Archive for October, 2006

Trick or Treat

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Only one week to go till the midterm elections.  It’s hard to make predictions, but I think the Democrats will win back the House.  The Senate is a toss-up.  I’d love to see both, but I’ll take one, just to see some oversight of the Bush administration.

I’m not saying that every Democratic incumbent or challenger is better than every Republican incumbent or challenger (see William Jefferson).  But if we don’t get W and co. under control, our country may be irrevocably damaged.  If we have a Democratic House and an evenly divided Senate, maybe we can restore habeas corpus.  And I still can’t believe I have to hope for that.

Ah, well.  It’s a good night for escapism.  We haven’t had many trick-or-treaters so far, so it might be a good time to have a Buffy Halloween episode marathon.  If you aren’t a fan, you should be.

Newspeak, Bush Style

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Have I mentioned how much I love Leonard Pitts?

”Orwellian” is a word you toss out to prove you stayed awake in freshman English. Often, it is used to evoke a world in which all people are always under surveillance, as was the case in the totalitarian state George Orwell depicted in 1984, his 1949 masterpiece. But as you know if you read the book, surveillance wasn’t the most chilling aspect of the world Orwell foresaw.

No, the thing about that world that made your skin creep on your bones was the shameless intellectual dishonesty of its leaders, the brazen way they savaged objective truth and dared anyone to call them on it. Nobody did. The people simply accepted what they were told.

In the world Orwell invented, words had no objective meaning beyond that assigned to them by the Party, whose slogans, not incidentally, were, ”War is Peace,” ”Freedom is Slavery” and ”Ignorance is Strength.” In that world, there was no past — or rather, the past was what the leaders said it was, and it was a waste of time to check for yourself, because all books, newspapers and other records were constantly being updated to reflect whatever the new reality was.

Thus, ”Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia.” Much as we now learn that the Bush administration’s policy toward Iraq has ”never been stay the course.” And never mind that the president and his henchmen have spent three years pounding that phrase like nails into the public consciousness….

Go read the rest. 

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

…to Miss Wild Thing!




Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

It’s a day for evil vampires and scary witches, but I prefer the cute ones.  Wishing you lots of candy.


He Said, She Said

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

I missed the debates last night (forgot to set the VCR :)), but I did check in with the live-bloggers.  Jeff blogged all three debates and declared Riley, Strange, and King the winners of each.  Wade blogged the gubernatorial debate, and he also leaned toward Riley.

The Montgomery Advertiser says the gubernatorial debate was “heated” and “fractious”.  Both candidates slammed each other, Baxley accusing Riley of lying about taxes, and Riley telling Baxley she doesn’t understand the issues.  At least Lucy finally wore blue instead of her signature red.  The lieutenant governors’ debate was “contentious”.  The Attorney General candidates “fired…barbs” at each other.

Sounds like a fun night, but I wonder if anyone learned anything new.

ADDENDUM:  Check out Dan’s analysis at Between the Links

Kyle Whitmire’s Take On the Bush Maladministration

Monday, October 30th, 2006

We have some fine political writers in Alabama, and Kyle Whitmire is one of the best.  The Birmingham Weekly is consistently good, but some weeks just shine.  Kyle’s essay on the disasters of the past six years should be required reading for anyone who’s still undecided about how to vote next Tuesday.  I’ll excerpt here, but read the whole thing.

Aside from a few snide remarks here and there, I’ve refrained the last couple of years from doing any serious Bush-bashing. I figured the supply had met the demand. Apparently, I was wrong.

Republicans may lament that the president’s approval rating has slipped to less than a third of Americans, but it is equally inexplicable to me that so many still believe Dubya is doing a heck of a job. I want it on the record for posterity: I thought the man was an idiot from the get-go.

There was a time, years ago, when I thought Bush the junior would rightfully be a strong contender for the presidency. That was about 1999, when the he was still a relatively unknown governor from Texas. He looked like his dad, whom I’d respected, and some of his public pronouncements seemed respectably centrist.

But then a friend directed me to a profile, published in the now-defunct Talk magazine, where the president cussed more than Samuel Jackson and showed an unseemly nonchalance toward what we now call the sanctity of human life. The interviewer, Tucker Carlson, asked Bush what he thought the Texas killer Karla Faye Tucker would have said to him in her final hours on death row. The next president of the United States pursed his lips and whined a mock plea: “Please don’t kill me.”

He had but one life there in his hands, and regardless of anyone’s opinions of the death penalty, that burden should be met with intelligence and maturity. Instead, he showed the bravado of a frat row cowboy. In retrospect, that moment was a window into our future.

Indeed it was.  Too bad more of us didn’t pay attention at the time.  Instead, many of us listened to the spin and heard what we wanted to hear.

So how did we get into this mess? A friend said to me recently that Alabama should change its motto from “We dare defend our rights” to “Alabama: We will not be told.” If only such a creed could be limited to our state.

And what do we do now?  Those of us who opposed Bush from the beginning, those who have come to their senses over the past six years, and those who still cling to the illusion that Bush is a good man who has our best interest at heart are all packed into the same boat, heading with all deliberate speed toward a waterfall.  We don’t know if it will be a minor bump along the path of democracy or a catastrophic drop into chaos or dictatorship.

I’m sure some people are going to say that I hate America for even thinking any of this, but I’m not certain what America even means any more. In the long view of things, perhaps the Bush Administration has been a sort of IQ test. If you were among the few who doubted him early in his term, you pass. If you still have a “W the President” bumper sticker on your car, then you’re with stupid. It’s a cold comfort that history might prefer my point of view. But a smug sense of superiority is a sorry consolation prize, if the cost is everything else. 

Jeff Is Live-Blogging the Debates Tonight

Monday, October 30th, 2006

I’ll be transporting children during the first part of tonight’s debates, so I’ll have to watch them on tape (yeah, yeah, one of these days we’ll upgrade to a DVR or TIVO :)).  Jeff at Politics In Alabama will be live blogging from the Shelby County Republican Party office, so if you can’t watch, or can’t bear to watch, Jeff will keep you informed.  Unfortunately, Loretta Nall has decided not to go to Montgomery to protest her exclusion from the debates; fortunately, the reason is she’s getting lots of media coverage and needs time to prepare.  I was hoping for some parking lot fireworks.

UPDATE:  Wade is live-blogging too.  Check out both of them. 

Anniston Star Endorses John Tyson for AL Attorney General

Monday, October 30th, 2006

It’s a strong recommendation:

Alabama has enough of its own problems in matters of criminal justice. The state’s attorney general and staff ought to fill their days with the various challenges of Alabama’s legal system.

Sadly, though, recent Alabama attorneys general have treated the office as if it were a right-wing think tank, sticking their noses into legal matters far outside the state. One AG who is now a federal judge, William Pryor, even filed a “friend of the court” brief taking George W. Bush’s side in the 2000 presidential election case. The case might be relevant to a partisan politician, but not to the state’s highest law enforcer.

Unfortunately, Pryor’s replacement, Troy King, whom Gov. Bob Riley appointed to the office in 2004, has kept up this highly ideological practice.

What Alabama needs is an attorney general capable of representing the state in legal matters as well as overseeing a staff charged with pursuing justice for Alabamians. Because of his experience as Mobile County’s district attorney and his record of innovative ways of combating crime, John Tyson Jr. is the right candidate for the job.

What we hear from Tyson regarding targeting at-risk schoolchildren and intervening in their lives to keep them out of a life of crime is similar to what we hear from Gov. Riley and Richard Allen, the state’s prisons commissioner. All three men recognize that senseless tough-guy punishments are not enough to reduce crime. King, on the other hand, has derided Tyson’s ideas as useless social programs. Call them what you want; if they keep Alabamians from turning to a life of crime, this page endorses them.

I agree.  I also like Tyson’s efforts to intervene before kids end up in the criminal justice system.  We can’t house the prisoners we have now.  I’d rather see troubled kids redirected onto a path toward a productive life than wait till they’re career criminals and then throw them in the pokey.  Not only is it better for the kids, it’s fiscally responsible.  We end up with more taxpayers and fewer prisoners to support.

Troy King, on the other hand, seems to be running right along partisan lines, bashing immigrants, refusing to disavow previous anti-gay remarks, and trying to paint Tyson as soft on crime.  Sorry, Troy, but working to prevent crime is not soft.  It’s smart.

Up for Debate

Monday, October 30th, 2006

The only Alabama gubernatorial debate for 2006 will be held tonight at 7 in Montgomery.  After Bob Riley and Lucy Baxley finish sparring (*yawn*), the candidates for Lieutenant Governor and the candidates for Attorney General will debate.  I guess we could see fireworks – I have great hopes for the Tyson-King debate – but I predict the most interesting part of the evening will be Loretta Nall’s protest outside.

Kidding aside, take the time to watch the debates.  I hope they’ll be more substantial than the “you’re a liberal; you’re a crook; you’re soft on crime” rhetoric that we’ve heard so far.  Maybe we’ll all end up with solid reasons to vote one way or another.

The debates will be broadcast on Alabama Public Television, beginning with a special introductory broadcast of For the Record at 6:30 pm.  The gubernatorial candidates have an hour, with 30 minutes each for the lieutenant governor’s race and the attorney general’s race.  (Thanks, anonymous.)

Home Again

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

We’re back in Birmingham after a nice visit with my parents.  Daddy started using a pain patch at the same time he started this latest round of radiation, and his pain is almost completely gone.  Unfortunately, he’s weak and nauseated, likely from the combination that’s providing the pain relief.  He says he isn’t sure which is worse.

I didn’t watch the news this weekend, but we did watch lots of football.  Michigan won, Auburn won, Vanderbilt won, Alabama won.  Georgia didn’t win but did give Florida a much tougher game than expected.

Back to the news tomorrow.  The elections are almost upon us.