Tim James Is Making Sense


Wonkette declared this the funniest 30 second spot so far this season. And I'm inclined to agree. Take it away, Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James:

James doesn't like it that the state offers drivers license exams in 12 (12!) whole languages. "We're only givin' that test in English, if I'm governor," he promises. Why? To "save money" and because "this is Alabama, we speak English." Take that, legal immigrants who desire to continue follow the rules by paying to obtain a legal license to drive a car but don't know the word for intersection! Shoo!

At the end of the ad he says, "It makes sense." Then there's a long thoughtful(?) piano-filled pause. And then he says, uncertainly, "Does it to you?" Alas, Tim, saying the magical phrase "it makes sense" doesn't make it so.

NEXT: Four Million New Fines For Declining to Purchase Insurance

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  1. That’s his way of cutting costs? I guess it takes a million little cuts, huh.

    1. That’s the trouble. You can always pick out any detail of cost cutting and say it’s trivial, and you’d be right. But that’s the mentality you need to cuts costs.

      1. I agree with you–the “Henry Ford of Medical Care” in India got me on to that thinking. But this guy definitely doesn’t seem like the type; instead he got himself a hot-button issue that will give him lots of publicity.

  2. I’ve driven through Alabama several times, and let me tell you, there are a lot of immigrants there. I saw boatloads of local Mexican restaurants–not chains–all the way through. I don’t think they’re all being opened by good ol’ boys from Auburn, either.

    1. And as we all know, anyone who patronizes or owns a local Mexican restaurant doesn’t speak English.

      He didn’t say “Alabama doesn’t have any immigrants”, he said they speak English.

      1. I guess I could’ve been clearer, but my point is that there are a shitload of immigrants in Alabama, particularly from Mexico. I’m sure plenty don’t sprechen the English.

        I’m not all that opposed to the government just printing its crap in English, but “official” languages seem pointless to me.

      2. iv lived in alabama my entire life and have eaten at literally hundreds of mexican restaurants and never have been to one where they didnt speak english. ignorant sob

      3. iv lived in alabama my entire life and have eaten at literally hundreds of mexican restaurants and never have been to one where they didnt speak english. ignorant sob

  3. Er, I hate to side with the xenophobes, but all the traffic signs are in English, so if you can’t read English you’re going to be in trouble.

    1. I guess there’s a few signs that have the word “intersection” on them.

      StrawHerring Fu!

      1. There are around here: “KEEP INTERSECTION CLEAR”.

        1. I suppose your area also has “DONT FORGET TO BREATHE” signs.

          How fucking simple is it to know to stay out of an intersection? Shit like that is what the death penalty is for.

          1. If it’s an intersection with a side street, people block those all the time while waiting for a light one block ahead to turn green.

    2. And why isn’t proof of literacy required for a license?

      1. Whoa. Is this a serious question?

        1. It’s not. Alabama will provide oral tests to illiterate citizens wishing to become licensed. Also, deaf or otherwise disabled individuals have special accomodations made for them.

    3. Ok, i worked the pro-immigration stuff outta my system.

      I actually agree with Tulpa here. I wouldn’t dream of visiting another country without knowing how to accurately say the important stuff like “where’s the embassy?” and “how much to get me out of this ‘infraction’?”

      If i was planning on living there, I’d damn sure learn the prevalent language.

      1. Bad call.

        There has been a world-wide effort to standardize highway signage, with certain signs meaning certain things.

        The “Stop” and “Yield” signs are nearly universal (although it gave me a bit of a surprise to see an octagonal red sign with ‘STOP’ written on it Paris.)

        There are little details that do confound foreign visitors to the US, though. Like your asset forefeiture laws.

        1. Dude, if you start talking metric, we’re going to get upset.

        2. I’m all for international standardization of traffic signage. Until then it might behoove immigrants to learn a few new words.

          Personally, i don’t get this whole “immigrants dont learn english” thing. I’ve met plenty of immigrants and they all speak english well enough to communicate and some of them do it better than me do.

          1. “do it better than me do.”

            Intentional I hope?

        3. “Stop” is an Old French word, pronounced “stope” and meaning “stop”.

        4. That’s just swell for STOP and YIELD signs. But what about NO PASSING ZONE, DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS, ONCOMING TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP, NO TURN ON RED, LEFT TURN SIGNAL, RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT, and all the other signs that are just black letters on a square white surface?

      2. Like the Scotsman who went to the “Laddies” room?

        … Hobbit

        1. I must be too young to get it.

          1. And reading it an hour later….i see what you did there. Good god, i better stay away from Scottish Restrooms.

            1. I wouldn’t worry about it…. unless your hair is white and curly….

            2. Or you’ll get kilt.

    4. It’s a good thing Americans can’t drive in France or Germany. Think of the carnage!

      1. I have driven in the US, France, Germany, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Denmark. Americans are far and away the best drivers of the ones that I have seen.

        1. I think the Germans are better. They still use their turn signals.

          1. And understand “slower traffic keep right”. Having driven in Germany, it’s easy to spot the tourists: 40km an hour in the passing lane on the autobahn….

        2. Send that man a check.

    5. Tulpa, more often than not, traffic signs are more identifiable by colors and shapes. Do you have to read “go” or “stop” in the English? No, you see green or red and act accordingly. Other essential signs are also easily identified, and those that incorporate numbers do so with arabic numerals–the most widely used symbols for numbers in the world. Pretty easy for all to understand. Besides, if they pass the tests, they know the rules.

  4. I bet Tagalog is one of the 12.

    Thing is, when they made the graduated licensing system in MD apply to adults I figured it was about keeping Immigrants off the road. I guess AL couldn’t be that subtle.

  5. Given the fact that the US uses international road signs much less than other countries, it makes perfect sense to require a basic knowledge of English from people driving here. How else would you understand “U TURNS THRU USE LEFT LANE”?


      And we wonder why immigrants never learn english properly.

      1. It’s for real. I didn’t make it up.

        1. Doesn’t that say…

          U TURNS
          (G) THRU (A)
          USE LEFT LANE

          1. Yes, but does it make it easier to understand?

            1. Umm, yes. It does.

  6. It certainly is an incentive to learn English. Immigrants with foreign licenses and IDPs can drive for up to 3 years before needing a state license.Just get it before you come here.…..ing_Permit

    1. Not in NJ it does not. You have 60 days of touring privileges, than you have to get a NJ license

  7. I took a driver’s exam for Germany in English and I’d like to stick up for multilingual exams. One doesn’t have to be “fluent” in a language to understand terms like “einbahnstrasse,” “ausgang” or “umleitung”, so as long as someone can translate signs like that into whatever language they speak best, they’d be competent to drive.

    1. Yeah, it’s not so much “learning the language” even as is is “understanding the meaning of a few symbols”. Hell, I can “understand a few symbols” in like 20+ languages if we count programming. 2 doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for the Average Joe.

      They might be fucked with those variable construction-alert signs though.

    2. That’s an awesome idea! Let’s do all of our street signs in German! I bet people would obey such signage much more than they do the English variety.

      1. Print them in Italian.

        That way, no one will think they have to obey them.

        1. You know, I may be a libertarian, but I’m rather for people paying attention to traffic signals and stuff. Within reason, of course. Mindlessly sitting at a traffic light at 2:00 a.m. on a road without any traffic just ’cause some insane cop might ticket you is bad.

          1. Mindlessly sitting at a traffic light at 2:00 a.m. on a road without any traffic just ’cause some insane cop might ticket you is bad.

            Checked out Balko’s blog lately? Might not be so “mindless”. Especially in Maricopa or Prince George Counties.

            1. I didn’t phrase that very well. It’s not mindless to want to avoid Mr. Cop. The silliness of it all, though, and the not-so-veiled authoritarianism of it makes me unhappy. Particularly at traffic lights in the middle of the night with no traffic.

              1. You phrased it just fine. “Mindlessly sitting..” leads to “…just ’cause some insane cop..” in a perfectly sensible manner.

              2. In Puerto Rico after 10:00 PM until some time in the morning all red lights are treated as flashing red, or so I’m told. I have a friend who lived there for a number of years and then came back to the mainland and got a ticket for stopping at a red light with no traffic at it and then going through…

                1. In the city of Berkeley, all of the non-major intersections with stoplights switch to flashing red at 2 am. It is a great way for college kids to know how late it is when they are walking home drunk….

        2. Back to the language for signs, if not German, then I’m firmly for Latin.

          1. Would at least engender an appreciation for pre- and suff- ixes in the general populace.

            1. What’s a preix?

              1. A Toyota Hybrid. Duh.

                … Hobbit

  8. With the third lowest high school graduation rate they might need to stop giving the test in English and go with pictogram.

    1. “international” signage is entirely pictographic. But lets stick to making just the signs pictographic. I think the license process should prove that you’re intelligent enough to be literate in at least ONE language.

      1. I was joking. And I know most international signage is pictogram in nature.

        My personal favorite is the turtle and rabbit on heavy equipment.

        1. I know that sign. I means to “take it slow, unlike the hare”, right?

          (wait, what?)

  9. The laughable part is Tim James thinks this non-issue is going to help get him elected, when everyone knows the non-issue Alabamians really care about is the Ten Commandments. But Roy Moore has the monopoly on Bronze Age legal codes.

    1. Which is why Tim James is going with Stone Age ideology.

      Lets get neolithic, here.

      1. Thems flint-chipping-contest words!

      2. Neolithic? I prefer Paleolithic.

        1. He is a paleocon, isn’t he?

  10. How to solve our economic problems and deficits???

    I know lets take the one sensible convenience that one could ever hope to find at the DMV and eliminate it.


    1. Actually, there’s another.

      Standing in long lines burns calories.

  11. From over 100 years ago -1907- President Theodore Roosevelt:

    ….There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag….We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people”. ….”This is a nation – not a polyglot boarding house. There is not room in the country for any 50-50 American, nor can there by but one loyalty – to the Stars and Stripes”.

    1. From under 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt

      … every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it.

      But I think we may go still further. The right to regulate the use of wealth in the public interest is universally admitted. Let us admit also the right to regulate the terms and conditions of labor, which is the chief element of wealth, directly in the interest of the common good.

    2. TR was a proto-Trotskyite and your pledge of allegiance was written by a Socialist who hated the libertarian foundations of this nation, as did TR.

      Pretty much why I am not a Conservative. Not enough distinction between right corporatism and left progressivism to make a piss pool worth of a difference.


    3. Still processing the insult. To come on a libertarian board and try to pass off that troglodyte fuck, Theodore Roosevelt, as someone worthy of admiration takes either gall or not really being very well informed of what that monster represented.

    4. “One people, one nation, one leader.”

      Godwin alert.

  12. SO I am assuming anyone who opposes this guy supports putting up street signs in 12 different languages?

    1. Or… states could test whether drivers know what the street signs (in English) say.

      Just a wild thought.

    2. The problem isn’t that the signs are in several languages. It’s that the written exam – which, I assume, is what James is talking about – and the practical portion that will only be offered in English.

      Think about it like this: You’re driving down the road and come to an intersection (that’s what it’s called in English) where the car facing toward you is stopped waiting to make a left turn. They patiently yield to you because you have the right of way. You go through, they proceed when safe behind you and absolutely nothing terrible happens. And during that 10 or so seconds, the driver is talking to his wife in the passenger seat telling her how much he loves her and their children. In Spanish. Or Swahili. Or Esperanto. Who cares. Everything is just peachy.

      Now, imagine the same situation but only, this time, the driver’s a drunk redneck who’s yelling in English – uh, well, a dialect of English sufficient for Bridal Dress and Tackle Shop transactions, at least – and he does not yield because he’s drunk and angry and not paying attention and he proceeds into the intersection – a word which, by the way, was in English and meant exactly the same thing in your 10th Grade Geometry class; you didn’t know what it meant then but somehow you’re just better at understanding it on a driver’s exam at probably the exact same year of your life? – and everyone dies.

      Does it really matter whether he was saying “Te quiero, mi amor” or “Woman – you talk to me like that in front of the fellers again and I’ll bitch slap you all the way to high heaven!”

      1. Ha ha, people from other cultures are inherently superior.

  13. His dad(former Governor Fob James) was an idiot too.

  14. I would say that if the government is, in fact, intended to serve the people, then it ought to bend over backwards and make itself available in any number of languages, even if I invented my own and they had to learn it just for me.

    1. Would that be Colonelian or Angusite?


    2. Lets just hope for Elvish.

  15. The only thing about that ad that doesn’t make sense is why he’s constantly walking from one room to another.

    Otherwise, fuck you fukinese speaking driving examiners in Mobile! Yeeeeee-haah!

  16. If I’m elected governor, I will do random things to fuck with people I don’t like.

    For instance, vegans. From now on, you will not be allowed to call anything a “burger” unless it contains real meat. Fuck that tofu, veggie, whatever the fuck shit that is.

    Vote for me. I promise to fuck with people you don’t like. Just because we can.

    1. I consider meatless “burgers” false advertising.

      If I could vote, Hazel, you would be my candidate, for this and many other things you have said.

    2. This is probably a winning platform.

  17. No, Timmy, it doesn’t make sense. Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language, especially one outside the Indo-European language family? It’s not like learning to yo-yo. The time it would take to gain fluency to read a full driver’s license exam in another language could be quite long; much much simpler and economically feasible to just translate the key parts of the exam, as being able to drive is a necessity for at least some occupations. Hey Mr. Businessmanrepublican; enacting your measure would mean more immigrants dependent on public transportation for a longer time (and more tax dollars diverted for that), loss of income for immigrants, and a nice-size drain on the economy. Does that make sense to you?

  18. The next yahoo to come along will be complaining about all the unlicensed immigrant drivers on the road.

  19. When I moved to Brazil, it never occurred to me not to learn to speak Portuguese, and not for a moment did I expect Brazilian society to adapt to me. Of course, to properly drive in Brazil, one needs to learn profanity first, which I most surely did.

  20. There’s learning to speak English (which I think people should do when coming to this country) and then there’s requiring someone to learn the language well enough to fully understand a driver’s license exam. Two separate issues. You can support the first notion without supporting the second – simply an extra-step state nuisance, and an economic drain as well.

  21. I always demand that my tests be given in Urdu. I don’t speak Urdu, but I enjoy watching them scramble for a translator and I get the pleasure of knowing that some silly liberal, like Katherine Mangu-Ward is footing the bill. Do you think they offer english language drivers tests in Mexico? Just asking.

  22. Want to know why Tim James stares down at the end of this ad?

  23. I am a black Texan and I am 100% for Tim James. I have 2 masters degrees and I am getting ‘bilingual preferred’ thrown in my face when seeking to change employment fields. I sent a donation and I pray that he wins!

    1. What’s your masters degrees in? And what jobs were you applying for? You do realize that many companies do business in other countries or have many clients who speak different languages and in order to obtain and retain their business they might need to have bilingual staffers. Maybe they didn’t hire you because you were black lol.

  24. Wow, Rhonda, you have “2 masters degrees?” You’re very smart woman. I speak ebonics and I’m from El Paso!

  25. Well, I’ve been to Alabama and I wouldn’t exactly call it English that those folks were speaking 😉

    I think if someone intends to take permanent residence in the U.S. it only makes sense to learn the language. But, I think the driver license issue is really just a smoke screen for the guy’s racist views.

  26. BTW Rhonda, you do realize that Texas used to be Mexico and the people that were living there didn’t just dissapear because the territory became a state.


  28. Alabama does provide oral tests for people who can’t read (VERY necessary here – I’m from up North, but have lived here for two years. I can assure you, the educational standards down here are virtually nonexistent).

    If James thinks this is logical because people need to be able to read road signs – the fact that they give oral tests to illiterate folks kills that argument.

    Save money? Not when you’ll lose millions in federal dollars for taking your “principled” position.

    I live in Montgomery. In my apartment complex there are a ton of Koreans who have driver’s licenses. They don’t speak a lick of English. However, they can drive just fine.

    It is mind-numbingly stupid to make Alabama inhospital to these folks. They put up a huge Hyundai plant here and employ a ton of white hicks who live here.

    Get real with this stuff, and quit just thinking in knee-jerk fashion.

    James truly is an idiot.

  29. This man and others like him are whats wrong with this state today.That’s why we are stuck in the 50’s in Alabama.

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