Friday, February 29, 2008
On this day:

"Yo Sebastian! Strike up the band!"

NRO's Peter Robinson had a very sweet thought yesterday on how WFB might have been received into the hereafter:

The Trumpets This Morning [Peter Robinson]

"And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset," Margaret Thatcher said in her eulogy for Ronald Reagan, "I like to think, in the words of Bunyan, that 'all the trumpets sounded on the other side.'"

When the trumpets sounded once again this morning, we know just what they played.

This is the song Robinson was talking about. It served as Mr. Buckley's theme song for his 33 years as host of Firing Line, but I imagine that two days ago, it was played to perfection by an orchestra led by the great composer himself.

Thursday, February 28, 2008
On this day:

Friends of Obama

Thanks to and others, we now have a bit more insight into why Barack Obama seems so eager to welcome those who consider themselves to be enemies of America into the White House . He's apparently had a fair amount of experience in conducting such friendly tête-à-têtes. See here, here, and here. Very troubling.

Bloomberg News reported this story originally, and it was picked up by the New York Sun here.

Commentary's John Podhoretz asks some very good questions:

Barack Obama is in no way responsible for anything William Ayers might have said or done, and anyone who suggests otherwise is guilty of demagougery.

But here’s a thought experiment. What if John McCain had visited the Unabomber’s cabin? Or had been photographed with Terry Nichols? Or had stopped off at David Duke’s house at some point because he was gathering support and donors?

How big a story would that be?

Should Alabama hold a constitutional convention? (Part 1)

That was the question debated by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and Alabama Citizens for Contsitutional Reform co-chair Lenora Pate last night at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity here in Huntsville. Fellow Huntsville blogger Brian was there, and he has posted a good summary over at FlashPoint.

While Alabama's constitution has numerous flaws, I don't believe that it is so irreparably flawed as to warrant a constitutional convention.

The first thing to consider in any discussion of constitutional reform is that the Alabama constitution has almost 800 amendments, making it the longest written constitution in the world. It seems that amending the fundamental law of our state has become almost habitual. Without getting into the broader debate over whether the basic principles of the Alabama constitution are sound, there are three main reasons why this habit is a Bad Thing:
  1. Knowing what the fundamental law is is practically impossible, given the sheer number of amendments and their contradictions to each other and to the body of the Constitution;
  2. Knowing what the fundamental law will be in the future is unpredictable, given the state's propensity to change it on a whim; and
  3. When considering the relative value of all these amendments to the greater good - an average of almost 8 per year have been ratified over the past 107 years - it becomes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
These three objections to the Alabama Constitution form the basis of a conservative argument in favor of reform. First, a body of law that is both unknowable and unpredictable inevitably breeds contempt among the people it governs. Secondly, when the fundamental law of the land is weighted down with provisions that are not essential to the system of government that it establishes, it can easily become a malleable plaything for whatever faction holds the reins of power at a given time.

As to what sort of reform is necessary or how such reforms might be effected, I'll have to save that for later posts. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a question and a comment:

Why has the Alabama Constitution been amended so often? Is it that it is too easily amended or that there are things inherent to its structure that make amendment necessary? Or is it a combination of both?

The defects I have mentioned suggest that there is a conservative case for constitutional reform, not for a constitutional revolution. Alabama's constitution places greater restraint on the powers of state government and its agents than any other state constitution in the Union. A constitutional convention, which would likely result in a complete overhaul of our system of government, is both unjustified and unjustifiable.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
On this day:

An Almighty Memo

From an NRO reader:
I am saddened by the passing of William F. Buckley, but our loss is Heaven's gain, and I'm sure the Good Lord told his angels to "Bring me a dictionary, Buckley's coming."

The complete WFB

The writings of William F. Buckley, Jr., dating back to 1950, are available online at this site, maintained by Hillsdale College.

William F. Buckley, Jr., RIP

People today often claim to be Ronald Reagan conservatives. Well, Ronald Reagan was a Bill Buckley conservative.

Mr. Buckley was the founder and editor of National Review magazine, host of PBS's Firing Line, candidate for mayor of New York City, author of political treatises and spy novels, a first-rate intellectual, and a lover of life. Just an amazing, amazing man. And what a legacy. May he rest in peace.

There are more comments and remembrances over at the web site of National Review, the magazine Mr. Buckley founded over fifty years ago at the tender age of 30.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
On this day:

Global warming?

The National Post's Lorne Gunter writes:

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

Daily Tech's Michael Asher reports:
Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

...The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

The Earth's climate undergoes natural cyclic variations which are determined by numerous factors, many of which climatologists readily admit are either unknown or not fully understood. None of this new data proves that global warming isn't occurring or that CO2 emissions aren't a major contributor to climate change.

They're interesting observations, though, dontcha think?

The Siegelman "Blackout"

There have been lots of Two Minute Hate sessions lately over an interruption that occurred Sunday evening during Huntsville CBS affiliate WHNT-19's broadcast of the 60 Minutes segment on Don Siegelman. The station has since apologized, explaining that "our station's CBS receiver that allows us to receive programming from the CBS network's feed failed." WHNT news director Denise Vickers explained further here.

The station has rebroadcast the Siegelman segment two times since it was originally scheduled to air on Sunday evening - once later that night and again during Monday's 6 o'clock news. It has also provided a link to the piece from its web page. Residents of North Alabama have now had more opportunities to view the broadcast than practically anyone else in the country.

Before the station had a chance to explain the situation or to make amends, several conspiracy-minded blog-heads took to their keyboards, throwing around terms like "censorship," "blackout," and "fascist" to describe WHNT, its staff, and its owners. Here's a small sampling of those responses:

Andrew Sullivan: "the program was simply blocked from being shown in northern Alabama."

Harper's Scott Horton: "In a stunning move of censorship, the transmission was blocked across the northern third of Alabama by CBS affiliate WHNT, which is owned by interests of the Bass Family." Even after the station apologized and issued a rather detailed explanation, Horton still smelled a conspiracy, as his subsequent posts indicate: see here ("Bridge in Brooklyn noticed for sale") and here ("The Great Tennessee Valley Blackout").

Huffington Post's Larisa Alexandrovna: "Tonight was something truly unseen in US history. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Don Siegelman portion -- the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents. There are other reports of other locations, but I have not yet confirmed those. ... In other words, in the United States of America, a man is imprisoned for being a Democrat. When reporters attempt to get this story out, they are threatened and smeared. When all else fails, the public is not allowed to see the news. This is not acceptable and I -- as a US citizen -- demand that Congress investigate this series of blackouts immediately. Any company involved in this must have their FCC license pulled too."

Mike Nizza of the New York Times: "Governments that try to keep a firm grip on information flow in their countries, like the Kremlin, have used 'technical problems' as an excuse to shut out unwelcome content on the Web and television. But could it have happened in the United States?"

Left in Alabama: " has been reported that the Siegelman segment only was blacked out in areas of Alabama that depend on channel 19 WHNT for the broadcast. This is scary and fascist."

Even scarier is that there are so many folks out there who are so lacking in common courtesy and self-discipline that they readily denounce their perceived oppressors as fascists, even when their own words prove that haven't the foggiest idea of what fascism actually is.

Such ill-tempered overreactions aren't limited to left-wingers, of course. We've all been guilty of it from time to time. Still, when we bloggers are sitting in front of our computer screens typing out our latest rant, it sometimes helps to stop and think for a moment before hitting that "Publish" button.

Monday, February 25, 2008
On this day:

The prosecution of Don Siegelman

Last night's 60 Minutes segment entitled "The Prosecution of Don Siegelman" can be viewed here.

There's lots to be said about this piece and the whole controversy surrounding Siegelman's prosecution. I won't be able to get to much of it in this post, partly because there's just so much to discuss and partly because I need some time to refresh my memory on all the details.

First off, this is hardly an example of fair and balanced reporting. We're clued in to that from the very beginning, in CBS correspondent Scott Pelley's brief intro:
Is Don Siegelman in prison because he’s a criminal or because he belonged to the wrong political party in Alabama? Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama, and he was the most successful Democrat in that Republican state.
Anyone familiar with Alabama politics knows that it is simply not accurate to call Alabama a "Republican state." While the state has been trending Republican for decades, the Democratic Party is still very strong here: both houses of the state legislature are dominated by Democrats, and a majority of local elected officials are Democrats.

Later in the piece, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, a Republican, stated:
I personally believe that what happened here is that they [the Republican federal prosecutors] targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of.
In fact, Don Siegelman was beaten "fair and square" by Lucy Baxley in the 2006 Democratic primary. In fact, there are quite a few very powerful Alabama Democrats that Republicans have yet to "get rid of." Like Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, U.S. Representative Bud Cramer (AL-5), U.S. Representative Artur Davis (AL-7), Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Ron Sparks, and numerous members of the House and Senate who have been persistent thorns in the sides of the state's Republican office holders. Of these, Baxley, Folsom, Davis, and Sparks have been mentioned as leading Democratic candidates for Governor in the 2010 election. There are more Democrats who have benefited from Don Siegelman's demise than Republicans.

But it is trivial to argue about whether or not Alabama is a "Republican state" or about who has benefited most from Siegelman's conviction. As it stands, we now have a former Governor serving time in the federal penitentiary under a sentence that is disproportionate to the offense(s) he may or may not have committed; that should be troubling regardless of one's party affiliation. While the 60 Minutes report was clearly a one-sided defense of Don Siegelman, it nonetheless raises several important questions:

1) Was Siegelman's conviction on federal bribery charges legit? I have my doubts. The bribery conviction resulted from Siegelman's appointment of HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to Alabama's Certificate of Need Review Board in exchange for Scrushy's donation of $500,000 to Siegelman's lottery campaign fund. There is no evidence that Siegelman pocketed any of that money. The only personal benefit to Siegelman, if any, was purely incidental.

2) Was the prosecution of Don Siegelman politically motivated? I suspect that it was, in that the political inclinations of the U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted the case led them to believe - as I did, and still do - that Don Siegelman was a corrupt politician whose backroom shenanigans needed to see the light of day. But the prosecutors got ahead of themselves. They found evidence of corruption in what was no more than run-of-the-mill politicking. Many of their charges were brought under the federal RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act, a law which was intended to curb organized crime. As much as the right-winger in me wants to believe that much of what government does nowadays is in fact organized crime, that doesn't make it so. The federal RICO statute is ripe for abuse, and interpreting it too broadly runs contrary to the law's intent and serves to undermine the federalist principles of the Constitution.

3) Did Karl Rove enlist Republican attorney and GOP activist (?) Jill Simpson to spy on Don Siegelman in order to catch him cheating on his wife with an unnamed aide? I don't doubt that the Republican Party in Alabama has done an enormous amount of "opposition research" on Don Siegelman. That's the nature of politics, and it shouldn't be surprising to anyone. This kind of dirty politics goes both ways. Still, it's hard to believe that an administration big-wig like Karl Rove would have asked a low-level operative like Jill Simpson to "take pictures of a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," as she has alleged. Ms. Simpson doesn't seem like a liar, but a major defect in the 60 Minutes report is that no reasonable person could convict her of telling the truth, since the proper follow-up questions were never asked. For instance, 60 Minutes didn't ask Simpson how she would have had such intimate access to the former Governor that she would have been able to whip out her digital camera on a moment's notice to catch him receiving a Lewinsky.

I'm sure I'll be posting more on this story later in the week. In the meantime, for a differing view on this story, I suggest reading Quin Hillyer (formerly of the Mobile Press-Register) here and here.

Monday, February 18, 2008
On this day:

The Bama Pork Parade

From the Huntsville Times:

Ditto Landing Marina in Huntsville has been awarded a federal grant to build nine slips for visiting boats and a fuel dock.

The boating infrastructure grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior was awarded Wednesday to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Huntsville/Madison County Marina and Port Authority, which oversees Ditto Landing.

The $345,000 grant must be matched with $500,000, according to a news release from the Interior Department.

Happy Washington's Birthday

Presidents' Day? Pfui! (H/T Scott Allan)

I would prefer to celebrate Washington's Birthday on...well...Washington's birthday - February 22. But whatever date is chosen, you'll never find me celebrating this watered down pick-your-favorite-president holiday they call "Presidents' Day."

Here's Gleaves Whitney on NRO today:
People ask why a few of us presidential junkies would like to see Presidents’ Day changed back to Washington’s Birthday. The technical explanation has to do with a misguided law called HR 15951 that was passed in 1968 to make federal holidays less complicated. The real answer is simply this: George Washington is our greatest president, and too few American children know why.
For my previous Washington's Birthday posts, see here ("Bring Back Washington's Birthday", Feb. 21, 2005), here ("George Washington: The Indispensable Man", Feb. 22, 2005), here ("Presidents' Day? What's that?", Feb. 20, 2006), and here ("Remembering George Washington", Feb. 22, 2007).

You know you're a geek when...

You buy a t-shirt like this. So...where can I find one?

(Don't get the joke? See here.)

More (lots more) on Kosovo

Lee Hudson Teslik of the Council on Foreign Relations summarizes the implications of Kosovar secession from Serbia, and says, "Kosovo’s secession seems likely to open as many questions as it resolves."

The CFR also has this interview with former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke from December 2007, in which he predicts that Kosovo's declaration of independence may lead to a "huge diplomatic train wreck."

Two weeks ago, The Economist had this article discussing the potential impact of Kosovar independence on Serbia's governing coalition.

An online debate between Marshall F. Harris (pro) and Alan J. Kuperman (con) on the issue of independence for Kosovo is here. Kuperman has an article entitled "Averting the Third Kosovo War" in the January/February issue of The American Interest.

The National Interest has a "Report and Retort" on Kosovo's future between Dimitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center and publisher of The National Interest, and Frank G. Wisner, U.S. special envoy to the talks on Kosovo.

Sunday, February 17, 2008
On this day:

Kosovo declares independence from Serbia

The New York Times reports here; the AP here.

Should the EU and the U.S. have been more cautious in their support for the Kosovo independence movement? There are at least three reasons why the answer to that question may be "yes."

1. Serbs claim that Kosovo is their ancestral heartland. The loss of Kosovo is likely to play into the hands of Serbian nationalists, who are already seeking (and finding) solidarity with their traditional Russian friends. Their ultimate objective is to retake Kosovo - by force if necessary.

2. Russia, which is putting its new-found wealth to work rebuilding its military and reenergizing its international diplomacy vis-a-vis Europe and the U.S., is all too eager to pry off Serbia from the West. Will the prospect of E.U. membership be enough to keep the Serbs in the Western fold when many of them see in Russia a loyal ally that recognizes Serbia's historical claims in Kosovo?

3. In response to Kosovo's declaration, Russia has threatened to make mischief not only in the Balkans, but also in the Russian "near abroad" by supporting separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are currently ruled by the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

4. If Europe and the U.S. recognize Kosovo, the presence of NATO forces there will place the West in the position of defending its independence. What was once a mainly humanitarian mission to prevent genocide will now become an intense geopolitical struggle in an area of the world that has been a hotbed of turmoil for ages.

Here's more from the experts:

The Belmont Club asks: "Kosovo's Independence: who's for it, who's against. Who will protect the Serbs? Will it work?"

Charles A. Kupchan, Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in support of independence for Kosovo in the November/December 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

Agim Ceku, the former prime minister of Kosovo, wrote in November, 2007 for the Wall Street Journal: "Kosovo wants independence."

Doug Bandow, the Robert A. Taft fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance, warned last month in the American Spectator that Kosovar independence is "likely to be both divisive and destabilizing." His argument is quite persuasive:
The most sensible policy for Washington would be to step back and indicate that there will be no recognition without genuine negotiations, that is, talks without a predetermined outcome, between Kosovo and Serbia.

On the table should be all options, including overlapping citizenships (Kosovo, Serb, EU), and secession within secession, that is, allowing the ethnic Serbs concentrated to Kosovo's north, principally around Mitrovica, to remain in Serbia.

THE U.S. SHOULD halt the independence bandwagon, though not because Washington has an intrinsic reason for objecting to Kosovo becoming a separate nation. In principle the status of this particular piece of real estate should not matter much to America. Whether the ethnic Albanians or Serbs rule in Pristina is intrinsically irrelevant to U.S. interests.
Then again, as James G. Paulos noted in the Weekly Standard back in 2006:
WHY WOULD WE HELP what [Naser] Rugova [(head of Kosovo's Reforma party)] terms this "baby nation," at the cost of infuriating Serbia? The answer may be that we have little choice. To turn away now--having exerted so much energy on Kosovo, killed so many Serbs, and touted Western policies so earnestly--is to default on every promise we have made the Kosovars.
I've got a headache.

Saturday, February 16, 2008
On this day:

Fight over annual property reappraisals heats up again

This is much ado about very little, in my opinion:

MONTGOMERY - Democratic lawmakers and Republican Gov. Bob Riley, backed by his legislative allies, are playing a blame game over who's responsible for counties reappraising property each year for tax purposes and who should stop it.

Democrats this week and last hurled resolutions at Riley that blamed him for ordering annual reappraisals and called on him and his aides to interpret state laws as previous governors did and order a return to property reappraisals done once every four years.

"The truth of the matter is that Governor Riley created annual reappraisals and he can stop annual reappraisals," said Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville. "For him to say that the Legislature needs to stop him from reappraising annually is like a drunk saying, `You need to close the liquor stores to keep me from drinking.'"

Riley's office this week shot back with press releases that blasted Democrats, some of whom haven't kept 2006 campaign promises to back legislation that would stop annual reappraisals.

"If the Democrats are serious, the only thing they have to do is pass that legislation," Riley said at a press conference Wednesday.

Governor Riley says that he ordered annual property reappraisals five years ago because attorneys in the state Revenue Department said that the law required it. I don't find that to be a very convincing argument. As I wrote back in August of 2006, when this was an issue in the gubernatorial race:
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 September 2006, I added:
Annual reappraisals are not required under Alabama law; Governor Riley was the first to interpret it that way. If he wants to return to four-year reappraisals, he could do so with the stroke of a pen; no change in the law is needed.
I am pretty much neutral as to whether property should be appraised annually or every four years. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Given that Alabama's property taxes are the lowest in the nation (Hallelujah!), most taxpayers wouldn't notice much of a difference either way. When their property values are rising, owners would pay a little more with more frequent reappraisals; when property values are falling, they would pay a little less. A suitable compromise might be to appraise annually, while basing the assessed value on an average over some longer period.

Whatever. This is not that big of a deal, although it's somewhat disingenuous for the Governor to blame Democrats in the legislature for an unpopular policy that he implemented and that he has the power to undo.

Thursday, February 14, 2008
On this day:

Chris Matthews gushes over Obama's sweet nothings: "I felt this thrill going up my leg"

Chris Matthews has a man-crush on Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, MSNBC has announced a new "Hardball" theme song:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
On this day:

Iraqi parliament passes three bills aimed at political reconciliation

It may be time for the Democrats and the media to revise their talking points on Iraq...yet again.

The New York Times reports:
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliamentary leaders on Wednesday pushed through three far-reaching measures that had been delayed for weeks by bitter political maneuvering that became so acrimonious that some lawmakers threatened to try to dissolve the legislative body.

More than any previous legislation, the new initiatives have the potential to spur reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites and set the country on the road to a more representative government, starting with new provincial elections.

The voting itself was a significant step forward for the Parliament, where even basic quorums have been rare. In a classic legislative compromise, the three measures, each of which was a burning issue for at least one faction, were packaged together for a single vote to encourage agreement across sectarian lines.

“Today we have a wedding party for the Iraqi Parliament,” said Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker, who is a Sunni. “We have proved that Iraqis are one bloc and Parliament is able to find solutions that represent all Iraqis.” ...

The three measures are the 2008 budget; a law outlining the scope of provincial powers, a crucial aspect of Iraq’s self-definition as a federal state; and an amnesty that would apply to thousands of the detainees held in Iraqi jails.


Several legislators emphasized after the voting on Wednesday that achieving true sectarian reconciliation was far more complex than simply passing a law.

“Reconciliation will hang on more than a law, it needs political will,” said Mithal al-Alusi, a Sunni legislator. “I believe there is no political will to achieve reconciliation. The law of amnesty is good, but not enough.”

So, as the diplomats say, we should be cautiously optimistic about what is obviously a very encouraging development.

Arch-terrorist with ties to Iran killed in Syrian capital

Somebody took out one of the big guys.

From the New York Times:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — A top Hezbollah commander long sought by the United States for his role in terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in the 1980s, died Tuesday night in Damascus, Syria, when a bomb detonated under the vehicle he was in, Syrian officials said.

No one claimed responsibility for killing the commander, Imad Mugniyah, who had been in hiding for many years and was one of the most wanted and elusive terrorists in the world. ...

Widely believed to have undergone plastic surgery to avoid detection, Mr. Mugniyah had not been seen in public for years and was thought to have moved between Iran, Syria and Lebanon at various times. Before 2001, he had been involved in more terrorist attacks against Americans than any other person, and at one point he had a $25 million American bounty on his head. ...

Mr. Mugniyah, who was also known as Hajj Rudwan, was one of the world’s most wanted men. American prosecutors charged him in the hijacking of the T.W.A. jetliner in 1985, during which a United States Navy diver, Robert D. Stethem, was shot dead and dumped onto the tarmac of Beirut’s airport.

Mr. Mugniyah was also accused of arranging shipments of arms from Iran to Palestinian groups. American officials say Mr. Mugniyah was behind the 1983 bombing of the Marine compound in Beirut, in which 241 service members were killed. A car bomb at the American Embassy there in the same year killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.

The United States also asserts that he was behind the torture and killing of William Buckley, the C.I.A. station chief in Beirut, in 1984; the kidnapping and killing of Lt. Col. William R. Higgins of the Marines, who was on peacekeeping duty in Lebanon in 1988; and in his capacity as leader of the Islamic Jihad Organization, the seizure of a number of Western hostages in Beirut during the 1980s. ...

Israel accused him of helping to plan the 1992 bombing of its embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 people were killed, and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in the city, in which 85 people died.
There's more from the New York Times here. Note who this guy's principal enablers were:
He is thought to have moved frequently between Beirut, Lebanon, Damascus and Tehran. His expertise and his protection by the leaders of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran made him hard to capture or to kill, according to intelligence experts. He was considered an agent of a wing of the Revolutionary Guards, which the United States says has sponsored terrorist attacks around the world since the Iranian revolution. ...

The Central Intelligence Agency long considered Mr. Mugniyah’s organization more dangerous than Al Qaeda, largely because his group was backed by Iran, even as Al Qaeda began to attack American targets in the late 1990s. ...

He became an early leader in the formation of the Islamic Jihad Organization, the terrorist wing of Hezbollah, and was assigned to anti-American operations.

Then there's this:
Mr. Mugniyah, a Shiite allied with Iran, and Mr. bin Laden, a Sunni from Saudi Arabia, would not seem to have been natural allies, yet there is evidence of contacts between them. They held at least one meeting in the 1990s, possibly to discuss a terrorist relationship, according to statements made in federal court by a former close aide to Mr. bin Laden.
For more on the Hezbollah-Al Qaeda relationship and Iran's friendship with both organizations, see this report by the Council on Foreign Relations.

So, who did it? The American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen speculates here, but right now it's anyone's guess. As one Israeli official said, "Whoever did should be congratulated."

Some good old country music

From the AP:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Emmylou Harris, Tom T. Hall, the Statler Brothers and the late Ernest "Pop" Stoneman will become the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, officials announced Tuesday.
So, for all you country music lovers, here's a little sampling of these new Hall of Famers:

In some of my posts, I have casually mentioned the fact that I like to drink beer. So does Tom T. Hall:

Just three things in this world are worth a solitary dime (That's about $1.50 in today's dollars): old dogs and children and watermelon wine.

Here's Emmylou Harris (a Birmingham native) singing "Making Belive":

It's alright, cause it's midnight, and she's got two more bottles of wine:

Wow, the Statler Brothers have been around a long time. Here's their version of "Shenandoah" from B&W.

And for all you Pulp Fiction fans, here's "Flowers on the Wall:"

I had never heard of "Pop" Stoneman, but here he is singing some Gospel: "When the Redeemed are Gathering In"

Alabama legislator indicted for "performing little or no work"

Damn, I thought that's what we paid them to do.

But seriously...

The Huntsville Times reports:

The attorney for indicted state Rep. Sue Schmitz [D.-Toney] vows to "aggressively and vigorously" fight the charges the government has levied against the Toney Democrat.

Schmitz [D., Toney], 63, pleaded not guilty Friday to a nine-count federal indictment charging her with mail fraud and theft.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from Schmitz's involvement with the Community Intensive Training for Youth (CITY) Program, a federally funded program, in Huntsville.

"We think the indictment is hollow and not worth the paper it is written on," attorney Jake Watson said Monday. "Sue Schmitz [D., Toney] is completely innocent of these charges."

The CITY Program operated in 10 locations throughout Alabama and sought to develop social, behavioral, and academic skills possessed by at-risk youth. Students were referred to the CITY Program through the juvenile court system.

The federal charges state that Schmitz [D., Toney] held the title of program coordinator for community and external affairs at the CITY Program from January 2003 to October 2006. Schmitz [D., Toney] received about $177,251.82 in salary and benefits, despite performing little or no work, according to the indictment.

The government also seeks forfeiture of the gains Schmitz [D., Toney] received through her alleged criminal conduct.

Is it really all that surprising (or unusual) that someone like Rep. Schmitz - the coordinator of a federally-funded social program - would do "little or no work"? If so, then we may have to indict half of the federal bureaucracy. Perhaps if Mrs. Schmitz had merely attended the right meetings and looked over the right shoulders, she would have avoided the gaze of an overzealous federal prosecutor.

But all of that is trivial. It doesn't matter one hair on a gnat's heinie whether employees of the U.S. Department of Manure-Spreading do their jobs or not. The real issue is that they were given jobs with the federal government in the first place.

Which brings me to Mrs. Schmitz's role with the CITY Program. What business is it of the federal government "to develop the social, behavioral, and academic skills possessed by at-risk youth?" What provision of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress that responsibility? If government at any level is to be involved in helping to civilize ill-behaved youngsters, shouldn't states and local governments take the lead?

But, when members of Congress are asked to fund extraconstitutional programs like the one Mrs. Schmitz didn't work on, more often than not they reply, "Yes, we can." If they were serious about their own jobs and faithful to their oath of office, they would answer, "No, we can't."

Huntsville is "greenest" city in the South

From the Huntsville Times:

Two years after labeling Huntsville a top 50 hot spot for technology, Popular Science is giving the city props for going green.

The respected magazine has ranked Huntsville No. 18 on its list of "America's 50 Greenest Cities," ahead of New York City, Denver and St. Louis, among others. Huntsville had the highest score of any Southern city surveyed, beating Lexington, Ky. (No. 25), Athens, Ga. (No. 33), Newport News, Va. (No. 41), Louisville, Ky. (No. 42), and Greensboro, N.C. (No. 50).

Read the full Popular Science article here.

Cities were ranked in four categories:
1) Electricity: Cities score points for drawing their energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power, as well as for offering incentives for residents to invest in their own power sources, like roof-mounted solar panels.

2) Transportation: High scores go to cities whose commuters take public transportation or carpool. Air quality also plays a role.

3) Green living: Cities earn points for the number of buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as for devoting area to green space, such as public parks and nature preserves.

4) Recycling and Green Perspective: This measures how comprehensive a city’s recycling program is (if the city collects old electronics, for example) and how important its citizens consider environmental issues.
Huntsville's scores were:
Electricity: 6.2/10
Transportation: 4.1/10
Green Living: 3.6/5
Recycling/Perspective: 4.5/5

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
On this day:

Obama cruises to easy victories in Virginia, Maryland, and DC

That he won isn't surprising. That he appears to have won by such large margins is: 75% in DC, and well over 60% in both Virginia and Maryland. This is not good - not good at all - for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and no amount of spin can make it better.

There's still a ways to go, but it's looking more and more like Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee come November. If things don't pan out for the good Senator, though, at least he's got other career options:

Stores found stocking year-old Valentine candy

This isn't a warning. It's an advertisement. What better gift for a year-ago ex?

(I'm only kidding, of course.)

Obama-Guevara '08?

Oh my. Just wait till the McCain campaign gets hold of this.

Cuban flags containing the image of Communist mass-murderer Che Guevara appear on (at least) two walls in Obama's Houston campaign office. (H/T: LGF)

Monday, February 11, 2008
On this day:

Rep. Tom Lantos, RIP

Rep. Tom Lantos (D.-California) was the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress. He was a liberal Democrat and a staunch anti-Communist during an era when many in his own party were all too willing to appease Communist aggression rather than stand fast against it.

Rep. Lantos was always outspoken and sometimes controversial, but he reserved his fiercest criticism for the totalitarians of all stripes who longed to extinguish freedom and human rights in the name of whatever radical and inhuman ideology they could latch onto in order to justify terror and oppression. From the San Francisco Chronicle's obit:
In 1987, then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping attacked Lantos by name for "slandering and vilifying China" over complaints about human rights abuses in Tibet. ...

When Yahoo, the Sunnyvale tech giant, was accused of providing the Chinese government with information that enabled them to track down and imprison dissidents who used the service, Lantos brought Jerry Yang, the company's founder, and the company's top lawyer to Washington last November and took them to task.

"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," he told them at the end of a three-hour hearing before his House Foreign Affairs Committee.

From the New York Times obit:
In October, members of the Dutch Parliament said he had insulted them by pointedly telling them at a meeting that some Europeans were more outraged by the Guantánamo detention center than by Auschwitz. And he once called former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany a “political prostitute” because of his ties to the Russian gas industry.
Rep. Lantos spoke at the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. in June 2007. That inspiring and controversial speech can be viewed here. Here is a transcript:
We are an ahistorical society, and it's absolutely mandatory that we remember the period of Communism which represented an existential threat to the civilized world. I salute and honor all those who played a role in bringing about this monument - so significant to the upcoming generation, which barely knows that not too many years ago, the Communists felt that they were the wave of the future, that the future belonged to them. And it took a handful of powerful political leaders in this country and elsewhere - Republicans and Democrats and individuals of all political persuasions - to recognize the difference between free and open and democratic societies, and Communist tyranny.

Since we are an ahistorical society, it is probably up to me, who spent most of his life in the 20th Century, to point out that Communism was not the only monstrous phenomenon determined to destroy free and open societies. It was my privilege to fight against Nazism and it was my privilege to fight against Communism. And it is now my privilege to fight against Islamist terrorism determined to take us back 13 centuries.

It was only a few months ago that I stood in Cleveland in front of a group of Hungarian Americans - Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts - commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Uprising. The 1956 Uprising was the quintessential rise of the human spirit against Communist tyranny. It had no chance of succeeding, people said. My view of the '56 Uprising is not that it was a failure; it was a delayed victory.

President Bush, who will be here in a few minutes, went to Budapest in November to commemorate that magnificent uprising, which is so symbolic of the human spirit which is unwilling to live under tyrannies in North Korea, in Iran, in Afghanistan under the Taliban, in Cuba, and in all these other places where monsters take control of government and are denying religious, political, human freedom to all their people.

There is not the slightest doubt in my mind, that long after the current tyrannies, exemplified by Ahmadinejad in Iran, will have been swept away by the forces of history, the United States of America - the "city on a hill" - the United States of America, of which not only I am proud to be a citizen, but every single individual who tasted Communism, from Albania to Estonia, knows that without the United States of America, this existential struggle for human freedom and human liberty would have been lost.

I am so glad that the era of Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder in Germany is now gone. I had occasion to point out to my German friends what we did for them in two generations. We saved them from Hitler. We gave them the Marshall Plan. We had a little sideshow called the Berlin Airlift - 253,000 flights to keep the people of Berlin fed and warm. And for two generations, we protected them from the Soviet Union. And when we asked Schroeder to stand with us, he told us where to go. I referred to him as a "political prostitute," now that he's taking big checks from Putin. But the sex workers in my district objected, so I will no longer use that phrase.

I told my French friends that Jacques Chirac should go down to the Normandy beaches. He should see those endless rows of snow white marble crosses and stars of David representing young Americans who gave their lives for the freedom of France. Under Angela Merkel in Germany and Sarkozy in Hungary - a Hungarian in France - relations with Germany and France will take a very positive turn. We will rebuild the Atlantic Alliance, and just as today, NATO has accepted its responsibility of fighting the monstrous evil of the Taliban in Afghanistan, NATO will be revitalized in the coming years as the military arm of the civilized world, to see to it that no Nazism, no Communism, no Ahmadinejadism, will prevail on this planet.
When Tom Lantos retired last month, he wrote:
It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family, and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a Member of Congress. I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.
The gratitude is mutual, Mr. Lantos. Rest in peace.

Pelosi: "There haven't been gains" in Iraq

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said twice Sunday that Iraq “is a failure,” adding that President Bush’s troop surge has “not produced the desired effect.”

“The purpose of the surge was to create a secure time for the government of Iraq to make the political change to bring reconciliation to Iraq,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “They have not done that.” ...

“There haven't been gains, Wolf,” the speaker replied. “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure."
As I mentioned yesterday, the jihadis themselves tell a different story, as does the U.S. military. Is Ms. Pelosi taking her talking points from Baghdad Bob?

Bush says McCain is a "true conservative" takes one to know one.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq: We are facing an "extraordinary crisis"

From the Times of London:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year's mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group's security structure suffered “total collapse”.

These are the words not of al-Qaeda's enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group's stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November.

Even the jihadis now acknowledge that the surge has been a success. Why has it been so difficult to convince the Democrats?

Scientists: Use of biofuels will exacerbate global warming

Two new studies have concluded that biofuels are not as environmentally sound as we've been led to believe. From the New York Times:
Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded. ...

These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.

The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.

Together the two studies offer sweeping conclusions: It does not matter if it is rain forest or scrubland that is cleared, the greenhouse gas contribution is significant. More important, they discovered that, taken globally, the production of almost all biofuels resulted, directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, in new lands being cleared, either for food or fuel.

What was that about the Republican war on science?

Sunday, February 10, 2008
On this day:

Something to remember in the fight over illegal immigration

A story from here in Huntsville illustrates why America's new-found resolve to crack down on illegal immigration - overdue as it may be - must always be balanced by charity and compassion.

Hard times for Hugo Chavez

NYT: Chavez's "once unquestionable authority is showing signs of erosion."

More and more of those who have supported Mr. Chavez now ask, "Gee...why didn't someone tell us that socialism doesn't work?"

Saturday, February 09, 2008
On this day:

Fred Thompson endorses John McCain

From the Washington Post:
Fred Thompson, the one-time Republican presidential candidate, endorsed Sen. John McCain Friday, calling on the party to "close ranks" behind the presumed nominee.

"This is no longer about past preferences or differences. It is about what is best for our country and for me that means that Republicans should close ranks behind John McCain," Thompson said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

Thompson's endorsement was expected. The two men were colleagues for years in the Senate and shared what associates called a friendship. But while he was in the race, Thompson had bristled at the idea that he was going to drop out and endorse McCain.

The endorsement now may help McCain to coalesce the factions of the party around him. Thompson, who represented Tennessee in the Senate for eight years, is thought of well in the South, an area that McCain has not done well in.

Friday, February 08, 2008
On this day:

Where's the outrage?

Even though Barack Obama won the Democratic primary in Alabama by a landslide, it seems that the Hillary Clinton may take home more delegates.

GOP delegate count correction

A few posts back, I put the Republican delegate count in Alabama at Huckabee - 27, McCain - 18. The final count was Huckabee - 26, McCain - 19. McCain ended up winning in District 2, which accounts for the one-delegate discrepancy.

Anyone interested in who the GOP delegates will be can look here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008
On this day:

The future of Britain - not so Great?

Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has called for Islamic sharia law to be given equal legal status to Parliamentary law in the U.K, saying that such an eventuality "seems unavoidable." One has to wonder whether Archbishop Williams also believes that dhimmitude for non-Muslims in the U.K. is similarly unavoidable.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008
On this day:

The subprime lending crisis: the real scandal

In the New York Post, economics prof Stan Liebowitz writes that the mortgage crisis is "a direct result an intentional loosening of underwriting standards - done in the name of ending [racial] discrimination, despite warnings that it could lead to wide-scale defaults."

Drew Carey on the plight of America's middle class

Are we really as bad off as they say we are?

H/T: Instapundit

Governor Riley's State of the State address

It's that time again apparently. The full text of the Governor's speech tonight is here. A list of highlights (from the AP) is here. The Democratic response, as delivered by House Majority leader Ken Guin (D.-Carbon Hill), is here.

Many of the Governor's proposals were rehashed from previous years - various ethics reforms, additional funding for pre-K education, raising the threshold (again) for paying income taxes, and forming an independent transportation commission.

One of the most intriguing new ideas on the Governor's agenda is to develop public-private partnerships to build - and I presume to maintain and operate - new roads and highways. That's longhand for toll roads, and I think it's a great idea. Private toll roads and bridges will help address the state's transportation needs quickly and efficiently without the need to raise gas taxes. Here's hoping that the legislature will go along.

A good day for the Crimson Tide

AP: Alabama lands nation's top recruiting class:

(AP) — Nick Saban has led Alabama to a national championship — on the recruiting trail.

Signing day pledges from the nation's top-rated receiver, Julio Jones, and linebacker Jerrell Harris vaulted the Crimson Tide's class to the top of the national rankings according to recruiting services on Wednesday.

Here's the Huntsville Times's Paul Gattis:

In studying the breakdown on Alabama's recruiting class, came up with some interesting nuggets:

*Alabama signed seven of the top 10 players in the state. The other three all signed out of state scholarships.

*Alabama signed 15 players who were offered scholarships by Auburn, according to

*Auburn signed no players who were offered scholarships by Alabama, according to

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan

Now is a time for choosing, in many ways not unlike the time 44 years ago when Ronald Reagan delivered a speech - "The Speech" - on behalf of Barry Goldwater, who was running for President against Lyndon Johnson. Below are a few excerpts, but if you have a half-hour or so to spare, then by all means read the whole thing. Or better yet, listen. It'll be well worth your time.
If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a "greater government activity in the affairs of the people." But they have been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves--and all of the things that I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say "the cold war will end through acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says that the profit motive has become outmoded, it must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state; or our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the president as our moral teacher and our leader, and he said he is hobbled in his task by the restrictions in power imposed on him by this antiquated document. He must be freed so that he can do for us what he knows is best. And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." Well, I for one resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me--the free men and woman of this country--as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"--this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. ...

We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? ...

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always "against" things -- we're never "for" anything.

Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so. ...

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments' programs, once launched, never disappear.

Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth. ...

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer -- not an easy answer -- but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.

We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace -- and you can have it in the next second -- surrender.

Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face -- that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand -- the ultimatum. And what then -- when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we're retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he's heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he'd rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us.

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin -- just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." "There is a point beyond which they must not advance."

Happy Birthday, Mr. President, and thank you.

FOX and CNN news anchors

Just watching their mindless babbling about last night's tornadoes. They are completely clueless. Bless their hearts; they mean well. At least they're pretty.

In Alabama: A good day for John McCain, a better one for Barack Obama

That's what I predicted last week about today's primary, and tonight's results seem to bear it out.

The Republicans

McCain finished a strong second to Mike Huckabee in Alabama, and he received almost double the votes of Mitt Romney. Both Huckabee and McCain won delegates here tonight, while Romney came up with a big fat zero.

Huckabee's victory helped McCain in that it prevented Romney from getting any of the state's 45 GOP delegates that were up for grabs. In light of the rest of the Super Tuesday results, it's pretty clear now that Romney's campaign is finished and that Huckabee's is going nowhere. John McCain is almost certain to be the Republican nominee.

The Alabama Republican Party has a complicated method of selecting delegates. According to the Gadsden Times:
The Republicans will be selecting 24 at-large delegates who run statewide and 21 other delegates - three from each of the state's seven congressional districts.

The GOP will have three other delegates to the convention that are party officials, for a total of 48 delegates to the Republican National Convention.

A candidate must get 20 percent of the vote in the primary to get delegates, said Philip Ryan, communications director for the Alabama Republican Party. That level must be reached either statewide or in a congressional district.

If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he will receive all the state's delegates, Ryan said.

Ryan said if a candidate who has dropped out of the presidential race gets votes in Alabama in the primary, those votes will be counted. If they win delegates, those delegates will be uncommitted at the convention.

The delegates who are pledged to a particular candidate are pledged to them for the first ballot, Ryan said. are the results in Alabama so far, with the estimated delegate counts in parentheses:

Statewide: Huckabee - 41% (13), McCain - 37% (11), Romney - 18% (0)

District 1: McCain - 47% (2), Huckabee - 25% (1), Romney - 24% (0)
District 2: Huckabee - 42% (2), McCain - 40% (1), Romney - 15% (0)
District 3: Huckabee - 43% (2), McCain - 38% (1), Romney - 15% (0)
District 4: Huckabee - 52% (3), McCain - 32% (0), Romney - 12% (0)
District 5: Huckabee - 39% (2), McCain - 30% (1), Romney - 26% (0)
District 6: Huckabee - 46% (2), McCain - 35% (1), Romney - 16% (0)
District 7: Huckabee - 45% (2), McCain - 43% (1), Romney - 10% (0)

If 1) these numbers hold up, 2) I understand GOP rules correctly, and 3) my math's right, then it looks like Huckabee won 27 delegates tonight to McCain's 18.

The Democrats

Obama won in a landslide, but both he and Hillary will get delegates. The Dems' method for allocating delegates is even more complicated than the GOP's, and since I really don't give a rat's a** about learning the wayward ways of my Democratic comrades, I won't even attempt to figure it out.

One comment, though: the Democrats have a rule that 1/2 of their delegates have to be male and 1/2 have to be female, without regard to voter preferences or delegate qualifications. That rule has always struck me as absurd, since the underlying assumption seems to be that it's not possible for a female delegate to adequately represent the interests of men, or vice versa. Otherwise, why the need for such a rigid quota? If a quota based on sex is desirable, then why not one based on race or creed or sexual orientation? And why stop at delegates? Why not make a rule that nominees for President must alternate between men and women? I guess the Democrats' commitment to equality only goes so far.

Republicans v. Democrats in Alabama

It looks like more Alabamians chose to vote for Republican candidates today than for Democrats.

Summing up the votes from the 99+ percent of Alabama precincts counted so far (2807 of 2827), there are approximately 554,000 GOP voters versus 537,000 Democrats.

Interesting Democratic primary demographics

Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton here in Alabama tonight by a landslide margin of 56%-42%.

Some of the data from the exit polls is pretty interesting. From the AP here:
Across Alabama, about half of the Democratic voters were black, and Obama won 80 percent of their votes. Exit polling also showed he captured 60 percent of the votes from people under 30, who made up more than one in 10 voters.
And here:
About three-fourths of Sen. Barack Obama's votes came from blacks, while about the same share of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's support came from whites. Unlike in neighboring Georgia's primary Tuesday where about 40 percent of white voters supported Obama, Alabama's Democratic primary mirrored more racially divided contests in South Carolina and Florida, where Obama got only about a quarter of the white vote.

There was also an age gap among Democrats: Clinton won some nearly two-thirds of voters 65 and older, while Obama won 60 percent of voters under 30. ...

Although most voters said race and gender did not play a significant role in their decision, more than a quarter of Democratic voters said such factors were important, including almost 10 percent saying race was "the single most important factor" and a similar share saying the same about gender.

Of those who said race was important, six in 10 voted for Obama. Among those who cited gender as important, Obama won almost 55 percent.

Huckabee, Obama win in Alabama

From the AP:

With 96 percent of Alabama's precincts reporting, Huckabee had 41 percent, McCain 37 percent, Romney 18 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul 3 percent. No candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold needed to win all of Alabama's GOP delegates, which means they will be divided on a formula.

On the Democratic side, Obama had 56 percent, Clinton 42 percent, and former Sen. John Edwards got 1 percent even though he had dropped out. Under the Democratic Party's rules, Obama and Clinton will split the Democratic delegates proportionately.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008
On this day:

Oh vote didn't go to John McCain

I just couldn't do it.

After Fred Thompson dropped out of the race last month, I said:
...if the Alabama Republican Party's ballots have already been printed up, I'm good-minded to vote for [Thompson] anyway, whether he likes it or not.

But that would be a symbolic vote...maybe even a protest vote...and certainly a wasted vote. And I prefer not to waste my vote.
Well, Fred's name was on the ballot today. I never imagined that "wasting" a vote could feel so good.

My vote goes to John McCain

I second Peter Robinson.

For good measure, here are a few other points which I hope will serve to ease my guilt when several months or years from now I find myself asking, "What in the world were you thinking?"

1) Crafting a foreign policy and defense policy will be among the most important issues facing the next President. John McCain's experience and ideological leanings make him the best candidate to deal with the many challenges that we will face in those areas over the next four years.

2) I am convinced that John McCain will be able to restrain the growth of federal spending more effectively than any of the other candidates. His years of service in the Senate have proven him to be a spending and budget hawk. After the Bush years, that may prove to be a welcome change.

3) If he is elected, John McCain's "loyal opposition" will consist not only of Democrats, but also of conservative Republicans. Everyone should know by now that conservatives part ways with John McCain on a wide range of issues. Those of us who are worried that McCain will somehow taint the conservative message should keep that in mind.

4) Due to his age, it's very likely that McCain will be a one-term President. If he does intend to seek a second term, it will be in his political interest to heed the concerns of his party's conservative base on the issues most important to them - judges, taxes, and the War - since a challenge in the 2012 primary will be almost inevitable if he doesn't.

5) The power of the presidency is limited. In McCain's case, the conservatives in the U.S. Congress who will be much more willing to stand up to him than they have been to President Bush. That will be particularly important on issues such as immigration and climate change.

6) In spite of what some of his opponents have said, McCain is no liberal. He may not be a Ronald Reagan, but he's not a Nelson Rockefeller, either. Conservatives will have considerable influence in a McCain presidency. Much more than they would have under a President Clinton or Obama.

7) McCain stands a very good chance (and probably the best chance of any Republican) of beating either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the fall. Voters who are fed up with President Bush and who would be unlikely to vote Republican in the fall may find the fact that McCain has basically served as the Republicans' anti-Bush to be quite attractive.

It's Super Tuesday

Anyone else missing Fred?

Monday, February 04, 2008
On this day:

Whether to support McCain: another consideration

His temperament presents some real concerns. Maybe he and Ann Coulter have more in common than I thought.

Why the GOP has to win in November

And why John McCain may be the best possible Republican nominee:
On Jan. 20, 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70. Most of them could be replaced by the next president, particularly if he or she is re-elected. Given the prospect of accelerating gains in modern medical technology, some of the new justices may serve for half a century. Even if a more perfect candidate were somehow elected in 2012, he would not be able to undo the damage, especially to the Supreme Court.

Accordingly, for judicial conservatives electability must be a paramount consideration. By all accounts, Mr. McCain is more electable than Mr. Romney. He runs ahead or even with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the national polls, and actually leads the Democratic candidates in key swing states like Wisconsin. Mr. Romney trails well behind both Democratic candidates by double digits. The fundamental dynamic of this race points in Mr. McCain's way as well. He appeals to independents, while Mr. Romney's support is largely confined to Republicans.


Scientific American: Why we kiss.

Sunday, February 03, 2008
On this day:

Ann Coulter on John McCain

Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater once reminded Americans that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." If Goldwater had known Miss Ann Coulter, he might have added that being rude and obnoxious towards his successor in the U.S. Senate is no virtue.