Highway 431 Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Republican Debate

I thought that was pretty interesting and my feeling is that Guiliani and Romney both got hammered and Mike Huckabee came out far ahead. Ron Paul didn't hurt himself, but I still think that he has to be seen as a fringe candidate.

Romney certainly did not help himself and Guiliani was probably booed almost as much as he was applauded.

Fred Thompson is irrelevent.

McCain didn't hurt himself and had some great responses to the question of torture.


Ron Paul didn't hurt himself, but he is not going anywhere.

I'm tired and this has been a pretty draining experience. I'll have some more to say about this tomorrow

The Republican You Tube Debate!

I watched the Democratic You Tube debate and I enjoyed it immensely so I have been looking forward to this one for some time. I was surprised at just how tepid the crowd response was to the introduction of each candidate.

Guiliani and Romney start out with immigration fireworks and it's looking like immigration may be the hot topic of the evening!

I wonder who did the lighting for this set because it's certainly not flattering to any of the candidates.

Duncan Hunter loves fences!

Mike Huckabee looks like Gomer Pyle, but Romney thinks he's a "liberal". Everyone loves piling on Mitt! They're fighting over educational benefits for immigrants while I would much prefer to hear what they propose for universal affordable education for everyone!

Ah, on to the economy. McCain loves him some veto power over wasteful spending, but he seems to have been silent for the past few years when the Republicans were spending! Guiliani wants to cut the federal work force (He obviously has not thought this position through).

Ron Paul is a master at playing to his base and he wants all troops brought home from all over the world. Huckabee wants to do away with the IRS totally.

McCain wants to change the tax code, but he draws boos when attacking Ron Paul's proposal to bring the troops home! This is getting really interesting now!

A question from Grover Norquist about the positions on increasing taxes? WTF is that all about?

Mitt Romney loves him some farm subsidies, but I don't think he has much of a grasp of American subsidies as opposed to subsidies throughout the rest of the world!

Anderson gets to the root of the question of Guiliani's expensing of visits to his then (now wife)on consecutive weekends! Guiliani sloughs the answer off to his security detail!

Duncan Hunter wants everyone to buy American-just how clueless is he on just what manufacturing capability is left in this country!

Huckabee is pretty good with those souther witticisms we have come to love:

"when your getting kicked in the rear it means you're still out front" (or at least something like that.

[commercial time=guess which room I'm about to visit]

Duncan Hunter says all usns need guns for protection!

Guiliani is shooting himself in the head with the gun loving 2nd amendment crowd and drawing boos! This is perfect television theater!

Thompson also wants everyone to own a gun.

Some bozo asks about the candidate's gun collections?

The question is black on black crime. Romney wants every kid to have a mother and a father and he wants to change the values of the black community. Romney wants to put criminals in jail as if they're not terribly overcrowded now.

Guiliani seems to be at good butt-pulling of statistics. I was in interested in his statistic of crime in Harlem since by all accounts he was never a visitor to Harlem due to his irrational fear of black neighborhoods!


Ron Paul thinks it should be up to the states, but Thompson wants Roe overturned toute-suite! He wants Doctors jailed for providing the service.

Curiously all of the questions to this point about abortion have been asked by young adults.

Romney would not hesitate to sign a federal bill outlawing abortion.

What would Jesus do in regards to the death penalty. This has to be the best question of the night and it's directed to Huckabee. Huckabee dances around the question to a great degree. Jesus was too smart to run for public office? What does this tell us about the morons we ultimately elect?

Do the candidates believe every word of the bible?

Guiliani is killing himself with the evangelicals!

Romney believes that the Bible is the word of God? Please, someone ask him about the Book Of Mormon!

Huckabee, as a Baptist minister, is fairly transparent to the evangelicals and I think that he probably has that vote firmly in hand.

[another commercial break and another visit to that little square room where the square paper resides]

Guiliani: noun+verb+9/11

McCain loves him some surge! I think he wants some more rugs! He hates Democrats for their defeatist strategy!


Romney opposes torture, but will not say that waterboarding is torture. He doesn't care as long as he is not waterboarded and he wants to keep the prisoners in Guantanomo there with no rights.

McCain jumps right on Romney and increases tremendously in my estimation of his morality!

Romney dances around his response to McCain regarding torture. I hope that the American people are watching Romney on this and McCain is hammering him on the immorality of using torture.

Long term commitment to staying in Iraq?

Thompson wants to stay as long as it takes, whatever that means! He is scared crapless of the Muslim infidels!

Ron Paul draws some boos by advocating an immediate pull-out from Iraq.

Mc(Cain wants to stay--he too is scared crapless!

Tancredo--he be scared crapless of Muslims also!

Guiliani is asked about his record--He hates himself some immigrants? Single-handedly
destroyed the Mafia and was lionized by George Will!


Presidential and Vice-Presidential power.

Thompson loves him some Dick (shooter) Cheney.

McCain loves him some Dick (shooter)Cheney.

[last break]

An openly gay retired Brigadier General asks a question!

Duncan Hunter would not share a foxhole with a gay man!

Mike Huckabee loves himself some UCMJ, but he would not share a foxhole with a gay man!

Mitt Romney thinks hates him some gays!

This retired gay general officer served 43 years and is very articulate in stating his position.

McCain dances around the question of gays in the military, he loves himself some "don't ask, don't tell".

Log Cabin Republicans:

Mick Huckabee loves him some gay republicans as long as they vote for him.

Fred Thompson (actor, lawyer, former senator) wants to change social security.

Mitt Romney loves himself some Ronald Reagan on the economy.


Huckabee in favor of expanding the space program but he ends with a personal attack on Hillary by offering to send her to Mars.

Tancredo doesn't want to go to Mars.

Guiliani hates himself some public schooling as well as welfare! His crime busting in New York brought opportunities to African-Americans.

Huckabee sees race as a medical problem?

Confederate flag:

Romney has nothing to say. "Reach out to all Americans" and attacks John Edwards.

Thompson just doesn't care a whole lot as long as the display is private.


Which candidate will commit to repairs?

Guiliani say the solution is multi-generational!

Ron Paul turns the question around to rebuilding Iraq as opposed to rebuilding American infrastructure.

McCain will veto all pork (while brandishing a Sharpie)

Ron Paul to run as an independent?

Ron Paul says he will not run as an independent! This disappoints me as I have been counting on him being a divisive force in the Republican party.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me !!!!!

I turned 60 years old today! My thoughts on aging have naturally changed quite a bit in the last few years and I find it interesting to think about just how I look on life now versus how I viewed it even 20 years ago. I'll have some more to say about this later!

The wonderful co-workers surprised me with a birthday cake today. They're great people and we care a lot for each other!

The Sock Industry In Fort Payne

Just before I got home this evening NPR was running a story highlighting the decline of the sock production industry in Fort Payne, Alabama and how it has impacted the region. I didn't get to hear it all, but the story as well as the podcast is up on NPR web site.

There were several interesting aspects to this story of how a major portion of the sock production was exported to Honduras (and other Central American countries). I had never realized just how mechanized the sock industry is, but I was amazed to find that the major labor involved, manually closing the toe, has been outsourced to 3rd world countries based on as little as 1¢ cost differential per sock! Some excerpts:

There were more than 150 sock factories, churning out a big chunk of the socks worn in the U.S. But lately, there has been a flood of cheaper socks coming in from China, Pakistan and Honduras. It has devastated Fort Payne. Two-thirds of the town's sock mills have closed.


Sock workers are paid per sock, rather than an hourly wage. They generally make 22 to 30 cents for every dozen pairs of socks they sew. In Honduras or China, it's a penny per sock cheaper to sew a toe closed than in the U.S.]

Here's where it gets interesting. The bill to pass CAFTA was deadlocked with Robert Aderholt, Fort Payne's representative, being the swing vote.

Bush met with Fort Payne's congressman, Robert Aderholt, to talk about tariffs and the sock business.

That meeting was, most likely, the moment Aderholt had more power than at any other time in his life. The House was voting on CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The vote was an exact tie. Aderholt was the holdout. And President Bush very much wanted CAFTA to pass. So, Aderholt offered the president a deal: He could get his big free-trade deal only if he rolled back free trade on one industry, the sock industry.

"I told him this was what I needed," Aderholt said. "This was the one thing I had great concerns about."

That night, President Bush agreed to Aderholt's deal. CAFTA passed. And the White House gave itself a self-imposed deadline of Dec.19, 2007, to put back tariffs on sock exports from Honduras.

What do you suppose happened? According to the NPR piece Fort Payne is not doing badly and new industries have taken up where the sock factories left off when they closed. Color me skeptical that the workers who lost their jobs are doing better, but the bright side to the story is that the citizens of Fort Payne have learned the value of education and seem to be aggressive in its pursuit!

I was struck this morning by a story in the N.Y. Times about outsourcing the purchase of manhole covers to India. I have a difficult time understanding the concept of worldwide prosperity predicated on cheap labor! There seem to be only a few winners and billions of losers based on this concept!

I hope that Aderholt's constituents will hold his feet to the fire on the sock tariff agreed to between he and George Bush, but I shall not hold my breath!

Raw Story On The Siegelman Saga

Part 2 of the Raw Story piece is up here.

I'm fairly well pressed for time with some projects right now, but I will try to post the PDFs to the server for download in a couple of days.

[update] I see at the bottom of part 2 of the story that there will be a part 3. Let's bring on as much heat as we can!

Raw Story On The Don Siegelman Case

Part 1 is up here.
I'm running late this morning and I will try to post some excerpts and comments later this evening.

Snapping Noises

I just heard a mouse trap being triggered. If someone lives in the country then one of the problems that must be dealt with happens to be mice in cold weather, but mine seem to be especially bold these days. I have kicked around the idea of getting a cat, but I don't think my dog would appreciate that and I have no desire to get between a dog and cat fight. I have enough scars from previous fights between dogs!

Oh, yeah-birthday today! I turn 60! Maybe there will be more on the Trent Lott retirement story. That would be a great birthday present.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Trent Lott To Resign?

This morning's news seemed to catch everyone, including me, off-guard and there was much speculation that the timing was in order to get around new regulations regarding the time wait required for retired legislators to become lobbyists. I was reading some of the comments to Greg Sargent's article over at Talking Points Memo when I came across this link to a Perez Hilton piece (so to speak) alluding to the coming news break of Trent Lott in a gay escort relationship!

The Republicans keep falling!!!!

Trent Lott oddly and abruptly announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate on Monday.

And now we know why!

The Mississippi Senator reportedly has had a relationship with one high-rent male escort!!!!!

Click here for all the juicy details!!!
Posted: November 26, 2007 at 6:54 pm

I just love stories about hypocritical Repubs being outed! The next couple of days could be very interesting in Mississippi politics!
Make no mistake that all I abhor here is the hypocrisy of the situation. I don't seem to remember Trent Lott championing the causes of the gay community!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Cold, Grey, Slow Weekend

All news seems to be relatively slow this weekend with many of my favorite bloggers, with a few exceptions, in holiday mode. I doubt of the muck will take the holidays off, so hopefully everything will be back to normal soon and my blood pressure can go back up.

I took another 4 day weekend, counting Thanksgiving Day, but the weather turned off damp and cloudy. I'm not complaining since we really need the moisture, but I seem to be more sensitive to the weather as I get older. Even in the house this weekend I had a difficult time staying warm and I stayed relatively active.

We put up lights outside this year and I'll have a photograph of the country mansion all lit up (kinda) in a few days. I'm not much of a fan of decorating, but J. wanted to do some this year so I went along. We even lit up the boulders in front of the house!

Speaking of photographs, most of my plants have been moved into the garage although I have quite a collection at work. Here is what the garage looks like:

Mmmm, this is the first photo I have uploaded to blogger, but I guess it works ok. I would prefer it be centered, but I don't have time to play with it right now. Actually, I like blogger. I had played around with a blogger site years ago when I first got started with all of this, but I never did anything with that site and, indeed, I don't even remember the name-it still might be orphaned somewhere in cyberspace even now!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Thanksgiving Story ::

All too often we lose sight of those who are less fortunate, especially at this time of year so I found this story from The Huntsville Times to be heart warming. Here are some excerpts highlighting the large heart of Cathy Briggs who owns a small burger restaurant in Huntsville.

Robert Kincannon lives in a shed. It's not often that Kincannon, 59, feels like someone out there is doing something nice, just for him. But Wednesday, as he sat on the curb outside Soul Burger and ate a heaping plate of turkey and sweet potatoes, Kincannon said he felt, for a moment, just a little bit special.

"Besides my mom's, that's the best dressing I ever had," he said about the free Thanksgiving meal cooked up by Soul Burger owner Cathy Briggs. "It's real nice of her to do this for us. It's nice to be remembered.


The need to do this struck her one holiday when several homeless people came by her restaurant, asking for food, "and it hit me, I needed to be feeding the hungry."

And this year, she solicited the help of her young grandsons to set up tables and fetch things, "so they can see up close how important it is to help those people who aren't as fortunate as us.


As a small business owner, Briggs said her budget doesn't actually have room for such benevolence, "but God always finds a way."

I found this to be a truly heartwarming story and Cathy Brigg's little place is fairly near where I work, but I don't get to that area very often and I have never noticed it, but I will definitely make a point of eating there whenever I can! The name of the restaurant is Soul Burger and it is located at the intersection of Bob Wallace and Wall Triana in Huntsville. This is just down the street from the Botanical Garden.

Football Saturday

Everyone here in Alabama is anticipating the outcome of the Iron Bowl game between Auburn and Alabama. I'll probably be switching back and forth some, but my prime game today is Clemson versus South Carolina. All of my South Carolina relatives are huge Gamecock fans, but I went to Clemson so I always pull for them.

Last year I was watching the game and the Clemson Tigers were kicking some serious butt in the first quarter. I started to call my brother to gloat a bit, but I luckily decided that gloating would be premature and it was a good call on my part. The South Carolina Gamecocks came back to defeat Clemson.

The sports bars will done a fine business today but I hope everyone is safe on their drive home!

[update] I had to run out for a bit and got back sometime in the middle of the 1st quarter of the Clemson-Carolina game and Clemson was up 10 to nil, but I found the station just in time to see the Gamecocks score a touchdown so the score right now is 10-7 Clemson's favor. Both teams look pretty fired up so we'll see what happens. The game is being played in Columbia so the Gamecocks have home field advantage. That's not good.

[last update]

Clemson tried to give it away, but they pulled the win from defeat with a field goal on the last play of the game so the final is Clemson 21 and South Carolina 20. I'll wait until tomorrow for my gloating phone call to my brother, or, better yet, I think I'll express my glee in an e-mail.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pumpkin Pie For Breakfast

But it is sugar free so that's ok! Life is good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A 14¢ Noodle Lunch!

Well, that will not be the Thanksgiving dinner around the country mansion, but it will only be the two of us enjoying the meal, as far as I know. We have invited a couple of other friends, but I haven't heard from them. If they show up that will be great and, if not, then we'll freeze lots of food and enjoy it for the next week or so.

I have the turkey marinating in juices and spices ready for the fryer. J. will be cooking the other dishes in the morning and I'm sure I will be helping.

Actually I like this time of year very much and I love to cook. We have a Christmas dinner at work each year and I am noted for by contribution of unusual dishes. Last year it was a Crawfish Casserole. We will be doing it again in just 3 or 4 weeks so I have to find something different as my dish o' the year!

We're wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday season!

Monday, November 19, 2007

John Ehinger and Tone Deafness From The Huntsville Times On Cinram Importing Foreign Workers ::

Ehinger wrote a piece in Sunday's paper and some points bear refuting;

Immigration - in whatever form, legal or otherwise, temporary or permanent - is a hot-button topic. The present situation pleases no one. Still, even a modicum of intellectual honesty should force Americans to recognize that valid concerns are one thing and irrational xenophobia is another.

Huntsville is home to a packaging plant of Canada's Cinram International Inc. The firm, which packages DVDs and CDs for consumers to purchase, also operates two other plants in the United States.

I would wonder just how the local builders who primarily employ foreign labor would feel about Ehringer's statement about the "present situation pleases no one". They certainly benefit from the cheap labor and they have no incentive to check the legal status of those employees. I also wonder just how many of these employees are classified as "contract labor", but let's progress a bit more into Ehinger's op-ed:

So Cinram has looked abroad. Its current plans are to bring in about 800 temporary workers from Jamaica and 550 from other countries. Some are already here. They'll work at Cinram's northeast Huntsville plant in 12-hour shifts for $8 an hour. The company has made living arrangements for the workers. Their jobs will last through the season of the highest demand and then they'll go home.

But a chorus of critics has rushed forth. They say Cinram should not bring in foreign workers. They say the pay is too low. They say the community will have to bear the cost of health care and education. They say Cinram should have built a plant in, say, Jamaica, if that's where the labor pool is.

First, Cinram was unable to find local workers. That comes as no surprise. Huntsville's unemployment rate has fallen to 2.3 percent. It's hard to find people to fill any low-end jobs.

True, $8 an hour is not much, but it's still higher than the minimum wage. If Cinram's critics are serious on that point, they'll join groups asking the Alabama Leghislature to increase the minimum wage in this state.

Ehinger's points here do nothing more than to serve to infuriate me more regarding his position and I have added some bolded emphasis on some of my key points. Madison county's unemployment rate is stated at 2.3%. I think it's probably a bit higher than that, but let's not quibble. Given the population that would indicate somewhere between 5 and 6 thousand unemployed locally. I have a hard time believing that Cinram could not fill these jobs locally.

Will these imported workers be leaches on the health care system? I don't care! If they need medical care while they work here then they should have access to it. Nothing in any of the articles I have read have mentioned benefits other than that the company will be providing housing and, on this matter, I wonder who is footing the bill for housing.

This entire thing stinks to high heaven and I'm ashamed of our local politicians for allowing it to happen and I reserve my highest disdain for The Huntsville Times which I have long felt is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the local establishment!

I'll have more to say about this later!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cool Nights

I love the evening temperatures we have now, but the skunks also love it. One passed through my yard just a short while ago leaving us with his distinctive aroma! Let me say up front that I don't consider the smell of skunk musk to be particularly offensive, but it is distinctive!

A Local Company Importing Labor

Cinram, a company which produces CDs and has a plant in Huntsville, has been importing low paid workers from other countries and has begun to provide them housing. Here are some bits and pieces from yesterday's Huntsville Times:

Lyne Beauregard Fisher, a company spokeswoman in Toronto, confirmed Wednesday that the Canadian company's Huntsville plant plans to recruit about 800 workers from Jamaica and another 550 from the Dominican Republic, Nepal, Bolivia and Ukraine.


Still, Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison said he's sure Cinram could find workers here, because many people come to his office in north Huntsville looking for work. He said companies have an obligation to shareholders, but also to provide jobs to the community.

"I would hope there is not an intent on their part to ignore that responsibility," Harrison said. "If this is a widespread company practice, it has a lot of potential problems."

The new Cinram employees will be housed in old apartment complexes, homes and hotels across western Huntsville. They are bused to the plant on Moores Mill Road.


The new Cinram employees will be housed in old apartment complexes, homes and hotels across western Huntsville. They are bused to the plant on Moores Mill Road.

I thought I had seen the last of the "mill villages", but it looks as if there might be more in our future. Huntsville has several remnants of mill villages and I grew up around the duplexes that constituted mill worker living conditions in South Carolina.
I can hardly wait for the community comments!

Ah, wait-the fall-out begins:

"If this is the way Cinram plans on operating, I'd just as soon they left our community," said Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, who worried about local taxpayers subsidizing health care and education for the workers. "They are not being a good neighbor or responsible citizen. If they want Jamaican workers, open a plant in Jamaica. The Jamaicans would be most appreciative."


"We have enough people in our community that would do the work for decent pay," said City Councilman Glenn Watson. "Eight dollars an hour won't cover lunch."

He said instead of looking overseas for cheap labor, Cinram ought to pay $10 or $12 per hour for the same work. "I think what Cinram is doing is detrimental to the city of Huntsville and the nation." He said Cinram's practice ought to be illegal.


"Companies are going overseas while we've got people here," said Rev. Dante Moss, who runs a county program that helps ex-convicts find jobs.

Moss said he has 193 candidates looking for work, and that he has found employers in construction and other fields. But he said Cinram and five other area manufacturers declined an invitation to talk about potential workers.

This could really become interesting in the days to come given the closings of the textile plants in North Alabama over the past few years. Huntsville may be experiencing low employment, but I'm not convinced that is true for many of the smaller communities around the area.

As a personal aside let me say that I am always suspicious of anyone who has "Beauregard" as part of their name as does the Cinram spokesperson! OK, that's enough snark for one post!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little Time

I'm afraid that I go through periods where my outrages become too much to bear and I have to go silent to recharge my batteries. This is one of those times plus I'm working on updating another site which is taking quite a bit of time. In the meantime let me suggest that you read Left In Alabama each day. This is a great community blog and I highly recommend it. I have also daily been following the legal tales of The Legal Schnauzer which I find to be more and more interesting. I also religiously follow Glynn Wilson's Locust Fork Journal, as you should!

Hopefully by this weekend there will be more to say!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Joy Of Living In A Well Insulated House

Last month my electric bill was $84. I got my latest today and it went down to $71, but I know that is about to end. We have been making a concerted effort to conserve and it seems to be paying off.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Turnip Greens!

A co-worker knows someone who sell turnip greens out of the back of his truck and he brought me back a huge bunch after lunch today so I guess that will be what I eat for the next couple of days. Good thing i like them since that is what I had for supper last night and lunch today! I also made some vegetable soup to kinda break up the turnip green monotony.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Huntsville Times And The Siegelman Case

David Prather tossed in his 2¢ worth on yesterday's Huntsville Times' editorial page:

From Time magazine to the Harper's blogger, it's the analysis that won't go away. On Monday, there was an Associated Press story that added another bit to the brouhaha, this time questioning whether there were disagreements among state and federal prosecutors over whether U.S. Justice Department attorneys were reluctant to call a special grand jury in the Siegelman case.

What can that possibly matter?

It's just more smoke in the eyes, distracting vision from the fact that Siegelman used his powers of appointment to get a huge chunk of change from HealthSouth guru Richard Scrushy for the ill-fated education lottery vote. It was sleazy, illegal governance and Siegelman and Scrushy deserved to go to jail for it.

The link to the entire editorial piece is here,
but I found the editorial to be more than a bit glib and lacking substance. I can't help wondering if this is nothing more than a reaction to recent changes at the newspaper!

The Siegelman case was certainly not handled as a normal criminal matter and his handling after conviction was assuredly ham-fisted.

I guess I'll have to compose something expressing my disdain for the Huntsville Times and it's kow-towing to the corporate interests in Madison County!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

First Pot O' Chili Of The Season

I have been salivating for some chili since the weather has turned cooler so yesterday I picked up the ingredients and set about creating a pot of chili which will last for at least several days. I don't eat much red meat and, given the E. Coli scares of the recent past, I was a bit nervous about the hamburger, but I went ahead and bought it, but I made sure that I browned it extremely well. Then I wake up this morning to this headline from CNN :

Million pounds of beef recalled

Of course I ate the chili about 12 hours before I read this so I'm hoping I'm ok (said tongue in cheek!), but I wonder when we will aggressively confront this problem with the contamination of our food supply, not only ground beef, but also including some vegetables. If everything goes according to plan I will have a large garden planted next spring and I hope to need very little reliance on the local supermarkets!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Red Clay Survey Exhibition At The Huntsville Museum Of Art Ends November 4th

Today, Friday, was a free day at the museum and I took some time from work to go visit. The Red Clay Survey items were interesting, but I was disappointed that there was so little photography. Lucinda Bunnen had a couple of her photographs in the show, but, unless she has changed her shooting style, I don't think they were indicative of her best work. There were some very interesting artworks shown, especially the sculptuure, but the museum also has a show of portraits of jazz performers. Now that was interesting! The portraits were great, but, technically, the prints ran the gamut from platinum, to silver gelatin, to inkjet. This was much more interesting than the current Red Clay Survey show.

Blogger Weirdness!

Maybe it's just me tonight. There is some chance that in the next few days for some period of time this will become my primary blog. I'll let you know.