Monday, July 31, 2006

Poignant writing at its finest

Rarely am I emotionally moved by a blog post, but Alablawg's Wheeler got to me with this one. Go read it. It's worth your time.


Alabama and Florida are in a staredown over which football team's Sept. 2 season opener will be televised, according to Roll Bama Roll, which you should read regularly if you care at all about Crimson Tide sports. The prize for the winner: not appearing on the broadcast formerly known as the Jefferson-Pilot game of the week. That's right: Both teams are desperate to avoid TV coverage, because the kickoff would have to be at 11:30 a.m. Central time and, well, the South is ridiculously hot at that time of day in early September, and c'mon, it's only a regional broadcast anyway.

Verily am I amused.

Jolly good, y'all

Gov. Bob Riley's attire while meeting with more than 20 British businessmen and politicians: a dark blue suit and cowboy boots.

As I said earlier, you won't easily out-country him.

Seriously, have you heard that accent?

As candidates are wont to do when they're down big in the polls, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley lately has gone on the offensive against Gov. Bob Riley, calling him "a puppet of millionaires and big businesses" (in The Birmingham News' words) who doesn't represent average Alabamians. Her game plan, at this point, seems to cut into Riley's lead by appearing to be the more down-to-earth contender.

Baxley's strategy is tailor-made to erode electoral support from a high-dollar candidate who hails from the state's old-money elite. As columnist Steve Flowers suggested last week, though, the plan's main flaw is that Riley simply doesn't come across as one of the Big Mules of yore. He's a car salesman from a family of farmers and ranchers in rural Alabama, and his voice has the down-home twang to prove it. Even for Baxley, who grew up as a farm girl in the Wiregrass, it'll be well-nigh impossible to out-country Riley.

Until the attack ads begin to fly, I'll hold out hope that this one can come down to two pretty good candidates debating the issues. We sure could use a race like that after this year's vitriolic primaries.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

He'd have to hurry back home, too

Like many major state news agencies, last week I made the mistake of speaking of NBA legend Charles Barkley as a potential 2010 Alabama gubernatorial candidate. As I should have recalled from a cursory glance at the state constitution, he would have to be an Alabama resident for at least seven years to be eligible, which would push his run back to 2014 at the earliest, unless he finds some lawyers who can prevail with some very creative arguments based on his property ownership here. My other remarks about a prospective Barkley candidacy still stand.

So stop worrying about it

Alabama Power's employee PAC has given millions of dollars in the last six years to political action committees that happen to have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates for the Public Service Commission, today's (Mobile) Press-Register reports. But fear not: The utility's employee PAC always attaches a letter to donations asking that "no part of this contribution be used to support or otherwise benefit" PSC candidates, because that could be illegal if it happened, which it doesn't.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The one-sided sausage factory

Concerned that perhaps President Bush should not, in fact, be able to ignore any law he wants whenever he wants merely by tacking a signing statement on to the measure, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., plans to introduce a bill to allow Congress to sue Bush and try to get the practice declared unconstitutional.

It sounds like Specter means business. Then again, it also sounded like Specter meant business when he angrily demanded hearings to investigate the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program, only to agree a month later to a vast expansion of the executive branch's surveillance powers in exchange for a pledge that the White House might submit the program to a secret court for a review of its legality -- if it feels like it. (Take that, you shrill accountability mongerers and separation-of-powers lovers.)

Yes, Specter's inspiring legislative accomplishment on the warrantless spying program instills confidence that he can strike a reasonable deal on the signing statements: unrestrained blanket approval, along with a minimum-wage cut and tax breaks for suffering oil companies, in exchange for a few coloring books, a novelty shot glass, and a couple of players to be named later.

C'mon, don't you want the Braves to contend this year?

Everyone needs something to do

Roy Moore has work. It isn't the governorship. Good.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Round mound of sound bite

With all due respect to NBA legend and potential 2010 Alabama gubernatorial contender Charles Barkley, whose heart seems to be in the right place, I'd say the Iraq war is the exact opposite of "stuff that's not important" right now. At best, that was a very poor choice of words. At worst, it was disconnected from reality.

Nonetheless, Sir Charles' pursuit of the governor's chair could be fun to watch, especially if U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, cleared the field by opting for a Senate run instead. Barkley would run as a Democrat in a very conservative state -- "I was a Republican," he says, "until they lost their minds" -- and probably wouldn't win. Still, Barkley's renowned quick wit and candor would liven up the race and help cut through some of the nonsense that can choke the election-time atmosphere.

Besides, he couldn't be worse than Roy Moore.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's the thought that counts, you know

Worried about an invasion of 217 million-trillion-bajillion illegal immigrants? Can't use National Guardsmen, who are supposed to be called up only in times of state or national emergencies, to police the Mexican border full-time because they're too busy having to police the streets of Iraq full-time? Don't feel like using any of that congressional drunken-sailor spending to hire more border patrol agents like you've promised for years?

Simple: Just send billions and billions of dollars of public money to private contractors to start cruising around the Southwest. Privatization uber alles and all that jazz.

Praise for Jeff Sessions

I'm just as surprised as you are, but Alabama's junior U.S. senator has taken time away from dire warnings about immigrant hordes to promote a very sensible piece of crime legislation. Sessions' bill would substantially reduce the federal government's punishment disparity for crack possession versus cocaine possession from 100:1 to 20:1. Still a large difference, but a marked improvement.

Even though the sentencing imbalance's racially disparate impact is clear -- 84 percent of crack cases are against blacks, while only 30 percent of powder cocaine cases are -- courts repeatedly have rejected equal protection challenges to the greatly heightened punishment for crack, which is a cheaper form of cocaine that's far more popular than powder in poor urban areas.

For sure, studies show that crack is more addictive than powder, but little evidence exists to support the idea that it's 100 times more addictive. That makes the sentencing difference arbitrary and unreasonable, two adjectives that have no place in our laws. Best of luck to Sessions and his co-sponsors in their efforts to push this bill through Congress.

The quest for the reverse coattails

How comfortable is Gov. Bob Riley's huge lead in his re-election campaign? So comfortable that he appeared Monday -- willingly -- with Vice President Dick Cheney, whose approval rating these days falls somewhere between those for airplane turbulence and cavity searches. Yes, the Bush administration is now at the point of looking for a bump from the governor of Alabama.

Riley's Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, was downright down-home in her response to the $5,000-per-couple fundraiser held in her home county: "That's the ultimate overkill to show how you big-dog it over country folks."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Let's just have it tomorrow

Look, we want Alabama's presidential primaries to matter, right? That's why we moved them back from June to the first week of February, so we can have our roadways clogged with campaign signs and our airwaves drenched in attack ads. It's our patriotic duty to endure these things that others need not suffer.

But now, a bunch of other states like Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina are trying to horn in on our territory, acting like they have the right to go before us just because they've been holding their caucuses and primaries early for decades. At this rate, we may only have several major presidential contenders coming to Alabama to raise money alongside our state and local candidates. We must have them all, and they should be camping out on our front porches begging for treats and fetching us a gallon of milk when we don't feel like heading to the store that day.

Our need for desperate, transparent politicians willing to say or do anything for our votes being so clear, this "other states get them first" business mustn't stand. It's important to remember that even though the Constitution mandates that we vote for the president in 2008, it doesn't do anything to limit the 2008 primaries to, well, 2008. Our job, therefore, is to take full advantage of that loophole by moving Alabama's 2008 primaries to 2007. Or maybe this November. (Think of the convenience that consolidation offers.)

Even better, how's next Tuesday?

Boom goes the budget

As in every other state, the impending retirement of the giant baby boom generation will hit Alabama's bottom line hard, especially in the realm of state retirees' health insurance costs. Alabama, which collects a little under $8 billion in revenues annually, will have to pay almost $20 billion to fund the current level of benefits for retirees and current employees.

Ordinarily, any issue involving numbers that big would provoke a fierce battle in Montgomery, but the fiery rhetoric is remarkably absent on Goat Hill, where the Legislature next year may start doing the reasonable thing and setting aside millions of dollars each year to invest in a dedicated trust fund to try to defray Alabama's portion of the costs. Gov. Bob Riley doesn't seem to be opposed to the idea, and education lobbyist Paul Hubbert, who actually runs the show in the capital, is all for it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Great forces are at work here

Nineteen Alabama legislators in recent years have signed a "no new taxes" pledge drafted by a group headed by anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist. The group claims that a handful of lawmakers already have reneged on their commitment, but one legislator not on that list is state Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, even though he voted to send a tax-increase referendum to the voters in 2003 -- just the sort of taxing faux pas that got state Rep. Jimmy Martin, D-Clanton, demoted to the pledge-breaker list.

Then again, given Norquist's expressed desire to see the federal government drowned in a bathtub, the D.C. lobbyist may be eager not to give up an ally with such a thorough grasp of the root causes of hurricanes and the true nature of light and darkness.

Out-of-context quote of the day

"I enjoy cocaine because it's a fun thing to do."
-- U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.
Context and video footage available here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why cycling isn't on network TV every week

Floyd Landis capped a remarkable come-from-behind victory in the Tour de France today, even though he'll need hip replacement surgery in a few weeks. The win becomes all the more notable when you consider this year, combined with cancer survivor Lance Armstrong's seven straight titles, marks the eighth time in a row an American won the world's premier cycling event.

Had this been the eighth straight championship for a German or an Italian or a Spaniard, people in those countries would engage in wild street celebrations, and the winner would be a national hero. Here in America, the milestone gets, at best, a couple of minutes on the nightly news, and the winner -- unless he breaks into the rarefied air that Armstrong inhabits -- will enjoy a few talk-show appearances and a handful of endorsements before fading from public consciousness around the time the NFL preseason begins.

Soccer fans sometimes claim average Americans would care more about the sport if the national team consistently performed better on the world stage, but the last decade of Tour de France races belies that assertion. For almost a decade, the United States has won every single year, but cycling -- particularly when it occurs outside the confines of the sport's marquee event -- arguably is no more widely followed in the United States now than it was before Armstrong's reign. Likewise, the Stanley Cup ends up in American hands most years, but NHL broadcasts continue to gasp for air.

So why don't more Americans care about cycling or soccer or numerous other sports beloved elsewhere in the world? The answer may well be parochialism: Americans want to watch our country's best athletes compete in sports native to our country. The United States' three most widely viewed sports -- baseball, basketball, and football -- have two key things in common: First, they all were invented in America, and second, the best professional leagues those sports have to offer are stateside. The pattern isn't limited to team sports, either: NASCAR drivers compete individually, but the popularity of the races started by Americans and ruled by Americans continues to grow by the year.

The country does, from time to time, take an interest in sports started elsewhere, but usually just for a short time, and almost never without a red, white, and blue hook: Armstrong's inspiring domination, an American athlete who wins several gold medals, a World Cup played on U.S. soil, etc. A few weeks later, the fervor dies down, and it's back to the baseball-football-basketball rotation that owns the American sports mindset.

Sure, the rest of the world may find the whole thing odd, but then, they aren't counting down the days until college football is back. Just what kind of sports fans do they think they are, anyway? (For the record, it's 34 days until Stillman-Tuskegee. An all-Alabama kickoff, just the way the football gods intended.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Lebanon quandary

An Alabama native checks in today with a haunting first-person account of the fighting in Lebanon. Needless to say, it's tough to find many people in a very rosy mood there lately.

In Lebanon, I see Israel confronted with a situation much like the one the United States faced in Afghanistan: a country that is not doing enough to combat militants who use it as an operating base from which to plot attacks. (One difference, of course, is that the Taliban's inaction was rooted in unwillingness, whereas Lebanon's inaction has more to do with inability.) Just as Americans had the right to retaliate against the al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked us, so too do Israelis have the right to attack the Hezbollah terrorists who kill their soldiers and fire rockets into their cities.

Despite my great sympathy for Israel's position, I can't help but wonder, much as PoliBlog's Steven Taylor has, what Israel expects to accomplish by bombing so many civilian targets and whether that strategy might backfire in the long term. History has shown repeatedly that civilian deaths, even entirely accidental ones, have a way of galvanizing the surrounding population against the people who caused those casualties. That phenomenon only prolongs a cycle of violence that leaves everyone insecure.

Because you need some high school sports news

Dan Washburn, the only Alabama high school athletics director today's teenagers have ever known, will retire next July after 17 years on the job. The neutral-site championships he instituted will remain, and their statewide television coverage probably will, too.

Now there's a sentence

After weeks of sound and fury, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has dropped his opposition to full renewal for the Voting Rights Act.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So he does have a red pen

President Bush dropped the veto hammer for the first time in his five and a half years in office today. Was it on a profligate spending package or a measure that chips away at civil rights or a bill that hikes the cost of federal student loans? Of course not: The very first rejection of his presidency came on a plan to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Here's the Bush syllogism: 1) The public shouldn't fund things that are wrong. 2) Murder is wrong. 3) Embryonic stem cell research is murder. 4) The public shouldn't fund such stem cell research.

If you accept the third step, the conclusion makes perfect sense. Of course, after you reach that conclusion, you'll want to stop pondering the issue or else you might end up asking inconvenient questions like "If embryonic stem cell research is murder, why hasn't Bush pushed to ban it entirely?" So stop pondering already.

Strange love

That was the big story in Tuesday's Republican lieutenant governor runoff, where lobbyist Luther Strange, as expected, dealt long-time Montgomery fixture George Wallace, Jr., the sort of defeat that ends political careers. Big Luther -- who, in case you forgot, is really tall -- will face Little Jim (a.k.a. the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr.) this fall in what should be one of the state's most interesting races. The outcome proves once and for all that no name recognition handicap is insurmountable as long as you can buy enough television time.

On the Democratic side, unofficial returns from a very close race indicate that Patricia Todd will be the first openly gay legislator in Alabama history, a remarkable result in a state where 81 percent of voters decided to back a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage six weeks ago. (Insert obligatory sarcastic Gerald Allen and Hank Erwin references here.)

Our next-door neighbors in Georgia also had some eventful primaries Tuesday. The honors for most notable result go to former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed's humbling loss in his quest for the GOP lieutenant governor nod, with the silver medal going to the impending runoff for U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., who probably really wishes she hadn't hit that policeman right about now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Plus they give you a cool little sticker

For reasons listed six weeks ago, I have no official endorsement in today's Republican runoff for lieutenant governor. But if you're registered to vote in Alabama and haven't gone to the polls today, do it. Local and legislative races abound on both the Democratic and GOP sides, and with turnout predicted to be dreadfully low, your vote will be more determinative of the outcome than normal.

This could be your last chance to vote before the feds take charge of Alabama's voter registration system. Don't miss it.

His face belongs on money

Days like today confirm my long-held belief that Willis Carrier was one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Someone call the PTC

My tender ears still haven't ceased their bleeding after President Bush's profane tirade at the G8 summit Monday. I fully expect the FCC to vindicate my First Amendment right never to be exposed to a four-letter word by imposing maximum fines all around.

Oh, yeah, there was something in there about Bush thinking Syria has the ultimate power to stop the ongoing conflagration in Lebanon, but I was too focused on the cursing to pay attention.

Monday, July 17, 2006

C'mon, it's not like they signed with an agent

The Auburn University sociology professor who told The New York Times about the numerous football players who took, from the department chairman, several classes "that required no attendance and minimal academic work" said Sunday that he won't cooperate with an internal probe of the matter. He will, however, speak his mind to detractors who complain that he drew NCAA attention to the Plains: "All these people are sending me hate mail, and I might have prevented the damned problem."

In an enlightening post, Unlocked Wordhoard crunches some relevant numbers in the Auburn scandal. And in other news, this sort of thing still isn't entertaining. Not even a little bit.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Don looks for a gig

Much like an animated Mr. T, former Gov. Don Siegelman needs work: "If you know of anyone who needs the legal services of a convicted former governor, pass my name along."

Lawnmower man

HealthSouth co-founder Aaron Beam went to federal prison for three months after pleading guilty to bank fraud. Now Beam, who once pulled in $500,000 a year, is free and runs a one-man lawn service company near the Gulf Coast, from which he makes about $1,200 a month. He's also seeking a turf management degree.

In other news on the HealthSouth co-founder front, a federal judge decided Friday that Richard Scrushy will have to cancel his vacation in the Bahamas after all. Something about flight risk and multiple felony convictions and whatnot.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

American cinema at its finest

It's conventional wisdom around here that Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby will prove to be one of the greatest films in Hollywood history. The only missing element I can discern from the trailers thus far is a distinct lack of snakes ... on a plane.

Where's the amnesia when I need it?

I don't care how much he wants a giant border fence -- U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., should never discuss "the lick log" ever again.

That had to be an easy decision

Sure, the people at ESPN still may be attending regular Trojans Anonymous meetings as part of Stage II recovery from that USC addiction last fall, but I'll give them credit for recognizing the best catch in college football history when they see it. Congratulations to Tyrone Prothro for his much deserved Espy Award, and may he be healthy enough to be back in a crimson jersey in September.

My only comment for now

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame's lawsuit against Vice President Cheney, White House political mastermind Karl Rove, and former Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby should be a rather enlightening look at the inner workings of the Bush administration if her lawyers can navigate a legal minefield and make it to trial.

We'll call it Appendix A

If U.S. senators follow their House compatriots' lead, we'll need to add a federal subsection to the Alabama gambling guide as part of the latest edition of the enthralling, frequently updated read. For the record, the federal legislation would ban the immoral scourge of online wagering -- except, of course, for lotteries and bets placed on horse races, which are wholesome and unobjectionable because they have more influential Capitol Hill supporters.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Insert obligatory Auburn joke here

Allegations of "fake classes" for football players on the Plains, you say? We may have a whole new explanation for Auburn's lofty performance in the recent NCAA academic progress rankings. For sure, we have a whole new T-shirt theme.

This sort of thing probably isn't an isolated incident in college football, of course, and these revelations won't do much for the state's national image, but surely you'll still let me have a little fun.

Fresh ideas

The state school board voted this week to fire a two-year college system chancellor who had five relatives working in the system. His interim replacement: a community college president who has four relatives working in the system and who employs a board member's husband at her college.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Liberals and the liberal liberals who... liberalize

Luther Strange's latest television ad in the Republican lieutenant governor campaign is an extended reminder that while he is a lifelong GOP man, his runoff opponent, George Wallace, Jr., once was a Democrat who (shockingly!) ran for office alongside other Democrats, many of whom were -- you guessed it -- liberal. (Strange's ad also employs the sandbox tactic of using Democrat as a pejorative adjective, but that's tangential to the point.)

The overarching implication seems to be that Republicans can be "real Republicans" only if they never were active in another party. That'd probably come as a surprise to the thousands of Alabama voters who have switched their party affiliation since the 1980s and to the scores of major GOP officials who once were Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, former Gov. Fob James, and former Lt. Gov. Steve Windom. I even hear tale that a guy named Ronald Reagan used to vote for some Democrats now and then, and I'm pretty sure he didn't end up as a flaming lefty.

OK, enough historical context for one night. We now return you to your regularly scheduled empty rhetoric.

The irresolvable conflicts continue

The Israelis and the militant groups are at it again, and it looks like the Indians and the Pakistanis, both armed with nuclear weapons, aren't going to let them hog all the headlines this time. Meanwhile, the limited acreage in the Holy Land and Kashmir stays the same, and as the abductions and bombings and bloodshed continue, the interested parties will become increasingly less inclined to settle for anything less than full satisfaction of their demands.

And you wonder what could drive diplomats to drink.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A not-so-bold prediction

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., will never be president. Never.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Eliminate the middleman

Couldn't the folks at the World Cup save lots of time by getting rid of those two hours of low-scoring or no-scoring soccer altogether and just going straight to the penalty kicks? Seriously, it's like deciding the World Series winner with a home run derby, or the NBA champion with a three-point contest. Why even bother?

A few words on North Korea

North Korea has nuclear weapons. It has missiles that can reach Japan and South Korea. It's testing missiles that could reach Hawaii or the West Coast. It's a bigger threat to wreak havoc on the U.S. mainland than Saddam Hussein's regime ever was.

Those facts, along with the human and financial toll of the ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq wars, make an invasion impractical and unwise. But they also make inaction foolish.

So what's the answer? One short-term approach could be tactical strikes on future tests of long-range missiles, but that would be a risky prospect. Two defense wonks suggest such a strike could be done with no casualties, but even if that's the case, the result still could be a bloody, all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. As Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh suggests, the wisest long-term solution to the North Korean crisis could well be the same as the long-term solution to the one-time Libyan threat: realpolitik.

The Colbert-Kaufman Principle

That's what we'll call the idea that some topics are best addressed by commentators who are in character at all times. One such topic is the recent death of former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Nothing quite like an old-fashioned Q&A

So you say you didn't have time to conduct lengthy sitdown interviews with Republican lieutenant governor candidates Luther Strange and George Wallace, Jr., before their June 18 runoff? Don't worry; someone at the Montgomery Advertiser did.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Not to mention who'd pay her salary

Sly humor from the (Mobile) Press-Register's weekly "Political Skinny" column, in response to secretary of state candidate Beth Chapman's joke that she would like 365 tax holidays a year: "Chapman, a Republican, did not address how she would cope without the numerous public services enjoyed by citizens."

The river phoenix still hasn't risen

A lot can happen in 10 years. The reopening of the Gees Bend ferry service in Wilcox County doesn't appear to be one of those things.

After a decade of delays and one Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the isolated, mostly black community, the ferry is almost ready for a revival about 40 years after county officials shut it down to retaliate for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s visit. Unfortunately, the river hasn't been dredged to make way for the vessel yet, and the county is scrounging to find money to fund the service for more than a few years.

Some Gees Bend residents have given up hope that the ferry ever will return. Others don't think it's worth the effort. Said one: "You can't fix the past by building the same thing. You have to do better. Build a bridge. Take the money and repave the highway. Create a scholarship fund for our children."

Bench press

This post requires us (used in the sense of the royal we, we swear) to consider the virtues and vices of several U.S. Supreme Court decisions issued in recent weeks. For numerous reasons that remain somewhat vague but perhaps relate to our desire to amuse ourselves by speaking in the first-person plural form, we will discuss multiple major rulings in bite-size form below.

Knock three no times on the ceiling front door: Don't worry if your individual civil liberties are violated; you still can vindicate your rights by spending years in expensive litigation that you're unlikely to win and that probably will pay a pittance if you do. That's the story of Hudson v. Michigan, in which the high court rejected the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule in "knock and announce" cases due to "substantial social costs" that would result. It was a proud moment for Justice Antonin Scalia, whose aversion to decisions based heavily on social science research apparently lasted a little more than a year.

Money still talks: Want to run for office, Average Joe? (Do it. You can't be worse than the crew we have now.) Then we hope you cranked the fundraising machine a while back, because thanks to Randall v. Sorrell, your opponents have a constitutional right to spend as much on their campaigns as they want. Especially if it's their own money. You'll need a number with lots of zeroes, so get out there and show 'em how $10,000-a-plate dinners are done!

Tie goes to the dealer: Or to the prosecutor if we're playing Kansas death-penalty procedure instead of blackjack. When the jury finds that aggravating and mitigating factors are equal, as in Kansas v. Marsh, the Supreme Court said states are perfectly free to require execution in those circumstances. Not to permit it, but to require it. We'd cite this case in a letter asking the NCAA -- which once called Kansas home, after all -- to dictate an Alabama win every time a football game was deadlocked at the end of regulation, but we're skeptical that they'd see things our way.

Broken boundaries: After League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, partisan-fueled gerrymanders of state legislative districts are welcome at any time, even between censuses. Well, as long as they don't discriminate against racial minorities in the process. And as long as they aren't, well, too partisan. Given that Justice Anthony Kennedy seems to break all the ties in the big cases these days, you probably just need to go ask him.

The nerve: What do you mean the president can't ignore any and all laws he wants indefinitely if he just declares he must to fight a never-ending war on terrorism? Five uppity justices in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld apparently felt that the Constitution and the other two branches of government still matter. But then, they probably did research on the Internet, too, and we know all about its bias.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Summertime snooze

My absences around here fall into two categories: planned and impromptu. This Fourth of July weekend was the latter. Surely you understand; after all, even NASA got into the bottle rocket spirit this afternoon. (Anyone else think they're secretly happy the launch was delayed until today?)

Happy Independence Day. Regular posting will resume soon.