Archive for May, 2007

Sam Brownback on Evolution

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Presidential candidate Sam Brownback gave his take on evolution in today’s New York Times.  Here’s my favorite part:

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

Right, Sam.  Anything that contradicts your literal belief in the Judeo-Christian creation story is “atheistic theology”.  Where do I begin?  Perhaps with the, um, truth, that the book of Genesis contains two different versions of the creation narrative.  Which one is it that you believe so fervently?

We could acknowledge the cognitive dissonance between the words “atheistic” and “theology”.  We could discuss the reality that different cultures have different creation stories.  Or we could talk about the dangers inherent in treating the Bible as a history and/or science text — or even the potential for sin in setting up a book as an idol to be worshiped.

Oh, and Sam?  Demanding that science overtly support the existence of God undermines the very essence of faith, which, after all, does not depend on tangible proof.

Chris Dodd Coming To Birmingham

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who is campaigning for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, will be in Birmingham at 6 pm on Wednesday, June 6, for a town hall meeting at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (Linn Henley Lecture Hall).  This event is sponsored by the Over the Mountain Democrats

Sen. Dodd is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and a senior member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and the Committee on Foreign Relations.  He brings a wealth of experience to the table, and he’s ready to answer our questions.  He’s also the first Democratic presidential candidate to schedule a public campaign event here, and he deserves a big turnout on his own account.  But keep in mind that a good response should encourage other candidates to come here as well.

The town hall meeting is free and open to the public.  See you there!

Artur Davis Interview

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Jeff at Politics In Alabama interviewed Cong. Artur Davis (D-AL7) this morning.  He’s posted a summary at his place.  Check it out.

Heckuva Job, Wolfie!

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz, forced to resign as head of the World Bank because he got a high-paying, cushy job for his girlfriend (she recently dumped him), managed to hang on to his job long enough to “earn” a $400,000 performance bonus, due tomorrow.

Must be nice.

The Never-Ending War

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

This gives me some nasty chill bumps:

The White House sees terrorists as born, not created by history, bearing the mark of Cain, not the mark of circumstance. There is a scarlet “T” written on their foreheads at birth and the only answer is to destroy them. This kind of thinking, of course, relieves the thinker of any responsibility for the presence of the insurgent-terrorist-whatever in our innocent midst.

What’s more, there is not much real give in the administration’s policies. True, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other American diplomats met Memorial Day weekend with the Iranians in Baghdad (a good first move but limited, since the Iranians have most of the power because of our incredible stupidity in Iraq). But by all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness.

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated “I am the president!” He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.” [emphasis added]

Jeezus!  Captain Queeg, anyone?

A Killer Deal

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Um, literally — allegedly literally, anyway.

Lawyers for three slain Colombian coal miners who are suing Drummond Co. in Birmingham have asked for an extra 180 days to get ready for the wrongful death trial slated to start July 9.

The lawyers representing the families of the dead men, their labor union, and international labor rights organizations said in a court filing last week they have discovered a third last-minute witness who needs time to get ready before he can testify at the trial.

The new witness is Isnardo Gonzalez, a former bodyguard for a Drummond executive in Colombia. The filing said he will testify that he saw a Drummond executive visit with militia leaders who were hostile to labor unions, and witnessed payments to such groups.

I’ve heard a few allusions to this case over the past year, and now I see there have been (since overturned) gag orders on top of sealed documents — and not a whole lot of local media coverage.  I can’t access Latin American Post right now, although the Locust Fork Journal does have some links to Stephen Jackson Flanagan’s ongoing coverage.

Could be I have a couple of readers out there who could fill in some of the details.

State Fire College Funding Gutted

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

This stinks badly of people who have been in power too long and don’t like to be thwarted.

A year after firefighters stopped two-year college officials from taking over the Alabama Fire College, state lawmakers have taken most of the funding from the firefighter training school and given it to a community college program that doesn’t exist.

The state education budget, passed this week by lawmakers and now awaiting Gov. Bob Riley’s approval, strips away nearly three-fourths of the $8.1 million set aside for the firefighter school in Tuscaloosa and gives it to the Alabama Fire and Emergency Services Academy, a program that is supposed to be run by Shelton State Community College.

But the academy doesn’t exist, Shelton State spokeswoman Leigh Hays said Wednesday.

Firefighters whose disclosures helped launch an investigation into corruption at the Fire College, which has now expanded to the two-year system, think this is payback by community college presidents and lawmakers who aren’t happy that they’re about to get kicked off the gravy train.  They’ve been unable to find out who is behind the shift in funds; Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) inserted the change, but in a scenario similar to the US Attorney firings, no one wants to admit who requested it.

And giving the money to Shelton State just seems stupid beyond belief, given the corruption and mismanagement that’s run rampant there.

The situation at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa has in some ways been even worse. Along with allegations of nepotism, cronyism and other questionable management practices, President Rick Rogers has been accused of personally benefiting from some of the less-than-upright deals at Shelton State and the Alabama Fire College, which is located on the campus. Rogers has been on paid leave since last year, after accusations that Fire College money had been used to buy furniture and pay cell phone bills for him.

IIRC, Gov. Riley has a version of the line-item veto that would allow him to remove this portion of the budget.  Sounds like a plan to me.  Stupid payback politics is wrong, no matter which party perpetrates it.

Excuse Me, But I Believe I Pay the Mortgage On That House…

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

…or at least the property taxes.  If Dick Cheney is going to live in the VP’s residence, he doesn’t get to destroy the visitors’ list.  The American people have a right to know who comes to visit.  Jack Cafferty agrees.  Check it out.

He’s Back!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Over at Mixed Media, Kyle reports that Joel Montgomery showed up for yesterday’s City Council meeting.  Apparently not everyone was glad to see him.  What a surprise.

During the public speakers portion of the Tuesday council meeting, one of Montgomery’s former council assistants, Betty Cannon, blasted him for neglecting his duties as a councilor and demanded that he resign. According to Cannon, she had called Montgomery’s office with a question during the councilor’s absence. In return, she received a letter from Montgomery’s office telling her she was a stupid person who needed to take classes at Jefferson State Community College.

“For someone who had a memory loss, you remembered me in a hurry,” she said to the councilor.

Cannon served as Montgomery’s assistant shortly after he was first elected in 2001. She was one of three female council assistants who either quit or were fired by Montgomery in the councilor’s first three years in office.

“I’m sick and tired of paying your salary while you’re doing whatever it is that you’re doing and wherever it is that you’re doing it,” Cannon said. “I’m sick and tired of paying for lawsuits for whatever you’re doing and wherever it is that you’re doing it.”

Um, I guess that might be these lawsuits (scroll down to paragraph 13).

Alabama Has an Interesting Definition of “Terrorist”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

This story made the rounds of the local blogosphere a month or so ago, but it’s now hit the national news.  Alabama’s Homeland Security has apparently identified some pretty interesting people as potential terrorists.  The web page that gives examples of “single-issue extremists” has been taken down because of complaints, but it’s a little scary to know that most of my blogger friends and I (regardless of our political leanings) could have fit the state’s definition.

(Montgomery, Alabama) The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has taken down a Web site it operated that included gay rights and anti-war organizations in a list of groups that could include terrorists.

The Web site identified different types of terrorists, and included a list of groups it believed could spawn terrorists. The list also included environmentalists, animal rights advocates and abortion opponents.  [It also included those who speak out in opposition to the actions of the government, which pretty much includes every political writer in the blogosphere.]

…The site included the groups under a description of what it called “single-issue” terrorists. That group includes people who feel they are trying to create a better world, the Web site said. It said that in some communities, law enforcement officers consider certain single issue groups to be a threat.

“Single-issue extremists often focus on issues that are important to all of us. However, they have no problem crossing the line between legal protest and … illegal acts, to include even murder, to succeed in their goals,” it read.

It’s particularly offensive to me that gay rights groups were included on the list, which was supposedly intended to inform Alabama citizens of potential threats.  Try googling “gay murder”.  You won’t see killings carried out by gay rights groups; you’ll get a long list of gay people murdered because of their sexual orientation.

I’ve been a part of Equality Alabama since its inception.  It’s the only statewide gay rights organization in Alabama, and it could never remotely be considered a terrorist group by anyone who’s rational.  OTOH, the nuts and hate-mongers who target gays could potentially excuse their actions by saying they were going after terrorists — and use the website to back their claims.

It’s a good thing that the state took down the page — and terrible that it was ever posted in the first place.  Vigilance can be a good thing, but it should have some connection to reality.

Hat tip, Christopher and Don.