York Times:

SEATTLE, May 24 — To build, or not to build, a border of walls? The debate in the United States has started some Mexicans thinking it is not such a bad idea.

Nationalist outrage and accusations of hypocrisy over the prospect have filled airwaves and front pages in Mexico, as expected, fueled by presidential campaigns in which appeals to national pride are in no short supply. But, surprisingly, another view is gaining traction: that good fences can make good neighbors.
Yes-sir-ree. According to the New York Times, lots of Mexicans are coming around to the view "that real walls, not the porous ones that stand today, could be more an opportunity than an attack."

That's it...I'm done...except for one more thought:

Back in 2004, Dana Milbank co-authored a column with David Broder entitled "Hopes for Civility in Washington are Dashed." To quote the Instapundit..."Indeed." Perhaps Mr. Milbank should re-read his own material from time to time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
On this day:

Alabama gubernatorial candidates comment on America's Idol

The major candidates for Governor have weighed in on Taylor Hicks's big win on American Idol tonight:

Governor Bob Riley:

Patsy and I want to congratulate Mr. Taylor Hicks for his victory tonight on American Idol. This isn't just a victory for Taylor - it is a victory for all Alabamians. As you may know, earlier this month I declared May 16 to be Taylor Hicks Day in Alabama. Well, tomorrow - I will proudly proclaim that 2006 will be known as Taylor Hicks Year in our great state. "Taylor Hicks 2006." Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Finally, Taylor's victory is Alabama's victory in more ways than one. Taylor, like thousands of other Alabamians, was able to find a new job this year. In the four years since I was elected, my administration's economic policies have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in bringing jobs to everyday Alabamians like Taylor. With your support, the next four years can be just as fruitful.

Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley:
Congratulations, Taylor! Alabamians love Lucy, and now they love Taylor, too! This is such a great honor! In this campaign, I have taken a strong stand in favor of good music. I can't make any promises, but as Governor, I will seriously consider appointing Taylor Hicks to a special committee to encourage more young people to develop their musical talents. Most young people in this state couldn't carry a tune in a towsack, and we need to change that. Let's start on June 6!
Judge Roy Moore:
I don't watch American Idol because, as all God-fearing Alabamians know, the Second Commandment forbids idolotry. I've been told by friends, however, that Mr. Hicks failed to acknowledge God following his performance tonight. As a matter of fact, all that hip-swaying and other foolishness could very well have prevented other people from acknowledging God. As Governor, I will never fail to acknowledge God. I acknowledged God at least 7 times a day while I was Chief Justice, and I will do the same as Governor. The failure to acknowledge God at every opportunity - whether by a public official or a rock singer - is a disgrace - both immoral and unconstitutional. Immorality and unconstitutionality are a product of liberal, back-stabbing judges like Bill Pryor. I have no reason to believe that Taylor Hicks is a liberal judge, but he seems to act like one.
Former Governor Don Siegelman:
Congratulations to Taylor Hicks. He represents the very best of what Alabama has to offer. If the people of Alabama elect me as their Governor, not only will I make sure that Alabama gets a state lottery, I will name the lottery tickets after Taylor. They'll be called "Hicks Tix," and they'll be available at every gas station and convenience store in the state.

Taylor wins

Making Bama proud. You can bet that the "Soul Patrol" headquarters is busy tonight.

Other Taylor Hicks sites are:
Taylor Hicks Soul Patrol Central
Taylor Hicks Blues
Taylor Hicks Fan Site

...and, of course, the Taylor Hicks Wikipedia page.

Derb: Alabama ROCKS!

Heart of Dixie [John Derbyshire]

Yup, that's me on Southern Appeal, THE Alabama legal blog. Alabama ROCKS! Jeff Sessions for President! Bill Pryor for A/G! If we start work now, we can get Alabamians into all the main positions of federal power in '08.

THEN, at last, we'll have a national Hank Williams Day public holiday. And a Bear Bryant monument on the Mall.

Come on, folks, let's get going on this.

- John Derbyshire in The Corner today.

I heartily approve. And since Derb is practically an Alabamian himself (see the details of his Alabama Adventure here and here), maybe we could draft him as Secretary of State. Why not? He's spent a little time across the pond, and he's obviously quite the diplomat.

Clay Aiken and friend and garters. That was soooo wrong. Hilarious, but wrong.

(If you're watching American Idol, you know what I'm talking about.)

Not a bad problem to have

If you were to read nothing more than the headline and first paragraph of this Montgomery Advertiser report, you might reasonably conclude that Alabama's economy is falling on hard times. And you'd be wrong. Read on:
In a surprisingly frank admission Tuesday, Ed Castille, the director of Alabama Industrial Development Training, told a group of local industrialists the state is facing problems filling its work force needs. ...

"We are having more trouble finding good, qualified workers because most of everybody who wants to work in our state is working," Castille said.

Alabama's jobless rate fell to all-time lows this year, and many counties are now below 3-percent unemployment. The latest numbers show Alabama's rate is 3.6 percent, more than a full point below the national average.

That's not a bad thing, Castille said, but in that kind of market, replacing workers becomes problematic.

Ummm...OK, but I can think of plenty of things more problematic than full employment - like the fact that no matter whether times are good or bad, you can always count on someone from the government to be there to "help."

"The hero of commonsense" in the immigration debate

That's how National Review's John O'Sullivan describes Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Senator Sessions's latest floor speech on the failings of the Senate immigration bill is here.

His reaction to the President's May 15 immigration address is here.

B'ham News interviews candidates for Governor

On Alabama's tax code.

On education.

On crime, sentencing, and the death penalty.

The News will have reports later this week giving the candidates' answers to questions about economic development and ethics/campaign contributions. I'll be sure to post links to those, as well.

It looks like there won't be any debates this primary season, so news reports, interviews, ads, and campaign literature will be about the only way for Alabama voters to get to know the candidates.

Oh...and blogs, of course.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
On this day:

Lucy takes on intelligent design

Given the legal and ethical clouds surrounding Don Siegelman, Mrs. Baxley should be a shoo-in for her party's gubernatorial nomination. She's not, though, and the major reason for that is becoming clearer every day: Mrs. Baxley is in over her head. For those who may be bewildered by Lucy Baxley's reluctance to discuss the major issues facing the state, the following exchange from a recent Birmingham News interview is particularly revealing:
[Q:] Do you support the teaching of intelligent design in public schools?

Baxley: "Describe what you mean by intelligent design.

[Q:] Critics refer to it as the new version of creationism, that there must be a grand creator behind life on Earth.

Baxley: "Let me tell you first of all, I believe in the grand creator. That is unwavering in my belief."

[Q.] As governor, would you propose legislation calling for the teaching of intelligent design?

Baxley: "No, I would not. I have my faith and my belief and what creation is to me. This is the core of my being. And I have a great respect for others having their relationship with their creator and their beliefs just like I do. This idea will never begin with me. But if someone came forward with that idea, you've just described what puts it in the hands of the people, it would have to go through committees for the public to be heard on it. Then it would be voted on by the voting members of the Legislature that the people have sent down there to cast their votes for them. Let me just say this. I can't think of a situation under which I would personally be supportive of it."

Lucy's Love Line

Lucy Baxley is trying a new campaign tactic:

CULLMAN - Lt. Gov. Baxley's campaign is answering complaints that she doesn't take strong positions on issues with recorded telephone messages to voters about her priorities. ...

On the recorded message, Baxley introduces herself and says: "Folks have put out the word that we don't know what Lucy stands for. I want you to know where I stand." (B'ham News)

Riley opens up larger lead over Moore

From the Mobile Press-Register:

The Press-Register/University of South Alabama poll showed Riley as the choice of 69 percent of the likely GOP primary voters surveyed. Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice known as the "Ten Commandments judge," drew 20 percent support.

The results, gathered last Saturday through Thursday, continue a trend from recent polls that have shown Riley widening his base of support heading into the June 6 primary.

Roy Moore files brief in partial birth abortion case

The AP report is here.

According to the web site of Moore's Foundation for Moral Law:

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore and the Foundation for Moral Law filed an amicus curiae ["friend-of-the-court"] brief today asking the United States Supreme Court to rule in Gonzales v. Carhart that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is constitutional because there is no “right to abortion” in the United States Constitution.
In his brief, Moore argues that:

1) the Supreme Court should decide cases and controversies based on the text of the Constitution, not "judicially fabricated tests";

2) Congress has the authority to enact a ban on partial-birth abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment;

3) the U.S. Constitution does not protect a right to abortion.
I agree with Judge Moore on points 1) and 3), but I think he is wrong on point 2). While Congress may possess a limited power to regulate abortion under the interstate commerce clause, it is a real stretch to suggest that the Fourteenth Amendment expands that authority.

Abortion, like other crimes, should be primarily a concern for state governments to address; the federal government - the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court - should butt out.

As Robert Alt explained back in 2003:
...two recent examples demonstrate how federalism transcends ordinarily political alliances. First, prior to its recess, the Senate passed a ban on partial-birth abortion. The bill, which is awaiting likely approval by the House and signature by the president, makes it a federal crime for a doctor to perform this type of late-term abortion. The partial-birth-abortion ban enjoys widespread popular support, received a bipartisan vote in the Senate, and is particularly lauded by conservatives, who consider it a reasonable limitation on an unreasonable procedure. It is also unconstitutional. The constitutional infirmities do not necessarily arise out of the right to abortion found in Roe v. Wade, but out of constitutional requirements of

To understand why the partial-birth-abortion ban is constitutionally vulnerable requires a brief explanation of the Commerce Clause. Many policymakers assume that the national government can regulate whatever they perceive to be a national problem. But the Constitution does not permit Congress to legislate on every issue which is popular or good. Rather, the Constitution, by granting specific powers, permits the national government to regulate in specific and limited fields. Thus, in the Commerce Clause, the Constitution gives to Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, but expressly withholds from the national government the authority to exercise traditional police powers. ...

Other conservatives, like Party of Death author Ramesh Ponnuru, agree with Judge Moore that the federal ban is constitutional. Even if they are right, the federal government has other, more pressing, things to worry about - namely those duties which are specifically delegated by the Constitution. If the feds want to earn their keep, they should attend to those first.

Al Sharpton weighs in on Darby

...and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Harry Lyon.

Mr. Lyon was on APT's For the Record today. He may not be quite as nutty as Larry Darby, but judge for yourself.

That last link is to the video of Lyon's FTR interview...or at least it will be. At the time of this post, FTR hasn't uploaded it. I suspect they'll do so tomorrow.

Monday, May 22, 2006
On this day:

Dems won't deny Darby

The Alabama Democratic Party won't be kicking Holocaust-denier Larry Darby off the ballot.

The party's official statement is available here. For the most part, it sounds reasonable. The only thing I'd question is the party's contention that it had been unaware of Mr. Darby's views at the time he qualified as a candidate. Mr. Darby has made no secret of his feelings about Jews and the Holocaust, and he is fairly well-known around Montgomery. It's just hard to believe that someone in the upper echelons of the state Democratic Party didn't do a double take when they heard he was running for Attorney General. If they really did overlook it, then the Alabama Democratic Party is more incompetent than even I had thought.

Sunday, May 21, 2006
On this day:

Summit medical director: fetal viability not discussed..."None are viable"

From today's Birmingham News:

In a detailed report on Summit released Friday, Summit's medical director is quoted discussing the fetal viability testing with a state investigator.

"When asked about the viability of the fetus, she responded, `I guess we don't technically discuss it; none are viable,'" according to the report.

That's a bald-faced lie, of course; I'm no expert, but I'd be willing to bet that 6 pounds 4 ounces is pretty "viable" in anyone's book. Either way, though, it wouldn't make much difference, at least as far as the law is concerned. For all practical purposes, Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, make abortion on demand legal throughout pregnancy, regardless the viability of the fetus. If Summit would only have filled out its paperwork correctly and followed the right procedures, this tragic episode would never have made headlines.

Until Roe and Doe are overturned, there's little that Alabama or any other state can do to stop abortion on demand up to the moment of birth. Ramesh Ponnuru discusses this his new book, Party of Death, which I skimmed through at the bookstore earlier this weekend. In Chapter One, he discusses the radicalism of Roe, elaborating on a point he made in this NRO article:
The true radicalism of Roe is still not sufficiently appreciated. Many educated people believe that Roe legalized abortion only in the first trimester, allowing it to be restricted in the second and banned in the third. In fact, Doe v. Bolton, handed down the same day as Roe, took back those apparent concessions. Abortions had to be allowed at all stages of pregnancy whenever continued pregnancy was said to jeopardize a woman's "physical, emotional, psychological, [or] familial" health.

Many Americans are unaware of just how far the Supreme Court went in Roe. It's sad that it takes a tragedy like the one last week in Birmingham to make us ask.

Saturday, May 20, 2006
On this day:

A common practice

The Alabama Department of Public Health has released more details about their investigation of Summit Medical Center.

According to the Birmingham News:
The state health department issued a more detailed report Friday
on the closing of Summit Medical Center, saying that other women received abortions without the presence of a doctor, in addition to the woman who delivered a 6-pound, 4-ounce stillborn child.

"Four of 10 sampled patients did not have a physician present," said Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer. "There were multiple violations of rules over multiple days."

Besides the woman who went to a hospital and had a stillborn infant, there were five patients whose records do not show that a determination was made on fetal viability.

"The rules require that viability be determined, and that a notation be made in the medical records," Williamson said. "In five other patients it was not documented."
From the AP:
In a report released Friday, state health officials said they found "egregious lapses in care, including non-physicians performing abortions, severely underestimating the gestational age of a fetus, failure to appropriately refer or treat a patient with a dangerously elevated blood pressure, and performing an abortion on a late-term pregnancy." ...

The report said other state health regulations were not followed:

_Three other women received RU 486 from the nurse practitioner without a doctor being present and without a doctor reviewing an ultrasound before they received the abortion medication.

_Five women had second trimester abortions — one at 19 weeks and the others at 21 weeks — without a doctor marking a spot on medical records that requires the doctor to determine viability of the fetus.

_The clinic's doctor was signing medical records for procedures performed when she was not present.

Friday, May 19, 2006
On this day:

A deliberate falsification?

How is it possible for anyone with even a minimal level of training to mistake the ultrasound image of a 6-pound 4-ounce unborn child for that of a 6-week old fetus? Common sense suggests that it is not possible, and that there's more to this story.

So, let's speculate for a minute or two: Would the Summit Medical Clinic have deliberately lied to the mother about the age of her fetus? Maybe with a wink and a nod? Considering the fact that clinic staff falsified practically everything else about what occurred, that seems to be a believable assumption, but what could motivate such a fine and upstanding group of professionals to do something like that?

It doesn't take rocket science to figure out the answer. First of all, the pro-abortion lobby has a strong interest in ensuring that the reported number of late-term abortions remains low. Doctors and facilities known to provide the procedures in large numbers would attract unwanted attention from state public health authorities and pro-life groups. Considering the growing public disapproval of abortion in general, that wouldn't make for good PR.

Secondly, it appears that abortion providers currently have little to fear if and when they falsify records of late-term abortions. In Alabama, for instance, abortion providers have to report all "induced terminations of pregnancy" to the state, but those reports are used primarily for statistical purposes and are not easily verifiable, since patients' personal information is not provided. (See the Alan Guttmacher Institute's "Abortion Reporting in the United States" for more info. The Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood - the nation's largest abortion provider.)

Recently, some states - most notably Kansas - have been trying to obtain additional information on late-term abortions, but the pro-abortion lobby has fought very hard to prevent this from happening. So far, their efforts have been quite successful. (See here, here, here, here, and here.)

In refusing to hand over records of late-term abortions, providers and their apologists say that they only want to protect patients' privacy. Given what we now know about one Alabama abortion provider, could it be that their motives are somewhat less admirable than they acknowledge?

A deadly deception

From the Summit Medical Center's web site:

Welcome to Summit Medical Center

Experienced Qualified Staff

The Clinic is staffed by Alabama licensed physicians dedicated to providing medically sound treatment. The professional staff at Summit Medical Center includes RNs, LPNs, Nurse Practitioners, counselors and certified laboratory technicians. The entire staff at Summit Medical Center is highly qualified and experienced. Patients can depend on the finest possible care as well as compassionate and ethical conduct by the staff.


No one is alone at Summit Medical Center. All services include an opportunity for the patient and, if requested, family or friends to consult with a trained counselor. If a woman is found to be pregnant, the counselor will help her explore her feelings regarding her pregnancy and the alternatives open to her. The counselor will inform each patient about the details of the individual service chosen and will offer support and guidance. Women who are unsure about the abortion decision are encouraged to make an appointment with a counselor before making a final decision.

State shuts down Birmingham abortion clinic

And for good reason. This is horrible:

(Birmingham News) State health officials on Wednesday shut down a Birmingham abortion clinic after investigating a complaint that a woman was told she was six weeks pregnant and was given an abortion-inducing drug, then delivered a 6-pound, 4-ounce stillborn child at a hospital.

The State Board of Health issued an emergency order of license suspension against Summit Medical Center of Alabama on Southside.

"That's not something we do very often," said Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer. "The incident involved multiple and serious violations of the rules. There was no other means to address it except an emergency suspension."

The suspension order said a patient went to Summit on Feb. 20 and received an ultrasound administered by a non-physician, in violation of state rules for such facilities. She was told by a Summit staff member she was six weeks pregnant. "She was almost certainly in the third trimester and near term," Williamson said.

The same day, the clinic gave her a dose of Mifeprex, or RU-486, an abortion-inducing drug, also without a physician administering it as required. "What's clear here is that it wasn't used appropriately," Williamson said.

The patient had a "critical and dangerously high" blood pressure reading of 182/129 at the clinic, the suspension order said. "That in and of itself would have demanded immediate medical attention," Williamson said.

Instead, the staff went ahead with the medical abortion.

The patient was also given four tablets of the prostoglandin Misoprostol - a hormone administered by vaginal suppository to induce premature labor contractions and expel a fetus - and was old to insert the tablets on Feb. 22.

On Feb. 26, the patient went to the emergency room at a Birmingham hospital "with the head of a baby protruding" and delivered a "stillborn, macerated, six pound, four ounce baby," according to the suspension order.

The AP has more.

A further note: The unlawful act here was not that a baby was killed during the third trimester of pregnancy. That is entirely legal, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. The main thing that got the clinic into trouble is that a doctor wasn't present to supervise the killing. If the clinic had followed the correct procedures, everything would have been hunky-dory: just another day in the life of the abortion industry.

Don Siegelman and Lanny Young: a love gone wrong

Here's sweet Don - in a letter to landfill developer (i.e. trash mogul) Lanny Young, dated July 15, 1999:


You are something. I really appreciate your friendship and look forward to us spending more time together.

You are special,


Now, here's mean Don - May 17, 2006, after Lanny's testimony in federal court:

I know Lanny is lying. This guy is a crook. This guy is a scam artist.

In a later statement, which went unreported in the mainstream press, Siegelman added, "That Lanny guy is just awful...I don't know what ever possessed me to get involved with him. He's a real b**ch. The sad thing is - things were going so good there for awhile. We had a totally fabulous time together. Then, all of a sudden, he gets all distant and s**t, and before I had time to call him up and ask "what's wrong?", he goes and testifies against me. I mean...what's up with that? I really think I deserved better, don't you?"

Thursday, May 18, 2006
On this day:

American Idol

Alabama's Taylor Hicks is in the top two. He's got my vote. NRO's Jonah Goldberg, on the other hand, said today:
I don't like any of them. That Yamin guy looks like Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but less animated. That Katharine McPhee is easy on the eyes, but she's sounds to me like the second best singer at the very best hotel in Vegas. Though that might be her song choice. And Taylor Hicks. Ugh. He reminds me of one of those guys who tries to look like William Shatner at a Star Trek convention, except he's trying to look like George Clooney. He could star in an all-male sequel to Single White Female playing opposite Clooney ("George! George! How do you like my Caesar-cut?). But, aside from the nasal twang, what annoys me most is that every dance move he does reverts back to a pelvic clench which makes him look like he's got to pee. Twirl-twirl-hop — twirl-twirl-twirl-hop-hop-Jazz hands — {pelvic clench}. It's very disconcerting.

Guy Hunt

Alabama's former Governor had a rest stop named for him recently. The Huntsville Times had a reporter at the dedication ceremony:
Hunt, 72, told the rest stop gathering that he pondered the naming and thought, "A lot of people have buildings named after them, bridges and roads, but the one thing everybody does is use the bathroom. And then I got to thinking, I have had the times, and you have, too, when you really, really have to go that there's nothing more beautiful than a urinal."
Bless his gotta love him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
On this day:

Follow-up on Alabama poverty rates

Alabama's poverty rate - which ranks 7th highest in the nation according to the latest U.S. Census figures - has inspired numerous guilt-ridden editorials and political ads through the years. It seems to be cited most often by those individuals and groups with a strong attraction to tax increases and bigger government.

Well, as it turns out, that #7 ranking isn't entirely accurate. In a post last Thursday, I linked to this New York Times article about a recent study which shows that the U.S. Census Bureau's state-by-state rankings of poverty rates can be quite misleading, in that they don't account for regional variations in housing costs and other costs of living. According to the Times report:

SAN FRANCISCO, May 10 — A new report that adjusts the poverty line to reflect housing costs says New York, California and Washington, D.C., have the highest percentage of residents living in poverty, surpassing traditionally impoverished regions like the Deep South
Et cetera, et cetera. Unfortunately, the article didn't say how Alabama I tried to find out. I e-mailed the PPIC's Deborah Reed, the author of the study, and she kindly responded today. Here's what she said:

By the official measure, poverty in Alabama in the 2002-2004 period was 15.5% and Alabama ranked 8th (7th if you don't count D.C.). By our housing-cost-adjusted measure, poverty was 12.1% and Alabama ranked 15th (14th without DC).

We don't plan to publish the state statistics, but researchers at the Census Bureau contacted me last Friday to let me know about this working paper:

So, when housing costs are taken into account, Alabama's poverty rate falls from 7th highest in the nation to 14th. Still not great - assuming that wealth and prosperity are suitable measures of "greatness" - but informative nonetheless.

Troy King's witch hunt

I'm planning to vote for Troy King over Mark Montiel in the Republican primary, but King's relentless and irrational pursuit of "price-gougers" is enough to make me think twice.

Sessions on immigration: right again

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions's response to President Bush's immigration address is here. It is excellent, as usual. But, there's more where that came from...

Last Friday, Senator Sessions outlined 15 loopholes in the immigration bill currently being considered by the Senate.

Monday, he noted that the Senate bill "would permit up to 217.1 million new legal immigrants into the United States over the next 20 years, a number equal to 66 percent of the total current population of the United States," and that "even if the maximum levels are not reached, the increase to the U.S. population caused by S. 2611 [the bill under consideration] will be at least 78.7 million in 20 years, just over 25 percent of the total current population."

If President Bush is looking for a sensible solution to the immigration issue, he would do well to listen to Senator Sessions.

Welcome to Fantasy Island

"The Plan...the Plan"

President Bush announced his plan for dealing with illegal immigration last night. Since then, Alabama's gubernatorial candidates have given their two cents on Bush's call to send the National Guard to the border.

Bob Riley:

"If we'd done this years ago, we'd have put a stop to illegal immigration."

"I do support placing military forces on our border. When I served in Congress, I voted to authorize the placement of military troops on our border, so I'm glad to see we're finally moving in that direction."

Lucy Baxley:

"I believe long-range planning should be something other than continuing to increase the demands on the citizen soldiers, which make it very difficult on their family lives and professional careers."

"Securing our country's borders is the responsibility of the federal government, and any action by the president in this matter is long overdue."

Chip Hill (spokesman for Don Siegelman):

"He [Siegelman] would never agree for the Alabama National Guard to be used as border patrol agents on the Mexican border."

"It's the Mexican border. It's not the border of Alabama."

Roy Moore:

"I'm glad he's suddenly realizing the policy we've been pursuing the last five or six years has been detrimental to our society."

"It is the duty of the federal government to defend our borders from an invasion, whether it's a foreign army or a foreign nationality."

Loretta Nall [Libertarian for Governor]:

"The last thing I want to do is make it more like a police state...We should naturalize them [illegal immigrants] and make them part of the tax base."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
On this day:

Tuesday Trivia

(Answers below.)

  1. What was the dean's name in the movie Animal House?
  2. What natural phenomenon was first photographed in 1884?
  3. Who was President of the United States at the end of World War II.
  4. Name the five members of the Wayans family from the TV show In Living Color.
  5. The carrot hasn't always been orange. What color did it used to be?
  6. What two planets have no moons?
  7. What character did Ricardo Montalban play on Fantasy Island?
  8. Who directed Superman:the Movie in 1978?
  9. How did the Sphinx lose its nose?
  10. Who was the original host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom?
  11. Name the four novels written by Dan Brown.
  12. What European explorer first sailed around South America, discovering a new path to the Pacific Ocean?
  13. What rock star starred in the movie Dune?
  14. What was author Lewis Carroll's occupation?
  15. What children's entertainer died suddenly of pneumonia in 1990?


  1. Dean Vernon Wormer, played by John Vernon. Animal House is quite possibly the best beer-drinking movie of all time.
  2. A tornado. You can see the photo here.
  3. Harry S Truman. But, period or no period? That is the real question. You'll find the answer the Truman Library.
  4. Keenan, Damon, Kim, Shawn, and Marlon. Prior to his comedy career, Keenan attended college at Tuskegee University, here in Alabama.
  5. I would've thought white, like Carrot Top. But, nope, they say carrots used to be purple.
  6. Mercury and Venus.
  7. Mr. Roarke. Get your poster here.
  8. It was directed by Richard Donner. Don't worry if you missed that's's some peppy music to wake you up. (You may have to wait a minute or so for it to download.)
  9. One legend has it that Napoleon's soldiers shot it off in the 19th Century, but it turns out that the French made that story up in order to attest to their great military prowess. In reality, we don't know.
  10. Marlin Perkins. Wild Kingdom is back, by the way, airing Sundays on Animal Planet.
  11. Deception Point, Digital Fortress, Angels and Demons, and The da Vinci Code.
  12. Ferdinand Magellan. The Strait of Magellan is named after him.
  13. Sting. Dune was an awful, awful movie. Or so I remember.
  14. Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was a Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University.
  15. Jim Henson. He was only 53 years old. Time Magazine named him as one of the "Time 100" in 1998.

B'ham News: More money seen as solution to transit troubles

A government-run monopoly begs for more taxpayer dollars. Would we expect anything else?

A potentially better solution to B'ham's transit woes could involve less money, or at least less federal money. This policy analysis from the CATO Institute explains how. (Full text is here.)

Tar and feathers

The first known incident of tarring and feathering in America occurred in 1766. That was before the advent of the blogosphere, of course.

Monday, May 15, 2006
On this day:

Blogs weigh in on Darby

Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit) asks "How do I donate to his opponent?" No need to worry, won't need to.

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy reports that "Larry Darby, Holocaust-Denying Atheist Alabama Attorney General Candidate, is in the news again."

Little Green Footballs questions the way the press is covering the story.

Gateway Pundit says: "Ahmadinejad Finds Support in Indonesia and Alabama."

Outside the Beltway's James Joyner assures his readers that "this nut's views are not widespread."

Mr. Darby was in Jersey Nut's home state this weekend. See here and here for his take.

Hammer of Truth makes it clear that Darby is a Democrat, not a and here.

Politics in Alabama announces the obvious: "Larry Darby Gone Crazy."

Birmingham Blues says its time for Alabama Dems to dump Darby.

Alablawg: Just Like Old Times.

Judeosphere reminds Alabama Democrats (hey Joe Turnham!) that bloggers have been reporting on Darby's views for months.

Longer than that, actually. I found this piece, dated July 2005, on Deep South Jewish Voice - reporting that Mr. Darby has a long history of talking about his views of Jews, Israel, and the Holocaust.

Capitalist Infidel says that this is "not a surprise if you've been paying attention."

Ankle Biting Pundits expresses sympathy for the Dems.

The Democratic Daily whines suggests that some Republicans are being a little too partisan.

Enjoy Every Sandwich (Warning: Content may be objectionable, not "work safe") opines "On Bridges, the 21st Century, and the Holocaust in Alabama."

Secular Left has lost respect for Mr. Darby, formerly a "respected 'hero' in the Atheist community."

Atheist Revolution says that Darby is an embarrassment to atheists.

PZ Myers says that Mr. Darby is not his kind of atheist.

Other interesting opinions from science bloggers Dispatches from the Culture Wars and Respectful Insolence.

Darby attracts protesters at New Jersey speech

Larry Darby was in New Jersey Saturday hanging out with a few of his friends. (Hat tip: Jersey Nut)
ELMWOOD PARK -- About 20 activists held a peaceful protest Saturday outside a meeting hall that featured a controversial Democratic candidate for Alabama attorney general who has denied that the Holocaust occurred.

Larry Darby was the guest speaker at the National Vanguard New Jersey's monthly meeting at the Juvenile Order of United Automechanics (JOUAM) Hall, the nationwide group's local chapter headquarters. The National Vanguard, which describes itself as a white nationalist group, is a splinter group of the white supremacist organization, National Alliance. ...

More than 20 people attended Saturday's closed-door meeting with Darby, which began shortly after 6 p.m. Many National Vanguard members, who blocked their license plates with plywood to conceal their identity, hurried inside and refused to speak to a reporter.

Outside, protesters held placards and heckled people headed into the building. Some of those attending the meeting stopped and exchanged words with protesters, but discussions never became heated. A half dozen police officers stood outside of the hall to keep protesters at bay.

Affirming the truth

Rudolf Vrba died on March 27, 2006. The following obit appeared in the April 24 issue of National Review magazine:

Just five Jews escaped from Auschwitz and lived to tell the tale. Rudolf Vrba was one of them. Born in Slovakia, he was 18 when the Germans deported him in the spring of 1942, first to Majdanek, then to Auschwitz. As resourceful as he was brave, he obtained a job that allowed him to move about in the camp. In April 1944, he arranged that some friendly Poles would hide him and a companion, Fred Wetzler, under a pile of planks. In a search lasting three days, the SS failed to detect them, and they were able to get away. Once across the border into Hungary, Vrba wrote the first eyewitness report informing the world about the death camps; it was to be an important document at the Nuremberg trials. He then joined Czech partisans. I Cannot Forgive, the much-reprinted autobiography he published in 1964, gives a sense of what it was like to live so continuously on the edge of death. After the war, this remarkable man moved to Israel, Britain, and finally Canada, where he was a professor of pharmacology, teaching and researching and setting an extraordinary example until death did at last catch up. RIP.

Rudolf Vrba. According to Larry Darby, he was a liar and a fraud. According to history, he's a hero.

Saturday, May 13, 2006
On this day:

Larry Darby and Holocaust denial

The mainstream media has finally picked up the story. I had several posts on Darby last, here, and here. He finally caught the MSM's attention following a May 3 interview with Alabama Public Television, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

Here are a few lowlights from that interview:

Darby suggested that the recent string of church fires in Alabama was a Jewish conspiracy:

"One thing that concerns me has been the 'hush-hush' nature of the defendants in this case. Ordinarily, in a case like that, we would know everything about those defendants - their family, their lifestyles - and we haven't heard that at all about them, and there's some speculation on the internet that the reason is that they're Jewish, and they were acting on Anti-Defamation League and Abraham Foxman released back in last October or November, where he was really chastising the Baptist churches. There's a lot of speculation like that, and you have to wonder why - if there's anything to it - because there's been such a secretive air about this case."
Darby referred to illegal immigration as a "Mexican invasion," and proposed a three-part plan to deal with it. Before anyone else says it...I know full well that a few of Mr. Darby's proposals on immigration are similar to those advocated by some conservatives. Let's use this as a lesson in differentiating between "conservatism" and "extremism," shall we?

Part one of Darby's plan includes bringing home the Alabama National Guard from Iraq, asking the Governor to declare martial law, and stationing the Guard at all entry points to the country, with orders to "shoot to kill." Darby said, "We are at war. we are being invaded by a foreign country."

Darby said that part two of his plan is to "get out the infection that's here," by treating illegal aliens as "prisoners of war." He stated that county sheriffs should be the first line of defense in curbing the invasion [Me: what was that about the National Guard?], and that the system of constables should be rebuilt in order to assist the sheriffs. He advocates creating a compact with Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to cooperate in transporting all illegals back to Mexico.

Part three is to take "preventive medicine" to ensure that the flow of aliens doesn't happen again. He would do this by outlawing organizations that advocate open borders. He took specific aim at the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to Darby:
"These people who promote open borders have actually led to this [invasion by Mexicans]...That's treason. Alabama has laws against treason on the books. I would investigate the Southern Poverty Law Center for treason against the state, and try to shut them down."

I don't care much for the SPLC myself, but treason? Come on!

At one point in the interview, Darby claimed that his own ancestors were not immigrants at all:

Darby: "My ancestors, who came to Alabama in 1817, by the way, were not immigrants. They were pioneers. They were settlers."

Lennox: "Where'd they come from?"

Darby: "England."

Lennox: "Why were they not immigrants?"

Darby: "They were...they...uhh...were..."

Lennox: "They immigrated from England, didn't they?"

Darby: "No, they didn't come to another country, OK? They came to a wilderness and forged and built the country."

Finally, on his favorite subject, Darby said: "I'm a well-known, so-called Holocaust Denier - that sort of thing."

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham says that he had been unaware of Darby's views about Jews and the Holocaust until he heard about the APT interview. I'll take him at his word, but it's not like Mr. Darby has kept any of this a secret. Heck, if Mr. Turnham had been reading a blog whose name rhymes with "Hey, ma'am, a frog!", he'd have known about this last month. Oh, well.

This is a minor embarrassment for the Democrats, but to his credit, Joe Turnham was quick to publicly repudiate Darby's views. I wouldn't be surprised if the party goes even further and tries to kick Darby out, assuming that's even possible. Tough situation, though. Republicans should just be glad that this nutcase didn't try to run in their primary.

Friday, May 12, 2006
On this day:

Falun Gong members bring anti-Chi-Com protest to Mobile

Hu noticed?

UA student group to hold black-only graduation celebration

Considering the great obstacles that people like Arthurine Lucy and Vivian Malone faced and overcame in their struggle to integrate the University of Alabama, this is more than a little disheartening:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama African-American Graduate Student Association is hosting the 2006 UMOJA ceremony Friday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. in 322 Ferguson Center Heritage Room. UMOJA is a celebration of the more than 350 African-American students graduating from UA this year.

UMOJA (ooh-MOE-jah) means unity and it is the first of seven humanistic principles outlined in the celebration of Kwanzaa. Built upon this principle, the ceremony for African-American graduates helps unite the African-American community in celebration of scholastic achievements.

All family, friends and supporters are invited to attend.

More details here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006
On this day:

Are we as poor as they say we are?

For many years, Alabamians have been told that their state is one of the poorest in the nation. This purported fact has been the subject of countless newspaper editorials and political ads, and it has given rise to a statewide anti-poverty "industry", of sorts. For example, on its "Research" web page, the Alabama Poverty Project cites several sources stating that Alabama's poverty rate, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, is one of the nation's highest:
The U.S. poverty rate in 1999 dipped to 11.8%, the lowest point in 212 years. In Alabama the poverty rate in 1999 was 14.8%, 7th highest among all states, but down from 15.1% a year earlier. The U.S. percentage of children in poverty fell to 16.9%, the lowest figure since 1979. (Birmingham News, Sept. 27,2000) ...

According to 2001-2002 U.S. Census data, Alabama had the 7th highest poverty rate in America (679,000, or 15.2% of the state population, up from 14.6% during the previous two year period). Alabama’s median household income ranked 9th lowest. Region-wide the poverty rate was 13.8%. (Poverty in the United States, 2002, U.S. Census Bureau) ...

Alabama's poverty rate for 1990 was the 5th highest in the U.S. (nearly 1/5 the population). Alabama contained eight of the nation’s 100 poorest counties in 1990 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (Birmingham Post-Herald, Feb. 8, 1993)

These Census figures can be somewhat misleading, though, especially when they are used to make comparisons between states or regions. The reason is that Bureau's method for computing the poverty rate does not vary geographically. More specifically, the thresholds used to define poverty are not adjusted state-by-state or region-by-region to account for variation in cost of living and other economic factors. (See "How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty") Thus, comparing the Census estimate of Alabama's poverty rate to that of other states is not very useful, except maybe to create headlines or to help organizations like the Alabama Poverty Project and Alabama Arise raise money.

This week, a report came out that does adjust for at least one cost of living measure - housing costs - and it may be that Alabamians aren't as impoverished as commonly believed. According to the New York Times today:

SAN FRANCISCO, May 10 — A new report that adjusts the poverty line to reflect housing costs says New York, California and Washington, D.C., have the highest percentage of residents living in poverty, surpassing traditionally impoverished regions like the Deep South.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California, took into account the high rents and utility rates in major cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco and adjusted the national poverty line, about $19,000 for a family of four, accordingly. The results showed all three regions with significantly higher poverty rates than the Census Bureau reported in the fall. ...

The author of the study, Deborah Reed, said it "changes our perception of poverty mainly affecting the Southern states to something that affects high population states," where housing costs can consume a majority of income.

The PPIC report is available online here. Unfortunately, it focuses primarily on California and does not present state-by-state statistics and rankings. If the Alabama numbers become available, I'll be sure to post them.

Failure to account for regional cost of living disparities isn't the only flaw in the Census measurement of poverty, by the way. Bruce Bartlett (author of Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy) discussed some of them here, and this Heritage Foundation backgrounder has more.

Siegelman announces new plan to care for state's senior citizens

Proposes to hire them all as Assistants to the Governor.

You know, Don may be on to something here. I can see it now:

Scene 1:

[Setting: The Governor's office. Mail has just arrived.]

DS: "[opening mail] Well, whaddya know! Ol' Richie pulls through for me again! [softer] Let's just hope this check will clear."

Elderly Staffer #1 [British gent, came to Alabama in 1962, chauffeur for the Governor]: "What was that, Don? The Metamucil's here? Oh, blessed day, blessed day. I've become almost arse over elbow over the stuff here lately, you know. All this motoring we've been doing has got my innards all twisted in knots. I really dunno how you keep it up, Don. Not your willy, mind're still a young lad, eh? Just all this bloody travelling to and fro. Say, Don, do you fancy the Metamucil, as well?"

DS: "Ummmm...yeah, good stuff. Say, Jeeves, could you go out and pick up a bottle of champagne?"

Elderly Staffer #1: "I'm James, sir."

DS: "Oh, right. Moet, please...and don't forget the two dots above the "e.""

James: "Yes, sir."

Scene 2:

[Setting: The Governor's office.]

Elderly Staffer #2 [Mz. Juna Belle McElrod, Secretary to the Governor, born 1925, Lickskillet, Alabama]: "[On phone] Well, Eula Rae, I'm doin' just fine, I reckon. My rheumatism's been actin' up a little lately, due to all these papers Don's been havin' me sign, but other'n that, I'm doin' good. [Signing papers.] Oh yeah, bless his heart, he is a sweet thing. Even brought me flowers yesterday. [Fumbles for the State Seal stamp underneath the flower canopy.] That was awful nice of him. And I had thought that chivalry was a lost art. [Stamping...] I just love bein' around young and powerful men, don't you Eula Rae? Speakin' of which, how's that ethics bill comin' along in the legislature? The Governor's quite concerned about it, you know?

Scene 3:

[Setting: Alabama State House]

Elderly Staffer #3: [Eula Rae Latham, Legislative Liaison for Governor Siegelman]: Senator, don't you dare give me no lip. I know what you've been out doing. Don't try to pull one over on me, boy. You forget that my cousin Jenny knows your Aunt Orphelia who just happened to tell Jenny's sister Sarah that not only have you been sleeping with every two-bit hussy this side of the Coosa - you've done gone and knocked up that little Fitzer gal from Cullman. Now, we wouldn't want that spread news all across the state, would we? I thought not. Now, you get your low-down white-trash ass out there and vote against this-here so-called ethics in government act, or there'll be hell to pay.

Unknown Alabama State Senator: OK, Granny Gums...but I...I...

Elderly Staffer #3: [aka Eula Mae Latham aka UASS's Granny Gums] I done told you not to give me no lip, boy. Now you dry up those tears and go out there and do what I told you!

Unknown Alabama State Senator: [Sniffling.] Yes, ma'am. Just don't tell mama.

Baxley says "indict me, too"

Or so it would seem. She's upset that Don Siegelman is getting all the press coverage:

"Even when there's a story about the charges, he (Siegelman) manages to make a pitch for his campaign," Baxley said. "He's on every newscast. It's unbelievable."
Baxley has good reason to be worried. The latest Mobile Press-Register poll showed her with only a slim 39-34% lead over Siegelman among likely Democratic primary voters. Who knows how those numbers will change in the aftermath of Siegelman's trial on federal conspiracy charges, but the June 6 primary is swiftly approaching...not much time for Mrs. Baxley to polish up her "bad girl" image.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
On this day:

Moore's new suitor

I don't care much for the sentiment behind the sign, but I gotta admit...this is pretty funny. (Hat Tip: Demagogue, via Southern Appeal.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
On this day:

The incredible shrinking deficit

The AP reports:
WASHINGTON - A surging economy producing robust growth in federal revenues promises to significantly cut the budget deficit for the current year, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

The deficit "will be significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps as low as $300 billion," CBO reported, well below the White House's February estimate of $423 billion.
All without a tax increase. Just imagine how low it could be if Congress and the President would have exercised a little spending restraint over the past 5 years.

Monday, May 08, 2006
On this day:

"UFO study finds no sign of aliens"

Tom Cruise's ancestry remains unclear.

Saturday, May 06, 2006
On this day:

George Allen, the Confederate Flag, and Southern Sanity

The New Republic's Ryan Lizza won't relent in his effort to pin the "racist" label onto Virginia Senator George Allen. What's Lizza's evidence?

Well, let's see:

  • There's Allen's high school yearbook photo, in which he had a Confederate flag pinned to his lapel.
  • There's the pickup truck Allen drove while he was in law school at the University of Virginia from 1971 to 1974. The truck had a Confederate flag affixed to the bumper.
  • There's Allen's dorm room at UVA, which had a Confederate flag on the wall.
  • There's the time that Allen referred to Northerners as "Yankees" while he served in the Virginia legislature. The remark came during a committee meeting in which a Civil War battle (Lizza doesn't say which one) was discussed.
  • There's a campaign ad from the time Allen first ran for Governor of Virginia back in 1993 - a tiny Confederate flag appears in the background.
  • There's the time that Allen, in jest, "referred to his neighboring state as 'the counties that call themselves West Virginia.'"
  • Then there's Allen's proclamation of April as "Confederate Heritage and History Month" while he was Governor of Virginia.
Lizza's premise (echoed by Andrew Sullivan) seems to be that Allen's sympathy for the Confederacy and his reverence for its battle flag indicate that he is a closet racist. There are lots of people - not all of whom are from the South - who would disagree with that, but I'm afraid that Lizza's view is more common than it should be, especially among those whose perception of Southerners has been shaped predominately by Hollywood and the media. These guys really need to get out more. If they did, they might learn a few

Today, the Civil War is a distant memory, the South has been reconciled to the Union, and the nation has made great strides toward overcoming the painful legacy of slavery. So, why do many Southerners still cling to the Confederate flag? Different people have different reasons, of course - heritage, history, regional pride, and yes - on occasion - racism. But, complementing each of these is the fact that the rebel flag remains exactly what its name suggests - a symbol of rebellion. Not a physical, taking-up-arms kind of rebellion, but a cultural and intellectual one, directed against the mind-numbing political correctness that has become so pervasive in every corner of American society.

Now, maybe there are more rational ways to express our discontent than flying Confederate flags, but since when have Southerners been known for their rationality? Florence King discussed this very topic in a book called Southern Ladies and Gentlemen*. In the first chapter, entitled "Build a Fence Around the South and You'd Have One Big Madhouse," she wrote:
I have good reason to know that the only way to understand Southerners fully is to be one. When I was in graduate school at the University of Mississippi, I found myself party to a drunken kidnapping and ended up in a rowboat in the middle of a lake at 2:00 AM with an hysterical Southern belle who kept hissing: "Kill him, Wade, kill him!"

Suddenly I wondered: How did I get into this? What am I doing here? How was it possible that a sane young woman like myself could merge so effortlessly into a situation that bizarre?

The answer came to me just as suddenly. I was not sane, I was a Southerner.

True, that. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

*Miss King's Southern Ladies and Gentlemen is hilarious, by the way. If you haven't read it, you may want to check it out sometime. They don't call her a curmudgeon and a misanthrope for nothing. (National Review has an archive of her "Misanthrope's Corner" columns here...some of my faves are "Earl got saved", Princess Di, and Catholics, Protestants, and OJ.)

Some Mexican trivia for you

I received this in an e-mail from a co-worker:
Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York.

This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.

Thursday, May 04, 2006
On this day:

Dual citizenship?

In an earlier post, I linked to this article, which referred to one University of Alabama student as a "dual citizen of the United States and Mexico." One commenter remarked that "There is not supposed to dual citizenship involving the US..., although it happens."

Now, I've always thought the same thing, based on the fact that when an immigrant becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States, he is required to take the following oath:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

However, things aren't always as they seem. As dual citizen and National Review contributor John Derbyshire pointed out back in 2002, "renounce" and "abjure" don't mean much anymore. Any guesses as to whose fault that is? If you said: "The United States Supreme Court," give yourself a gold star. As Derb explains:
...the great change in U.S. government attitudes towards dual citizenship occurred in 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case Afroyim v. Rusk. Mr. Afroyim, a naturalized U.S. citizen, had moved to Israel in 1950. When, in 1960, he tried to renew his U.S. passport, the state department refused, on the grounds that Mr. Afroyim had voted in an Israeli election. Afroyim sued, and eventually won.

In Afroyim v. Rusk the Supreme Court asserted, in effect, that citizenship is a constitutional right, coming under the scope of the 14th Amendment. From then on, the government effectively lost the power to strip you of your citizenship without your consent. To stop being a U.S. citizen you have to take deliberate steps, prove your intent, and formally renounce your citizenship.

For more reading on dual citizenship and how our neighbor to the south is using it to infringe on U.S. sovereignty, see these pieces by The Hudson Institute's John Fonte: here and here. Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at the George Washington University School of Law, also wrote on the topic here.