Thursday, August 31, 2006
On this day:

Alabama GOP: Judge's Ruling on Registering Felons is Attempt to Bolster Democrat Voting Rolls

The Alabama Republican Party knows a good issue when it sees it.
Birmingham – The Alabama Republican Party on Thursday said a liberal ruling by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance, Jr., who was appointed to office by Don Siegelman, may be an attempt to help Democrats at the ballot box in the fall.

Vance’s controversial ruling ordered registrars to begin allowing felons across the state to register to vote, including those currently incarcerated in Alabama prisons. The state’s chief elections official told the Birmingham News that the ruling might require voting stations to be placed in Alabama prisons.

The head of the Alabama Republican Party responded strongly to the ruling.

“The Alabama Republican Party has consistently opposed the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, and we certainly don’t believe incarcerated felons should help decide the future of our state,” GOP chair Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said. “With a tap of his gavel, Don Siegelman’s hand-picked judge may have given convicted drug dealers, and other incarcerated felons the same right to vote that honest and upstanding citizens enjoy.”

Cavanaugh referenced both the timing and broad scope of the ruling and questioned if it was intended to assist Lucy Baxley and other Democrats in the November election.

“The plaintiffs who brought the suit were ex-felons who had already served their time, yet the judge’s ruling extended voting rights to all felons, including those currently serving time in Alabama prisons,” Cavanaugh said. “The scope of the ruling and the fact that it comes just before the general election makes us wonder if partisan politics are at play.”

The party chair predicted that public reaction to the ruling, if Justice Department approval is granted, could create a backlash against the Alabama Democrat Party, especially since the judge is a long-time Democrat activist appointed by a liberal governor of the same party.

“If the public sees voting machines being rolled behind the walls of Alabama’s prisons, the Democrats will see some serious repercussions at the ballot box,” Cavanaugh said. “The state’s voter identification law was not meant to include numbers on a prison jumpsuit.”

Worley: Judge's decision to give felons voting rights is "appropriate"

Secretary of State Nancy Worley approves of a judge's ruling to give voting rights to all convicted felons, in spite of a constitutional amendment - duly ratified by Alabama voters - which expressly forbids it.

"I think the judge has appropriately remanded this back to the Legislature to determine what is moral turpitude and what is not moral turpitude," Worley said.

It's important to note that Judge Vance's order would extend the right to vote even to those felons who are currently serving time in Alabama prisons. If Judge Vance and SOS Worley are allowed to have their way, then murderers, rapists, and child molesters will have the same voice as we do in this November's general election.

Nancy Worley's challenger in the November election is Republican Beth Chapman.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
On this day:

When does judicial meddling become "moral turpitude?"

In 1996, Amendment 579 to the Alabama Constitution was approved by the legislature and ratified by the voters. Among other things, that amendment restricts the right of certain convicted felons to vote. Here is the amendment in its entirety, with the felon-disenfranchisement provision in bold:
(a) Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years and has resided in this state and in a county thereof for the time provided by law, if registered as provided by law, shall have the right to vote in the county of his or her residence. The Legislature may prescribe reasonable and nondiscriminatory requirements as prerequisites to registration to voting. The Legislature shall, by statute, prescribe a procedure by which eligible citizens can register to vote.

(b) No person convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude, or who is mentally incompetent, shall be qualified to vote until restoration of civil and political rights or removal of disability.

(c) The Legislature shall by law provide for the registration of voters, absentee voting, secrecy in voting, the administration of elections, and the nomination of candidates.
Last week, Jefferson County circuit court judge Robert Vance, Jr. ruled that the state can no longer enforce section (b) of Amendment 579 - the part restricting the voting rights of convicted felons. According to the AP:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A Jefferson County judge ordered Wednesday the state of Alabama to allow ex-felons to vote, saying a state law that denies voting rights to felons convicted of crimes of moral turpitude does not identify which crimes fit that definition. ...

Vance ordered voter registrars in Alabama counties to register ex-felons until "the Alabama Legislature passes, and the governor signs into law, legislation specifically identifying which felonies involve moral turpitude."
So, what is "moral turpitude?" And what crimes fit the bill?

Black's Law Dictionary defines "moral turpitude" as:

The act of baseness, vileness, or the depravity in private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.

Act or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in some criminal offenses as distinguished from others.

The quality of a crime involving grave infringement of the moral sentiment of the community as distinguished from statutory mala prohibita.

The Wikipedia definition is:

Gross violation of standards of moral conduct, or vileness, such that an act was intentionally evil, making the act a crime. The existence of moral turpitude, as used in criminal proceedings, can bring a more severe charge or penalty for a criminal defendant.

A criminal behaviour that gravely infringes on the moral sentiments of the community. It is classified as a malum in se type of crime. [Malum in se means, literally, a wrong in itself, as opposed to malum prohibitum...a wrong prohibited, i.e. something that is wrong because it is prohibited.]

Examples include murder, larceny and aggravated assault. might say that in addition to violating man's law, crimes of moral turpitude also involve grave transgressions against the natural law (or God's law, if you prefer). That may sound like a fuzzy concept, especially in this age of moral relativism, but it's one that courts and judges have been applying for years.

When interpreting a Constitution or a statute, judges are often required to give meaning to a term or phrase that is either ambiguous or not completely defined. Much of the time, this perceived "fault" in the law is by design, intended to provide flexibility in interpretation and execution. Sometimes, lawmakers merely assume that certain words and phrases possess a commonly accepted meaning that would make any further definition superfluous. In any case, it is a judge's duty to apply the law as it is written, not as he wishes it had been written.

In last week's ruling, Judge Vance refused to carry out that duty. In effect, he threw up his hands and stripped an important constitutional provision of all its meaning, while advancing a novel view of "judicial restraint" that would better be described as "judicial retreat."

Just because some parts of the U.S. Constitution and our state constitutions are vague doesn't make them void. Take the U.S. Constitution's "necessary and proper" clause, for example. Exactly what laws are "necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers delegated to Congress under Article I Section 8? The Constitution doesn't say. The Framers intentionally "failed" to provide a detailed listing of these "implied powers," but their existence is undeniable. Even so, in the first few decades after the Constitution was ratified, some of the so-called strict constructionists said that the federal government could exercise the delegated powers only. They interpreted the "necessary and proper" clause in a way that would have rendered it effectively meaningless. Like Judge Vance, their error was in interpreting the Constitution not as it was actually written, but as they would have written it.

As a second example, consider the powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. What powers are to be legitimately derived from that authority? Again, the Constitution doesn't say. According to Judge Vance's reasoning, though, the Constitution's silence should be read to deny the President all authority as Commander-in-Chief until his inherent duties have been defined by Congress. Although that idea may be welcomed in some political circles today, it is at odds with the structure and logic of the Constitution. Just like Judge Vance's ruling.

Thankfully, Attorney General Troy King announced Friday that he will appeal this "legally unsound" ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court. Expect it to be overturned.

(The text of Judge Vance's 50-page ruling is available at the VoteLaw blog here.)

Get your goat

According to the Associated Press:

Ernie Hay of Talladega, president of the Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers, says the goat industry produces one of the fastest-growing meat commodities in the country.

Alabama ranks eighth in the nation for number of goats raised, Hay says. ...

American noses might wrinkle at the prospect of eating or drinking goat, but Hay likes to entice more farmers to go goat by citing a statistic: 75 percent of the world's population eats goat meat. ...

"What we're trying to do is educate the American public. Goat meat is very low in fat and cholesterol," Hay says.

The increased demand for goat meat is currently driven mostly by rising "ethnic" populations, primarily Mexicans and Muslims, but I've tried it a few times myself, and I have to's not baa-aa-a-a-d. With wider availability and keen marketing...who knows where this could go? To paraphrase my favorite French economist, Jean-Baptiste Say (though taking him somewhat out of context), " Supply creates its own demand."

State tourism bureau wins top award for "Year of Food" campaign

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's "Year of Food" campaign has been named the nation's top tourism drive by the National Council of State Tourism Directors, Gov. Bob Riley announced Tuesday. ...

The campaign, which began at the end of 2004 and stretched through 2005, included a cook-off contest among 60 chefs, a food products promotion in more than one thousand grocery stores in partnership with the Alabama Grocers Association, and a stamp featuring a tomato logo used to mail information to media.

State tourism director Lee Sentell said a brochure listing favorite dishes in dozens of Alabama towns was the most popular feature, with some 400,000 copies of "100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die" being distributed.

In other news...

Mississippi is America's fattest state, with 29.5 percent of adults obese and a further 36.4 percent overweight, based on data from 2003 to 2005. Alabama is second with 28.7 percent of adults obese and West Virginia third at 28.6 percent.

Census Bureau: Alabama remains one of nation's poorest

From the AP:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Despite low unemployment and a relatively strong economy, Alabama remains one of the poorest states in the country.

U.S. Census estimates released Tuesday show that 750,000 people, or 16.7 percent of those residing in Alabama, live below the poverty level. Only Mississippi, Louisiana and the District of Columbia have a higher percentage of people living below poverty, according to the census estimates. ...

The Census figure show the poverty rate in Alabama has remained mostly stagnant in recent years. It was 16.9 percent last year, 15.0 percent in 2003 and 14.6 percent in 2002. The poverty figures, however, have improved over the past 25 years. In 1981, 24.1 percent of Alabama residents were living below the poverty line.
As I have mentioned before (see here and here), these statistics are somewhat misleading. They are based on a nationwide poverty threshold, and do not account for state-to-state variation in the cost of living. Thus, the reported poverty rate in states like Alabama, where the cost of living is much lower than it is in many other states, tends to be inflated.

A recent study by the Pacific Policy Institute of California showed that when housing costs are factored in, Alabama's poverty ranking drops significantly. In the 2002-2004 period, Alabama ranked 7th poorest in the nation according to the Census statistics, but dropped to 14th when housing costs were factored in. (That's not including D.C.) That's still not necessarily good, but it's something to keep in mind when you hear statistics like these.

Alabama GOP hope to gain control of Senate

With the help of a few Democratic allies.

Here's a not-too-far-out prediction: if Republicans win a majority of the State Senate in the November general election - or even if they manage to come within a few seats of a majority - several conservative Democrats will switch parties.

A recent Mobile Press-Register/University of South Alabama poll verifies what many of us already suspected - that more Alabama voters identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats. It's also not surprising that many Alabama Democrats are finding that their association with Howard Dean's Democratic Party is more of a liability than an asset these days, and they are simply waiting for an opportune time to change their affiliation. The trends are unmistakable, and conservative Democrats are looking to get out while the gettin's good.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
On this day:

Happy B'day John McCain

He turned 70 today. This article from last week puts that into perspective:

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain of Arizona will do something next week that'll set him apart from everyone else who's weighing a run for president in 2008.

He'll celebrate his 70th birthday Tuesday.

That would put him in uncharted political territory should he win the presidency: No one older than 70 has ever moved into the White House.

Not only will the Republican senator be the oldest of the large field of possible candidates in both major parties, he'll be three years older on Election Day 2008 than Ronald Reagan was when he won his first term in 1980. At 69, Reagan was the oldest man ever to enter the White House. He was 73 when he won his second term.

Boy, does that bring back memories. Ronald Reagan addressed the "age issue" perfectly back in 1984 during a presidential debate with Democrat Walter Mondale.

This was the question posed to the President:
Mr. President, I want to raise an issue that I think has been lurking out there for two or three weeks, and cast it specifically in national security terms. You already are the oldest President in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall, yes, that President Kennedy, who had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuba missile crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?

Here's the video clip (via YouTube) of Reagan's response.

Gosh, I miss Ronnie.


From the AP:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general will participate in televised debates on Oct. 30 — one week before the general election.

The debates were organized by Leadership Alabama, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, the Alabama Press Association and Alabama Public Television, which will televise the debates live.

Speaking of the AG race

The AP reports: "King, Tyson have contrasting styles, plans for AG's office."

Dems: Darby not welcome

Good for them, but remember, it was Democratic voters, not the leadership, who came uncomfortably close to giving Larry Darby their party's nomination for Attorney General in the June primary.

Friday, August 25, 2006
On this day:

The successes of welfare reform

The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector says:

Bill Clinton was right.

He deserves more credit for the passage of welfare reform than most conservatives probably care to admit.
Writing for National Review Online, University of Alabama assistant professor Michael New adds:
Many critics of welfare reform, including columnist Clarence Page, are giving the economy credit for the impressive welfare caseload declines. However, their reasoning is faulty. History indicates the strength of the economy has only a limited effect on welfare caseloads. More importantly, recent data clearly indicate that state policies, made possible due to welfare reform, are largely responsible for the substantial reduction in the welfare rolls.

Christian Coalition of Alabama secedes

The Christian Coalition of Alabama's President, John Giles, says that the national organization has become too liberal.


David Hasselhoff is back with a new video...starring KITT. I just don't know what to say.

If that's not enough for you, the "making of" video is here.

Calling all coon hunters

Your services are needed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
On this day:

Cosby preview

Wow...I hope the civil rights establishment is paying attention.

Our friends, the Kurds

The Kurds seem to be some of the most pleasant people in the Middle East. They are also some of America's best friends. This piece by Michael Totten provides a fascinating look at life in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
On this day:

It's gator season in Alabama

On the first night of Alabama's first alligator hunting season, the Mobile Register reports that 3 of 13 gators were taken by female hunters. The lady who brought in the first gator of the night had this to say:
"We're going to skin him and tan the hide and find somebody that will make some boots...We'll keep the meat and cook it, but I'll leave that up to my husband. He cooks all the wild game."

Bill Cosby to visit Birmingham

From the Birmingham News:

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby Jr. is scheduled to come to Birmingham next month to address crime and violence in the city, officials from a Montgomery nonprofit organization announced Friday.

Cosby, whose son was shot to death on a Los Angeles freeway in 1997 in a random act of violence, will talk about the need for education, the importance of responsibility and how all of that ties into morality, said Mel C. Glenn Sr., executive director of the Foundation for Moral Law. ...

Glenn, whose 28-year-old son was murdered in Birmingham in 2001, said he recently met Cosby at a function in Massachusetts and invited him to speak.

The program will be held Sept. 21 at Cathedral of the Cross.

Yes, that would be Judge Roy Moore's Foundation for Moral Law. More info here.

B'ham News seeks experienced headline writer

This is an interesting story about heroism in troubled times, but the headline needs some work. Let's see how many of you make the same mistake I did when you first read it.

Monday, August 21, 2006
On this day:

Lucy Baxley's platform

Last week, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lucy Baxley finally released the details of her campaign platform. Taking each element of her platform one by one:


Lucy Baxley’s first act as Governor will overturn Bob Riley’s back-door tax increase on Alabama working families. The last five Governors operated under the same laws as today, and nothing in Alabama law requires annual property reappraisals. The legislature does not need to pass any new laws, and as soon as her hand leaves the bible after her swearing in ceremony for Governor, Baxley will sign an executive order overturning annual appraisals.
You may recognize this proposal from the primaries. It didn't come from Lucy Baxley, though. It was the brainchild of Judge Roy Moore, and it was even supported by Baxley's Democratic opponent, Don Siegelman. Until last week, however, Lucy Baxley had never taken a firm stance one way or the other on the issue.

Whether Baxley's recent epiphany was motivated by principle or posturing, it is still good politics. This would not be an issue at all if Governor Riley hadn't made it one. His defense of annual reappraisals is that they are required by state law. It's an argument that just doesn't hold water.

Alabama law says that property must be assessed at its "fair-market value," but it doesn't specify the period of time required between reappraisals. As Mrs. Baxley points out (along with Roy Moore and Don Siegelman), the law has never before been interpreted to require that the reappraisals be conducted yearly. This is clearly a judgment call for the Chief Executive to make.

In the Governor's defense, a decent argument can be made that more frequent appraisals provide a fairer, more accurate estimate of property values. This is especially true when real estate prices are rising (or falling) much more rapidly in some areas than they are in others. (Yearly appraisals also increase the opportunity for error - a point that opponents have made frequently.)

It is important to remember that when Gov. Riley came into office, he was faced with one of the most severe budget crises in recent memory. His real reason for shifting to annual reappraisals was to raise revenues, not to make property taxes fairer. So, in a sense, calling this a "back-door tax increase" is accurate, even though the amount of the increase was negligible. Property tax rates in Alabama are so low that yearly reappraisals simply won't make much difference dollar-wise for most taxpayers. I doubt it will make much difference at the ballot box, either.

Lucy Baxley will lead the charge to increase Alabama’s minimum wage because people who put in an honest day’s work should earn enough to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. It is morally unacceptable that anyone working 40 hours a week still earns $5,000 less than the federal poverty line for a family of four. Baxley will propose a bill to the legislature that increases the state minimum wage one dollar by 2007.
Another bad idea from the liberal playbook. I blogged on this last week, so there's not much left for me to say.

Lucy Baxley will develop a public-private partnership in the spirit of Alabama’s Rural Electric Administration to bring the internet into every Alabama home. According to a U.S. Census Bureau study, Alabama ranks 48th in percentage of households with a computer, and 46th in percentage of households with Internet access. Working with the federal government and top technology corporations like AOL, Dell, Apple, Microsoft, and local internet providers, Get Alabama Online would open the door to an electronic global economy and community with low-cost packages including a computer, printer, desktop software, and internet access.
Government as ISP? Hell, I have enough problems with BellSouth.

Seriously, though. Government has no business subsidizing citizens' computers, printers, software, and internet access. If people want a computer, they have every right to save up their money and go buy one. They don't need the help of Mother Lucy. As for internet access, the best way to get high-speed service into those areas where it is not currently available is for government to get out of the way and let the free market work its wonders. Patience, Lucy, patience.

Lucy Baxley will create an independent, cabinet-level office to prevent, detect, identify, expose, and eliminate fraud, waste, corruption, and abuse in state government and government contracts. An independent board made up of law enforcement officers, community leaders in the private sector, and government officials would appoint an Inspector General for a term of six years. Other states have saved billions of tax dollars through the waste and fraud identified by their Inspectors General, with Georgia recovering $249,781,000 in the program’s first year.
Hiring a bureaucrat to help curb bureaucratic excess might sound like a good idea to some people, but I'll need a little more convincing. If politicians are truly interested in eliminating wasteful spending, they could start by eliminating those programs that are outside the scope of government's interests and competence. They might also think about not proposing wasteful programs to begin with. (See above: Mrs. Baxley's "Get Alabama Online" proposal is a perfect example.)

Lucy Baxley will put an end to PAC-to-PAC transfers, bringing the light of day into Alabama’s political process. These transfers feed public cynicism by disguising the source of a candidate’s support. PACs that “wash” money through multiple transfers contribute to the public perception of politics as an insider game rigged by special interests. Baxley will advocate a change to campaign finance laws that ban these PAC-to-PAC transfers.
I'm sure that Gov. Riley will be pleased to hear that Mrs. Baxley has endorsed one of his proposals. As for me, I'm all in favor keeping PAC-to-PAC transfers legal. (Although I am inclined to support stiffer public disclosure requirements.)

Political speech forms the core of the First Amendment's protection of free speech and free assembly. For these guarantees to mean anything, they must protect the right of individuals and organizations to raise and spend money on political advocacy. Transferring money is inseparable from raising and spending money. It seems absurd that government would place more limits on political speech than it does on pornographic "speech," but that's exactly what a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers and similar campaign finance reforms would do. Another bad idea.

Lucy Baxley will fight illegal immigration with programs that are fair to taxpayers, tough, enforceable, and humane. Hard-working Alabamians should not bear the burden of costs associated with illegal immigrants. By integrating Alabama’s New Hire Act with the federal SAVE program, we will ensure that Alabama employers know the legal status of their employees, and punish those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. In addition, we will be able to more accurately deny illegal immigrant access to state-funded benefit programs. Lucy Baxley will make it a felony for employers who continue to hire illegal aliens. Furthermore, employers must verify that they don’t hire illegal immigrants before they can receive economic development incentives.
Sounds good to me - and very similar to the policies supported by Gov. Riley. Now, if we could just get President Bush on the bandwagon, we'd be in business.

Lucy Baxley will help small businesses overcome skyrocketing healthcare costs by allowing them to band together into purchasing pools, giving them the same negotiating advantages enjoyed by large corporations. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2004 found that insurance premiums nationally jumped 15.5% for firms with three to 199 workers and only 13.2% for those with 200 or more. Small businesses are the backbone of Alabama’s economy, and their employees deserve the same health care coverage as their counterparts at larger corporations.

Increasing the number of market-based alternatives for health insurance is the best way to keep the cost of health care down, while continuing to improve overall quality. If that's what Mrs. Baxley has in mind here, then I think it's a sound proposal.

Lucy Baxley will ensure that one bad child does not ruin a class for twenty-five good ones. We hold teachers accountable for student performance, and we must also hold students accountable for their behavior. Baxley will institute programs that ensure all students have the right and ability to learn in a safe and distraction-free environment, including the enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy for students possessing weapons or drugs, additional training for effective classroom management and discipline, and a database of problem students so that strategies can be implemented to handle them.
As long as "additional training" includes instruction in the proper use of a wooden paddle, I'm all for it.


Lucy Baxley will use every resource available to investigate consumer price gouging by big oil, and will encourage the legislature to create incentives for local production of renewable fuels. Renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel can be grown in Alabama, processed in Alabama, and used by Alabamians, reducing our dependence on foreign oil. This new industry would strengthen our economy while at the same time providing people in this state a consistently priced alternative to gasoline.
The oil and gas industry is reasonably competitive. (At least as far as refining, distribution, wholesaling, and retailing are concerned...the influence of the OPEC cartel on world crude oil prices is different matter altogether.) As in any other competitive market, price fluctuations are due primarily to shifts in supply and demand. As consumers, we should be aware that supply shocks and heightened risks tend to cause large price increases. The accusation of "price-gouging" is little more than a ruse cooked up by politicians to justify increasing their own power at the expense of the private sector.

If renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel happen to become competitive vis-a-vis fossil fuels in the coming years, without the support of wasteful taxpayer subsidies, then by all means, we should allow their production. We should also break down the barriers that prevent new companies from getting their piece of the action.

I recently read a report in the New York Times that sales of SUV's and light trucks have fallen off dramatically. That's the free market in action. Consumers have responded to increased gas prices, and auto manufacturers have similarly responded by shifting production to those vehicles that consumers want to buy. The market has adapted faster and more efficiently on its own than it would have under the influence of any government initiative. When Lucy Baxley says she wants "incentives" for alternative fuels, she means either taxpayer subsidies or favorable tax treatment for producers. Both approaches are wrong-headed, in my opinion, because they would substitute the inferior judgment of politicians and bureaucrats for the wisdom of the market.

Could a Libertarian win Tom DeLay's seat?

Maybe so, if Texas Republicans follow Bob Barr's advice. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Sunday, August 20, 2006
On this day:

Alabama Democrats: Christian Coalition questionnaire is politically inconvenient

Here's the AP story. Here's the list of questions that some Democrats are having such a hard time answering.

The Voting Rights Act (Section 5) in action

Once again, Alabama is forced to follow rules that most other states outside the South are not required to follow. Thanks to the U.S. Congress - aided by the whole-hearted support of Alabama Democrats Bud Cramer (D.-Huntsville) and Artur Davis (D.-Birmingham) - Alabama and other Southern states will continue to be "second-class-states" for 25 more years.

Saturday, August 19, 2006
On this day:

Where have all the big storms gone?

Why has global warming not caused bigger and badder hurricanes this summer? UAH's Dr. Roy Spencer, writing for TCS Daily, provides an explanation.

"Pop", "Coke", or "Soda"?

Here's a map. Here's a survey form you can fill out with your own answer to that all-important question.

Friday, August 18, 2006
On this day:

The 25 most important questions in the history of the universe

See the questions and their answers here, courtesy of Mental Floss magazine. (Mental Floss is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.)

The Party of Death

Think that states can prohibit late-term, post-viability abortions? If so, then you don't know Roe.

National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru discusses the popular misconceptions surrounding Roe v. Wade in Chapter One of his new book, Party of Death. If you are interested in understanding the state of the U.S. Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence, I would highly recommend it.

Ponnuru also discusses the issue briefly in this 38-minute-long podcast interview with TCS Daily's Nick Schultz.

And then there were twelve

The International Astronomical Union has proposed increasing the number of objects in our solar system which are officially designated as "planets" from nine to twelve.

The new planets would be the asteroid Ceres, Pluto's moon Charon, and a Pluto-sized object that is currently named 2003 UB313.

CNN has more.

Thursday, August 17, 2006
On this day:

Another Alabama abortion clinic has license suspended

Safe, legal, and rare, huh?

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

The state has suspended the license of a Montgomery abortion clinic for not having a backup doctor to care for women after they've had the procedure.

The Alabama Department of Health announced Tuesday the suspension of Reproductive Health Services of Montgomery, the second Alabama abortion clinic suspended in the past three months.

The Summit Medical Center in Birmingham permanently surrendered its license June 14 following an investigation by the state health department that uncovered numerous violations, including abortions being performed without a doctor present.

The latest suspension confirms the need for increased inspections of abortion facilities, said state health officer Don Williamson. He said the emergency revocation of the facility's license was necessary because the clinic didn't have a backup physician with admitting privileges capable of taking care of a woman who had an abortion.

"We see this as a very, very serious violation," Williamson said, noting the clinic also could decide to surrender its license.

Reproductive Health Services will have an opportunity to challenge the suspension or present an improvement plan at a hearing set for Sept. 18. An official with the clinic declined comment late Tuesday until more information becomes available.

Here's more from the AP:

Health officials are still reviewing records from the clinic's Aug. 2 inspection and a complete Statement of Deficiencies will be given to the clinic within a week, said Rick Harris, director of the department's Bureau of Health Provider Standards.

"We identified a lot of other problems, there were other issues," Harris said Tuesday. "We cannot have an abortion clinic doing procedures without a backup physician, so it wouldn't matter if they had other problems. This one problem is enough to shut them down at least until they get this problem fixed."

The closings of Summit and Reproductive Health leaves Alabama with eight abortion clinics, including one other clinic in Montgomery.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
On this day:

Lucy Baxley's "unemployment ensurance" program

(And, no...I don't mean insurance.)

Lucy Baxley's proposal to raise the minimum wage in Alabama may be good politics, but it is bad economics. It would almost certainly ensure a rise in unemployment among those who can least afford it.

Those who earn the minimum wage are predominantly young, unskilled, and inexperienced. Minimum wage laws serve to raise the price of their labor. Consequently, employers become less likely to hire them. In those areas where the labor market has already produced entry-level wages that exceed the minimum wage - as it has, for the most part, here in Huntsville and other Alabama cities - a small increase in the minimum wage will have little effect. But, in economically-depressed areas (e.g. rural communities and urban areas with a high percentage of unskilled workers), the impact on unemployment could be much more significant.

To illustrate the relationship between the minimum wage and unemployment, consider what would happen if the minimum wage were increased to $20 an hour. Faced with increasing labor costs, businesses would be faced with a range of undesirable choices. 1) They could simply pass the added costs on to their customers, but that would only make good business sense if their competitors elected to do the same thing. 2) They could make do with fewer employees, but unless the retained employees suddenly were to become super-productive, then the business would have to deal with the fact that some jobs are left undone. 3) They could make up for the lost workers by implementing more efficient processes, but that could require large capital expenditures on the technology necessary to automate the jobs which were previously performed by (human) employees. 4) They could accept smaller profits, but that would reduce the owners' wealth and diminish the business's prospects for long-term growth.

In any case, the jobs of those who earned less than the new minimum wage would be in serious jeopardy. What, then, would be the plight of those would-be workers who couldn't find jobs because they had been priced out of the labor market? They would not not only be denied the opportunity for a steady income; they would also be denied the work experience and the acquired skills that are essential to advancing into higher-paying jobs, more suited to their interests and abilities.

For many people - myself included - a low-paying entry-level job served as a sort of "baptism" into the labor market. When well-intentioned politicians destroy the opportunities provided by these jobs by making them more costly to employers, they destroy one of the best job-training programs the free market has ever created.

And for no good reason.

As worker productivity and average wages have increased, so, too, has the number of workers earning the minimum wage decreased. Here in Huntsville, you'd be hard-pressed to find any job with a starting salary of $5.15 an hour. The same is true for most other cities and towns throughout the state. Even if the minimum wage were to be abolished altogether, there would be very few employers anywhere who could find people to work for less than the current minimum wage. (One exception might be those workers who are here illegally.)

The labor market works just like any other. The law of supply and demand applies.

But, the arguments against raising the minimum wage are not just based on economic utility. There is also the issue of economic liberty. To give government the power to set a minimum wage is also to give it the power to set a maximum wage. Or to set any wage, for that matter. This is an extraordinary power, and one that cannot be safely entrusted to government.

The power to set wages is one which government cannot assume without doing serious damage to every citizen's interest in economic liberty. Its exercise involves a judgment which government is incompetent to make, but which still manages to inspire the false belief that government action leads to economic prosperity.

Summing up...the minimum wage is a bad idea all around, and everyone - except maybe a few politicians - would be better off if this particular remnant of the New Deal were abolished altogether.

Well, if that's your definition of "diversity"

A new study by the National Conference of State Legislatures claims to show that legislative term limits "have not led to the new breed of diverse, citizen legislators proponents expected." From the AP:

Between 1995 and 2004, the only term-limited assemblies with an increase in the number of women were California and South Dakota. In a majority of states with term limits, the number of female lawmakers decreased, the report said.

Open seats caused by term limits did clear the way for an increase in Hispanic lawmakers in California, Florida and Arizona, and for blacks in Michigan and Arkansas.

But the report's authors argue that the increase in minority representation mirrors demographic trends in those states.

"No systematic differences exist in the number of racial and ethnic minorities in the term-limited legislatures versus non-limited legislatures," the report stated.
That may be interesting information, but the principal goal behind term limits was never to increase the numbers of women and minorities elected to state legislatures. Fortunately, voters aren't restrained by quotas, regardless of how much the nation's cultural elites would like them to be. Instead, term limits were intended to ensure that legislatures would continually get an influx of new blood, thereby reducing the influence of so-called "career politicians" on the legislative process. Whether term limits have succeeded in that objective is a different question entirely, and determining the answer will involve more than simply counting up the number of women and minorities in the room.

If anyone cared to look, my guess is that they would find that term-limited legislatures are more diverse in terms of legislators' ages, backgrounds, and possibly even ideology, than those which operate without term limits. Of course, those aren't the things that liberals mean when they talk about "diversity," so they aren't interested in them. For the diversocrats, it all comes down to race and sex: there is nothing more important. With that kind of philosophy, it's no wonder they have such a dim and humorless view of the world.

Alabama Democrats unveil "Covenant for the Future"

It sounds a lot like the Alabama Democratic Party has adopted the Republican Party platform as its own.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Democratic leaders revealed a 'Covenant for the Future' Tuesday with issues they plan to introduce during the 2007 legislative session, but critics say many of the proposals, such as banning PAC to PAC transfers, have been killed by Democrats in past sessions. ...

In addition to banning transfers between political action committees, the covenant also includes calls for eliminating sales tax on groceries, passing an amendment saying life begins at conception, requiring public schools to offer Bible literacy curriculum, passage of the Alabama Border Protection Act and creation of a scholarship program for medical students.

House Minority leader Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, issued a scathing response to the Democratic initiative Tuesday, calling it the "worst case of political plagiarism in Alabama history."

"In session after session, Republicans introduced most of the bills the Democrats now claim to support in areas like illegal immigration, property tax reappraisals and tax cuts," Hubbard said in the statement. "And in session after session the Democrats killed them all. The inaction of the Democrat leadership on these issues speaks much louder than their cheap words."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
On this day:

Economic liberty feels right at home in Auburn

Don't miss this Wall Street Journal piece on the Ludwig Von Mises Institute in Auburn. Here's a taste:
AUBURN, Ala. -- Growing up next door in Georgia, I never thought of Alabama as a beacon of intellect. Living in its capital city of Montgomery for two years didn't exactly change my mind. It wasn't until I moved to Europe a couple of years ago that I realized the Heart of Dixie was also the heart of sensible economic thinking.

One by one, I met young capitalist Continentals who had studied in Auburn. Not at Auburn University, mind you. Alabama's largest college is associated more with free-running athletes like Bo Jackson than with free-market philosophers. Rather, my Continental acquaintances had spent time at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an unaffiliated think tank located just off-campus that preaches the works of Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard and other economists from the Austrian School -- including, of course, the institute's namesake.
You'll find the Von Mises Institute blog here. There's also a link in the sidebar.

Monday, August 14, 2006
On this day:

EWTN celebrates 25 years

Twenty-five years ago, it wouldn't have seemed too far-fetched that Alabama would one day be home to the world's largest religious TV network. This is the heart of the Bible Belt, after all. But, if someone had said that this global network would be Catholic - well, that might have raised a few eyebrows. There may be plenty of bibles in Alabama, but most of them are of the Protestant variety. In spite of the odds, though, the Eternal Word Television Network is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, and it is still based in the city of its birth - Irondale, Alabama.

EWTN was the vision of Mother Mary Angelica, who founded it back in 1981 with $200 and a garage for a studio. Her motto is "God will provide," and that He has. EWTN now reaches into more than 118 million households in 127 countries.

The story of Mother Angelica's vision and the "media empire" she created is the subject of a recently-published book by Raymond Arroyo entitled Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles. National Review Online published an interview with Mr. Arroyo back in December, 2005, and NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez followed up with this piece shortly afterwards. (Lopez's interview with Arroyo is pretty entertaining, if for nothing more than the quips about Alabama...and Irondale, in particular. Ms. Lopez also wrote this outstanding profile - "Mother Angelica's Empire of the Airwaves" - back in 2001, for EWTN's 20th anniversary.)

For a shorter bio of Mother Angelica and a history of EWTN, be sure to check out Saturday's Associated Press article here.

University of Alabama: These colors are ours

The University of Alabama's lawsuit against Daniel Moore stinks to high heaven. If UA attorneys are right- that copyright law protects the crimson-and-white color combination, even when those colors are portrayed in works of art, then something is dreadfully wrong with the law.

I understand the need for universities to protect team logos, etc., but this goes way too far. Moore sells his artwork commercially, so it's somewhat understandable that the pinheads at the University would want to dip their greedy little hands into his pockets. However, Moore's prints depict public events. Not only that - he portrays them in a way that reflects his own talent and creativity. They are his works; he isn't "stealing" anything from the University. It seems to me that Moore's artistic interpretation of UA sporting events should be a defining example of the "fair use" of (presumably) copyrighted material. I'd bet that the thousands of Bama fans who have purchased Daniel Moore prints hope the courts will see things that way, too.

Friday, August 11, 2006
On this day:

Thoughts on federalism, the Civil War, and the Seventeenth Amendment

The following is an slightly-edited excerpt from a comment I made to a previous post. Maybe it'll stir up some discussion.

It's true that issues involving states' rights were among many which eventually led to secession and the Civil War. However, the end of the Civil War and the Union victory did not eliminate the role of the states under the Constitution. It is now over 140 years since the end of the War, and federalism remains an essential, if too-often-ignored, feature of American government.

A central assumption of American federalism is that the powers of the states were not granted by the federal government, nor by the Constitution; they are inherent in the states' existence as states; their recognition as such preceded both the ratification of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. That assumption is just as valid now as it was when the Constitution was ratified.

The states did not surrender their sovereignty following the Civil War. Neither side in that conflict would have ever agreed to such a radical departure from constitutional tradition. Furthermore, the states cannot surrender their rights, except by their consent. They did just that following the War by passing three constitutional amendments - the 13th, 14th, and 15th - which limited their own powers and strengthened those of the federal government. Although these three amendments served to alter the balance between the national government and the states, the principles of federalism are still very much embodied in the Constitution's text and structure.

Today, it's safe to say that the scope of the federal government's power extends further than most of the Constitution's framers would have ever intended. More importantly, I would argue that it extends further than the Constitution itself allows. To quote James Madison from Federalist #45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
How did we get to this point, where federal power so often extends to those "objects" that Madison said would be reserved to the states? One of the primary reasons is that the states no longer have any means to defend their interests as states in the federal government.

The Seventeenth Amendment, which provided for the direct popular election of U.S. Senators, was ratified in 1913. Prior to that time, Senators had been appointed by the state legislatures, guaranteeing states a direct role in the federal government and providing the necessary restraints against two of liberty's greatest foes: popular impulse and democratic excess.

With the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, the federal government was thrown out of balance; the states had deprived themselves of the Constitution's most important mechanism for defending their rights against potential usurpations by the federal government. Today, "we the people" control both houses of the national legislature, and the state governments have no effective means of protecting their interests. The most noticeable result of this overdose of democracy is a federal government that knows no limits. Are "the people" better off because of it? Are our liberties more secure now that the government in Washington is so much more responsive to our every need?

When the framers of the Constitution created the House of Representatives as the "popular branch" of government, elected every two years by the people, they did it with full knowledge of the failings of purely democratic forms of government. They understood that liberty is most secure when diverse, often-competing interests are balanced against each other. Thus, they wisely chose to create a bicameral legislature in which the popular branch - the House - would be counteracted by a second branch in which the sovereign interests of the states would find their voice. In abandoning the wisdom of the founders, we have uncovered our own folly.

So, if ever you want to know why the federal government spends over $2 trillion a year on so many things that have little, if any, basis in the powers of Congress as defined in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution...and why so many high-powered lobbyists call Washington, D.C. home...and why the states have come to resemble mere administrative arms of the federal government...don't blame Ronald Reagan, or George Bush, or Bill Clinton, or even FDR or LBJ. Blame those who proposed and ratified the Seventeenth Amendment.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
On this day:

Alabama to reevaluate rules governing abortion clinics

This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it fails to address the principal issue here: that late-term abortions - those that occur during the third trimester of pregnancy - will remain legal in Alabama indefinitely. Unfortunately, there's little that Alabama, or any other state, for that matter, can do about this tragic situation. For all practical purposes, states must condone abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy...thanks to the United States Supreme Court.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — State health officials have determined Alabama's rules for abortion clinics are not clear enough and will be revised, a move that comes just months after a clinic was closed amid allegations of numerous rules violations.

Rick Harris, who directs the department's Bureau of Health Provider Standards, would not specify the areas of Alabama law that women's clinics are having trouble understanding. But he said Wednesday proposed amendments should be ready in about 45 days. ...

Harris said three of the state's nine remaining abortion clinics have been inspected in the past week, and those findings supported the need for a change.

Anti-abortion groups have been especially dogged in their demands for reform in the months since a state health department investigation uncovered several violations at the Summit Medical Center in Birmingham, including abortions being performed without a doctor's presence.

In one case, health officials reported that a woman delivered a stillborn baby at an emergency room in February after a Summit nurse gave her the RU 486 abortion drug even though her blood pressure was too high and the baby was nearly full-term.
More specifically, the woman delivered a 6-pound 4-ounce stillborn child after being told by Summit staff that she was six weeks pregnant, in spite of the fact that she had been given an ultrasound that would have clearly shown otherwise. The only reasonable conclusion is that the clinic deliberately falsified records in order to avoid unwanted scrutiny by state health officials.

For more, see my previous posts on this incident: here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
On this day:

The ACLU and religious tolerance

A soon-to-be-built memorial to victims of Hurricane Katrina in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, is attracting the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union. The problem, it seems, is that the memorial will "feature a cross bearing a likeness of the face of Jesus." Never mind the fact that it will be constructed by volunteers - on private land using private funds.

At least one local official, Parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez, is not overly concerned. Of the ACLU, he says, "They can kiss my ass."

Monday, August 07, 2006
On this day:

Black flight

Interesting story from the Birmingham News:

In the past five years, Birmingham schools have lost 20 percent of their students. Nine of every 10 of those 7,300 children who left the city were black.

A Birmingham News analysis of five years of school enrollment data shows that this exodus of black families has led them to nearly every corner of Jefferson County, into the city of Hoover and throughout the suburbs of central Shelby County as far south as Calera. ...

This movement of black children into metro-area school systems that have more white children also may reverse the resegregation in the region created by white flight from the central cities of Jefferson County over the past generation. In 1999, public schools in the metro Birmingham area were the eighth-most segregated among America's 50 largest metro regions, according to researchers at the Mumford Center, State University of New York-Albany. Blacks now make up about 99 percent of the students in Birmingham city schools. ...

[Parents interviewed by the News] say one predominant purpose drove the decision to migrate - a desire for better education for their children.

Bubbling crude

Spurred by the spike in oil prices, the state's oil production increased last year for the first time in a decade. Interesting fact: Alabama ranks 15th in the nation in the total number of barrels produced.

Don't let the bedbugs bite

An old pest returns.

Friday, August 04, 2006
On this day:


Just thought I'd leave you guys with an inspiring message for the weekend...

Some of you may have heard about Dick and Rick Hoyt before. If you haven't (as I hadn't until just a few days ago), here's a little background. (Be sure to click on "Who are we.")

An amazing story, huh? Well, wait till you see the video.

Thursday, August 03, 2006
On this day:

Poll: 70% of Alabamians support Israel in fight against Hezbollah

A Press-Register/University of South Alabama poll shows that:
Of the 401 adults surveyed last week, 70 percent sided with Israel in the fighting that began earlier this month. More than half generally approve of the Bush administration's handling of the crisis.

Riley: not interested in '08 run for Prez or Veep

The Press-Register reports here.

The idea that Gov. Riley would be a leading contender for either office is a bit far-fetched, in my opinion, but I guess it gives the press something to talk about.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
On this day:

"Just keep your eyes on the grand old flag, Eula Mae"

From the Fort Payne Times-Journal:
A Valley Head man gave new meaning to the slogan, “Land of the free, home of the brave” Sunday after being arrested for walking naked along the highway while waving an American flag.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department arrested Gerald Lynn Kelley, 52 of Valley Head, and charged him with public lewdness in connection with the incident.

DeKalb Deputy Mike James said deputies were sent to Hammondville about 3 p.m. after receiving a number of calls about two men walking nude there along U.S. 11, just inside the town limits.

James said deputies and police officers with other local agencies found an allegedly intoxicated Kelly walking along the highway, wearing only cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.

He said authorities were unable to find the second individual, reportedly clad in the same type of attire as Kelly and carrying an American flag.

Police reports show the two men had been at a party that had gotten out of hand. Kelly was booked into the DeKalb County Jail. He was released early Monday morning on a $1,500 bond.

Shop till you drop

Don't forget about the sales tax holiday this weekend. From 12:01 a.m. on Friday until midnight on Sunday, certain "eligible items" will be exempt from the 4% state sales tax. Many counties and municipalities are also participating, providing exemptions from county and city sales taxes, as well. (To find out if your city or county is participating, see here.)

"Eligible items" include school supplies costing $50 or less, items of clothing costing $100 or less, computer-related items costing $750 or less, and books priced at $30 or less. For the complete details of the tax holiday rules, see here.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind, from the Mobile Press-Register:
Before heading to the stores, shoppers should be aware of a few of the guidelines of the holiday. The exemption cannot be applied to a portion of an item's cost. For instance, if a customer buys a pair of pants that cost $120, he must pay tax on the entire $120, not just the $20 over the eligible limit.

The tax exemption will apply to items that meet the threshold after a discount is applied. For example, if a computer costs $850, but its sales price is reduced to $750 through a discount, then the computer qualifies as a tax-free sale.

No additional tax is due for covered items exchanged after the tax exemption period, the guidelines state. For a 60-day period after the holiday ends, when a customer returns an item that qualified for the exemption, no sales tax refund will be granted unless the customer provides a receipt proving he paid sales tax.

Joking about religion

In some places, it can get you in trouble. This news comes from across the pond:

A woman has been told by police that she must remove a sign on her garden gate that reads "Our dogs are fed on Jehovah's Witnesses" because it is "distressing, offensive and inappropriate".

Jean Grove, a pensioner, has displayed the sign for 32 years. Her late husband, Gordon, put it up after members of the Church banged on their door on Christmas Day 1974.

Read the whole's pretty funny. It seems that the only people concerned by the sign are the British PC police. Even the local Jehovah's Witnesses are taking it in stride.

A few religious jokes

Because it never hurts to take ourselves a little less seriously. Hope y'all enjoy.

Baptist Joke #1:
Q: Why do you have to take two Baptists with you when you go fishing?

A: Because if you take just one, he'll drink all your beer.

Baptist Joke #2:

You might be a Southern Baptist if:

- You think God's presence is strongest on the back three pews.

- Your definition of fellowship has something to do with food.

- You honestly believe that the Apostle Paul spoke King James English.

- You think Jesus actually used Welch's grape juice and saltine crackers.

- You think someone who says "Amen" while the preacher is preaching might be a Charismatic.

- You clapped in church and felt guilty about it all week.

- You are old enough to get a senior discount at the pharmacy, but not old enough to promote to the Senior Adult Sunday School.
Baptist joke #3:

One day a man dies, who was a devout Christian. Saint Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates and begins to give him a tour of Heaven. As the tour goes on, Saint Paul points out all the different Christians. "There's the Catholics, there's the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Presbyterians", and so forth. As they come to this one group way off to themselves, Saint Paul motions for the man to come closer and whispers. "Now, for this next group, we need to be really quiet. They are the Baptists and they think they're the only ones in Heaven."

Baptist Joke #4:

How do you know that Adam was a Baptist?

Only a Baptist could stand next to a naked woman and be tempted by a piece of fruit.

Baptist and Methodists:

What's the difference between a Baptist and a Methodist? The Methodist will tell you "howdy" when he sees you in the liquor store.

Multidenominational joke:

How many Christians does it take to change a lightbulb?

Charismatics: Only one. Hands already in the air.

Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Episcopalians: Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Church wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Nazarene: Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Jehovah's Witnesses: Three. One to screw in the bulb, and two to knock on your door and ask you if you've seen the light!

Mormons: Just one, after his wives have gotten on the school bus.

Amish: What's a light bulb?

Episcopalian Joke #1:

Do you know why Episcopalians are lousy chess players? Because they don't know the difference between a Bishop and a Queen!

Episcopalian Joke #2:

For every four Episcopalians, you're sure to find a fifth.

Episcopalian Joke #3:

A line of people was formed up at the Pearly Gates, waiting to enter. St. Peter was checking their names off a clipboard. The next man stepped up and said, "Peter, I'm Jewish, can I still get in?"

St. Peter said, "Why, of course. We have a reciprocity agreement. Let me just check your records here . . . Uh oh. You know that BLT sandwich you had last week? The "B" is for bacon, and bacon is pork, and you know you're not allowed to eat pork. Sorry, come back later."

The next man stepped up. "St. Peter, I'm Roman Catholic, surely you'll let me
in." St. Peter says, "Why, of course. Let me just check the documentation here . . . Hmmmm -- you know that Big Mac you ate last Friday. It's Lent, you know -- no meat on Friday. You'll have to come back later."

The next man steps up. "I'm Episcopalian, I can get in right away, can't I?" St. Peter says, "Naturally! Let me just check this over . . . Uh oh. That vestry dinner last week? You ate your salad with the fish fork."

UU Joke #1:

Why are Unitarian Universalists such lousy hymn singers? They are reading ahead to see if they agree with the next line.

UU Joke #2:

Q: How can you identify a Unitarian-Universalist extremist group?

A: If they burn a question mark on your lawn.

Mormon Joke #1:

Q: Why do Mormon women stop having babies at thirty-five?
A: Because thirty-six is just too many.

Mormon Joke #2:

A Mormon Bishop got on an elevator on the 10th floor. As the elevator stopped on the 8th floor, a beautiful woman walked in. On the way to the lobby the gorgeous woman hit the stop button. She turned to the Bishop and said: "Can you make me feel like a true woman?" The Bishop said: "I sure can" and excitedly took off all his clothes, he then threw them in the corner of the elevator. He turned to the woman pointed to the clothes and said: "Now fold them".

Mormon Joke #3:

Q: Why was the Mormon man upset about his marriage counseling bill?

A: Because he didn't get a group rate.

Catholic Joke #1:

A drunk staggered down the main street of the town. Somehow he managed to make it up the stairs to a cathedral and into the entrance, where he crashed from pew to pew, finally making his way to a side aisle and into a confessional.

A priest had observed all this, and figured the fellow needed some help, so he entered his side of the confessional. After the priest sat there in deathly silence, he finally asked, "May I help you, my son?"

"I dunno," came the drunk's voice from behind the partition. "You got any paper on your side?"

Catholic joke #2:
A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass, he asked the monsignor how he had done. The monsignor replied, "When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip."

So the next Sunday, he took the monsignor's advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm. Upon returning to his office, he found the following note on his door.

1) Sip the vodka, don't gulp.
2) There are 10 Commandments, not 12.
3) There are 12 Disciples, not 10.
4) Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5) Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
6) We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J. C.
7) The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior, and Spook.
8) David slew Goliath, he did not kick the s**t out him.
9) When David was hit by a rock and knocked off his donkey, don't say he was stoned off his ass.
10) We do not refer to the cross as the 'Big T'.
11) When Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper, he said, "Take this and eat it, for it is my body." He did not say, "Eat me."
12) Recommended grace before a meal is not 'Rub-A-Dub-Dub, thanks for the grub, yeah God'.
13) Next Sunday there will be a taffy-pulling contest at St. Peter's, not a peter-pulling contest at St. Taffy's.
Catholic joke #3:

A Catholic priest and a Presbyterian minister used to discuss mutual parish problems over a game of tennis. After a recent visit to the courts they went to have their showers when a fire broke out. They ran out into the street...stark naked.

While they were running for safety, the minister covered his private parts and looking up noticed that his Catholic colleague held his hands over his face.

The minister said: "Why do you cover your face?" "Well," replied the priest, "Most people would recognize my face."

Catholic joke #4:

Two guys are painting the ceiling of a Catholic church when they look down and see a little old lady kneeling in prayer. One of the painters decides to say, " Lady, This is Jesus speaking to you." Nothing happens so he says again, "Woman, this is Jesus speaking to you." Finally the lady looks up and says, "Shut up! I'm speaking to your mother!"
Catholics and Lutherans:

A Lutheran pastor and his wife were driving along Lake Shore Drive, in Chicago, and they were pulled over for speeding. As officer O'Malley approached the pastor, he saw the pastor's clerics, and mistook him for a Roman Catholic priest. "Oh, sorry about dat, fader. Uh, just try and slow it down a little, OK?" As they drove away, the pastor's wife said, "Shame on you, Harold! That was unethical. You know who he thought you were!" "Oh, I know who he thought I was," replied the pastor. "I'm just wondering who he thought you were."

Jews, Protestants, and Baptists:
Jews don't recognize Jesus as the Son of God.
Protestants don't recognize the pope as the Ruler of the Church.
Baptists don't recognize each other in a liquor store.
Jews, Catholics, and Baptists:

In a 1st grade class room, it was Show and Tell day. The teacher picked 3 boys to stand up and present their objects to the class.

The first boy stood up and said "Hi, My name is Abram, I'm Jewish and this is a Matzaball!"

The second boy got up and said "Hi, my name is Johnny and I'm Catholic, this is a Crucifix!"

Finally the third boy got up and said "Hi, My name is Billy and I am Baptist, and this is a casserole!"

Jews, Pentecostals, and Catholics:

A priest, a Pentecostal preacher and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop. One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear.

One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go up to the Smokies, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience.

Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages on his body and limbs, went first. "Well," he said, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So, I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, "WELL brothers, you KNOW that WE don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrassle. We wrassled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So right quick-like, I DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape. The rabbi looks up and says, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start."

Catholics and Jews:

A priest and a rabbi operated a church and a synagogue across the street from each other. Since their schedules intertwined, they decided to go in together to buy a car.

After the purchase, they drove it home and parked in on the street between their establishments. A few minutes later, the rabbi looked out and saw the priest sprinkling water on their new car. It didn't need a wash, so he ran out and asked the priest what he was doing.

"I'm blessing it," the priest replied.

The rabbi considered this a moment, then said, "Oh," and ran back inside the synagogue. He reappeared a moment later with a hacksaw, ran to the back of the car and cut off the last two inches of the tailpipe.

Jewish joke #1:

A young Jewish boy starts attending public school in a small town.

The teacher of the one-room school decides to use her position to try to influence the new student. She asks the class, "Who was the greatest man that ever lived?"

A girl raises her hand and says, "I think George Washington was the greatest man that ever lived because he is the Father of our country."

The teacher replies, "Well...that's a good answer, but that's not the answer I am looking for."

Another young student raises his hand and says, "I think Abraham Lincoln was the greatest man that lived because he freed the slaves and helped end the civil war."

"Well, that's another good answer, but that is not the one I was looking for."

Then the new Jewish boy raises his hand and says, "I think Jesus Christ was the greatest man that ever lived."

The teacher's mouth drops open in astonishment. "Yes!" she says,"that's the answer I was looking for."

She then brings him up to the front of the classroom and gives him a lollipop.

Later, during recess, another Jewish boy approaches him as he is licking his lollipop. He says, "Why did you say, 'Jesus Christ'?" The boy stops licking his lollipop and replies, "I know it's Moses, and YOU know it's Moses, but business is business."

Jewish joke #2:

A Jewish man was growing nervous. His son was coming of age and his 13th year
was drawing closer. The Jewish father was concerned that his young son was not
well versed in the Jewish faith and wanted to better educate him on ihs roots
before his bar mitzvah. The father decided to send his young son to Israel to see their homeland and study his heritage.

It later came time for the young boy to return home. The boy came in and fell to his fathers feet thanking him over and over for sending him to Israel. "Ohhh father" he exclaimed excitedly "I learned so much while I was there...but I have some bad news" pausing a second or so he concluded "While I was there I converted to Christianity."

The father fell to his knees "OHHH NOOOO What have I done??" Worried he hurried over to his closest friends house. After explaining what happened to him his friend replied "Funny you should bring this to me...I also sent my son to Israel..and he TOO converted to Christianity."

The two friends almost in a panick decided they must immediatly go to the Rabbi and ask for guidance. After explaining the Rabbi replied "Funny you should bring this to me..I TOO sent my son to Israel and he ALSO converted to Christianity."

All three men in unison fell to their knees and blurted out prayers to God begging for guidance. God quietly replied "Funny you should bring this to me...I TOO sent my son to Israel..."

Jewish Joke #3:

Back in cowboy times, a westbound wagon train was lost and low on food. No other humans had been seen for days and then the pioneers saw an old Jewish rabbi sitting beneath a tree.

"Is there some place ahead where we can get food?" they asked.

"Vell, I tink so," the old man said, "but I wouldn't go up dat hill und down de udder side. Somevun tole me you'd run into a big bacon tree."

"A bacon tree?" asked the wagon train leader.

"Yah, an bacon tree. Vould I lie? Trust me. I vouldn't go dere."

The leader goes back and tells his people what the rabbi said. "So why did he say not to go there?," a person asked. Other pioneers said, "Oh, you know those Jewish people - they don't eat bacon."

So the wagon train goes up the hill and down the other side. Suddenly, Indians attack them from everywhere and massacre all except the leader who manages to escape and get back to the old rabbi. Near dead, the man shouts, "You fool! You sent us to our deaths! We followed your route but there was no bacon tree, just hundreds of Indians who killed everyone but me."

The old Jewish man holds up his hand and says, "Oy, vait a minute." He quickly picks up an English-Yiddish dictionary and begins thumbing through it. "Oy Gevalt, I made myself such ah big mishtake! It vuzn't a bacon tree, it vuz a ham bush!"

Muslim Joke #1:
Did you hear about the Muslim strip club? It features full facial nudity!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
On this day:

Baptists v. Catholics

All in good fun, of course. (H/T Southern Appeal via The Pen is Mightier.)

Ever wonder what's at the end of the rainbow?

What else would you expect?

UA's $400,000 fountain

From the Tuscaloosa News:

The last fountains at the University of Alabama were demolished when campus administrators learned college students and freestanding pools of running water don’t mix.

This time, university leaders are banking that almost half a million dollars will buy a nearly foolproof fountain, avoiding the mornings when administrators arrived on campus to find fountains bubbling with laundry detergent.

Construction began this month on the first fountain on UA’s campus in about 15 years. Another is slated to begin construction in the spring.

With a price tag of a little more than $400,000, the two fountains are part of a larger beautification of the campus, which Tim Leopard, assistant vice president for construction, maintains is good use of university money.

Good use? Sounds more like a frivolous luxury to me, but I guess the University can afford it. Back in May, the Board of Trustees agreed to raise next year's in-state tuition by 8.5%. That comes on top of back-to-back increases of 16.25% and 12.2% the two preceding years, in addition to a 17% increase in funding from the state this year.

Then, there's the $18 million the feds are kicking in to build two new parking decks and the $1.5 million they are providing for a campus shuttle system so that students (heaven forbid) won't have to walk so far to class.

Well, back in my day...we walked to class every day...a mile, maybe two, each way...risking our lives to cross University Boulevard...wary of the bricks that would occasionally fall from Denny Chimes...dodging crazed bicyclists on the sidewalks...avoiding traveling preachers and preying credit card salesmen...navigating through the treacherous bog pits of the Quad. Yes, we did all that, and we liked it. Sure, having some fancy-schmancy water-squirter to cool us off in the stifling 100-degree Tuscaloosa heat would have been nice, but we learned that if you needed to cool off for a few minutes, you could always duck into the Women's Studies building, where it was always oddly frigid.

Oh well. Progress is progress, I suppose, but if you notice a bunch of fat, wet college kids running sitting around Tuscaloosa this fall, don't say I didn't warn you.

Speaking of Fidel

He's sick. Physically, I mean.