Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And Then There Were 110

Well, the Senate has voted, and Alito has been sworn in. There were no big surprises regarding the vote. It was pretty much along party lines, with a few exceptions:

All but one of the Senate's majority Republicans voted for his confirmation, while all but four of the Democrats voted against Alito. Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island voted no and Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia voted yes.

A Sample Questionaire

Here is the sample questionnaire that I will be sending to our top five gubernatorial candidates. Those candidates are Bob Riley, Roy Moore, Don Siegleman, Lucy Baxley, and Loretta Nall. If you would like for me to include more, please let me know. Hopefully, I can keep Siegleman from talking about his trial, Moore from attacking Riley, Baxley from being vague, and so on. If there is a specific question that you would like me to ask that isn't listed here, please comment with your suggestion.

Candidates: Please give complete and simple (plain language) but short answers to the following questions. Please only answer the question given without straying from the subject matter of the question. Please only address YOUR platform, not the platform of your opponent. Any off-topic or attacking comments will be omitted from your response, should you give them.

1. What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing those in Alabama? Why?

2. Please provide your proposed solution to the above problem should you become the next Governor of Alabama. Please be brief but as detailed as possible.

3. What do you think is the best strategy for budgeting for Alabama?

4. Will you actively support the proposition of bringing Initiative and Referendum to the voters of Alabama, both in your campaign, and afterward? Please answer "yes" or "no" before explaining further.

5. What is your strategy for alleviating the tax burden on Alabama's poorest citizens? Once again, be brief but as detailed as possible.

6. What current U.S. Senator do you feel that you relate to the most? Why?

7. If you could change or add to any part of the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? Why?

8. Do you support the movement to rewrite Alabama's constitution? Why or why not?

9. What would you do to improve the public education system in Alabama?

10. Should the public opinion on an issue change during your term, would you stick to your personal beliefs on that issue or would you possibly change your stance to better reflect the beliefs of the people of Alabama? Why or why not?

I've emailed Zac over at the Alabama Elections blog to see if he would let me post the responses on his site. My original strategy was to host the answers here, but my blog is more op-ed instead of actual reporting. Then again, my original strategy was to call, but it is much easier to directly quote a candidate when they've written everything down for you. Perhaps I'll post the answers in both places.

Monday, January 30, 2006

In Other News - 1/30/06

Exxon Sees Record Profits for Any U.S. Co. You want to hear something that will make you mad? This will do it. Exxon just reported a fourth quarter profit of over $10 billion. That's even more than their third quarter earnings!!! Fill 'er up!

Primary care about to collapse, physicians warn This is actually a concern that I've had for a while. Health insurance companies are notorious for neglecting much needed, and cheaper, preventative care as opposed to what this article refers to as "just in time" care.

3 plans proposed on taxes Not a bad idea. Taxation on families that make less than $5K/year is just plain wrong. A decrease in sales tax for groceries is among these plans, and I think it's a good start. Many states do not have sales tax on grocery items, clothing, and other necessities for this very reason.

Jeffco frequently amends budgets Why create a budget if you aren't planning on sticking to it? Since this year's budget was put into place in October of last year, 98 amendments have been made. That means that the budget has been changed at least four times a week, on average, and it's only January. Now ask yourself. How many of us would trust these guys to balance our checkbook for us? I have a solution to this. Hire a fourth grader with decent math skills for his age, and put him in charge of the budget. Hire a toddler as his assistant, so that when Commissioners, Inc. want more money for whatever new money-making scheme happens to be the latest fad, the assistant can easily and stubbornly say, "No." Problem solved.

Friday, January 27, 2006

In Other News - 1/27/06

Murtha Says Iraq Is Now a 'Civil War' Well, duh. Iraqis are fighting Iraqis. That would be the very definition of a civil war. I can agree to some point with what Murtha is saying. As long as we are in Iraq, the Iraqis themselves have no real incentive to put any effort into controlling their own government. Why do any work with others are doing (or trying) it for you? I can see the logic in pulling back at least to some extent and forcing them to take control of their country. That seems to be a viable solution. At the same time, it could cause outright chaos and do more harm than good. The only other solution that I see would be to add enough troops to the scenario to overwhelm any opposition, quickly take down the enemy, and establish (for now) an Iraqi military state until things settle down. Then again, in one dictatorship really better than another?

Abbas Asks Hamas to Form New Government Interesting thing about democracy. Sometimes the votes don't go the way you planned. But wasn't democracy supposed to bring flowers and song to the Middle East?

School officials balk at notion systems should join with Jeffco And I don't blame them. JeffCo is incompetent in handling their schools, which is why so many systems have left to form their own, better systems.

Bill would allow teens to sign contracts at 18 This stinks of lender lobbyists. Most of the contracts listed in this article have some connection to a person being able to get into red ink at a younger age without adult supervision. I don't like it.

The Lighter Side

Well, I've been in a bad mood all week. The consistent griping has probably shown that. But today, I'm in a much better mood. Of course, I must comment on some of the actual news this morning, but first, I'd like to point out some things that made me laugh this week:

First, there is today's Prickly City comic:

Love it!

Then there was yesterday's press conference where the president took questions directly from the press, instead of Scott McClellan (sp?). Now I didn't get to see live coverage of this, but NBC was kind enough to replay it on the Nightly News. You know how comedians love to joke that the president is easily distracted? There was this one moment in particular that was caught only by the boys at NBC. A camera that had been mounted to the ceiling came loose and started dangling in front of the president while he was trying to answer a question. In the shots shown, you can't quite tell what it is. But the sight of something dangling in front of the president, and the look on his face, was one of the funniest things I've ever seen! It almost looked like someone did it intentionally just to see what would happen, and the look on the president's face reminds me of my cat when something is dangled in front of him. I almost expected him to start batting at it! The only video that I could find was on the Nightly News webcast.

Not funny, but definitely something that lightened my mood, is one of my favorite shows on television right now-- Dancing With the Stars. Now we all know that Drew Lachey will probably walk away with the top ranking if Stacey Keebler doesn't best him. But I'm also rooting for Tia Carrere and Jerry Rice. Jerry came as the biggest surprise for a lot of folks because he's a football player. I wasn't as surprised to see him do so well, because athletes are often very flexible and make great dancers. I'm actually surprised that he hasn't done better, but I love watching that man dance! Tia, having just given birth a few months ago, looks absolutely fabulous. Stacey and Lisa Rinna are divine! (I want MY abs to look like that!!!) The only thing that I can't figure out is how George Hamilton and Master P have been able to stay in the competition for this long. George Hamilton is a classic example of why white men get made fun of, and for someone who works in the music industry, P Miller should have more natural rhythm. (If he does, he isn't showing it.) I've started skipping past Miller's performance because I can't watch another minute of P standing there all but motionless while his partner, Ashley, does all of the work. He almost reminds me of my husband when I tried to teach him swing dancing. You have hips, Miller! Use them!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In other news...

If anyone wants to know why I can't stand Richard Scrushy, this should give you some clue.

I also thought this was sweet. For the record, I keep a link to the IAVA (formerly known as Operation Truth) in the sidebar under my blogroll. IAVA is a great blog that is run by several veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Our Place is another listed there that is also run by a veteran of the Iraq war.

A Trip Down Memory Lane: November 2004

I was looking back at these posts, and I just wanted to point out a few things that caught my eye:

November 1 I remember the Halloween party. We have one every year because the kid in us loves to dress up and eat junk food. Our normal strategy is to have an Evil Dead marathon because, well, it's a classic cult trilogy. (Sam Raimi has a great sense of humor that comes through in all of his work.) I wonder if we'll be able to keep doing our Halloween parties after the baby gets here.

November 2 Election day. I see that I griped about some of the problems that I saw. I'm still not too happy about them. The wait was short since we went first thing in the morning, but I did see some people turned away. I'm still not happy about the failure to keep the voters informed on the legislation that they are deciding on.

November 3 I think I had a fairly dramatic reaction to the election results. Then again, when I look back, I was probably one of those "anyone but Bush" voters. It's not that I was that supportive of John Kerry. I think that it had just gotten to the point where I realized that Dubbya's strategy was not going to change. My definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I remember seeing a poll that a large number of people wanted Bush's second term to be different than his first, but as we've seen, not much has changed. I haven't been totally surprised yet. I still can't understand why people would think that voting him into a second term would yield such results. I'm also still upset about the lack of voter turnout from my age group. (Low voter turnout always upsets me.)

November 4 I love that I made a reference to the now famous email that accused Teresa Heinz-Kerry of being in charge of the Heinz corporation. At the time, I knew that this was outright false, but I hadn't yet discovered Snopes. Not surprisingly, half the crap I get forwarded to me from my friends and family turns out to be completely bogus. I wonder to this day just how many people form their oh-so-informed opinions on this junk.

November 6 Ah, how the mighty have fallen... I was happy at the time to see that I was incorrect about the danger lurking around the corner regarding our economy. As of that particular moment in time, the economy appeared to be doing much better after the elections. I want to go back in time and slap myself, because...

November 9 Just look at how our economy has changed in less than two years!!! The price of gasoline and oil alone is enough to make me want to cry! Gas down the street was $1.90/gallon. Today, it is $2.23/gallon. Oil was $49.09/barrel. I haven't looked at the price today, but when I looked at Wednesday's paper, it was shooting dangerously close to the $70 mark again. Yikes!!!

November 11 I learned about the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for the newly available Attorney General position in Bush's cabinet. I was apprehensive at first, but since then, I've come to find that he's not as extreme as I thought he was. I mean, it's not like he would attempt to justify the president overreaching his power by doing something as far-fetched as surveillance on American citizens without a warrant. That stuff only happens in conspiracy novels, right? And those torture scandal thingies are a thing of the past, too.

November 15 I knew it was going to happen, but I guess I didn't want to admit it. I was sad to see Colin Powell go.

November 28 My first turkey. Turned out great! I won't eat anyone else's turkey, now. It's just too dry for my tastes. Unfortunately, the rest of my family doesn't seem to believe that a turkey is "done" unless it's dry, no matter what the thermometer says.

November 30 Ken Jennings passes the torch. I'll miss that guy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In other news...

I subscribe to email newsletters from both the Republican and Democratic parties just to see what's being sent out amongst the loyals. Every once in a while Mehlmen or Dean will come up with something worth saying. I recently received an email from the Democrats with this suggestion. I have to admit that it's a good idea. The thought of a group of people getting together to watch the president's speech and then discussing it afterward makes me all tingly inside. My prediction, however, is that Blockbuster will have a particularly good evening.

Also, I recently became aware (hat tip to Alabama Elections) that we have a third party (Libertarian) candidate involved in the Alabama governor's race. Loretta Nall's blog is found here. I also happen to have a link in my blogroll, although I haven't had a chance to read through it. In the meantime, let me know what you think. I plan on calling her campaign office along with the other candidates to see where she stands on the issues I'm concerned with.

By the way, I'm still putting together a list of the questions that I want to ask each candidate, so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know. I'm going to post the responses here. Hopefully, I'll have a sample list posted here before the end of the week. I'll also list the candidates whom I intend to call. Because of my limited time, I won't be able to call candidates for the legislature. There are just too many. My main concerns at this time include I&R, Constitutional Reform, Budgeting, and Tax Reform.

JeffCo Taxes Renewed by Voters

Well, at least they gave you a chance this time, so nobody can say that the tax was unfairly passed. I guess the problem I have with it is that the people of Jefferson County apparently didn't care enough to show up to vote.

You see, the tax doesn't affect me because I live in St. Clair County, so the results of the vote isn't what is upsetting me right now. What really upsets me is the following:

The votes will be certified next Tuesday. Voter turnout was just shy of 11 percent.

Why? I'm sorry, but one of my pet peeves is the failure of voters to even show up at the polls. Even worse, in my book, is when those who fail to show up dare to complain about how they aren't satisfied with the way their government is running things. There were at least three separate articles in the Birmingham News (including Sunday's edition), and some press coverage on the major networks. I realize that not everyone would have gotten the news, but please tell me that our local media has not become so inefficient that only 11 percent of the voters were informed.

Whenever I call up a representative, they are usually kind enough to take the time to discuss things thoroughly with me, probably because the chance to discuss their pet legislation with a constituent is a rare treat. This isn't necessarily limited to local legislators, either. They've confirmed that they don't get many calls or letters, and they say that they would like to receive more feedback.

I guess my question is this: Are most people simply unaware that they can have such an active role in their government, or is it that they don't care?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Senate Votes "Yes" on Redundancy

Okie dokie. Thus far, I've been a good girl. I've not complained-- much. Judging by the title for this post, I'd say that that is about to change.

The Senate Judiciary Committed has voted on Samuel Alito's nomination and decided... that he should be voted on. I'm well aware that this is standard procedure for everything. Things go to committees, and if they pass, they go to the full body. It's just that the full ridiculousness of all this stuff has finally hit me and taken a toll.

I guess that the good news is that this whole thing is about half over. I'm sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of seeing Ted Kennedy roll his eyes. I'm sick of hearing Jeff Sessions practically declare his undying love for all things Republican. I'm sick of Sam Alito answering the question, only not. I'm sick of hearing the same conservatives who failed to give Harriet Miers a fighting chance talk about how every nominee deserves an "up or down vote." (In fact, if I have to hear the phrase "up or down vote" one more time, I'm going to hurl from exposure to unoriginality.) I'm sick of liberals only being able to focus on Roe v. Wade and ignore any other important issues. I just want it to be over. I think that the American public has suffered through enough.

As if we don't know what's going to happen... Alito will be confirmed. Conservatives will talk about their "values." Liberals will be outraged about something. Pat Robertson will say something crazy. Jon Stewart will make fun of it. Michael Moore will gain more weight. But in the long run, nothing remotely significant will change. Isn't that pretty much how it usually goes?

Maybe once this is all over, we can get back to the interesting stuff.


Vote yes. Vote no. But by all means, vote.

You have the opportunity to either lower your property taxes after 2007 or to let the rates stay the same for the next 29 years.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only voters in the county school district, Trussville and Leeds will vote in the referendum.

The tax supports schools in the Jefferson County area. It is not a new tax, but there is a newer tax that collects even more money for schools. (Remember the infamous 1% sales tax that Langford & Co. passed.) Some saw this sales tax as being unnecessary, so with the new income, letting these property taxes phase out over the next year may not hurt as much as some may lead you to believe.

I don't know about any of you, but after looking at my most recent gas bill, I could use an extra $80 or more. Then again, I currently live just over the St. Clair County line, but I could imagine...

Voters should bring a photo ID. For information on polling places, call Jefferson County Board of Registrars at 325-5550.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Jefferson County voters:

How will you vote tomorrow? Did you know that there is an election? Do you know what about? Chances are, you don't. It's no mistake, either. It's a tax that you'll be voting on, and you get to decide whether or not you'd like to keep paying it.

Would you like to lower your property taxes? Tomorrow, you will get the chance. Don't blow it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Part II

I'm going to add (for now) the link to my old website to the right sidepanel. I'm also going to add a poll for a couple of weeks. You'll find it at the bottom of the right sidebar. I'm going to let you guys decide whether I should keep it up or trash it. Personally, I'd like to keep it, but I don't intend to update it, and I don't plan on renewing the domain registration. I can still host it for free on Geocities (or elsewhere). The only real reason that I want to keep it is for the posts that I made back then, because it gives some insight into my background. From a writing standpoint, I've tried to maintain a certain level of credibility and integrity, and deleting these comments may give some people the impression (not to mention, the ammunition) that I have something to hide. Maybe I can host them on this blog. I'm a lot newer to this whole blog concept than most, so if anyone has any suggestions, by all means feel free to share.

I'd like to take this opportunity to comment on some of my previous posts, found under "Mindless rantings...". (I was trying to be poetic on the opening page.) I'll start with October of 2004. I think this is around the time that I really started to get angry at President Bush. If any of you know me personally, you'd know that I was a heavy supporter (with some exceptions) up until about January of 2004. It slowly went south from there, although I think I'm starting to warm up to him again... just a bit. I remember starting the site as a place to vent my anger, so most of the posts from October 2004 consists of unapologetic (and sometimes unfounded) Bush-flaming, giving the impressions in that first month that I might be a "liberal." But upon closer inspection, I can see that I had issues with both candidates, even in that first month.

I particularly like the post from October 28, where I suggested that all of the presidential debates take place in "Tough Crowd" style with Colin Quinn as the moderator.

Let the five of them go at it. You'd see Cheney punch Bush for contradicting him and Quinn punch Kerry for not giving a yes or no answer. At some point, it would turn into an all out brawl between Bush, Cheney, Kerry, and Quinn with Edwards trying to stop it. Edwards would later start handing out business cards for personal injury lawsuits.

On a personal note, I think this is also when I started my cake decorating phase in life. (I still decorate, but I ended up getting so much business that I decided not to do it professionally. It's fun, but physically, it's exhausting when you have more than three cakes a week and you are working out of a home kitchen.)

Next week, I'll comment on my posts from November 2004.

The Price Tag of Justice

Is this really news to anyone?

Practically everyone who followed the case felt like Scrushy was manipulating the jury through press and preachers. I have to admit that I've never before seen a rich white man successfully play the race card to a black jury.

But the most disturbing part of this whole case is that the pastors of the churches who supported Scrushy were apparently motivated to do so with money, whether it was given directly to the pastors or in donations to the church. What's worse is that these men are representatives of Christianity, and this is the message that they have sent.

House bill gives unborn `victim status'

I have some pretty strong feelings about this bill, especially after finding out that I am going to be a mommy. I think that our legislators have done the right thing, here.

The only point that I would possibly question would be a charge of homicide in some cases. A woman can be pregnant for some time without showing. Harm to the unborn may be unintentional, or the attacker may not have chosen to attack that woman had they known of her condition. While this would be no less of a tragedy, a lesser charge of manslaughter might be more appropriate.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New From Bin Laden

Looks like Bin Laden has released another tape.

I honestly don't know what to say. He's offering a truce. I usually don't read the transcripts for these things because I'd rather not give them the time of day, so I don't know if this is his usual style.

But I read this one, and it surprised me to see how charismatic and obviously intelligent this guy is. I don't know why it surprised me. Most leaders are that way, bad guy or good guy.

The reason why I say that I don't know if this is his usual style is that I don't know if his offering of a truce is something new. If it is, I think that we can take it as a good sign. Previously, and please correct me if I'm wrong, there was no bending room with this guy. He wanted us dead. I'm not saying that we should negotiate with a terrorist, but if he's showing that he's willing to work with us for the first time, that means that he may have some doubts about his own abilities. In other words, he's starting to squirm.

The only thing that really disturbs me is our leadership's reaction, and I'm referring to this article from the AP. This is the quote that concerned me:

U.S. counterterror officials said Thursday they have seen no specific or credible intelligence to indicate an upcoming al-Qaida attack on the country.

And then there is this:

While warning against downplaying the taped threat, officials at intelligence and law enforcement agencies said there has been no recent increase in "chatter" that can indicate that such an attack is imminent.

That doesn't sound good. Isn't this administration supposed to be more effective in keeping us safe? Weren't we told that the whole purpose behind the wiretapping scandal was so that they could know when an attack was being planned? Wasn't there another subtle hint that was ignored before the attacks on September 11? Why are we downplaying this?

"Intelligent design" not science: Vatican paper

This headline caught my eye.

I'm not Catholic by any stretch, but I can understand (to a point) why they wouldn't want ID taught alongside evolution in science classes. In fact, as a Protestant, I can understand why some Christians don't want ID taught in science classes. I happen to agree with them.

While I don't fully understand the motivations behind the Vatican, I can explain my own views. My personal belief is that God created science so that we could better understand the world around us and how he created it. But the world around us, the tangible, is only a small part of his creation. There is so much more that we have yet to see. Seeing as how God created science, he is much greater than science and cannot be explained by it. To do so, defining a creator by such a small fraction of His creation, is to form God in our image instead of the other way around, and is blasphemy. It would be like an artist who puts a portion of his soul into a portrait of himself. The painting is by all means created in the artists image. But by no means is the portrait a true image of all that is the artist. I hope I explained that without being confusing.

Anyway, that is my personal belief. You may believe something different. But considering the reverence that I see my God in, teaching ID goes against my Christian religion. Merely understanding that God created the heavens and the earth and teaching evolution may be how science explains how he did it does not.

That being said, I do have issues with evolution being taught. There are some really big holes in that theory that either need to be explained, or evolutionists need to admit that they simply do not know and can't prove to satisfaction.

The Alabama Moderate Needs Your Help...

I saw a letter that was written to the Birmingham News regarding a bill that will be up for vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 31. From what I understood from the letter writer, the bill would count gifts given by senior citizens toward determining Medicaid eligibility for care in nursing homes. I don't know how much of what the letter writer said was true, but I can't seem to find any mention of the bill.

If anyone knows anything, could you please let me know?

Here is the link to the letter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Earlier this evening, I was reminded of one of my previous webages that I'd forgotten about. I'll have to comment on it tomorrow because it's getting a little late in the evening for this old fogey, but I found it somewhat amusing to look at my thoughts from nearly two years ago, see how I've changed, see how wrong I was, see how right I was, etc. I thought it might be amusing to post the link here. Just don't try the contact links. I'm not sure if they are still good. For that purpose, I have (hopefully) removed them.

Senate passes bill to make keg parties a thing of the past

I have to admit that they had good intentions on this one. Then again, you know what they say about the road to disaster and good intentions. I'm afraid that the good lawmakers may have created a false sense of security.

This is what I'm talking about:

If the bill becomes law, people could drink draft beer only at a bar, restaurant, private club or other retail establishment licensed for beer sales by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, the bill's sponsor. People could not buy a keg and take it elsewhere to drink.

Singleton said he proposed the bill in an effort to stop teenagers from drinking beer.

Personally, I think that they may have watched Animal House one too many times.

Being nearly 27 now, it wasn't very long ago that I was in college. I was in a sorority, and I went to my share of parties at a school that had a "dry" campus and was not supposed to be a party school, or so my father told me when he agreed to let me go. Boy, was he ever mistaken. Not only did we have parties that involved alcohol, but the parties also included guests from nearby "party" schools who decided that our parties were better. The campus police were even known to join us on occasion.

But kegs? I don't recall ever having seen those. There was indeed a hearty supply of alcohol, but not a keg in sight. Most of the parties were strictly BYOB, which meant that alcohol was purchased in small amounts-- usually a six-pack or case per purchase. And the purchases didn't just include beer. Wine coolers and other malt beverages such as hard lemonade were far more popular.

Unless these same legislators want to ban all sell of alcohol to anyone, chances are that there will be no dents made in the amount of teenage drinking. And we all know how well it worked the last time we tried prohibition. Besides, I very much look forward to getting back to my occasional glass of chardonnay or bottle of Smirnoff twist (apple, yummy!) before bedtime.

Consumer Prices Rise on Energy Cost Surge

Just FYI.

I've actually considered the cost of switching over to an electric heat pump. The decision comes after getting my December utility bill and seeing that it had nearly tripled from this time last year. People have tried to tell me that electric heating is less efficient, but I also know that the people I know who use them have a much smaller heating bill than mine.