The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Friday, February 29, 2008

Gay Witch Hunts, Natural Born Presidents and Talullah Bankhead

Maybe it is because today is leap day, but weird (and sleazy) things are in the news and on this blog. You try to keep up with things and you come across this statement: The other reason is that Ms. Simpson failed to find any evidence of a homosexual relationship between Mr. Siegelman and his long-time aide Nick Bailey.

That is the part of the story that "60 minutes" left out. But Glynn Wilson (reluctanty) writes about it at Locust Fork Journal although I first ran upon it at Legal Schnauzer.

Everytime I am reminded of Karl Rove's use of the gay label to promote his political agendas, and that is often, I am reminded of just how hypocritical he is. I mean, he was profiled in The New Yorker with these words, "Rove spoke of his adoptive father in a tone of fierce admiration, love, and loyalty, for, as he put it, "how selfless his love had been."

Louis Rove was gay. So Karl shows his admiration by using his father's sexual identity to divide people. He uses his love for his "father" to promote hatred. Loyalty, according to Karl Rove, is promoting bigotry against your own father.

No one in politics is more slimy than Karl Rove. And it comes as no surprise that he was welcomed to Fox News as a contributor.

And then there is John McCain. No, not linked to this story, but in news that is weird.

McCain was not born in the United States, so some are wondering if he meets the qualifications for being president. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone on a military base, is this a "natural born citizen" as specified in the constitution?

I don't think many people think McCain should be denied the presidency in this way (although most people think he should be denied the presidency through the casting of votes), but no doubt the supreme court will answer the question if he is in fact elected.

But did you know he is not the first candidate from Arizona to not be born in a state? Barry Goldwater was actually born in the territory of Arizona in 1909, three years before it become a state.

And here is an example of a congressperson rushing to pass a bill without thinking. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri has introduced a bill that would declare any child born abroad to citizens in the U. S. military would meet the requirement of "natural-born" citizen.

That is nice. But what about children born to members of the diplomatic corp. Or to professors living abroad and teaching children of American diplomats. Or how about teachers living abroad and teaching anyone. Or how about anyone who is a U. S. citizen who is travelling abroad and happens to have their baby on foreign soil.

Reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode in which "natural born" means "born naturally." I couldn't find that clip, but just for fun, here is another one.

Lucille Ball and Talullah Bankhead on the small screen together. Wow. Bankhead, of course, was from Alabama and was openly bisexual and probably lesbian.

Well, Lucy and Talullah argued about who was the best "Talullah" but more recently I think Jim Bailey takes the title. Talullah is, after all, the original bitter queen.

Oh well...have a nice leap day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bessemer Citizens Have Power

But first, we are smack dab in the middle of Lent, and Catholic or not (not) it is time to think of a new beginning. Spring is coming, but winter is trying to hold on. What better flower to find blooming than the lenten rose.
Crocuses (croci?) spring up unexpectedly and offer a nice surprise.

This is nice, and I forget it is here because I didn't plant it. I don't remember it blooming this early, but I guess it does.

Winter annuals try to hang on.

Those who read the Western Tribune last week may have read this:

In the 2000 movie Chocolat a cold north wind blows through town bringing change during the Lenten season. The people of the town struggle to find a balance between their tradition of faith and the acceptance of excess which in this story comes in the form of chocolate, brought by a woman of questionable reputation.

The Lenten season is a time for preparation, originally a time of prayer and fasting for those waiting to be baptized into the faith at the Easter vigil. And for those who do not observe Lent in a formal, religious manner, this season can be thought of as a time for preparation for the rebirth that comes each Spring.

In Bessemer, we could use this time for reflection about how we each contribute to the good of our community and to prepare for the change that will be coming.

Change? But there is not a local election until 2010. Correct, but change is coming never the less. For one thing, the attitude of the city council is changing. After a recent meeting when tempers flared and harsh words were exchanged, one councilor admitted she was embarrassed and another indicated he would be more diligent in making sure that our cities finances were handled with more accountability. The new council president shows signs of realizing the council is accountable to the citizens.

Change is also coming in the form of citizen advocacy. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association has helped bring back a feeling among citizens that they do have a voice and that they can influence the actions of the council. People who want to join this effort can start by attending the Association meeting Monday night at the Food World Community Room where the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC will be the topic.

Change may also be coming by way of the justice system. One council person has already been investigated and the case turned over to the attorney general. Sources say that more investigations are underway, and while city officials can not undo their actions of the past (try as they may) the feeling of someone looking over their shoulder may cause them to act more responsibly in the future.

While we don’t have a new “chocolaterie” in town (and we consider chocolate more of a necessity than an excess), we do have an opportunity to move this city forward. Let’s see what we can do about it.

When I wrote that I had no idea that change would come so quickly. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association is concerned about the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC and the upcoming bond issue and all, and we often wonder aloud at meetings why it seems that bonds are let according to favoritism rather than being bid. At our last two meetings this concern has been especially evident, and the mayor's assistant has been present to hear these concerns.

Well now the mayor has decided that bids are the way to go. Ed May has suggested "the city seek competitive bids on bond issues."

Council members are "open" to the idea.

Shouldn't they be jumping all over this? Oh wait...they had their friends too, remember the last uprising, uh, bond issue (and it had to do with water also).

At any rate, more and more citizens are becoming informed through BNA meetings, this blog, The Western Tribune, and word of mouth, and I think the mayor and council are aware of this.

The power belongs to the citizens. They just have to assume it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Five Points South...West, and Churches and Taxes

I'm confused. I tried to understand something Larry Langford said.

In talking about his proposed Five Points West project he said "It will take on the same flavor as Five Points South."

In the Birmingham News article that comes just after describing the improvements as having an Olympic grade swimming facility, an indoor track and an equestrain training center.

I drive through Five Points South almost every day and the closest thing to a swimming facility I see is the fountain. No sports facilities (billiards does not count).
An aside...
The Storyteller and picture from Bham Online.

Anyway, the mayor is right on one thing. An indoor track facility is needed if in fact an indoor track state meet was not even offered by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (as the article says) because they did not have a track at which they could host the event. But I remember going to indoor track events at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery years ago (college level) and the coliseum is still there and lists hosting sporting events as one of its offerings. Maybe what Steve Savarese, executive director of the High School Association, meant was he had not been diligent in securing a place for the event.

Ok I read about this on another blog, and would reference it if I could find it again...but I also saw it on CBS 42.

"Hello, thanks for calling, I am currently on a prison ministry assignment from God in Atlanta, Georgia for the next few months. This prison ministry assignment has been totally underwritten by the United States government in the form of a grant."

Those are the words of Rev. Gregory Clarke on his outgoing voice mail message.

So, intentional humor or not, we are to believe that this "assignment" was from God, that it was God's idea for him to break the law just so he could end up in federal prison. Nice. If that is not molding God to fit your own circumstances I don't know what is.

My personal opinion when I see "tax" anything and "church" in the same sentence is that churches should not have any tax exempt status. Period. Now I know this has nothing to do with Clarke's case, but still.

A snipet in the Birmingham News (from wire reports) says "The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave at its national meeting last year...Obama belongs to the 1.2 million member protestant group. In a letter the denomination received Monday, the IRS said "resonable belief exists" that the circumstances surrouding the speech violated restrictions on political activity for tax-exempt organizations."

Haven't numerous candiates from both parties made speeches in churches within the last few months that violate those restrictions. Especially around the Martin Luther King holiday. I mean, the candidates would not have made those speeches if they had not been runnng for president would they? And they did make the speeches to try to persuade voters didn't they?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars Part II, La Vie En Rose

Just a couple of more Oscar notes.

Ruby Dee is 83 years old. She looked marvelous and I just hope she will continue to perform. After all, production designer Robert Boyle received an Oscar Sunday night and he is 98 years old.

If you are not careful in trying to find information about Robert Boyle you find the philosopher and scientist of the same name. I did, and thought "Born in 1627, no wonder the man could hardly make it to the microphone" and then realized I had the wrong guy. The Boyle of old is known mostly for physics things, like Boyle's law which has to do with movement of sound through air and such. Really it is deeper than that, stating that volume of a gas increases as pressure decreases at a constant temperature.

Back to the Oscars. Yesterday I mentioned Marion Cotillard and how happy yet unbelieving she was when she won. Here is her acceptance. Have you ever been this happy?

Here is Edith Piaf, sometimes thought of as France's most poular pop singer of all time, in 1954 singing "La Vie En Rose" from which the movie takes its name.

And here is a little bit of Marion in the movie.

Something about Edith's troubled life juxtaposed with the sheer joy Marion showed makes me want to see the movie. Netflix?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscars...Gay after all

Back in business. Don't forget the Bessemer Neighborhood Associaiton meeting tonight at 7:00 at Food World.

This week is midterm week and last week was worse, as far as time was involved, so I was buried in books and meetings, but I can't resist commenting on the Oscars.

Some gays still aren’t over the loss of Best Picture two years ago when Crash beat out Brokeback Mountain. They feel they were robbed (but hey, can’t that happen anytime votes are cast?..2000?). Personally, I think Brokeback Mountain garnered so much positive hype that not winning the Oscar is not a big deal. Disappointment, yes.

But this is 2008, and a year that there was not expected to be a big gay component to the Oscars (as if the ceremony could take place without a “big gay component", but I digress). If you stayed up to the end of the show, however, you were not disappointed.

First, though, let me mention my favorite Oscar moments. I always love the surprise and joy exhibited by those who are not expected to win and do. Marion Cotillard, who won best actress for her performance of Edith Piaf in the French language film La Vie En Rose certainly did not disappoint. “…thank you life, thank you love, and it is true, there is some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much.” How can you argue with that for a magic moment, especially her joyful unbelieving walk off stage?

And while we are on the best performer categories (supporting actor), Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men (who brought his mother to the event), rattled of part of his acceptance speech in Spanish (how long before republicans introduce a bill that award ceremony speeches have to be given in English?). Yes, Bardem is a hunk, and yes he has played gay roles a couple of times (Second Skin, Before Night Falls) and he has answered the “are you gay” question…but Javi…bringing your mother to the Oscars does not help to dispel rumors.

Another favorite moment was Diablo Cody winning for original screenplay for Juno. She had to hold her dress closed because of the slit that might have exposed her um… well, no one was looking because all eyes were focused on the great tat on her arm of a woman in a bikini. And what a character…she drew on her own life for Juno (minus the pregnancy), her first effort at screenwriting.

Oscars three gay moments (oh there were more, I know).

John Stewart’s relaying of backstage humor when two winners wanted their Oscars to kiss and one remarked that they were both men and admitted well this is Hollywood or something to that effect. I don't have the transcript for this one.

But, not the first time two men have kissed backstage I am sure.

Shortly after that the Short Subject Documentary Freeheld, The Legacy of Laurel Hester, which is about a dying woman’s effort to get her pension awarded to her life partner. Here is part of director Cynthia Wade’s acceptance speech, “Thank you. It was Lieutenant Laurel Hester's dying wish that her fight for, against discrimination would make a difference for all the same sex couples across the country that face discrimination every day. Discrimination that I don't face as a married woman...”

Thank you Cynthia, both for telling this story, and for telling over 1 billion people (those watching last night) around the world about discrimination.

Finally, the Oscars ended with the best remark of the gay evening, producer Scott Rudin who along with Joel and Ethan Coen, won best picture for No Country for Old Men. Scott ended his acceptance speech and the evening with this, “This is also for my partner John Barlow. Without you, honey, this would be hardware. Thank you so much. Thank you.”

Being able to thank the one you love and who gives you support, priceless.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bessemer This, Bessemer That and Raven!

On Monday February 25 at 7:00 the Bessemer Neighborhood Association will hold a meeting for city residents who are interested in the Bessemer Water Service, GUSC and the future of our water supply. The meeting is at Food World on 9th Avenue in their community room and all are encouraged to come. Care about your water rates?

On Saturday February 23 from 10 to 2 there will be a work day at Jonesboro Community Garden. This day is being sponsored by the Bessemer Rotary Club and the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association. There will be planting of trees and shrubs and spreading of gravel in the parking area.

February 23 of each year commemorates the anniversary of Rotary International as Rotary World Understanding Day. 2008 marks the 103rd birthday of Rotary. Contributing to the Jonesboro Community Garden contributes to an outstanding effort in the Jonesboro community that includes residents, churches and the Jonesboro Elementary School. Thank you Rotary for your interest and contribution to this project.

The Garden is located at the corner of Owen Avenue and Wellington Street.

Many of you know Raven, the Goddess of Entertainment, who is well known in Atlanta but also performs frequently here in Birmingham. She graced Jonathon and Kyle's "Christmas at the Castle" party in Bessemer this year, with this performance. Who says we don't know how to party and have fun in Bessemer. Thanks for this video, Alex and thanks Jonathon and Kyle for bringing both style and entertainment to new heights in our community.

No doubt this is Bessemer: you can hear the train in the background during the performance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Idol Worship and Bird Count Results

I knew that when John Katopodis became involved with Larry Langford's computer distribution program the name Ryan Idol would come up. Those of you who might barely remember this man let me tweak your memory with just two words: Idol Worship. OK, now you remember. If that doesn't ring a bell...forget it.

But let's not dwell there. The Great Backyard Bird Count has concluded and all the results are not in. But from the results as of now, it looks like more Bessemer residents participated than last year. So far 20 lists have been submitted, up from 12 last year, and 47 species reported, with 1,136 birds counted. The most common birds in Bessemer appear to be the red winged blackbird and common grackle, followed closely by the American goldfinch.

Birmingham jumped from 118 lists in 2007 to 193 this year, and Hoover and Vestavia both went from one list each to 7 and 5, respectively this year. Fultondale dropped from 171 lists to 27 this year. What happened there? Lipscomb dropped from one list to none this year. But remember, all the lists may not have been reported yet (hint hint). I may report on this one more time after the time for submitting lists is up.

My most unusual sightings for an urban area (not really unusual, but not everyday) were a red tailed hawk and a turkey vulture. Robins were common here, mostly I think because there is water (in the fountain and on the spa cover) that the robins congregate around. Those who have water know this. They will just sit in water and get "big" for minutes at a time, even when it is cold. Our fountain is three tiered and there will sometimes be two sitting in the top tier, three or four in the middle, and four or more around the edges of the deeper basin. Could robins be the intermediate between land birds and ducks? Just a thought (as MS says, "Just a thought"). And just kidding about the evolutionary link.

I give Michaelangelo Signorile credit for "just a thought" because I don't want to be accused of plagiarism like Obama was. My two cents? Obama's use of the phrases he used are no big deal. But I think others may think differently and it may cost him. We will just have to wait and see.

Biostats is calling.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bush in Africa vs Obama's Roots in Africa

Today is the one year anniversary of Bessemer Opinions!!!

President Bush is in Africa, visiting a country that seems to like him. While he promotes PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) in Tanzania, republican strategists have other goals for his trip. Kenneth Walsh of U.S. News and World Report surmises that GOP leaders are hoping the trip will soften opposition to Bush among African Americans and help the GOP nominee (McCain) make “inroads into the black vote this fall.”

Well I am not African American but let’s just pretend for a moment. On the one hand we have the president, dilly dallying around the Continent continuing his commitment to spend millions of dollars fighting AIDS. On the other hand we have Barack Obama, who has actual roots in Kenya and realizes that Africa is more than just a photo op stop.

Well, sort of. A photo op doesn’t hurt. Here’s Obama in 2006 speaking at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Hear a little from his sister, Auma Obama, and Barack about their father and Obama’s views of Africa today (2006).

I don’t think there is any chance the GOP candidate would get more than a handful of black votes if Barack is the Dem’s candidate. Same for Clinton if she is the candidate, actually.

In Birmingham the City Council will begin voting electronically, but the real news out of this story is that there will be live web streaming of council meetings with time stamps added so the public can later watch particular agenda items, according to this article in the Bham News.

Can you imagine if the Bessemer Council acquired this type of system? The public could actually watch council meetings, either live or archived. And for only $96,000. That is what it cost Birmingham. Surely the council can find a hundred grand here or there to do this.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The News makes for a Good Weekend

This is a feel good weekend, and you can’t help but feel good after listening to this song. In fact, you can hardly resist standing up and dancing while it plays. This is how the nation (U.S.) will feel during the days between the election in November and the inauguration of our next president. The lyrics are posted below the video. this is Carbon/Silicon with "The News."

People started caring about what they eat
And people started smiling at everyone they meet
And people started looking for good instead of bad
Realize what they could lose in what they always had

People started growing, instead of being crushed
And people started slowing down instead of being rushed
And people started looking with very different eyes
And this information now comes as a surprise

Good morning here's the news and all of it is good
Good evening here's the news and all of it is good
And the weather's good!

People started calling those in power to account
And people started saying, "I want my voice to count"
And people started learning that they don't need to fight
And they control their future and try to make it right

And people started feeling that better's on the way
And people started feeling some peace and calm today
And people started liking the way that good life feels
And every precious moment becoming what is real

Good morning here's the news and all of it is good
Good evening here's the news and all of it is good
And the weather's good!

People started caring about what they eat
And people started smiling at everyone they meet
And people started looking for good instead of bad
Realize what they could lose in what they always had

People started growing, instead of being crushed
And people started slowing down instead of being rushed
And people started looking with very different eyes
And this information now comes as a surprise

Good morning here's the news and all of it is good
Good evening here's the news and all of it is good
And the weather's good!

Good morning here's the news and all of it is good
Good evening here's the news and all of it is good
And the weather's good!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Great Backyard Bird Count

Today begins the Great Backyard Bird Count…lasts all weekend.

Visit Great Backyard Bird Count . Over to the left are some tabs about what the count is and how to do it. Get a checklist and get started. Turn them in online or by email. It’s fun and gets you in tune with your backyard in the winter.

You just count for at least 15 minutes on whichever days you can. Last year we had 12 lists submitted from Bessemer, with 30 species of birds, and 1 from nearby Lipscomb, with 11 species. That may not sound like much, compared to, say, Fultondale, which led Alabama with 171 lists with 48 species. But well to do neighbors like Hoover and Vestavia residents must be too busy to sit around counting birds...only 1 list from each city.

Trey, from The Human Animal, now writes a column having to do with gardening and horticulture for The Western Tribune. More bloggers moving up in the world. More local talent in the Tribune.

Oh, gee, something happened to the comments feature. Overloaded I guess. I will work on that later. Until then, remember, this is a blog. A place for me to log my progressive, sometimes entertaining views. Not a forum, which is for the exchange of views and ideas.

Ok that’s it for today; I’m out of town seeking an internship. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Today it is all about the heart.

Beating Heart
(The producer of this video disabled embedding, so you have to go to the link, but it shows how to make an origami beating heart. 3 minutes)

It is, after all Valentine's Day. And whether you are single and loving it, or single and looking, or partnered or married or whatever'd, take care of your heart and the heart(s) of those you love.

But it all comes down to this. You have to take care of your own heart. Often that means losing weight. And like the mayor of Oklahoma City believes and Kathleen Parker writes, "real, sustained weight loss takes patience, discipline and commitment, not a calculator."

We can justify anything we want today, like dark chocolate containing anti-oxidants or red wine being good for you. So go out and eat a nice, satisfying Valentine's Day dinner. Enjoy the box of chocolates. But today is just one day of the year, and your heart needs to pump 366 days (it is leap year, after all).

This video is a real beating don't watch if you don't like that kind of stuff.

According to CDC data heart disease is still the number one killer in America. And everyone of us...everyone...can do something to reduce our risk of heart disease. This is from the final data for 2004.

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
Heart disease: 652,486
Cancer: 553,888
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 150,074
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 121,987
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 112,012
Diabetes: 73,138
Alzheimer's disease: 65,965
Influenza/Pneumonia: 59,664
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 42,480
Septicemia: 33,373

U. S. News and World Report had a section on heart disease and cholesterol and statins this week, and I am borrowing this information from an ad (Quaker Oats) in that section.

Be Heart Smart

This simple checklist shows you what you can do today to prevent heart disease.

  • Be Pressured Know your blood pressure - high pressure will age your arteries. Keeping it around 115/76 can make your body up to 10 years younger.
  • Floss & Brush Periodontal disease, such as gingivits, affects more than the gums. Chronic infections require the body to defend itself and inclrease clotting to protect against bleeding - a recipe for heart attack.
  • Move it Walking 30 minutes each day can add years to your life - regular movement is a powerful anti-aging treatment.
  • Easy takes it An aspirin each day greatly reduces your risk of a stroke.
  • Get some shut eye Try for seven hours of zzz's each night.
  • Dish up fish Three times a week, dine on omego-3s to help your heart and arteries function, plus fish protein that packs an additional cardiovacular boost. Not nuts about seafood? Walnuts shell out a good dose of omega-3s.
  • Skip the smoking section An hour of second hand smoke can cause the same body aging as smoking up to four cigarettes.
  • Turn off the TV When you pay attention to what you eat, you enjoy it more and you're likely to sense when you're full - before you've eaten too much.

I come from a family with a history of heart disease and my father had three heart attacks (and just kept on smoking) before finally dying of respiratory disease (caused of course by that smoking). That puts me at some degree of risk.

When I was younger I ran. And ran and ran. Not Forrest Gump type of running, but 6 or 7 miles a day several days a week. I had a running hero, Dr. Jim Fixx, author of The Complete Book of Running. When I graduated from college (the second time ) in 1981, and got a job, my running was reduced by a good bit, but I didn't quit altogether. But imagine my shock when my running hero collapsed and fell dead of a heart attack at age 52 after a run.

Fast forward 25 years and here I am. I've made it past Jim Fixx's age of death and feel pretty good about my heart. I am like the OK City mayor though, and have just a few more pounds to lose...the hardest ones.

I will tell you a couple of things I do. I park in a parking garage, usually on level 4 (not by choice) and take the stairs down and when I return, I take the stairs up. The walk to class is up a hill and down a hill, 2 blocks. Once in the building, my classes are on the 4th floor. I take the stairs.

I have cut down on sugared drinks. Not completely, but cut back to less than half of what I used to drink. I eat a hand full of nuts every day. I'm working on adding more fruits and vegetables. My blood pressure is great. My cholesterol is borderline, and by George I am going to get it within desired range by exercise and diet (I have been on Crestor and don't like it).

I enjoy good food, though, and I don't deny myself, but I now cook a little more healthy than I did 10 years ago.

So, there are things everyone can do. Walking is a good start. One flight of stairs at work is a good start (take the rest by elevator). Then in 2 weeks, take 2 flights of stairs. Whatever you do, start out easy and work your way up. You will feel better, and you will live better.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why Gary White was Prosecuted

To coerce him into supplying false evidence against Don Siegelman and to score points with Bettye Fine Collins.

This, according to Harpers Magazine.

And while there is an ongoing discussion here about the two (count ‘em, two) Bessemer newspapers, the reputation of The Birmingham News is called into question by this article.

“Both of them are having their credibility tested severely, and neither has much of a record to stand on.”

“Both” refers to The Birmingham News and Alice Martin, who is getting more coverage in this blog than anyone of late. Well not quite, but she should.

If you want to keep up with the goin’s on about the Alice Martin, Don Siegelman and other's case read Legal Schnauzer every day. You can jump in anytime and just read a few days worth and be hooked. It's better than Days of Our Lives (which you can watch once weekly or monthly or yearly and still be up to date).

Here is a quote in the Harpers article from Judy White’s (Gary’s wife) affidavit. The full affidavit can be linked from the article.

(federal agents) repeatedly and insistently told my husband that they ‘needed’ for [a particular] meeting [between Governor Siegelman and Richard Scrushy] to have occurred at the particular and specific date, and that they wanted him to testify that it did. My husband maintained that he could not do so, as he did not know when the meeting occurred. They even attempted to persuade him that the meeting ‘could have’ taken place on the date they stated, and reminded him that he had no calendar saying that it did not.

The article is pretty long, but juicy, in my opinion.

If you were an outsider and had no clue about Alabama politics, would you have ever guessed that the Siegelman case and the Gary White case were related? Or that the Birmingham News wa involved in more than just reporting? Or not reporting?

Scott Horton, the author of the Harper's piece, offers this too, about the Siegelman case.

  • sworn evidence by a Republican campaign operative, corroborated by documents and other witnesses, that White House figures including Karl Rove manipulated the prosecution to support G.O.P. election campaign projects,
  • well-documented evidence of conflicts of interest by the two U.S. attorneys involved (Alice Martin and Leura Canary),
  • admission that the two most senior career prosecutors on the case recommended against a prosecution of Siegelman,
  • testimony before Congress that political appointees overrode their determinations in directing a prosecution,
  • confirmation that evidence of criminal wrongdoing by William Pryor and Jeff Sessions, far stronger than any of the charges against Siegelman, was swept under the carpet by a prosecutor assigned to handle the matter, who was the wife of William Pryor’s lawyer (Pryor and Sessions belonged to the “home team,” as Time’s Adam Zagorin was told).

At any rate, it looks like Alice Martin should be placed under oath again in the near future. If that happens, let's see if she tells the truth this time. And let's see if the Birmingham News reports it.

Uno Takes the Title

Snoopy must be proud. For years he has been the most celebrated beagle in the country, even claiming a favorite spot in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

But now, move over Snoopy. Uno is Numero Uno. Uno is the first Beagle ever to win Best in Show. Uno looks so cool, so sharp compared to all the fluff of the poodle and and fur of the Aussie. Go Uno!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Family blogging, and Democratic Mess

If you want a good read on the primaries go to Cousin Wayne's blog where he answers my question from the other day:

My preference of course is Clinton, and while she did not win in Alabama, look at the difference between Alabama and Georgia. Obama won by 34% in Georgia, but only by 14% in Alabama. Are we that different than Georgia?

Well, he comes close to answering it anyway. But he did a great analysis of the results in Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, New York, California, Missouri and Tennessee. You will have to scroll down past (or preferably look at) the post about the turkey vultures...the Primary Analysis post is from Sunday February 10.

I want comments on the following (actually I want comments everyday but it seems most people only comment when they can insult someone). On this blog, and in my column in the Western Tribune this week, I write about the problem the Democratic Party will have if they allow the super delegates to vote and change what looks like is the will of the voters in selecting a presidential nominee. But a caller on a talk show this morning said something that might make a little sense. She said that for the most part states where Obama is winning big are open primary and caucus states,where Republicans and Independents are allowed to vote in the Democratic Primary or caucus.

This is not a national election, she said, It is a political party, determining who they want their candidate to be. By allowing Republicans and Independents to vote, the choice is being taken from the Democrats. So the Super delegates, all being members of the party, could provide a better idea of who the party wants than the primaries that allow non-party members to vote. Allowing the Super Delegates to vote (sort of) balances out the effect of the non-democrats who voted.

Twisted Logic? or Good Point?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Camellias, a Bessemer video and a Quiz

I asked a couple of days ago if it is Spring? and I know it is not. The Camellias are blooming, and most don't bloom in the Spring, they bloom in the Winter. How refreshing to walk out on a cold morning and find these (providing the temps haven't dipped too far below freezing). I remember when growing up in Vestavia that on Comer Circle there was a yard where on occasion a bush (shrub, not a president) was wrapped in a sheet. Mom explained that it was a camellia. Of course, as I have reminded you before, it is our non native state flower.

And I said I would let you know when the camellia show is at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and I didn't do it. The show was this past weekend. Sorry. To make up, just a little for it, I will provide a camellia show here, of the ones blooming in the yard.

After the pictures you will find a video about Bessemer and a quiz.

This video was posted by photographer Larry O. Gay, who many of us know.

This quiz was in The New Yorker Shouts and Murmurs.

It is great. Thanks Paul Slansky.

SHOUTS & MURMURS Changes A 2008 Campaign Quiz. by Paul Slansky

1. Who is Michael Palladino?

(a) One of two young men who interrupted a speech by Hillary Clinton by yelling, “Iron my shirt! Iron my shirt!”

(b) The aide to Barack Obama who was shoved by Bill O’Reilly at a rally.

(c) The adviser to Fred Thompson’s campaign who turned out to have been convicted of cocaine trafficking.

(d) The boxer who hosted a Nevada Obama event and who had been convicted of battery.

(e) The New York City police detective who scoffed at Rudolph Giuliani’s claim to have been “at Ground Zero as often as, if not more than, most of the workers.”

(f) The formerly gay gospel singer who advocates “curing” homosexuality with prayer, and whose performance at Obama-sponsored concerts upset gays and liberals.
2. What did Bill Clinton call a “fairy tale”?

(a) Mike Huckabee’s contention that gay marriage would lead to increased bestiality.

(b) Obama’s claim that he has consistently opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.

(c) Mitt Romney’s positive remarks about Hitler’s scientific achievement in creating “liquefied coal.”

(d) Chuck Norris’s endorsement of Huckabee on the ground that he is “not afraid to stand up for a Creator.”

(e) The report that Obama and Dick Cheney might be distant cousins, which prompted Obama to remark, “He’s the black sheep of the family.”

(f) The suggestion by David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, that Hillary Clinton bore some responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
3. True or false: When the Clinton camp was mocked for its efforts to turn a kindergarten essay written by Obama into a reason not to vote for him, campaign officials claimed that the press release had been intended as “a joke.”

(a) True.

(b) False.
4. Three of these statements refer to Fred Thompson. Choose the one that refers to Mitt Romney.

(a) He asked an unresponsive audience, “Can I have some applause?”

(b) He referred to Russia as the “Soviet Union,” which it stopped being seventeen years ago.

(c) He said, “Some people have said we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is we ought to double Guantánamo.”

(d) He avoided a question about the Terri Schiavo controversy by saying, “That’s going back in history. I don’t remember the details of it.”
5. Wayne Dumond is to Mike Huckabee as ________ is to Mike Dukakis.

(a) Willie Horton

(b) John Kerry

(c) John Sasso
6. Who is Marianne Pernold Young?

(a) The Iowa college student planted in the audience by the Clinton campaign to ask the candidate a question that she was eager to answer.

(b) The CNN reporter whom Bill Clinton scolded by saying, “This is what you live for,” after she asked him to comment on a former supporter’s observation that the Clintons’ distortion of Obama’s record is “reprehensible.”

(c) The New Hampshire photographer who asked Hillary Clinton the question that made her choke up.

(d) The CBS newswoman who asked Elizabeth Kucinich, “Would you remove [your tongue stud] if you became First Lady, or leave it in?”

(e) The owner of the landscaping company that employed illegal immigrants to mow Romney’s lawn, prompting accusations that he lives in a “sanctuary mansion.”
7. Two of these statements refer to John McCain. Choose the one that refers to Ron Paul.

(a) When a supporter, referring to Hillary Clinton, asked, “How do we beat the bitch?” he replied, “That’s an excellent question.”

(b) He said that he would “prefer” a Christian president to a Muslim one.

(c) He voted against giving the Congressional Medal of Honor to Rosa Parks.
8. True or false: An hour after attacking Barack Obama’s voting record on “Meet the Press,” Hillary Clinton appeared at a black church and declared herself to be “so proud” of him.

(a) True.

(b) False.
9. Who said of’s “General Betray Us” ad, “It passed a line that we should not allow American political organizations to pass”—Mike Huckabee or Rudy Giuliani?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
10. Who, when asked about financial disclosures, said, “I’m not doing more than what is absolutely required”?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
11. Who asked, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?”

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
12.Who said, “Most of our prisoners would love to be in a facility more like Guantánamo”?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
13. Who scoffed at the notion that sleep deprivation is torture, saying, “On that theory, I’m getting tortured running for President of the United States. That’s plain silly”?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
14. Who turned up on Outdoor Life’s list of the twenty-five most influential people in hunting and fishing?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
15. Of whom was it written that “[His] Nixonian soul comes bearing the face of a particularly cruel Renaissance cardinal”?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
16.Ten years ago, whose son was allegedly involved in the hanging of a dog while at Boy Scout camp?

(a) Rudy Giuliani.

(b) Mike Huckabee.
17. Who is James Clyburn?

(a) The Clinton campaign official who resigned after raising the issue of Obama’s youthful drug use.

(b) The Georgia congressman who said that Obama is “no Martin Luther King.”

(c) The Clinton adviser who said that Obama appeals to voters who want an “imaginary hip black friend.”

(d) The South Carolina congressman who told Bill Clinton to “chill a little bit” with the race-baiting.

(e) The Obama press secretary who took the blame for a memo cataloguing race-related verbal gaffes by the Clintons and their supporters.

(f) The indicted Chicago slumlord to whom Obama returned more than forty thousand dollars in contributions.
18. Who said, “Americans are looking for a change”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) Mike Huckabee.

(c) Mitt Romney.

(d) John Edwards.
19. Who said, “Our time for change has come”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) Mike Huckabee.

(c) Mitt Romney.

(d) John Edwards.
20. Who said, “I believe deeply in change”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) John McCain.

(c) Bill Richardson.

(d) John Edwards.
21. Who said, “Look, what we need is change, there’s no question”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) John McCain.

(c) Bill Richardson.

(d) John Edwards.
22. Who said, “I know that I have been an agent of change”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) John McCain.

(c) Hillary Clinton.

(d) Mitt Romney.
23. Who said, “I want to make change but I’ve already made change. I will continue to make change. . . . I embody change”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) Mike Huckabee.

(c) Hillary Clinton.

(d) Mitt Romney.
24. Who said, “Not only can I talk change with you, I’ve lived it”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) Mike Huckabee.

(c) Hillary Clinton.

(d) Mitt Romney.
25. Who said, “We don’t mention September 11th nearly as much as people think”?

(a) Barack Obama.

(b) Mike Huckabee.

(c) John McCain.

(d) Rudy Giuliani.

For the answers you will either have to read the magazine like I did (I got most of them right) or go to the link and take the quiz and submit.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Arresting Story

My run for a delegate position fell short, but I feel good about it under the circumstances. Obama performed so well in the 7th congressional district that Clinton will get just 2 delegates from the district. That means only the two top Clinton vote getters overall or the top male and top female, depending on the particulars of how the delegates are choosen, out of about 20 who ran, will be selected. People with name recognition throughout the district, who have been politically connected, had the most votes.

After writing the other day that Republicans don't go to prison I will provide evidence that the justice department and Alice Martin are overzealous in bringing down democrats. The recent arrest of Sue Schmitz (D - Toney), was characterized in Bob Martin's column, The Alabama Scene, as follows (emphasis is mine):

Here's how the arrest in the small Huntsville suburb of Toney went down as described in one editorial account: "The morning calm in the small town of Toney, located near Huntsville, was broken at 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning. A team of five FBI agents, accompanied by a prison matron, pounded on the door. When the man of the house answered, he was forced into the yard, shirtless in the early morning cold. The team had come for his wife, Sue Schmitz. She was dragged out of her bathroom, where she was taking a shower, handcuffed, breaking her flesh and scraping her wrists, and hustled off to prison.

"Who was this threat to the community? Sue Schmitz is a diminutive, 63-year-old retired social studies teacher who has lived in the same house in Toney for 38 years, roughly 20 of them as a civics teacher. She is loved in the community and among her students is legendary for her passion for civics and her outreach to the disadvantaged."

Schmitz's Hunstville lawyer Buck Watson described the arrest as "very, very unusual." Suspecting that something like this might happen Watson had informed the U. S. Attorney's office that if they wanted Rep. Schmitz she would voluntarily surrender herself. But that obviously wasn't dramatic enough for Martin. "I can't see where she has committed any crime, but even if it was it was a non-violent matter involving a woman who has never been arrested in her life," Watson said.

Of course Martin herself might learn what it feels like to be led away in handcuffs...well, if the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility was not "slow walking" the investigation of Martin's perjury charge. There are accusations Martin gave false evidence in proceedings in a 2003 depostion filed in an EEOC case. Bob Martin (no relation to Alice, I assume) says the facts are clear, "Martin gave false evidence in the proceedings, and the trial officer concluded her statements are not credible." He echoes the question of many: "How can someone stay on as a U. S. attorney when they've been caught in a serious misrepresentation, under oath, in a legal proceeding?"

Now I admit I have called on Alice Martin to come in to Bessemer and clean up, but I will be happy with any investigator. Especially one who tells the truth and treats people fairly. I wish the people who left comments the other day about other prosecutors being brought in would provide some more inforation.

I really enjoy reading Martin's columns in the Hartselle Enquirer (Martin is the editor of the Alabama Independent in Montgomery). I wish The Western Tribune would pick up this column and do away with Gary Palmer's column.

Is Gary Palmer a plagiarist?

A recent column by Palmer, of the Alabama Policy Institute, appears to be plagiarized. The column was about the Alabama Certificate of Need program which in short requires hospitals and certain other health care facilities to gain state approval before being allowed to operate. The editorial recommends the state legislature do away with the Certificate of Need program.

When I read the column I noticed a familiarity with an email I had received months ago which contained an editorial written by Michael Morrisey and Michael Ciamarra. Michael Morrisey is a professor of Health Economics at UAB's School of Public Health. He and Ciamarra were the original authors, but it appeared under Palmer's name in the paper. If anyone is interested, I will forward the editorial (email) to you.

When I retrieved the email I found word for word similarity. Something's not right. Palmer, what's up?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Conservative Stuff and Democrat Party Solutions

Is it Spring? Blooming in my yard:

Why is this man on TV and not in prison?

Oh wait. I remember, Republicans don't go to prison. That is why Tom Delay was smiling when this mug shot was taken in 2005.

But yesterday he was smiling as he was interviewed from CPAC the meeting of conservatives where Mitt Romney shocked attendees with his "suspension" of his presidential bid (I guess "suspension until 2012" is what he means).

Delay is one of the growing list of potential "suicide voters" who say they may not vote for McCain because he is not conservative enough. He joins Laura Ingram, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, all prominant media types who see their influence and paycheck disappearing as the Republican party changes from within.

That video is from Fox, but on another network Delay's comments caused my blood pressure to rise after he was asked to comment on McCain's acknowedgement that human activity is contributing to global warming. Among other things, Delay said that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports that concept. That from somebody whose idea of science is figuring out how to keep the ice in his drink from melting when sitting in a hot tub.

When asked what the "official" conservative view on climate change is he said that it was arrogant for humans to think they could change the climate.

It is no wonder that "conservatism" is becoming a bad word, with uncredible spokespersons spewing incredible yarns.

Words related to "conservative:"

conservation: the careful utilization of a natural resource in order to prevent depletion.

That concept finds no place in the conservative movement.

Fiscal conservatism: a political phrase term used in the United States to attack government spending and advocate instead lower spending and a lower federal debt.

That concept finds no place in the republican party.

While Democrats are united in both philosophy and policy, yet divided on who they choose in their primaries, Republicans seem to be uniting on who they can choose in their primaries, yet divided in philosopy and policy. Only one thing seems to unite them, and that is war (with Ron Paul supporters as the exception. You don't see Ron Paul being invited to speak at CPAC, do you?)

Democrats are worried that if they don't select a candidate before the convention things could get ugly. Here are my solutions. Simple.

1. If the Democrats will just do away with the Superdelegates and let the voters choose who the candidate will be, the party will do fine.

2. Let Florida and Michigan hold new primaries that count.

If they allow the superdelegates make the decision, the sizzle will become a fizzle.

Work it out Democrats. Before June 7.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Breathing a sigh of Relief (Not You, Louise!)

Mitt Romney has dropped out of the presidential race.

The next biggest threat to America is Mike Huckabee, the Dominionist.

John McCain will not destroy our country, but we sure don't want him elected either, but we can defeat him I am sure, regardless of who the Democratic nominee is.

I doubt Louise Alexander is breathing a sigh of relief. Here in Bessemer the dominos are beginning to fall. The Alabama Ethics Commission (?) has referred the case of councilwoman Louise Alexander to the Attorney General's office. Read it

Louise said "I haven't done anything wrong."

However, she did apparently deposit $17,775 in checks made out to the city and a city school into her business account. "Oops."

Two of the checks totalling $12, 775 were donated by local businessmen for an awards program that does not even exist. I guess she solicited the donations? "Oops."

I did say "beginning to fall" didn't I? Well money was taken out of a TIF fund and deposited into an account to make payroll last year. "Oops."

And money derived from property taxes for the rebuilding of the library was used to make a payment from the city to the school board. "Oops."

There is an audit planned by the City Council, but I just have this feeling that it will not go very deep. Mainly because they are only spending up to $15,000 for the audit. And the word "forensic" was left out. is a start. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Primary Comments

I don't know if Mormons recognize Lent, but I have an idea for Mitt Romney...give up politics. The Dominionist candidate kicked your tail all across the South, allowing the Warmonger candidate to solidify his lead.

Again what a night for the Democratic Party, as we show once again that we have two strong candidates for president and voters go to the polls in record numbers to indicate their choices. All of my comments are based on current information and returns, which is not complete.

My preference of course is Clinton, and while she did not win in Alabama, look at the difference between Alabama and Georgia. Obama won by 34% in Georgia, but only by 14% in Alabama. Are we that different than Georgia?

While all the votes are not yet counted, and all the delegates not yet awarded, at this point Clinton is still ahead. Votes don't select candidates, delegates do.

And the popular vote across the country favors Clinton by quite a bit. I added all the totals for all the states that have voted so far, and Clinton leads 9,723,766 to Obama's 8,354,065. That is 53.8% to 46.2%. Of course popular vote does not elect presidents either, but it is better to be ahead than behind.

The greatest wins for Hillary in my opinion were the victory in Massachusetts and California. In Mass, where both Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry endorsed Obama, Clinton won easily, by about 15%. And in California, where the Oprah - Kennedy - Shriver fest pulled in thousands of potential voters last week, Clinton won by about 10%, after "polls" showed Obama with a chance to win.

Precinct results are not available yet, and as a result delegate results are not available either.

Alicia Keys likes Hillary. Watch this video of her song Superwoman:

Great song Alicia. And great video.

U. S. News and World reports that the Republican National Committee is levying fines for refering to Hillary or Obama by their first names. Makes them appear too friendly and likable. $10. Well, they are more likable than the candidates of the Republican Party.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Big Tuesday in Alabama

All the entertainment is not in New Orleans. In Montgomery the Alabama legislature begins its session today. In fact hold your breath until we see an indication that the Senate will actually accomplish something. Something positive and progressive at that. Now that we know there is no discipline and that raucus politics and sucker punches are OK, who knows what will happen.
And hold your breath while we wait on the results of today's primary elections. When I voted early this morning in Bessemer about 4 people had requested Republican ballots and about 40 had asked for Democrat ballots. That will come as no surpise to anyone except Dale Jones who once wrote "Obviously you are aware that you and your views are in the EXTREME MINORITY in Bessemer, AL " in a comment on this blog. Since my views are pretty much in line with the Democratic candidates being voted on today, I would say my views are in the "EXTREME MAJORITY" here in Bessemer. In other words...more people share the common views of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party in Bessemer.

Celebrate Fat Tuesday today.

The Zulu parade has been my favorite.

Time for some Jambalaya and Pecan Cobbler. Happy Mardi Gras

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl, Super Manning

Sports on Bessemer Opinions? If Mitt Romney can make Olympic comparisons and bring sports into his campaign, then I feel I can devote one page to the Super Bowl. Even on the day before Super Tuesday. (No one needs to hear more from me about that right now...just scroll down and read about the Primary and the candidate). Besides, this column is not just about the Super Bowl.

"We're only going to score 17 points?"

That was Tom Brady last week, responding to Plaxico Burress' prediction that the Giants would win the Super Bowl 23 - 17.

No, Tom, you are only going to score 14 points. It's the Giants that will score 17. Plaxico's predicted score was wrong, but his outcome was correct. And Plaxico did catch the winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning.

Manning directed the play of the, the NFL play of the season, when he escaped a sack by at least three patriots who had him wrapped up, and heaved a pass over the head of David Tyree who somehow made the grab, and held on in spite of coming down on top of a defender who was doing his best to loosen the ball from Tyree's grasp. Tyree had already scored the Giants other touchdown earlier in the 4th quarter. doesn't pay to cheat (illegally taping opponents signals).

And let's remind people that Peyton and Eli have an older brother, Cooper Manning, who does not play football, but who might have been just as successful if a football ending diagnosis had not occured when he was a freshman in college. Read his success story here.

Cooper Manning is more inspiring than either Peyton or Eli, and probably a lot more fun to be around.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Question for Hillary

Monday night Hillary Clinton is participating in a town hall meeting that will be broadcast live on the Hallmark Channel and on her web site.

"We're planning our Voices Across America town hall meeting. We'll hear from people in Alabama and all across America. This event -- one of the biggest town hall meetings America has ever seen -- will be broadcast live Monday night on Hallmark Channel starting at 9 p.m. EST. Or you can watch it live on "

I submitted the following question:

Artur Davis, the Alabama campaign manager for your opponent, at a recent forum in Birmingham said that the GLBT community should not look to Washington (or Montgomery, our state capital) for change, in spite of the fact that it took Washington leadership to bring change in civil rights. Could the GLBT community look to the Clinton administration for change?

You can ask a question here

I will be surprised if my question is asked of the candidate.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ann Coulter Endorsing Clinton? And the Upcoming Primary

This has to be the weirdest endorsement of the season.

Ann Coulter has endorsed Hillary Clinton, says she will vote for her, says she will campaign for her, if John McCain is the Republican nominee.

Alan Colmes raised his hands and said "My work is done."

I really don't think voters will hold this endorsement against Hillary, because no one listens to Ann Coulter anyway.

Clinton and Obama faced off last night in a mild-mannered debate that likely convinced more independents and moderate republicans to vote democratic than it persuaded democratic voters to change their support from one candidate to the other.

That's good, it will help ensure a Democratic president in the Oval Office in January.

It's also good because the latest polls have Hillary leading in almost all the Super Dooper states.

Massachusetts, Clinton up by 24
New Jersey, Clinton up by 12
Tennessee, Clinton up by 33
California, Clinton up by 3
Minnesota, Clinton up by 7
Oklahoma, Clinton up by 17
New York, Clinton up by 28
Arizona, Clinton up by 10
Delaware, Clinton by 22
Missouri, Clinton by 19

Latest polls also have Obama leading in Alabama and Georgia, and granted, some of the above polls were taken before big endorsements this week. But I think Clinton stopped the flow of votes to Obama last night.

Several of the states voting Tuesday do not have polls on the site.

Several questions have come my way about voting procedures for Tuesday. Here is a link to the ballot of you vote in District 7 (my district).

Here is the ballot for District 6.

From here you can link to the other district ballots.

You can not vote for delegates who are committed to a candidate different than the candidate you selected for president. So if you vote for Hillary, you can choose up to 4 male and 4 female delegates who are committed to her. Likewise for Obama.

If you want to vote for uncommitted delegates, you can not vote for a presidential candidate.

Here are instructions from the party web site. Instructions are also on the ballot.

Make plans to vote on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton.