Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat!

I'll be taking the day off, but I'll be back tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/30/06

First of all, congratulations to Wheeler on the twins. From what I can tell, it looks like they were born in the same hospital as my little "Butterbean" about five months back. So now I'm curious as to whether or not his wife uses my OB/GYN and whether or not we may have passed each other in the waiting room. Small world!

Altoid has the latest on Rep. Jean Schmidt. Funny stuff. Apparently, she has a problem with someone showing her constituents exactly how she behaves herself on the House floor. Schmidt complains that to show footage in this manner is considered breaking House rules. There's only one problem. Her opponent isn't a member of the House, yet. Schmidt, however, is a member of the House, and it also just happens to be "against House rules to refer to another lawmaker by name or to disparage him on the House floor."

Michael Linn Jones wants you to vote for him for Congress.

And Dan is reminding you to watch the Alabama gubernatorial debate.

Who's counting YOUR vote?

I don't know about any of you, but I miss the No. 2 pencil days... I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually thankful for Nancy Worley's inefficiency, for once. If not for her, we'd probably be using Diebold machines by now.

Birmingham is Movin' on Up!

The newest listing of most dangerous U.S. cities was just released. St. Louis has been ranked as number one. Birmingham was number 10 on the list last year. This year, Birmingham is number six. So it looks like we're steadily headed toward the top of at least one national ranking.

Here's the link to the list, although I had some problems getting onto the server earlier.

Just as last year, the thanks for this "improvement" should go to Mayor Bernard Kinkaid and Birmingham Police Chief Annetta Nunn, who have still not approved most of the suggestions given by their own police force. Kinkaid, in particular, deserves special credit for taking his own city council to court as opposed to allowing the pay raise that they overwhelmingly passed so that Birmingham police officers could be paid a comparable rate to surrounding cities with less crime and better benefits.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sticking my nose where it doesn't belong...

...into the Jefferson County Probate Judge (place 1) race. I live in St. Clair County, after all. But I work the Hewitt-Trussville football games on Fridays for some extra cash right before Christmas, and I got to meet one of the Judge Alan King's campaign toadies. I like that title! I think I'll start calling them that! LOL! Anyway, it's late, and I'm in a goofy mood.

The campaign toady in question was very polite-- not one of those in-your-face campaign toadies that you normally meet. He just stood at the gate, held a road sign, and passed out flyers to anyone who would take them. He talked to my husband and me for a little while and only mentioned the campaign once. I mentioned that I run a blog, and I asked him for a flyer. I offered to do a little looking up and told him I'd post my opinion, since he'd been so nice. (I also made him promise me that his sign wouldn't end up on the side of I-59.)

So I looked up King's website, and I have to admit that I'm impressed with his qualifications. He's being endorsed by the FOP, a plus when it comes to the opinion of the daughter of a disabled cop. If what I'm reading is true, he was also voted as most qualified by the Birmingham Bar Association. Another plus, although I haven't been able to confirm whether or not it's true. He seems to have a lead over his opponent in the polls, too.

So this is my obligatory mention of Judge Alan King. So far, what I see is good. I haven't seen anything negative thus far. Maybe someone else out there has and would like to comment.

Riley for Vice President?

Since John McCain campaigned with Gov. Riley yesterday, the Birmingham News is now speculating over whether or not McCain might choose Riley as his running mate should he run for president in 2008. (Just a little trivia. McCain could become our oldest serving president. If he is elected to a second term, he would retire at the age of 80.) I have no major problems with either of them, but I think that they may be putting a little too much stock in our governor.

McCain, should he run, would need a running mate who has attracted a lot of national attention. At least, he would need someone who is better known than Riley.

Then, there is this quote:

Pressed to say whether he would consider Riley as a running mate, McCain said, "I think he would be an excellent choice, yes. But first let me decide if I'm going to run, and if I run, Bob Riley and others in the party would be outstanding choices in any future run."

I guess I'd believe it more if McCain hadn't already said nearly the exact same thing about Lindsey Graham back in November 2005.

McCain, looking at Graham, told the crowd of about 100 people that "some people have said this might be a very attractive vice presidential candidate."
He also has close personal relationships with John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman. Lieberman and Graham are both fellow senators with whom McCain has worked very closely on legislation. Both were members of the famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Gang of 14. My money is on those two. If Lieberman loses in the general election, my money is on Graham-- at least for now. While Riley could be considered a moderate (and McCain will go with a moderate), he's an unlikely choice since he has less national recognition and is not as close to the potential candidate.

One other thing to note is that politicians have a way of recycling the same speeches over and over. It's a good bet that McCain makes a habit of visiting states that might show support for him in '08 and then supporting a candidate by saying that he'd make a good choice for a vice presidential candidate. Just a thought.

Just another reason why I love Scott Stantis...

Today's Prickly City comic: click here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Recommended Reading

For the celebrities who will likely vow to leave the U.S. if the Republicans keep control in November, I have a book for you.

Discussion: Laptops & Borders

More and more laptops are being seized and searched when people are crossing the border. The main concern is among business travelers, who are carrying confidential corporate information on their computers (not to mention personal information) that they wouldn't want someone else to see. This may have a major impact on the way international business is done.

Political Ads Roundup

Here's what the Birmingham News and the Associated Press are talking about...

Gambling money, false ad claims fly -- The Birmingham News talks about the race for Alabama's Supreme Court chief justice. This is precisely why I feel the office should be appointed. I don't like judges who are politicians.

Riley's `hypocritical' on no-bids, Baxley says -- Is it just me, or does anyone else miss the days when Baxley just kept her mouth shut? She's turning into the Democrat's Twinkle.

Michael J. Fox plunges into election -- I don't think that anyone was surprised to see that Michael J. Fox is supporting those candidates who vow to fight for stem cell research. What got me angry was Rush Limbaugh's assessment of Fox's disease. Then again, I don't know many people who take Rush seriously, these days.

COPA Gripes

The trial challenging the Child Online Protection Act began on Monday.

Among the list of gripes, those challenging the new law complain that it restricts freedom of speech. I doubt that this is the case, but I don't like lawsuits against web browsers, ISPs, and content blockers because they can't block everything. I don't like the COPA because I believe it gives parents an excuse to not pay attention to what their children are doing.

Yes, I believe that children should be protected online. I also believe that parents should be the ones who take responsibility for what their children are doing online. I never had a computer in my own room, and my daughter will not. Rather, the computers in our home are located in a more central location. There is no such thing as online privacy-- at least not until you are out of my home.

The government can only be a nanny for so long.

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/25/06

Lee P at A Bama Blog is talking about whether or not a voter ID could be considered a poll tax.

These days, it seems like everyone is talking about Loretta Nall's boobs. Dan at Between the Links is no exception. This was also on NBC's evening news last night. Dan is also giving his recommendation for State Auditor.

Doc's Political Parlor and Home of Lawn Mower Repair is talking about (among other things) the Republican use of "the 'L' word."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sample Ballot Available Online

I will be cross-posting this at Between the Links.

I stumbled upon a site where you can get a sample ballot online. Just click here. The ballot doesn't include constitutional amendments, and it seems to group together all the candidates for particular categories (even if candidates are running for separate seats). The Associate Judge candidates and the Public Service Commission candidates were all lumped together on my sample ballot. But it does offer a list of who is running for what. If you can't get to a probate court, this may be useful.

Fundamentalism and Fanatics

I have been noticing a faith movement, lately. It's members have faith that theirs is the only way, and they have little tolerance for those of opposing faith. In fact, some have no tolerance, and they will work in whatever way they can to eradicate any signs of other faiths.

I'm talking about atheists.

Think about it for a minute. It takes just as much faith to believe that no god exists as it would take to believe that one does not. Considering their organization, it could easily be considered a type of religion, sans deity.

Granted, I don't hold this attitude toward all atheists. I have several friends who are atheists, and they are some of the most tolerant, open-minded, and wonderful people I know. I'm referring to those atheists who sue to have crosses removed from war memorials. I'm referring to those who want any trace of religion removed from society, no matter how trivial.

In their efforts, I start to wonder if they could eventually become as radical as some religious fanatics. I say that because of recent church burnings that have plagued Alabama. Could this eventually become a pasttime for overzealous atheists? I just find it interesting to see that the newest potential fundamentalist movement just happens to be one that claims no religion.

Your thoughts?

Republican Quotes of the Day

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

"These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people..."

Doesn't sound very Republican, does it? Can you tell me who I'm quoting? I'll give you a hint. The Republicans invoke his name quite often to remind you that they are representing the same party. He also worked often with members of the opposing party, even giving a Democrat his second-in-command position. Considering that, I'm surprised that they aren't giving him the ol' McCain treatment. Instead, they seem quite proud of him.

The answer: Abraham Lincoln.

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/24/06

Well, I haven't given poor Wheeler much attention lately, so I'll point you over to The Alablawg, where he's discussing why he believes the Republicans are the actual party of cut and run.

Kathy has a post on Birmingham Blues with the latest presidential humor. I saw it on the news last night. It's not the funniest thing that he's ever done, but I got a chuckle. Ted Stevens and his "tube" speech were funnier.

Loretta Nall has posted a list of her upcoming media appearances.

Michael Linn Jones is talking about a new smoking ban in Omaha over at Gun Toting Liberal. While I'm a big fan of smoking bans, I have to agree with him that the use of the 911 system to report infractions is way too much. For one thing, I prefer to leave the 911 system open for actual emergencies instead of calls from overzealous anti-smoke activists.

Dan has some great posts over at Between the Links, but since there are so many today, I'll just direct you to the main site.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Problems With Diebold

The Washington Post has reported on the latest issue with the Diebold voting machines, which we now know can be easily hacked.

A Maryland election official said yesterday that possibly stolen computer disks believed to be electronic voting software were "apparently produced" for use by a testing firm hired by the Maryland legislature in November 2003.

The disks in question contain two different programs that were used in the Maryland elections in 2004. What's worse is that, nobody really knows how many copies of this software are floating around at this time-- apparently enough copies so that someone at the Washington Post was able to get their hands on some. And since Diebold doesn't have a paper trail, there's no real way to make sure that something didn't go wrong in 2004 and that something won't go wrong in November.

[Edward] Felten, the Princeton computer scientist [who was able to hack the Diebold machine], said public disclosure of the core instructions or "source code" that powers electronic voting machines would enhance security by allowing experts to find flaws that could then be corrected.

Interesting, and he's probably correct. It would allow for flaws to be found, but you have to wonder about the person who finds it. Would that person seek to find a solution or use the flaw to hack the program? Then again, when a program is open source, problems in the source code would be reported to the public, and for every bad guy, there is usually a good guy who wants to fix the problem. It seems to have worked well for Mozilla. Still, I don't know how many people I feel comfortable with fooling around with my vote. Maybe we should just go back to paper.

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/23/06

There isn't much going on, but there are a couple of good posts that I want to direct your attention to.

Dan at Between the Links has posted his recommendations for the Public Service Commission.

Gun Toting Liberal is talking about how the MSM may be loosing out to the blogosphere. And they're not happy about it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/20/06

Alabama Democrat has posted a link to the new GOP ad. Oddly enough, the ad contains footage that is reminiscent of an old LBJ ad, which Altoid has posted.

NBC will not be airing a portion of Madonna's show which includes the singer on a mirrored cross. This is in response to some Christian groups threatening to boycott one of the show's sponsors. I can probably tell you now that, as a result of the controversy, the show will have more viewers. Anytime I see a celeb put his image on a cross (remember Kanye West?), it makes me want to hurl, and the celeb in question will usually be ridiculed. What the Christian right has effectively done is make Madonna look like a martyr, given the show hype (meaning that more people will watch it), and made themselves look like fascists. Thus, their actions further prove that extremists are pretty good at achieving the opposite of their original goal if given enough time. Seriously, does anyone really take Madonna seriously these days?

Robert Rouse (Left of Centrist) has proven why you don't go to bed after a night of horror movies and Bill O'Reilly.

And Dan at Between the Links has posted regarding the now infamous Twinkle recording that everyone seems to be talking about. Not only does it have no truth whatsoever, but Twinkle has also managed to (finally) turn Patricia Todd's election as the first openly gay legislator in Alabama into the "gay agenda" debate it should have been. (Todd's platform, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with the "gay agenda", nor does she plan on making it so.) Dan also has an informative piece on Dick Clark, the other third-party candidate.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/19/06

Doc has an excellent piece on Sunny Smallwood's run for Probate Judge. She has an interesting credibility issue in her campaign advertising. My husband, who has seen the advertisements, has trouble getting over the last name. Juvenile, I know, but what can I say? He's a man-boy. I think that the "Vote Boo Boo for Sheriff" sign we saw a few years ago was funnier.

Loretta Nall has posted instructions on how to write in a candidate's name on your ballot.

The Alabama Pundit has decided to post about how great the economy is. Statistics are even given to back it up. I couldn't help but notice what wasn't included-- that the average working wage has gone down. Jobs have been created, but they were lower paying jobs than the ones they replaced. Coupled with inflation, this has done noting but squeeze the working class to death. So, I guess you have to ask: What is your definition of a good economy?

From the mouth of babes... Thirteen-year-old Kimrey Anne Black wrote to the Birmingham News about negative campaigning. It's interesting that someone so young can grasp something that adults cannot.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Don't They Ever Check Snopes?

Earlier this evening, I saw the latest scare released to the media. Why the media gives these stories the time of day, I will never know. Even the U.S. government acknowledged that this was not a credible threat.

Here's the story. Some joker posted on a website or message board that several NFL stadiums would be targeted for bombings. I'd like to give the terrorists credit for being a little more bright than that. If they were planning an attack, the last thing they'd want is to lower the body count by warning the potential victims. I guess that the FBI has to investigate everything to be safe, but the fact that the news outlets gave this any credit at all is unbelievable. Why?

The story sounds suspiciously familiar to me. Very, very, very familiar. I wouldn't be surprised if some soccer mom who believes everything (because if it's on the Internet, it must be true) got this in her inbox and posted it on a message board to "warn" everyone.

Not Here

In Alabama, we pride ourselves in showing our Southern Christian hospitality. And if you aren't Southern (or Christian), you may even find yourself on the receiving end of that hospitality. It's our Christian duty, after all, to live as Christ commanded here:

Matthew 25:31-46

and here:

Matthew 6:14-15

Unless, of course, you happen to be gay, liberal, anti-war, atheist, poor, Muslim, a terrorist, or a sex offender. Those sex offenders don't deserve any kind of outreach or otherwise helping hand. In fact, they just don't deserve to live anywhere-- especially not here.

How dare Mr. and Mrs. Grier even suggest that they should found and run a needed ministry to former sex offenders! I mean, who cares if most of them end up right back in prison because they can't find anywhere to live after they've served their terms? They're reprehensible! Can you imagine what kind of a sick mind would produce an 18-year-old who would dare have sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend? Sickos!

But all is not lost. Not too long ago, they were driven out of town because the mission was too close to a daycare center. Of course, they're going to try it out somewhere else, but that's okay, because State Rep. Oliver Robinson, D-Birmingham, is doing his best to break it up. He's working on a law that will not allow more than one offender to live in a residential area. Considering that there are only so many residential areas in Alabama, and the number of offenders are growing, this is merely the first step in driving them out of Alabama entirely! Way to go, Rep. Robinson!

So where, then, will these people live and work, so that they can successfully assimilate into society and become contributing members to the community instead of permanent prison residents? Who cares?! Ms. Exie Thomas Bridge, a North East Lake Neighborhood Association presidential candidate and the very picture of Christian charity addressed a couple of the former offenders. They had come to her door to plead their case, and she addressed the situation as many of us good, Christian folks naturally would:

"They said ... `We've got to live somewhere,'" Bridge said. "Sure, they've got to live somewhere ... but not in my neighborhood."

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/18/06

Loretta Nall is writing a letter to Secretary of State Nancy Worley. Heaven help us, she's in charge of making sure that all our votes are counted. I have to have hope...

Speaking of Nancy Worley, Dan has posted that 30 registrars (Dems and Reeps) have found common ground and decided to back Worley's opponent, Beth Chapman. And poor Larry Langford has had his latest scheme rejected, and he was the only one to vote in favor. I almost feel sorry for the guy. Almost, but not enough to refrain from doing my happy dance because this fell through.

The folks over at Doc's Political Parlor are discussing campaign ads. Particularly, they're discussing the worst of the worst. I have to agree with one person who noted the Luther Strange attack ad against Folsom with what I can only assume is supposed to be a Folsom impersonator.

The Gun Toting Liberal has what I can only describe as the funniest thing I've read in a while. You just have to read it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What have you done for ME, lately?

That's a question that too many of us are failing to ask our elected representatives, and it shows.

I was watching the new Robin Williams flick Man of the Year over the weekend, and I was surprised to see that the character Tom Dobbs actually touched on some real issues. As he points out, politicians love to bring up big issue debates, like gay marriage and abortion, because they use them as "weapons of mass distraction." (I also recently read a commentary by Lou Dobbs that made the same point. I don't think that the naming of the character was a coincidence.) These issues distract you from this nation's real issues. For example, how is you standard of living, lately? How is your health care? Do you think you are being paid fairly for the work that you do based on your company's profit margins? Do you feel safe-- not only from terrorists but from common criminals? Do you feel like you can keep up with inflation?

Then ask your senator, representative, mayor, governor, president, etc. this: Why haven't you done anything about it?

On the surface, it appears that they might be doing a little something. Energy policies, tax cuts, and Medicare legislation looks nice. But who is really behind it? Oil company executives are writing our energy policies. Drug companies are writing our Medicare legislation. Who's interests do you think they are interested in looking out for? Yours or theirs? And as both Dobbs pointed out, you will be lucky to hear a politician argue that lobbyists are bad for America.

How can a candidate be for alternate fuel sources when he is bought and paid for by oil companies? How can a candidate be for fair natural gas rates when he is a former utility lobbyist? Does it make sense that our politicians claim to be tough on national security, but hundreds are crossing our borders illegally every day with ease while American citizens returning from vacation are hassled over bringing back a grapefruit?

Democrats? Republicans? Both are guilty. And who is to blame? We are. I'm talking about the middle class. We don't vote. If we vote, we vote based on what the voter guide handed out at church said or that TV commercial or stubborn party affiliation. Chances are that if those going to the polls actually read their Sunday newspaper instead of just buying it for the coupons, they'd get angry enough to make a real difference.

I saw a sign on Chalkville-Mountain Road this weekend that said something like, "Improve Jefferson County. Vote Straight Republican." I had to laugh to keep from crying. What have the Republicans given us, really given us, in their ten years of control? They were supposed to be the party that restored integrity to Washington, but they've proven to be just as scandalous, if not more, than the Dems. But then, that's all Clinton's fault, I guess. That's what they keep telling me. Fox News kept putting that (D) right next to Mark Foley's name. My other beef is their conservative claim. Well, let's look at that for a moment. A conservative is all about smaller government and less spending. So far, what we've seen is more government snooping and spying and increased spending. That, to me, sounds like a liberal, but we won't call it that. We'll just call it "neoconservative" instead.

Oddly enough, those arguing for less spending and smaller government are those "liberal" Democrats. Alabama Democrats are an exception. I personally believe that Larry Langford and Sheila Smoot deserve to have their pictures next to the definition of "tax and spend liberal." Regardless, you'd be more likely to be struck by lightning than to find two Democrats who agree on the same things. I guess it's hard for the Republicans to accuse them of doing anything bad, though, because they have a tendency to not do anything-- at all. They are the biggest bunch of do-nothings you'll ever come across.

So where's the solution? Vote independently. Inform yourself as to what a candidate has done. Inform yourself as to what is really in legislation that was passed. Inform yourself as to who is paying for a campaign. Then ignore the (D) or (R) next to the candidate's name. Whenever possible, vote third party (as long as it isn't some nutjob), even if it is a write-in candidate. But the best thing you can do is vote, and vote informed. Maybe it will send a message to these guys that they are still accountable to the largest demographic in this country-- the working class.

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/17/06

Wow! I really needed a break! It really helped, and I thank you all for being patient with me. There isn't much going on, and the little that is happening makes me want to assume the fetal position and cry until it's over.

Dan is talking about Alagasco rates over at Between the Links. Specifically, the third-highest rates in the country, even when compared to other areas with similar supply, weather, and taxes. What makes this more interesting, as he points out, is that those in charge of regulating our utilities have excepted large donations from those same utilities. It's no big shocker, but it is a very informative post, and I highly recommend visiting to see who is getting paid by these companies. Other items of interest were a post on the Exxon-Mobil ruling and an election survey of UA students.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

You Sly FAUX

Robert Rouse has posted an interesting piece featuring this image from Fox News:

Notice anything unusual in the picture? I'll give you a hint. It's next to his name. Ah-ha! Reading the comments on Robert's blog, people have noted that the "error" has happened at least three times, and that Bill O'Reilly has even made a verbal form of the "error."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tidbits From Elsewhere - 10/3/06

Wow! It's been a slow news week, except for a few things. Mostly, I just want to crawl into a corner only to come out after things are better. (Maybe if I ignore it, it will go away.) Oh, well...

The Outraged Moderate is covering the Military Commissions Act. He's also nice enough to break down and explain some of the political jargon for us.

Both Doc and Dan are discussing some religious voter guides that the Republicans are boycotting. I'm usually not a fan of these, but this one actually allows the candidate to give more than a one-word answer, so I'm interested to take a look.

Finally, Slashdot is reporting on the New York Times literary challenge to bloggers to see if they were better or worse than high schoolers. Interesting, and you can take the challenge yourself. I have not yet had time to do it, but I might try it out later.

Remembering Keith Houts

I didn't find out until yesterday that the name of the officer who was recently gunned down in Montgomery was Keith Houts. The name sounded familiar, so I went searching through my Pleasant Grove High School yearbooks. Sure enough, there he was with the class of '94. He's on the same page (39) with some of my friends from that time: Chris Little (my best friend's brother), Laura Hardy (who went to my church), Paige Harwell (my gym teacher's daughter and a varsity cheerleader), Brittany Rogers (a world champion batton twirler).

What I remember of Keith is actually very little. I remember that he was a nice guy. He was on the track team. I remember that there was a girl named Lori Houts (his sister, maybe?) who was severely beaten and left for dead. Thankfully she survived, but I wonder if that's what lead him to become a police officer.

I also stumbled upon the following, which his parents placed in the yearbook for him:

"It seems as though the years have flown by and now you are in the graduating class of 1994. We want you to know how proud we are of you for the high standards you have set for yourself and for the seemingly unreachable goals that you have attained. We hope that your dreams always come true."

Needless to say, I cried my eyes out.

I won't be able to make it to the memorial service tomorrow, but if anyone in Keith's family happens to stumble upon this blog and read this, please know that my prayers and thoughts are with you all right now. Keith was a good guy, and he will be missed.