Thursday, July 31, 2008
On this day:

Parker Griffith: Undecided

Last month, Parker Griffith declined to say who he'll be supporting in this year's presidential race. Then last Monday, the Huntsville Times asked him who will he will support for Speaker of the House should he be elected as U.S. Representative from Alabama's fifth district. They got yet another non-answer:
"I don't know who the nominees will be," Griffith said. "I don't know if there will be a challenge to Nancy Pelosi or not. My comment on this is that my loyalty would be to the 5th Congressional District and its constituents. ...

"This is about who will be the best congressman for the 5th District... I strongly object to anyone characterizing this campaign as anything other than a contest between myself and Wayne Parker."
Griffith can object all he wants, but his vote as to who should become the next House Speaker will be one the most important he will cast as a freshman U.S. Congressman, should he be elected.

The Speaker has an enormous amount of power over the legislative process. For instance, Speaker Pelosi is currently using that power to prevent the House from voting on a bill to allow offshore drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas, stating that she is "trying to save the planet." It seems that in Speaker Pelosi's mind, saving the planet is not compatible with saving Americans money at the pump. Is that the kind of leadership and judgment that Parker Griffith would look for in a candidate for Speaker of the House? Is it unfair to ask whether Griffith believes that a vote for Nancy Pelosi would best serve the interests of the 5th Congressional District and its constituents?

These are reasonable questions and they deserve reasonable answers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008
On this day:

Massachusetts ups the ante on same-sex marriage

Today, the Massachusetts legislature gave final approval to a bill that will allow same-sex couples from out of state to marry there, regardless of the law in their home states.

Sadly (from a federalist perspective), the case for some form of federal marriage amendment just got a lot stronger.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
On this day:

Drunken boater taunts Marine Police officer, gets thrown from boat, gets arrested

Ummm...howdy's the fishin' over here?

If I wanted a bidet, I'd move to France

I've been trying for years to find out who invented the auto-flush toilet so that I could send him a nasty letter about how he is the worst human being to have ever lived. Well, today, I found the answer. His name is Bill Z. Bubb and he lives in HELL.

You know what I'm talking about. There you are - taking care of business - reading the local newspaper or just having a peaceful respite from the stresses of the day - then all of a, whirrrr. Before you can say, "What the *^&%?", your nether regions have been unceremoniously sprinkled with toilet water. Not funny.

Almost as bad is when you try to do a "courtesy flush" for the folks next door and the little black button that is supposed to produce a flush when pushed doesn't. It clicks and it buzzes, but to make it work, you have to stand up, dance a little jig, wave your hands around like a mime on speed, and then push the button again. Also not funny.

And so I'm with Nick Shultz on this one: the auto-flush toilet is indeed "the crappiest invention of all-time."

Friday, July 25, 2008
On this day:

Citizen Barack

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
Hmmm. To whom does a "citizen of the world" pay his allegiance and his taxes? Which flag or flags does he salute? What army does he follow (or lead) into battle? And just who is it that confers world citizenship? Is there some world government that Sen. Obama knows about that I don't?

This is the moment...this is the time

Barack Obama today in Berlin:

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. ...

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. ...

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. ...

This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons. ...

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. ...

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. ...

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. ...

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. ...

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here -- what we do with this moment. ...

People of Berlin -- people of the world -- this is our moment. This is our time.

And thus is born a new Obama campaign theme song. Question is...will Germans ever love Barack Obama as much as they love David Hasselhoff?

(H/T Kathleen Parker at NRO.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
On this day:

A remedial education on the oil market, courtesy of the WSJ

From a recent Wall Street Journal editorial:
"I want you to think about this," Barack Obama said in Las Vegas last week. "The oil companies have already been given 68 million acres of federal land, both onshore and offshore, to drill. They're allowed to drill it, and yet they haven't touched it – 68 million acres that have the potential to nearly double America's total oil production."

Wow, how come the oil companies didn't think of that?

Perhaps because the notion is obviously false – at least to anyone who knows how oil and gas exploration actually works.

The rest is here.

Let me plan your next wedding

The food will be exquisite and the setting quaint. As for the'll be...ummm...traditional.

Here are a few of my satisfied customers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008
On this day:

Obama campaign hires Muslim liaison

Politico's Ben Smith reports here. I suppose the McCain campaign will be appointing a liaison to former American POW's soon.

Just kidding. I know Obama's not a Muslim. He's a pagan.

Sunday, July 20, 2008
On this day:

"You can't look at one of his paintings without seeing that smile, without seeing that gentle man"

A 112 year-old Alabama man turns early memories into art:

(AP) The works by a man [named Frank Calloway] who has lived about half his life in state mental health centers will be part of an exhibit this fall at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. His caretakers have suspended sales of his artwork until after the show after finding out some of his drawings could sell for thousands of dollars.

Here's a video of Mr. Calloway at work, sharing a simple lesson he learned many years ago: "Just do the job right." To see some of his art, click here.

Frank Calloway lives at the Alice Kidd Nursing Home at Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

How much was Alabama prepared to give away to VW?

Lots. In addition to providing tax breaks and building roads, we were going to buy their land, build their buildings, and train their workers. According to Alabama Development Office director Neal Wade:
The state and Limestone County and the City of Huntsville and the surrounding counties had a package of incentives. We had a cash grant to help fund the cost of land and site prep. That was $205 million.

Our training package was $62 million. That included facilities, work-force recruiting and training. That was state money. And then we had some others - roads and those kinds of things - that really were ballpark figures.

Then we had estimated state and local noneducation tax abatements that totaled $114 million. That was for 10 to 20 years, depending on the tax.

There were also other funds that would have been spent to improve rail extensions to the site and (on) public road improvements. (Source: Huntsville Times.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008
On this day:

A picture is worth a thousand words

NPR: For some Ohioans, even meat is out of reach.

Thursday, July 17, 2008
On this day:

Big Spring Jam lineup announced

Styx is coming to Huntsville. You guys...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
On this day:

It's time for some campaignin'

I love it! Another awesomely stupendously great parody from JibJab:

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

When you're Barack Obama

It's hard to be humble...

Mars close up

Here are some stunning pictures taken by the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe. There's lots more at the Mars Express web site here.

But hey, let's not forget our own planet. Here are the "30 Most Incredible Abstract Satellite Images of Earth." (H/T Andrew Sullivan).

Does belief in evolution make the idea of God less plausible?

Last week, the Discovery Institute's John G. West wrote the following at NRO:

If it really is a “fact” that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact has consequences for how we view life. It does not lead necessarily to Richard Dawkins’s militant atheism, but it certainly makes less plausible the idea of a God who intentionally directs the development of life toward a specific end. In a Darwinian worldview, even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out — which is why theistic evolutionist Kenneth Miller argues that human beings are a mere “happenstance” of evolutionary history, and that if evolution played over again it might produce thinking mollusks rather than us.
This is just plain wrong, both in its premise and in its conclusions, as NRO's Jim Manzi artfully explains here. I wish that the proponents of Intelligent Design would at least try to design their arguments a little more intelligently.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
On this day:

Today's primary runoff results

For the latest vote totals in today's GOP runoffs for statewide offices and U.S. Congress, see here.

Here are the latest updates from the AP:

Love, Parker win Republican runoffs for U.S. Congress

Kellum defeats McLemore in Alabama appeals court runoff

Twinkle Cavanaugh defeats Matt Chancey to take GOP nomination for PSC President

Tony Snow, RIP

Those who have seen friends and loved ones suffer with cancer know just how awful and unfair a disease it is. In Tony Snow's case, here you had a good man with a wonderful family, who had successful careers in both journalism and politics. He was in the prime of his life, but then out of nowhere, cancer hit and everything changed. Why? What did Tony Snow do to deserve such a fate? What sort of cruel justice is it that has decided his wife and children must now live without their beloved spouse and father? How would a good God - or a God who at least wants us to think that he's good - let something like this happen?

The problem of pain - of why bad things happen to good people - is one of the toughest problems that we face in life. There's not much that tests one's faith quite like asking, "Why is life so unfair?", and "Why must we suffer?", only to draw a blank or to find that every answer you come up with is either a bad one or one that just doesn't seem right. While faith and reason may provide insights into this problem of suffering, they don't provide solutions. They may help to console, but they seem thoroughly unable to satisfy.

Tony Snow talked about all of this last year in an article he wrote for Christianity Today. The first line kind of catches you off guard: "Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer." Think about that one for awhile. You'll have to read the whole thing to find out how anyone could possibly view such a horrible disease as a blessing, but do read it. There's a powerful message there for all who suffer, grieve, struggle, and cope - whether with illness, affliction, addiction, or temptation. And yes, that's me. And probably you.

Thanks, Tony. Rest in peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2008
On this day:

Microsoft update hits Zone Alarm users

This is why I almost threw my computer out the window this morning. What a pain in the ass. The temporary work-around is to reduce Internet Zone Security in ZoneAlarm to "Medium" while waiting on the sorry &*#$%@#'s to fix it.

Huntsville Times: Find money to keep Planned Parenthood open

As long as it isn't taxpayer money, that's fine by me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
On this day:

Planned Parenthood to close Huntsville office

Goodbye and good riddance!

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider; it performed almost 290,000 abortions in 2006 alone. It reported $1 billion in revenue in 2006-2007, and an astonishing one-third of that came from taxpayers. You don't have to be an opponent of legalized abortion to find that reprehensible. Funding implies endorsement, plain and simple. And so it's not enough to characterize those who support public funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers as merely pro-choice; in effect, they are also pro-abortion.

Gauging from this recent Wall Street Journal piece, Planned Parenthood would do just fine even without picking the pockets of taxpayers. Here's a taste:

Flush with cash, Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide are aggressively expanding their reach, seeking to woo more affluent patients with a network of suburban clinics and huge new health centers that project a decidedly upscale image. ...

Two elegant new health centers have been built, and at least five more are on the way; the largest, in Houston, will be 75,000 square feet. They feature touches such as muted lighting, hardwood floors and airy waiting rooms in colors selected by marketing experts -- as well as walls designed to withstand a car's impact should an antiabortion protest turn violent.

Planned Parenthood has also opened more than two dozen quick-service "express centers," many in suburban shopping malls. Some sell jewelry, candles, books and T-shirts, along with contraception. ...

Nationally, Planned Parenthood's political-action arm plans to raise $10 million to influence the fall campaign. Under federal tax law, the health-care wing of Planned Parenthood cannot support political candidates but can mobilize voters and advocate on issues such as abortion rights and sex education in schools.

To encourage the new wave of patients to join the cause, an express center in Parker, Colo., sells political buttons next to the condoms and sets out invitations to activism by the magazine rack. A 52,000-square-foot center opening this summer in Denver uses about 20% of its space for health care; roughly 40% is for meetings, including political work.

Planned Parenthood of Alabama's VP of public affairs attributed the need to close its Huntsville office to a "legislative mistake" that left it without enough funding to keep the office open. While that was a fortunate mistake, here's hoping that next time Congress chooses to defund Planned Parenthood permanently and deliberately - so that not one dime of federal tax dollars goes to build its fancy new buildings or to subsidize the horrors that go on inside.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008
On this day:

"America's Anchorman" talks to the New York Times

I've been a big Rush Limbaugh fan for a little over 15 years now, ever since I first started listening to him during my freshman year in college. I had heard about "Rush rooms," and I had seen a few "Rush is Right" bumper stickers here and there, but I'd never gotten a chance to actually hear what all the fuss was about. Then I found his show on a local AM radio station in Tuscaloosa - I can't remember the call letters...just that it was "a little to the right on your AM dial" - and I immediately knew why he was so successful. He was witty, he was smart, he had a great radio voice, and he was the most effective proponent of mainstream conservatism of anyone in the broadcast media at the time, bar none.

Fast forward to 2008, and none of that has changed: Limbaugh is still witty, still smart, and still conservative. And he just signed a brand new $400 million contract that will keep him on the air for another eight years. Apparently, huge numbers of talk radio listeners are still Ditto-Heads. It's no wonder that liberals can't stand him and that the drive-by media tries its best to ignore him. And so it came as a pleasant surprise to find this story by Zev Chafets published in last weekend's New York Times Magazine - one of the nation's leading liberal publications. The article is superb throughout, but this is just precious:
Limbaugh’s audience is often underestimated by critics who don’t listen to the show (only 3 percent of his audience identify themselves as “liberal,” according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press). Recently, Pew reported that, on a series of “news knowledge questions,” Limbaugh’s “Dittoheads” — the defiantly self-mocking term for his faithful, supposedly brainwashed, audience — scored higher than NPR listeners. The study found that “readers of newsmagazines, political magazines and business magazines, listeners of Rush Limbaugh and NPR and viewers of the Daily Show and C-SPAN are also much more likely than the average person to have a college degree.”
Then there's Rush's smackdown of Bill O'Reilley, Michael Savage, and Sean Hannity:

Limbaugh told me he is no longer concerned about the opinions of his colleagues and rivals, and he makes no effort to disguise his contempt for most of them. Michael Savage, ranked No. 3 among talk-radio hosts by Talkers magazine? “He’s not even in my rearview mirror.” Garrison Keillor? “I don’t even know where to find NPR on the dial.”

At dinner the night before, Bill O’Reilly’s name came up, and Limbaugh expressed his opinion of the Fox cable king. He hadn’t been sure at the time that he wanted it on the record. But on second thought, “somebody’s got to say it,” he told me. “The man is Ted Baxter.” ...

Limbaugh has a deeply conflicted attitude toward Sean Hannity, his one-time stand in and now perpetual No. 2 on the Talkers list. He speaks of the younger man with the same condescending affection that Muhammad Ali once showed Jimmy Ellis, a former sparring partner turned challenger. But he wanted me to remember who is the Greatest. “I have no competitors,” he said. “Hannity isn’t even close to me.”
There's no doubt that Rush's detractors - on the right and especially on the left - will read this story and weep. And that's as it should be. El Rushbo - America's "truth detector" - wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, July 07, 2008
On this day:

We don't really wanna know, Coach

"I don't have any idea how I lost 'em, but we can make up a good story." - former Auburn coach Pat Dye explaining (or not) how a pair of pants he owned 20 years ago turned up recently in Lake Martin.

A Canterbury Tale

It's been almost 450 years since the Church of England made its final break from Roman Catholicism during the reign of Elizabeth I. Now, alarmed at the direction their own Church has taken in recent years, it appears that significant numbers of conservative, "high church" Anglicans are seriously considering reunion with Rome:
(London Telegraph) Senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops. They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future.

They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, which enforces doctrine and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election.

Friday, July 04, 2008
On this day:

Jesse Helms, RIP

Sad news from North Carolina. There's no more fitting tribute to Sen. Helms than that today, millions of Americans will gather to celebrate the birth of the nation he loved so dearly. RIP.

It's Independence Day!

So, read the friggin' Declaration, why don't you! Read it to yourselves, read it to your children, read it to the bartender...just read it. And read it out loud. There's a lot to be said for actually hearing the Declaration that Gen. George Washington's ordered read to his troops in New York on July 9, 1776 - the same Declaration Washington and others of the Founding generation pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor to support.

Long live the Spirit of '76. Have a Happy Fourth!

Thursday, July 03, 2008
On this day:

Obama: "Mental distress" doesn't justify late-term abortion

From the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says "mental distress" should not qualify as a health exception for late term-abortions, a key distinction not embraced by many supporters of abortion rights.

In an interview this week with "Relevant," a Christian magazine, Obama said prohibitions on late-term abortions must contain "a strict, well defined exception for the health of the mother."

Obama then added: "Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term."

That's a very interesting- and very welcome - pronouncement, but it just happens to fly in the face of what Obama's favorite Supreme Court justices have said on the subject and it also stands in complete contradiction to his own voting record. What gives?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008
On this day:

UN Human Rights Council report singles out Alabama over death penalty

Take a look at the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council and you'll find some of the worst human rights abusers in the world: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Bolivia, Cameroon. And the list goes on.

It would take a lot of nerve for this group to accuse anyone of abusing human rights, given the very real human rights violations that are condoned and even endorsed by their own nations' leaders, but that's exactly what they've done. And they've pointed their finger at Alabama as a particular cause for concern. According to the Birmingham News:
Alabama's death penalty system is so broken that the state may have executed the innocent, and state officials refuse to recognize the problem, a United Nations report has concluded.

Philip Alston, a special investigator with the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, identified what he said is a series of flaws in Alabama's system, including judges who convert life sentences to death sentences for purely political reasons and inadequate representation for the condemned. Most alarming, he said, was Alabama officials' refusal to even discuss the possibility that the state's capital punishment system is in need of improvement.

"(Alabama) officials seem strikingly indifferent to the risk of executing innocent people and have a range of standard responses, most of which are characterized by a refusal to engage with the facts," Alston wrote in the report, released Monday.

This is absolutely absurd. How many real human rights abuses are purposefully overlooked by the U.N. Human Rights Council each year without so much as a peep? The answer is "most of them." For more background as to just what a farce the U.N. Human Rights Commision is, see this Heritage Foundation report. While the Human Rights Council has been quick to condemn Israel for defending itself against the Palestinian radicals who routinely launch missiles into Israeli cities with the express intent of killing civilians, it says next to nothing when tyrants like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe murder or imprison their political opponents. It pleads ignorance when nations like Saudi Arabia and China persecute Christians. It covers its eyes when Iran hangs teenage boys for the "crime" of homosexuality. Yet, it is quick to condemn Alabama for executing convicted murderers, even though they've been afforded all of the due process protections provided by the U.S. Constitution, not to mention those that the U.S. Supreme Court has seen fit to create.

As Alabama Attorney General Troy King said Tuesday: "The United Nations has grievous injustices in its own building that it ought to address before it begins worrying about a speck in the eye of a state like Alabama."

Why the high oil prices?

Should we blame the speculators? Or is it something much simpler like basic supply and demand? Robert Samuelson has some answers that the politicians won't like very much.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008
On this day:

Dave Barry is the funniest man in the world

If he can have me rolling on the floor laughing about such a deep, dark (but very serious) subject...give the man a Pulitzer or something. So what if he already has one. Give him another.

Repeal the 17th Amendment

Jonah Goldberg's correspondent hits the nail on the head as to why the U.S. Congress pays so little attention to the constitutionality of the legislation it passes.

The air show tragedy

This is just terribly sad. Keep the family of young Aaron Josiah Miller in your prayers.