Thursday, May 29, 2008
On this day:

U.S. Supreme Court vindicates Riley, King

Governor Riley and Attorney General King won a big case in the U.S. Supreme Court this week. From the AP:

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that Gov. Bob Riley did not need federal government approval to fill a vacancy on the Mobile County Commission with a fellow Republican appointee.

In a 7-2 ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said a federal court was wrong to overturn Riley's appointment of Juan Chastang and order a special election be held to fill the seat. ...

The case involved a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that requires Alabama and several other states — most in the South — to get federal approval before changing election procedures that affect minority voters.

But Ginsburg said the Voting Rights Act did not apply to the situation because there was, in effect, no change in Alabama law.

State Attorney General Troy King, whose office represented Riley in the case, said the Supreme Court's ruling prevents the Justice Department from trying to broaden the application of the Voting Rights Act and trying to create new election law in Alabama without a vote of the Legislature or the public. ...

Gubernatorial appointments for such county commission vacancies were the norm for many years. Special elections were established relatively recently with state legislation in the mid-1980s, and they were quickly struck down by the Alabama Supreme Court as violating the state constitution.

"Therefore, the state's reversion to its prior practice, in accord with the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court, did not rank as a 'change' requiring" federal approval before it could take effect, Ginsburg said. ...

Justices David Souter and John Paul Stevens dissented. ...

Riley appointed Chastang, a black Republican, to the Mobile commission in 2005 after Commissioner Sam Jones became Mobile's first black mayor.

Local Democrats challenged the appointment, arguing that a special election should have been held as in the past and that Riley's decision amounted to just the kind of voting-rights change that requires Justice Department approval.

Last January, the Justice Department agreed and said Riley's appointment appeared to weaken minority voters. Later, a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Montgomery ruled Riley's move unlawful and vacated the appointment.

Merceria Ludgood, a black Democrat, then defeated Chastang in a special election.

Riley has said he would not rule out reappointing Chastang even though voters had overwhelmingly rejected him in the special election. ...

The case is Riley v. Kennedy, 07-77.

Congratulations to Riley and King for taking this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and winning. And what a difference an election makes! If either Riley or King had been defeated by their Democratic opponents in 2006, it's doubtful that this victory would have been possible, since neither Lucy Baxley nor John Tyson, Jr. would have been willing or able to take on the Democratic special interests who encouraged this lawsuit.

You can read Ruth Bader Ginsburg's opinion in Riley v. Kennedy here. The SCOTUS Wiki has a full summary of the case here.

SCOTUS Blog's Lyle Denniston summarizes:
In the last of three rulings Tuesday, the Court ruled that a 1985 Alabama law on the power to fill vacancies on county commissions had never actually been in effect, so it did not represent a change in election machinery under the Voting Rights Act when the state Supreme Court struck it down after it had been used in one election. A state law struck down by the state’s highest court was invalid from the outset, so the law switching to special election instead of appointment by the governor did not bring about a change in election law under the Act, and the governor was free to resume the practice of appointment to fill commission vacancies, the Court ruled. The case was Riley v. Kennedy (07-77), decided on a 7-2 vote.
Southern Appeal's Petigru's Ghost calls the case a "big win for the state, federalism and the Alabama Attorney General who refused to quit the fight despite repeated calls that he do so. "

Elections do matter.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
On this day:

Footing the bill for jihad

From Belgium:
(New York Times) BRUSSELS — On the street, Malika El Aroud is anonymous in an Islamic black veil covering all but her eyes.

In her living room, Ms. El Aroud, a 48-year-old Belgian, wears the ordinary look of middle age: a plain black T-shirt and pants and curly brown hair. The only adornment is a pair of powder-blue slippers monogrammed in gold with the letters SEXY.

But it is on the Internet where Ms. El Aroud has distinguished herself. Writing in French under the name “Oum Obeyda,” she has transformed herself into one of the most prominent Internet jihadists in Europe.

She calls herself a female holy warrior for Al Qaeda. She insists that she does not disseminate instructions on bomb-making and has no intention of taking up arms herself. Rather, she bullies Muslim men to go and fight and rallies women to join the cause. ...

That system often has been lenient toward her. She was detained last December with 13 others in what the authorities suspected was a plot to free a convicted terrorist from prison and to launch an attack in Brussels. But Belgian law required that they be released within 24 hours, because no charges were brought and searches failed to turn up weapons, explosives or incriminating documents.

Now, even as Ms. El Aroud remains under constant surveillance, she is back home rallying militants on her main Internet forum and collecting more than $1,100 a month in government unemployment benefits.

For the math geek in everyone...

Here's a little ditty:
And so now I, I will derive.
Find the derivative of x position with respect to time.
It's as easy as can be, just have to take dx/dt.
I will derive, I will derive! Hey, hey!

Friday, May 23, 2008
On this day:

McCain's Veep

NRO's Jonah Goldberg suggests the unthinkable - that McCain should run with a Democrat - someone like Joe Lieberman or Sam Nunn. I don't know what to think about that. It would be a very unconventional choice, to say the least.

On the positive side, it would undermine Obama's claim to be the candidate of change, and it would highlight his extremism. It would also present Americans with a "national unity" ticket at a time when unity - particularly with respect to the war in Iraq - is in short supply.

So, what are the negatives? Choosing a center-left Democrat like Lieberman would be certain to annoy a few conservatives (like me), but if it were McCain-Nunn, I'd vote for that ticket in a heartbeat. It probably won't happen, but it's an intriguing possibility.

Thursday, May 22, 2008
On this day:

Thoughts on tonight's beauty contest...and a couple of endorsements

Well, that was a lot of fun. When the moderator announced about halfway through the debate that the next round of questions would be a "lightning round," I had to laugh. The whole darn thing was pretty much one lightning round after another.

Still, I thought it was a decent forum. There were tons of questions covering a broad range of issues, and the candidates answered them as well as could be expected. Sure, it was a beauty contest, but that's not all bad. We now have a better picture of who can think on their feet, who can deliver a coherent message in front of a camera, and who will best represent the views of their constituents.

Here are a few thoughts on each candidate, starting with the two Democrats:

Parker Griffith: Griffith will undoubtedly be the Democratic nominee. He is poised, likeable, and - unlike his opponent - kempt. If voters want another Bud Cramer, Griffith is their man. He's a fence-straddler on the war and evasive on just about everything else, but conservative enough on social issues to win support from a significant number of Republicans in the case that his Republican challenger fails to run a credible campaign.

David Maker: I half expected Dr. Maker (who needed to shave and tighten his tie) to look up at the camera and say, "Sorry, dudes, but I really need a toke."

Cheryl Baswell Guthrie: I thought she gave the best answer of any of the candidates on individual retirement accounts within Social Security. I also liked what she had to say about consumer-driven health care. Her big problem was that she often seemed to have a tough time putting her words into coherent sentences. On the abortion question, I swear I thought I heard her say, "Pro-life begins at the life of conception." Somebody watch it again and let me know.

Mark Huff: Unremarkable.

Ray McKee: Believes that the fair tax is the solution to all of our problems, except when he doesn't know what the problems are. Not Congressional material.

Angelo Mancuso: If he really meant to endorse civil unions for same-sex couples (which he called "legal unions") , then he definitely stood out from the crowd on that one. In a Republican primary, I'm not sure that'll be a good thing.

Wayne Parker: Parker seemed a little nervous, but with the possible exception of George Barry, he was the most impressive of the Republicans. I think he's still the candidate to beat.

George Barry: Barry was by far the best speaker on the Republican side, and his answers to tonight's questions were probably more to my taste than those of any of his fellow candidates. It's just too bad that he's also a die-hard protectionist and a North American Union conspiracy theorist.

Now, a few random thoughts and observations, in no particular order:

Someone should alert Andrew Sullivan, who seems to believe that all Southerners are "Christianist" bigots, that with the exception of Guthrie, every single candidate - Democrat and Republican - expressly said that they were opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment and that the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the states. (If I remember correctly, Guthrie didn't actually endorse the FMA, but she didn't say she was opposed to it either.) Wayne Parker added that the federal government might need to get involved if at some point states are forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Thankfully, every single candidate - Democrat and Republican - also said that they were pro-life. (Although Maker added a few significant qualifications to that.)

Every candidate said that No Child Left Behind should be repealed. Parker Griffith qualified that by saying it should either be fully funded (by the federal government, I assume) or else repealed.

With six candidates in the race, no Republican is likely to gain a majority in the June 3 primary. That means that there will be a runoff. My prediction is that come November, it'll be Parker Griffith vs. Wayne Parker.

My eagerly-anticipated endorsement goes to Wayne Parker in the Republican primary and Parker Griffith in the Democratic primary.

Obama's record on abortion

It's radical and extreme.

(H/T Feddie at Southern Appeal).

Is there any hope for the hung over?

Remind me to read this again after tonight's debate.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
On this day:

The Congressional race: a process of elimination

In the last post, I mentioned that my favorites so far in the Republican race for Fifth District U.S. Representative are Wayne Parker and Cheryl Baswell Guthrie. Let me spend a little time spelling out why I ruled out the other four candidates.

First, there's George Barry. The following is from George Barry's campaign web site:
Al-Quaeda [sic] is not our only enemy. Since 1999, China, North Korea, and Iran have stated publically [sic] that they are willing to wage war with the United States. China and North Korea are nuclear powers with long range missiles. Iran is quickly developing these capabilities ...

We cannot be naive and think that the Iranian president that calls the US "The Great Satan" and denies that the World War II Holocaust ever existed has no intention of anihilating [sic] our country. Nor can we depend on the United Nations to act as an ally when they consistently vote against us and the principles of freedom.
I'm sure that Mr. Barry is a nice guy, but I expect my next Congressman to know how to use either a dictionary or a spell checker. Or at least to know someone who does.

Next is Mark Huff. Mark Huff is a classical musician who performs at weddings. I'm sure that he too is a nice guy, but a quick glance at his web site confirms that he's not quite ready for Congress.

Next is Ray McKee. On his campaign FAQ, he says:

Q. I heard you say you wanted to get a term limit amendment to the U. S. Constitution. How will you get Congress to vote for that?

A. There is a misconception that Constitutional Amendments must begin in Congress. That is not the case. The only thing necessary is to get the Amendment ratified by 38 of the United States. As soon as I get elected, I am going to immediately begin drafting an amendment to take to each of the 50 states for comments. It is my hope to have all 50 states to agree to the wording of the amendment in my first year. As soon as everyone can agree on the wording, the amendment would then go through each state’s procedure for ratification. (3/15/08)

While it's true that the constitutional amendment process need not begin in Congress, it's not true that "the only thing necessary is to get the Amendment ratified by 38 of the United States." Here is Article V of the U.S. Constitution:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
There are two stages to the amendment process: proposal and ratification. From Civics 101: Amendments are proposed either by Congress, via a 2/3 vote in both houses, or by a Constitutional Convention called by Congress upon application by 2/3 of the state legislatures. Once they have been proposed, amendments must be ratified either by 3/4 of the state legislatures or by 3/4 of conventions held in each state, with Congress deciding upon the mode of ratification.

McKee contends that the only requirement for an amendment is for 38 states (or 3/4) to agree to it "through each state’s procedure for ratification." That's just plain wrong.

I expect my next Congressman to check with the actual text of the Constitution before he speaks about what is Constitutional.

On to Dr. Angelo Mancuso. Dr. Mancuso's web site is short on details, but it does contain this little ditty under "The Mancuso Plan for America:"
Work to repeal trade laws that prevents [sic] American businesses from fair global competition.
What does that mean? Does Mancuso intend to repeal NAFTA and/or CAFTA? Does he think that free trade is a bad idea? Ix-nay on Mancuso until he gives some straight answers.

That leaves me with Wayne Parker and Cheryl Baswell Guthrie as my two favorite Republican candidates. Parker has run for Congress before, and he almost defeated retiring Democrat Bud Cramer back in 1994. Guthrie, on the other hand, has faced her likely Democratic opponent, Parker Griffith, before, and didn't fare so well. Here's hoping that tomorrow night's debate will help me sort this one out.

AL-5 debate scheduled for Thursday night at 6:30

Huntsville's CBS affiliate, WHNT 19, will broadcast a debate between the candidates for Alabama's Fifth Congressional District tomorrow night from 6:30 to 8:00 . It'll be a crowded stage, with six Republicans and two Democrats facing off against each other. That means there will be very little time for the candidates to go into much detail about their views, so the most we can hope for is to get an idea of which candidates have the poise and temperament to become the Fifth District's next Congress-critter.

The sponsors are billing this as an "interactive debate," and you can e-mail questions for the candidates to the station at the link above or you can put them in the comments box at this post on's web site, where you'll also find the following info about the candidates:

Democrats in the race are Parker Griffith, 65, businessman, Huntsville, and David Maker, 57, optical physicist, Huntsville.

Republican candidates in the race are George Barry, 55, businessman, Madison; Cheryl Baswell Guthrie, 48, attorney, Huntsville; Mark Huff, 36, classical musician, Huntsville; Angelo "Doc" Mancuso, 53, dermatologic surgeon, Courtland; Ray McKee, 63, real estate attorney, Huntsville; Wayne Parker, 49, insurance vice president, Huntsville.

I haven't really paid much attention to this race so far, but based on what I've read on the candidates' web sites and heard on local radio ads, my favorites for the Republican nomination are Wayne Parker and Cheryl Baswell Guthrie, in that order. On the Democratic side, there's no real contest: Parker Griffith is the best qualified and least liberal of the two candidates running, and he's a shoo-in for his party's nomination.

Democrats and our enemies

Here's Sen. Joe Lieberman from today's Wall Street Journal:
I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.

John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies.

There are of course times when it makes sense to engage in tough diplomacy with hostile governments. Yet what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

If a president ever embraced our worst enemies in this way, he would strengthen them and undermine our most steadfast allies.

A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned "no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies." This is a lesson that today's Democratic Party leaders need to relearn.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
On this day:

The Iraqi army stands up as the U.S. stands down

From the New York Times:
BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces rolled unopposed through the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Tuesday, a dramatic turnaround from the bitter fighting that has plagued the Baghdad neighborhood for two months, and a qualified success for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

As it did in the southern city of Basra last month, the Iraqi government advanced its goal of establishing sovereignty and curtailing the powers of the militias.

This was a hopeful accomplishment, but one that came with caveats: In both cities, the militias eventually melted away in the face of Iraqi troops backed by American firepower. Thus nobody can say just where the militias might re-emerge or when Iraqi and American forces might need to fight them again.

By late Tuesday, Iraqi troops had pushed deep into the district and set up positions around hospitals and police stations, which the Iraqi government was seeking to bring under its control.

The main military question now is whether Iraqi soldiers can solidify their hold over Sadr City in the coming days. And the main political one is whether the Maliki government will cement its gains by carrying out its long-promised, multimillion-dollar program of economic assistance and job creation to win over a still wary population and erode the militias’ base of support. ...

So far, the Iraqi Army has been a winner. Iraqi commanders received, and sometimes rejected, advice from the American military. But in the end they were able to execute a plan that was very much their own.

This is just the latest bit of encouraging news from Iraq. It seems to me that the retaking of Basra and now Sadr City is a huge political victory for the Maliki government, even if its military significance is qualified. The naysayers continue to say that there has been little to no political reconciliation among the various factions in Iraq, but the fact is that these two operations, as well as the successes in Anbar, were the direct result of just that sort of reconciliation. It has been a slow and arduous process - and it will doubtless remain that way for some time - but the Democratic talking points on Iraq are quickly being overcome by events.

For instance, Barack Obama's campaign web site still says:
The Surge: The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq's political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq's civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq's political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.
Obama says he's for change. Perhaps he should start by changing his own rhetoric to match reality.

Gays Defend Marriage

Yes, there are a few gay people out there who believe that traditional marriage is worth preserving. Dallas Voice columnist David Benkhof is one, and he is now blogging at

Monday, May 19, 2008
On this day:

McCain sings Streisand

From Sen. McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live back in 2002:

Sunday, May 18, 2008
On this day:

Obama's world

Barack Obama:

We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen.

That kinda turns "a chicken in every pot" on its head, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
On this day:

Eddy Arnold, RIP

I read today that country music legend Eddy Arnold died last Thursday at the age of 89. Larry Thornberry has this thoughtful tribute at the American Spectator.

My favorite Eddy Arnold song is this one, his most famous:

(There's a later, live version of Eddy singing his "Cattle Call" here.)

And this one's a close second:

Monday, May 12, 2008
On this day:

Obama: "I've now been in 57 states."

Barack apparently needs some rest:

There's lots of fun to be had with this latest Obama gaffe. Have you seen his campaign's new lapel pin, for instance?
Buy one here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008
On this day:

John McCain says Happy Mother's Day

John McCain's mother Roberta has got to be the youngest-looking 96-year-old in America.

Friday, May 09, 2008
On this day:

Cool tornado video

From the Huntsville Times:

An equipment company in Leighton has a surveillance camera that captured a tornado Thursday afternoon as it passed through parking lot, destroying several cars.

Click here to see the video.

Leighton is in Colbert County in northwest Alabama. WHNT meterologist Dan Satterfield comments on what he says is probably an F2 tornado here.

Because Rove is that good

Andrew Sullivan:
It does seem to me at this point that the Clintons are on a mission to destroy any Democratic coalition that will not kowtow to them (egged on, of course, by Rove). If that means abandoning African-Americans, why would the Clintons hesitate? Loyalty only works one way with the Clintons.
Rove is everywhere. For folks like Andrew Sullivan, he is the universal culprit for all that is wrong or inconvenient. He is to politics what Global Warming is to the environment.

Thursday, May 08, 2008
On this day:

P.J. O'Rourke's commencement advice

Basically, P.J. says "get rich but don't covet."
So avoid politics if you can. But if you absolutely cannot resist, read the Bible for political advice -- even if you're a Buddhist, atheist or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who believes that God is involved in politics. On the contrary. Observe politics in this country. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics through history. Does it look like God's involved?

The Bible is very clear about one thing: Using politics to create fairness is a sin. Observe the Tenth Commandment. The first nine commandments concern theological principles and social law: Thou shalt not make graven images, steal, kill, et cetera. Fair enough. But then there's the tenth: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

Here are God's basic rules about how we should live, a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts. And, right at the end of it we read, "Don't envy your buddy because he has an ox or a donkey." Why did that make the top 10? Why would God, with just 10 things to tell Moses, include jealousy about livestock?

Well, think about how important this commandment is to a community, to a nation, to a democracy. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't whine about what the people across the street have. Get rich and get your own.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008
On this day:


I haven't seen Ben Stein's new movie yet, but when I do, I'm pretty sure I'll agree with NRO's Jim Manzi, who says, "Show me the Science."

Since I believe that the universe - all that is, seen and unseen - was created by a God who is supremely intelligent and supremely powerful, I have no problem in saying that I believe it to have been intelligently designed. But I'm suspicious of Intelligent Design as science, just as I was suspicious of its predecessor, Creationism. Actually, I wasn't just suspicious of Creationism; I think it was an absolute farce. The ID folks at least pretend to do real science; most Creationists, on the other hand, would have been content to completely replace the science of evolutionary biology with the Book of Genesis, without the faintest inkling that the two might actually complement one another.

The big question is whether Intelligent Design is just a souped-up version of Creationism. It may very well be, but insofar as it represents a shift from a hyper-literalistic - and demonstrably false - interpretation of the Bible towards one that is more accommodating to scientific reason and common sense, then it's a big step forward. It may be bad science, but at least it's better theology.

Monday, May 05, 2008
On this day:

The world according to Tom Wolfe

Part One of Peter Robinson's five-part interview with novelist and journalist Tom Wolfe is up over at NRO. Today's topic:
Tom Wolfe begins by discussing the written word, in its popular forms. The master novelist and journalist says the novel is dying a horrible death, although non-fiction work will continue and the memoir will never die. He then talks about the subject of his latest novel (still in progress): immigration.
Check back there throughout the week for the remaining installments.

Sunday, May 04, 2008
On this day:

What happened at Tuskegee?

NRO's Jonah Goldberg responds to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's false contention that the U.S. government “purposely infected African-American men with syphilis” at Tuskegee beginning in 1932. What happened there was bad enough; why should anyone want to lie about it?