Archive for March 2006

Jill Carroll

March 31, 2006

Have you kept up with some of the responses to her recent release? Think Progress collects them here, here, here, and here.

Some examples: “she was a willing participant;” “she’s wearing the terrorist headgear. She’s saying nice things about them.;” “She strikes me as the kind of woman who would wear one of those suicide vests;” “She’s like the Taliban Johnny or something;” “Jill Carroll is increasingly starting to bug me.”

(Update. Don’t miss the comments to this, expecially: “She gets no slack from me. She was anti-America when she went over there and I say the kidnapping was a put up deal from the get go. Poor translator wasn’t in the equation but it made it look legit.”)

As far as I know, the only information we have about her captivity is her very summary statement given just after her release. So, these guys do not have a factual record from which to draw their conclusions.

From what, then, did they draw them? You’ll notice these commentators are all men. It could be they are a bit jealous that one of the ‘fairer sex’ could endure with good will such a trying time? Maybe they were worried that their manliness would have deserted them? Or perhaps they are upset that she did not immediately become a bit of anecdotal support for their anti-foreigner pro-war prejudices?

I do not know from what base emotions these conclusions sprung. I do know they tell us more about their holders than their object.

(Btw, how long before Jeff Sessions says Jill Carroll’s statements are undermining our troops?)


Be Sure to Check the Volume

March 31, 2006

Or at least make sure no-one with more than an eighth grade sense of humor is listening before you click on any of these quotes.

Today’s Censure Hearing

March 31, 2006

Here is an update. Did Jeff Sessions fight for our rights? Here are the reported quotes:

The “national spasm over the NSA wiretaps has had its run.”

“Our President is an honest man. He is a candid man and the American people know it.”

He also is reported to have said the motion for censure is inappropriate because it endangers our soldiers.

Senator, you are either a moron, a spineless lap dog, or both. In the face of a statute saying otherwise, the president has claimed unchecked authority to surreptitiously listen to our private telephone conversations. The best you can do is say trust him? You suggest we do not care about out freedom? You insult our military? How about investigating the president’s actions and then taking appropriate remedial measures? Failing to even investigate is a betrayal of our nation’s greatest ideals. (see this outstanding post).

Eminent Domain

March 31, 2006

The B’ham news has a report on a proposed law adding new restrictions to eminent domain. We already have one of those, passed after Kelo, but this one would further restrict when it could be used, and increase the amount paid.

This is an interesting issue. Everyone can agree that the facts in Kelo were outrageous: Big Company wants the property on which Little Guy’s middle class home sits, so Crooked Local Officials condemn the property and give it to Big Company. On the other hand, I think everyone would agree that eminent domain is perfectly just when Absentee Landlord lets his property fall apart, dragging down the neighborhood with it.

The problem is how to write a law that allows the latter use, but not the former. How can you outlaw condemning middle class homes in favor of Stuf-Mart, without also outlawing the condemnation of crack houses in favor of new privately built residential homes? An absolute ban on using it for commercial purposes would cut out both. But an exception for ‘blight’ would eventually swallow the rule, because blight is in the eye of the beholder.

So, in my view, it comes down to what you think is the bigger problem. Do we have municipalities rampantly abusing eminent domain? If so, pass the strict law. Or do we have lots of slum lords whose laziness is ruining neighborhoods and devaluing the surrounding property? If so, keep the status quo. In other words, is eminent domain currently being used more for good purposes, or for bad purposes? If it is more often than not doing good things, then keep it fully available.

I have not seen any objective data on whether eminent domain in Alabama is being abused, or properly used. I know it goes against their normal modus operandi, but it would be nice if the legislature would try to discover all the relevent facts before they pass this law. Further restricting eminent domain may be a good idea, or it may be an overeaction to an out of state case that will primarily protect absentee slum lords while harming the property values of those living next to the derelicts.

George Bush Joins the ACLU

March 30, 2006

In their quest to DESTROY AMERICA. So says Roy Moore.

He is mad that there is some pentagon policy requiring military

chaplains who volunteer to give a prayer at a non-religious service, such as a promotion ceremony, [to] give one that is non-sectarian because of the diversity of religious beliefs in the audience.

Outrageous. Just Outrageous. The nerve of these people. Moore responds:

We’ve got to recognize that the law does not forbid our chaplains in the military, in the Air Force, in the Navy, from praying in the name of Jesus. Indeed it contradicts our entire history and our law and it should be stopped and this president is responsible if it is not.

W are you listening? Act now or join the ACLU as an enemy of Amuhrika.

Dome Sweet Home

March 30, 2006

Today in the B’Ham news, we see these two headlines:

First,”Cost of dome up 10.2% to $68 million.”

Second, “$350,000 Glen Iris project hits delay in commission.”

The first, of course, refers to the never-ending attempts to build a domed stadium in B’ham. Never mind that we already have a fairly new, relatively large arena. Never mind that we have no permanent resident for a domed stadium. WE MUST HAVE ONE. Why? Because Atlanta does. Cost is no deterrent, as the story explains:

The potential cost for a domed addition to the BJJC has climbed nearly $68 million, its supporters will tell a Birmingham City Council committee today. And Mayor Bernard Kincaid will ask the committee to pledge $264 million over 30 years to help jump-start the project this year.

The second story refers to a proposed housing development. It would occur in what is now a littered, overgrown empty lot in the middle of a residencial area. The project will not only provide the new homes, but it will greatly improve the surrounding neighborhood. Trust me, I frequently ride my bike through the area. The reason for the delay is that, according to one of the commissioners, the commission does not have “a policy outlining when it should participate in for-profit residential developments.”

I mention this because it illustrates why this town is such a dump. We will fall all over ourselves for a dome that might attract for a few days some out of town conventioneers who will stay in hotels and eat at restaurants who in turn send their profits back to out of state corporate hq. Meanwhile, we find every reason in the world to avoid a project that would remedy the biggest problem in B’ham – scarcity of decent housing. This project would draw permanent residents. People who will live in and commit to this city, who will have a vested interest in its success.

The pattern in this town for the last half century has been to neglect, or actively destroy, its neighborhoods in favor of ‘economic development.’ The result is a city that is neither a nice place to visit or live.

The Rosa Parks Act

March 30, 2006

This morning, WBHM had a good story on the proposed act. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is HB 592, and it provides a means for folks who were arrested for violating segregation laws to obtain a pardon. This is the essential part:

A person who has been convicted of violating a state law or municipal ordinance whose purpose was to maintain or enforce racial separation or discrimination of individuals, upon application to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles shall be granted a pardon of the conviction.

Sounds good, but as explained in the WBHM story, there are several problems with it.

First, why did this take so long? How many people have missed out on jobs or other benefits because they had a criminal record for breaking segregation laws?

Second, the bill is more than a little presumptuous. If I was someone to whom this bill applies, I would tell the state to kiss my butt. The state of Alabama is the one who needs to ask for a pardon.

Third, one of the principles of the non-violent civil rights activists was to calmly accept the penalty for breaking these unjust laws. In so doing, they were living witnesses to the absurdity of the laws. As the WBHM story explains, that these folks are still on the books as ‘criminals’ is a continual reminder of our sins. It helps to ensure these types of things won’t happen again, and that we will work to correct them.

There is no way to fix the first problem, all we can do is beg forgiveness.

As for the second problem, the bill should change the language. Make the last sentence say “shall be recognized by this state as having been right, and the state shall provide an official personalized apology and provide all the benefits associated with an official pardon.”

For the third problem, maybe set up some type of public record containing the names of all the unjustly arrested people and the punishments they endured. It could explain how wickedly the state acted, and promise to honor these folks by never doing so again.