Archive for April 2007

Getting Fleeced

April 30, 2007

Like I said, I don’t like applying the Bible’s shepherd-sheep imagery to the relationship between government and governed. But that doesn’t mean the image is wrong as a descriptive matter.

Wal Mart Has Customer Service?

April 30, 2007

News to me.

Government And Sheep

April 30, 2007

Sheep and shepherds were the subject of the readings in yesterday’s mass, in particular, Jesus saying this:

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

That’s a fine image if applied to God’s relationship to people, or a parent’s relationship to his kids. But when the deacon prayed something like:

And may all government leaders remember to treat the people as a sheperd does his sheep,

I did not respond with “Lord, hear our prayer.”

I kept silent, because I think the shepherd-sheep image is a very bad way of looking at the relationship between government and citizens. In my view, government does not exist to meet all my needs, protect me from all harms, and raise me to be an obedient little sheep. No, it exists to do the bare minimum necessary to keep us all from killing each other. That’s it.

Unfortunately, my view is not the dominant view. Or even a popular view, as I am reminded by this story in the paper today:

State Rep. Pat Moore, R-Pleasant Grove, says some of her friends have been hurt as back-seat passengers of vehicles involved in accidents.

That’s one reason she’s sponsoring a bill that would require occupants of of a car, pickup truck, van or other motor vehicle, including people in a back seat, to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is moving.

“We need to be as secure as we can in the car, so that if it does suddenly stop, or there’s an accident, we’re protected more,” Moore said.

Right. This is the Shepherd-sheep mentality. The sheep – Moore’s friends and the rest of us – are too stupid to take care of themselves, hence the good shepherd – Moore – will protect us from ourselves.

Give me a break. I realize the costs of this legislation won’t be high, but still, doesn’t anyone care that Moore is telling us we are too stupid to act in our own best interests?

Pictures

April 28, 2007

From today’s bike ride; of the babies; and for the new contest.

Alabama the beautiful.

Uhmm, O.K.

Looking south over Sloss towards downtown.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Brookside. So far as I know, the only onion dome in Jefferson County, maybe even in all Alabama.

Another view.

The ball fields in Brookside.

Five Mile Creek Canoe & Company.

The launch into Five Mile Creek.

Directions for the creek.

When I was in college, I  worked at a sporting goods store that outfitted just about every local baseball and softball team. For every team that was made of males over thirteen, there would always be one guy who, when asked what number he wanted, would reply “Heh, heh, 69 man.” I don’t think the same idea was behind the choice of this number:

Now some baby pics.

“Look, we’ve got feet!”

Mom and Malcolm snoozin.

Dad too.

Happy Omi.

Finally, the contest. We had multiple winners of the last one: The patio at Joe Muggs in English Village. The new one is much more challenging. In fact, I’m going to use two pictures. The first is the actual contest; the second is a clue.

If you looked south out of that window, this is what you’d see.

E-mail me your guesses.

Now That’s A Resolution

April 27, 2007

Maybe this one would have an easier time than did the slavery apology:

The devil is sticking his pitchfork into the nation’s immigration politics.

At least that’s what one of Utah County’s Republican delegates thinks.

Don Larsen, a district chairman, has submitted a resolution equating illegal immigration to “Satan’s plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion” for debate at Saturday’s Utah County Republican Party Convention.

Referring to a plan by the devil for a “New World Order … as predicted in the Scriptures,” the resolution calls for the Utah County Republican Party to support “closing the national borders to illegal immigration to prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion.”

Concurring Opinions has already made the obvious joke about the resolution coming too late to keep Satan out of Utah:

Brigham Young University students stood and showered Vice President Dick Cheney with applause after his 15-minute speech that encouraged them to approach life with flexibility, persistence and gratitude.

In related news:

Immigration issues are fueling a rise of hate groups in the United States, with their numbers increasing 40 percent in six years, according to statistics released Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery.

Gosh, I can’t imagine why people would react irrationally and violently to the problem of illegals, what with responsible and intelligent people like the Republican from Utah out there offering sage leadership on the issue.

But hey, look at this:

Alabama has 22 reported hate groups, the lowest of surrounding states, Potok said. California, with 63, and Texas with 55, have the highest numbers of reported hate groups in the country.

Hah. Those pot-smokin, free-lovin, Muhrica-hatin hippes are three times as hateful as we are. Sweet Home Alabama, baby!

This is my favorite part:

One of the most popular groups in the country, Council of Conservative Citizens, denounces its label as a hate group, said Gordon Lee Baum, a spokesman for the organization, which has active chapters in 28 states, including five in Alabama.

Clearly, that label is inapplicable. Just listen to the good sense exhibited by the grand wizard leader of the CCC:

“That is ridiculous,” he said. “The Southern Poverty Law Center is in the business of finding hate groups and has made millions off of so-called outing right-wing groups.”

Baum said his members, who he says represent different races and religions, do have strong views about issues such as illegal immigration, Baum said.

“Not everyone is for this rampant runaway immigration,” he said. “Diversity is not our strength, it is our calamity, our downfall. That is a recipe for disaster. The Hispanics coming here have no intention of coming to the melting pot. They want a Mexico North. They want the Southwest to become nonwhite.”

Ethno-centric delusional rants, anyone? Here’s a suggestion, if the CCC wants to be considered as anything other than what they are - a bunch of sorry assed racist pieces of s**t – maybe they ought to find a better spokesman.

House Upholds Important Judicial Campaign Tool

April 27, 2007

Story here:

The state House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill that would have let juries, not judges, decide whether people convicted of capital murder should be put to death or serve life in prison without parole.

Under current law, juries give advisory verdicts in capital cases, but judges can override.

If a jury recommends the death penalty, a judge can impose a sentence of life in prison without parole. If a jury recommends life in prison without parole, a judge can impose a death sentence.

What the story does not mention is that when judges use override, nine times out of ten they use it to reject the jury’s life recommendation and impose a death sentence.

Whether or not to impose a death sentence is a serious question, one that ought to be answered by a person who is completely free of any outside influences. In a state that chooses judges through partisan elections, that person is not the judge.

Blogrolling

April 27, 2007

Three new ones.

The first two aren’t much worth reading for anything other than a good laugh, being propaganda machines. Besides, neither of them have me on their blogroll, so obviously they are clueless. (Joking, really I’m not that full of myself). Anyway, here’s the Alabama Democratic Party’s blog, and here’s the Alabama Republican Party’s blog.

The third one is Bessemer Opinions. Good stuff, there, especially all the flower pictures. Also, I discovered after reading this post that a favorite bike ride of mine takes me past the author’s house. Small world.  

You’re Not Paranoid If They’re Really Out To Get You

April 26, 2007

Who knows how this story will end, or what other facts exist, but that’s my initial reaction (emphasis added):

Teams of federal, state and local law enforcement agents executed four search warrants in DeKalb and Jefferson counties beginning at 6 a.m., so far arresting five people. The raids took place in several areas in DeKalb County — forcing the closing of Collinsville High School on U.S. 11 because of traffic concerns– and in Trussville.

Authorities had to rent a U-Haul truck to haul away the explosives and weapons from a house in Trussville.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives launched an investigation into the reported militia group seven weeks ago, according to a federal source. Officials said the group had not made not any specific threats, but said they worked to quickly shut down the group because of its heavy firepower. One federal official said the group had enough armaments to outfit a small army.

About 150 law enforcement officers from several states participated in today’s raids.

At least five suspects are expected appear in federal court this afternoon for initial criminal proceedings. There are 12 certified bomb squads in the state, and they often work together as a team or task force. Bomb squads from Jefferson County, Huntsville police, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and Gadsden police assisted ATF bomb technicians in today’s operations.

Militias are self-styled citizen groups that form to protect individual rights and prepare for a possible revolution against government tyranny. Their enemy is Uncle Sam, particularly the FBI and ATF, which they see as the reincarnation of Hitler’s Gestapo.

For those keeping score at home, that’s 150 quasi-military officials from several counties, states and the federal government shutting down a high school and large sections of two towns so that they could arrest five individuals who 1) had a bunch of weapons (second amendment, anyone?), 2) had not threatened anybody, and 3) really distrusted and feared the government.  

Gee, hard to imagine why these folks fear Uncle Sam.

Charles Bishop Is An Idiot

April 26, 2007

I did not want to blog about the slavery apology any more, I really didn’t. I’ve already said what I gots to say, and Dan and Demopolite have independently expanded on points I already made. But this just blows my mind:

State Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Arley, said the effort this week to pass an apology for slavery in the Alabama Legislature was an effort by lawyers to get money out of lawsuits . . .

“It’s all about setting Alabama up for possible strong lawsuits on something that happened long before we were all born,” Bishop said. “The real purpose was money. It’s all about big bucks.”

This isn’t the first time Bishop has made an ass out of himself, but the ignorance he displays here is truly stunning. It shocks me that someone whose job is making law can so utterly fail to understand the law.

First, Demopolite points out the practical problems:

Yes…if the resolution passes, someone could sue for reparations. They could also sue for reparations if the resolution doesn’t pass. Someone could also file a lawsuit today against me because I used my evil powers to put a hex on them and make them sick.

My point: Just because someone can file a lawsuit doesn’t mean that they can win.  There is a nifty little pleading called a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, and I honestly cannot think of a single tort claim that anyone today could make based on the slave status of their ancestors.  Additionally, tort claims generally lie only with the person affected (with the exception of wrongful death), and the cause of action dies with the person affected. Even if someone could come up with a claim, it would most likely have to be barred by the statute of limitations since the longest limitations period is only twenty years.

Second, the resolution itself rejects lawsuits:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That it is the intent of the Legislature that this resolution shall not be used in, or be the basis of, any type of litigation.

Finally, I said it before and I’ll say it again: This resolution could say “Resolved: That anyone with slave ancestors can sue Charles Bishop for being a complete a**hole” and it still would not lead to even one successful lawsuit.

A resolution is just that, a resolution. It has absolutely no legal value.  In Laidlaw Transit, Inc. v. Alabama Education Ass’n, 769 So.2d 872, 883 (Ala. 2003), the plaintiffs offered a joint resolution as authority in favor of their interpretation of a statute. The Alabama Supreme Court responded (emphasis added):

A resolution such as this one is not a law; it is merely the form in which the Legislature expresses an opinion. The Legislature has no power to make or change law by resolution. Art. IV, § 61 Ala. Constitution (“No law shall be passed except by bill····”); Gunter v. Beasley, 414 So.2d 41 (Ala. 1982). Whatever the Legislature may have intended by Resolution 99-94 is irrelevant to our resolution of the issues presented on this appeal. The controlling law here is that expressed in the applicable budget acts. See Opinion of the Justices No. 275, 396 So.2d 81 (Ala. 1981); Opinion of the Justices No. 265, 381 So.2d 183 (Ala. 1980)(a statute cannot be amended by a joint resolution of the Legislature).

If a resolution is worthless as a means of interpreting a statute, it is even more worthless as a basis for a lawsuit. If any lawyer tried to use this resolution as the basis for a lawsuit, that lawyer would not only lose the lawsuit, but would probably be sanctioned for doing something so ridiculous.

In short, Sen. Bishop – a legislator – is either amazingly ignorant of the powers of the legislature; or he is using this as a pretext for his real thoughts on the issue. It’s a testament to his character that I have no idea which is the case.

Queer Eye For The President Pro Tem?

April 26, 2007

Sorry to indulge in stereotypes, but that was the first thing that came to mind when I read this story about the sponsor of Alabama’s “we hate fags” constitutional amendment:

Ten Democratic state senators have spent more than $39,300 this year to spruce up their offices with items such as an $800 acrylic painting of tulips, a $2,999 sofa, a $499 mirror, a $599 rug, a $1,305 cocktail table and a $2,070 desk, according to Senate documents reviewed by the Press-Register. . .

The largest amounts were for the offices of new Senate President Pro Tempore Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove, and Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Butler.  . .

Expenditures for Mitchem’s office included $2,070 for a desk, $1,154 for a conference table, $1,155 for an executive chair, $1,476 for a credenza, two chairs at $579 each, two more chairs at $538 each, and a $529 desk.

Well, I guess these guys needed offices to reflect the stature of the monumental pay raise they just voted themselves.

And Mitchem isn’t the only crook; be sure to read about the other nine Democratic losers. It happens locally, too. Don’t forget about Fiscally Conservative Republican Bobby Humphryes and his Manly-Man JeffCo Commission Office.

Nothing’s easier than spending other people’s money.


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