Flint, as long as you are here, explain Alabama!

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Was talking to a friend in Tuscaloosa yesterday. He told me that the court system had run out of money and had suspended all civil jury trials until Sep and criminal trials would be looked at on a case by case basis. Thought he was pulling my leg. Of course, for anything important, I go to the Birmingham paper. Got this snip from the 23 Apr 02 commentary.

"The Legislature has provided some additional money for the courts, but court officials claim a $2.7 million shortfall remains. So the order went out to stop all civil jury trials until October and to conduct criminal trials only in June and August. People are to be laid off and other expenditures are to be reduced. "

Now I know that Tennessee is talking about closing schools for the summer, releasing all of their non-tenured school teachers and closing the state park system. But, from my reading of many sites, I have learned that those aren't proper government functions. But Jury trials.

Is this some kind of pissing contest between the branches of government in Alabama?

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 24, 2002


Answers to all of your questions

-- George (adios@amigo.con), April 25, 2002.


Ask twelve different Alabamans about the problem and you'll get twelve different answers.

Some say that the state constitution either needs to be amended or rewritten, because it provides entirely too much shelter to large corporations and the wealthy, who essentially pay no state taxes.

Others say that the hyper-corrupt Good Old Boy system here rakes off the cream and drains the war chest before it even makes it into the general fund. I just don't know.

But SOMETHING'S wrong, given that the economy here is actually doing reasonably well nowdays. There's no reason for the state to struggle as it does.

Last year, the state had to delay sending out tax refunds because they didn't have the cash on hand to guarantee the checks! Wierd.

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 25, 2002.

Stephen, is it the norm for the citizens to just sit back and take it, or are there enough who are mad enough and have the guts to dig up the truth and stop the corruption? Perhaps it is time to get rid of the "old boy network" and force your elected officials to crawl out of the past and be held accountable for their actions. There has to be a money trail, doesn't the government have archives on-line?

A little research might expose the problem. Just because this is the way it has always been done, it does not excuse it happening.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), April 26, 2002.


It's not a mystery. All the major newspapers in the state that I've seen rail against it regularly. Maybe someday something will change. But as Stephen says, the system is deeply corrupt. It's not for nothing that the Alabama motto is "Thank God for Mississippi."

The legislature holds the power to make the kinds of changes we need. The legislature in turn is controlled by a few big landholders. These are the old plantation-owners who wrote the state constitution with a careful eye to keeping themselves in power. It's a rather simple process of controlling who gets to run representing the major parties. Sure, for Federal offices we're obligated to have roughly the same number of people voting for each representative. But apparently the pocket borough system is alive and well at the state legislative level. And since the only body that can remedy this situation is the one that holds their power *because* of it, not much happens.

Meanwhile, the decision to cut costs by suspending jury trials was made by a Chief Justice elected because of his wildly popular decision to post the Ten Commandments prominently in the courthouse. The locals, products of an educational system worse than the judicial system, all hope this idiot will decide to bring prayer back to the classrooms and kick science right on out. We have the government we want. Only athiests and niggers want jury trials anyway, and they ain't good old boys, so what do we care?

As far as I can tell, it's a religious thing, both directly and indirectly. I'm quite sure that if the religion were sucked out of every Alabamian, few would be left who could walk and think at the same time, so most would starve quickly. The state stands as a monument to the ravages of True Christianity, *practiced* here rather than just getting lip service like most other states (except Mississippi).

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 26, 2002.

Meanwhile, the decision to cut costs by suspending jury trials was made by a Chief Justice elected because of his wildly popular decision to post the Ten Commandments prominently in the courthouse.

I am sure that conservatives like Ken Decker applaud this judge and his judgement.

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), April 26, 2002.


Flint hit the key points. He'd know more about the State level, having lived here a lot longer than I have, but I've seen it at the local level here in Birmingham area, too.

Grab a cold beverage, sit back, and let's pretend. Here's how it works.

Let's say you're Billy Bob Beaureguard, mayor of one of the cities in the B'ham metro. (Fictitious name, based on real examples.) (The lawyers made me say that.) (I'm alergic to slander suits -- *ESPECIALLY* in a state where the GOBs that I might be slandering control the court system.)

For years, you have been dipping into the city coffers for "fact finding" junkets to Hawaii, new limosines, trips to the casinos in Mississippi, a vacation house on the river, a new bass boat and a random assortment of whores and liquor for those rare days when you're just bored.

The local newspaper reports on this. Problem is, you also own the largest car dealership in town and cancel your advertising with said paper. The paper is naturally reluctant to cover it in the future.

But, nonetheless, some papers continue to do so; maybe they're big enough to survive the hit. (The Birmingham News, for example.) You just ignore them, knowing that you'll be reelected anyway.

Why? Several reasons.

1, if you're black, you were probably elected in a majority black district, and they'll vote for their own, regardless of how crooked they are. Or, if you're white, you were probably elected in a majority white district, and they'll vote for their own, regardless of how crooked they are.

(I think this is intensely unfair, by the way -- the whites and the blacks have got this thing sewn up; the Native Americans, Orientals and Mexicans have thus far been unable to shoulder their way onto the gravy train.)

2, if you're unfortunate enough to be challenged by someone of the same race, thus cancelling the advantage inherent to #1 (see above), since you own the local police chief, you can order him to investigate your opponent. Have him arrested at some seedy nightclub. Be creative.

(Note: if you're in one of the really hicky-fied rural areas of 'Bama, you can always fall back on Southern Boy Option #9: just kill the joker, bury the body in someone's cornfield, and be done with it. This option is difficult for city dwellers, however.)

(No cornfields.)

3, if you're unfortunate enough to be facing an honest man who never goes near the shady parts of town, or who enjoys unusually strong support, since you own the local elections board, spread some money around and have fun with the numbers.

These things tend to become institutionalized. Just to give you an example (I'll name the town this time), my own City of Hoover recently had a revolution at the polls. Virtually the entire city council and mayor's office were cleaned out in the last election; people here had finally HAD it.

Watch closely! Before the election, the challengers were all promising various reforms. As soon as they were elected, they began hemming and hawing. "We need to STUDY precisely how to implement the needed changes ... we don't want to be HASTY ..."

Now, with the election fading into history, their promised reforms have assumed a priority of -1 on a scale of 1 to 10. See again what Flint said: they're not likely to vote against the things that help keep them in power, are they?

I like your positive attitude; I happen to share it. Change CAN occur. There have been a few cases -- Birmingham City elected a new mayor a few years ago, stunning the conventional wisdom that said that Richard Arrington, and his anointed successor, William Bell, were untouchable -- but only because people didn't give up.

It's encouraging that the citizens of Hoover are madder'n hoppin' turtles and are planning to clean house AGAIN in the next election -- if they do it often enough, eventually, they'll get the message -- but it does take persistence.

A LOT of persistence.

-- Stephen (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 26, 2002.

Quite a window. Thanks guys.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), April 26, 2002.


This a problem for me as a Christian -- namely, fellow Christians who don't know how to *appreciate* the separation of Church and State.

(I even had to think for a moment about how to word that; "appreciate" seemed the best term to use.)

I can only compare this area to North Carolina, my original home. There's a lot (a LOT) of active Christianity back in NC, too (especially in the western half of the state), from the church on every corner to you name it. But it just doesn't seem to work the same way there as it does here.

The government of NC is not hostile to religion; religious people flourish ... and so do those who choose no religion. All in all, it seems to work pretty well there.

The main difference in our explanations of what's wrong with Alabama, though, is that you tend to blame it on religion, where I would blame it on racism and Southern hardheadedness.

(Whence my comments in #2 above, delivered with characteristic sarcasm.)

For example, I agree with you that the big plantation owners arranged the constitution to keep themselves in power ... but they did so also to keep blacks OUT of power, and the less-wealthy Alabamans of that day went along with it because that's what they wanted, too, and they looked to these Big Guys as their "leaders."

It's that "Southern Aristocracy" thing -- an oversimplification, but maybe it'll suffice.

Joe and Jane Average looked up to Mr. Whiffle who owned the 2000-acre spread (and who was thus wealthy in that mostly-agrarian economy). Not only did Whiffle share their beliefs (THAT'S where the religion came in!), but he had the money and power to do something about it, to "protect" their "way of life." Forget the fact that Whiffle was ignorant, abusive, predjudiced and generally crooked; at least he was "one of them" and "on their side."

I would also disagree slightly at this minor point: Whiffle himself probably wouldn't run for office; he'd hand-pick a rascal who'd stay at least half-bought and finance him. Whiffle would also tell his "employees:" you'd better vote for this guy. They would.

When blacks finally got the vote for real, they were able to use their concentrations in certain areas to get elected in real numbers ... and ironically, they adopted an analogous mentality.

Their leaders were invariably the leadership of the larger churches in their community (more religion), who had the position, the money and the power to help THEM. Once again, these leaders wouldn't necessarily run for office themselves, but their endorsement (and support) was *critical* in an election in the black community.

The parallels are striking.

And now, the mostly-white areas elect mostly-white candidates and vice-versa. Even if they're known crooks or idiots. To a racist, that's preferable to letting the "other side" win.

The cure is going to be a continued influx of "outsiders" like me. I've come here with my "dangerous" NC attitudes, and I vote that way.

This is the truth: I've had some of the locals here call me a Yankee, because of my "strange" ideas![g]

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 27, 2002.


By the way -- I've met Roy Moore and have chatted with him about his beliefs. They're similar to those of the late Francis Schaeffer: that this nation was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic and that we have strayed from that.

He believes that his Ten Commandments display is constitutional and I get the feeling that he would WELCOME a court challenge on it. (That's just my impression, mind you; I can't say that for a fact.)

He points out that the Ten Commandments have been on display at the Supreme Court of the United States for many years, and believes that, if his display must be removed, then so must theirs.

(Plus, "in God we trust" on the money, the scripture verses on the steps of the Washington Monument, etc., etc.)

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 27, 2002.


Yes, I know what you're saying. I've always regarded the strict separation of church and state as being weirdly inconsistent with all of the *specific*-religion slogans and other materials plastered over our money, monuments, and political procedures. I think Judge Roy Moore's "two wrongs make a right" attitude is a boggling position for a Chief Justice to take, but hey, religion and rationality are mutually exclusive.

I agree that the situation is complicated. I really don't know the relationship between religion, racism, and general prejudice. I was looking through a book yesterday called "Why God Won't Go Away" that made the claim (supported by lots of presumably objective (snicker) scientific testing) that these things, especially religion, are somehow hardwired into our neural circuitry. That we REQUIRE satisfactory explanations for what we cannot understand, to the point where even totally imaginary people, supernatural powers, and pure magic are better than nothing.

Combine this with a kind of educational inertia (that learning is painful) and early childhood indoctrination, and you move from a willingness to swallow nonsense as preferable to uncertainty, all the way to an absolutely rigid refusal to consider *reality* as a competing explanation. Religion as a poor man's peace of mind is one thing, religion as an active thought-barrier is quite another. Judge Moore may believe in what he's doing, but he's also (like any politician) well tuned in to the ignorance of his constituency. Around here (Huntsville) the paper regularly blasts him for posturing and grandstanding, *to the detriment of the people*. Amen to that.

(And incidentally, a quick trip over to the doomie nuthouse should make my point clear. Those people ALL believe in Alabama-type Christianity along with every other absolutely nonsensical and baseless wackiness WeirdNutDaily and the like can concoct. Stephen, check it out! The gold nut sites, the government conspiracy sites, the economic disaster any day now sites, the chemtrails sites, ad nauseum WITHOUT EXCEPTION cite God and quote scripture. Like Judge Moore and our state legislature, they know exactly where the yokels' handles are -- just grab them by the bible and they'll bend over gleefully.)

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 27, 2002.

Well gee Flint, I see that you have been re-instated at Timebomb, you know, the "doomie nuthouse" as you say. Are you going to be posting there anymore?

Flint, you really can be a major asshole sometimes you know

-- (cin@cin.cin), April 27, 2002.

I'd like to thank you two for reaffirming the rightness of my decision to stay in a more civilized area of the United States. Your descriptions of Alabama make even Missouri seem progressive (sorry Z).

I found your different viewpoints on the influence of religion or how religion is associated with the political machinations of your stste very interesting. Flint mentions that on TB2K you find an "Alabama- type Christianity" that most of the members believe in along with some really bizarre variations such as the beliefs held by INVAR and Patrick. Do you think that it is possible to narrow down the particular brand of religion that cause these type of behaviors?

I guess that I am thinking that since the South is where the Baptist church and other "evangelical" type religions thrive the most is it that type of belief that leads to this mind set. Here in Iowa we tend to have more Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. than Baptists, Jehova's Witnesses and charismatic churches. This is probably due to the influence of the Swedes that located here but that is another topic altogether.

Not being that familiar with the teachings of the Baptist Churches or the evagelical churches perhaps there is a certain dogma or belief that they focus on more so than the other churches. It would be my understanding that most churches based on "christianity" follow the same general version of the Bible. But maybe the Baptist or other more conservative religions focus more on the Second Coming or Judgement Day more so than other religions. Do you think that this could have any influence on how these people view the world?

I have always been curious as to what makes the "Doomers" think the way they do. Why is the governemnt out to get them? Why is disaster just lurking around the corner? Why do they give credence to some of the utterly goofy ideas that are floated around that site as long as it has a negative consequence for the world? Figuring out WHY these people think the way they do is one of the reasons that I have hung around the Timebomb site. So far I have to agree with Flint, the only common factor that these people seem to have is a belief in a very "conservative" form of Christianity that is intolerant of other more "liberal" christian religions.

I don't mean to offend any Baptists that hang out here and I know that Poole is a religious man and probably belongs to what I would classify as a "conservative" christian church (that is an assumption on my part, you are at least what I would classify as conservative in your political beliefs, you may be a Mormon or a Druid in your religous practices as far as I know). My point is that not all "christians" think like those at Timebomb. In fact it is my undestanding that quite a few of the Pollies who were debunking the Y2K issue are conservative christians. I think that CPR and several others of the Polly persuasion actually knew each other from an association on Christian bulletin boards or discussion groups. So belonging to a certain church or having a certain belief system does not automatically make you a Doomer. But does a certain religous belief system propagated by a specific church or type of church make the adherents of that type of religion more susceptable to doom and gloom?

-- Jack Booted Thug (governmentconspiracy@NWO.com), April 27, 2002.

Well Flint, it must make your day to be confirmed as a Ďmajor assholeí by one so learned as Cin.

-- Send (mo@money.please), April 27, 2002.


No problem. Iowa helps make Missouri look progressive too. According to the last census, the majority population in Iowa is denied education, roots in the mud and expresses no religous beliefs. ;<))) Still they are doomers. Comes from knowing that they will soon be chops and roasts. Do you remember when the people in Iowa «ity started a statewide petition to give hogs a free, public education. They had a nice radio program at the time.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.


If you ever debate this with Judge Moore, be warned: he doesn't consider the Ten Commandments at the US Supreme Court a "wrong." :)

Tell you one more story. Like I said, I thought we were religious in NC. We went to church (yes, JBT, Presbyterian), we believed in God, but our next door neighbor was an atheist and was a very good friend to my mother. Life was cool.

When I went to Dallas a few years ago to check on a job, I was immediately struck by the existence of a Christian Yellow Pages book in the motel room, right next to the standard book from Ma Bell. I'd never heard of such a thing.

I didn't know what to think of it, either: is this implying that Christians businesses are inherently better? Wal-Mart has the lowest price on shampoo, so that's where I buy it. Sam Walton's beliefs have nothing to do with it.

(One of the first jobs I ever had was working for a Church of God preacher who was one of the most blatant racists I'd ever met, in fact. That was an eye-opener, too.)

Since moving here, I really understand what the term "Bible Belt" means. It was just a term before, living in NC. (And remember: I thought *we* pushed the envelope from time to time!)

The thing is, some of these efforts are against the Southern Philosophy that goes all the way back to before the Civil War: "We just want to be left alone." You believe as you wish, I'll believe as I wish, and everyone just tries to get along.

It's called "democracy," I've believe. But let's not be pedantic. :)

-- Stephen (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 27, 2002.


We just got some new furniture, and I'm waiting for Sandy to get dressed so we can go buy some new curtains ... in other words, a little more time to kill.

I am a traditional, conservative Christian. I am evangelical, in the sense that I think it's my mission to lead others to Christ. Where I part ways with the Christian right is at their belief that you do that by making the government overtly religious, with Christian trappings.

If this makes any sense to you, I have supported Billy Graham at times over the years, but have never sent a nickel to Jerry Falwell. Christianity should stay OUT of politics, period. They're two completely separate spheres.

For that matter, religion should stay out of science, too.

The thing is, I was *raised* this way by a mother who was a strong Christian. One of the things she taught me was that accepting Christ was a very personal thing; it could not (and SHOULD not) EVER be compelled. It CANNOT be.

She also taught me that you have to live in society, respecting the beliefs (or lack thereof) of others. So, yeah, Christians who wrap the flags around their Bibles make me nervous -- even though I'm also a jingoistically patriotic American. :)

I confuse my Christian friends terribly.

"Do you believe the Bible, Stephen?"


"Do you believe ... [insert a dozen other traditional Christian beliefs; I won't belabor the obvious.]"


"Great! Will you help us elect this candidate who is a devout Christian (but who is otherwise a moron)?"


"...! What's wrong with you?!?"

I've faced it most of my adult life.

-- Stephen (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 27, 2002.

Thinking no, JBT. It's not so much ecumenical as it is just plain stupid. Being a confirmed Lutheran of classic nordic stock I can be just as stupid as the next guy. But I try not to.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), April 27, 2002.

Howdy Stephen:

I can agree with what you said. I seldom comment on religious matters. For once, here goes. My family was Presbyterian from the time they left Scotland. They left because of the wars with the French-installed catholic monarch. They are well documented in a book called the history of the Presbyterian Church in New York. I am related to most of those people going back to Dutch times. Up to the time of my grandfather the family was conservative. I remember my father saying that no work could be done on Sunday. Food was cooked on Saturday and everyone sat around all day on Sunday. By the time my father was 18, no one in the family attended church. No one in my fatherís generation attended church.

Now to me: There was no Presbyterian Church in our town. I am officially a Methodist. I attended an expensive liberal arts college as a science major. There was an official limit to the number of semester hours one could take unless you were selected to participate in the honors program. I was selected. That meant I could take as many semester hours as I wanted but only had to pay tuition for the official limit of hours. Most of those free hours were courses in theology and philosophy. I ended up taking about 28 h per semester. Yes Ken, I have read The Revolt of the Masses.

At graduation, I had to make a choice. I had a full scholarship to Yale in Theology. I also had scholarships at 6 major universities in science. I chose science. It was clear, at that time, I had major misgivings about the accuracy and initial intent of the bible and quran [sorry I canít use the little squiggle here].

Still, I have spent a lifetime studying these books and their history. I have no quarrel with their philosophical intent, but I have lost all faith in the details. I donít share Flintís belligerence with the social impact of morons blindly applying misunderstood meanderings to present day life [although I could, I have a list of ancestors martyred to the Roman Church]. Yet, I understand his position.

It is a path that each person must walk alone. You canít be told; you must know which fork to take. Nuff said. End of contribution to this subject.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

Apologize for opening the door.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), April 27, 2002.

Thats okay Carlos. Doors are made for opening.

Z, you have a valid point about the majority of the population of Iowa but you do realize don't you that using anything developed in the Peoples Republic of Iowa City is hardly representative of the general population of Iowa. Though you are right that the radio programming carried on WSUI was entertaining. It has been toned down since the days when I attended the University of Iowa. Of course I think that is a reflection of the change in the attitudes of the students in todays world. Iowa City may still be a good party school but the students don't seem to care about much beyond their immediate situation let alone have any interest in social causes and crusades. The only remaining influence of the liberal hew day of the 60's and the 70's are from those who lived in Iowa City at the time and have never left. It is too bad that the only ones who remained behind were the socialists and the communists. Of course they now run the City Council and a good portion of the County government so they have become the "establishment" now.

As far as making Missouri not only look more progressive but actually making it a more progressive state, I assume that you have heard the theory that if the southern tier of Iowa counties were ceded to Missouri it would improve the IQ of of both states. There might be some truth to that. Maybe we should just drop it for now. The next thing you know we will have some Minnesotan putting their stuck-up two cents in on the issue. At least we won't have to worry about Kansas or Nebraska, I don't think they have been hooked up to the internet yet.

-- Jack Booted Thug (governmentconspiracy@NWO.com), April 27, 2002.


I'm sure that you realize my response was meant to be light. I spend time in Iowa. I have a new project starting there this summer. While I know my way around Des Moines and Aimes, I sometimes don't know where you folks take me. Last year we went to someplace in the southeast part of the state. Got there after passing a big wind farm. It was very hilly and absolutely beautiful. I don't think that most folks know that part of Iowa.

Still it is the state where "the music died"

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

Z, I thought the music died up in Wisconsin.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), April 27, 2002.


I am suprised that you don't remember the song or the spirit

Buddy will look down on you with a frown.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.


This is just for you:

For Peter

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.


I am suprised that you don't remember McLean.

More for Peter


Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

Z, I was thinking of another plane crash, I think Otis Redding, into Lake Mendota. Yes, I knew the crash you were referring to, just got the state wrong.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), April 27, 2002.


I was just kidding you back. Sorry if you thought I was serious.

Just outside of Clear Lake is where the music died according to Don Mclean. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. They have a big sock hop every year at the Surf Ballroom to commemerate the loss of the three. You do remember that Waylon Jennings was supposed to be on that plane I forget who he traded places with.

Even I was surprised to find out that Iowa apparently has the largest wind powered turbine operation in the nation. It is fairly widespread over the state but I thought it was more prevalent in the western part.

BTW, I am originally from one of those southern tier of counties I was talking about and my father was born and raised in Southern Missouri. We went to check out his childhood home one summer. It was my first exposure to true "hillbilies".

-- Jack Booted Thug (governmentconspiracy@NWO.com), April 27, 2002.


The site says this:

Waylon Jennings gave his seat up to Richardson, who was running a fever and had trouble fitting his stocky frame comfortably into the bus seats. When Holly learned that Jennings wasn't going to fly, he said, "Well, I hope your old bus freezes up." Jennings responded, "Well, I hope your plane crashes." This friendly banter of friends would haunt Jennings for years.

Allsup told Valens, I'll flip you for the remaining seat. On the toss of a coin, Valens won the seat and Allsup the rest of his life.

I wasn't there so I don't know.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

As JBT says, this kind of wacky religious fundamentalism seems a consistent common denominator among those who are willing to believe just about anything as long as it's silly enough. Ken Decker spoke of "The anti-government survivalists, the 21st century homesteaders, the religious Apocalypists, the terminal Chicken Littles, the neo Luddites, the tax nuts, the Consitutionalists, the milita and some just frustrated or overwhelmed by modern society." And these people reference the WeirdNutDaily, the Washington Post, the Sierra Times, the Gold Eagle site, and many others in support of their peculiarities. And go to any one of these sites, and you are assaulted with religious trappings, citations of God and Jesus, biblical quotes, and so on. Part and parcel.

I really don't know what brand of religion Stephen prefers. On him, it tends to stick out like a kind of intellectual carbuncle. It's strange and confusing watching Stephen casting about for some way his beliefs can be quarantined so as NOT to mock all of the many ways in which he knows better. From what I can see, Stephen has implicitly recognized the irrelevance of supernatural notions. Unlike the Standard Doomer, he doesn't seem to view the world as an artificially fabricated outcropping of someone else's superstitions; he puts on his religion like engineers wear a suit and tie -- a costume for unusual occasions. He recognizes that it doesn't belong in politics, nor in the schools, nor in science (the study of reality). That it doesn't belong *anywhere* is something he may never quite outgrow, but I should give credit where it's due.

Back to Judge Moore. He's a politician, plain and simple. I don't think his personal beliefs are relevant -- MANY here have personal beliefs, but none of them have been using the beliefs of *others* against them for personal gain. That's what con men do. And I suppose that if I wanted political power in Alabama, I'd bang a bible as hard as I could, Elmer Gantry style. It works for Judge Moore.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 27, 2002.

Ok, it is common knowledge that this corruption and "old boy network" exists in Alabama. It appears Bama isn't the only old southern state where such behavior exists. How then can there be so much denial over GW Bush and his cronies from one of the biggest, southern states? Can no one see the hypocrisy in what was stated in the campaign and what has been done since the election was decided? Doesn't it follow that he and his brother and their group DID use every means they could manage to manipulate the election for their own benefit? Can anyone comprehend that someone like me, from an area that does not suffer from their historical resentment of loosing "the war" to the north, passed down from generation to generation, should not only be shocked and dismayed over the corruption I see, but be alarmed over the degradation of MY national Government, the fact that their standards are a throwback to a time long gone in national government which has been forced to be open to public scrutiny.

One of my biggest worries is pollution. I remember stanky, gross rivers and lakes. The harm to life and the environment was a disaster. Yes we fought to force industry stop dumping raw chemicals into natural waterways. Now the administration wants to allow chits which can be bought and sold so the biggest polluters can buy chits from others which will allow them to pollute legally. We are loosing all of the progress that we gained, the progress that made life safe and our country cleaner and physically safer for every. The campaign that is being pushed to belittle and degrade environmentalists, the media effort to make people believe that those who do not want disgusting, stinking, physically harmful pollution appear extremist loony toons.

Come on, we don't need to go backwards. American society saw, smelt, and were horrified over the degradation of our little area of the world. Government was forced by the citizens of this county to do the right thing and make corporations responsible for safe disposal of the poisons they dumped irresponsibly. Now this administration is reversing the regulations that were put in place preventing dumping and holding business to standards of safely disposing the their harmful waste. The cry of "too much government interference too many regulations and paperwork causing financial harm to industry it's all the fault of those tree hugging, commie, environmental freaks.

The majority of people in the country saw the destruction of our natural resources and chose to do something to reverse and repair the damage that existed. Yet two generations later, especially the last one who were raised getting whatever they wanted without having to be responsible and work for what they got, now think only of their own desires. They don't realize how bad it was in the past, how much work and effort went into preventing raw sewage and toxic waste from being dumped into our natural waterways. They grew up with the cleaner water due to the decades of effort of others. Will the pollution have to get as bad and destructive as it used to be before the population wakes up and starts demanding those guilty of producing it be held responsible for cleaning it up and preventing it in the first place?

And this is but one area of progress in the past 30-40 years that this administration is reversing.

The government is of the people for the people by the people. At least it is supposed to be, but when the government officials have been financed by a certain industry (oil) and blatantly worked to the advancement and profit of that industry.

The appointees are from the oil industry, even the people appointed to oversight positions have backgrounds of fighting against the oversight organizations. What has been done for the general public? Not much, the protections which were in place, the environmental, the industrial responsibilities placed upon them have been removed or decimated. Not only that, the industry itself developed the "Energy program" to their financial advantage, completely contrary to the will of the American public. Read the policy, it is so blatant, the financial benefits for the energy industry is sickening, the reversal of coal fueled power plants, which had been in the process of being phased out and/or forced to reduce pollution (with a decade or two to comply), are now being given financial support to build even MORE coal fueled (extremely dangerously polluting) power plants, American society's aversion to nuclear power plants was totally ignored and millions of tax money is being poured onto creating new ones without public input or choice. Alternative power sources and conservation were not given any consideration, except when the decisions had already been made and these groups were given a few hours of input (which was ignored) and were paraded out for photo ops... to give the impression that they were actually involved. Considering the "industry insiders" were silently and secretly involved, their identities and input are considered executive privilege. Odd how they paraded the alternative energy folks for the media, they were only brought in to get the photo ops and give the citizens the impression that the "energy program" was in the interest of the people, instead of being strictly for the advancement of the financiers of the election.

Good God, they still want to privatize social security, even after the stock market crash and the Enron disintegration due to their corruption. Um... is the administration that dense that they think people will ignore reality and follow the administration's agenda? Or are there enough people like those who have been described above who will blindly follow?

I have to admit the blind followers mentioned above scare me, if the schools are controlled by those who live and push the old, corrupt mentality, when, how can the cycle be broken and the younger generations be given the chance to learn how to live without the false, corrupt, hopelesness their society teaches them.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), April 28, 2002.


First, a clarification. When I say that religion must be kept out of science, I'm speaking of the scientific method, not the big philosophies of Why We Are Here and How We Got Here. Faith, guesswork and supposition have no place in empirical experiment and measurement.

I really don't know what brand of religion Stephen prefers.

A personal belief in the existence of a Supreme Being who is behind everything, which belief I'm happy to share with those who ask.

We've had this conversation before; you ask, "why bother?" The answer is that it is very satisfying personally. You obviously feel otherwise; to each his own.

But to examine one classic intellectual's trip from agnosticism to faith, read C. S. Lewis' "Surprised By Joy."

Back to Judge Moore. He's a politician, plain and simple.

No. Well, sure, he's a poltician ... but your implication that he's simply "acting a part" because it pleases his constituency is completely off the mark. He's a True Believer.

Having met and talked with the man, I can assure you: if he's ever asked to do something that is clearly at odds with what he believes, he will refuse. It's admittedly unlikely (at least in the near future), but should Alabama's demographic makeup change to the point that this state loses its Bible Belt mentality, he will crash and burn rather than change.

Remember that when it happens. I predicted it. :)

I've met him. I've talked with him personally. You haven't.

I've listened to his muttered comments when there were no crowds; when he thought no one was listening. In private, as it were. They are consistent with what he says in public.

Now, you can be frightened of the fact that he IS a True Believer. You can still disagree with him and think what you will of him; that's your right. But he's not just a politician who will change those beliefs for political expediency. He's a True Believer, as dogmatic as they come.

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 28, 2002.

Ok, it is common knowledge that this corruption and "old boy network" exists in Alabama. It appears Bama isn't the only old southern state where such behavior exists. How then can there be so much denial over GW Bush and his cronies from one of the biggest, southern states?

A couple of points: ALL states have corruption; it simply takes different forms, with different rationales. For Pete's sake, think of Chicago or New York in the first half of the 20th century!

Can no one see the hypocrisy in what was stated in the campaign and what has been done since the election was decided?

I don't ask anymore, "show me the hard evidence," because I will invariably given a dozen links to sites that are filled with supposition and guilt-by-association, or to editorials in which the speaker conveniently ignores facts harmful to his/her argument.

And in fact, that's how I fell out with Doc Paulie. That is *EXACTLY* what he would link me to. EXACTLY. I would say, "Doc, that's just someone's opinion. There's no hard evidence."

And Doc would finish it up with something like, oh, you're just too blinded to see the truth!

Please, don't YOU start doing the same thing. Please?

Let me give you an example: you show me HARD EVIDENCE -- not supposition, not "hmmm, isn't THIS suspicious!", not "lookit the dates on this stuff!" -- of George Bush accepting a bribe in return for a piece of legislation, and that'll mean something to me. Or of George Bush clearly breaking the law.

Now that, I'll get worked up about, I assure you.

HARD EVIDENCE. Not supposition, not guilt-by-association, not (just to name one example) that "he invited Enron to the White House for his meeting on energy policy, so therefore he MUST have done something wrong!"

For crying out loud, why SHOULDN'T he invite one of the largest energy providers in the United States to discuss energy policy?!?

(In fact, one of the things that doomed Hillary Clinton's health care initiative is that SHE DIDN'T invite the health care industry to provide substantive input. Is that REALLY how you think this stuff should be done?)

More to the point, it's not just "us" here, polls have shown that the entire Enron thing is a YAWNER to the American public. Why? BECAUSE THERE'S NO HARD EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL, SUBSTANTIVE ILLEGAL ACTS ON THE PART OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.

Some of this is disagreement in philosophy, Cherri. You apparently have a problem with big business in general; I don't. And if you think that the US Government is more capable of formulating energy policy, or health policy, or even POSTAL policy, than private business, well -- see, you have to understand that disagreement.

It's not ENOUGH for you to simply say, "lookit! Lookit! Bush is gonna privatize Social Security!" You have to show me WHY that is a bad idea! I happen to think it's a great idea that's long overdue!

See? Different philosophies.

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 28, 2002.

Stephen, even if Bush (1) hasn't accepted a bribe, or (2) hasn't broken the law, it's still possible to dance to the tune of big money in a disgusting manner. Clinton did it, and in my opinion, Bush is really doing it.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), April 28, 2002.


OK, you find comfort. It STILL looks like an intellectual carbuncle. Just take my observations as what you look like to someone who does not share your view.

As for Judge Moore, if you are correct (and I fear you are), then we're in for no improvement in our judical, political, or constitutional predicament. Cynical politicians I can sort of understand, sincere fools are just scary. We have a feedback loop in operation -- miseducate people into religious ignorance, they elect fools, the fools perpetuate the system. But then, I suppose this makes them feel "comfortable". Just different strokes, corruption is simply comfortable, provided the crooks invoke the right scriptures, eh?

I don't know why you direct me to C.S. Lewis. For everyone who fell into error, I can cite some who wised up. What's the point?

(And some day, we should examine the subjective perception that comes when consciousness gets interfered with, whether by trauma, oxygen deprivation, poisoning, sensory deprivation or overload, neurological malfunction etc. You found God, and drunks find pink elephants. I suffered a couple of head injuries as a child and also had addled memories and perceptions. But at least I understood what was going on. Maybe the difference is, I *wanted* to understand.)


Maybe you're right, and politicians should act in defiance of what works. Well, come to think of it...

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 28, 2002.


It STILL looks like an intellectual carbuncle.

To you. :)

(Euuuw! A CARBUNCLE? Couldn't you find a better analogy?)


Stephen, even if Bush (1) hasn't accepted a bribe, or (2) hasn't broken the law, it's still possible to dance to the tune of big money in a disgusting manner.

But that's a different thing; that's not what I was addressing.

(And Cherri, I apologize for the CPR-style caps, there. I got carried away.[g])

But we're going to get into philosophical and policy-based disagreement over the definition of "disgusting." To give you an example, I am 100% in favor of exploiting the ANWR for oil. We are too dependent on foreign oil now, and it would take years to develop alternatives.

If, as expected, we attack Iraq in the near future and the flow of Mideast oil gets cut off, we'd be stranded high and dry.

Now, I'll support reasonable compromises: include strict controls to protect the environment up there. Include government funding to look for alternative forms of energy. But for now, for the short term, that thing needs to be drilled.

That's just my opinion. But it affects how I react to "revelations" from Bush's enemies.

"Look! Bush met with oil companies about ANWR!"

My response: "Works for me."

The main reason why I answered her, though, is because she seemed to be making a comparison between the Bush administration and the corrupt government here in Alabama. There is no comparison. Here, we've actually had officials (a) break the law, (b) ADMIT that they've done it (though they might argue that it was legal, under some convoluted rationale) and continue to be elected!

And finally, there *IS* a huge difference between actually breaking the law and simply doing things that differ from my philosophy. There is also a world of difference between hard evidence (papers, memos, even email) and supposition: "hmm, why'd Bush meet with this guy? Suspicious, isn't it?"

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 29, 2002.


Just for fun (and thread drift), here's precisely what I'd support for the ANWR thingie:

1. Let's exploit a 2000-acre plot for oil.

2. Put strict safeguards in place to protect the environment.

3. Put a TIMELIMIT on it; after so many years, the drilling must cease.

4. At the same time, give some big grants to a few universities to develop real, workable (and economically viable) alternatives to oil.

This is not an either-or: either we drill for oil AND keep driving inefficient automobiles OR refuse to drill AND develop electric cars. A compromise somewhere in the middle would make sense.

Now that I've complicated this, maybe you can understand how I'd react to that "revelation" that the White House met with Exxon about ANWR. It would depend on the final, in-place policy that resulted from that meeting.

In the Enron thing, remember, Enron was there ... and did NOT get what it wanted.

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 29, 2002.

Stephen, ANWR will be a drop in the bucket compared to our total needs. I've read that it will reduce our oil imports about 5% in 10 years. Conservation, ways to reduce usage, are what we desperately need, and what the Bush Admin feels is un-American.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), April 29, 2002.

Good God, they still want to privatize social security, even after the stock market crash and the Enron disintegration due to their corruption. Um... is the administration that dense that they think people will ignore reality and follow the administration's agenda? Or are there enough people like those who have been described above who will blindly follow?

I guess cherri prefers the current government controlled ponzi scheme over letting people have at least SOME control over what is, in fact, THEIR OWN MONEY! Talk about blind follower.

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeeD@yahoo.com), April 29, 2002.


I've always wondered about the sanity of people who would rather be guaranteed to lose all their money, than to have any possibility of losing some of their money. I guess if you have to ask, you'll never understand.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), May 01, 2002.


Granted. But that would just be part of a comprehensive plan: develop the ANWR (if it requires more than 2000 acres, so be it). Give incentives to re-open closed wells in Texas and Pennsylvania. Tell the environmentalists the SHUT UP about drilling in the Gulf. Make all of this as safe as we possibly can, but DO IT.

These steps WOULD make a difference and would bridge the gap *while* we develop alternative energy. This is where I *agree* with you: we need alternatives, and yes, we need conservation. If we're just going to drill without making long-term changes to guarantee that eventually wean ourselves away from using petroleum for energy, then yeah, we haven't solved a thing. I agree fully.

But let's be fair: Bush isn't the only one who stays away from the "C" word ("conserve"). Only those representatives from politically "safe" districts call for it on Capital Hill, too. The rank and file run from the very mention of the word; they want the electorate fat, happy and comfortable in a big SUV. :)

And -- I don't think I've ever said this before, but -- I think it's too simplistic to claim that Bush and his "Awl" buddies just want to open ANWR to rape the environment for money. (I've never seen YOU make this claim; I'm just addressing it in general.)

Related claims: Bush and the Awl Mens attacked Afghanistan for oil (that's related to the "Bush knew about 9-11" nonsense from the other thread). People who make these claims demonstrate their ignorance about the oil business.

It is a demonstrated *FACT* that oil companies can make *far* more money by buying the product elsewhere and then re-selling it at a markup. (In fact, Enron carried this to ridiculous extremes and got burned[g].) Their costs are MUCH higher for oil from new ANWR or Gulf wells, because they have to build the infrastructure.

The truth is that the oil industry itself is actually lukewarm toward exploiting the ANWR or the Gulf, especially at current market prices for crude, and given the soft stock market.

So, if we're going to contrive a scenario where *I* would get very suspicious, announce that the US is going to conquer Saudi Arabia and Oman and just take over the *existing* wells there.

Now THAT would make sense. :)

But pushing to exploit ANWR because it's some untapped gold mine? Hardly.

Just my opinion, mind you, but there you go. :)

-- Stephen (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), May 01, 2002.


We've drifted, but that previous reply to Peter reminded me of something else: maybe Flint knows the details, but I seem to recall a big stink last year over the fact that oil companies had been pumping oil out of the Alabama Gulf Coast for years without paying for it. Some sort of corruption let them get away with it.

The story just sort of died; I don't know what happened to that one.

But it's just one example of many. This state has actually GOT the money, if only it could be managed properly.

-- Stephen (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), May 01, 2002.

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