April 27, 2006


Lay Roots in the Country for the Weekend

Short notice, I know, but if you're in the neighborhood:

(click on poster to better see fine print)

I can vouch for Deep Blue Sun, a great alt country rock outfit from Atlanta, and Ralph Roddenbery, a great singer/songwriter based in Athens, Ga. As for the rest, I'm sure the good karma of Cherokee Farms would attract no slack musicians.

20 bones at the gate, BYOB ! !

More info on this and other great shows at T-Dawg's website

April 26, 2006


Chewing the Fat Tire, pt. 2

Well, Frank DePinto has fired back in his inimitable grammar-lite way. And he's trying to recruit the governor of Tennessee to his, um, cause. Observe:

..numbers don't negate the destructive physical and spiritual activity of mountain biking, it just confirms the nasty and insensitive aspect of that many people, including yourself. its a shame we are 'evolving' that way, if your numbers are correct; if there are not corrective actions.

..your numbers did not separate it seems urban/asphalt mountain bikers from destructive, forest mountain bikers. i ride a moutain bike, am a u/a biker; not a forest destroyer. i have enough sense and respect.


Governor Bredesen
Governor's Office
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243-001

Re: Banning of Mountain Biking In State Forests.

Dear Governor Bredesen,

I am submitting this request to you with a grave concern about the current and increased use of 'mountain bike' trails in our states national, state and county forests.

My initial response to several folks was based on an article in the Chattanooga Free Press article entitled 'Urban Trailblazers,' 4/13/06. The article was accompanied with a photo of Rachael and Nat Lopes (International Mountain Bicycling Association) in the process of urging a State ranger to allow mountain biking on a forested trail that currently had a 'no mountain biking' sign on the trail.

My point is that one: 1) 'mountain biking' should not be allowed to ruin the physical, environmental, aesthetic, recreational and spiritual tranquility of our beautiful federal, state and county forests. To have 'mountain bikers' use the same trails as hikers with their speed, noise, physical danger to hikers, eroding trails is destructive to the integrity of 'recreational hiking areas.'

2) If there are people who feel they 'need a bike' to enjoy areas with access other than the city, county streets and roads; please do not allow their 'environmental destructive activities' to occur in our states wonderful, beautiful forested areas. Please, put these people in very low impact areas.

The mountain biking industry is a very well monied commercial industry, and there will be alot of pressure on our state officials to degrade our states environment for their profit.

Frank DePinto

Very Concerned Citizen

CC: with article to be sent.

I wish Chris Farley were still around so he could "narrate that letter." Anyway, you know I would just had to "respond to this bullshit:"

Dear Frank,

I’ll begin by saying that I have been advised to avoid public confrontation with you, as from the experience of others in the trails community you are deemed to be one who thrives on having a platform from which to bullhorn his views. I will gladly continue to discuss and even debate the issue of trail use, trail building and especially forest conservation in a private forum but only if you can be civil and maintain a modicum of respect. If not then this will be the last you hear from me, and my email blocking option will likewise help ensure my peace.

I am going to avoid any debate of the “spiritual activity” of mountain biking, as it seems you regard yourself as a peaceful, nature-loving, forest saviour who delights in pigeon-holing others outside your myopic view as careless, rash, crass, and ignorant “destroyers” who seek to preempt the claims of upstanding residential developers by weaseling in the heinous construction of their scarring pathways through the woods and then claiming conservation of the land in the name of all that is holy among Mountain Dew / Red Bull drinkers (forgive me for going all Faulkner on you there - I write for a living). It seems that the likes of you and I debating the spiritual aspects of our particular love for trails would compare closely with a doctrinal debate between a Mormon and a Southern Baptist. Both lay claim to eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, but “there ain’t no way that other dude is a.) a member of the elect b.) getting to the promised land c, d, e, f...) any number of dogmatic afterlife yearnings that avoid thought of the here and now.

Regardless of who inherits the earth, if you could wrap your brain around some science, I’d be glad to go a full fifteen with you. But first a bit of cultural background:

The history of trails is about lands and peoples. From ancient inhabitant to the dawn of modern industry, each trail user left their mark on the mountain routes. The first trail builders were stone-age man. The Langdale Valley in northwest England has evidence of neolithic settlements with trade routes for exporting stone axe heads via the mountain passes to the coast. This “coast road” remained in use until the nineteenth century.

The Romans turned up in Britannia in the second century, while on their way to build a wall around Scotland. True to form, they started building roads and forts. One example of a road along the broad mountain ridges is High Street, which still exists for much of it's length.

In the middle ages monasteries like Furness Abbey were industrial centers, and they needed a network of tracks for commerce and communication. The church regarded building and maintaining tracks as a pious and holy act, and path builders were occasionally granted indulgences from sin (it seems few employers offer this benefit nowadays, though I’ve pondered forming a partnership with the pope as a method for boosting volunteerism). The hills were also being mined for copper, iron ore, slate etc. These activities led to an increase in trails as new ones were constructed to remote mines and workings. Environmentalists often regard these intrusions as defacing the landscape and industrial heritage is seen as anathema to conservation. However, they stand as testament to some incredible achievements by very hard workers.

Trails feature disparate cultural elements, like song and local folklore. Many paths lead to sacred places or form part of pilgrimage routes used by travelers on foot, horse, cart and carriage (you know, them wheeled thingies used for getting places) All these elements are part of the unique history of trails and their social culture.

Today, ancient tracks are under pressure from increasing numbers of recreational users. Tourism is the industry that wasn't even considered by the original markers of the ways. But what would you have the people interested in outdoor activities do, strip to their birthday suits and observe strict codes of silence while gaiting along toe-heel? Would you also ban trail runners and climbers (and their “gimmicks”) who enjoy the physical challenge of rough terrain just because they don’t focus enough on the “tranquility and spirituality” of the forest as you see it? I know I said I wouldn’t debate this, but I can’t help but ask - who the hell are you to judge some else’s spiritual experience, especially if they contribute to conservation efforts (as many mountain bikers, climbers, and hunters do)? Should they all just leave your woods alone and stay at home playing video games? I seriously doubt that you’ve given much non-selfish thought to the cause and effect of your narrow-minded proposal to ban mountain bikes from the public forest.

I am ashamed of mountain bikers who disrespect other trail users whether through ignorance or selfishness, just as a conscientious backpacker would be of a large group that camps right next to a scenic waterfall or an equestrian or hunter who observes the litter of beer cans often left by the uncouth rednecks among their number.

In reality it’s not about the method of travel but the mindset of the traveler. You say that you ride a mountain bike on asphalt. Do you annoy strollers on the Riverwalk or piss off drivers on the street? If not, then congratulations, you’re a good citizen who respects others’ space and should be able to get along with a diverse group of outdoor enthusiasts. If only, Frank, if only...

Oh yeah, the science. Chew on the report below. It was written/compiled by Gary Sprung, an avid mountain biker and former national policy director for the International Mountain Bike Association who has worked in conservation for decades. Sprung served as the principle leader of a 13-year effort to protect Fossil Ridge, a 77,000-acre piece of the Gunnison National Forest ten miles northeast of Gunnison, Colorado, as a federal Wilderness Area. Congress protected Fossil Ridge as such in 1993. The same act protected the Oh Be Joyful Valley asWilderness, along with a million other acres in Colorado. Sprung was an integral part of other successful conservation programs in Gunnison County/Crested Butte area. He served on the High Country Citizens' Alliance board for 18 years, and was its paid President for seven years. Founded in 1977 to fight the proposed Amax molybdenum mine, HCCA has flourished. They have successfully fought for Wilderness and sustainable forestry, and against mining and transmountain water diversion. They seek responsible ski development and affordable housing for a diverse community. Good people.

If the objectivity in this report does not astound you, Frank, then you are a robot.

Natural Resource Impacts of Mountain Biking

A summary of scientific studies that compare mountain biking to other forms of trail travel

By Gary Sprung

In recent years, hiking and environmental groups have often lobbied to ban mountain bikes from trails on the grounds that mountain bikes damage the environment. Some land managers have closed trails to bicycling because of alleged, excessive resource damage.

Do mountain bikers truly cause more impact on natural resources than other trail users?

The empirical studies thus far do not support the notion that bikes cause more natural resource impact. What science does demonstrate is that all forms of outdoor recreation - including bicycling, hiking, running, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, bird watching, and off-highway-vehicle travel - cause impacts to the environment.

Social scientists have conducted surveys to study the feelings, perceptions, and attitudes of cyclists, hikers, equestrians and motorized trail users. This information, along with anecdotal evidence and media reports, show that trail users sometimes do not get along. User conflict is fairly well understood and demonstrably real.

People involved in user conflict sometimes simply state their preferences and ask decision-makers to take action. In a democracy, the allocation of trails based on users' differing interests is a normal, appropriate course of action by land managers. But when people make unsubstantiated allegations regarding natural resource damage to justify prioritization of their type of trail use, land managers should be wary. To make rational, non-arbitrary, less political decisions regarding which groups are allowed on particular routes, managers need scientific studies that compare the impacts of the various user groups. Objective information that is independent of conflicting human desires can form a basis for sound policy decisions. (emphasis mine – ed.)

Better understanding of the differing impacts of the various recreation forms can guide political debate and public policy. This document looks at differences in three main categories: physical impacts to trails or facilities, vegetation damage, and effects on wildlife.

In each case, several studies have examined the topic, but only a handful have compared the effects of bicyclists with other trail users.

No scientific studies show that mountain bikers cause more wear to trails than other users.
Trails deteriorate over time. To what extent do bicyclists cause this, and how does that compare with the impacts of other trail users? Many people have hypothesized based on ideas involving the characteristics of tires versus shoes, skidding, area and pressure of impact, and other factors. But as of 2003, only two empirical studies have scientifically compared the erosion impacts of bicycling with other forms of trail travel.

Wilson and Seney: Hooves and feet erode more than wheels
In 1994, John Wilson and Joseph Seney of Montana State University published "Erosional Impacts of Hikers, Horses, Motorcycles and Off-Road Bicycles on Mountain Trails in Montana." (12) The study tracked 100 passages by each of the four groups over control plots on two trails in national forests. For some of the passages, the researchers pre-wetted the trail with a fixed quantity of water using a rainfall simulator. The researchers measured sediment runoff, which correlates with erosion.

Wilson and Seney found no statistically significant difference between measured bicycling and hiking effects. They did find that horses caused the most erosion of the trails, and that motorcycles traveling up wetted trails caused significant impact. They also concluded, "Horses and hikers (hooves and feet) make more sediment available than wheels (motorcycles and off-road bicycles) on prewetted trails and that horses make more sediment available on dry plots as well." (p.74) Wilson and Seney suggested that precipitation will cause erosion even without human travel and this factor may significantly outweigh the effects of travel. Trail design, construction, and maintenance may be much more important factors in controlling erosion.

If you are uncontrollably titillated by this topic, read the full report

Rest assured I sent the whole damn thing to Frank.

April 15, 2006


Don't Tread on ME

That's my motto when it comes to being a selfish moron about trail use. First, read this nice article about our goals here in Chattanooga:

U.S. park ranger Dennis Curry, right, leads Rachael Lopes, center, and Nat Lopes down the John Smartt Trail on Lookout Mountain. Mr. and Mrs. Lopes, members of International Mountain Bicycling Association, assessed the area for a future mountain biking trail. Staff Photo by Lido Vizzutti

Urban trailblazers
Groups want more paths near urban center
By Kathy Gilbert
Staff Writer

Chattanooga has lots of great scenery, local mountain bike enthusiasts say, but few places exist near the city to go mountain biking, hiking or horseback riding.

"There’s not much trail here," said Jeff Duncan, recreational ecologist with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. "But there’s a lot of mountain bikers here, a lot of trail enthusiasts."

In conjunction with area governments and state and federal agencies like the National Park Service and Tennessee Valley Authority, the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) has started building trails within 10 miles of downtown Chattanooga. The goal of the "Singletrack Mind" project is to build and access 100 miles of trails by 2010.

"We want to provide our residents and visitors a wide range of opportunities for hiking and biking throughout our region’s natural beauty," said Phil Pugliese, bicycle coordinator for Outdoor Chattanooga.

Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and mountain biking are great ways to stay in shape while getting outdoors, he said. Riding a bike is one of the best exercises for the heart and lungs, according to the American Council on Exercise. Large muscles in the lower body are also strengthened and toned. For those with joint problems, biking is often a pain-free activity compared to hiking or running.

Widespread cycling produces a healthier community, said Trey Commander, president of SORBA's Chattanooga chapter. "If someone is riding a bicycle regularly," he explained, "they’ll be in better shape and you’ll see less doctor visits, less insurance expenses, and some of the community funded health care costs will go down."

Currently, mountain bikers have about 60 miles of trails available in the region. Most, though, are an hour’s drive or more from downtown. The 100-plus member SORBA-Chattanooga is trying to open trails closer to home, said Commander. "We're looking to build or open what's called 'multi-use singletrack' trails with a narrow tread, typically 2-feet wide or less," he said, adding that multi-use means open to hikers or horseback riders as well.

Commander said that on July 2, an event at Chattanooga Market called "Singletrack Outdoor Expo" will include free booth space for canoeing, hiking, equestrian and other nonprofit outdoor groups that want to join the trailbuilding effort.

"We want to have trail systems and a trail user community that sets the standard for the South and even the country," Commander said.

Two years ago the National Park Service allowed Duncan to give technical assistance to the group to develop trails locally. Since then, the NPS and SORBA reached an unprecedented agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to create 10 to 15 miles of singletrack trail at TVA’s Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant. A loop road circles the reservoir at the top of the mountain, and the 4,000-acre property is beautifully forested, Duncan said.

The city, through Outdoor Chattanooga, applied for and received a nearly $10,000 grant from Bikes Belong Coalition, a bicycling industry nonprofit, to build trails, Pugliese said. The money will help pay for hand tools, renting machinery to cut trails, and part of a $10,000 bridge across McNabb Gorge at the foot of the reservoir's dam.

Volunteers are needed for the trailbuilding efforts. "If we had 100 people come out and help, we could save a lot of money, reducing the cost of that bridge, and complete the overall project much sooner," Commander said.

About 8 to 10 people are currently working consistently on the Raccoon Mountain trails, said project coordinator Barry Smith. The work is hard, he said, but worthwhile. "It’s fun to explore the area, planning where the trail will go," he said. "And watching it go from nothing to turning into a trail and getting to ride it is a very rewarding experience. It’s kind of an expression, you get to do your own thing."

Email Kathy Gilbert at kgilbert@timesfreepress.com SEEKING SINGLETRACK? Booker T. Washington State Park, 4.5 miles Lula Lake Land Trust, 7 miles Tennessee Valley Authority Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant, 3 miles (so far) Source: SORBA-Chattanooga FOR MORE INFORMATION: trails@sorbachattanooga.org ; www.sorbachattanooga.org ; Outdoor Chattanooga, (423) 643-6887, ppugliese@outdoorchattanooga.com

So on the same day as the article was published SORBA received the following email from one Frank DePinto regarding mountain biking and trails (copied verbatim in case you wonder about the heinous grammar):

..below email also sent to kgilbert, bpetty and donal box (chatt. hiking
club), and bobby davenport (Land for public trust). will also email it to
State Parks and City Recreation.
..(as per article Chattanooga Times Free Press, 'Urban Trailblazers,'
article, thursday, 4/13)
..as a long time hiker i think it disgusting that mountain bikes are
destroying the physical outdoor environment, creating noise and havoc;
destroying the tranquility and spirituality of the outdoors. please mountain
bikers go build your tracks in suburban Cleveland, Red Bank or Soddy
Daisy; but please don't destroy anymore hiking trails as per photo in 'Life
Thursday' showing a sign that does not 'now' allow mountain bikes on a
hiking trail, please keep it that way; don't destroy any further hiking
trails or destroy further forests with more biking trails.
..people that need a 'gimmick,' a mountain bike, to 'enjoy' the outdoors is
a human subspecies that should keep its nose on the asphalt not in the
beautiful, scenic forests of our community, region and state.
I responded to him thusly, copying all those whom he indicated that he would notify:

Thankfully, Mr. DePinto is part of a very small minority of the trail users
community. Unfortunately, these vocal few consistently and inaccurately paint
mountain biking as “creating noise and havoc." While on my bike, interaction
with other trail users has been overwhelmingly positive and on most occasions
hikers have commented that they didn’t even hear me until I announced myself
politely from several yards away.

If the bicycle is, as Mr. DePinto states, a gimmick, well then it is unique in
its staying power, having been around for well over a century. And from which
science text could he support his contention that those who enjoy mountain
biking are a “human subspecies?” This attitude is not surprising from those who
desire to have our country's outdoor places all to themselves. This is obviously
what Mr. DePinto wants since he would gladly have Cleveland, Red Bank or
Soddy-Daisy accommodate off-road biking, presumably away from "his" neck of the

According to a participation study for 2004 by the Outdoor Industry Association,
51 million Americans rode mountain bikes that year. Those considering themselves
“enthusiasts” numbered 11.3 million - the same number as hikers who said the
same. Members of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)
volunteer more than one million hours annually to trail work projects, often
working alongside equestrian and hiking groups. IMBA is a leader among outdoor
groups in developing sustainable trail building concepts, and prides itself on
successful partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service, National Parks Service,
Bureau of Land Management, and Army Corps of Engineers.

I started enjoying trails as a young Boy Scout through hiking and backpacking
and I continue to do so. I have volunteered hundreds of hours on trail building
projects; many on trails not open to bikes. Most mountain bikers have no desire
to see every trail open to bikes, horses and ATVs, nor do we seek to
unsustainably build trail systems throughout our wild places.

The reality is that mountain biking is a healthy, relatively low-cost and yes,
eco-friendly form of outdoor recreation that is here to stay. Mr. DePinto's
selfish interpretation of the "tranquility and spirituality of the outdoors"
notwithstanding, we need and therefore will have more trails for mountain biking
in the greater Chattanooga area.

Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association
Chattanooga chapter trails director
So the moral of the story is, when it comes to me and trails, DON'T TREAD ON ME !


God's Greatest Hits

Meeting my monthly quota to Flickr, I've uploaded a new batch of photos of some of my favorite places and a few people down heyah. Here's a preview with some that didn't make the cut (by the quota not the quality):

The view westward over the Tennessee River Gorge from the brow of Raccoon Mountain.

Chickamauga National Military Park, site of the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

Barry and Nat survey the new trail layout at Raccoon Mountain.

Zach Duncan, semi-pro trail builder, ponders his layout at Raccoon Mountain.

Check out more at my Flickr page. For best results, maximize your screen, select the pic and then click "all sizes" to zoom to full. Note: the grainy shots were originally from film. I haven't been able to find a place that can decently convert film to digital. Any thoughts? Please feel free to comment on any of the photos here or on the Flickr page.

April 12, 2006


Civil Rights in the 21st Century

Stolen from Beelers:

Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies
Many codes intended to protect gays from harassment are illegal, conservatives argue.

By Stephanie Simon, L.A. Times Staff Writer
April 10, 2006

ATLANTA — Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical, frames the movement as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. "Christians," he said, "are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

In that spirit, the Christian Legal Society, an association of judges and lawyers, has formed a national group to challenge tolerance policies in federal court. Several nonprofit law firms — backed by major ministries such as Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ — already take on such cases for free.

The legal argument is straightforward: Policies intended to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination end up discriminating against conservative Christians. Evangelicals have been suspended for wearing anti-gay T-shirts to high school, fired for denouncing Gay Pride Month at work, reprimanded for refusing to attend diversity training. When they protest tolerance codes, they're labeled intolerant.

A recent survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 64% of American adults — including 80% of evangelical Christians — agreed with the statement "Religion is under attack in this country."

The message is, you're free to worship as you like, but don't you dare talk about it outside the four walls of your church," said Stephen Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Assn. Center for Law and Policy, which represents Christians who feel harassed.

(Short version. Long story HERE)

Is it just me, or is there white-hot irony in the Rev. Rick Scarborough's proclamation that this is the civil rights struggle of the 21st century? From where I sit, it looks like the struggle is the onus of the homosexual community. I'm a left-of-center, live and let live kind of guy, and I think in most cases this will come down to (Dear Heavenly, Most Benificent and All-Seeing Father) separation of church and state. Public funded facility? Play nice kids. Private Institution? Spew the vitriol to your heart's content! I know that's overly simplistic but what a great way to illustrate a point, don't you think? I really don't see what the church ladies are all a-twitter about. Religion under attack? Hmmm. This is obviously not the same 64 percent of Americans who think Bush is doing a shitty job.

Anyway, here's some food for thought from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education):

Georgia Tech’s speech code has some serious constitutional problems. For instance, “acts of intolerance” such as “denigrating written/verbal communications (including the use of telephones, emails and computers) directed toward an individual because of their characteristics or beliefs” can result in disciplinary action. Such a rule is far too vague to be consistently enforced and in any case would ban a great deal of constitutionally protected speech.

The lawsuit, Sklar (& Malhotra - ed.) v. Clough, also alleges an interesting charge of establishment of religion. According to the complaint, Georgia takes an explicit religious view on homosexual behavior in violation of their constitutional obligation to be neutral with regard to religion. Georgia Tech’s allocation of student fees is also challenged in the suit. Its policies provide that “Partisan Political Activities” and “Religious Activities” may not be funded with student fees. This would appear to violate both Rosenberger v. Rectors of the University of Virginia, a Supreme Court case in which the Court determined that a student newspaper could not be denied funding because of its “religious” views, and Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin v. Southworth, in which the Supreme Court determined that mandatory student fees must be allocated on a “viewpoint neutral” basis. It’s hardly “viewpoint neutral” to determine that political and religious views, but not other views, should be denied funding. As FIRE has said before, students whose main interest lies with golf should not be treated better than those interested in Judaism.

Georgia Tech is not above the Constitution. Since it apparently didn’t realize that before, the odds are good that it will be forced to do so now. The lawsuit serves as just another reminder to colleges and universities that our fundamental freedoms extend to the public college campus.

I believe everyone should have the right to speak their mind, hopefully within the bounds of respect and tolerance (as opposed to acceptance) but certainly not to specifically harrass individuals or groups. Yah, big gray area there, I know. But gray areas are good because they keep people on their toes. Celebrate diversity, dammit. In closing, I must say I concur with Webster's definitions of tolerate: "to recognize and respect other's beliefs, practices, etc. with out sharing (i.e. accepting - ed.) them."

And that does indeed work both ways.

April 06, 2006


Oh yeah, it's still Thursday

Inspiration! Move me brightly...

Per the latest rush of Thursday Thirteens and Mark's recent travelogue...

Thirteen of my favorite towns/cities (not in order of preference):

1. Chicago, IL (the birthplace and home for 17+ years)

2. Santa Cruz, CA (Fiat Slug!)

3. Santa Fe, NM (a place I'd live for sure)

4. San Francisco, CA (What's wrong with Baghdad by the Bay?)

5. Asheville, NC (The Madison, WI of the south - practically paradise)

6. Washington, D.C. (I want to get to all the museums before I die)

7. Amsterdam, Holland ((((((( )))))))

8. Athens, GA (my favorite college town - music's not bad either)

9. New Orleans, LA (ain't been there lately)

10. Reno, NV (blows Vegas away because of the Sierras)

11. Jerusalem, Israel (as old school as you can get - I'd love to bike through the Old City)

12. Chattanooga, TN (the current homestead and just right)

13. Madison, WI (my second favorite college town - oh but it's cold!)


A well-aged post (more lazy blogging)

Since we're in a bash righty kind of mood, I've got to tip my cap to Archer for this:


"I republish my remarks of March 25, 2005, as I am unable to improve them. Out of respect for Terri's memory, however, I won't re-post the picture of Terri as a moldy,worm-eaten corpse until tomorrow."


If you doubt this country is firmly in the hands of whackos, try the following scientific experiment.

Take a sperm and an ovum and put them together in a Petri dish.

Put the Petri dish on your front porch. Leave it overnight.

In the morning there will be a bunch of Republicans in front of your house, all crying and praying and screaming.

You could put Terry Schiavo's brain out on your front porch, too, right next to the Petri dish. Terri wouldn't miss her brain, and Terri's brain wouldn't miss Terri, but that wouldn't stop the Republicans. Pretty soon you'd have so many Republicans on your lawn you couldn't count them, including the President and the entire United States Congress.

Is this a great country, or what?

One of the reasons we're a great country is, we're practical. There's a practical way to make sense out of this titanic moral and legal mess. All we have to do is to take a cold, hard look at the economics...

Read the rest at LawyerWorldLand

April 03, 2006


Moore and Moore

Ya know, the libertarian (yes, small “L”) in me seems to be the part of my political psyche with the greatest propensity for aligning with the proverbial strange bedfellows. My latest “affair” ironically comes with some restraint, akin to say, bunkbeds or perhaps the separate twins of the 60’s sitcom era. Yes, thank God for the religious right in this case, for my sympathies on one side lie with none other than Judge Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice equally famous for his stand on the public display of the Ten Commandments and his proclivity for putting his foot in his mouth.

Moore placed an enormous stone monument of the Ten Commandments in the middle of the rotunda of the state courts building in Montgomery in direct violation of federal law and without the knowledge or consent of other justices on the court. Despite riding a huge wave of support from the religious right, he properly lost his job as chief justice.

So you know I’m no fan of Roy Moore, and I thank God again that I have to take his statement out of the context of everything else he espouses in order to sleep with him. I’m such a whore.

Now hizzoner is an increasingly dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination for governor against incumbent Gov. Bob Riley. In spite of it all Roy just can’t seem to catch a break.

At a recent gathering in the northeastern Alabama burg of Centre, Moore stumped and stomped and outlined his platform for around 60 local residents during an informal luncheon at Tab’s of Centre (off – Centre?) last week. Well here’s the part I’m cozy with (compiled from various AP and Birmingham News reports and editorials):

Moore says he will accept no contributions from political action committees (PACs) in the upcoming election. “The way our system of politics is today, you’ve got to have money to run,” said Moore. “I’ve got enough money to run. It takes a lot of money. You’ve seen in the paper, it takes $15 million to run for senator, governor. It is outrageous. It is ridiculous.

“And the only way that people can run these days is to get this special interest money from big businesses. I’m not dependent upon that. In fact, I am not taking any special interest money, PAC money at all. There’s never been another gubernatorial candidate in the history of this state lately who hasn’t accepted special interest money.

“People know who I am, they know what I stand for. Some of them agree, some of them don’t agree,” Moore said, adding that for too long the special interest lobbyists, highly paid bureaucrats, and power hungry politicians have run government.

“Anybody that has been in Montgomery knows about the highly paid bureaucrats and special interest lobbyists,” said Moore. “There are 564 special interest lobbyists in Montgomery. We have 140 legislators. That’s a 4-1 ratio. If you think your legislators represent you, you don’t know government in Alabama.”

Now he starts going all Roy, which exemplifies the problem that I have with the religious right. They just can’t keep their mouth shut when they’re finished with the common sense. Observe:

Moore has suggested that the recent news of mad cow disease being discovered in an Alabama cow is made up and a ruse to promote a nationwide animal identification system. Moore has said he fears such animal identification will spread to other livestock and is just another intrusion of government.

For example, Moore said, a bill to identify all farm animals, known as the NAIS (National Animal Identification System) has made its way through the House and Senate without the knowledge of the average citizen. This bill has come to light recently because of the recent Mad Cow scare. Moore feels this bill will make it more difficult for the average small farmer to have farm animals such as chickens, cows, sheep, goats, pigs and other animals.

“I had some clerks contact the Department of Agriculture,” said Moore. “This is a registration form for your premises. If the bill before the legislature hasn’t passed, how do we have forms with the commissioner’s name on it already? What I’m telling you today is this isn’t the way the system is supposed to work. You are supposed to have a voice in your government. But you don’t. And why don’t you have a voice in your government? Because you don’t control the government, the government controls you, and they don’t rule in your interests, they rule in the interests of special interest lobbyists.”

Now Moore has the right to voice whatever he believes to be true, but to suggest that state and federal officials simply made up a mad cow discovery in Alabama is just plain whacky.

Moore thinks the tracking system is a dire threat to personal liberty, not to mention an attempt to drive small farmers out of business. So naturally, Moore was mighty suspicious when a convenient case of mad cow cropped up in Alabama, just in time to help push along tracking legislation in the State House.

"I spoke out against this. All of the sudden it stalls a little bit in the Senate. All of the sudden we get this report that comes out in the paper," Moore said. "It's a strange coincidence."

Strange, indeed. But not nearly as strange as Moore's thought process. Because for Moore's conspiracy theory to work, Alabama's Democratic agriculture chief Ron Sparks would have to be in league with Republican Gov. Bob Riley and all the Republicans in Washington. They'd need the cooperation of the state veterinarian and the experts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And making the whole thing even more far-fetched, they'd all have to want to tag cows so badly they'd be willing to threaten the nation's entire beef industry just to get their tracking system established. "Do you think we wanted a case of mad-cow disease in Alabama? Lord knows we didn't," Sparks said. "For anybody to take on a wild tangent that it's the mark of the beast, that it's the end of time, it's absurd."

Not for Roy-O, dude.

Truth be told, the nation should have moved faster to develop some kind of tracking system, considering recent history. After the first case of mad cow was identified in 1986, a massive outbreak occurred in Great Britain, and cases began popping up across the world. Now there’s bird flu and other maladies to worry about - scourges that threaten not only farmers' investment in livestock but also the lives of citizens. In a world where animals and their ailments are as mobile as people, a tracking system seems prudent, to say the least.

As frightened as Moore may be by the idea of Big Brother government tracking the beasts, it's far scarier to have no way to monitor the spread of diseases and public health threats. But scariest of all are such cockamamie ideas coming from a man who aspires to be Alabama's governor.

But wait, that’s not all y’all get:

One member of the audience posed a thought-provoking question: Can a devout Muslim be a good patriot or good American citizen?

“To be a good American citizen, you have to acknowledge the God upon which this nation was founded,” said Moore. “We are founded on a particular concept, that God Almighty gives us rights that cannot be taken from us, that the government is there not to give us rights, not to pretend there is no God, but to secure those rights for us and if it doesn’t it should be abolished. Our Forefathers recognized there is a God that gives rights.

“I’m telling you what this nation was founded upon,” said Moore. “If a Muslim or anybody else would come across and recognize that this nation was founded upon a belief in God of the Holy Scriptures, I’m sure he could do his job.”

Phew, I can just hear the sigh of relief from millions of convenience store owners and hoteliers across the U.S.

“We have got to recognize that this God was recognized from the time of the Pilgrims up through the 150 years prior to 1776,” said Moore. “And from that time forward, to the last days of this country in the 1960s when the United States Supreme Court started saying you cannot recognize this God in public. When we forget we are a nation under God, we are a nation gone under. We’re going to lose everything we have and not only for us, but also for our children and grandchildren.”

Well it looks like the honeymoon's over for me. Just remember, in case of rapture this land will not be plowed.

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